Okay, now comes the part in which I have to examine the last four guys on the Bobcats’ regular rotation. And because I’m essentially looking at the worst four players on my favorite team, which was also the worst team in NBA history, I’ve got to be careful that this recap doesn’t quickly turn into a suicide note. Here we go…
DJ Augustin (1,408 minutes played) – I have no idea why Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer declared Augustin to be one of the team’s four “sure keepers.” DJ Augustin is untouchable? Really? I feel like I’m stuck in a burning house with a pothead who is refusing to leave without first securing all of the boxes of Fruit Loops. In a contract year, Augustin had his worst TS% ever, his second-worst PER, and his worst turnover rate. On second thought, I agree with you, Rick, what’s not to love? Augustin also missed 27% of the team’s games, and these were for things like tendinitis and cracks in his feet—i.e., “old man” injuries that are probably only going to get worse. And then there’s the fact that he’s tiny and his backup is also tiny, which would be fine if the Bobcats were a team of jockeys in the National Horseracing Association, but given that this is basketball, it’s problematic. You know, looking back I’m kicking myself for not raising more of a stink when the team drafted Kemba Walker. It’s absolutely crazy to have two sub-6-footers PGs on the same basketball team—why didn’t we as fans ring more alarm bells over this? I feel like my late Christian Conservative grandmother would have if someone from her church had ever told her that the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A,” which she loved, was in fact not an earnest tribute to a volunteer organization that develops healthy young men. Anyway, Augustin is an unrestricted free agent with a $4.4M qualifying offer due to him. I don’t even know if any team will make him an offer that tops that, but if one does, the Bobcats should agonize about what to do for several fretful seconds before deciding not to match. Unless the NBA suddenly implements a new role in which you get bonus points for slam-dunking your own teammates through the hoop, there are larger point guards to be had out there.
Tyrus Thomas (1,013) – Given how I railed against him all season, you’re probably expecting me to trash Thomas now, but..,that’s EXACTLY what I’m going to do. From the single-digit PER to a rebound rate that lagged behind both Byron Mullens and Gana Diop, Thomas’s season was worse than The Killing. The best thing about him was that he missed 12 games, allowing the team to examine several more cost-effective options. I don’t know what the Bobcats do with him at this point. He can’t shoot (5th-worst TS% on the team with the worst TS%–I’d say that makes him Ben Affleck starring in Gigli) or even be trusted to not turn the ball over (his turnover rate was below the league average, even though he played most of his minutes as a supposed power forward). About the only thing Thomas can do is earn an obscene amount of guaranteed money. He’ll make $8.7M next year, which will then hilariously increase to $9.4M the year after. For normal teams, this type of contract is more deserving of amnesty than Dred Scott, but as you’ve probably guessed by now, the Bobcats are about as normal as the Duggar family. If we cut loose Thomas, that means another unbearable year of watching Diop sit on the bench for $7M…or worse, get off the bench and play, preferably without collapsing onto the floor and then possibly through the floor.
Corey Maggette (880) – Give Maggette credit for adding a new dimension to his game this year: chronic injuries! Never exactly an iron man, Maggette appeared in fewer than half the team’s games this year. When he did play, he performed as expected; in fact his year was downright Maggetean, which is to say that he virtually tied for the team lead in PPG at the expense of everything and everyone around him. His usage rate was first on the team, his assist rate was second to last, and his defense was indifferent (other than Jamario Moon, Maggette had the worst unadjusted +/- on the team). In other words, this team revolved around him, which is exactly how he wants it, and I imagine he’ll only be too happy to perform all of these services for us again next year at a modest fee of $11M.
Reggie Williams (746) – Last but certainly not least…well, probably not least…is Williams. Williams’ 3-point threat is like North Korea’s nuclear threat: it’s probably not real, but teams scrambled around like crazy to defend it anyway. That’s the only way to explain how he had the 3rd-highest offensive +/- on the team despite making only 31% of his 3-pointers. I wish the Bobcats had used him more creatively as a PG, because he showed passing ability, but—duh!—this would have cut into Corey Higgins’ playing time, which would obviously have been a catastrophic mistake. Williams shot over 8% worse than he did two years ago and wouldn’t know what good defense was if it walked up to him and peed on his leg, but he’s a cheap, unrestricted free agent. We could bring him back for close to the league minimum or let him go. It doesn’t really matter either way. In fact, by the time I finish this paragraph, I’ll have forgotten whom I was even writing about.
And there you go, that was your 2011-12 Bobcats. By daring to write about each of them and living to tell about it, I feel like I just participated in some sort of stunt journalism. And yet, maybe some good will come of this. Perhaps this season was the primordial ooze from which will someday emerge competent players, taking their first clumsy steps toward like Cro-Magnon. Then taking too many and getting whistled like Bismack Biyombo. Then straining their Achilles tendons repeatedly like Corey Maggette. Then…