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September 27, 2012

Mike Dunlap expects Charlotte Bobcats to start playing thinking-man's basketball

Tuesday Mike Dunlap opens his first training camp as Charlotte Bobcats head coach. I’ve been watching him interact with players, both individually and in small groups, since he was hired in June. Some thoughts about the vibes Dunlap sends out as the Bobcats’ fifth coach:

                In style he most resembles Larry Brown, in that he’s intensely concerned with precision and detail. Former Bobcats center Tyson Chandler used to call Brown very “particular’’ about how he wanted the game played, and Dunlap is just like that.

    Three examples, at the offensive end, of how that will play out:

    1. Dunlap has watched a lot of video of last season’s games and thinks the spacing was bad, sometimes awful. Spacing is when you spread the five offensive players out in ways that make it hardest for defenses to guard. Dunlap hates it, for instance, when a player passes the ball, then freezes in the spot where he passed, rather than moving to create an advantage. It frustrates him when a big man camps out in the lane for so long no one else gets the chance to create shots near the basket.
    2. He expects players to know not only what a good shot is, but when a shot is good.  For instance, a 20-foot jump shot might be perfectly acceptable with three seconds left on the shot clock, but is foolish with 18 seconds left, when there is still time to explore the opposing defense. NBA players tend to view themselves as open or not, disregarding how much time is left in the possession. Dunlap wants to change that.
    3. He asks players to think before they act, and when they do act, to not be sloppy. For example, he doesn’t want players taking jumpers just inside the 3-point line; either stay behind the line or create a higher-percentage shot. He’s telling big men to shoot whenever their feet are in the lane, rather than trying to pass and commit a turnover. Finally, he hates sloppy passes; he mentioned a play in a pickup game recently when Matt Carroll was alone along the 3-point line, and the pass thrown Carroll's way landed at his feet instead of his hands.

                Sum all that up, and Dunlap is saying think a little more, make defenses work harder and clean up physical mistakes. Those are all reasonable goals for a team that went 7-59 last season.


Posted by Observer Sports on September 27, 2012 at 02:25 PM | Permalink


Dunlap will go down the best pro sports coach in Charlotte history. Class to the highest level. Imagine how good the Panthers would be if they had an owner and the management of the Bobcats under Jordan. We would have rings already!

Posted by: Got's mine | Sep 27, 2012 3:13:51 PM

I just don't think the Bobcats will win any games trying to outsmart thier opponents. They aren't playing summer league ball any more against players who won't even make an NBA roster. They're going to have run and defend like thier lives depend on it.

Posted by: Smitty | Sep 27, 2012 3:18:14 PM

All is speculation regarding Dunlap. He brings a lot of fire to the assignment, but his experience is extremely limited. Most rookie coaches with these kind of "start over" teams seek to get better results via hard work and fundamentals. That is a worthy goal, and I think this team will battle. The talent level was brought up via free agents (Gordon, Sessions, Haywood) and a raw but talented draft. Still, the great challenge will be when the teams get a read on this squad and defend everything they try. Can Kemba become a true starting PG in this league?(I have my doubts) Will Dunlap have the guts to play the best players at their position (Sessions, Haywood, Gordon) or stay with youngster's development (and losing)? In a perfect world Tyrus will morph into a real PF, the kids will blossom, the vets will shine, and we will surprise the league by contending for 35 wins. I think it's closer to an improved season, 19 wins and another lottery pick.

Posted by: Herm | Sep 27, 2012 3:36:10 PM

The more I read about Dunlap the more I like him. I hope the young guys buy into his system and put forth the effort.

Posted by: apauldds | Sep 27, 2012 3:44:05 PM

Sounds good, I just hope the players buy into it!

Posted by: mac240 | Sep 27, 2012 3:52:13 PM

@Smitty - i think the only way the Bobcats will win will be outsmarting the opponents. Basketball IQ is Basketball IQ, if he can get the players to play smarter they will have less turnovers and taking higher percentage shots will help them score more. not to mention being smarter means being in position on D to create turnovers

Posted by: Spaceman Mike | Sep 27, 2012 4:27:06 PM

Did he really use "thinking-man" and the Bobcats in the same sentence? LOL!! If your a man, you better do a lot of thinking before coming here to play. This organization is a joke and the laughing stock of the NBA. Furthermore, 90% of the residents here could careless about a bunch of overpaid thugs traveling up and down the court.

Posted by: Cooter | Sep 27, 2012 4:35:14 PM

@gots mine, that's the same thing I was thinking. The Bobcats have a legit GM who knows what he's doing and is making smart draft picks, smart player and coaching moves and salary moves. Say what you want about Jordan and the Bobcats, but I truly feel they are going in the right direction.

Posted by: defensewinsgames | Sep 27, 2012 4:46:29 PM

Thanks for that insightful post "Cooter". You brought a lot to this discussion.....

Posted by: TheRealJD | Sep 27, 2012 4:58:54 PM

I've personally met him and I'm really optimistic about the Bobcats this year. His hands on approach is really impressive and you can see the players buying into his way of coaching. Nice guy as well!!!

Posted by: Ace | Sep 27, 2012 7:46:02 PM

"Cooter" is as "Cooter" does. But on a serious note, I think this team will be better just by the additions and the subtractions. The key to any teams success is who is the leader and what message he sends to the rest of the team as to how they prepare to play and how they play as a team. That is the big difference between consistent winners and losers. Also, selecting talent is crucial. They have Cho as the personnel leader choosing the talent. Now, who on this team will be the franchise leader or is he still yet to be found?

Posted by: will | Sep 27, 2012 8:13:46 PM

I like the coach's philosophy. I predict 26 wins this season along with a top 5 pick. Then next season we will be 20 million under the cap and land Al Jefferson and make the playoffs. Al Jefferson might be a pipe dream but 20 million under the cap is a promising reality for this franchise. If a true stud is not obtainable through next years free agency, Cho will probably dole out a few short term contracts and maintain future cap flexibility just as they did this year. The Bobcats are moving in the right direction.

Posted by: nucat | Sep 27, 2012 8:51:25 PM

No prob defensewinsgames. Although my thoughts come nowhere close to your amazing insight and fact sharing, I know how you struggle with accepting reality. Glad I could help you out! And, according to the response here, all 11 posts ... better get your season tickets early. Seems the Bobcats may sell out this year

Posted by: Cooter | Sep 27, 2012 10:17:45 PM

Nice to see some optimism. Improvement of key players is the only measuring stick is year. If Dumlap can help this team find some keepers for this roster and MKG is legit, it will be a successful season. I like what Cho has done while keeping his cap flexibility.

Posted by: Skip | Sep 28, 2012 1:04:36 AM

Like this guy although the Larry Brown comparison's scare me. Larry meddling with the roster put this team in a horrible position with the cap. Hopefully that is not Dunlap's thing.

Posted by: Big Time | Sep 28, 2012 7:42:07 AM

Big Time - the comparison with Larry Brown was regarding his teaching/coaching style, not Brown's GM "wanna-be" stuborness (sp?).

nucat-I agree with you in that the Bobcats should make a REALLY SERIOUS run after Al Jefferson. He's grown so much and is only 26-27. You put his big body with his 19ppg/9rpg next to Biyombo's defense, and that could be a more productive and solide front court than OKC Ibaka/Perkins.

Although I'm not sure Jefferson will want to come to Charlotte, but the Bobcats can offer a ton of money (perhaps more than any other team with a need for an offensive Center). The only other team that might thorw some good money is Dallas or Houston. He might also want o move to the East and prove that he is the 2nd best big man after Bynum - and aim for the All-Star. I really think Jefferson is better and definetly more durable than Brook Lopez, and he is better than Nene and Emeka. All other bigs in the East (Noah, Chandler, etc) are good only on defense.

I really think Al Jefferson can be an All-Star in the Eastern Conference. There are too many great bigs in the West (Howard, Gasol, Love, Griffin, Aldrige, Anthony Davis, Nowitzki, Cousins and maybe even Bogut) In the East is all about Bynum, Bosh, Horford, Amare and Jefferson. Garnett is too old and the other bigs (Chandler, Noah and Lopez) I don't think they are better than Jefferson. Also, defense is contagious, I believe he will show more effort by playing for Dunlap, next to Hendo, MKG and Biyombo. Jefferson should be the Bobcats first priority in the offseason, 2nd to their Top 5 Pick in 2013.

Posted by: Rob C | Sep 28, 2012 10:18:06 AM

My bad...I forgot Roy Hibbert.

Posted by: Rob C | Sep 28, 2012 10:29:20 AM

Brown was horrible . He got fired by 20 teams for a reason With bobcats...he barely made the playoffs only once and then got swept in the 1st round with this group: Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed, Diaw, Dampier, Thomas, Wallace, Jackson, DJ, Felton.

Don't compare Dunlap to Brown. Brown was an old nag and tyrant Dunlap is the teacher and the coach.

Posted by: championshipss | Sep 28, 2012 1:01:58 PM

Dampier was not on that team...actually, I think Dampier never played a game with the Bobcats.

Posted by: Rob C | Sep 28, 2012 1:58:14 PM

I'm pretty sure Dampier never Even entered TWC, I could be wrong!

I am sooo JACKED!! about Oct.7, tough the Panthers are playing at 1:00PM that same day.
I am right, aren't I ??

Cooter! going to be nice since we are all Happy about the SOON start, to the season. You("Cooter"!!) could give a S%!T!! Fair enough! BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As long as Dunlap gives Praise when the players are doing well I think we will be fine!
LB even when the guys played well he had an issue with the smallest of detail, that may have happend "possesions ago"!

Posted by: David Stern has to go!! | Sep 28, 2012 9:38:56 PM

every year you guys get on here and start salivating over a mediocre overpaid near or over 30 year old player that we absolutely don't need. or worse...brook lopez.

if you say..... we should be going after james harden.......or steph curry.....or something of the like......okay, cool. but al jefferson? how many championships is al jefferson going to bring to the table? so why spend the money? that's money that's needed to retain MKG and biyombo and our next (probably top 5) pick that we are supposed to be building around.

it's as if you guys don't pay attention to anything that has ever worked and think joe dumars giving big money to ben gordon and charlie villinueva a few years ago and later to rodney stuckey is the blueprint to success.

if a guy is available in free agency, he is either an elite superstar demanding out, or he's not good enough to get a contract extension where he's at. the first option isn't coming here. james harden is the exception to this rule because OKC just simply can't afford to keep him. There won't be many teams better suited to make a run at him, but I'm not so sure that he's no. 1 option material and henderson will be a fraction of the cost for almost the quality of player.

we need a point guard and maaaaybe a big if mullens/biyombo don't work out playing together. other than that we need patience.

and if ANOTHER person says dampier played for the bobcats i'm gonna lose it. again.

Posted by: charlottean | Sep 29, 2012 2:51:49 PM

Cootie go stick your head up your pootie where it stays 95% of the time. Cootie knows nothing about sports and needs to back to nawlins and his pup tent in the swamp.

Posted by: Cooter's x boyfriend | Sep 29, 2012 9:15:32 PM

Wow reading Saturdays article is So..... well just refreshing,
"Jacked"! I AM!

Posted by: 10-4!! | Sep 29, 2012 11:12:55 PM

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