Bismack Biyombo Out For Season?

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Bismack Biyombo Not Cleared By FIBA To Play For Bobcats At End Of NBA Lockout

Bismack Biyombo will reportedly not be eligible to play for the Charlotte Bobcats until he settles a contract dispute with Spanish club Fuenlabrada. The Spanish contract for the Bobcats’ first-round pick deemed enforceable by governing body.

Kemba Walker – Expect Big Things

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At just 16 years old, Kemba Walker out-dueled Derrick Rose in front of 20,000 fans at a jam-packed Madison Square Garden.

Three years ago, he led his AAU team, the New York Gauchos, to finish tops in the nation.

The very next season, Kemba was the third guard on a #1 seeded UConn team that he helped lead to the Final Four.

And just a few months back, Kemba returned to MSG to win five games in five days to win the Big East Tournament before putting a team with seven freshmen on his back to win the NCAA Tournament.

To say the least, Kemba Walker loves the spotlight. But now, the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player steps onto the biggest stage of his life. No, not Apollo Theater. Not Madison Square Garden. The National Basketball Association.

Sitting in a mostly empty Time Warner Cable Arena, it doesn’t take long for the average viewer to figure out that the Bobcats don’t have the greatest fan base. The crowd rarely makes much of any noise unless egged on by the cheesy “Let’s Make Some Noise!!!”  Meter on the jumbo-tron. Even a fast-break dunk will only slightly elicit more claps then the Lady Cats and Rufus throwing $5 T-Shirts into the crowd.

But the loudest I’ve ever heard the Cable Box wasn’t all that long ago. In fact, it was just about one month ago on Draft Night when the Bobcats made the ninth selection. When the words “Kemba Walker” left the lips of Commissioner David Stern, the entire arena exploded with jubilation. Moms hugging kids. Grown men jumping up and down. Possibly the best atmosphere I’ve ever been around since Charlotte’s all-too-short playoff stint last summer.

All of these festivities for an undersized point guard who stands at 6’1” on a good day. But ultimately, his stature isn’t really what makes his game; he’s a tough-as-nails warrior, and a true leader of men. And on a roster full of unproven young talent, has-beens, and never wills (I’m looking at you, Eduardo Najera) I think that it’s fair to expect Kemba Walker to be a bright spot in an overall gloomy season.

For sure, Kemba Walker is not your prototypical point guard. Now, that’s not a bad thing. Most point guards don’t have the tenacity, quickness, or pure scoring ability that Walker possesses, even if they are a few inches taller.

Offensively, his height should not prove to be a problem. Thanks to a nearly 40’ vertical jump, a high release, and high arcing shot, Kemba is harder to block than most players his size. Plus, with an array of isolation moves most notably including a jab to create space then a step-back jumper, he’s remarkably good at creating his own shot.

But unlike many other small guards, spot up shooting isn’t Kemba’s most dangerous weapon. What makes him so lethal is his quickness.  This makes Kemba tough to plan against in two ways: the kick and drive game and fast breaks.

Throughout his collegiate career Kemba has been very tough to guard. If you leave him in single coverage, he’ll drive to the bucket where he can unleash his litany of post moves (tear drop, up-and-under layup, floater high off the glass…) and draw a foul. If you put him in double coverage, he has the court vision to penetrate and still find the open man.

Defensively, however, there is cause for concern. In this day and age of big, athletic point guards—Deron Williams, John Wall, and Derrick Rose to name a few—Walker will have problems stopping them, particularly when he is posted up. This size disadvantage may force Charlotte into running a zone, especially when Coach Silas opts to play Kemba and D.J. Augustin together.

Just like how he plays to his strengths on offense, Kemba maximizes his speed on defense, as well. He is a bit of an opportunist defensively—he’s aggressive trying to intercept passes—which can leave his teammates in a tough 4-on-5 position when he whiffs, but also jumpstarts fast breaks when his gambles pay off.

And when he does trigger a fast break, boy does he make you pay. Between his speed, court vision, and ability to absorb contact, Kemba really is a nightmare to guard. He’s creative in the paint, fearless getting to the bucket, and isn’t afraid to defer.

Yes, Kemba has freakish speed. Yes, he has an uncanny ability to just get the ball in the bucket. But what really impresses me about this young man is his intangibles.

Every year at college, Kemba got better. Coming off the bench in his freshman year, he shot 47% from the field in his limited time, putting up 8.9 points, 2.9 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game. Each of the following seasons, he saw his points, assists, and rebounds grow in number while he got more aggressive, seeing his free throw attempts and percentage rocket up. Before long, we were looking at an All-American who put up a 23.5-4.5-5.4 line.

Not only does he improve every year, but Kemba also showed that he is adept to play in any role. Need him to carry the scoring load while leading the team? Check. Need him to come off the bench behind steady starters? Done it before. Thanks to his non-stop motor and tenacity on both ends of the floor, Kemba can be plugged into any role and be able to run the offense from the minute he steps on the court.

But the spot that he really takes to the next level would have to be during crunch time. When the light shines brightest on the biggest of stages, Kemba is there. He’s cool under pressure, confident, and capable. While some superstars will defer in the waning seconds—cough cough LeBron—Walker had led his UConn team to countless victories on last-second heroics.

As good as that sounds, Kemba’s confidence can sometimes escalate to a fault. He can take over games completely for minutes at a time, which can lead to forced shots, ignoring teammates, and overly-aggressive defense.

But those are just small blemishes on what I believe can be a very promising career. And at the end of the day, Kemba Walker does have one of the most valuable assets an NBA player can have: the Heart of a Champion. I know it sounds clichéd, but a winning mentality can never be over-valued, especially on a team so replete of “winners” as Charlotte (see: Maggette, Corey). Remember, you never doubt the Heart of a Champion.

For his rookie season, it’s reasonable to expect big things from Kemba Walker. Whether he’ll be coming off the bench from the start of the season or if Augustin will be shipped out of town before the first game, we don’t yet know. But as long as Maggette and the enigma that is Boris Diaw remain two of the biggest scoring threats, Kemba will assuredly receive major minutes.

If and when the season resumes, my best guess is that Kemba starts the year as the third guard in the rotation. But as the year creeps on, I expect him to usurp more and more of D.J.’s minutes until by the end of the season he is the starting point guard. I have a feeling Augustin will be a popular trade target among teams like Utah, New York, and Houston in search of a young point guard. I don’t think that it’s time to give up on D.J. per se, but even though he’s 23-years old, it doesn’t appear that he’ll ever be a top-15 or even top-20 NBA point guard.

Similar to the rookie seasons of Brandon Jennings and D.J. Augustin, I think Kemba Walker is looking at about 14 points and 5 assists per game for his rookie campaign. Not only will he bring much needed scoring to an anemic offensive team, but he will bring toughness and a winning mentality that this team has been searching for since its inception.

Editor’s Note:
This article is the first by the newest Bobcats Baseline contributor,  Ben W.

Bismack Biyombo Will Save The Bobcats

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Bismack Biyombo Is The Reason For The Existence of The Charlotte Bobcats.

Think back to all that the Charlotte Bobcats have been through. Nothing has come easy for this team, and the tough job of starting over has begun before they even accomplished much of anything. Still, we must remember that in everything there is a purpose. Seven solid years of struggling has led the franchise to this place in history.

Destiny has delivered the Bobcats to the precipice of the 2011 NBA Draft, where they hold the honor of selecting the greatest athlete that will ever wear their uniform. His name is Bismack Biyombo.

Charlotte has never seen anything like Biyombo. Honestly, our eyes may not be ready.

If Michael Jordan’s club fails to select Bismack Biyombo, the organization could be set back a full decade. It’s actually far more likely that the team will be forced to fold due to the backlash that’s certainly guaranteed for passing up such a phenomenal, once-in-a-generation type of  talent.

The Bobcats have a final workout scheduled on eve of the Draft. This will be an historic event, as Bismack Biyombo sets foot onto Carolina soil for the first time. Just to entertain the unparalleled big man from the Congo, Rich Cho has structured a workout between Biyombo, Chris Singleton, and Maurice Morris. It’s clear that the Cats are putting on a show, trying to appear as if they’re simply evaluating their options for the 9th pick in a thorough manner. Michael Jordan knows not to show his hand this early. Ultimately, this posturing will fade away after the unfathomable defensive showcase that Bismack will bring to town. What Coach Paul Silas will see Bismack Biyombo do on the basketball court will probably make him cry.

Due to his propensity for rebounding, blocking, and strong defense, Biyombo has been described as “the next Ben Wallace.” I think Ben Wallace should take that as a compliment and Bismack should be outright insulted. How can anyone be compared to Biyombo? This young man will not only lead the NBA in rebounds and blocks, but he’ll make us all wonder what basketball was like before the Bismack Biyombo Era.

-Mike

More Info:

ESPN.com Story on Biyombo
NBA.com Story on Biyombo
HoopsHype.com – Bismack Biyombo Rumors


The Bobcats and the Playoffs, Redux

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Like the Bobcats actual chances of making the playoffs, the argument about whether they should even be trying to make them isn’t dead yet either.

I appreciate Rick Bonnell’s steady-handed beat writing on the Bobcats for the Charlotte Observer.  But I couldn’t disagree more with his take on the issue, posted on his blog on Monday night after the win over the Bucks.  Rick’s words are in italics:

I got an email today from a reader saying I should stop writing about playoff implications and that the Bobcats would be much better off chasing lottery luck.

Wasn’t me, but it might as well have been.

I get that email a lot, and frankly it disregards how the weighted draft lottery works these days. If you’re one of the last teams to reach the playoffs, you have a miniscule chance of a top-3 pick (about a 1 percent chance for each of those picks).

Frankly, I’m not sure Rick is properly regarding the weighted lottery system.  (Also, I’ll assume he means “If you’re one of the last teams to MISS the playoffs”, otherwise he really doesn’t understand the system.)

Fortunately, I do understand the system and so can you.  It’s all right here on the Wikipedia page for the NBA Draft Lottery.  Scroll down about halfway to the “Process” section — the chart is very helpful in understanding.

Currently, the Bobcats have the 10th worst record in the league.  With Monday night’s win over the Bucks, it’s looking more and more like we’ll be locked in there to finish the season.  The “lottery” is indeed for the top 3 picks.  After that, the remaining non-playoff teams are simply slotted back in their order from worst to “best”.

With the 10th worst record, the Bobcats would have a 1.1% chance of winning the lottery for the #1 pick, a 1.3% chance at the #2 pick, and a 1.6% chance at the 3rd pick.  Another way of looking at it is that there is a total of a 4% chance of moving up into the top 3 picks.  Obviously, the chance that the Bobcats would end up with the 10th pick is overwhelming — 87%.

If the Bobcats could drop down lower than the Bucks (again, unlikely after Monday night) they’d be the 9th worst team.  That gets you a 1.7% chance at the #1 pick, 2.0% for #2, and 2.4% for #3.  Total 5.1% chance of moving up into the top 3 and 81% chance of sitting tight at the 9th spot.

If the Bobcats really got serious about tanking (it’s really not a dirty word — you can say it) they could pass up the Clippers for the 8th worst record in the league.  With that comes a 2.8% chance at the #1 pick, 3.3% for #2, and 3.9% for #3.  Total 10% chance at moving up; 72% chance at staying at #8.

Meanwhile the Bobcats would have a far greater chance (about nine percent) of actually moving DOWN in the draft order.

Yes, if the Bobcats finish in with the 10th worst record, they actually have a 8.9% chance of falling back one spot to the 11th pick (and a miniscule 0.2% chance of falling back two spots to the 12th pick) — that 9% chance represents the sum of the chances of teams 11-14 moving up into the top 3, thus bumping the Cats back.

You know what would DEFINITELY bump the Bobcats draft spot back — all the way to the 15th spot?  Making the playoffs.

And don’t even try to argue that the difference between #10 and #15 isn’t that big of a deal in this mediocre draft.  Not valuing draft picks like that is just the kind of lazy thinking and poor planning that have gotten the Bobcats into the mess they’re in.  (Hey, Adam Morrison!  He’s awesome in college!  3rd pick, you betcha!!!  It’s all a crapshoot anyways!).

Someone a lot smarter than you, I or Rick Bonnell figured out that the average player drafted in the 10th spot is roughly 31% better than the average player drafted in the 15th spot.  Scroll about halfway down the page to figure 7 and table 2 and the following discussion for the meat of the article.

In this particular draft, the 10th spot gives you a shot at getting Brandon Knight or Terrence Jones — guys that still have some star potential.  At #15, you’re looking at names like Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried or John Henson — guys you’re hoping will carve out a spot in your rotation.

The playoffs are fun, and even if they were clobbered in the first round, the Bobcats would gain experience by participating.

Ahh, the tee-ball argument.  Everyone come to the playoffs, its FUN!  I disagree, getting swept/exposed/embarrassed by the Magic was not fun last year, and getting swept/exposed/embarrassed by the Bulls this year wouldn’t be any fun either.  As far as “gaining experience”, name me a player from last years’ squad who seems to have benefitted from the experience of last year’s playoff sweep.

If you have a young, developing team with most of the big pieces in place, then it’s acceptable to gun for the 7th or 8th playoff spot for “the experience”.  Think last year’s Oklahoma City Thunder, or this year’s Memphis Grizzlies.  But not the Bobcats — not a team sorely lacking talent that relies on a 33-year-old volume shooter to be its “star”.

You can’t convince me finishing ninth in the East is better than finishing eighth.

Agree to disagree, then?

And you sure don’t want to send the message to players that losing is ever better than winning.

Completely agree with this. It’s a very delicate issue and probably the strongest argument against tanking.  My only counter is to say that this probably underestimates the intelligence/maturity of the players.  They aren’t in a Disney movie; they know better than anyone that their squad needs an influx of talent to seriously compete.

Treat injuries conservatively and shift minutes to younger players who need the burn anyways.  The players save face while the losses mount.  As long as the locker room chemistry is good (supposedly the case with the Bobcats) there are probably not going to be any serious negative ramifications from a few extra losses to end the season.

Until next time, I’ll be “chasing lottery luck”.

-Dr. E

POLL : This Season: Where Did It Go Wrong?

  • Trading Tyson Chandler for Dampier (39%, 71 Votes)
  • Not Re-Signing Raymond Felton (14%, 26 Votes)
  • Starting Nazr Mohammed (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Firing Larry Brown (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Trading Gerald Wallace (32%, 59 Votes)
  • Re-Signing Tyrus Thomas (6%, 11 Votes)
  • Cutting Sherron Collins (5%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 182

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The Bobcats and the Playoffs

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Today I received an email from the Bobcats.  You see, even though I’m a season ticket holder who’s already re-upped for next season, I haven’t committed to playoff tickets this year — today is the deadline.  It’s easy enough: since I have re-upped for next season, I have the option to “Pay as We Play”, meaning that I’d only be charged after each round (ha! more than one round?) the Cats played in the playoffs.  It would just take a quick phone call to opt in on that plan — why not, right?  But I’ll pass.

I’m hardly risking anything.  But it’s also my quiet (and yes, petty and pointless) protest against the very idea of the Bobcats being in the playoffs this year.  It’s the principle of the matter.

First, the facts.  As of Monday night the Bobcats are tied with the Bucks in ninth place, a full two games behind the 8th place Indiana Pacers, with 13 games left.  Though the Cats have head-to-head matchups remaining with both the Pacers and Bucks, they’ve already blown the season series/tiebreakers with both of those teams.  Other remaining games include Boston and Miami on the road, the Knicks at home, and two matchups with the Magic.

As I post this, ESPN’s John Hollinger’s playoff odds system gives the Bobcats a 16% chance of finishing the season in the 8th spot.  Basketball-Reference.com isn’t even as kind, putting the Cats chances at a meager 9.2%.

Furthermore, the notion that the Bobcats should even be gunning for the 8th playoff spot is ridiculous.  Another sweep, this time by Boston or Chicago? No thanks.

Making the playoffs would also lock the Bobcats into the #15 pick in this year’s draft, while missing out will probably put us at the 9th spot with its small associated chance of moving up to one of the top three picks.  While there doesn’t appear to be any savior in this year’s draft pool, the difference between picking at #9 and #15 is nonetheless important.

So don’t fret about Stephen Jackson’s hamstring and don’t pay much mind to anyone saying how “big” Wednesday’s matchup with the Pacers is.  The Bobcats have no business making the playoffs this year, and won’t.  They probably wouldn’t even if Jack was totally healthy.  With him hurting, it makes more sense to me to shut him down for the season and embark on a full-on tankfest — the 8th pick isn’t out of reach.

-Dr. E

Gerald Wallace Returns To Charlotte With A Grudge

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Gerald Wallace Now With The Trailblazers

Despite reading through loads of articles and blog posts intended to justify last month’s Gerald Wallace trade, I haven’t been able to shake my emotional “gut” reaction about the whole thing. I’m still a little sick that it happened, and pretty disheartened by the way it all went down.

Gerald Wallace was the reason I got into the NBA. Yeah – I really liked the Hornets when I was a kid, but I didn’t really watch any pro or college ball through most of my later teenage years. After college, I moved back to the Charlotte area to take a job with an employer that happened to have great seats to the expansion Bobcats (at the old Coliseum building). I didn’t really know a thing about the state of the NBA, and I couldn’t have cared less. Emeka Okafor was billed as the top draw for the Charlotte Bobcats, but it was definitely more fun to watch Gerald Wallace. It became evident to me that the Bobcats were horrible, but they had a seriously entertaining player in Wallace. So, I was hooked pretty quickly and consider Crash to be the reason why I watched the Cats (leading to my unhealthy NBA obsession).

On Friday night, Gerald is set to step on the court at Time Warner Cable Arena for the first time as a visitor. I’ve got to be there to see it, however odd it may feel. Surely, other fans will show up ready to recognize Crash with their support. But that will likely be most of the noise generated by the home crowd during the game. The remaining Bobcats aren’t much to cheer about these days, and the Trailblazers are absolutely stacked (both Wallace and Brandon Roy are listed as reserves for Portland). Gerald has spoken to reporters and made it absolutely clear about how much he had wanted to stay in Charlotte. The Queen City has never had a player so loyal, yet the Bobcats leadership chose to ship Crash to the Northwest and live with the consequences.

I know that there are plenty of explanations of why Charlotte wanted to make that move, but it kind of feels like a load of excuses. When someone does something wrong, you always hear a bunch of excuses to justify it. Clearly, the Bobcats are not a better team without Gerald Wallace. Nor are they a more entertaining team without him. As a fan, watching the Cats without Crash just doesn’t feel right. Seeing Gerald enter the game, wearing the red and black of the Blazers, on Friday night will feel absolutely bizarre for me.

Related Links:

ESPN : Gerald Wallace blindsided by trade

Sporting News : Gerald Wallace feels ‘betrayed’ by trade from Bobcats

News Observer : Gerald Wallace says Charlotte Bobcats stabbed him in the back

Rick Bonnell : Wallace: Bobcats betrayed me

-Mike

Also, I was doing research online today, and this ad graphic happened to pop up on one of the sites I hit.

Bobcats Begin Post-Gerald Era With Win Over Kings

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Despite only dressing 8 players due to Thursday’s trades, the Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Sacramento Kings 110-98 at the Cable Box on Friday night. Stephen Jackson settled down after an early technical foul and led the Cats with 30 points on 11-19 FG.

AP Recap |  Box Score |  Highlights

The Kings were without their best player, Tyreke Evans (plantar fasciitis), and aren’t that good with him, so this is nothing to get too excited about. Nonetheless, there were some encouraging signs.

Obviously, the fact that the Cats were able to win so shorthanded is a story.  After the expected starting five of DJ, Gerald Henderson, Jack, Diaw and Kwame Brown, the Cats could only call on Shaun Livingston, Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera off the bench.  Winning any NBA game with just those 8 guys is noteworthy no matter the opponent.

But most importantly, the guys that need to step up did so — at least for one night.

For better or worse, this is Jack’s team the rest of the season.  And under stressful circumstances, made even more so by the presence of his nemesis, referee Eli Roe, you wouldn’t have been blamed for expecting the worst of Jackson going into the game.  Like clockwork, Roe called Jackson for a charge just minutes into the game.  Jack was immediately rattled, drew a tech (from Derrick Stafford, to be fair), and was benched.  But Jack was able to gather himself, avoid any further trouble with the referees, and pour in his 30.

DJ Augustin played his second straight solid game coming out of the All-Star break, torching Beno Udrih for 23 points on 9-11 shooting.

And Gerald Henderson dropped 21 points (8-17 FG, 5-6 FT) to continue his strong February.

Notes

  • On the other hand, Boris Diaw was pretty much a no-show.  Knowing Boris, he’ll probably give pretty much the same effort tomorrow night, but end up with a near-triple-double.
  • I appreciate what Eduardo Najera has brought to the table in Tyrus Thomas’ absence.  On some nights, his toughness and defense have been a godsend to Paul Silas.  But this better be the first and only time I see him shoot five three-pointers in a game.
  • DeMarcus Cousins was fun.  Where to start?  13 points, 10 rebounds and 7 turnovers.  Seven turnovers?  But the talent is obvious, and in such a huge body.  If the Kings could get an elite young point guard (Kyrie Irving?), move Evans to the 2, and have those three figure it out together — watch out. And then there was the random benching to start the second half.  But my favorite is Cousins’ array of scowls.  Seriously, he had this one in the first half when a call didn’t go his way that showed elite, freakish expressionism.  I’m thinking Cousins is going to be the first rookie since Rashad McCants to make it to my 1st Team All-Sourpuss squad.  Hopefully he’ll get to spend some time with Stephen Jackson at the photo shoot, because I think those two are kindred spirits.
  • So I see that Indiana lost to the blown-up Jazz, which means the Bobcats are just a half-game out of the 8th playoff spot.  You know, it’s not as if the Pacers are some juggernaut, or some veteran-laden steady team.  They’re young, with an interim coach, and they rely pretty heavily on Danny Granger.  I’m just saying it’s not impossible for the Cats to overtake them, especially with Tyrus Thomas getting ready to return.  Stranger things have happened.
  • The Cats will practice tomorrow, and expect to have Joel Pryzbilla, Dante Cunningham and DJ White there to get acclimated.  Next game is Sunday evening, 6PM ET against the Magic in Orlando.

-Dr. E

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