The Bobcats crash-landed into All-Star Break with a resounding whipping by the Pacers. Even though Indiana was significantly short-handed, they still had enough hand left over to pimp-slap the Bobcats, 101-77. I’d rather check the commodes of that stranded Carnival Cruise ship than the stats, but let’s go ahead and get it over with. The first thing that jumps out at you is Charlotte’s 31% shooting percentage—awful. The next red flag is that Bismack Biyombo and Brendan Haywood went 1-for-13 from the field. That’s actually not a red flag, that’s more like blanketing the entire mall in Washington D.C. with the colors of the Soviet Union. I can’t tell what’s more alarming: that they missed 12 shots or that they took those shots in the first place. A quick look at the shot chart reveals that all but three of them were in the paint, and from what memories of the game I have that I’ve failed to suppress pharmaceutically, I believe at least two of those three came to avoid a shot-clock violation. So for the most part, I guess they weren’t forcing anything, which is good.
But the play from our bigs was the hairy mole on this ugly game. Other statistical travesties include Charlotte’s +9 turnover differential, most of which came in the first half. In some ways the turnovers were appreciated, because they meant that we at least didn’t have to watch the team clank shots. But we generated 2 more turnovers than we did assists, creating an overall aesthetical value of play that resembled the cover of Metallica’s Load album. And this is before factoring in the 12 free throws each from Biyombo and Tyler Hansbrough that we had to suffer through.
So if I can mercifully pull away from that feces-strewn catastrophe of a game, I’d like to take advantage of the upcoming break in play to see if there’s anything that can be done to make these games any more survivable for fans. First, ground zero for the Bobcats’ troubles is the 4-5 spot. Look at the far-right column on this table, which shows the ranking by position in terms of net-PER (courtesy of 82games.com):
As you can see, we are last in the NBA in PER differential for both our PF and C positions. In fact, there are probably some Colonial Athletic Conference teams whose bigs outperform ours. So this leads to the obvious question, “Why do they only send one or two Terminators at a time back to kill John Connor?” No wait, sorry, I was looking at the wrong list of questions. The obvious question is, “Is there ANY combination at the 4 and 5 that works?” And the answer, amazingly, is “Yes.” The lineup of Walker-Henderson-Kidd-Gilchrist-Mullens-Biyombo, which has played the 3rd most minutes together, scores 1.06 points-per-possession and allows 1.03 PPS. Considering that the Bobcats average 96.2 possessions per game, if they injected these guys with ox semen so that they had enough stamina to play the whole game, we’d win every game by 2.9 points! Of course, that’s not a very realistic scenario, because Biyombo and MKG would end up committing about 30 fouls (also the whole ox semen-thing, which I completely made up—otherwise, it’s a sound idea). And actually, if you swap Henderson with Sessions (which for some reason hasn’t been done nearly as much as common sense would dictate—the quintet has just 35 minutes of playing time together) you get an even better net result (the defense goes up to 1.15 PPS, but the offense surges to 1.22 PPS). The problem is that the net-positives end there; any other Biyombo/Mullens combo is a disastrous loss-leader.
And after having stared at these lineup changes for awhile now, a solution has emerged, which is that we basically need to get Mullens some ox semen, stat, or acquire an offensive-minded backup (whichever’s easiest). Because Mullins is really the only one who provides enough offense “for two.” Most combinations with Biyombo and anybody other than Mullens are pure fiascos (plus they involve more hacking than the Chinese government). And the same is largely true for Haywood, although there are a couple of situations that work with him and Jeff Adrien.
Hopefully GM Rich Cho is using up his cell phone minutes inquiring about a 4 or 5 with some firepower (and I’m talking a modicum of firepower—John Boehner’s tanning booth’s worth—because Haywood and Biyombo are putting together a measly 10.8 PER). We know Kris Humphries is on the market; we know the Utah Jazz have a Costco’s worth of bigs, any one of whom would be a great upgrade. Can we get any of the above? I’d give up Gordon in return, obviously. I’d give up Sessions in most cases. Hell, I’d give up my sister if we could get someone young and cheap like Derrick Favors. Again, I’m not thinking playoffs, here; I’m thinking mere survivability. I’m Rick Grimes asking that someone please make the south prison wall a little more zombie-resistant. Throw us a bone, management!
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