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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Lazy Sunday Links

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Sitting around waiting for a goal to be scored in the World Cup final on this sweltering Sunday afternoon?  Lucky for you, as is often the case on Sundays, there’s some pretty good reading out there.

LebronWadeBosh

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst offers a must-read on how the stage was set for these guys to join forces in “South Beach.”  As the Sports Guy has pointed out, there’s way more to this story that will hopefully come out in time, but this is a great start:

Now that the move has been made, the veil of secrecy is being raised to a degree as people are beginning to talk. The Plain Dealer talked to numerous sources to piece together a picture of how James ended up in Miami.  It is still a somewhat fuzzy picture, but here are the broad strokes…

And if you haven’t had a chance to read any of the overwhelmingly negative national reaction to Lebron’s decision, here are two excellent pieces from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Deadspin/New York Magazine’s Will Leitch.

Felton to Knicks

Details of Raymond’s deal with the Knicks are out.  Apparently the deal is for 2 years/$15.8 million.  There is a third year team option for a similar figure which could bring the deal in the neighborhood of $25 million over three years.  Raymond’s decision to pass up the Bobcats’ long term offer last summer is looking worse and worse from his perspective.  Still wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish his career back in Charlotte as a backup down the road.

Here’s Bonnell’s story for the Observer and some more quotes from a South Carolina paper.  You can tell it’s a South Carolina paper because of the headline: “Felton looks forward to bright lights of the Big Apple”.  Good grief.

Orlando Summer League

We’ve given the Bobcats’ mostly positive turn in last week’s Orlando Summer League short shrift here at the Baseline, but it’s not for lack of caring.  Look for a post on the subject in the coming days.  In the meantime, here’s Bonnell from the Observer with some thoughts:

Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown can be trusted with bigger roles next season… It’s dangerous to put too much weight on summer-league performances — you’re supposed to excel against D-Leaguers — but it was obvious Henderson an Brown are figuring out what it takes to be productive on the NBA level.

The national media outlets pay less attention to the Orlando Summer league relative to the bigger and better Las Vegas Summer League; and when they do cover Orlando, the rookies (Philly’s Evan Tuner and New Jersey’s Derrick Favors in this case) get most of the attention.  Despite that, there were several mentions of the Bobcats young vets looking good.

Michael Jordan in Charlotte

Scott Fowler has a nice article in today’s Observer on Michael Jordan’s increased presence in the city of Charlotte and the Bobcats front office since he, you know, bought the team:

In the three months or so since Jordan bought the Charlotte Bobcats from Bob Johnson and became the team’s majority owner, Jordan’s visibility both in the community and in the Bobcats’ offices has increased dramatically.

Jordan has bought a home in uptown Charlotte five minutes from Time Warner Cable Arena and plans to start living there part time in September…

There’s also a slideshow of pictures from the Bobcats Fantasy Camp mentioned in the article.  As I write this, the article is currently the “Most Viewed” on the Observer’s website, and I’ve already been part of an email thread amongst friends discussing it.

Clearly, people care about how engaged Jordan is with the city of Charlotte.  The Bobcats are aware of it; they included questions about “how important” it was to me whether or not Jordan purchased a home here in a survey sent to season ticket holders recently.  Seriously.

Hopefully, people at least see Jordan’s level of engagement with the city an indicator of how engaged he is with the team.  If so, fine.  I suppose it’s a reasonable proxy.

But I guess I’m just a different kind of fan (clearly, I have a blog).  I could care less whether Jordan buys a house in Charlotte, or bowls and eats at the Epicentre.  I don’t need to put on a “Jordan Brand” t-shirt and drool over him at a “fantasy” camp.

I’d be much more happy if the team made sound financial/personnel decisions, stopped whiffing on draft picks, and thus consistently put a competitive basketball team on the court.  They’ve had trouble doing that over the history of the franchise.

2010’s playoff experience was undoubtedly a positive thing, but I’m still dubious of the Cats’ chances for on-court success in the medium-term due to salary cap issues and a lack of elite young talent.

Don’t sell me a bunch of sizzling Air Jordan “value-added” side dishes when the main course needs work.

-Dr. E




Boozer Demolishes Bobcats, Sale Imminent? Hughes Signing Soon?

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Utah 2/24/10

Charlotte can’t hold onto an eleven point half-time lead as Carlos Boozer and the Jazz TapouT™ the ‘Cats in Salt Lake City 102-93.

AP recap here | Box Score here | Bonnell recap here

The Game

Bobcats start out strong in Utah, avoiding the usual Insta-Road-Deficit but were bullied by a physical Jazz team in the second half.

Jerry Sloan countered Larry Brown with an all-too-obvious adjustment at halftime by pounding the ball inside and destroying a small Bobcats lineup that was without centers Nazr Mohammed (back), Gana Diop (knee) and Tyson Chandler (testicles).

Without the $64 Million Dollar Men, Larry Brown was again forced to play Theo Ratliff north of 30 minutes for the second consecutive game – Ratliff had played a total of 37 minutes in 2010 before being traded to the Bobcats.  The 36 year old veteran did his best but the Bobcats had no answer for former Dookie Carlos Boozer (33 points on 13 of 16 shooting).  Even Boris Diaw, who is regularly singled out for his one-on-one defensive abilities by John Hollinger, had no chance against ‘Los.  Boris’ -23 plus/minus pretty much sums up his night.  THE RESULT: Jazz outscore the Bobcats 31-16 in the third, 29-24 in the fourth.  LB would watch the rest of the game from the locker room after being tossed late in the final period (reportedly over being jealous of Kyle Korver’s tan).

QUICK NOTE ON TYRUS THOMAS:
I’m sure that the Bobcats believed that the acquisition of Thomas would allow them to throw different looks at opposing forwards.  The problem is that Thomas is a much better help defender than a Dennis Rodman-like pest on the low block and although Tyrus put up a nice line tonight (20 points, 3 steals, 4 rebounds), he’s gonna need some coaching before he becomes anything more than a game-changing gimmick player off of the bench — much like Gerald Wallace during his first few years in Charlotte.

Bullets:

  • Derrick Brown only scored two points in two minutes in this game but it was on a seriously rad dunk (check out the highlights above).  Why he and Henderson aren’t getting any extended burn is beyond me.
  • How is that this guy is two thirds of the way through his third NBA season and I’m just now finding out about Kyrylo Fesenko?  A 7-foot, 300 pound “hoss,” Fesenko could feasibly stick around in the League for the next decade.  If Marcin Gortat is worth the full mid-level, this kid is worth at least half that.  Gotta commend the Jazz organization for loading up on quality bigs (Boozer, Milsap, Okur, Kirilenko, (last year’s) Koufus and now Fesenko.  The Jazz not only have incredible depth at the 4 & 5 positions, they could also trot out enough Euro-Heavies to finally bring down Jason Bourne.

Help on the Way?

The Kings officially cut ties with Larry Hughes today which brought on an onslaught of speculation that the ‘Cats would sign him.  On paper this makes lots of sense as Hughes seems to be from the Flip Murray School of Instant Offense.  As a 26+ game rental, Hughes could provide the slashing and jump shooting that the team lost in Murray with the added benefit of being a much better defender.  The team could ink him at the veteran’s minimum and still be under the luxury tax.
Bonnell has a nice write up of the logistics and probabilities of the move in his blog.

Going Once, Going Twice, SOLD!

How funny is it that while the financial world lies shaken from the fallout of the Greek sovereign debt crisis, some Greek-American dude is about to take on one of professional sports’ most debt-laden franchises?  You’ve probably read the quote before but the official line goes something like “most of the franchise’s value lies in it’s debt” — yeah, isn’t that how the world got into this economic mess to begin with?
The truth of the matter is that the Bobcats are going to be sold for far less than what Bob Johnson paid for it (before calculating inflation and all of the other money Johnson has thrown away during the past 6-7 years) and if George Postolos’ Group has the slightest inkling of how to run a major sports franchise, the team should be profitable within the next 3-5 years (pending a 2011 lockout).
Charlotte led the league in attendance for close to a decade, they have an incredible facility (controversially gifted to them by taxpayers), a quality city, educated fans, good weather, lots of home grown, regional talent and are the only NBA team in a region that spans south of D.C. and north of Atlanta.  It would take a certified moron to screw up a situation like this (as we’ve witnessed).  Barring a last minute rally from Michael Jordan’s “Ownership Group,” we’re likely to see Postolos take control of this franchise very soon.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Who Is Florent Pietrus?

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f-pietrus

As we continue to piggyback on the professional work of the Charlotte Observer’s Bobcats beatwriter Rick Bonnell,  it felt natural to expand on the story he uncovered earlier this week. While Bonnell can simply reach out and call Larry Brown (who may still be with the French team), the Bobcats Baseline crew can still do a mean Google / Bing search. . .

The latest post from Bonnell centers on Larry Brown’s interest in Florent Pietrus, older brother of Orlando Magic guard/forward Mickael Pietrus (you may have seen him in the NBA Finals). It’s not certain if this move would be motivated by Brown’s new love of French basketball and basketball players or if the Bobcats just want to join in on the “brother potential” movement (see Phoenix’s Taylor Griffin / Robin Lopez). If the Cats can loosen up some money, it’s likely they’ll bring in Florent Pietrus for a fairly conservative deal.  Pietrus has been waiting a long time to get interest from an NBA squad and would probably accept any offer that would allow him a chance to compete at the top level of basketball.

Here’s what we know about Florent Pietrus :
Florent, 28, began his pro career with one of the better French teams Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez. Then, he entered the 2003 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, he was not drafted and continued to play professionally for CB Málaga (Spain) from 2004-07. Pietrus currently plays with the club MMT Estudiantes (Madrid – ACB).

Luckily, he can dunk with two hands!
Two-Hand-Jam #1 »
Two-Hand-Jam #2 »
Two-Hand-Jam #3 »

Rick Bonnell, Keep the Change

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The Bobcats Need New Ownership with Direction, Not “Hope”

Larry Brown the Saviour?  Don't Get Your Hopes Up

The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell returned back from his forced two week sabatical a few days ago and posted one of his strangest blog entries that I’ve read to date.

After spinning the Okafor/Chandler deal and getting us caught up on the (less than imperative) Raymond Felton situation, he moves on to the “Team For Sale” issue and throws in this nugget:

The day Brown leaves is the day hope dies, and the Bobcats don’t have much hope to waste.

Rick.  Please.  This is just wrong.

  1. Organizations run from top down, not middle up.  The Bobcats will continue to be a “hopeless” franchise up until the day Bob Johnson sells the team to a qualified ownership group and not a second before.  And since ANY ownership group (outside of a Jordan-led outfit) would be more qualified than the current Smartest Guys In The Room, an upgrade is inevitable
  2. Successful organizations are not run on “hope.”  Yes, in professional sports many things can backfire during a season: injuries, suspensions, bad calls and off-the-court issues can undermine a good plan.  But you NEED A GOOD PLAN to begin with.  Teams like Dallas, Utah, the Lakers, Portland, San Antonio, Denver, Cleveland and Boston devise plans and execute them.  Before any given season begins, they put their teams in the best positions to win and reserve backup plans in case anything goes awry.  You certainly don’t see those organizations going into the season without a reliable backup power forward (for instance); crossing their collective fingers on bargain bin replacements mid-way through training camp.
  3. MOST IMPORTANTLY RICK, why in the heck would you carelessly hitch Charlotte Bobcats fans “hopes” to the whims of Captain Wanderlust himself?  Larry Brown might be gone by the start of training camp for all we know.  He’s famously unstable and has proven time and again that he would jump at the next best chance to win a championship (or a better paycheck).  He’s the Larry King of NBA coaches and you want us to believe that Coach Brown is all that we have to cling to?  That’s setting an entire fan base up for failure.

Rick, I politely disagree with you.  Hope is abundant for Charlotte NBA fans.  Everyday that passes is one less with Robert Johnson and that’s plenty hope enough.

–ASChin