PACE: #26 92.0
OFFENSE: #25 100.8
DEFENSE: #16 104.8
After going to the playoffs in the previous season while compiling a respectable record of 44-38, the Bobcats couldn’t fill the good expectations for the following season and the final outcome was 10 more losses than they had suffered in the year before. Their expectations were legitimate, as they maintained the same coach and the main core of the roster from the previous season. We know that eventually Charlotte traded Gerald Wallace to Portland and their coach Larry Brown was fired, but the truth is that the Bobcats never showed their level from the previous season. When Brown was fired, the Bobcats were 9-19 and when Wallace was traded, Charlotte was 25-32. So, the million dollar question is why did the Bobcats regress so badly last season? The answer is quite simple and can be expressed in just one word: defense!
Charlotte Bobcats defensive efficiency ranks:
08-09 #7 103.4
09-10 #1 100.2
10-11 #16 104.8
Larry Brown’s teams have the trademark of being great defensive teams, but when he can’t implement such mentality to his teams, a disaster usually happens. Just look at what happened during his tenure with the Knicks. The Bobcats were an average offensive team and with the roster they had, it was tough to see how they could improve in that area of the game, so the regression they suffered on defense from being the best in the league to an average #16 place made them into a weak team.
From all the defensive metrics stats, the biggest drop off from the previous season by the Bobcats was on forcing turnovers. They had been #3 in the league in 09-10 with a 14.70% opposite turnover rate, but last season they were just #20 with a 12.86% rate. Note that in 09-10, Charlotte had three players in the top 15 of steals per game: #10 S. Jackson with 1.63; #14 G. Wallace with 1.54; #15 R. Felton with 1.54 as well. We can conclude that Felton leaving the team influenced the team’s defensive regression, but that fact alone can’t explain such defensive drop off. After Larry Brown was fired, Paul Silas became the head coach and even though the Bobcats became slightly better offensively, they couldn’t improve their defensive numbers.
Bobcats GM Michael Jordan’s long term plans are easy to understand: he wants to build a team for the future via the draft, but the way they got rid of their veteran players are questionable at best, as the Bobcats got very little from trading their best players.
We are talking about trading Tyson Chandler for Erick Dampier, just to waive Dampier almost immediately. We are talking about trading Gerald Wallace for expiring contracts and draft picks. At least they got Corey Maggette for trading Stephen Jackson! The first step of rebounding via the draft was the picks of Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo.
Walker is an explosive PG that has a good court vision and most importantly has a high character, so we are looking for a future floor leader of this team. The problem is that both Walker and DJ Augustin are both undersized for the PG position, so coach Silas will have to protect defensively his point guards. I don’t know if it’s sustainable to have both players on the floor at the same time due to this size problem.
Jordan also drafted in the first round Biyombo. Don’t underrate him from being listed as 6’9’’ because he is a freak of nature with a tremendous wingspan! If big minutes are given to him, Biyombo will naturally be on the top of the league in terms of rebounds and blocked shots! But you can’t have it all and Biyombo is quite limited offensively. He will dunk all over his opponents but he needs to work on the fundamentals. However, Charlotte is a perfect team for him because he will have time to develop. In Jordan’s mind, the Bobcats will have another top draft pick next season waiting for them and so, they will rather develop their young players thinking in the future than win today.
However, the Bobcats have traded for Maggette, who will be looking to bounce back from a disastrous season last year. A combination of him, Tyrus Thomas, Bismack Biyombo, Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker will make the Bobcats be an ultra athletic team. It’s hard to predict how well the Bobcats will play this season. They will have potentially three new starters in Biyombo, Maggette and Walker, so the job of coach Silas won’t be easy this season, as he will have to implement the young players on the team’s system in such a short time.
I don’t expect Charlotte to reach the playoffs this season and neither does their GM Michael Jordan. Nevertheless, for the first time in Jordan’s career as a GM, the Bobcats have now a direction and a long term plan. We will certainly talk about that during next year’s draft.