The Bobcats are 8-6 under new head coach Paul Silas who took over for Larry Brown in late December. Charlotte is starting a 6 game western road trip in Sacramento after two days off, while the Kings will be playing the 2nd game of a back-to-back. The Bobcats are in 8th place in the East with a record of 17 and 25, and are one of only two teams to be ranked in the top 8 of either conference with a sub-500 record.
They are above 500 at home with a record of 12-11 but on the road they are only 6-14. For January, they are 4-3 at home and 2-2 on the road. Their road wins came against Minnesota and Chicago, while their losses came against Boston and Philadelphia.
Offensively they’re tied with the Kings for the 5th worst Offensive Efficiency, but do play at a much slower pace, even when you use the recently posted “Speed Index”. The Bobcats are slightly better in TS%, 3P%, and FT%, but have the league’s highest Turnover Rate and the highest percentage of blocked shots. And, the Kings have the higher Offensive Rebounding Rate.
Even with their slow pace, Charlotte takes the 2nd highest number of attempts at the rim while shooting at the 5th lowest FG% of 59.8%. From beyond the arc, they take the 8th fewest 3PT attempts and shot at the 9th lowest FG% of 50.7% or 0.5% better than the Kings. Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, and DJ Augustin lead the attack at the rim, followed by their center Nazr Mohammed, and PF’s Tyrus Thomas and Boris Diaw. Jackson, Augustin, Diaw, and Wallace are the main 3pt threats, and average about 15 threes per game. The Kings have the 2nd worst FG% on short and long range jumpers, and are the 4th worst on mid-range jumpers, so Charlotte beats us everywhere except at the rim.
The Bobcats have the 4th best Defensive Rebounding Rate and the 3rd best Block Rate. Charlotte rebounds by committee, with Wallace leading with 7.9 rpg, and Diaw, Mohammed, Brown and Thomas all chipping in 5+ for a total of 30 between them.
The Bobcat’s starting backcourt consists of DJ Augustin who has seen a jump in output under new head coach Paul Silas. In the last 10 game DJ is averaging 18.2 pts / 7.9 asts/ 2.5 rebs on 43% field and 38% from 3’s. Stephen Jackson, his backcourt mate, has seen a slight drop to 16.5 pts / 5.2 rebs / 3.3 asts on 35% field and 22% from beyond the arc. The Frontcourt starters are Kawame Brown, Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw. Wallace averages 13 pts / 7 rebs on 41% field and 30% from three. Diaw is averaging 12 pts/ 7 rebs/ and an amazing 4.6 assists from the PF position. Brown has averaged 9 pts / 8 rebs on 62% from the field in the last 10 games.
The main reserves are Mohammed, Thomas, Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson. Thomas missed Thursday’s game against Philadelphia and will be sidelined up to two months with a knee injury, so we might see Eduardo Najera get a few extra minutes. Nazr is the best rebounder per mpg on the team, and averages 8pts per game. Livingston the 6-7 guard has averaged 17 mpg in all 42 games this season, averaging 6pts / 2 rebs/ 2 asts and has only taken 4 three point shots all season. Henderson the 6-4 second year guard from Duke can be a lockdown defender, and averages 7.4 pts/ 1 asts / 2.7 rebs on 45% field in 22 mpg.
Wallace is the heart & soul of the Bobcats and will be a major test for Omri. He gets to the rim more than any other Bobcat and with Thomas out he’s the 2nd leading shot blocker. He’s not a great 3pt shooter but you can’t leave him too open just to defend against the drive to the rim.
In case you haven’t already seen some of my other posts on the subject, I think DJ Augustin is going to be an excellent PG. From Charlotte’s Game Notes:
Augustin enters tonight’s games ranked third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.91) and 20th in assists (6.3), having handed out 266 assists on the season with just 68 turnovers. Augustin is the only point guard in the NBA who averages at least 25 minutes per game, has an assist to-turnover ratio of 3.0 or better and averages less than 2.0 turnovers per game. D.J. scored a career-high 31 points in Thursday’s win over Philadelphia, making a career-high 11 field goals. He followed that up with a 20-point outing Saturday against Atlanta, marking the third time in his career and the second time in his last 14 games that he has scored 20 points or more in consecutive games. He’s fourth in free-throw percentage (.915) and had a career high 12 assists two weeks ago against Chicago.
He’s too quick for Beno, and if we have to send help to seal off the paint, he could end up having another record assist night. With Augustin, Jackson, Wallace and Diaw able to create assists in the paint (8+ per game), the Bobcats bigs are better offensively than you’d think. And, it’s the major reason that they attack the rim as much as they do. Diaw had a season high 11 assists on the 17th against Philly. This is going to be one of those games where the Kings are the ones who need to pack it into the paint, and they really need to be quick on their help rotations.
In a game against a team like Charlotte who plays as such a slow pace, every possession is even more important. So, turnovers will destroy you against a team like the Bobcats. Don’t take my word for it, here’s what Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had to say.
"You can't turn the ball over against this team. If you do, you put them in the open floor and they score easily."
Charlotte’s shooters have a tendency to go really flat at times, but make it up by attacking the paint. And, that’s what the Kings need to do. It could turn into a slugfest down low, but we really have to stay with it like the Atlanta game. We were blocked 10 times in that game but still took 37 shots at the rim. Whoever controls the paint in this game is going to win. We lost to Atlanta by 2, and we can win against the Bobcats by 2 if we can outscore them at the rim. This could turn into a very fun game to watch especially if the Kings can limit their turnovers. Go Kings!!