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November 16, 2010

Five thoughts on tonight

Five things that struck me about the Bobcats’ victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves:

1. The preseason hand-wringing about D.J. Augustin can chill out.

I spent much of last season writing Augustin was crappy because he was crappy. I also wrote, from summer league on, that something was changing. Augustin promised not to shrink from the task, and his teammates promised to prop him up when necessary.

He had 11 assists to one turnover. That won’t happen every night. There will be bumps along the way. But he’s getting how to play the position. D.J.’s biggest problem is he doesn’t understand how good he could be. This will be fun to watch.

2. Kwame Brown will be this season’s Derek Anderson.

You remember several seasons ago when a washed-up D.A. showed up and so many of you thought this was a wasted signing? Anderson made what is still the best defensive play in Bobcats history, fouling out Kobe Bryant in overtime, to help secure a victory over the Lakers.

Kwame will be similar; a savvy veteran who will help mostly at the defensive end, so long as everyone appreciates his limitations.

He never should have been the first pick. He’ll never be a factor offensively. But he has a huge body, even by NBA standards, and he knows how to use it without fouling too much.

Think about this: in 11 minutes, after missing the last two months with a severe ankle sprain, he blocked three shot and took a big charge. And he bodied-up Darko Milicic in a way that was annoying without drawing a foul.

3. You realize how absurdly efficient Gerald Wallace was?

Wallace generated 26 points from 10 shots from the field. That’s what happens when you reach the foul line 19 times (and make 17). It was funny to hear Wallace say he should have taken 39 free throws. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good.

4. Nazr Mohammed gets it.

He won’t complain about his minutes and he trusts Larry Brown to understand when he matches up and when he doesn’t. That means one night he has a 20-20 game, and other nights he scores 11 (on 5-of-9 shooting) and watches most of the second half.

5. Stop obsessing over the kids.

The fan blogs get so agitated about how many or few minutes Gerald Henderson or Derrick Brown plays. I’ve never seen something sillier. Henderson is still figuring how to be a pro. D-Brown is a thrill-ride, but he’s better in short doses.  

Posted by Observer Sports on November 16, 2010 at 12:51 AM | Permalink

Comments

I didn't notice that about Kwame till you mentioned it Rick...he only had fouls from defending the pick & roll didn't he? Hopefully something that will get better when he switches to turkey burgers and can run on that cankle.

Posted by: Dlpz87 | Nov 16, 2010 2:04:50 AM

Really impressed with DJ's play so far. I agree with Rick that he can become a real impact player. I know some fans obsess over not drafting Lopez, but who knew he would become such a special player? Remember the draft is not an exact science, and a PG you can trust is important too. At least DJ looks like he will break the string of Bobcat first round busts, who made it virtually impossible to build a team I may add.

Not thrilled it had to come down to the wire against the Wolves. Actually, with 3 minutes left, it looked like another home loss, but at least they finally pulled a close one out on their home court. Still, hope the Bobcats leave the nail-biters for the road, especially against teams they should beat, or else it could be a long year.

Glad to see Kwame Brown make his debut for the added depth, but he looks heavier than I remember him from previous seasons. This probably doesn't thrill LB who's a stickler for conditioning, but maybe Kwame will work himself back into better game shape after some more playing time.

Speaking of the Wolves, although they are certain to miss the playoffs again in the West, they do have some nice young pieces in Love, MB, and eventually Rubio. I was hoping Charlotte would trade for MB in the off-season, but maybe Miami was reluctant to trade him within the division. Still, shrewd move by the Wolves without giving up much. He looks like a legit young talent.

Finally, Rick, if you happen to catch this, I read a piece on ESPN.com the other day, by Marc Stein I believe. He was speculating about veterans who could be moved later in the season and included Stephen Jackson on the list. Now I wouldn't trade arguably the team's best player just for the sake of moving him or in a salary dump, and I certainly value what Jack brings to a low-scoring team, especially when he gets in a nice shooting groove. Still, in reality, the ceiling on this team is likely a repeat of last season at best. Do you think Charlotte would entertain trading Jackson if they were offered a legit young prospect or two by a veteran team? Thanks and enjoy the coverage and fan banter as always.

Posted by: Ari | Nov 16, 2010 5:15:13 AM

Most of your articles suggest you are a little to friendly with Larry Brown and close to the team. Please step back an be more objective in your views of both. This team has a ton of problems, an if they don't win consistently they will lose their fan base. None of the other NBA talking heads seem to think highly of this team. Maybe it's time to shake it up a little.

Posted by: joe | Nov 16, 2010 8:10:25 AM

I believe DJ is the key to our season....in the heartbreaker the other night against Utah he drives & gets no call at the end & last night he should have gotten a call on the steal & breakaway that he made....he needs to continue to lft his play so he can earn some respect & keep making his 3-pointers...sure like seeing Mike at the end of the bench, love having him as owner...hang in there with these guys, lets be patient as they work their way back to .500, they have savvy vets that know how to play the game & LB will guide them through the year...great to have the team & organization in Charlotte...

Posted by: bull123 | Nov 16, 2010 8:41:57 AM

I agree with your first point Rick. The other day I was point the finger directly at DJ for our poor offense and Jack's huge number of turnovers due to the offense running through him instead of DJ. Since then, DJ has improved dramatically. He is going hard to the rim when he needs to, he is seeing the cross court pass, and most importantly he is moving to make himself a target after his first pass, which is drawing a defender and opening the offense up a lot.

He still is a bit robotic (not creative) but hopefully as his confidence grows, he will loosen up.

Posted by: onewhowatched | Nov 16, 2010 8:42:08 AM

Joe:
I generally avoid getting in debates with readers, but I find it amusing you're accusing me of being too positive when for years people have banged on me for being too negative.
Sounds like you think I should conform to what the "talking heads'' think. Journalism works best when everyone doesn't view everything precisely the same way.
I think this team still has a chance to be decent. I've never written they'll be any better than last season. And Larry Brown -- while he has quirks and flaws -- is still a heck of a coach. That's hardly a revelation.

Posted by: Rick Bonnell | Nov 16, 2010 8:55:02 AM

amen to what joe just said

Posted by: Sam | Nov 16, 2010 8:57:46 AM

yal r clowns if think that steven jackson should be traded. don't you think he is the reason that this team stays in the game. dj has progressed but he just needs to stop trying to shoot in the paint where the 7footers stand. but he has heart i can tell u. i like kwame mins cause he looks decent for the first game. mj might make yal look stupid and him a genius.

Posted by: tbird | Nov 16, 2010 9:02:28 AM

Rick, here's why the young kids need to play: we're not very good. Fans don't want to stick around for a perennial 39-win team that sneaks into the playoffs as a #7/8 seed and then gets stomped by a legitimate squad, especially one that's only doing so because they've loaded their payroll with overpaid, mediocre veterans. Playing Henderson, Brown, Augustin (sooner than this year), and any young player with potential is about taking the next step. Even if this team is "decent," so what? We've doubled our payroll, added who knows how much more in costs for Brown's salary, and it's gotten us what, exactly? Five or so extra regular-season wins and four thrilling postseason blowouts on NBATV.

Posted by: Jerry Richardson | Nov 16, 2010 9:21:29 AM

Rick, I like your journalism. For the most part you do a great job of reporting. I don't always agree with you, but I concede the fact that you know way more about basketball than I do. I also like that you address the questions that people ask you.

Posted by: digal704 | Nov 16, 2010 9:29:08 AM

Jerry Richardson, I see you've taken your own advice to heart. How's the fan reaction to that?

How are D Brown, DJ, Thomas and Henderson going to learn anything if there is no experience on the team.

Sure, we have lots of bad contracts that will take a while to unload, but with the way we draft, I don't think starting over is such a brilliant strategy.

Posted by: onewhowatched | Nov 16, 2010 10:30:24 AM

The 'Cats ratcheted up the intensity of their game - defense and offense - in the last two minutes of the game, and that brought the win. Otherwise, for most of the game, that intensity was missing; they seemed to have that false sense of confidence, which happens sometimes when playing "basement" teams (especially with the Wolves' road record).

I'm glad to see Jax back to focusing on high scoring; it's not the only thing, but it's the main thing the team needs from him.
Gerald was sacrificing his body last night, getting shoved and clobbered again and again. He's got close to half of the team's free throws last night! Opponents know he's our best slasher, and they make him pay the price.
I have to say this again, the pace at which DJ Augustin is improving, as a floor leader and playmaker, is above expectations.
And yeah, this was a good start as a Bobcat for Kwame Brown.

Posted by: Sandy | Nov 16, 2010 11:31:09 AM

The Kwame Brown era has begun!

Seriously, having another big who can block shots is nice.

Posted by: apauldds | Nov 16, 2010 12:59:50 PM

Fans don't want to stick around for a perennial 39-win team that sneaks into the playoffs as a #7/8 seed and then gets stomped by a legitimate squad<<<<< We sure did do it for the Hornets....

Posted by: Jamaal | Nov 16, 2010 1:17:40 PM

Agree with bull123. I love going to the Bobcats' games; it's Charlotte in a nutshell, very diverse crowd happy to have a first class organization in town.

Wasn't at the game last night, as I am on the pick 20 plan but am hoping to see a win first hand...hopefully this Saturday against the Suns. Go Bobcats!

Posted by: junebug | Nov 16, 2010 1:31:00 PM

lets not get carried away here junebug...I do not care anything about diversity & I also do not believe the crowd mirrors Charlotte in a nutshell...I just like pro basketball in Charlotte & I am proud to have Mike & Larry running our team

Posted by: bull123 | Nov 16, 2010 1:39:51 PM

We did? Jamaal, the Hornets never made the playoffs here with fewer than 44 wins or the #6 seed in the playoffs. Further, they were in the top half of the conference four different times, including '95, the seventh year of the franchise. Think the Bobcats will match that in this, their seventh year? And in those seven trips to the postseason, we had exactly ONE first-round sweep, in '97. In fact, that was the only sweep they ever took.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Nov 16, 2010 4:20:15 PM

I think Bonels most fatal flaw is consistency. As for DJ, your rash judgement on DJ was pathetic and lame for the most part and i was one of the few here that said he would prove to be a starter as a pg in this league and that someday we would regret trading him,however if we got Chris Paul back in a trade for DJ in a package that's a different story.

Most of the DJ haters judged him based on his sophomore slump season....LAME. You have to look at character,work ethic,drive,passion,potential,skill,talent.
You see if you took your head out your ass, you could see past his sophomore slump season DJ and Cats fans suffered through and see that DJ possessed these intangible qualities in order for him to be successful as a starter.

He's a starter in this league.Where are all these people who said DJ will never be a starting quality pg...

Posted by: Prick | Nov 16, 2010 5:17:19 PM

the thing that's crazy about DJ is that he hasn't even earned respect from refs. he knows how to draw fouls yet he doesn't get the calls enough. between that and his scoring ability....things are only going to get better in that regard.

people complained all last year that felton wasn't stepping up to be on par with wallace and jackson and the truth is that he doesn't have it in him. DJ does. he's shown it in flashes and more so as a rookie than last year obviously but larry brown is the right coach for him. DJ is still young enough to be a sponge to larry brown's teachings. and the kid can flat out shoot the basketball. once he puts it all together on a regular basis people won't talk about felton.

that might be a few weeks from now.

Posted by: charlottean | Nov 16, 2010 8:08:32 PM

for a change i will agree with procton that the hornets were better than the bobcats, had better talent and was a threat in the eaastern conference for many years, i am hoping mike bring that winning tradition back.let me ask anybody this do you remeber when larry johnson was grandma ma and he was a big time star with commerical appeal and he was a hornet..those were the good days, so if the talent is right you can compete in a small market with the big teams..

Posted by: teemac1974 | Nov 17, 2010 9:38:06 AM

Felton is going to be traded because he cant cut it in New York, glad he is gone. DJ will improve, he already has. Jerry Richardson you are an idiot. While the Bobcats might not be better this year than the Hornets, hopefully they wont let a All-star like Alonzo Morning walk away so they can resign Larry Johnson. Come on everyone that has warm fuzzy feelings about the Hornets they made terrible personel moves on a regular basis. Maybe if the city wasnt full of transplants that cheer for the opposition every week and had loyal fans to both the panthers and the bobcats would have a fanbase.

Posted by: mike | Nov 17, 2010 10:38:36 AM

What are you talking about, Mike? During the time Johnson was on the Hornets (91-95), he made the All Star Game exactly twice (93/95.) That's the EXACT same number Mourning made during the same time frame (94/95.) At worst, that's an even deal.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Nov 18, 2010 2:38:06 AM

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