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March 31, 2008

Call it an Okafor effect: Winning

This should be one of those things so obvious, it doesn’t require repeating. Still:

How do the Charlotte Bobcats ever forget to feed Emeka Okafor in the post?

A wee bit of statistical analysis: Okafor took 10 or more shots in 21 of the Bobcats’ 28 victories. That’s hardly coincidental. This team gets in trouble whenever it falls in love with long jump shots.

I’m not saying Jason Richardson and Matt Carroll should stop taking 3-pointers; that’s not the problem. I’m saying there must be a balance between the inside and outside games, and whenever that balance skews, the Bobcats get in trouble.

Every so often this team disregards what should be a guiding principle – find Okafor in the post – and they invariably start losing games. Look at recent history for supporting evidence:

In each of four recent games (Memphis, Indiana, Miami, Utah) Okafor took six or fewer shots. The record in those games: 1-3. In each of the past three games, he took 11 or more shots. The record in those games: 3-0.

That’s not to paint Okafor as the victim. Sometimes when things get out of balance, it’s the perimeter players chucking up too many jump shots. Sometimes it’s Okafor not doing enough to present himself as a target for entry passes.

Whatever the cause or causes, it comes down to this: When the Bobcats don’t throw the ball inside, making defenses contract, they stop being efficient offensively.

That offensive inefficiency is a big reason they won’t make the playoffs.

Posted by rbonnell on March 31, 2008 at 05:56 PM | Permalink

Comments

Instead of commenting on the relevance of this blog-whatever it is thing I would just like to know how Adam Morrison is doing with his rehab. I haven't heard a peep about him since his surgery.

Posted by: Bro. D. | Mar 31, 2008 6:28:31 PM

WHO KNEW??? I figured Ray Felton shooting about 20 times (with 8-10 3PT shots thown in for good measure) was probably the best plan of action. I certainly wouldn't try to create shooting opportunities for the player on the team with the best FG% (blocked shots be damned)...that'd be down right CRAZY!

Posted by: Michael Procton | Mar 31, 2008 8:38:44 PM

FYI i'm watching chris bosh absolutely dominate okafor in the 4th quarter here. taking it right at him and making okafor his little bitch. haha

Posted by: Shawn | Mar 31, 2008 9:15:54 PM

Okafor had more FGs than Bosh in the 4th.

Bosh scored 4 points while Okafor was in the game during the 4th, all on FTs.

You have those reality-distorting glasses on that make it seems like Okafor suuuuuuuuuuucks and that Felton (the next Chris Paul!) is so goooooooooooood, don't you?

Posted by: Will | Mar 31, 2008 10:02:29 PM

The reason he is playing better is because he wants to be traded maybe out west. I might trade for him myself. We Hornets (the only nba team charlotte will ever support) could find a spot for him.

I understand that he does not intend to resign with his current team. Who could blame him.

Just think guys if the city had helped us Hornets build a new arena you would be watching a team that could go to the finals. I even offered to help pay for the arena. I did not ask for a hand out. I also hire head coaches that are a different color than myself.

Good luck maybe you guys will make the playoffs next year. Wait, wasn't that gonna be this year?

Posted by: george shinn | Mar 31, 2008 10:11:26 PM

Damn Bonnell, you just had to go and open your big mouth and curse the Bobcats didn't you. Couldn't you have at least waited until after our winning streak was done?! Okafor had 14 shots last night, and we lost. It will probably happen again Wed. and Sat., then Bonnell will be writing how the Bobs have lost 3 in a row with Choke taking 10 or more shots in each lost. Thanks Bonnell.

I look for Choke-afor to pull a Bickerstaff and find a way to play good now that we're out of the playoffs, the pressure is off, and the games mean absolutely nothing. He'll pad his stats so he can get back to telling everyone how he "never gave up" down the stretch and really still deserves that Dwight Howard money he wanted last year when he turned down a $13 MILLION A YEAR offer from the Bobcats that was more than fair.
My hope is that they do a sign and trade and get him out of here. They should have done this last year...traded him for J-Rich, kept the draft pick, and drafted Al Thornton, Spencer Hawes, or Thaddeus Young. All players with much more potential than Chuck and that would contribute just as much in this throw away season we just had.

Posted by: black bush | Apr 1, 2008 7:45:57 AM

Yeah, Felton did nothing in closing out the last two wins on the road and had no impact in us going 3-1 on the trip. I'm sure Will and Procton watched the games and saw that, right? It had nothing to do with the team not playing Okafor, Mohammed, and Wallace TOGETHER for extended minutes.

Rick has ALWAYS played up the Emeka effect, while downplaying the Felton part of it, which leaves you two clowns thinking you're justified in your basketball ignorance and outlandish statements. The general AP stories mentioned out the closing plays of the last 2 wins and Felton's play down the stretch as did the play by play commentators and Rick didn't even mention it as an afterthought. Shocker. I think he may be Emeka's agent.

It's his imbalanced reporting on Emeka that led him to think that 14 mill a yr was not enough and that he was supposed to make Dwight Howard (max) money despite everyone else in NBA circles, blogs, etc thinking it was crazy. Emeka has played well and we need him to to win, but to act like it is as simple as dump the ball into Emeka and we will win, is wrong and poor conclusion drawing. We've got to stop overhyping and subsequently overpaying our players.

With regard to Emeka's production, ever hear of offensive rebounds? Ever hear of drive and dish? That's 2 of his best scoring plays and tends to come off dribble penetration, a spread floor, and more room for Mek to operate. When he does a lot of that, we do win. Look a little deeper. It's not just about dumping it into Emeka and watching him dominate. Nonetheless, he is more effective at this with a lineup that spreads and balances the floor more.

If you geniuses notice, Felton's 3 point attempts go down when we play the lineup of Felton, J-Rich, Wallace, Dudley/Carroll and Emeka/Mohammed more. That's b/c we have less possessions that stall out and end up in last minute heaves as there is better ball movement, floor balance and space for penetration, post play, and shooting. The better spacing HELPS OUT EMEKA TOO.

I've said this for a long time now and folks continue to ignore it, b/c they think in old school terms instead of recognizing our personnel for what it is. That G-Force, Mek, Nazr frontline is not ideal and tends to hurt us more than help us. Guess what, we had a lead in going into the 3rd quarter built without the "conventional lineup." We start out with the Wallace, Okafor, and Mohammed combo and quickly crap the lead away, b/c it doesn't add up offensively while failing to even provide the defensive advantages it is supposed to (Toronto shredded that lineup in the first half of the 3rd quarter making the decisive run).

You can try to act like Emeka is a dominant post player if you want to and that he doesn't have games where he goes 3-13, 2-12 and such from the post, but it happens. He is up and down like most of the team and as Rick mentioned, often his failing to make himself available (and catch the ball) is a large part of his difficulty. Ultimately, he AND THE TEAM are better when we have a lineup with better floor balance. He needs to be involved with touches, definitely. But PAY ATTENTION. These touches come from OFFENSIVE PUTBACKS as well as actual post feeds or drive and dishes (which is effective when he is ready, catches, and dunks quickly).

Simply saying, he had this many shots and acting like all those shots came from post feeds is POOR journalism and misleading. Emeka has to be involved through getting fed the ball in the post, drives and dishes, AND he needs to be involved by hitting the offensive boards. When he does the latter 2, especially, we are very effective. C'mon Rick, you're smarter than this Emeka promotional (not that you haven't done it before). Stop acting like he is Yao, Stoudemire, Howard, Duncan or guys you just dump it into and take you to another level. That is unless you're trying to up your 10%.


BTW, I agree that offensive inefficiency is a large part of what will keep them out of the playoffs. They have scored more when not using the Wallace, Okafor, Mohammed combo. The less of this lineup, the better.

Posted by: jperry | Apr 1, 2008 2:21:23 PM

In three years of debating the Felton Fanatics, that may be the longest excuse message I've ever read.

You deserve a congratulations for that.

As for what Felton did in the closing minutes of a few wins, I would hope he would convert, seeing as how for a while there he wasn't even looking for team mates (especially in the Seattle game).

It's fine to give him credit, but then criticize him when he has his usual poor shooting nights, and fault him for taking more shots than guys that are better scoring options than him. If you say he was what won us those games, then poor shooting performances where he phases out his team mates he should be criticized for, but of course you wouldn't do that.

As for the myth that Okafor only scores off of putbacks and "great drives and dishes by Felton" (yeah, right), that's wrong as well.

It's not that Okafor is a dominant post player, it's that he's a lot better than what people like you think, the type that will trash our entire team to make up excuses for Felton. I mean, what was he supposed to do with one of the few 20ppg duo's in the league, a double-double big man that has one of the higher FG% in the league, on top of role player talent like Carroll, Mohammed, etc? What was he supposed to do with crap like that? WIN?! How can you WIN with that crap?

Suuuuuure.

If we can find ways to let our loveable little 41% / 27% PG take all the shots he does, we certainly should be able to find a way to get Okafor his shots.

Posted by: Will | Apr 1, 2008 4:37:02 PM

Will, maybe one day you will realize and accept that both Okafor and Felton suck.

Posted by: Scott | Apr 2, 2008 3:53:06 AM

Will,

First, I hope you're not doing what you all did last year and counted the number of shots taken by Felton while play 2 and 1 and counting them all as pg.

Second, I'm not calling Felton THE reason for us winning like Rick is with Emeka. I'm not advocating for Felton getting a contract that he hasn't earned as has been done with Okafor in the past. BTW, this notion of Felton freezing out his teammates in those games is bogus, but typical of you and your repeated rhetoric. And you're right, Felton never drives and dishes to Emeka. Never. Furthermore, the talk about drives and dishes includes J-Rich and Gerald as well when there is a clear lane and one of Nazr and Emeka.

You can talk excuses all you want. Talk basketball. Show that you understand that. You can scapegoat Raymond Felton. Everyone knows that. Get a new skill. And I will call out Raymond (as I did with his poor shooting and outward frustration in the Houston game) as well. But that doesn't mean I will let tired, ignorant posts that constantly target him while trying to downplay his positives go unnoticed.

You can talk about individual players numbers (as if they would universally transfer to all teams in the league), but have displayed little clue about analyzing the gameplay on the floor, matchups, skills sets, or actual basketball. You talk like basketball is played in some vacuum that throws numbers out there (of course, only the negative ones for Felton) and that alone equals analysis. Further, you speaking as if Felton played pg for most of the year with this team and that has led to him to their current position, instead of failing to recognize they have won more with him being the primary pg than the other situation of running off the ball.

Finally, I am not making excuses for anyone. I have said REPEATEDLY what our best winning lineup combinations were and guess what, it's shown to be true. I have simply stated that our best lineups are Felton, J-Rich, Dudley/Carroll, Gerald, and Okafor/Mohammed and that the Gerald/Okafor/Mohammed frontcourt is not an effective one in the current "be able to shoot and defend shooters" NBA. YOU are the one always pinning all the negative on Felton when it is far from reality.

Posted by: jperry | Apr 2, 2008 11:31:25 AM

BTW, as I mentioned our record is significantly better when he starts at pg than when he doesn't. He hasn't dragged us down to wear we are. The misutilization of him has played a large role in the current status of the team, however.

Raymond at PG: 19-24 .442 win percentage

Raymond not at PG: 9-22 .290 win percentage

In our current 74 game season this would translate to:

Raymond at pg: 33-41 .442 win percentage

Raymond not at pg: 21-53 .290 win percentage

That's a 15% (or .152) increase in win percentage in the games where he's played pg vs the ones where he hasn't. The rate with him @ pg would have us currently 1 game out of the final spot in the playoffs. Not world beaters by any means, but a much better situation than our current one and on pace with the progression of the franchise.

Posted by: jperry | Apr 2, 2008 11:45:54 AM

Now, if Rick took the stats above and posted a blog that said, "Call it a Felton at pg effect: Winning (Could be in a legitimate push for the playoffs)," I'm pretty sure the folks who feast off of attacking Felton on here would go crazy.

Emeka is a terrific young talent. However, Rick has often played him up to a higher payscale than he should be on. He could be the top paid player on the team without being a max contract guy (why the Bobcats offered what they did).

Gerald is a prime example of a terrific player for whom we drove his value up in his contract year. When we ran a bunch of isolation and such for him down the stretch of the season pumping up his numbers, it elevated his bargaining leverage and led us to overpay what his normal market value would be. He's a terrific defender with an evolving offensive game and we turned him into a McGrady-lite despite the fact that Gerald himself never really wanted this.

I do not want the same thing to happen with Emeka economically as the franchise would be really handicapped by this. I really want Emeka to remain a Bobcat, but I worry about us playing up some of our players and overpaying them as a result. And to me, entries such as Rick's, along with his others over the years (saying Emeka should make more than Deron Williams gets when his contract's up) related to Emeka do a disservice. And yes, I know he is entitled to his opinion.

Posted by: jperry | Apr 2, 2008 12:05:11 PM

JP, you're a bit mistaken. You probably WOULD want to lump Felton's shooting at all positions together, as he's shot worse at a higher rate at PG than SG this year (as he has throughout his career.)

Posted by: Michael Procton | Apr 2, 2008 1:21:02 PM

No, jperry. I'm counting the shots Felton takes at PG. Like tonight, against Cleveland. If he plays SG, I couldn't care less if he takes a lot of shots, since that's what SGs do. That's not what PGs should do, especially if the PG is such a horrible shooter as Felton.

As for Bonnell, he has a point. If you think we aren't better when Okafor is involved in the offense -- you're wrong. He's a good player, as much as some people including yourself would like to think otherwise.

And, yes, Felton does phase out team mates. That's a fact, watch the games.

And of course people that "feast on Felton" (all what, three of them?) would laugh at a blog like that, because Felton has been our starting PG the majority of the year, and we have struggled and disappointed most of this year -- it's not a coincidence.

As for Scott, I would venture to say almost every team in the league would love to have Okafor, just for his defense and rebounding alone.

You can't say the same for Felton. Lots of teams can do without a poor-shooting, trigger happy PG that has issues running a team.

Posted by: Will | Apr 2, 2008 10:35:07 PM

I think Rick Bonnel got rihgt.I agree the Bobcats didn't be take advantage of Emeka Okafor. He's very strong and talented player. It's very sad.
I doit my own POLISH blog of charlotte bobcats maybe you wan see this?
http://nbacharlottebobcats.blog.onet.pl/

Posted by: firek | Apr 5, 2008 1:02:10 PM

Will,

Point guards generate offense through scoring and assisting and help their teams win. That's what he does. Besides, acknowledging that the type of touches Okafor gets would serve you well. Watch his FGs. The bulk of them come off a drive and dish, a putback, or something other than a post up, unless it is the quick jump hook over the left shoulder right on the block.

As I have shown you, our record with Felton playing point DWARFS our record with others playing pg.

With him playing pg, we are 22-27

W/o him playing pg, we are 9-22

It's not that hard. You and Procton like to credit him for all the losses and blend it, but it doesn't tell the story of him as a pg.

Posted by: jperry | Apr 14, 2008 2:02:36 PM

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