Magic Hand Bobcats Decisive Loss

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Baseline Observations: Magic @ Bobcats, 11/10/09

The Gist

The Bobcats never developed any consistent or dynamic offense and were handily defeated by the Magic, 93-81 on a rainy Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  AP recap here, box score here, Bonnell story here.  The Cats did just about everything wrong that they could possibly do en route to being routed in a ho-hum affair.

Fall behind early?  Check: After a tie at 13-13, the Magic pulled away to lead 35-23 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.

Big men get in foul trouble early?  Check: Tyson Chandler picked up 2 fouls guarding Dwight Howard in less than 4 minutes and had to sit the rest of the first half.  Same thing happened to start the second half.

Miss easy shots? Check: Gerald Wallace missed two dunks, and another layup that he should have dunked.

Fall in love with the 3, even though no one’s hitting it?  Check: the Bobcats were 2-17 from long-range.

The Cats made the game mildly interesting by cutting the lead to six a couple times during a stretch spanning the third and fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer as the Magic would pull away again.

Credit where credit is due, Raymond Felton really led the charge during the third quarter run and ended up having the only remotely laudable performance by a Bobcat: 18 pts (6-10 FG, 1-2 3PT), 4 assists:1 turnover for a +5.  Raymond’s solid performance was rendered practically spectacular by comparison to that of DJ Augustin, who ran point for several bad stints (-17 +/-).

Moving On

This is one of those games that is probably best forgotten, which shouldn’t be too hard.  Nothing particularly memorable happened; and there’s another game Wednesday night to look forward to (at Detroit, 7:30 PM ET start).

And besides, watching this game live wasn’t even what resonated most with me about the Bobcats today.  This was (ESPN Insider access needed).  ESPN.com’s Chad Ford and John Hollinger teamed up to produce “Future Power Rankings.”  It’s an ambitious article with a great conceit: the idea is that by assigning points in weighted categories, the 30 NBA teams are ranked in order of overall projected on-court success from now through the 2012-13 season.

The categories were as follows: up to 400 points for players/roster, up to 200 points for management/front office, up to 200 points for money/salary cap situation, up to 100 points for market, and up to 100 points for future draft picks.

Now when I read the introduction to the article, I knew for sure that the Cats were going to be in the bottom five — as we’ve chronicled since the inception of Bobcats Baseline, the future ain’t too bright with this franchise.  Nonetheless, I’m an optimistic guy; we almost made the playoffs last year, we have some interesting young talent (DJ Augustin, Gerald Henderson), and there are some other really messed up franchises (Memphis, Sacramento, etc.).  So to find where Ford and Hollinger placed the Bobcats, I clicked down to the page that had teams 21-25 and hoped.

No Bobcats.  Drats, we are in the bottom five.  Click to 26-30, scroll down, keep scrolling… begin to contemplate the possibility that our near future may be the worst in the NBA, worse than the Grizz, worse than the Bucks.  And yes, according to Ford and Hollinger, the Charlotte Bobcats rank dead last, 30 out of 30, in regards to their potential for on-court success over the next few NBA seasons.  Here’s the blurb:

If you think the Bobcats’ present is bad, just wait ’til you see their future.

Charlotte ranked as the league’s most hopeless franchise in our survey, finishing in the bottom four in every category except one. Even that category, the draft, came with an asterisk: Charlotte ranked well because we expect it to struggle and get high picks, but a future choice it foolishly traded away for the rights to Alexis Ajinca last year could end up costing the Cats a high lottery pick. That’s why they ranked only 12th rather than in the top four.

There’s not much to like here. Charlotte has no cap space until 2011 at the earliest, limited financial resources and a rep for being tight-fisted, ranking the Bobcats 29th in the money category. The Queen City is a small market with no buzz, placing the Bobcats 27th in the market category. And the roster is nothing to write home about either, as D.J. Augustin is the only young player with anything remotely resembling star potential. Most of the other key players are in their late 20s and will be getting worse, not better, in coming years.

Finally, there’s the management — only Golden State’s and Memphis’ rated worse. Owner Robert Johnson has seemed to be in over his head from Day 1, while Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan allegedly runs the team while mulling which iron to play from a fairway bunker in Illinois. That’s left impulsive coach Larry Brown shaping a lot of the day-to-day personnel decisions, with rash moves like the Ajinca trade and the Emeka Okafor-Tyson Chandler deal resulting.

Chew on that, fellow Baseliners.  Tastes like depressing.

-Dr. E