End of the Gana Diop Era

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Gana Diop Illustration

As NBA enthusiasts across the globe get ready for the exciting action and intense competition of the Playoffs, Charlotte Bobcats fans should take pause to reflect on the end of an era – The DeSagana Diop Era. It’s not often that a team says goodbye to one of its Big Three (salary bandits). So, this is a great opportunity to survey the impact that the giant’s departure will have for the club.

Oh, how time and paychecks fly by. It seems like it was just yesterday that the Bobcats were pressured by Larry Brown and duped by the Dallas Mavericks into swallowing Diop’s ridiculous contract in exchange for Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins. Since then, ‘Gana has eaten up over 11% of the team’s salary cap with few contributions to justify it. Acquiring the Senegalese seven-footer immediately hamstrung the ‘Cats efforts to retain their much better Center, Tyson Chandler in the 2010 off-season. Regrettably, Charlotte had to take back Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera, and Erick Dampier’s contract in a financially-driven trade, delivering Chandler to the Mavs where he went on to win the championship. Oh, and then Tyson picked up the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2012. But, those wiry ol’ Bobcats still had Diop on their bench! Another fun fact – Ryan Hollins is a contributor off the bench for the Playoff-bound LA Clippers and played over three-times as many minutes as ‘Gana did this season.

Gana Diop Era Highlights

Okay, let’s take a moment to look at some Gana Diop highlights:

Next Step for Diop

It’s highly likely that Diop will step away from the NBA, and walk off into the sunset (after he collects the last of his $7,372,200.00 from the Bobcats this month). Despite the pain that he’s caused Michael Jordan’s wallet, it looks like the guy has actually done some pretty good things off the court with the NBA Cares program.

Nevertheless, ‘Gana is gonna leave a big hole on this team’s payroll. It’s fair that fans have concerns about how the team will use their salary cap numbers to improve this summer. But, when the time comes to announce the next signing, Charlotte’s front office needs to measure their offer and ask, “Is that guy worth Gana Diop money?”

-Mike

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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Bobcats Come Up Big To Defeat Celtics

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Tres (Photo by Chuck Burton/AP)

The Charlotte Bobcats rode big contributions from unlikely sources to beat the East-leading Boston Celtics 94-89 on Monday night at the Cable Box. After Stephen Jackson was ejected arguing a call in the second quarter, Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson stepped up off the bench to fill the void.  Gerald Wallace continued his recent strong play, leading the Bobcats with 19 points and 16 rebounds.

AP Recap |  Box Score

After hanging with, but ultimately succumbing to elite teams twice over the weekend at home, the Bobcats got another chance against the Boston Celtics, who were without Shaq, Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden due to injuries (not to mention Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West) AND on the second night of a back-too-back.

This one started out similarly to the Heat and Mavs games: the Cats showing no signs of backing down, hanging right with the Celtics.  Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen played well early on, while Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats.  Early in the second quarter, 6′-7″ Shaun Livingston took advantage of his matchup with 5′-9″ Nate Robinson to the tune of 10 points in a 5 minute span.

But late in the second quarter, Cap’n Jack struck again.  After a defensive switch left Jackson on Garnett in the post, Garnett began to work for position.  Jackson fought him for said position, forcing Garnett to take an awkward, slightly off-balance step.  Garnett sold it well and a foul was called on Jackson.

It wasn’t a terrible call; but Jack apparently thought it was and laid into the official, quickly drawing a tech.  Silas went to the bench to sub for Jack, but not quickly enough.  Jack continued to berate the refs on the way towards the sideline and drew his second tech and an ejection.

But the Bobcats surprisingly wouldn’t fade, taking a one point lead into halftime.  Midway through the third, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hit back-to-back threes to give the Celtics 65-57 lead; but from that point, the Bobcats dug in for a strong finish.

The fourth quarter was an exctiting, back-and-forth affair that ultimately saw an unconventional Bobcats crunchtime group overcome Jack’s ejection and a Celtics team that appeared to run out of gas.

Coach Paul Silas went with Shaun Livingston’s hot hand down the stretch over DJ Augustin; Livingston responded and kept up his strong play, finishing the game with 18 points on 7-10 FG.

Gerald Henderson filled in admirably for Jackson, playing his customary fantastic perimeter defense and nailing a clutch 20-footer off a down screen with 2:31 left to give the Bobcats an 86-83 lead.

And on the next Bobcats possession, Eduardo Najera, who played great defense on Kevin Garnett in 19 minutes of playing time, drained a huge three to push the lead to 89-83.  From there, good defense and a few free throws closed it out.

Notes

  • With Gerald Henderson’s continued improvement and Stephen Jackson’s persistent and apparently worsening troubles, is a trade becoming more and more likely?  I’d love to see it, even if doing so meant the Bobcats falling out of the playoffs.  Problem is, with Jack’s continued embarrassing behavior and the Maverick’s elite play with their current roster, would they still even be interested in him?
  • So Jack is up to 13 technical fouls, if you’re counting.  As a reminder, once you get to 16, every other tech begets a one-game suspension. More disincentive for another team to make a trade for him.
  • Kwame Brown also picked up a tech for getting into Kendrick Perkins face after a hard foul.
  • Ray Allen had only two three-pointers and will have to wait another game to tie and overtake Reggie Miller for the all-time NBA record for made threes.
  • Next game is Wednesday night as the Bobcats visit Indianapolis to take on the Pacers; 7 PM ET start.  Along with the Sixers and Bucks, the Pacers are one of the teams that the Bobcats will be fighting for the 7th-8th East playoff spot — so the head-to-head matchups are obviously huge.  The Pacers currently lead the Cats by a half-game for the 8th spot.

-Dr. E

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Bobcats Drop Sloppy, Winnable Game To Jazz

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Photo Credit: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The Bobcats were defeated 83-78 by a shorthanded Utah Jazz squad on the road in Salt Lake City on Monday night.  The Cats were led by Stephen Jackson (24 points) and DJ Augustin (20) in the loss and fall to 20-27 overall.

AP Recap |  Box Score

After a day off to recharge in the middle of the road trip, this matchup looked ripe for the taking when Deron Williams was ruled out prior to the game with a wrist injury.

Besides, even with their all-star, Utah had been reeling recently, losing 7 of their last 8.  But the Jazz came out strong with an 11-0 run to start the game, and proceeded to outrebound (49-36) and outmuscle the Cats in the paint.  The Jazz front line of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Andrei Kirilenko all had double doubles: Jefferson 21/11, Millsap 14/12, and Kirilenko 13/11.  Jefferson and Kirilenko each had 3 blocks; Millsap added one.

To contrast, the Bobcats were led by DJ Augustin and Stephen Jackson with 8 rebounds apiece.  Kwame Brown had a miserable night with just 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 fouls in 23 minutes.

CJ Miles provided some perimeter scoring for the Jazz off the bench with 20 points; Earl Watson, who started at the point in place of Deron Williams, ended with an inexplicable plus-minus of +26 for the game.

The Bobcats could never establish much flow and shot the ball miserably, finishing at 35.6% from the field.  Nonetheless, they were in the game until the final moments.  Stephen Jackson hit four straight free throws to bring the Cats within one at 79-78 with two minutes left.

But with the Jazz frontline dominating the paint, the Bobcats couldn’t go with their preferred small lineup to finish the game (DJ, Henderson, Jack, Wallace and Diaw) and instead went with Eduardo Najera instead of Henderson.  It’s understandable, as going small would have put Gerald Wallace on Paul Millsap.

But it didn’t work, as the Bobcats couldn’t generate any offense after Jack’s free throws and never scored again AND Millsap grabbed two back-breaking offensive rebounds down the stretch.

Notes

  • If you wanted to put together a reel of games to convince yourself that it might be time to trade Gerald Wallace, add this one to it.  Just didn’t bring anything to the table tonight.
  • In addition to the Jazz 11-o run to start the game, they had another 11-0 run to start the third quarter and a 10-o run to start the fourth.
  • Cardboard Gerald caught Jimmer Fredette, Jimmer Fredette’s girlfriend, and Jimmer Fredette’s girlfriend’s poof in the stands.
  • If you’re looking for a Bobcats highlight, it’s probably Najera’s trip into the courtside seats, as pictured above.  As he got up, he picked up one lady’s crushed, now empty cup and pantomimed ordering her a new drink.  Good enough for a bloopers video.  Oh, and DJ hit a pretty crazy reverse layup that should make the highlights.
  • Next game is Wednesday night as the Cats wrap up this six-game road trip in Detroit against the Pistons — 7:30 PM ET start.  A win will give the Cats a 4-2 road trip as they head into a tough stretch of home games.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin, and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter

Supporting Cats Outlast Wolves in OT

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Bobcats go into Minnesota Wednesday night without injured stars Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson and somehow manage to chalk up their first road victory since early November 108-105.  Bobcats rise to 12-21, Wolves fall to 9-27.

AP RECAP | BOX SCORE

Granted, Minnesota isn’t the most feared squad in the league but the fact that coach Paul Silas was able to trot out Eduardo Najera and Matt Carroll for significant crunch time minutes and still get the W should count for something.  D.J. Augustin shot out of his slump just in time to bring the Cats back from 5 down with 2:30 to go in regulation, hitting two clutch 3s while Tyrus Thomas sealed the game with a spectacular transition block of a Michael Beasley layup in OT.

OBSERVATIONS

  • This was a fun game to watch.  I can’t remember the last time the ‘Cats have been without both JAX and Crash and it was a blast to see those strange lineups in action.  Carroll/Henderson/Diaw/Thomas/Augustin was surprisingly effective in crunch time.  Carroll cooled down a bit late in the game just as D.J. (16pts, 8asts) was getting started but Matt played well while helping the Bobcats build a surprising 14 point lead in the second quarter.
  • Once Diaw fouled out in OT, Silas had to find another “big” to replace him with.  Not easy when Gana Diop and Nazr Mohammed are grounded.  Najera got the nod and while he was less than stellar, Don Juan Draper didn’t hurt them and played the pick and roll game with D.J. well enough to get Augustin a couple of good looks.
  • MASSIVE statistical performance from Minny’s two big guns Michael Beasley and Kevin Love.  Combined 63 points and 27 rebounds.  Just crazy.  Too bad no one else on the team showed up.
  • I can’t get enough of Nikola Pekovic.  Too bad the big Montenegrino couldn’t get more PT.  Scary looking and rocking the Vlade Euro-beard.  Bourne Identity extra?  No.  Cousin to Niko and Roman Bellic?  Yes.
  • I know that Gerald Henderson is in possession of one of the League’s iffier jump shots but why in the hell doesn’t he try to shoot a little more in order to shake off the rust?  Just seven shot attempts for The Sequel in 33 minutes.  Worse yet is that he made a very pretty driving mid-range fadeaway in OT that looked like something out of the Scottie Pippen archives.  We gotta see Henderson play through this.  It may take a while but eventually I can see Henderson turning into a decent shooter.
  • Last but not least: Tyrus Thomas.  Showed that he is better and can impact the game in more ways than Michael Beasley.  I know that he isn’t consistent but damn, when Tyrus is on he is on.  21 points, 11 boards, 2 blocks and only one turnover in 36 minutes of knee troubled play.  Best free agent signing in Michael Jordan history?  Yup.

Nice to see the Bobcats win but they are still nine games under .500 and look to have some serious rebuilding issues going forward.  If Mark Cuban calls and says that they’d take Gerald Wallace and his $23 million due over the next two seasons for Caron Butler’s expiring contract and a protected first rounder, wouldn’t you have to say “yes?”

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

The New Guy On The New Guys

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Hello there, loyal Bobcats Baseline readers and Charlotte Bobcats fans. If I may introduce myself, I am Cardboard Gerald, the newest contributor to this fantastic website. As you may have noticed, the website has undergone some intense changes (of which I am a big fan). Accompanying these innovations, the Baseline’s major contributors have decided to add me to the writing staff. I am excited to have this opportunity to write for one of the best Bobcats blogs out there. Originally I was supposed to be Senior Headline Writer and G-Force Cardboard Specialist but I guess the Baseline guys see some real talent in me.

In fact, I owe these guys a lot. They were the first to really notice me and my friend back when they wrote the article about us and our signs. Somehow it made it to Deadspin, where a multitude of readers apparently thought we were so awesome that they felt they had to make aggressive projective comments to make sure people didn’t think they were uncool.

Anyway, from there it kind of blew up to a minor degree, including a picture on the front page of the Charlotte Observer’s business section.

But considering I’ll be writing in this space on a regular basis, let me tell you about what I’m like and who I am.

I love this game. I have a serious love/hate relationship with Kurtis Blow’s “Basketball” because I don’t think it’s passionate enough.

I like to think I’m funny. I may or may not be, but that’s for you to decide. Regardless of your opinion, I’ll be using lots of satire, puns and my specialty, sarcasm.

I am a sneakerhead. I don’t even particularly like that name for sneaker enthusiasts but it’s the best name to describe the sub-culture. Feel free to chat me up on twitter (@CardboardGerald) or wherever about sneakers.

I love ultra-athletic forwards. Shawn Kemp in his Sonics years is my favorite player of all time. Gerald Wallace follows a similar mold and adds the perseverance and determination that wins over just about any basketball fan. To say I was a huge advocate for bringing in Tyrus Thomas last year would be an understatement. I love his style of play. Yes, it still needs some refining, but you can’t tell me he’s not headed in the right direction with the Bobcats.

I despise most rosterbation. Of course, like any NBA fan, I love the idea of some trades and get excited about some when I read rumors. However, when I’m reading through some comments on other blogs and I see stuff randomly shoehorned into the comment section like, “Hey, let’s get So-and-so! [Insert link to espn trade machine here],” I can’t stand it. Why? Most of it is stupid, thoughtless garbage and has a .000015439 percent chance of happening. The Trail Blazers are not going to ship us Greg Oden and his knee for Nazr Mohammed or DeSagana Diop. What, does Oden have Ebola? Okay, soapbox over.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the new guys on the Bobcats roster. This new group hasn’t exactly been lauded by the rest of the sports community, to say the least. So let’s take a look: there’s Shaun Livingston, Dominic McGuire, Eduardo Najera, Matt Carroll, Sherron Collins and Kwame Brown.

Shaun Livingston (KNEE MAN!)

I am ecstatic to see Livingston on our team. Maybe I’m a sucker for the underdog story of a guy who fell from being a much-hyped kid coming straight out of high school to an injury prone journeyman but I think he can be a decent contributor to the Bobcats in his first year. At this point I would like to give Livingston a nickname. I shall from now on call him, “Knee Man.”

Knee Man brings some great things to the table for the Cats. Now, we all know that Larry Brown likes his players lean and athletic. Knee Man certainly follows in this mold. His size cannot go unmentioned. The man is 6 feet 7 inches tall – huge size advantage over most point guards. You’ll be sure to see a lineup with Knee Man at the point where everyone on the court for the Bobcats are 6 foot 7 or taller. Also, he has a terrific post game. If you don’t believe me, watch this highlights video from his previous season with the Wizards. If you do believe me, watch it anyway: it’s pretty good. He’s also an incredibly efficient passer. Last season about 30 percent of his possessions ended with an assist (hoopdata) which, to put it in comparison, was one percentage point higher than Raymond Felton’s.

However, Knee Man does have his shortcomings. The most concerning is his injury status. Should an injury come up (knock on wood), Sherron Collins would be our backup point guard. You hear that? All of Bobcats Nation just took a gulp. Another problem is that Knee Man has no outside shooting. But that’s not a big deal considering his above-average post game. Knee Man is pretty efficient scorer though. He doesn’t score a lot, though he had a great field goal percentage last year. He also doesn’t get to the line often and his defense will more than likely be a drop down from Felton although Larry Brown could improve that.

As a final note on Knee Man, don’t worry about his game last night against the Mavs. It looked a little disjointed, but that should be expected when you sit out the whole preseason and much of training camp. If he’s healthy, expect Knee Man to get more comfortable and to get back down around a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.

Dominic McGuire

I don’t really know what to say about this guy. Does anyone? If I may use some terminology from ol’ Donald Rumsfeld, he’s an ‘unknown unknown.’ He’s 6 foot 9 forward who Larry Brown says “can handle it, pass it, [and] he’s athletic.” Another one of LB’s projects, McGuire is raw potential. Of course, that’s just what Larry loves. McGuire describes himself as “do-it-all type” and a point-forward. “People will see I can pass the ball, I can bring the ball up-court. I’m very athletic, and I get to the rim and play defense” (Observer).

I haven’t been able to see him play because of a lack of preseason television broadcasts and an inability to pick up the radio station broadcasts. McGuire is out for about 5 more weeks with a stress fracture in his left shin.

Matt Carroll

The Charlotte Bobcats prodigal son returned this offseason in a trade with Dallas. I won’t go into much detail since his game is pretty simple and most of us know what he can do. He’s a shooter pure and simple. He’ll hustle his butt off but he’s not a great defender and he has trouble getting to the hoop, which isn’t good for a Larry Brown team. I have heard that he can dunk though!

Eduardo Najera

Najera is a power forward who is probably best described as Mexican Don Draper trying to be Rasheed Wallace. But he wasn’t always like that. I don’t know what happened the summer of 2007 but Najera went from taking no more than 21 shots from downtown to 147 in 2007-08 alone. He combined for 24 three point attempts in the two season prior with nearly identical minutes. Someone please call Leonard Nimoy.

Anyway, Najera is known as pure hustle guy. That held true during the Hawks preseason game I attended. He got some garbage time and played hard. However, he also proceeded to jack long jump shots that he missed.

Sherron Collins

I believe Sherron Collins is a genuinely decent point guard. He’s short (5’11”) and has some weight issues right now but that’s nothing a documentary on Sean May can’t cure. I think he has some decent court vision and passing skills. He isn’t a terrible shooter either. The one major concern is his height and weight. He needs to lose weight to be able to stay with the ultra-quick point guards of the NBA.

Kwame Brown

Here it is: the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Kwame Brown. Like McGuire, I see him as a bit of an ‘unknown unknown.’ He’s a big body, which the ‘Cats need so at least he can get some rebounds. Of course his main problems, as they’ve been with him his whole NBA career, are small hands and poor footwork.

The one thing I can’t figure out is the reasoning behind this move. There were lots of other big bodies available when we signed Kwame. Why would Jordan want to okay a move to bring back his most notorious failure unless they saw something in him? Maybe I’m way, WAY off base here, but my Spidey Sense tingles concerning that roster move.

But of course, Kwame is still out with his severely sprained ankle for at least two more weeks.

-Cardboard Gerald

Fun With Media Day Portraits

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Gerald Wallace
Amidst the death rattle of the complex Carmelo trade (that would have netted us a legit starting point guard), the Bobcats began training camp with Media Day on Monday.

Media Day is a chance for the team to herd all the players together in order to take pictures, film video promos and bumpers for broadcasts, and give the local media ammo for puff pieces.  Maybe ammo isn’t the best choice of words…

Anyways, the best part of Media Day is the often ridiculous pictures that get taken.  The Bobcats official site has a quick gallery of some behind-the-scenes candids that probably deserves its own post (check out #13 featuring an inexplicable Stephen Jackson pose and #14 with an unfortunately chunky-appearing Sherron Collins), but what I’m more interested in are the portraits taken by the Charlotte Observer’s Jeff Siner, available here.

Portraits like these are inherently awkward; there’s a reason we gasp at our old school photos and snicker at others “Glamour Shots”.  The fact that these are grown-ass men in tank tops just makes it all the more awkward.

Lets go through these one by one.  Up above is Gerald Wallace — nothing to snark at here.  A solid photo befitting of the heart, soul and face of the franchise.  One of the few pleasures of being a Bobcats fan has been watching Gerald Wallace grow not just as a player but also as a professional comfortable with being promoted as the face of the franchise.

Jack

Stephen Jackson:  Again, nothing to snark at here, except for that souvenir ball from the team store.  Would it have killed them to use a game ball?  Also, note the not-so-subtle change to the collars on the jersey this year (compare to last years in the website banner above).  I’m guessing the all-orange is supposed to “pop” more or something like that.

DJ

DJ Augustin:  The likely starter at point guard gets the old “gimme a smile and a circus pass” treatment.  Probably also had to add “the trade fell through, you’re still the starter!” to get that smile.  Again, that ball — the UPC barcode is a nice touch.  Also a good look at the side vents showing the new material being used in NBA jerseys this year (click here for more on that).

Diaw

Boris Diaw:  Jeff Siner is truly a skilled photographer — Boris doesn’t even look fat in this pose!  Orange glow makes its first appearance in a big way.

Nazr

Nazr Mohammed:  Last year, Nazr morphed into a surprisingly competent solution at the 5 for the Bobcats.  This year, he’s apparently morphing into Lt. Worf.  Seriously, Naz, what’s going on with the forehead there?

Diop

Gana Diop:  Borrows the generic “big man pose” from Nazr, adds the orange mood lighting, and unsurprisingly managing to come off looking way more goofy.  Did we ever decide if Gana is Joey Crawford’s Avatar?

Derrick Brown

Derrick Brown:  Looks like he’s posing for a football card.  Could probably give the Panthers a lift at QB, come to think of it.

Gerald Henderson

Gerald Henderson:  Looks way too nice here.  Really needs to pose (and play) with an edge this year.  Maybe should have gone with Blue Steel.

Najera

Eduardo Najera:  Is anyone else getting a “Mexican Don Draper” vibe here?  Love the throwback dribbling posture — go get the ball out of the peach basket now.

Livingston

Shaun Livingston:  Skinniest arms in the NBA?  Skinniest arms in the NBA.  Also, is the clever arm positioning covering up the fact that he doesn’t have a number yet?

Crittendon

Javaris Crittendon:  If I was Jeff Siner, I would have printed out a couple of different pictures for Javaris, then placed them on a chair by his locker with a note that said “Pick One.”  I’m sure he’d think it was funny.

Ty Thomas

Tyrus Thomas:  I saved the best for last.  I love this photo — no joke.  Perfectly captures the potential that Thomas has.  Reminds me a bit of the famous 40 Year Old Virgin movie poster, with the innocence.  Now Tyrus the dude is no innocent — he’s had his share of professional indiscretions.  But his game is kinda raw and innocent.  Let’s hope he is as earnest as he appears to be in this picture when it comes to reaching his potential as a player this year.

Again, check out the full gallery of Jeff Siner’s photos at the Charlotte Observer’s website.

-Dr. E