Bobcats Baseline Season 9 | Week 3 Recap

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Charlotte’s luck of catching injury-riddled teams finally ran out. Week 3 saw an elite Grizzlies squad, two probable Playoff teams (Milwaukee/Atlanta) and a desperate one (Toronto) trying to turn their season around – all at full strength.

The good news is that Coach Dunlap was able to keep his team playing hard even when things went bad. The Memphis game (84-97) never reached blowout status despite the Grizz’s massive talent advantage and the Cats had multiple chances to get back in it. Wins against the Bucks (102-98) and the Raps (98-97) came despite Charlotte being down late in the fourth quarter. Even last night’s home loss to the Hawks was (91-101) winnable late – until a rash of mental errors finally caught up to them.

Three Thoughts on the Week

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Byron Mullens Creates Bi-Polar People

We hated him. Then he started posting up and driving and we liked him. Then he went back to hoisting threes and fadeaways and we hated him again.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote a great feature on NBA Gunners earlier in the week which breaks down the importance of the high-volume/low efficiency scorer brilliantly (yes, BJ makes the list). See, the reason Mullens keeps chucking up shots is because, well, there’s really no one else on the team who can. The Cats desperately need a centerpiece to run their halfcourt offense through and “oh lord, it’s Byron” is the only man on the roster currently up for the job. Unfortunately, until the front office can find a suitable replacement, Mullens will continue to shoot like there’s no tomorrow.

We So Excited About Jeff Taylor

His three looks like its starting to fall regularly (5-8 over the last two games) and his on-ball defense is a thing of absolute beauty. Taylor hounded Demar Derozan all Wednesday night – so much that Demar “got up in his face” for a double-technical psueda-spat. I’d be frustrated too, Taylor hasn’t even learned to keep his hands up regularly yet still wreaks havoc against his covers. Offensively, he’s slowly but surely figuring it out. His release is still extremely slow (Mike Dunleavy, Jr. of all people swatted one of his jumpers); this makes him hesitant around the rim and on fast breaks where he hasn’t yet developed a feel for NBA-level shotblockers. Ultimately, I think he’ll figure this part out and when he does, the Bobcats are going to have a major question on their hands: There’s only 96 wing position minutes to go around per night. Taylor and MKG should play 65-70 of those. Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon won’t be happy dividing up the rest and that’s before some of those SG minutes get eaten up by a Kemba/Sessions dual PG lineup. With Henderson in line for a big contract extension come July, don’t be surprised if Taylor’s excellent play translates into a Henderson trade between now and February’s deadline.

“We Need to be Bad” Nurtures a Culture of Losing

I keep hearing the old doctrine rehashed on Twitter, “we need to be bad – we can’t be this good this fast, we need more lottery picks! We trade for someone like Carlos Boozer and we’re mediocre again!!!”
Everybody, relax. Seriously.
1. If Lottery Picks equaled winning, the Sacramento Kings would have more banners than any organization in sports. Even better, the Bobcats themselves have had more lottery picks than nearly everyone else over the past decade. What did that buy them? A seven win season. Compare the number of Charlotte lottery picks over that time to San Antonio’s (10-1) or the Lakers (10-0). Just because one contending team in the past 25 years have built themselves entirely through the Lottery (OKC) doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it.
2. “But free agents are overpaid and expensive!!!” Well, I have great news for you ladies & gents, there are other ways to acquire talent in the NBA! Also, not all free agents are overpaid. OJ Mayo is making $4 million this season and is in the top 5 in League Scoring. Carl Landry has been Golden State’s most consistent offensive threat on an identical contract. Our own Ramon Sessions has become the stabilizing force behind the team’s 6 victories yet is paid just $5 million over two seasons. Brook Lopez signed a max contract with the Nets over the summer but has been playing lights out and very well may be the best offensive center in all of basketball.
Also, ask Memphis fans how they acquired Zach Randolph. Or Marc Gasol. Or Mareese Speights. All via well calculated trades. And need I even mention all of the mid to late round draft picks who are/have been dominating the league: Ginobli, Parker, Ibaka, Kobe, Steve Nash, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, Varejao, Ellis, Ty Lawson, et all. Then there’s Euro talent like Pekovic, AK47 and Shved that can be found every year. Fact is, there is MORE talent outside the lottery than in it – it’s just a little harder to find.
3. Finally, keep in mind that Charlotte still has high draft picks from Portland and Detroit owed to them. The Detroit pick in particular will likely be a top 10. Packaging one of these with their own to move up in the lottery is always a possiblity if worthy talent is there. In the meantime, the Bobcats need to build a culture of winning – with Kemba, MKG and Sessions, they may as well do it now, winning a Top 5 pick in a weak 2013 Draft isn’t much of a consolation.

-ASChin

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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A few (belated) thoughts on the Bulls lottery win…

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There were only a couple of teams who truly “deserved” to win the lottery this year. Minnesota comes to mind: they weren’t going anywhere with Garnett, but were able to get a nice piece (Jefferson) back when trading him away. They have had some bad luck with injuries to their young guards in the past couple of years (McCants, Foye), and as a result were honestly miserable again this year.

Most of the other teams found themselves in lottery hell due to their own devices, thus hardly warranting any good karma. Miami turned in a superlative tank job (Stephane Lasme, Kasib Powell, Earl Barron, etc.). Memphis gave away Pau Gasol and got virtually nothing in return. The destruction of both the Knicks and Sonics from within has been well-documented.

You can add the Bulls to that list as well. Over the past 7 years, the Bulls traded both Elton Brand and Tyson Chandler away, only to watch both become stars on different teams. They’ve repeatedly failed in their quests to add impact players to the roster (see Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant). They signed Ben Wallace to a cap-strapping free agent deal, only to watch his skills and value go down the tubes. This season, the team sagged under playoff expectations, culminating in the firing of coach Scott Skiles and the trade that jettisoned Wallace and Joe Smith in favor of Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes. To top it all off a few weeks ago, the Bulls dragged their feet while recruiting Mike D’Antoni to fill their coaching vacancy, then whined when the Knicks swept him off his feet with an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Again, no way that recent history warrants good karma.

Karma or not, that the Bulls won the lottery is certainly a boon to NBA columnists and bloggers everywhere. The Bulls are one of the handful of teams that could go either way between Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley with the #1 pick, so let the opinions and speculation fly!

Beasley instantly fills a need that the Bulls have had for years: an offensive presence down low. They would be able to plug him into the starting lineup with Hinrich, Hughes, Deng and Noah, with Duhon, Gordon, Nocioni, Gooden and Thomas coming off the bench. Not a bad rotation, huh? Case closed?

Not so fast.

I am of the opinion that Rose is the better pick for the Bulls. Upgrading at the point guard position is probably the quickest and most effective way to improve your team. Kirk Hinrich took a step (or two) back last year, when he should have been elevating both his and his teammates games to the next level.

The Bulls have plenty of talent on their roster; it would seem that they just need a unifying force that can make everyone else better. With Rose at point, I see Deng finally fulfilling his potential, and Tyrus Thomas finally beginning to.

Look, neither points the caliber of Rose nor forwards like Beasley are exactly falling out of the sky — but in the big picture, points like Rose come along less frequently and are more valuable. I know who I’d be rooting for if I were a Bulls fan.

-E

Reminder: Draft Lottery Tonight!

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Reminder: the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery will be televised tonight at 8:00 on ESPN before Game 1 of the Boston/Detroit series. The actual lottery is done sometime before 8:00, and results are kept confidential until the televised unveiling.

Bobcats.com is reporting that GM Rod Higgins will be representing the team at the Lottery tonight. Hmmm, the Nets have us beat on that front, as they’re sending Jay-Z. No word on whether or not Higgins is bringing a lock of Rufus Lynx’s mangy hair as a good luck charm, as I suspect.

Chad Ford is steady killing the draft coverage on ESPN.com, with a lottery preview that touches on the recent history of the lottery, as well as his contribution to the Joe Alexander buzz.

DraftExpress.com has been visiting different workouts as well, highlighted by “exclusive access” to a “private” workout session featuring “The Big Secret” JaVale McGee. Nice gimmick for McGee — I might be intrigued if I weren’t so cynical…

And of course, we’ve been on our grind here at Bobcats Baseline as well, with a multi-part draft preview:

Part One: Team Needs

Part Two: The Lottery

Part Three: Picks #1-3

Part Four: Pick #8 or #9

Cross your fingers, folks!

-E

Bobcats Baseline 2008 Draft Preview Part Two: The Lottery

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Welcome to Part Two of a five-part look at the 2008 NBA Draft from the perspective of the Charlotte Bobcats. Part One was a basic look at the Bobcats’ needs as they stand currently. In Part Two we take a detailed look at the draft lottery process which determines where the team will pick. Part Three will be an examination of the Bobcats’ options if they should luck out in the lottery and move up into one of the top three picks, while Part Four will be a look at the team’s possible choices if they stay in their spot with the eighth pick. At the end of this odyssey, Part Five will consider the Bobcats’ second round pick.

The draft lottery can be a confusing beast. The 2008 lottery is right around the corner — Tuesday, May 20 — and as usual, there are some impact players at the top of the draft. So here’s a primer. Continue reading