The week didn’t get off to a roaring start with the announcement of the team’s new “database,” as profiled by Rick Bonnell on Saturday. According to the article, with this new 6-figure costing database, “You can instantly look up year-by-year statistics for Boston Celtics great Bill Russell … or any other player in NBA history. You can check the injury archive of a Slovenian playing in the Spanish league or whether a forward in the Development League was ever busted for drugs.” Wait, I remember thinking, can’t you just do that stuff on the internet for free? The whole article was supposed to be serious and imposing, but instead it just sounded comical and ridiculous. It reminded me of watching an old sci-fi movie, wherein after the credits it ominously announces that it’s set in “New York City: 1997.”
Nevertheless, the events of Tuesday and Thursday make me wonder if Rich Cho’s new Bat Computer isn’t onto something. On Tuesday the Bobcats traded for a future #1 pick, salary cap requirements, and Ben Gordon—in that order. Guys like John Hollinger rightly spent about three paragraphs discussing the cap and draft ramifications, which were definitely the most important parts of the deal. However, for those of us who are going to actually have to sit down and watch this team, I wanted to explore a little more what we were actually going to see on the court.
First of all, we should see a player, Gordon, who will actually participate in a majority of the games, unlike the departed Corey Maggette. Gordon’s been relatively injury-free his whole career. He had a bum ankle two seasons ago, and he sat out 10 games last year with a sore shoulder, but this was nothing compared to the epic 34 DNPs from Maggette, due to various knee-, Achilles-, and tanking-related injuries. People wrote songs about how much time Maggette missed, and I have a feeling he’s only due for a whole bunch more lost man-hours with the way he barrels around.
Second, we should see some awesome long-range shooting. As one-dimensional as Gordon is, it’s a great dimension: he’s only shot less than 40% on 3-pointers once in his whole career. Gordon probably has a harder time peeing in a urinal than he does hitting treys. That said, Gordon almost literally can’t do anything else. I haven’t seen this little versatility since Dirk Diggler; he makes Reggie Williams look like Inspector Gadget. According to 82games.com last year, 88% of his shots were jumpers, 12% were from close range, and he had…zero dunks or tips. Zero?? Is that a misprint? To put that in perspective, Gerald Henderson, whom we’ve all been begging to drive to the hoop more, had 5% of his shots register as dunks or tips last year. “I always viewed myself as a combination guard,” Gordon told the Observer today. Unfortunately, nobody else does.
Gordon’s defense is non-existent—he had a 1-year adjusted minus-7.39 last year. Alas, his contract is very existent: he gets $12.4M this year and $13.2M next year. But Maggette was only marginally better on defense (minus-6.57) and was due to make almost $11M this year while playing probably half the games. And there’s that delicious 1st round pick that improves with age like a fine wine: lottery-protected in 2013, top-eight protected in 2014, top-one protected in 2015, and unprotected in 2016. So to recap: we’ve spent money wisely, and we’ve got a great draft pick to look forward to. And between Gordon’s shooting and Henderson’s defense and leadership, and both of their receding hairlines, if you put them both together, we’ve got a complete shooting guard with a nice Caeser.
And then, after whom we drafted on Thursday, everything looks even more…thought out. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (I’ll leave that to Tom Sorensen) or Jeffrey Taylor, because I don’t watch college ball. But I’ve read enough to know that—with Maggette donning his headband for someone else—we’ve now got a starter and backup forward to take his place. Three cheers for logic!
This team has been such a circus for so long that they’re more like a knockoff NBA team than an authentic one. I suppose it’s long been a part of the charm for me, having grown up with Gobots (instead of Transformers), American Defense (they’re just like GI Joe, except you could get three or four for, like, a $1 each at the drug store), and Hercules (perfect for rounding out He-Man battles). But last year was really tough, and at this point, I almost don’t even care if this plan fails; it’s just nice to see that there is a plan.