The Charlotte Bobcats have now played 16 games since Paul Silas took over for the fired Larry Brown as Head Coach. Since that’s equal to one NFL season, and gives players enough time to develop trends, I figured now would be a good time to check in on the progress Coach Silas and company have made. In 28 games, Larry Brown went 9-19. In just 16, Silas has won 10 games to 6 losses. Extrapolate that over 82 games, and Silas, using the same roster, would win 52 games to Brown’s 26. But its more than just the win/loss numbers, startling as they are.
Only twice under Silas have the Bobcats lost by double digits, both times to teams that will clearly be in the playoffs in Atlanta (103-87) and Miami (96-82). The other four losses were all games the Bobcats were in up to the final minutes. Under Brown, however, there were 8 double digit losses, half of which came against teams not currently in the playoffs. But even that doesn’t tell the whole story. For that, you have to look at how many players have improved, starting with DJ Augustin.
Since the coaching switch, Augustin has averaged 18.5 points, 6.9 assists, just 1.6 turnovers and has shot 44% from three point range. Prior to the change, though, he was averaging 12.6 points, 6 assists and the same number of turnovers while shooting merely 34% from beyond the arc. Using Basketball Reference’s GameScore, four of Augustin’s five best games this season have come with Silas (and two of his top three in his career), and his five worst all with Larry. But it’s his confidence and attitude that’s seen the biggest difference. In Larry Ball, the point guard is essentially tethered to the coach, and is to do nothing more than run Larry’s plays to the letter. If one deviates from that plan, there’s a nice seat next to Herb Brown, Larry’s brother, on the bench. For a shoot-first point guard like Augustin, that’s the absolute worst situation. Silas, though, allows his players the freedom to choose. In a recent interview with the Charlotte Observer, Augustin said “He’s putting everything on me, and not in a bad way: To control things, call plays, know who is hot and who to go to at the right time.” That’s a far cry from Brown, who put everything on the sidelines, and expected the players to go through the plays like soldiers going through a drill. But Augustin is hardly the only beneficiary of the coaching switch.
Considered one of the biggest busts in the history of the NBA Draft, Kwame Brown is commonly used as the biggest example of why Michael Jordan is a failure as an executive. But if all that was considered was his play under Paul Silas, one would think he was worth the number one pick. Well, not quite, but Kwame has played tremendously of late. After not having a double-double since the end of the 2008-09 season with Detroit, Kwame has four since January 15th. In fact, just one season in his career has Kwame managed more than seven double-doubles, a figure he should double in the next month. A career 58% Free Throw shooter with just one 70% FT shooting season to his credit, Kwame is shooting over 67% in his 13 games with Silas. He’s averaging 9.2 points, 9 rebounds and 58% FGA since the change, which would qualify for his best season ever. Only 28 (half a year older than Emeka Okafor), Kwame would be a prime candidate for center the next few seasons if he can produce at this level with any consistency.
Over the next few days, I’m going to be going over who else has improved, but I figured these two and their statistics were worth mentioning first. If you have anyone you want looked at specifically, mention it in the comments below or email me at teej AT bobcatsplanet DOT com