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Blogcat's Take, 3/15


If you’re like me, you are constantly searching for shady doctors to provide you prescriptions for legal amphetamines. No wait, I meant to say that you’re constantly searching for what has turned around for the Bobcats lately. (Please disregard that amphetamines thing—I have AD/HD and I very much need Adderall, or when that’s not available, Vyvanse, or failing that, I basically have no choice but to snort low-grade cocaine—reluctantly snort, that is.)

Back to the Bobcats. It seems that since the All-Star Break they’ve been playing with an unnerving amount of competence that has me totally spooked and, at times, downright paranoid. Even the following quote from coach Steve Clifford after the Bobcats dissected the Cleveland Cavaliers like a frog failed to derail things: "There are 20 games left and it's time to start talking about the playoffs—about not just qualifying but getting our team game-ready for the playoffs and guys getting their individual games ready," Clifford said. He basically broke every jinx-rule in the book with that zinger, and I know every Bobcats fan upon reading it did a simultaneous head-slap. We’ve been so conditioned for failure and disastrous endings that even the least superstitious among us had to have been horrified by Clifford not just tempting fate, but basically giving it a lap dance.

Amazingly, fate hasn’t taken up Clifford yet, despite his lascivious remarks. In fact, fate seems to have gone straight-edge: the Bobcats have gone 3-1 since Clifford’s highly irresponsible trash talk, including two avenging victories over the Wizards and Timberwolves. Both of those were significant not just because those teams had beaten the Bobcats earlier in the season, but because they featured big men Marcin Gortat and Nikola Pekovic, who’d shown the ability to get in Al Jefferson’s face like a zit, resulting in two of Big Al’s biggest clunkers of the season. Not so this time around, as Big Al torched both of them like an angry village mob, continuing his marauding low-post ways sprinkled in with an out-of-nowhere ability to suddenly drain mid-range jumpers.

Hold that thought on Al’s shooting. We know he’s feeling like a room without a roof, but what is it about the team in general that’s unscrewed itself since—to choose a totally arbitrary point in time, the kind of move that drives Bill Barnwell to want to light himself on fire—the All-Star Break? Pre-All-Star Break, the Bobcats had an offensive rating of 98.8 points/100 possessions and a defensive rating of 101.2. In the 13 games since New Orleans, nothing much has changed defensively: the Bobcats are holding teams to 101.3/p100p’s. Offensively, though, they’ve elevated like ThyssenKrupp: they’re up to an amazing 104.8!! It’s the equivalent of moving from the 28th ranked offense to the 11th ranked offense.

I figured there would be an obvious indicator that would cause such a spectacular, Casey Kasem-esque rise in the offensive charts, but nothing is jumping out at me. The assist percentage has ticked up slightly, the turnover rate is down a hair, the offensive rebounding rate has risen a notch, and TS% has definitely improved, from 51.3% to 53.9%. But none of those stats exploded off the page like I would have thought. Instead, it’s been a steady improvement in all facets.

For sure, the Cats are milking Big Al for all he’s worth (his usage rate has gone from 29% to 33.2%), and his teat has suckled us with a nourishing 56.1 TS%, up from 51.5%). Although his effectiveness from within the restricted area has ticked down slightly, he’s wolfed-out into a jump-shooting monster, and since the All-Star Break everyday is Halloween: he went from 49.8% on his short-range, in-the-paint shots to 53.4%; and he went from 34.3% at mid-range to a whopping 46.7%. Trust me, I don’t use words like “whopping” lightly: Big Al has generally shot in the low-40s and high-30s in those areas, respectively, throughout his career, so there’s very good reason to fear that this isn’t sustainable. But at least for now, Jefferson has turned into an I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this-guy problem.

Elsewhere, Jefferson’s supporting cast has gotten better. Pre-All-Star Break, the team’s offensive rating without Big Al on the court was a comical 95.6. Since the All-Star Break it’s 100.6, which is a helluva a lot more serious—maybe not Schindler’s List-level serious, but I’d give it a solid Blood Diamond-level serious rating. In fact, the performance of the non-Jefferson Bobcats during those 12.8 MPG that he sits accounts for the rise in overall offensive productivity as much as Big Al himself. And for that we can thank (in order) Chris Douglas-Roberts, Gary Neal, Anthony Tolliver, and Josh McRoberts, who according to NBAWowy.com (please ignore the possibly drug-induced name, the site is legit), lead the Bobcats in points-per-possession since the All-Star Break when Jefferson is on the bench. CDR in particular has gone from anonymous to a 1.48 points-per-possession supplying, mid-80s manga steampunk-looking assassin in the absence of Al.

Again, there’s no reason to think this will last. Speaking personally, my everything-will-eventually-collapse Bobcats mentality has even permeated my non-basketball experiences. For instance, when I got to the end of Gravity, and Sandra Bullock went through that whole ordeal but miraculously landed on a beach and took that first step, I fully expected her to immediately get mauled by a tiger. And if Clifford even mentions the P-word again before they have that 8th seed sewn up, I’m going to insist that somebody photoshop and post a picture of him, JR Smith, and an obese prostitute. But for now, at least, I’ll try to enjoy the wave.


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  • 1 Comments

    Elsewhere, Jefferson’s supporting cast has gotten better. Pre-All-Star Break, the team’s offensive rating without Big Al on the court was a comical 95.6. Since the All-Star Break it’s 100.6, which is a helluva a lot more serious—maybe not Schindler’s List-level serious, but I’d give it a solid Blood Diamond-level serious rating. In fact, the performance of the non-Jefferson Bobcats during those 12.8 MPG that he sits accounts for the rise in overall offensive productivity as much as Big Al himself. And for that we can thank (in order) Chris Douglas-Roberts, Gary Neal, Anthony Tolliver, and Josh McRoberts, who according to NBAWowy.com (please ignore the possibly drug-induced name, the site is legit), lead the Bobcats in points-per-possession since the All-Star Break when Jefferson is on the bench. CDR in particular has gone from anonymous to a 1.48 points-per-possession supplying, mid-80s manga steampunk-looking assassin in the absence of Al.

     

    I think CDR is sporting more of a Boogaloo Shrimp Breakin' 2 look

     

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