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Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Bobcats

Some thoughts on Al Jefferson and the Bobcats defense-driven improvement

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After finishing with one of the two worst records in the league last year, the Bobcats spent big on Al Jefferson (paying him 15 million a year) and are now cruising to a playoff spot on the back of his career best season.

However if the NBA was played on paper, there’d be reason to doubt Big Al is responsible for this impact. In 2012-2013 the Bobcats finished 28th in offense (ORTG) and 30th in defense (DRTG), in 2013-2014 they are 24th in offense and 8th in defense. Big Al is known as an offense-first player who’s a defensively liability at C. Furthermore while Jefferson is averaging 21.5ppg it’s on .529 TS, one of the big movement in analytics is to claim high volume, below average efficiency players, are overrated. So an analytics-first person may say Jefferson has not improved the Bobcats offense much because of his inefficiency, while the team’s leap forward is on defense where he’s not contributing outside of rebounding.

But a case can be made Al has an in-direct impact on the team’s defense. I’ve been of the opinion for a while, defense is connected to energy. Not every team can play as hard as they can at all times on defense. If they due it may lead to a woeful offense, such as most Larry Brown and Scott Skiles teams. A team like this year’s Pacers may be one who is playing so hard defensively it may cost them on the offensive end.

The argument for why Al helps the Bobcats may start with this concept. By the offense leaning so hard on Al Jefferson, the Bobcats may have more energy to put on defense, both mentally and physically. Players like Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Bismack Biyombo may have a greater defensive focus because Al is on the team.

That’s in addition to tangible ways for a team to build more defensively now that they have Al. Last year Ben Gordon and Byron Mullens, two of the worst defenders and lowest impact players in the league, may have been playing because the coach thought “someone has to take shots”, pushing him to give minutes to shot jackers who are efficiency and defensive sieves. Big Al filled that volume hole on his own, allowing them to play more defensively competent and efficient role players.

The Bobcats are 1st in defensive rebounding % in the league this year (after finishing 29th last year) but are only 27th in offensive rebounding % which is probably a sign of coaching strategy. The Bobcats may not be going for offensive rebounds because they want to guard in transition more, or they may just be exerting more energy on the defensive glass than the offensive glass. When the Bobcats were 18th in offensive rebounding and 29th in defensive rebounding last year, they may have been likewise strategically targeting offensive rebounds more.

All in all, I’m of the opinion that talent often finds a way to win to their talent level, if they are well coached and play together. The Bobcats paid the money to improve their talent level this summer and reaped the benefits, in one way or another. They have a team who’s very good at defense and with enough offensive liabilities that the team may fall apart on that end without Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson using so many possessions at an OK level. That tells me Walker and Jefferson are important to their success. Every team still has to score enough to win.

Of course none of this is a guarantee. It’s possible the immediate picture the stats provide are right and the Bobcats improvement comes from coaching, an improvement of other young players and getting rid of Gordon and Mullens. But I lean towards Big Al having as important a role in this team’s step forward as it seems.

Written by jr.

March 31, 2014 at 11:10 pm

The Bobcats’ all-time worst NBA season: Blame the last decade’s moves, not this year

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Primary logo (2004–present)

Primary logo (2004–present) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it’s official. The Charlotte Bobcats finished with the all-time worst winning percentage for an NBA team (.106), at 7-59 in this shortened season. Their adjusted point differential (SRS) of -13.96 also broke the futility record.

How did this happen? On the surface, the Bobcats certainly “tanked” this season – after trading veterans Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson for long term draft pick depth, they handed the team over to young players like Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Bismack Biyombo and BJ Mullens (Corey Maggette was the “veteran leader” of the team, but let’s just say there’s a reason his nicknames from previous teams include “Bad Porn” and “The Mole”). GM Rich Cho has been relatively open about how he told the Bobcats franchise that if they wanted to win, they’d have to take a step back for a few years. In other words, they’d have to tank for draft picks.

But in reality this season for the Bobcats was swallowing much needed medicine to get healthy more than the sickness.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

April 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm

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NBA Franchise Power Rankings – #28: Denver Nuggets

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Ty Lawson

(Image by Keith Allison via Flicker)

Previous rankings:

#30 – Charlotte Bobcats (+ introduction)

#29 – Phoenix Suns

#28 – Denver Nuggets

Total Trade Value Ranking: #29 (Feb. 2011 ranking –  #21)

Best assets: SF Danilo Gallinari (young, projects as legitimate to borderline starter), PG Ty Lawson (young, projects as legitimate to borderline starter), 2012 Den 1st, 2013 Den 1st, rights to RFA SG Aaron Afflalo (borderline starter), rights to RFA SF Wilson Chandler (borderline starter), C Timofey Mozgov (borderline starter), SF/PF Kenneth Faried (rookie, projects as bench player to borderline starter), SG Jordan Hamilton (rookie, projects as bench player to borderline starter)

Bad contracts: PF Al Harrington (4 years, 27.6 million), C Chris Anderson (3 years, 13.5 million)

Draft picks indebted/owed: NY owes Den NY 2014 1st unprotected, Den owns right to swap Den 1st with NY 1st in 2016

Other chips: PG Andre Miller (expiring)

Managerial grade: A-

Financial grade: B

Estimated record next year: Bottom 12

Overall synopsis: Doesn’t this seem like a low ranking for the Nuggets, who played some of the best basketball in the league after the Carmelo trade on the way to a 5th seed? It would be if that team had kept in tact. The problem is the Nuggets are no longer that team. Nene and Kenyon Martin, their starting frontcourt for years, as well as longtime 6th man sparkplug JR Smith, are now all UFAs and expected to sign elsewhere. Without Nene and Martin, the Nuggets interior defense and toughness goes from outstanding to weak, with Al Harrington, Timofey Mozgov, Chris Anderson and rookie Kenneth Faried taking their minutes. Dropping in defensive productivity inside and giving Al Harrington starting minutes are two sure roads to a falloff record.

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NBA franchise power rankings: #30 – Charlotte Bobcats

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Current primary logo (2008–present)

Image via Wikipedia

To fill some of the time during this long lockout, I’m going to rank the 30 NBA franchises’ positions in the league over the next few months. What I mean by position is this: I personally feel the NBA and essentially all professional sports, works like a ladder. You have your bottom 10 teams who are far away from their goals, you have your middle 10 in a better spot than the bottom ones but in a worse one than the top teams, and you have your top 5 and 10 teams, the teams everyone wants to be. The goal is to move up the ladder. Good decisions, good drafts and development, good signings move you up the ladder past the teams who make bad decisions or just get old. I believe every team has a relative position on the ladder.

Last February I introduced the “Trade Value Power Rankings”, hypothesizing that the simplest way to quick glance a team’s position in the league is to look at the added up trade value of their assets – total trade value covers age of players, salary, injury history, how they interact with teammates, future draft picks, and so on. Superstars and all-stars have the most value, high draft picks have a lot, legitimate starters have good value, borderline starters have a little value, bench players have negligible value and bad contracts have negative value. Young players have more value than old players, but only to an extent – A superstar old player likely still have more value than merely good young player. Good teammates have more value than bad teammates, but likewise to an extent – star headcases usually have more value than squeaky clean bench players.

In this, I list total trade value, but I also take into account managerial history, financial situation, their estimated draft pick next year and my personal feelings on how teams cores are set to fit together. Here’s the first entry:

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Written by jr.

July 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm