A couple of games ago, Rick Bonnell tweeted that the Bobcats’ record “feels far more real” than their 7-5 start last year. It might be more than a feelin’ to Bonnell, but the stats say otherwise. Though they’re a respectable 5-5, Charlotte has played the 3rd easiest schedule in the league, per ESPN strength-of-schedule rankings. Meanwhile, BasketballReference.com has them ranked 27th in the league based on both point-differential and strength of schedule. So far this year has been last year, with a couple of moderate improvements; it’s been like going from Thor to Thor 2.
The Loki-like wildcard in all of this is AL Jefferson. You could argue that the Cats are getting by despite playing mostly without their injured big free-agent acquisition Jefferson, but the counterargument would be that they’re getting by because they haven’t had to play their injured big free agent acquisition Jefferson much. What’s currently keeping the Bobcats flirting so hard with .500 is their defense (ranked 9th-most efficient in the league), and the only reason they might get her number on a napkin is by ramping up their shooting while not sacrificing that defense. Jefferson only helps with the first part of the equation; when it comes to the second part he’s going to take the multiplication signs and replace them with square roots. Historically, Jefferson has played less defense than a street mime in Grand Theft Auto.