Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Once again back is the incredible ... Ball Don't Lie's NBA previews, outlining offseason moves, projecting win totals, spinning tracks and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. Right now, the Charlotte Bobcats.

2008-09 Record: 35-47, fourth place in Southeast Division
Head Coach/Accessories: Larry Brown/Glasses
Key Additions: Tyson Chandler(notes), Ronald Murray, Gerald Henderson(notes), Stephen Graham(notes)
Key Losses: Emeka Okafor(notes)

It wasn't hard to be pretty low on this team even before Raja Bell(notes) tore up his hand the other day.

I don't know where this team's points are going to come from. I'm having a hard time seeing the Bobcats keep up last season's solid defensive output (seventh in the NBA in defensive efficiency) with Bell out, Tyson Chandler bound to play only in spurts and Boris Diaw(notes) woefully out of shape to start yet another season.

Also, at some point, I have to give up on the idea of just handing the Bobcats wins just because they're coached by Larry Brown. Perhaps I'm off on this, perhaps his abilities (he still is a damn good coach, especially when he's not submarining his own influence by playing GM) are still profound enough to let the Bobcats flirt with winning 30 games, but I'm erring on the side of a woeful, woeful rotation this time around.

How can anyone get excited by this roster? Raymond Felton(notes) is a compact scorer who puts up solid stats mainly because he plays a ton of minutes, but he should be a fourth guard. D.J. Augustin(notes) really showed promise in his rookie year, and it's possible he (rightfully) takes over as a starter this season. But he falls in love with the 3-pointer much too much for LB's (and mine, if I'm honest) tastes.

Gerald Wallace(notes) is an all-around threat, but he needs help creating good shots. Vladimir Radmanovic(notes) had an impossible time creating much of anything as a Bobcat last season. Pressed into service, having to create his own shot attempts, Vladi struggled mightily. Why is this going to change in 2009-10? If anything, the Bobcats will rely on him even more this season.

Diaw? He's just unmoved, which is a shame, because he could be an All-Star with his gifts. Sagana Diop? Flip Murray(notes)? Good god.

I like Tyson Chandler a lot, and think he's All-Defensive material despite a lack of gaudy block and/or rebound numbers when he's healthy. But he's never healthy and nagging turf toe and back injuries just don't go away. So you're just going to get him to play a quarter of the games available, and he's going to play two-thirds of the game. Not someone you can rely on, sadly.

And they're stuck in a division that could have four 45-win teams.

So I guess it falls on Brown. Which is proper.

He knew what he was getting into when he went to Charlotte. He was getting into what he wanted in New York, at a third of the price. He was going to be able to essentially run the team with Michael Jordan out on the golf course, a model of usurpation that failed miserably in New York. It worked delightfully in Charlotte, but it also means he's shopping at the Dollar Store.

LB's got his power, his gravitas, his salary-cap helpers, but the team is for sale, it has no money, and it just downgraded its center from a stern B+ to a C+ just so it can save money in 2012.

If the Bobcats pass 30 wins again, especially with Bell out for four months, he deserves to be Coach of the Year. But he also deserves this lot. He made this bed.

Prediction: 19-63

Kelly Dwyer

Is Charlotte the most minor league franchise in the NBA?

As long as Michael Heisley owns the Memphis Grizzlies, probably not. And though Donald Sterling has a reputation for cheapness, his off-court machinations are more embarrassing than parsimonious. The Bobcats, right down to their NBDL-styled uniforms, "For Sale" sign on the window and ostensible boss in Michael Jordan, who appears to spend more time on the golf course than in front of game tape, just scream "rinky dink." This is an absolute shame, because the city of Charlotte has proven to be hoops mad. It's just been cursed with awful ownership.

— KD, Yahoo! Sports 2009-10 NBA Preview magazine

Rufus On Fire: "Every move the Bobcats have made in the past couple years, save the Chandler trade, has been designed to help make the playoffs. No more than that is expected. After Bell and Diaw came aboard last season, the team looked like the kind of squad that could top out at the six seed. However, the team's also got to be concerned about building for 2011 and beyond, not just this season. To that end, it seems to make sense to give Augustin, Henderson, Alexis Ajinca(notes) and Derrick Brown(notes) as much playing time as they can handle in order to figure out how much they'll contribute to the first truly successful Bobcats season. Unfortunately, Larry Brown's probably the last coach one would tap to give young players significant playing time." [more]

Queen City Hoops: "This team has no go-to guy for buckets — Gerald Wallace is a solid all-around player, but is not that guy. Boris Diaw has a unique skill set but not the temperament of a lead man. Raymond has been thrust into the role of go-to guy for the last couple of years, but his numbers show that the role is not for him. However, D.J. Augustin has shown flashes of being a dynamic scorer with a sniper's efficiency from outside — but can he create enough for his teammates? His assist numbers were nothing special last year. Flip Murray, as mentioned previously, knows how to get shots - but as a sparkplug off the bench: Can he do it for even longer stretches of the game? Lot of questions for the Bobcats on offense and no answers yet." [more]

The Baseline: "I do not get a good feeling about this team's point guard situation. At one point — as in, a few months into 2005-06 — I found myself thinking "Felton's a distant third to Paul and Williams, but third nonetheless." Now, it seems more and more like he's darn lucky, through an accident of history, to still get discussed in those terms. Look, Felton has pluses and he has minuses, and he's not an awful, irresponsible player per se. He just only does so much, sees so much, protects the ball and holds the team together so often. Felton is a limited point guard with enough talent to always deserve some time out on the floor; in short, a backup. And yet, the Bobcats just inked him to a one-year deal, I guess because he's planning to cash in next summer. Good luck there." [more]

My Morning Jacket, "Wordless Chorus"

Simply put, I don't really know what the Charlotte Bobcats are all about. They're kind of in a youth movement, but they're kind of past that. I guess? I don't know. The Bobcats just confuse me. And they don't really have anyone to build around. Gerald Wallace is sort of their franchise guy, but he's the least franchise-y franchise guy in the league. And they drafted Gerald Henderson, the least exciting hyperathletic player in this year's draft. So yeah, go Bobcats?

— Trey Kerby, The Blowtorch

The Bobcats boast a favorite of many fantasy owners (Gerald Wallace), one of the game's most versatile lines (Boris Diaw) and one of it's most promising young players (D.J. Augustin). Wallace made a number of lifelong fans during his 05-06 season (2.5 steals, 2.1 blocks), and most are happy with the exchange he's made since then - fewer blocks in order to extend his career by a number of years. He still delivers defensive stats in high volumes and enough offense to be considered at the end of Round 1. Diaw's counting stats after coming over to the Bobcats last season speak volumes: 15.1 points, 1.2 threes, 5.9 boards, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals-plus-blocks. His free-throw shooting and high turnovers leave a bit to be desired, but he's a very solid target in Round 7. Raja Bell's injury means that Augustin should see near-starter's minutes moving forward. A few stats to note: Augustin matched Steve Nash's(notes) 3-point shooting exactly last season (108 of 246, 44%) in almost 500 fewer minutes; and he went to the free-throw line just 17 fewer times than Derrick Rose(notes), despite nearly 1,000 fewer minutes.

Raymond Felton has posted a nearly identical line in three consecutive seasons. There's not a lot of upside or downside from where you grab him in Round 9, but he's not a bad pick if you can deal with his poor shot percentage. Tyson Chandler's titanic struggles last season have banished him to the end of most drafts, but he was playing hurt when he did manage to take the court and he averaged 12 boards per game in the two season's prior. While it's anyone's guess as to how many games he'll manage in 2009-10, there is little risk associated with the current ninth-round asking price. Bell's injury also means free-agent signee Flip Murray should see regular minutes at shooting guard, but he's not rosterable in standard leagues.

— Matt Buser, Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Basketball / BuserSports.com

Sign up now for Fantasy Basketball '09.

MJ: What do you mean Raja Bell is out 4 months with a partially torn ligament in his wrist? What do I care? He's still in Phoenix, no? #golf
about 23 hours ago from web

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