Monday, November 5, 2007

Bobcats Thoughts After Week One

1. Jason Richardson has exceeded my expectations. He leads the team in points scored , and he's done it by shooting 51% from the floor and a staggering 56% from 3-point range. This efficiency has been one of the biggest factors in the Bobcats' early success.

2. Raymond Felton has been masterful in helming the team's new fast-paced offense. He's distributing the ball well while avoiding needless turnovers (aside from an ugly possession yesterday where he allowed himself to be trapped, then threw it away). Felton has also done a nice job of getting to the foul line - he leads the team in free throw attempts. Finally, and most importantly, Felton is deferring to Richardson/Okafor/Wallace more when it comes to shooting the ball - he still is shooting, but he's driving to the basket more and as a consequence is making a much higher percentage of his shots. Great all-around play by Felton.

3. Okafor remains the team's best player. He is a double-double machine and is the team's only shot-blocking presence.

4. Wallace has been great, but his style of play worries me. When he went down clutching his knee in the second quarter of yesterday's game, the Bobcats' season flashed before my eyes. Because make no mistake, the Bobcats are not a playoff team without Wallace. I am not advocating that Wallace dramatically change his game - but when my "Wallace-on-the-floor" count topped five yesterday, I got nervous. Is Wallace giving 75% for 75 games better than Wallace giving 100% for 50? Tough call.

5. McInnis is clearly a significant downgrade over Felton, but he has taken less shots this year and is taking care of the ball. Both are good signs. He is committing too many fouls, though, and this aggressive play has only netted 1 steal in 48 minutes. Is this worth the offensive handicap we take when McInnis is in the game? I don't like the dual McInnis/Felton lineup.

6. Hollins has been very impressive. At times he strays into a "Tyrus Thomas" out-of-control style, but he has rebounded well and his quickness provides a great spark. He's only played 15 minutes, though, so I don't yet have a sense of his defensive ability. So far, I really like what I see from Hollins.

7. And then there's Primoz Brezec. Primoz has been horrible. Absolutely, indisputably horrible. He has provided no offensive help, managing only 4 points in 42 minutes. He is a massive liability on the glass - Matt Carroll has as many rebounds as Primoz, and he's played far fewer minutes. Meanwhile, he's committed bad turnovers, committed too many fouls, failed to get to the free throw line, and been absolutely abused in the paint by Shaquille O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, and Alonzo Mourning. I know a sample size of two games is small, but Primoz needs to improve or be benched.

8. Word association for the rest of the team: Matt Carroll: disappointing; Jared Dudley: promising; Walter Hermann: bricking.

Love what I've seen so far. 2-0, with the big three playing like All-Stars and Felton elevating his game.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Season Tip-Off, Bobcats Notes

The NBA season tips off tonight, with TNT airing a double-header of Portland/San Antonio and L.A. Lakers/Houston.

The Bobcats' season doesn't begin until Friday, of course, when the Bobcats play the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this season. Hopefully the game will allow the Bobcats to start the season with a W and gain some confidence in the process.

Rick Bonnell is reporting that Othella Harrington has been medically cleared to practice. There's no clear timetable for his return to the Bobcats lineup, but this is an encouraging step. Although Othella was a sub-par player last season, his injured knee could have been a contributing factor. Hopefully his off-season surgery will propel him to unchartered levels of productivity.

I demand that the Bobcats re-sign Emeka Okafor before the November 1 deadline. Emeka is a franchise player, one of the elite big men in the NBA. He is the future of the Bobcats, and he must be locked down immediately. Emeka deserves to receive quite the "treat" on Halloween.

Something I'll be checking in the box scores tomorrow: how did the Jason Richardson-less Golden State Warriors fare? Also, with the Warriors apparently opting not to re-sign Andris Biedrins, I am officially ready to start pounding the "sign Biedrins" drums. We need a center, and he's a young prototype. The Bobcats' management should have their scouts focusing on Biedrins all season long.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bobcats Links

Let's take a quick look at some Bobcats-related sites:

Bobcat Johnson is a promising new Bobcats blog. Recent posts: review the Suns game, question Okafor's preseason play, discuss the injury bug, and spotlight the Lady Cats. Well worth a visit.

BobcatsPlanet's discussion forum remains the best spot on the Internet for Bobcats-related discussion. If Bobcats news breaks, you can be sure it's being discussed on this forum. I visit the site several times a day and post under the user name "bobcatsden".

Queen City Hoops looks at Ryan Hollins preseason performance, noting that he was unspectacular against very weak competition. When Bynum, Mihm, and Pachulia are giving you fits, it's going to be a long season.

Finally, BobcatsBonfire provides its 2007-08 Bobcats Preview. The post points out a need to transition the team's scoring responsibility from Felton to Richardson/Hermann. I certainly agree. Strangely, there's no mention of Jared Dudley in the "key additions" passage. As I've written many times, I'm expecting an impressive rookie campaign.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bobcats News & Notes

As expected, I took some heat from readers for my previous post. I stand by my thesis - that Morrison's minutes will be filled by superior players - but this is one debate that has no definitive answer. So let's move on to other Bobcats news.

It appears that Primoz Brezec has passed Ryan Hollins on the depth chart and will start at center. I still have some misgivings about this. Primoz had a bad year last year, and year-to-year performance for NBA players tends to be fairly consistent. But maybe a combination of injuries, personal issues, and reduced playing time held Primoz back. Here's hoping.

Hermann has been very impressive in recent preseason games. There's some allure in starting Hermann at PF and Okafor at C. Would that lineup be big enough to stop opposing teams and scrap for rebounds? That's apparently Vincent's rationale for avoiding it.

Brandan Wright, the 2007 draft pick we parlayed into Jason Richardson, was recently demoted to the NBA Developmental League. While Wright is destined to be a solid NBA player, this is yet another indication that Wright would not have provided the Bobcats with much short-term help. I still applaud the "win-now" trade for J-Rich.

Only one preseason game to go before the regular season starts...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Adam Morrison Tears ACL

Adam Morrison tore his ACL last night. He is likely out for the season.

First things first - I regret that Morrison was injured. Morrison clearly cares about the Bobcats. His preseason performance was encouraging, and he was eager to prove that he deserved his draft position. I feel bad for Morrison, and I'm rooting for him to make a full and speedy recovery.

That said, the Bobcats are a better team today than they were yesterday. I know that's brutal, but it's true. Morrison was one of the least effective players in the NBA last season. Barring an unprecedented turnaround (literally unprecedented), Morrison was going to be a below-average player this season too. Post-injury, all of those unproductive minutes will be distributed to two superior players - Walter Hermann and Matt Carroll.

I am struggling with the fact that a part of me is glad Morrison got hurt.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bobcats Previews

A couple new Bobcats previews that I wanted to spotlight.

First, Tony Meija points to Morrison's excellent preseason shooting percentage and predicts a resurgence. Here's hoping. As an aside, Tony Meija is one of the best NBA columnists in the country. I highly recommend that you check out his CBS Sporstline columns.

Next, The Sporting News provides a very positive perspective on the Bobcats' upcoming season. They point out, as I did in a recent post, that one of the biggest question marks for the Bobcats is Coach Vincent's capacity to run an NBA team. I'd like to add a similar plug for The Sporting News - if you are reading Sports Illustrated or ESPN The Magazine, stop immediately and subscribe to TSN. It's a different class of coverage - deeper analysis, a willingness to wade into X's and O's, and a steady focus on the major sports.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bobcats Shelled by Magic

Ouch. In the Bobcats' first preseason game, the Orlando Magic shot 64%. Did the Bobcats play any defense?

Some damning stats:
  • J.J. Reddick hit 5 of 8 three-pointers.
  • Carlos Arroyo, Trevor Aziza, Patt Garrity, and Keith Bogans all scored in double digits, and all did so on 60%+ field goal shooting.
  • Jeff McInnis went 0-3 with 4 fouls and a turnover in 23 minutes of play (Derek Anderson did not play).
That said, there were some bright spots for the Bobcats. Jermareo Davidson played well, making 5 of 10 shots and pulling in 3 rebounds in 18 minutes of play. Morrison was 6 for 11. And Richardson pulled in 6 rebounds to go with his 17 points.

A few lingering questions:

1. How severe is Dudley's "left big toe sprain"?

2. Where is Primoz? Not only did he not play - he wasn't with the team.

3. When will Derek Anderson (who rode the bench last night) start to receive some of McInnis' minutes?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Preseason Points of Emphasis

The Bobcats' first preseason game is tomorrow night. Here's where my attention will be focused:

Raymond Felton's shooting. Last season, Felton took the most shots on the team, but had the second-worst shooting percentage. Felton cannot continue to heave those long, errant jump-shots. He also needs to shoot less. Richardson, Wallace, and Okafor are all superior scoring options, and Felton must focus on feeding them the ball. Felton no longer has to carry the offensive load; this season, he must be a pass-first guard. That is a difficult, but crucial, transition.

Okafor & Wallace's free throw percentage. Okafor and Wallace were a combined 484 for 742 (65%) from the free throw line last season. That's a lot of points left on the table. If Okafor and Wallace could each boost his FT% by 10%, the team would be in a significantly better position to win games. I hope this was a point of emphasis in the off-season.

Sam Vincent's demeanor. Vincent said all the right things in training camp, and installed an offense that could score a lot of points. But I have no idea how he'll coach on game day. Between shuffling lineups, addressing refs, and managing the clock, Vincent will be cutting his NBA teeth this month.

Should be fun to watch.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ryan Hollins: Seizing Opportunity

Primoz Brezec skipped training camp. The Bobcats jettisoned Jake Voskuhl and Melvin Ely. Sam Vincent wants Okafor to play power forward. This all amounts to an enormous opportunity for Ryan Hollins.

It reminds me of Tiki Barber's Cadillac commercial - professional sports is all about seizing opportunities. Tiki says, "Opportunities are seldom perfect, but I've learned that if you're not ready for them, they may not come again."

Hollins seems ready. A UCLA high-jumper, Hollins has flourished during training camp as Sam Vincent installed his new, up-tempo offense. He appears committed to playing the role of rebounder/shot-blocker/defender, a role the Bobcats so badly need filled in the wake of the Sean May injury. As Hollins told the Observer, Richardson, Wallace, Okafor, and Felton will be taking the majority of shots - it's up to him to provide provide off-the-ball support.

As the Bobcats gear up for their first pre-season game on Wednesday, Hollins takes the next step towards proving that he deserves to be the Charlotte Bobcats' starting center.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

May Out - What is Plan B?

Sean May needs microfracture surgery, and is out for the season. This is simply terrible news. Sean May was one of the Bobcats' best players last season (WP48 of 0.175), and he provides desperately needed rebounding support. The Bobcats are now scrambling to implement "Plan B".

Unfortunately, according to Mark Bonnell, the Bobcats haven't decided what Plan B is yet. Some potential candidates:

1) Start Ryan Hollins. Hollins barely played last season, so his statistics are of questionable value. That warning aside, his play was poor (WP of -0.161, worse than McInnis). We need a center who can rebound, and rebounding has never been Hollins' forte (he averaged 8 rebounds/40 minutes his senior year). If Hollins is going to be the team's starting center, he must commit to rebounding and defense. If he can't fill this role, the Bobcats will be dominated on the boards and in the paint.

2) Sign Marc Jackson. As I discussed previously, this is a terrible option. Jackson has nothing left in the tank, and the Bobcats would be better off saving their money. Why sign someone who will give opposing teams a mismatch each night? Hollins provides that already.

3) Locate Primoz. I came down hard on Primoz for skipping training camp again this year. He's been MIA for weeks, addressing "family issues" (the new "exhaustion"), and hasn't practiced with Coach Vincent at all. Even when available, he doesn't help the team (WP48 last season of -0.110). That said, he is experienced, under contract, and in the past has shown glimmers of adequacy. Rumor has Primoz in Charlotte now, waiting for training camp to break. This makes the Primoz option a viable, if ultimately undesirable, solution.

4) Play Dudley/Hermann at PF, move Okafor to C. Vincent apparently refuses to slide Okafor over to center. So as of right now, this option isn't happening. But it would allow us to put another good player on the court, and keep a bad one off of it. Vincent needs to weigh the downside of playing Okafor at center against the downside of playing a scrub at center and benching Hermann/Dudley.

5) Spend big money on Anderson Varejao. He is easily the best center available, but rumor has him asking over $7 million/year. Obviously his leverage has dwindled given the Cavs' refusal to pay him, and the league's disinterest in his availability. But he would still come with a hefty price tag. I don't see the Bobcats springing for such a contract, but if there was ever a time to spend our mid-level exception, this is it.

I have no idea which Plan B the Bobcats will embrace. I would prefer the latter option, but who knows if the Bobcats will even consider it. One thing is for certain: our season rides on this decision.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Bobcats' Offensive Composite Scores

I was reading Queen City Hoops today (a must-read for any Bobcats fan) and followed a link to's Offensive Composite Score - a combination of PER, Dean Oliver's offensive rating system, and offensive +/-. Click here for the numbers for all NBA players in the 06-07 season.

I am obviously a big stats guy. Although I prefer the Wins Produced metric created by David Berri (author of The Wages of Wins), I am interested in any statistic that can help sculpt my evaluation of NBA players. So: the idea of combining various statistics to create a comprehensive score holds great appeal.

Below are the Offensive Composite Scores for each of last season's Bobcats.

Derek Anderson: 31.4
Matt Carroll: 28.3
Emeka Okafor: 25.0
Gerald Wallace: 21.8
Sean May: 20.4
Walter Hermann: 15.5
Raymond Felton: 6.6
Brevin Knight: -3.3
Primoz Brezec: -16.4
Jake Voskuhl: -21.3
Jeff McInnis: -47.5
Adam Morrison: -51.4

Morrison and McInnis both shot below 40% last season, and they are at the bottom of the pack. That makes sense.

Conversely, Derek Anderson is a big surprise. Last season he shot 43% from the floor and 34% from 3-point range. How does that translate into such an outstanding Offensive Composite Score? His Offensive Composite Score is higher than Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, and Al Jefferson!

What gives?

Starting Lineups/Primoz

It's tough to predict the Bobcats' starting five. The Observer is reporting that Okafor, Felton, Wallace, Richardson, and Hollins are practicing as the first team during training camp. But Hollins is subbing in for Brezec (more on Primoz below). That seems to suggest a starting five of:

PG: Felton
SG: Richardson
SF: Wallace
PF: Okafor
C: Brezec

This leaves Okafor in his natural PF position, which is clearly desirable. But the trade-off - playing time for Primoz - may not be worth it. Instead, as Rick Bonnell suggests, we're likely to see:

PG: Felton
SG: Richardson
SF: Wallace
PF: Hermann/May
C: Okafor

This is an all-around better team, but we lose the advantage of playing Okafor at PF. Also, when Hermann is in the lineup, Okafor has to modify his game to disproportionately focus on rebounding, since Hermann plays so much smaller than his 6'9 frame. If May can get on the court, he would be a welcome rebounding force and should get the nod as the team's starting PF.

A top-notch center is certainly the missing piece of the Bobcats puzzle.

Back to Primoz. Primoz started last season by skipping training camp due to "exhaustion". He then performed terribly throughout the season, regressing drastically from his previous productivity. I would have guessed that he'd show up to camp this season doubly committed to proving himself as a starting NBA center. Did he? Nope. Citing "family issues", he skipped training camp once again. If Primoz is dealing with an illness in the family, I apologize in advance for this criticism. But if "family issues" is the 2007 version of "exhaustion", and Primoz is once again simply collecting his paycheck, it is time to show him the door.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Dudley, TV Schedule, Bonnell

As I said in an early post on this blog, Jared Dudley is going to be very good. Not just five-minutes-a-game good. Dudley is going to be in the hunt for Rookie of the Year. An AP writer, Mike Cranston, wrote an interesting article on Dudley today. He notes that Dudley is objectively unathletic, but is nevertheless very good at basketball. Personally, I don't care how fast you run the 40 if you average a double-double. Is it possible that Dudley will emerge as the Bobcats' version of David Lee? I sure think so.

Elsewhere, RealGM reviewed the Charlotte Bobcats yesterday. I hope to address this review in greater depth tomorrow. For now, I'll simply provide a link.

Here is a schedule of the Bobcats games that will be televised on News 14 Carolina. Looks like they'll be broadcasting about 50 games. I'm pleased to see that they'll be airing so many away games in February and March, when the Bobcats are almost constantly on the road.

Kudos to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, who has reemerged from his off-season cocoon and is providing consistent updates on the team's progress in training camp. I'm glad to have him back.

Finally, I invite you all to bookmark this page and check back regularly. I'll be updating daily when the season begins (I update nearly daily now, truth be told). I'm excited about the growth of this blog, and I enjoy reading your feedback in the Comments section.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Preseason Excitement

The Bobcats opened training camp this week, and I couldn't be more optimistic about our prospects for this season. ESPN's John Hollinger concurs. In his Team Forecast, Hollinger warns NBA fans not to sleep on the Bobcats. Of particular interest to me was his assessment of our strengths and weaknesses. Strength? The Bobcats starting five, which can compete with anyone in the East. Weakness? Lack of depth at center and power forward. That's spot on.

If the Bobcats can avoid an injury to Felton and keep Morrison off the floor, Hollinger thinks the Bobcats are a playoff team. He concludes:
Nonetheless, it seems to me the Bobcats' young guys are ready to step into the limelight. It will be a tight race for the East's final two or three playoff spots, but I'm guessing Charlotte will get its first playoff game since the Hornets skipped town.
Note: I would link to Hollinger's article, but it's behind the ESPN Insider wall. It's a great piece, though, and his analysis of each NBA team further cements him as a must-read NBA columnist.

  • For an insightful behind-the-scenes look at the Bobcats, check out Matt Rochinski's Training Camp blog. Rochinski is the Bobcats' New Media Manager. Based on this blog, he's a basketball fan and solid writer - not just tech support. That's great to see, as the days of fans relying on the Observer for Bobcats news are over.
  • Blazers blog "Blazer's Edge" previews the Bobcats 06-07 season. Interesting quote: "Richardson was reportedly available to the Blazers had they desired him but they passed on him because his knees had deteriorated to the point that it was affecting his game."

Monday, October 1, 2007

Bobcats Sign Derek Anderson

According to the Observer's Rick Bonnell, the Bobcats re-signed Derek Anderson. As I've said numerous times, Derek Anderson is a high-quality player and provides much-needed depth at the point guard position. This was an excellent move by the Bobcats' front office.

Presale: Single-Game Tickets

There's a 24 hour presale for individual game Bobcats tickets. For today (Oct. 1) only, you can buy individual seats before they go on sale to the general public.

Go to this link and enter redemption code TMPRE.

Some standout home games early in the season: Phoenix, Seattle, Boston, Chicago

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bobcats Add 3 More to Roster

Last night, the Kinston Free Press broke the story on the Bobcats bringing three new players into its preseason camp. Can we pause for a moment to reflect on this.... Richard Walker of the Kinston Free Press is breaking Bobcats news, while the Observer is totally silent. Thank goodness for Bobcats blogs and discussion forums - I was alerted to the Free Press story by a post on Bobcats Planet's message board.

Enough venting, on to the Free Press story. The Bobcats are bringing in 7'1 center Deji Akindele, 6'7 forward Gabe Muoneke, and 6'2 guard C.J. Watson. Akindele and Muoneke are NBDL guys, while CJ Watson played college ball at Tennessee from 2003-06.

I reserve the right to get behind Akindele - we could use another big body, and Akindele was Defensive Player of the Year in the Mid-Continent Conference in 2005. He may be a nice addition to our squad.

That said.....Bobcats, you have to bring back Derek Anderson.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bobcats Links

A few quick Bobcats related links.
  • Tom Sorenson's gooey Observer op-ed column about Jason Richardson visiting an elementary school. Sorenson states that the way Richardson handles himself around children is "telling". Telling as to what? Not sure... Babysitting prowess? What a ridiculous column.
  • Queen City Hoops' 9 ingredients for a successful season. I agree wholeheartedly with this analysis. I would also like to emphasize the need for Felton to stay healthy. Felton is merely average. But McInnis is utterly horrible. The Bobcats can weather injuries to anyone except Okafor, Wallace, and Felton. If they go down, so do the Bobcats. By the way, any column that starts with a Transformers reference is A-OK in my book.
  • ESPN's Marc Stein evaluates the Bobcats' off-season. Stein: (i) questions Richardson's status as a go-to player; (ii) chides the Bobcats for not re-signing Okafor; (iii) questions the team's dedication to Morrison; and (iv) absolutely destroys Coach Vincent. I'm on board with Stein's first three points, but the last seemed too personal. Do Stein and Vincent have history?
Hopefully this weekend we will learn the identity of the Bobcats' mysterious 12th man.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Esteban Batista, Man of Mystery

I'm reading reports that the Bobcats are in talks with center Esteban Batista. I know next to nothing about this guy, aside from his solid rebounding stats and strong FIBA performance.

Does anyone else?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Backseat GM-ing

I've been backseat GM-ing a lot lately. I argued that: (i) Adonal Foyle should be signed; (ii) Derek Anderson should be re-signed; (iii) Jeff McInnis should be dropped; (iv) Emeka Okafor's contract should be extended; and (v) Dikembe Mutombo should at least be courted.

None of these happened.

It appears that the Bobcats decided after the draft that they're finishing maneuvering.

I can't help but feel that in the blackjack game of the NBA, the Bobcats are staring at 14 and choosing to stay.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bobcats Must Pursue Mutombo

Coach Vincent recently discussed roster moves with Charlotte Observer reporter Rick Bonnell. As our friends at Bobcats Bonfire intimated early this week, the Bobcats are looking for another center. Vincent mentioned two options - Michael Ruffin and Marc Jackson.

These are poor choices.

In 300 minutes of play last season, Ruffin shot less than 30% and managed a 1:2 rebound/turnover ratio. That's abysmal. His WP48 was -0.035. Jackson wasn't any better. In 1,000 minutes of play, he shot 41% and earned a WP48 of -0.079. Why are we even considering them?

Although most quality free agents have already been signed, an incredible center remains on the market - Dikembe Mutombo.

According to reports, Mutombo is close to signing a 1-year contract with Houston for $1.9 million, the maximum Houston could pay under the salary cap. Why don't we make a run at him?

Last season, Mutombo played 1,331 minutes. He shot 56% from the floor. He pulled in 499 rebounds. He blocked 79 shots. He only committed 38 turnovers. That's tremendous output from a back-up center. Who cares how old he is? If he puts up numbers that approach last season's, he will be a massive upgrade for the Bobcats. Mutombo's WP48 last season? 0.332. That's one of the highest in the entire NBA.

Signing Mutombo for $2.5 or $3 million next season would be an absolute steal. Why would the Bobcats pursue Marc Jackson when they could land one of the most dominant big men in the NBA? Even better, his salary is a staggering bargain.

I hope the Bobcats are on the phone with Mutombo's agents right now.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Bobcats 07/08 Salaries

I was inspired to take a look at the Bobcats' salary situation by Sean Deveney's "Most Overpaid Players" article (and David Berri's response).

Here are their 07/08 salaries (rounded to the nearest hundred thousand dollars):

Jason Richardson - $11.1 million
Gerald Wallace - $9.5 million
Matt Carroll - $5.5 million
Emeka Okafor - $5.4 million
Adam Morrison - $3.9 million
Raymond Felton - $3.3 million
Primoz Brezec - $2.8 million [potentially a "great bargain", says Queen City Hoops]
Othella Harrington - $2.4 million
Walter Hermann - $2.0 million
Sean May - $1.9 million
Brevin Knight - $1.5 million (buyout)
Jared Dudley - $1.1 million
Jeff McInnis - $1.1 million ["not a bad price", says Rick Bonnell]
Ryan Hollins - $0.7 million
Jermareo Davidson - $0.4 million

Obviously we are paying well below market for Okafor; his salary should more than double when he signs his extension. Otherwise, these salaries look about right. Kudos to the Bobcats management.

The biggest bargain may be Sean May. He is routinely destroyed by commenters at Rick Bonnell's Charlotte Observer blog, but May has the potential to average 12 points and 12 rebounds next season. And for that potential, we're paying less than $2 million this year. What do we have to complain about?

Hat tip to ShamSports for the salary info, and Kelly Dwyer at TrueHoop for recommending them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Jared Dudley - Impact Player

I am very high on Jared Dudley. Why? He excelled at Boston College.

David Berri explains that college play is a strong indicator of NBA play. In fact, it's a better predictor than draft position. The fact that Jared Dudley slid to the Bobcats at the 22nd pick speaks little about his prospect as a pro.

Instead, let's take a look at the superior predictor - college stats. In his senior year, Dudley averaged 19 pounds and 8 rebounds while shooting 56% from the floor (and 44% behind the arc). And Dudley wasn't putting up these numbers in the MAC; he was the 2007 ACC Player of the Year. According to David Berri's productivity/minute metric, Dudley was the second-best swing man in college last season, behind only Kevin Durant. He was significantly better than Corey Brewer, Jeff Green, Thaddeus Young, and Julian Wright. He was even better than the Bobcats' top 10 pick, Brandan Wright.

Past college performance predicts future pro results, so we have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Dudley. If he finds his way onto the floor next season - granted, a big "if" - I expect Dudley to shine.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Inexplicable Signing of McInnis

The Bobcats' string of savvy off-season moves just snapped. The Bobcats inexplicably re-signed Jeff McInnis.

On the Observer website, Rick Bonnell points out that McInnis averaged 4.3 points and 3.3 assists last season. What Bonnell fails to mention is that McInnis made less than 40% of his field goals, made less than 70% of his free throws, and managed only 14 steals in 700 minutes of play. His WP48 rating (discussed in David Berri's book The Wages of Wins), is a meager -0.026. The average NBA player has a WP48 of 0.100, so McInnis is significantly sub-par.

It pains me to see the Bobcats sign Jeff McInnis over Derek Anderson. As I stressed in a previous post, this move will cost the Bobcats wins.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bobcats' Player Efficiency Breakdown

Our friends over at Queen City Hoops recently provided plus/minus numbers for each player on the 06-07 Bobcats roster. Although I prefer the WP48 metric promulgated in The Wages of Wins, I think there is also great value in plus/minus numbers, and I have been anxiously awaiting this column. Some observations:
  • As I noted in a previous post, Derek Anderson played at a very high level last season, and bringing him back to the Bobcats should be a priority.
  • Adam Morrison's rookie season was a slow motion car crash.
  • Walter Hermann was very successful last season. But was his success due to growth as a player, or was it due to playing against tanking opponents' back-up players? Next season will be illuminating.
There's must more to be gleaned from the data, so I encourage you to head over to Queen City Hoops at this link and check it out for yourself.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lock down Okafor. Now.

Emeka Okafor is one of the fifteen best players in the NBA. Want proof? Last season, his WP48 was 0.299. As a point of reference, 0.100 is average, and 0.300 is a superstar. (For a list of each NBA player's WP48, click here and sort by WP48). A WP48 of .299 places Okafor among the fifteen best players in the league.

This next stat is staggering. In a recent post at the Wages of Wins Journal, David Berri noted that in the past 28 years, no team has won an NBA title without a player on the roster with a WP48 of 0.300 or above.

Emeka Okafor, with his WP48 of 0.299, is on the cusp of superstardom. There are only a handful of these superstars in the NBA. If we have the opportunity to lock one down for the next six years, we must.

Thankfully, the Bobcats appear to be making headway in that regard. According to
Okafor is confident that he and the team will come to an agreement soon, keeping him in Bobcat Orange for the foreseeable future. "It's going to happen," Okafor said. "We're in the process of talking about it."

"When the Bobcats and I come to a mutual agreement, it'll be cool," he added.
And one of the league's premier talents will be a Bobcat for years to come. Cool indeed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Diamonds in the Rough

The Wages of Wins Journal recently assessed the available NBA free agents. I hope the Bobcats are paying attention. Quoting WoWJ:
When we look at the 21 unrestricted free agents who played at least 500 minutes this past season (and who had not signed when I created this table this past weekend) we see seven players who were above average in terms of WP48.
The seven available free agents earning an above-average WP48 in 06-07, as of August 1, 2007:

Player: WP48
Dikembe Mutombo: 0.336
James Posey: 0.195
Ruben Patterson: 0.166
Devin Brown: 0.130
Brevin Knight: 0.129
Derek Anderson: 0.128
Chris Webber: 0.108

The Bobcats are likely unable to afford Mutombo, Posey, Patterson, or Webber. Brevin Knight was signed to the Clippers. This leaves Devin Brown and our own Derek Anderson.

Devin Brown is a 6'5 shooting guard who contributed a lot of quality minutes to the NO Hornets last season. He is a strong rebounder who would serve as a nice complement to Matt Carroll. Best of all, he's affordable.

Derek Anderson was highly successful for Charlotte last season. Queen City Hoops recently reviewed last season's most successful Bobcats lineups. The Bobcats three best lineups all featured Derek Anderson. Clearly, Anderson played a large role in the Bobcats late-season success - why not bring him back and build on it? Anderson is affordable, and it's clear that despite his age (33) he can still play.

The final point I'll make is that the Bobcats should not resign their other free agent, Jeff McInnis. Last season, his WP48 was -0.026. He literally cost the team wins. Although the best option at PG (Brevin Knight) is off the table, there are superior players available (Earl Boykins, for one).

Devin Brown, Derek Anderson, and Adonal Foyle are diamonds in the rough, but Jeff McInnis is worthless coal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Foyle to the Bobcats?

The Golden State Warriors cut Adonal Foyle yesterday. The Bobcats should give him a hard look. He's perfect for a number of reasons:
  • Interior defense. As previously discussed, the Bobcats are thin at the five. Primoz Brezec looks to receive significant playing time, which will lead to countless low-post mismatches. Foyle is a famously tough defender and a steady rebounder/shot-blocker. He's 6'10 and 270 pounds. Foyle would be a significant upgrade, and at age 32 he has at least another season of quality back-up play in him.
  • Salary. Foyle could be our Grant Hill - a veteran who takes less money to play for a hungry team. Foyle's contract with Golden State paid him $42 million over the last six years. Foyle may be willing to accept a smaller salary in exchange for receiving consistent playing time. Last season in Golden State, he averaged 10 minutes/game. With the Bobcats, he could play 15-20. The Bobcats must reserve enough cap space to extend Okafor, but there is money left over. A short-term, low-dollar deal for Foyle would be a great use for this excess.
  • Shot selection. Foyle rarely shoots. Throughout his career, he ranked near the bottom of the league in shots/possession. The Bobcats do not need another scorer - Okafor, Wallace, Richardson, May, and Hermann can carry that burden (Felton's omission was intentional). Foyle would step in as a clear role player - defend, rebound, protect the lane. His reluctance to shoot would be a blessing.
One man's trash is another man's treasure. Foyle is a great fit in Charlotte. Will Jordan notice?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bobcats Are All the Rage

Two of the leading NBA blogs assessed the Bobcats in recent days. The outlook is generally quite positive.

Kelly Dwyer at TrueHoop (pinch-hitting for Henry Abbott) summarized our squad as follows: "That's a good team. That could be a really good team. A trade or two, and that could be a 50-win team." You can read the entire column at this link.

Meanwhile, my hero in the field of sports economics, David Berri, not only reviewed the Bobcats, but he steered his readers to this blog. Outstanding! Berri noted that Michael Jordan might be on his way towards rehabilitating his reputation as a lackluster NBA GM. Berri provided the following outlook: "The team has two very productive players in Okafor and Wallace, and Richardson looks like a player that can help. So maybe MJ is on his way to becoming a 'good' general manager." Although there are hurdles to overcome (for example, Morrison), Berri thinks the Bobcats are improving. You can read the entire post at this link.

The subject of this post is, of course, a joke. I am realistic about the level of national interest in the Bobcats. On Entourage earlier this summer, Ari used the Bobcats as the punchline of his "NBA team you don't care about" joke. Although Ari abandoning Bobcats tickets scored laughs in June of 06, I think the days of the Bobcats serving as punchlines are over. We're cellar-dwellers no longer.

Friday, August 10, 2007

WP48 and the Charlotte Bobcats

I am a fervent Wages of Wins disciple. The Wages of Wins is a book written by David Berri that promotes a new formula for evaluation player talent: Win Score per minute. In his book, Berri notes that our tendency as NBA fans is too overemphasize the importance of scoring while underemphasizing the importance of rebounding, ball control, and shooting efficiency.

Win Score per minute is calculated using the following formula: Points + Rebounds + Steals + ½Assists + ½Blocked Shots – Field Goal Attempts – Turnovers - ½Free Throw Attempts - ½Personal Fouls) / Minutes. It is a rough approximation of Berri's metric, WP48. For the purposes of this blog, we will use the terms interchangeably.

Applying the WP48 formula to the Bobcats' 06-07 squad yields the following results (courtesy of Jason Chandler's excellent blog:) (note that 0.100 is average)

Emeka Okafur: .299
Gerald Wallace: .247
Sean May: .187
Matt Carroll: .114
Derek Anderson: .110
Walter Hermann: .099
Brevin Knight: .095
Raymond Felton: .054
Jake Voskuhl: .013
Jeff McInnis: -.044
Primoz Brezec: -.108
Adam Morrison: -.175

Much of this blog will be dedicated to analyzing these numbers. Here are some brief thoughts:
  • Okafur is a superstar.
  • The Bobcats would have been crazy to let Wallace go.
  • Sean May is severely underrated.
  • Raymond Felton must improve.
  • Adam Morrison should be benched.
I will expand on these comments in future entries.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thin at the Five

Behind Emeka Okafor, the Bobcats' depth chart is paper thin - pun very much intended. Primoz Brezec is unquestionably the team's back-up center. Unfortunately, last season proved that Primoz is not physical enough to stand up to the Dwight Howards and Eddy Currys of the Eastern Conference - and Kevin Garnett is waiting in the wings.

Last season, Primoz took a step backwards. He played weak defense, rarely rebounded, shot 63% from the free throw line, and fouled at an incredible rate. When Okafor was injured, the Bobcats looked to Primoz to step up and produce, but Primoz dropped the ball.

These shortcomings notwithstanding, Primoz remains the cream of the Bobcats' back-up center crop. Jake Voskuhl outplayed Primoz last season, but Voskuhl will be playing home games in Milwaukee next season. Ryan Hollins, the 7'0 UCLA alum, has been unimpressive in limited minutes. Othella Harrington was supposed to provide toughness, but instead provided foul trouble.

If the Bobcats are going to be successful next season, Primoz Brezec must step up during this off-season. He needs to hit the weights. He needs to practice free throws. He needs to defend against 6'11, 280-pound competition. And most importantly, Primoz needs to recognize his importance to the team and play like he deserves his spot.

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