Charlotte Bobcats 2009 NBA Draft Preview: Part 1

Standard

State of the Roster & Team Needs

Starting Five

Heading into the 2009 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats find themselves in some pleasantly unfamiliar territory.  Not only does the team have a lot of proven NBA talent, they also have fewer question marks than ever before.  With the team very likely to re-sign PG Raymond Felton, the Bobcats will begin the ’09–’10 NBA season with last season’s starting lineup intact with all but Raja Bell entering their prime playing years.

The Charlotte Bobcats Reserves

The Bobcats second unit also brings back at least three quality regular rotation players – one of which, second-year point guard DJ Augustin, could start for a half-dozen teams in the League.

Alas, as good as it is in Bobcat-land this offseason, it’s still not perfect.  There are several major personnel questions that the team must address during the draft and free agency.

1. $104 million, 5 years, 3 players and 0 All-Stars

The Bobcats have committed a whopping $104+ million over the next five seasons at the center position alone.  This wouldn’t be such a nightmare if Yao Ming or Dwight Howard were patrolling the middle but the platoon of Emeka Okafor, Gana Diop and Nazr Mohammed hasn’t even a single All-Star selection amongst them (though Okafor may finally break through this season).
It’s nice to have depth in the middle but a small-market-for-sale franchise like the Bobcats can’t have this type of money tied up at one position.  There’s been a lot of conjecture recently about the “inevitable Nazr Mohammed trade” but maybe we’re all looking in the wrong direction.  Given Larry Brown’s series of thinly veiled rips on Okafor in the local media added to the fact that Emeka’s status as a base year compensation player is now over and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Okafor was shopped hard this offseason.  He’s by far the most attractive of the group – with a decent contract, good game and a great attitude – and given his large cap number could be the center of a major deal that returned another big-time player, ideally a dynamic shooting guard with a shorter contract.
Maybe a deal that sends Okafor to Detroit for Rip Hamilton makes some sense with Diop stepping in as the starting center.
In fact, if an Okafor trade like this were to happen during the summer, you could argue that the earlier Diop trade was part of the organization’s greater Master Plan.  Of course, that would require you to believe that the the Bobcats organization actually plans things.

2. Ten seconds left on the clock, who’s the man?

Well, it sure as hell shouldn’t be Raymond Felton.  We appreciate your effort Raymond, seriously, we do.  But your inability to get anything done on the offensive end when it matters most was so damn infuriating that it almost made us forget about all the things that you are good at.
If a deal like the one mentioned above can be worked out in order to bring in a ballsy scorer in from another team then the Bobcats should pounce on it because their current lack of a crunch-time scorer will be the difference between them winning 38 games or 50 games.
If a trade can’t be worked out, then there’s only one option.  Iverson.  Period.
There’s nobody in this draft (save maybe Stephen Curry) who could be the man this year.  It may require the team to part with Okafor, DJ Augustin or their lottery pick but a go-to scorer is their most pressing need for certain.

3. Who backs up the Phoen-Ex Suns?

Charlotte’s strong playoff push ostensibly ended with Raja Bell’s calf injury in early April.  With Bell out, the Bobcats had to play too small and too young with DJ Augustin and Cartier Martin.  The Bobcats clearly need to find some depth at the 2-guard and if a trade like the one mentioned above can’t be made then the Draft has a few quality options.
The Bobcats can either hope one of the “upside” guys like Tyreke Evans or DeMar DeRozan falls to them at pick twelve or try to hit a solid double with Duke’s Gerald Henderson (the “Emeka Okafor” of shooting guard prospects).  We’ll have more in-depth previews on all of the collegiate players in our next post.

The same goes for the other ex-Sun, Boris Diaw.  The Bobcats were lucky that Boris stayed healthy following the trade because there wasn’t much depth behind him and the team seemed to have finally made good on their promise not to play Gerald Wallace out of position.  Coach Brown seemed to be impressed with Pittsburgh’s Dejuan Blair during his recent workout with the team and the big man could be there at twelve when the Bobcats pick.

We also shouldn’t forget the other overweight power-forward with bad knees, Mr. Crab Bread himself, Sean May.  If the team and May’s agent can come to an agreement in which May hits the unrestricted market and re-signs with the team for a league minimum one or two year contract, then a motivated, healthy Sean May could be the nice surprise in ’09–’10.

It’s all good.

The fact that I can type “The Bobcats are only a piece or two away from 50+ wins” with a straight face means that there has been considerable progress.  Putting aside five years worth of questionable draft selections, poor business decisions and overt cronyism, the ‘Cats find themselves now with one of the League’s best coaches, the promise of new ownership, a lottery pick, a little cap space and a few solid assets to play with during the offseason.  For Bobcats fans, the future’s never been brighter.

-ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats @ OKC Thunder 4/10/09

Standard

Bobcats fall to Thunder, Chad Ford Loves the Thunder

1. The Playoff Hunt is officially over for the Bobcats as they fall 84-81 to Chad Ford’s favorite team (OKC) Friday night.  The team stands at 35-44 with 3 games remaining in the season.

2. Ugly, ugly, ugly game for the Bobcats.  Charlotte shoots a combined 33% from the field (29 of 87) and commits 14 turnovers.  Quick question:
Name the 6 Charlotte Bobcats Players who shot:

  • 4-13
  • 8-21
  • 1-5
  • 3-12
  • 4-16
  • 6-16

Answer: The 6 guys who played the most.
The starters sucked it up bad and then DJ came in and sucked it up in reserve.  It wasn’t like the Thunder were playing Championship Defense (although the OKC broadcast team thought so).  The Bobcats as a team just couldn’t get the ball to stay in the basket.  I lost count of how many fast breaks, put-backs, easy 2-footers, etc that just didn’t fall.  And no disrespect to the Thunder, they played very good defense (notably 2008 Bobcat 2nd Round Pick Kyle Weaver on Gerald Wallace) but hardly the kind that should inspire 33% shooting.

3. So, is Thunder GM Sam Presti secretly just taking orders from ESPN.com’s Chad Ford?  Seriously, take a look at OKC’s roster:

  • Kevin Durant (phenom in the making)
  • Jeff Green (Scottie Pippen meets Dwight Howard in the making)
  • Russell Westbrook (ESPN Insider equivalent to The Hottest New Band Nobody’s Talking About)
  • Nenad Kristic (Super-skilled Euro Center with strange male-pattern baldness)
  • Thabo Sefolosha (Euro wing defender, kind of a young Raja Bell)
  • DJ White/Kyle Weaver (late first round gems in the making)
  • Shaun Livingston (former Chad Ford idol; 6’7″ PG making a comeback at the ripe old age of 23)

Add this to the fact the OKC has about 37 first round picks in the next two drafts and we can all rest assured that Portland’s Kevin Pritchard will be receiving far less bon-bons and roses from Mr. Ford this June.

4. Jeff Green (btw) looks fantastic.  He finished the game with 10pts and 11rbs but scored his 5 buckets in every way imaginable.  Kristic was the real surprise though.  Even though he came back from Europe looking like a Rasho Nestorovich mannequin, the dude really lit it up with 19pts on 9-12 shooting and made Emeka look pretty useless all evening.

5. Speaking of Okafor, how is it biologically possible that a human being as atheletically endowed as Emeka can’t jump more than four inches off of the ground?  Someone please explain this to me.  Looking at the guy, you’d think that he’d be able to out-jump assistant coach Capel but in reality…  no dice.  And isn’t his inability to put back a shot (while jumping) completely incongruent with his proficiency at blocking opponents shots?  Rebounding?  I have a theory on Emeka and it goes something like this:
A few years ago Emeka Okafor read Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink.”  He then decided to dedicate his life to doing the opposite of whatever that book had to say.
I honestly think that Okafor is too damn intelligent for the NBA – his mind is just too analytical and he doesn’t have the ability to shut if off when he’s on the court.

6. OKC’s crowd went into this game (their home court finale) like it was Game 7 of the Finals.  Seeing the arena jam-packed and the crowd completely attentive and excited brought back some fond memories of the old Charlotte Coliseum and the glory days of LJ, ZO, and Muggsy.  [HEY!  RON GREEN, SR. stop hacking into my computer!]

7. Speaking of the old Hornets, OKC’s pre-game interviewer (their version of Stephanie Ready) is none other than Matt Pinto, who served as the Charlotte Hornets radio announcer (and Gerry Vallaincourt’s radio co-host) back in the early 90s.

8. Bright spots for the Bobcats?  Well, Dontell Jefferson came in and played very well in a cameo scoring 6pts in 6 minutes.  Other than that…well Radman had a steal in the open court early in the first and then finished it off with a reverse EURO-JAM! but then proceeded to brick a bunch of threes and get burned on defense by guys getting paid an eighth of what he does.  Hmm…more bright spots?  Maybe I’ll have some for you after Saturday night’s game in Chicago against the Bulls.

Till then, enjoy the loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Hawks 3/6/09

Standard

1.  The Bobcats make it 5 in a row tonight by defeating the Hawks at the Cable Box, 98-91.  AP story here, box score here.  The Cats move to 18-15 at home, 27-35 overall, and are just 1.5 games out of the 8th playoff spot.

2.  This was another well-rounded effort, with all five starters playing big minutes and getting to double figures.  Larry Brown has tightened his rotation significantly, with only DJ, Radman and Diop getting action off the bench.  For the game the Cats shot 54%.  They outrebounded the Hawks 40-31, and had 29 assists vs. 10 turnovers.

3.  The Cats opened the game with their best quarter of the season, scoring 36 points on 17-21 FG (81%!).  They looked really sharp in taking advantage of the Hawks lack of interior defense, tallying assists on 14 of 17 field goals, most of them layups.  That scintillating quarter provided a 15 point lead that proved to be just enough cushion for the rest of the game.

The Hawks gradually chipped away at the lead and actually pulled to within two on a Mo Evans tip with 8 minutes left.  However, Radmanovic answered with a high-arching well defended 12-footer on the next possession, followed by Diop getting a tip-in of his own to extend the lead back out to a more comfortable six.

Down the stretch, Raymond Felton had two huge layups (the second one drew a foul on Horford for a three-point play) to put the game away.

4.  After posting a decent first half line of 13 points (6-10 FG), 4 rebounds and 2 blocks, Josh Smith was benched for the second half.  He apparently got into a shouting match with coach Mike Woodson on the way to the locker room for halftime.  No definitive word yet on what the dispute was over, but I have to imagine it had something to do with the crappy defense the Hawks were playing.  Whatever it wasy, Smith’s absence in the second half was certainly an advantage for the Cats.

5.  Gerald Wallace led the way with 21 points (9-13 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and a team-high +20 +/-.  Felton (17 pts on 7-13 FG and 10 assists) and Diaw (13 points on 6-8 FG and 13 assists) both had double-doubles, as did Okafor (17 points on 6-12 FG, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks).

Raja Bell looked like he was trying to force a similar performance out of his bad shoulder as he managed Wednesday night; didn’t happen as he finished with 5-13 FG (1-6 3PT).  However, he played great defense on Joe Johnson, who never got it going tonight.

Gana Diop deserves special mention again.  In 18 minutes off the bench he had 6 points (3-5 FG) and 7 rebounds (4 offensive).  Just as he did on Wednesday night, Diop was huge spelling Okafor in the fourth quarter, when the opponent was making a mad rush to get back in the game.

6.  I can’t help but think back to the last time we faced the Hawks — exactly a month ago.  Gerald Wallace was out with a lung, and Adam Morrison was subbing for him.  Marvin Williams abused Morrison to the tune of 29 points on 18-20 FTs and the Hawks pulled out a win.  Not coincidentally, Morrison was traded less than 48 hours later.

Now we have a much more functional Vladimir Radmanovic in the Morrison role, and Gerald Wallace back in midseason form — big difference.  Needless to say, Marvin Williams had a much more pedestrian 13 points on 5-15 FG tonight.

7.  The crowd started off disappointingly small for a Friday night, but by the end of the first quarter had filled in a bit to normal “Friday night” levels.  So far, no bump that I could tell from Playoff Mania (or Bojangles All-You-Can-Eat night).  On the other hand, the crowd that was there seemed to be well aware that the Cats are playing well and in the thick of the playoff hunt.

8.  So the NBA scoreboard for the night shows some positive results for the Cats.  Chicago beat Milwaukee to take sole possession of the 8th spot.  This works well as we hold the tiebreaker over the Bulls.  And the Magic beat the Nets, who fall back into a tie with the Cats just 1.5 games back of Chicago.

9.  The Bobcats are off to New York to face D’Antoni’s Knicks on Saturday night (7:30 PM ET).  Elsewhere, Milwaukee will be hosting Golden State in the only other game of consequence to the Cats.  So, uh, go Warriors!

-E

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Bulls 3/3/09

Standard

1.  Keep those playoff dreams alive, Bobcats fans.  The Cats post a solid win over the visiting Bulls at the Cable Box on Wednesday night, 96-80.  AP story here, box score here.  The Cats have a season-high four game win streak going (woo-hoo!) and are within two games of the 8th playoff spot.

2.  That was a shockingly lame effort from the Bulls, who are right in the mix with the Bobcats fighting for the last playoff spot.  The Bobcats came right out and jumped on them with a stellar first quarter; the Bulls only made a half-hearted push late in the third, cutting the Bobcats lead to 8 at one point, but coudn’t get any closer.

I realize the Bulls were without key reserve Tim Thomas and ostensible star Luol Deng, but still.  It’s not as if Deng is Lebron James or something.  I really liked the Bulls’ move to get John Salmons and Brad Miller at the trade deadline and figured it made them the front-runners to claim the 8th playoff spot, but neither was very impressive tonight.  Salmons was downright bad, in fact (1-7 3PT).

3.  The Bobcats were very Pistons-like tonight in that the starting five all got into double figures, yet no one scored over 18.  Raja Bell, who was a question mark going into the game with a busted up shoulder, came out on fire, hitting 7 of his first 9 shots (including 2-2 3PT) and netting all 18 of his points in the first half.  Boris Diaw proved to be a nice counterbalance in getting all 13 of his points after the half.

Emeka was solid with 14 points (5-9 FG, 4-4 FT), 10 rebounds and 2 blocks — could have used a few more looks inside against the Bulls weak front line, but whatever.

And Felton had a nice game with 18 points (6-11 FG, 1-3 3PT, 5-5 FT) and 9 assists vs. 2 turnovers.

4.  The bench was equally well-rounded.  DJ didn’t torch Derrick Rose like he did in their first matchup this year, but still had a nice game with 8 points (3-4 FG, 2-2 FT) and 5 assists vs. 2 turnovers.

And Gana Diop had probably his best game of the year, with 6 points (3-4 FG), 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block in 13 minutes.  The line isn’t that impressive, and it’s hard to see it even in the play-by-play, but for five minutes in the fourth quarter, Gana dominated the paint.  During that stretch (from 9 minutes left until 4) the Bobcats extended their lead slightly from 15 to 17 despite the Bulls making a last-ditch desperation effort to make it interesting.

5.  And the icing on the cake was the tussle between the Bulls lumbering backup center, Aaron (Lurch?) Gray and The Human Victory Cigarette, Alexis Ajinca.  Alexis entered the game with three minutes left and immediately went to work, missing a 20 footer, then a 12 foot Magic Johnson rolling-across-the-lane skyhook.  On the other end, he fouled Gray down low.  I don’t recall the foul being overzealous or anything, but maybe it was.  It might explain what happened on the next possession.

Alexis gets the ball in the post, guarded by Gray.  Now keep in mind, Gray probably outweighs Ajinca by at least 60 lbs and there’s under a minute left in a 15-point game.  Alexis tries to make a move, but gets nowhere against his massive opponent; so he starts dribbling all crazy-like, except he’s going backwards, into the corner.  Gray, like a shark sensing blood, advances further, making sure to body up on the Frail Frenchman.  Ajinca bristles at the rough play.  A foul is called on Gray as Ajinca is forced out of bounds.  I’m not sure if words were exchanged, or just mean-mugging and the universal body language of “WTF, asshole?!?!” but next came a strong one-handed shove from Gray, which sent Ajinca flying backwards, surprisingly not very far.  Freedom Fries quickly regained his balance, and…

whipped the ball at Gray’s torso.  At this point, both Ajinca and Gray were showing more emotion than any of their teammates had during the entire, ho-hum game.  No one else wanted to join in though; whistles were blown and teammates quickly separated the spirited twelfth men, who garnered matching, offsetting technicals.

But just because no one else wanted to join in doesn’t mean the fracas wasn’t enjoyed by all.  Several players, Kirk Hinrich and Raymond Felton in particular, shared broad grins in the aftermath at the prospect of an Aaron Gray-Alexis Ajinca rumble.  Rufus ran onto the court (just a few steps, at the opposite end of the floor, but still… suspension? — jk) to shadowbox and agitate.  Most of the fans had a hearty chuckle.  Good times.

6.  A quick glance at the box score shows a favorable assist:turnover ratio for the game: 24:13.  Let’s hope it stays that way.  And free throw shooting was on point tonight 18-20.

7.  So with this win over the Bulls, the Bobcats clinch the tiebreaker on them, should they end up tied for the 8th spot in a few weeks.  And with New Jersey’s clutch win over Milwaukee, things have really tightened up overall.  Milwaukee still holds the 8th spot.  New Jersey’s only a half game back; the Bulls are 1 game back; the Bobcats and Pacers are both just 2 games back.

Maybe it would be worth it to host a couple of playoff games against Lebron…

8.  The Cats get a couple of nights off; next game is Friday night at home against the Hawks at 7 PM ET.

-E

Charlotte Bobcats @ Clippers 2/28/09

Standard

1.  The Bobcats finish off the road trip in strong fashion, defeating the Clippers 100-95.  AP story here, box score here, PopcornMachine.net game flow here.  That makes for a three game win streak, and a 3-2 Western Conference road trip.

2.  None of the three victories were very pretty or particularly solid, and they were all against lotto teams, but the overall body of work on the road trip is nothing to scoff at.  After starting off the trip with two losses, the Cats could have easily packed it in and folded, using the fatigue of West Coast travel as an easy excuse.

3.  It was a strong third quarter from the starters that made the difference in this one.  Everyone contributed towards a 34-20 quarter that lifted the Cats from a 51-45 halftime deficit to a 79-71 lead heading into the fourth.

4.  Emeka Okafor was the statistical star of the game, finishing with 28 points (11-17 FG, 6-7 FT) and 9 rebounds.  With 17 FGAs (tying a season high) Mek was obviously very aggressive in looking for his offense, doing most of his damage during the second and third quarters.  He had his requisite putbacks and dunks, but also looked great heading to the basket and finishing.  He connected with DJ for a great alley-oop and also hit a couple of 12-foot pull-up jumpers in the second.

5.  Raja Bell also had a stong game, getting 9 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to hold the Clippers at bay and adding 7 rebounds along the way.  Raja hit the biggest shot of the game, a tough three-pointer under two minutes to go to bump the Cats lead back up to five.

6.  Probably the best sign from the box score is the assist/turnover numbers. The Bobcats have been struggling with turnovers since the All-Star break, and the last game of a 5-game Western Conference road trip isn’t the most likely place to change that trend.

But change it they did.  Overall, the team had 29 assists versus only 10 turnovers.  Felton (7 assists/2 turnovers) and Augustin (8/1) set the tone.  Now if we can just get Boris (4 turnovers) under control…

7.  This one puts us at 25-35 overall, with 22 games left.  We’re three games back of Milwaukee, who is hanging tough in that 8th playoff spot.  Chicago and New Jersey are both only one game back, while New York and Indiana have fallen to 3.5 games back.

Hollinger’s playoff odds gives us a 14.2% chance to get there, while basketball-reference.com gives us only a 7.1% chance (obviously using a different formula).  40 wins probably gets us in, which means we still need to go 15-7 down the stretch.

8.  For those rooting for that 8th playoff spot, the next game is an especially big one.  We have Chicago at home on Tuesday night (7 PM start) — we’ve already defeated them once this season (DJ’s best game of the season back on December 16) and will face them in Chicago for the third and last time in the last week of the season.  Chicago is one of the teams that we’d likely be fighting against if we can get to 39 wins, so to secure the tiebreaker against them by winning Tuesday night would be great.

9.  One last note: if you haven’t already read it, Bill Simmons’ piece on the NBA’s financial troubles is your assigned weekend reading — here you go.

-E

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Pacers 2/18/09

Standard

1.  The Bobcats took care of the Pacers on Wednesday night, 103-94.  AP story here, box score here.  The Bobcats go to 22-32 overall, and 16-14 at home.

2.  The Pacers were already playing without important cogs Mike Dunleavy and Jeff Foster due to injuries, then lost All-Star Danny Granger to a sprained foot early in the second quarter.  That, combined with center Roy Hibbert getting in early foul trouble, led to some strange lineups for the Pacers.

First of all, I was subjected to 18 minutes of Rasho Nesterovic — never pretty for Pacers fans, as evidenced by the pic above of Radman dunking on him.

But mostly, the Pacers went small.  Real small.  Like, there was a stretch when Travis Diener, TJ Ford, and Jarrett Jack were on the floor together.  (Gave me bad flashbacks to the time when LB put Singletary, DJ and Felton out there at the same time.)  Rounding out the “3 PG” lineup were Marquis Daniels and Troy Murphy.  For some of the fourth quarter, Maceo Baston was essentially playing “center” for the Pacers.

The Bobcats mostly obliged with smallball, as Okafor only got 21 minutes, Diop 11 and Howard 1 — Radmanovic was the biggest guy on the court for the Bobcats for a time.  I would have liked to see what Okafor could have done with more minutes against Nesterovic and Murphy, but whatever…

3.  So despite the Pacers depleted squad and odd lineups, the Bobcats never definitively put the Pacers away.  It was kind of disappointing, really, but the season is a marathon and all.  It’s just that they could have been a lot sharper.

4.  Granger’s injury was awful quiet.  He started the game pretty hot, going 4-9 with 2 threes in 10 minutes, then left early in the second quarter.  Postgame he apparently said he felt something pop in his foot upon landing after a shot attempt and came out next break.  I certainly don’t remember the injury, and didn’t even realize he was gone until halfway through the third quarter when the Pacers were struggling to score.

Without him or Dunleavy, the Pacers were really punchless.  Here’s hoping the injury isn’t too bad.  (Then again, it’s almost Tanking Time for teams not in the playoff race — Taylor Griffin, anyone?)

5.  Gerald Wallace led the way for the Bobcats, with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.  He shot poorly from the field (5-17 FG, 0-3 3PT — gotta stop shooting those threes) but was aggressive taking the ball to the basket and money from the line (15-17 FT).

Anyone notice that Crash is shooting nearly 80% from the line this year?  Look at the improvement over his career — just a few years ago he was a 61% free throw shooter.  Pretty incredible, especially because it’s the same awkward, ugly, flat shot he’s always taken.  It’s just money this year.

6.  In his limited minutes (only 21), Okafor was pretty productive.  He had 12 points, swallowed up 12 boards, and also had 4 blocks.

7.  Radmanovic was great off the bench again, with 15 points (6-12 FG, 2-4 3PT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.  Watching him succeed in Morrison’s former role makes me fear for Adam’s basketball career.  Seriously, Radman was buried on the Lakers bench (albeit largely because of a personality conflict with the Zenmaster), but has stepped right in and played well.  So the opportunities were there for Morrison in this system; he was just unable to take advantage.

Unless Morrison’s ACL injuries is one of those ones that really takes 2 years to fully come back from, I won’t be surprised if he’s out of the league in a couple of years.  Maybe even sooner…

8.  DJ has not really played well since he returned from his abdominal strain.  He’s seemed tentative and a step slow.  He didn’t do much tonight, but somehow ended the game with a team-best +10 +/-.

9.  So after turning down the Blazers offer for Gerald Wallace on Wednesday afternoon, it’s looking like the Bobcats won’t be making a deal before Thursday’s deadline.  I still think there’s a chance that a team like Portland, Miami, Dallas or Orlando — looking to shore up their PG spot for the playoffs — will step up with a decent offer for Felton.  Especially Orlando, who got pasted by Chris Paul tonight, and have been unable to run many high pick-and-rolls with the likes of Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue at PG.

And the Bulls trade for John Salmons and Brad Miller is good news for the Bobcats, in the following indirect and convoluted way: I think it puts them at the top of the list for snagging that 8th playoff spot in the East (that is, if Milwaukee ever falls apart like everyone’s been waiting for them to do).  And if the Bulls get in that 8th spot, then the Bobcats don’t.  Which means we actually get to keep our draft pick this year.  Which we need.  Badly.  Even though this draft class isn’t very exciting.

10.  Next game is a biggie: Friday night at the Cable Box, hosting Supes and the Orlando Magic.  Hopefully we can pay them back for the one they stole on their floor Tuesday night.

-E

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Wizards 2/11/09

Standard

1.  The Bobcats defeat the WIzards 101-89 at the Cable Box Wednesday night to head into the All-Star break with back to back wins.  AP story here, box score here.  Cats go to 21-31 overall, 15-14 at home, and 3-0 against the Wizards this year.

2.  Larry Brown went with their billionth different starting lineup on the year: DJ, Raymond, Radmanovich, DIaw and Okafor.  Wallace, Bell and Howard are still out with injuries.  Cartier Martin was first off the bench and played pretty well.  Sean May again logged a few minutes in the first half.

3.  Antawn Jamison started the game off quickly on a personal 7-4 run, but the Bobcats took the lead a minute later on a Felton layup and never trailed again.  The Cats handily won each of the first three quarters.  The Wizards made a little push in the fourth and cut the lead to six with a few minutes left, but DJ and Radman responded and closed the game out  Overall, the Cats shot 50% from the field and were able to get pretty much whatever the wanted on the offensive end.

This one was so routine that Rufus spent much of the second half in the stands trying to freak people out from behind with a fake spider on the end of a fishing rod.

4.  Lots of nice numbers from the starters from the box score tonight:

DJ Augustin was the high scorer with 24 points (7-12 FG, 4-7 3PT, 6-6 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists (no turnovers) and a +13 +/-.  I continue to be pleasantly surprised by his ability to hit the NBA three.  He would be totally forgiven for taking a year or two to develop reliable NBA three-point range, especially as a smaller guy, but he’s already pretty deadly at 41%.

Raymond Felton had a near triple double with 15 points/9 assists/8 rebounds and 5 steals.  And I hate to nitpick, folks, but here is why we’re better off letting DJ take the reins: Felton shot 7-12 FG (1-3 3PT) and had 4 turnovers.   And it’s not just one game.  Check out Hollinger’s True Shooting Percentage numbers, which take into account free throw and three-point shooting: DJ’s at 56.4%, good enough for 14th best among PGs.  Scroll down to find Felton at 47.2%, 56th best amongst his fellow PGs.

Emeka Okafor played very well, with 16 points (4-7 FG, 8-10 FT) and 13 rebounds.  Those 7 FGAs don’t look like enough, but realize that those 10 FTs really represent another 5 shots.  Okafor was working hard, and his teammates were finding him.

And Radman had another solid game.  He started slow and then heated up as the game went on, just like the other night.  21 points on 8-14 FG and 5-10 3PT.  I was being judicious in the recap of the Clippers game when I called him merely “an upgrade” over Morrison.  Radman is a better shooter, a better athlete, and a better slasher/driver than Morrison.  Most importantly, he’s not terrified out there.

5.  Diaw had an interesting line: 14 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 blocks and 7 turnovers.  Yes, seven blocks and seven turnovers.  The former is intersesting because I don’t remember one of those seven blocks — seriously, those were the most quiet seven blocks ever; the latter is worth commenting on because, for all the assists he gets, he throws a lot of risky/bad passes, too.  I think his turnover numbers will naturally fall a little bit as he and his teammates get more accustomed to each other; how much remains to be seen.

6.  So the Cats go into the break on a high note.  No one’s participating in any of the All-Star festivities, which sucks; here’s hoping everyone comes back from the break healthy and well-rested.  First game back is next Tuesday at Orlando.  And let’s keep those Raymond Felton trade rumors flying! (My money’s on Orlando or Dallas.)

-E