Jeremy Lin VS Kemba Walker: By The Numbers

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I.

The point guard position has long been an issue for Charlotte’s NBA franchise. The city’s last great lead guard (Baron Davis) was hijacked along with the original franchise back in 2002. The expansion Bobcats subsequently invested three Lottery picks into the position over a period of six years (2005, 2008, 2011) yet failed to find their franchise defining quarterback each time.

Walker represents the last and best of those picks. He just turned 25 in May and is entering both his prime and the first year of a four year, $48 million contract extension. The team clearly sees Kemba as an asset and has positioned him as a major piece of the team’s future either as a starter or key reserve.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Lin is playing on a cheap one year contract with a player option that he’ll almost certainly turn down next July. Both sides have (wisely) framed the marriage as an opportunity to both rehabilitate Lin’s career after an ill-fitting season in Los Angeles and to provide Charlotte with a steady backup point guard behind Walker.

Again, this is how the team is framing it publicly. The brain trust has doubtlessly imagined a future in which J-Lin returns to semi-Linsanity heights and re-signs as the team’s starting point guard next July. The Hornets could begin to transition Kemba to his more natural sixth man role – where he could dominate both the ball and opponent’s second units.

After the Lin signing was made public, Coach Clifford spun tales of playing the two together for big minutes. I’ll believe it when I see it. Clifford hates going small and the team tried a similar experiment with Mo Williams late last season to mostly poor results. With a weaker defensive frontline this season, heavy dual point lineups could get even dicier.

II.

So how do we rate these not quite All-Star point guards? What individual strengths and weaknesses do they bring? For that answer, we’re going to have to go down the metric rabbit hole.

WARNING: I’m about to get geeky on you. If esoteric statistics and decimal points make your eyes cross, skip to the TRANSLATIONS at the end of each section. For those brave souls who remain, let’s start with the basics:

Jeremy and Kemba have played roughly the same number of career games (291 vs 283 in favor of Lin) while Walker’s notched around 1500 more career minutes. Kemba has 283 career starts compared to J-Lin’s 170. Walker just turned 25 in May while Lin will turn 27 in August.

Lin also notched around 9 minutes per game fewer than Walker last season so any non-weighted per game numbers will be converted by 32%. With that out of the way, let’s get on with the breakdown.

TOUCHES

SportsVU ranked Kemba 5th overall last season in Touches per game (92.4), eighth overall in time of possession (7.6 mins) with an average of 1.88 points per touch.

Lin averaged 56.3 (74.3 converted) touches, 4.9 mins in time of possession (6.46 converted) and exactly 2 points per touch.

TRANSLATION: Both guys like the ball in their hands but Kemba takes it to another level. Walker averaged more touches per game than Russell Westbrook and his time of possession suggests that he’s either an elite scorer (false) or the best scorer on a bad offense (true). The Hornets have added ball-movers and shot-creators all summer so Walker’s game will need an adjustment.

Advantage: Lin

ISOs

Despite his rep as a mini-Iverson, Walker ranked fairly low in isolation attempts per SportsVU. Only 9.9% of his plays per game were of the isolation variety and he converted at a relatively decent .84 points per possession.

Lin ranked higher at 12.1% isos per game and only managed .74 points per possession on those attempts. Score one for Walker.

More good news for Kemba: while each player manufactured the same amount of free throws out of isos (~14%) Walker did so with a fantastic 5% turnover frequency (as opposed to J-Lin’s concerning 14.8%).

TRANSLATION: No surprise Kemba is the better isolation player, a pleasant surprise that he is a relatively efficient one.

Advantage: Walker

PICK AND ROLL

Kemba used the pick on 48.1% of his possessions which ranked 9th overall – a surprising number considering Walker’s reputation as a non pick and roll player. Walker managed .83 points per possession off the pick, logged an eFG%** of 41.0%, Free Throw frequency of 11.6% and a fantastic Turnover frequency of just 10.6%.

By comparison, Lin used the pick on 40% of his possessions – again, surprising given his pick and roll heavy reputation. He notched an identical .83 points per possession, a much higher 45.8% eFG%, a higher 13.8 Free Throw frequency and a frightening 20.6% Turnover frequency.

*Effective Field Goal Percentage grants additional weight to 3PT shots*

TRANSLATION: Kemba used the pick more but scored less efficiently out of it. Lin uses the pick less but with greater shot efficiency and at a much greater risk of creating a turnover.

Advantage: None

PASSING

More SportsVU: Kemba registered .6 Free Throw assists, 1.5 “hockey assists” and 11 assist opportunities per game.

Lin averaged .4 (.53 converted) Free Throw assists per game, .8 (1.0 converted) hockey assists per game and 8.9 (11.75 converted) assist opportunities.

In terms of raw per game assists, Kemba tallied 5.1apg while J-Lin notched 4.6 (6.1 converted). Assist rates again have Jeremy out in front: Kemba 20.9 (career low average), J-Lin 26.5 (around career average).

The real story is in the turnovers: Lin has improved his ability to protect the ball in recent years but is still far, far behind Kemba’s Top 10 ranking in assist to turnover ratio.

TRANSLATION: Lin is nominally a better shot creator but comes at the high cost of turnovers. Kemba’s limited court vision is made up for somewhat by his elite ability to take care of the ball.

Advantage: Walker

SHOOTING EFFICIENCY

Basic stats: Lin shot 37% from downtown last season, raising his career average to 35%. Kemba regressed to 30%, bringing his number to 31.8% from deep. Overall FG% has J-Lin at around 44% for his career, Kemba just below 40% overall. Each draws FTs at a decent rate and converts at or around 80% from the line when they get there.

Jeremy wins the FG% battle on drives 46% to 41.6%. Kemba wins on “close shots” 66.7% to 57%. Catch & Shoot and Pull-up percentages are slightly in Lin’s favor but Lin’s three point shooting abilities has him easily out in front in effective FG% 47.3% to 42.9%.

ESPN’s True Shooting Metric takes eFG% even further, accounting for free throws as well as threes. Kemba notched a 48.6 (about average for his career), while Lin registered 53.9 (also around average for his career).

TRANSLATION: Easy (and expected) win for Jeremy Lin. Kemba has struggled mightily with his shot since entering into the NBA. If there’s one aspect of Walker’s game that has and will continue to prevent an All-Star appearance, it’s this one.

Advantage: Lin

DEFENSE

82games.com has Kemba as a slight net minus (–3.0) while ranking Lin a slight net plus (+1.0) which is in line with ESPN’s real plus minus rankings for both PGs (Lin is 19th at +1.66, Kemba 37th at –1.03).

Lin is clearly the bigger defender on the court and has at least three inches and fifteen pounds on Walker. Lin measured a 6’5” wingspan and an 8’2” standing reach at the Portsmouth pre-Draft camp back in 2010. Kemba measured a near 6’3” wingspan and just over 7’7” standing reach a year later. Both players are solid on the boards and have nearly identical rebound rates over their careers.

TRANSLATION: Real plus minus is far from perfect but when combined with the eye test and Lin’s physical advantages, it’s obvious that Jeremy is the better defensive option of the two.

Advantage: Lin

III.

Anyone who has traveled through Southeast Asia will have doubtlessly come across the expression “same same but different”. It’s a concise little phrase that the Thai people use to describe two things which, while quite similar, have a few key features that make them uniquely their own. Example: Banana bread and a banana muffin = same same but different.

In the midst of researching the Lin and Kemba combo, that lyrical phrase same same but different kept popping up in my mind over and over again. The Hornets now have two upper-middle class PG options. Neither are an elite talent but both are very good scoring guards who can benefit a team in their own way.

One guy can protect the ball and break ankles but can also shoot you out of a game. One guy can hit threes and score off the pick but is reckless with the ball. One can manufacture offense out of nothing while the other can elevate a team’s defense. Same same. But different. It will be fascinating to watch how Coach Clifford handles the dynamic and how each player responds. Who knows? Perhaps the Queen City’s next great point guard are a duo.

-ASChin
@BaselineBuzz

Illustration by @MikeSakoon – download an iPhone 6 wallpaper version here.

Charlotte Hornets Roundtable | 2014 Pre-Draft Hype

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Hornets-Offseason

Q: The last time a Charlotte NBA team finished over .500 and had a Lottery pick – the Hornets wound up with Baron Davis in the ’99 Draft. Will the suddenly relevant former-Bobcats find another future star in the 2014 Draft or will they play it safe and look for starters/role-players who can contribute immediately?

DrE: (@BaselineDrE) Trick question — these aren’t mutually exclusive. But I get the spirit of the question and I think the Hornets will lean towards players that can make significant contributions while on their rookie deals as opposed to projects.

Bradford: (@bradford_NBA) Picking 9th is a lot different from picking 3rd. I think Cho has shown he’s going to go with the guy he thinks will be the best player down the road regardless of current production. He’s not afraid of projects. That being the case, I think that rather than judging how he played the draft from a prospect perspective, I think it’s safer to assume that Cho thinks the guy he picked has the best long term potential. That’s not to say he has been or will be right, but MJ has enabled him to run it all and with his track record, you can bet he’s not just playing it safe in his mind.

ASChin: (@BaselineBuzz) I was absolutely thrilled to hear Cho’s comments about “not sacrificing the future for present gain”. The Draft is where you go to find stars, not to fill in roster gaps. Conveniently, Charlotte is searching for a dynamic wing this time around and recent Drafts have proven that you can find a star at that position after the ninth pick (Paul George, Kawhi Leonard). The Hornets may not pick this high again for a long while; gamble on a star, be patient and fill in the gaps via free agency and trades.

Q: Highest to Lowest Superstar Potential: Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris, Zach LaVine, Doug McDermott.

DrE: Frankly I don’t think any of these guys have “superstar” potential. But LaVine and McDermott have some star potential — LaVine more due to the high ceiling, McDermott due to the likelihood that he’ll be smart and consistent and a hard worker who carves out a long, competent career. I don’t think Stauskas or Harris have any real star potential. Of course, now that I put that on record, Gary Harris will proceed to become Russell Westbrook 2.0.

Bradford: I’ve said many times over that I think the star power of this draft is overrated. It’s strength is in the number of quality players with obvious skills that will translate. Stauskas and McDermott are elite shooters, Harris is an elite defender, and LaVine can jump really, really high. Each of these guys also have deficiences. Athleticism for Stauskus and McDermott, size for McDermott and Harris, playing basketball for LaVine. I’m going to blow my own mind and say McDermott, Harris, Stauskas, LaVine. McDermott’s ability to score effectively inside and out is Dirk-esque. He clearly doesn’t have Dirk’s size, but he does have the craftiness and array of effective shots. I don’t feel good about it, but his elite skill is super elite.

ASChin: LaVine, Stauskas, Harris, McDermott. Those who follow me on twitter know that I #Dream4LaVine. Sure, he could top out as Gerald Green or Jamaal Crawford or flame out of the league altogether in a few seasons. But he also has the confidence and athleticism to become something of a Kobe-lite. He shoots off the catch, pushes the ball in transition and can get into the lane. He turned 19 in March. Clifford could mold that kid into a fine player. Stauskas’ best case scenario is a poor-man’s Ginobli and that’s fine by me.

Q: Highest to Lowest Bust Potential: Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris, Zach LaVine, Doug McDermott.

DrE: Significant bust potential with all of these guys: in order I’ll go LaVine, Stauskas, McDermott, Harris.

Bradford: LaVine, Stauskus, McDermott, Harris. Gary Harris’s defense makes him a pretty sure thing to me. Nobody would be saying bust if MKG had been taken at 9 instead of 2. LaVine is a no-brainer leader on this list. He hasn’t shown much and comparisons to Westbrook are laughable. McDermott and Stauskus will both be able to shoot the ball. I think the versatile offense of McDermott has a better chance of translating than Stauskus’s. Basically I have more faith in his post game than in Stauskus’s ability to get into the paint off the dribble.

ASChin: LaVine, Stauskas, Harris, McDermott. Grantland’s Zach Lowe quoted a scout once saying something to the effect of, “in order to demonstrate your elite NBA skill, you must have enough other NBA skills to keep you on the floor.” That’s my issue with McDermott. He’s not going to be able to finish around the basket at the next level. He’s going to have a difficult time guarding anyone without a rim protector behind him. He’s already older than MKG/Biz/Cody. But the guy can flat out shoot and that makes him a low-risk prospect in a shooting-deficient league. Harris has the chops at both ends to play for a decade as a rotation guy. My high-upside guys LaVine and Stauskas could just as easily be out of the NBA in five years.

Q: There’s rumblings that either Kentucky’s Julius Randle or OSU’s Marcus Smart may drop to the Hornets at pick number nine. Do the Hornets immediately grab them there regardless of fit/need?

DrE: Yeah, they’d almost have to, but probably more to trade than keep. I doubt either one ends up slipping, but say for instance Randle does. If Orlando went PG with their earlier pick, wouldn’t they deal #12 + Afflalo for #9 (Randle) + Gerald Henderson? Wouldn’t that work for both sides? Hornets could probably still pick from Stauskas, Harris, Young, Warren, Lavine at #12 then. I like that fake trade a lot.

Bradford: No question. Talent over need. There’s an option to trade back, but I’ll take a potential all-star over 2 good role players. That’s basically what Golden State is trying to do to acquire Kevin Love. Turn 2 productive players into one elite player.

ASChin: This isn’t a Cody over Nerlens Noel situation. As much as I like LaVine, you take Smart/Randle over him without thinking about it. In fact, the Randle/Cody combo could be your future starting frontcourt for a decade. Smart/Kemba would be a fantastic guard combo ala Dragic/Bledsoe in Phoenix. That’s a dream scenario.

Q: The Hornets have worked out mostly wing prospects. Would it shock you if they went another direction and if so, who?

DrE: Yes, that would be a shock. Other than a wing, or Smart/Randle/Gordon falling, nothing else makes sense. I’m trying to think of the most mind-asploding pick for the Hornets to make at #9. It would have to be Dario Saric, because he seems to duplicate a lot of what Cody Zeller is, and it’s not even clear if he wants to come over to the NBA this season. Second most shocking pick would be Elfrid Payton — that would be a head scratcher.

Bradford: In a vacuum no. But this draft is heavy on wing prospects and light on point guards and post players, especially in the Hornets’ range. Elfrid Payton is the wild card. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that glorious hair under a teal hat.

ASChin: Aside from Randle/Smart falling, Payton is the only non-wing option. He’s a big point with crazy length who could allow Kemba to continue to play off the ball as a scorer (perhaps to the detriment of Kemba’s growth as a true PG).

Q: The Spurs put on a “How to Beat Miami” clinic during the Finals. The Hornets share both a division and conference with Lebron & Company. Assuming the Heat’s Big Three stay together, how will the Spurs’ successful strategy affect who the Hornets’ target in both the Draft and free agency (if at all)?

DrE: Sure, in that you’re always looking for a Hall of Fame Coach who will stick around for 10+ years and be totally open to evolving with the times, and a core of three Hall of Fame players willing to set the tone for professionalism and greatness while taking less money, thus enabling your front office to surround you with quality role players and depth and an overall culture of continuous internal development. But seriously, the Spurs showed the importance of players who can stretch/space the floor with their shooting range and have high basketball IQ — i.e. making the right plays/passes on offense and understanding and executing team defensive concepts — which is why I think people have locked in on McDermott as the Hornets pick at #9.

Bradford: I don’t really think it does. What the Spurs did goes so much deeper than just the roster. Obviously versatility is important in their system, but I think all GM’s and coaches crave versatile players. What the Spurs have really brought to the forefront is the importance of continuity. They have a GM, coach, owner, and players that are all on the same page and have been building a culture and system for years. I believe that’s what MJ is trying to build. I expect Cho and Clifford to be around a long time. Otherwise it will be more of the same Charlotte franchise.

ASChin: It should and it will. Remember, there was an under-the-radar Eastern Conference team that gave everyone headaches throughout the season even though they lost their best player: The Atlanta Hawks. In leiu of Al Horford’s torn pectoral, longtime Popovic disciple Mike Budenholzer rotated in a steady diet of sharpshooters and ball-movers that frazzled much of the East for two-thirds of the season. Charlotte fans will recall that it was none other than Atlanta backup center Pero Antic, aka “The Eastern Block”, who ripped their hearts out with a buzzer-beating fallaway three back in December. The Hornets were one of the worst perimeter shooting teams in the NBA last season. If they are serious about competing with Conference’s best, that will have to change.

Q: The Hornets have two first round picks and a second. MJ has said he also wants to make a splash in free agency. Given those additions, which of the following players are least likely to be back with the team next season: Josh McRoberts, Gerald Henderson or Bismack Biyombo?

DrE: Easily Henderson. Though I could also see a team wanting Biyombo for rim protection in a trade.

Bradford: They’ll all be back, at least to start the season. I expect McRoberts to sign a 3 year contract. I’m not sure Biz has any value. He’s the rare player whose rookie contract is more than his actual value. I could see Henderson being dealt during the season if anything happens. Afflalo is clearly on the trading block and has been in Hornets fans minds for the past year. If they can find a way to swap it will happen. I think Henderson would be great coming off the bench though.

ASChin: Anyone who’s paid close attention to the team over the last half decade knows that Michael Jordan and Henderson have a close relationship. That may keep Gerald in purple & teal a little past his expiration date unfortunately. I really like Hendo as a player but he just doesn’t fit on a team that’s building around Big Al and Kemba’s inside/outside game. Now that Cho’s running the show solo, I expect him to make the right decision. Hendo is gone.

Q: Now that Rod Higgins is officially out as Hornets President, there will be no question as to who is making Charlotte’s picks. Given his previous Draft track record, how good do you feel about Rich Cho’s new role as decider-in-chief?

DrE: Pretty good, though it would be nice to see him hit a home run with one of these picks. Lots of singles and doubles so far.

Bradford: I think it’s great. Obviously the draft hasn’t treated him particularly well, but I think he can get better with more experience. His work ethic and preparedness have been referenced constantly. I don’t think he’s too stubborn to learn. There are also reports of looking for an assistant GM. I think that’s a good thing. Everyone needs someone else to bounce ideas off. The Higgins/Cho relationship was never clearly defined publicly so who knows how division of labor worked. A more clearly defined front office structure is a good thing.

ASChin: From a trades and free agent perspective, I’m thrilled but Cho’s Drafts thus far have been ho-hum. Kemba is a keeper and likely the best pick value-wise of the Bobcats-era (an extremely low bar). MKG flashed his potential in Miami during Game 2. Cody could become a poor man’s Bosh one day. Biz remains an enigma who was taken over Klay, Kawhi, Faried and Vucevic. Now that Higgins is gone, there will be no confusion as to who makes the Hornets picks – for better or for worse.

Clippers Decimate Road-Weary Bobcats

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Believe it or not, this defense did not stop Blake Griffin. (AP Photo)

Recap | Box Score

It was a rough game tonight, from the beginning to the final buzzer.

Immediately after the tipoff, Los Angeles Clippers color-commentator, Ralph Lawler, called the Charlotte NBA team the “Charlotte Hornets” and their play-by-play guy, Michael Smith, said the coach was “Pete” Silas.

And though that didn’t have any impact on the game, it should have warned me that I was in for a bumpy Bobcats game that would end with them losing 103-88, ending the Bobcats’ three-game road win streak.

The real damage was done by Blake Griffin tonight, as everyone should have known. Coming into the game, I was a little worried that the Bobcats didn’t have a power forward as strong or athletic to defend Griffin.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers in the first half with an array of highlights, including an eye-popping 360 degree, reverse layup en route to 19 first-half points. The tired Bobcats simply couldn’t keep up and fell behind to a huge deficit in the third quarter. Then, like the young team they are, the Clippers let the Bobcats make a comeback effort, led by the bench. However, after the lead reached 11 points, L.A. regained their focus and beat the weary road opponents (JUST AS I PREDICTED).

Boris Diaw and whoever else tried to defend Griffin just could not control him. Whether it was Griffin’s strong post moves, his quickness, or his amazing leaping ability and fervor for getting rebounds, no Bobcats player could defend him at all. In fact, most of his mistakes were unforced, including a huge missed dunk. He would end the night with 24 points and 10 rebounds on 11-23 shooting. Admittedly, it’s not the most efficient stat line, but his presence was felt on every play. The Bobcats began to double-team him – in the second quarter. He was that good. And the only player who had a good shot at defending him was injured (Tyrus Thomas).

But I can’t just put all of the loss on Griffin’s night. The Bobcats were on the tail end of a back-to-back with this being their fourth game in a six-game road trip. The Clippers, on the other hand, last played on Wednesday. The effect was enormous. Charlotte came out at a decent clip, but faded fast, unable to keep up with the Clippers’ pace and energy. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, when Silas let loose the bench players, that the Bobcats regained any type of offensive scoring.

The Bobcats starters were simply atrocious, except for Stephen Jackson, who seems to have emerged from his January slump. Jackson went for 15 points on 5-11 shooting from the field, but the rest of the starters combined for 9-30 FG and 29 points. The fatigue was obviously overwhelming, considering the Bobcats had just finished an overtime thriller the previous night. Many shots were short and the Bobcats were lazy with their passing. D.J. Augustin, who has been outstanding as of recently, finished with four assists and three turnovers. As a team, the Bobcats had 17 turnovers.

The bench played admirably, reeling in a 25-point deficit to 11 with 7:37 to go in the fourth, but L.A. regained their focus and squished the Bobcats like an annoying mosquito. Gerald Henderson continued to show his talent, pouring in 14 points on only six field goal attempts. Shaun Livingston just had an awful night, hitting no shots from the field and turning the ball over three times. However, he did get to the line for six free throws, all of which he made. Derrick Brown had five points and five rebounds and Matt Carroll scored eight points all in garbage time. Nazr Mohammed was also effective off the bench with five points and 5 rebounds.

The Clippers were also led by Baron Davis (12 points, 11 assist, 6 rebounds), Randy Foye (21 points, 4 three-pointers, 4 steals, 2 blocks), and Ryan Gomes (6-8 FG, 3-4 3P, 18 points).

The Bobcats continue on their six-game road trip on Monday against the Utah Jazz.

By the way, get your tickets for the Clippers when they come to Charlotte now.

DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS, TRUST ME. (AP Photo)

– Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Christmas Eve: Jordan Goes Shopping, Bobcats Fans Can’t Sleep

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We’ve all been there…

The week before xmas rolls around and there are only three gifts under the tree. One is obviously a book; the second is for your sister labeled something stupid like “From: Rudolph”; and the other appears to be a Nintendo game but after you take peek and discover that it’s a nail grooming kit from your Aunt Linda, you begin to worry…

“Am I getting the shaft this year?”

Your anxiety builds up until December 24th, but then, magically, throughout Christmas Eve day, the presents slowly appear. The gifts vary in size…like the gifter had no guidance whatsoever. The tallest one is covered in large trash bags held together by duct tape, the smaller ones are blatantly wrapped at a retail “wrapping station”.

Your mind begins to race…

How did this happen? Santa doesn’t come until xmas morning…who deserves the credit for such a bountiful onslaught of holiday cheer?

Your Dad.

Only your Dad puts off shopping until the very last day. Your Dad is the one who goes  to  Toys ‘R’ Us and “throws money” at anything left on the shelves. The result is a bunch of random-but-awesome shit that you didn’t even ask for…a hockey stick, a leather jacket, two catcher’s mitts…maybe a silk shirt.

My premise is this…Michael Jordan is the dad who shops on xmas eve.

Bobcats fans are in for a real treat when they wake up to a whole room of new players. He already blew the “big one” by giving us our new coach early, so…

What will Michael Jordan be getting us for xmas?

Baron Davis?

This has been widely rumored, and covered earlier by Mike here at Bobcats Baseline:

… [the] rumor goes like this – Bobcats will send promising offensive talent D.J. Augustin, misfit shooter Matt Carroll, and rarely-used backup center Desagana Diop to the Los Angeles Clippers. In return, the Los Angeles Clippers will send Baron Davis, an aging, injury-riddled point guard that is about a decade past his prime.

Don’t forget “out of shape” and “uninspired” when blessing B-Dizzle with adjectives. But hey, could a reunion with Paul Silas and a faster pace of play be the tune-up that Baron needs?  And if the Clippers would take Diop and Carroll’s contracts, Baron’s deal wouldn’t be that hard to swallow.  Can’t say we wouldn’t be intrigued to see this gift under the tree.

Chris Kaman?

Donald Sterling’s second favorite Clipper is also reportedly being aggressively pushed onto the trading block.  Kaman has been a decent traditional center for a couple years now, and actually made the All-Star game for the first time last season while averaging 18 ppg.

But that All-Star selection probably says more about the dearth of solid traditional centers in the West; and besides, it’s looking like it will be a one-time thing for Kaman anyways.  He’s only played 10 games this year due to an ankle injury and is averaging just 10 ppg/7 rpg. If Kaman is stuffed in our stocking with a packet of Fun Dip, we’d toss him aside while we assess what else we haven’t unwrapped.

Andre Miller?

Brandon Roy and Andre Miller have had a tenuous relationship in Portland’s backcourt.  Despite the fact that his long-term viability as the cornerstone of the franchise has been called into question due to his bad knees, Roy reportedly stressed the poor fit between he and Miller to the Trailblazers front office recently.

The Trailblazers have long been enamored with Gerald Wallace.  Connect the dots and you get the Andre Miller for Gerald Wallace rumor.  Miller is 34, but has a reasonable contract and has been amazingly durable and consistently productive for years.  He’d be an upgrade over DJ at the point, but how much of an upgrade?  Getting Miller would be kind of like finding a refurbished iPad under the tree.

Marcus Camby?

To sweeten the pot, the Blazers could include Marcus Camby.  The big man was brought into Portland last year to fortify their Oden-less frontline as they eyed a deep playoff run.  That didn’t work out, and it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards this year either — so Portland is apparently open to retooling.

Camby is 36, but still has a little left.  He’s an athletic big who has essentially become a rebounding and defensive specialist.  If Charlotte commits to running a more uptempo offense, Camby would be a better fit than Nazr Mohammed. If your brother got Gerald Wallace for xmas, and you got Andre and Marcus, would you trade gifts?

JJ Redick?

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel points out that the net result of the Magic’s two trades was going small for big.  The Magic are now overloaded in the backcourt, with Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson pushing Chris Duhon, Jason Williams, Quentin Richardson and JJ Redick for playing time.  Meanwhile, sending Marcin Gortat to the Suns leaves Dwight Howard with no true backup.  The Magic currently go small with Brandon Bass or Ryan Anderson when Howard needs a rest or, god forbid, gets in foul trouble.

That proposition is a bit scary when you’re looking at potentially facing the Boston Celtics in the playoffs.  Could the Magic turn one of their many smalls into a big?  Maybe if they’re willing to part with JJ Redick and take Nazr Mohammed or Gana Diop?

From a basketball standpoint, Redick really duplicates Matt Carroll’s skill set.  That pesky issue aside, it would be hilarious to see Redick on the Bobcats.  In case you weren’t aware, Bobcats (Tarheel) fans have made booing JJ Redick one of the Cable Box’s best traditions.  At this point, the level of derision is so out of proportion to anything that Redick has ever done to affront Bobcat/Tarheel fans that it’s clearly taken on a life of its own.  It would be pretty cool to see Redick turn those boos into delirious cheers by nailing three after three in an uptempo offense. Still, for Tarcats (or Bobheels) Redick would be like getting a big pile of coal in your stocking.

So get to bed early (via Ambien and eggnog), Vitamin Water your tree, and leave out his favorite drink because Michael Jordan coming tonight.

– Deesdale & Dr. E

Feeling Nostalgic? Charlotte Considers Baron Davis

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Baron Davis - Charlotte Hornets

Well, the Cats are in the course of another mid-season overhaul after the departure of Larry Brown. It looks like owner Michael Jordan had seen enough of the losing, and had been pushed to the limit of bickering with Brown about how to run this team. Now, the Bobcats have made the low-risk decision to give Paul Silas a chance to show us if he can still coach at an NBA level. We’re still not sure how the team will respond to the change or Silas’ style, but it’s clear that the team wasn’t going to play any better under Larry Brown. It should be nice for Jordan to have a grateful coach around for a while. I’m sure Silas will have his opinions, but it’s likely that he’ll work to say all the right things in order to get a real contract after this season.

Now, it looks like a few more changes are on the horizon for Charlotte basketball. Yahoo! Sports’ full-time “hater” and NBA columnist, Adrian Wojnarowski just typed and published a report about a potential trade between the Bobcats and the L.A. Clippers. So for all of you out there needing a little more nostalgia about the old (ex-Charlotte) Hornets, an early Christmas present might be coming to town – former fan-favorite, and always-injured point guard Baron Davis! Yep, Paul Silas reuniting with Baron Davis. Probably didn’t see that coming in 2010-2011, did you?

Wojnarowski’s  rumor goes like this – Bobcats will send promising offensive talent D.J. Augustin, misfit shooter Matt Carroll, and rarely-used backup center Desagana Diop to the Los Angeles Clippers. In return, the Los Angeles Clippers will send Baron Davis, an aging, injury-riddled point guard that is about a decade past his prime. Don’t get me wrong, here. I really loved watching Davis play in his last season in Golden State. He was dominant during their Playoff run, and so was J-Rich, and so was Stephen Jackson. But, that train has left and none of those players are what they were as a team several seasons back.

I’m excited about the coaching change for the team. Considering the state of things, I’m open to changes on the roster, too. But, taking on a player with a big contract at the end of his career seems like a big mistake. Nothing can go well in a trade between organizations as confused as the Clippers and the Bobcats. Two wrongs, can’t make a right. Can they?

-Mike

Bobcats Get By Clippers; Wallace Leaves With Sprained Ankle

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Clippers 3/12/10

The Charlotte Bobcats notched their fifth straight win by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 106-98 at the Cable Box on Friday night.  Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats with 24 points (9-21 FG) and 6 assists.  The Clippers actually outshot the Cats 57.5% to 54.2%, but committed 23 turnovers and were outrebounded by the Cats 36-30.

AP recap here |  Box score here

The Cats built a 61-45 lead by halftime, then coasted through the second half, withstanding a half-hearted fourth quarter push by the rag-tag, Eric Gordon-less Clippers.  With the win, the Cats move to 33-31 overall, 6th place in the East, and ensured their best ever home record with their 24th victory at the Cable Box.

But it was a play right at the end of the first half that will be causing Cats fans consternation in the coming days.

Crash

With the Cats already on a 6-0 run and causing the Clippers all sorts of problems closing out the first half, Gerald Wallace poked the ball away from Baron Davis.  Wallace had been dominant in the first half, with 17 points (7-8 FG), 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  The loose ball went to Stephen Jackson, who flipped it ahead to Wallace, already at full speed.  Gerald flew down the court with just seconds left on the clock, a step or two ahead of Baron.  But as Gerald took off and glided towards the basket, Baron caught up enough to make some contact.

Most of the contact he made was basically a cheap push in Gerald’s lower back with his left hand.  Gerald was fully extended and essentially defenseless, and was sent careening towards the basket support in a manner that we’ve certainly seen in the past, but not this season.  Gerald landed awkwardly on his left ankle and immediately grabbed for it.

Larry Brown soon made his way over as Gerald rolled around on the floor.  The rest of the bench was up and visibly upset. Raymond Felton fretted with both hands on his head; assistant coach Phil Ford angrily slapped some rolled up papers against his other hand.  Angry boos rained down; Baron’s perfunctory concern for Gerald and the fact that a flagrant foul was called was enough to prevent a minor incident.

Gerald was eventually able to get up and hit one of the two free throws to give the Cats 61-45 halftime lead, but headed straight back to the locker room with the trainers after that.  He reportedly had negative x-rays on the ankle, but did not return to the bench (or the game) for the second half.

With the Bulls having fallen off a cliff without Joakim Noah (and now without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose), there’s no longer much danger of the Cats finishing out of the playoff race.  But we can hardly afford to be without Gerald for too long as we try to jockey for the 6th seed and the right to play Boston (or possibly Atlanta) in the first round.  7th or 8th place buys us a matchup with the Magic or Cavs, respectively.  This season’s victories over the Cavs notwithstanding, both of those series would probably result in the Bobcats getting swept or nearly swept.

6th place or bust — Get Well Soon Gerald!

Lotsa Tidbits

  • David Stern has rubber-stamped Michael Jordan’s purchase of the Bobcats; all that remains is for the league’s board of governors to agree sometime in the next couple of weeks.  In something of a surprise, Stern indicated that the purchase price was around $275 million (not $175 million as had been rumored last week) and that Jordan put up all of the money.  He apparently is still trying to line up minority investors, but still…
  • Gana Diop was apparently planning to dress for tonight’s game, but had dizzy spells after a Thursday workout and will miss several games while getting worked up.  Check the first comment under the post in that link, it says all you need to know about this story — Cats fans are already fantasizing about a career-ending heart condition for Gana and the salary cap relief it would provide.
  • After giving up and selling the Bobcats, Bob Johnson is mercifully killing off his stupid horse-jumping competition.
  • Tyson Chandler had another solid game off the bench: 13 points (5-7 FG) and 9 rebounds in 32 minutes.
  • Here’s some food for thought for the weekend from the Wall Street Journal: there is a 50/50 split in the NBA between teams who employ dedicated statistical/data analysts.  The teams that do have a 60% winning percentage this season, while the teams that don’t are at 40%.  Now I was pretty sure that the Bobcats don’t, but a line in the story seems to contradict that (the line about only the Suns, Hawks and Jazz being the only playoff teams that don’t).  Anyone know for sure if the Cats do?
  • Larry Hughes, anyone?
  • Next game is Sunday evening at 6 PM in Orlando versus Superman and the Magic.

-Dr. E

Balanced Clipper Attack Sends Bobcats Under .500

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Charlotte Bobcats @ LA Clippers 2/23/10

Charlotte can’t overcome Stephen Jackson’s worst game as a Bobcat as they lose 98-94 to the Clips on the road, falling a game below .500 (27-28) and deadlocked with Milwaukee for 8th place in the Conference.  The ‘Cats trail early, turn the ball over, play defense for around two thirds of the game and can’t withstand a late charge by the home team.  Any of this sound familiar?

AP recap here | Box score here

He Was Due for One

The story of the game for the Bobcats has to be Stephen Jackson’s “Jamison“-like stinkbomb.  JAX went 1-16 from the field and ended up fouling out late in the fourth with 7pts, 5asts, 5TOs, and 6 boards.  He never got it going and the ‘Cats threw away a winnable road game thanks to the backcourt’s poor shooting.  JAX and backup point guard D.J. Augustin combined to go 2-24 from the field.  Ouch.
Jackson was lucky to not be T’d up several times as he repeatedly directed his frustration onto the officials.  Before tonight’s game, JAX had scored in double figure in ALL of his 45 games with the Bobcats.

The fact that Jackson’s stinker came a day after his “tired from fatigue” comments doesn’t bode well for a team that has no real backup at the shooting guard position.  Hopefully the coaches will stop rubber cementing Gerald Henderson to the bench from this point on.
One positive note from this development: It did seem as if Jackson’s frustration came from his inability to help his teammates when they needed him, rather than some ego-fueled scorer’s rage.  You like to see that in a player.

How ‘Bout Them Clippers!

For people still wondering why Mike Dunleavy is still employed in any capacity, just take a look at the talented roster he’s assembled in the past couple of years:

  • Baron Davis: B-Diddy can still bring it when he’s motivated and has at least another 3-4 solid years in him.
  • Chris Kaman: Has mastered the 15-foot pick & pop, is a solid rebounder and has apparently vowed to add a 3-point shot to his arsenal in the next two years.
    Too bad that Hollywood has moved on to 3D for all of its monsters, freaks & aliens.  Kaman could have picked up a lot of side-work in the offseason as sort of a poor man’s Peter Mayhew.
  • Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin: Three solid prospects picked in the last few drafts, two of which have All-Star potential.
  • Craig Smith, Travis Outlaw: Talented guys in their mid-20s who could definitely be in the rotation for a contending club.
  • Steve Blake, Rasual Butler, Drew Gooden: Quality “Rent-a-Veteran” players who make enough plays every night to put your team in a position to win.

Add in a MAXplayer like Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh (they have the cap space to do it) and a real coach and this team could be VERY GOOD next year.

The Clips went nine deep tonight and (unlike the Bobcats, who essentially got production from five guys with Nazr out with a back and D.J./JAX ineffective), ALL NINE PLAYERS contributed.  It was death by a thousand cuts with Butler dropping corner threes at will, Eric Gordon scoring the ball from everywhere on the court and Baron balling in spurts like it was the year 2000.  Six players dropped double figures for LA while new backup PG Steve Blake notched 7 assists.  Good times to be a Clips fans.

Who Steps Up?

The Bobcats rallied hard in the third quarter when they erased the Clips’ 13-point lead at the 6:36 mark and went up 64-62.  They couldn’t hold on as no one (aside from Boris Diaw) could step up their game in Jax’s absence.  Gerald Wallace had one of his super-stats games (32pts, 12rbs, 4steals, 5asts) but he’s not the team’s Go-To guy in the 4th.  That’s JAX’s job and tonight he just wasn’t delivering.  Raymond tried but couldn’t do it.  Boris was aggressive and could have nailed a three with 2:50 to go that would have put the Cats up by six but it rimmed out.
The Bobcats will need to find a strategy that will allow them to win games even if their clutch scorer is cold.  Hope they figure it out soon.

Bullets:

  • Tyrus Thomas (10pts, 4rbs, 3blks) showcased both a fifteen AND a twenty footer.  He also had a nice post scoop & score on Jordan in the second half from the block.  Didn’t realize he had these moves already.  Hopefully LB will stick around at least for another season to help tutor T2 to the next level.
  • Diaw looked great tonight and nearly logged the franchise’s first triple double with 20pts, 9rbs, 9asts.  He looked aggressive and alert.  Clippers broadcast team was gushing over him all night.
  • As much as I loved Crash’s line tonight, I HATED the number in the minutes column: 48.  How is this team going to make the Playoffs when the top two guys are already running on fumes?  Coach Brown needs to suck it up and let Gerald Henderson & Derrick Brown play through some mistakes.  Besides, they can’t be any worse than Augustin, right?
  • Who would you rather have: DeAndre Jordan ($736,000) or Tyson Chandler ($12 ka-gillion)?
  • Bobcats should be sold by the end of the month.  Word has it that MJ has until the 28th to match the Postolos Group offer.  We’ll have an in-depth article on this later on in the week.

Until Next Time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin