Hey, we had to do something to make tonight’s Bobcats @ 76ers game seem exciting. There’s more of this lovely lady after the jump.
Now that we have your attention on with the post…
It’s time for another edition of Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series — “Fo’ with the Foes” — which thanks to the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents.
Today’s edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” features tonight’s opponent, the Charlotte Bobcats who are coached (and more) by our old friend Larry “Play the right way” Brown. Charlotte is a disaster on offense and with a record of 3-7, it’s possible the Bobcats have struggled worse out of the gate this season then our 76ers. However, in acquiring Stephen Jackson from the Warriors the ‘Cats made a nice early season move to improve their lineup and things could start looking up for Charlotte very soon. We especially love the fact that Brown came out and publicly assured everyone that he is used to this type of player (locker room trouble maker) and that he has no worries in acquiring Jackson. It was like a flashback to the good ol’ days when Larry and Iverson were here in Philly together. Man we miss that era.
Despite all the drama in the Sixers locker room right now (Brand vs. Jordan, Sammy D trade rumors and the Speights injury), we believe this is a game the Sixers could and should win. After loosing two straight and four-of-their-last-five, they certainly need it badly enough, that’s for sure. So let’s hope the Sixers come out with the appropriate level of urgency and put this one away early. By the way Larry, if you’re looking for some basketball “played the right way”, then the Wachovia Center is not the place for you to be tonight.
For a little more insight into the Bobcats team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Brett Hainline from queencityhoops.com
Philadunkia : Obviously we have to ask you about the trade for Stephen Jackson. What are your thoughts on the deal from the ‘Cats side?
Brett Hainline @ Queen City Hoops.com : Stephen Jackson provides a more complete offensive option for the Bobcats at the 2 – Raja Bell was an efficient scorer who needed to have his teammates hit him as he curled off screens or spotted up outside. Jackson will drive to the basket, spot up for 3 (not always at the best times), and look to create for his teammates – kind of like a slightly smaller Boris Diaw, but he might rebound better. The Bobcats defense won’t suffer too much, as Jackson can be a strong defender when motivated – remember, even though Jackson is bigger than Raja Bell, he is also a couple of years younger than him as well, so quicker guards who trouble Jackson would do the same to Bell at this stage in his career.
Jackson also represents a potential locker room distraction, based off some of his previous off-court (and on-court) incidents. That is a first for the Bobcats in their brief history, which had been fairly free of “troubled” players. How he responds to a losing situation in Charlotte and Larry Brown’s constant critiques will be interesting to see.
Final impact: The Bottom Line – as in the salary concerns. Bell was an expiring deal and Jackson has an extension kicking in next season that goes for 3 years at an average of $9 million per – the Bobcats appear to be locking themselves into a core of Jackson, Diaw, and Gerald Wallace – about $30 million for those 3 – and 0 All-Star appearances to accompany that future money (just going out on a limb and predicting that now).
Philadunkia : During preseason prediction time, a number of so-called experts were in love with the Bobcats as a team that would make a big improvement in 2009-10 and as a dark horse for the 8th playoff spot in the East. Do you see the improvement coming and the Cats being relevant in playoff discussions?
Brett Hainline @ Queen City Hoops.com : I was less optimistic before the season, merely hoping for the Bobcats to remain within sight of the 8th spot – and even that appears to have been optimistic. With Tyson Chandler still looking a step (or two) slow, Boris Diaw playing his way into game shape, and Flip Murray missing early time, these guys were not used to playing together before the addition of a new piece. With Stephen Jackson added to the mix, the Bobcats have another player who will have to learn that Chandler only likes passes one way – on alley-oops. The rest of the core, Gerald, Raymond Felton, and D.J. Augustin, apparently attended an anti-shooting camp this summer and all 3 would struggle to hit water if they fell out of a boat. It has been ugly offensively – far worse than even most critics would have predicted. League worst offense was in play before the season – the early returns are possibly modern-era worst offense – big difference.
Two Points of analysis from Brett Hainline @ Queen City Hoops.com :
1) The Bobcats do not look like one, but they are a great rebounding team so far. With Gerald Wallace grabbing nearly 10 a game, it makes up for more modest output from Boris Diaw at the 4. Adding Stephen Jackson only improves that facet of the game further – the Bobcats play tough, physical defense, just like last year – but this year, they are doing a better job of not wasting that effort by giving up offensive rebounds (17th in defensive rebound rate last season, 4th so far this year).
2) Offensively, the Bobcats have struggled – but one part of that appears to be a fluke. So far this season, they are shooting just 29% on 3s, 28th in the league. Last season, they were nearly the definition of average at 36.6%, 15th in the league when the league average was 36.7%. Up until the last game, it was largely the same guys shooting – Raymond Felton, D.J. Augustin, Raja Bell, and Boris Diaw. Boris and D.J. were over 40% last year and under 30% this season. As they approach more normal numbers (which is probably mid to high 30s for both), the offense looks better without outside help.