Preview and Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

Kurt —  December 29, 2006

American Express and Spinal Tap? Has anyone else noticed that the background music for the latest series of American Express business card ads is Spinal Tap? Seriously, you can view it here. The song is “Give me some money” from the band’s 50s incarnation (before becoming the heavy metal powerhouse and star of its own mocumentary). Spinal Tap is a sell out, guitarist Nigel Tufnil also appeared in an ad for a Volkswagen (“This amplifier has air bags!”).

The Greg Oden Sweepstakes. The Bobcats not only have one the worst records in the NBA at 7-21, but if you look at point differential and expected wins, they are actually the worst team in the NBA. They should be winning just 26.4% of their games (instead of the 25% clip they are on), the next worst team in the league is the Hornets are at 30.8%.

Rookie of the Year? Sure he leads in points per game among rookies, but Adam Morrison and his 70s haircut and moustache have not impressed much of anyone in the NBA so far. Look at it this way, he’s not even starting on a weak team. He has an NDBL-level PER of 8.04. David Thorpe, the hoops skills trainer who may be the best thing (and True Hoop) has going, broke down his game recently(insider $ required) – and things were not pretty.

His size (6-8) prevented most college defenders from challenging his shot effectively, which gave Morrison the calm to focus without worrying about whether his shot would be blocked. That calm is deeply important for shooters. In a sense, almost every jump shot he took was uncontested.

In the NBA, he is often seeing the hand of a tall, quick, capable defender. This is one reason his field goal percentage on 2-point shots is 37.3, barely above his 3-point percentage of 35.4. On 3-pointers, the defender has more ground to cover to get to Morrison and thus is often not close enough to distract him as the shot is launched, whereas inside the line the spacing is tighter.


If Morrison is a disaster as an offensive rebounder, the best word to describe his defense is pathetic. Both his effort and his effectiveness are truly subpar.

People often say that Morrison “plays no defense.” They are right.

I call it a “disinclination to defend.” Here’s what I mean:

Morrison rarely denies his man important spots on the floor; in fact, he does not even attempt to most of the time.

Who is playing well? A few guys. We’ll start with the steady Emeka Okafor, who is shooting 50.6% on the season and he is grabbing 17.8% of the available rebounds. Also there is Gerald Wallace, who dropped 40 on Washington two nights ago (in a losing effort).

Then there is Raymond Felton, who is the kind of quick guard who normally gives the Lakers problems. In this case, the trick may be to let him get into the lane — Felton is shooting 35.8% on threes, a solid 43.1% on jumpers but just 43.7% close to the basket.

Worst team, worst offense. The Bobcats are the worst offensive team in the NBA right now, averaging just 99.4 points per 100 possessions (10.6 worse than the Lakers). The reason is pretty simple — they don’t shoot well. As a team the Bobcats are shooting a league worst 45.2% (eFG%), 7.4% worse than the Lakers.

Pound the ball inside. While the Bobcats are a decent defensive team (11th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, better than the 18th-ranked Lakers), they have struggled to stop teams along the front line, particularly at the four. Without Odom, we again will be counting on the Cook/Radmanovic combo to provide some offensive punch.

Things to look for: Often teams on long road trips take the last game off, but for the Lakers there is a real opportunity. Tonight they get the Bobcats, and then on Sunday it is another weak team in Philadelphia. Those are two wins you just don’t want to leave on the table in the loaded Western conference.

The Lakers catch a break in that Brevin Knight is out with a bum ankle. On the down side Sasha Vujacic may sit out for the Lakers after twisting his ankle in practice yesterday.

This should be another good night for the Laker bench; the Bobcats are not a deep team. The first player off the bench is Morrison, after that it is Jake Voskuhl, Walter Herrmann and Derek Anderson, all with single-digit PERs (the league average is 15, only one healthy Bobcat is above that number).