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Bobcats Double Last Year’s Win Total...Congratulations?

The Charlotte Bobcats are no-doubt celebrating(?), after having beaten the Boston Celtics last night to pick up their 14th win. And then, as if things couldn’t get any better, they went out and signed journeyman’s journeyman Jannero Pargo. Pargo’s role will primarily be to replace Ramon Sessions as Kemba Walker’s backup, and secondarily it will be to give Ben Gordon another option to avoid before hoisting a 3-point attempt.

But let’s talk about Pargo another time, like after he’s released in a month. For now, how about win number XIV?! As everyone who saw the game on TV will tell you, they quickly changed the channel once they realized that NCIS: Los Angeles wasn’t a rerun. No, I’m kidding, everyone will of course tell you that the story of the game was Gerald Henderson, who drove to the lane more aggressively than Mel Gibson after being cut off by a car full of black people pulling out of a synagogue. I counted five field goals in the paint for G-Hen, including—and I mean this entirely non-cynically—really, I do—an astonishing up-and-under layup in the first quarter (right after Byron Mullens blew an alley-oop, which was not at all astonishing; in fact, it was non-stonishing). I remember this play vividly, because not only did Henderson hang in the air longer than a fart in a crowded elevator, but he cut me off mid-Mullens-curse-out. He also bailed the Bobcats out with a jumper at the end of the half, he was a perfect 12-of-12 from the line, he finished with a career-high 35 points, he played the most minutes of anyone on the team, and he held Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee to a combined total of just 20 points. All in all, the man worked harder than the air freshener on Lil Wayne’s tour bus. Bravo.

That was one night, though. For the season, how’s Henderson’s shot selection compared to last year? I’m glad I asked myself that. Check out this chart that I lifted from hoopdata.com, which shows his shot selection over the last three years (note: I excluded 2010, when his shot selection had more to do with where coach Larry Brown wanted him to aim his spit when shining coach’s shoes):

At Rim 3-9 Feet 10-15 Feet 16-23 Feet Threes
Yr Min M A FG% M A FG% M A FG% M A FG% M A eFG%
2011 24.4 1.5 2.4 64.6 0.2 0.9 26.2 0.3 0.6 38.6 1.7 3.9 43 0.1 0.5 29.1
2012 33.3 2.4 3.5 68.4 0.3 1.1 30 0.6 1.4 44.9 2.5 6.3 40 0.2 0.9 35.1
2013 28.5 1.6 2.9 55.1 0.3 0.8 37.8 0.7 1.7 41.3 1.7 4 43 0.5 1.4 52.2

So I guess the moral of the story is, don’t look at data, because it just ruins all the fun. Whether it’s following a basketball team or contemplating an invasion of a large Middle Eastern nation with severe internal tribal conflicts, I say skip the number-crunching and just go with your gut. No, the moral of the story is, as elated as we are with Gerald Henderson’s performance last night, it was just one night, and when he hits free agency after this year, the Bobcats have got to be objective about what they offer him. His PER has nudged upwards, but it’s still just barely league average, and his most similar win shares comparison player through three years is Alonzo Gee. I’m not saying to kick him to the curb, I’m just saying don’t make it rain on him.As you can easily see, the conclusions are...not easily drawn. Dammit, they always are on CSI: Los Angeles—could you for once throw me a freakin’ bone, reality?! Okay, well, I’m just going to move from left to right and hope to stumble on something (much like the way the Bobcats move the ball on offense). First, Hendo’s not getting to the rim as much as last year and he’s less effective at it. That’s bad. On the other hand, he’s improved from 3-9 feet, is relatively stagnant at 10-15 feet, and is slightly better from 16-23 feet (and perhaps more importantly not shooting as much from there, which is good because it’s so inefficient). And finally, he’s been much more effective from 3-point range. But in general this is all very frustrating, because I seem to remember complaining all of last year about him not driving to the hoop more (mind you, this was when I was not complaining about Gana Diop’s weight or Tyrus Thomas’s heroin-chic appearance or DJ Augustin’s foot cracks or Boris Diaw’s very existence), and—last night aside—he’s actually doing it less this year.

But that’s for the end of the season. For now, three-cheers for the Bobcats and their crucial victory(?).

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