My original plan was to turn from previewing the forwards in the first column to the centers in this column. But then I saw Gana Diop’s gargantuan landmass body and Louisiana Purchase-sized contract and realized I needed to turn away. I’m sorry, but I just can’t talk about him yet; there are still too many demons. Plus I just got through the Tyrus Thomas/Bismack Biyombo combo we’ve got going on at the 4-spot, and to go from there to the Brendon Haywood/Gana Diop platoon at center would be like having to review back-to-back screenings of Battleship and Sparkle. So instead I’m going to pace myself by hitting the guards next. I should have a hold of myself in time to talk to the centers later in the week.
As for the guards, to the extent that the Bobcats have a best unit, this is it. I was thrilled that Charlotte didn’t re-sign DJ Augustin, who had regressed last year and started suffering chronic injuries. For better or for worse, Rich Cho has shown that he’s not going to overpay anyone. In the case of letting Augustin walk (or limp out on his cracked feet) and signing Ramon Sessions to a stunningly reasonable 2-year, $10M deal, it’s all for the better. As the bigger player, Sessions is much more effective at getting to the rim than Augustin was and a more able rebounder and defender. If you want to be as conservative as possible, you can just consider his time with Cleveland last year and ignore his time with the Lakers, in which all of his stats got turbo-boosted (and, needless to say, Cleveland’s team is a far better comparison to Charlotte than the Lakers). With the Cavs, Sessions’ eFG% and passing rating were basically on par with Augustin’s, but he took more than twice as many foul shots and held opponents to a PER of 16.5—compared to Augustin’s 19.8. These might seem like small potatoes, but consider that the Bobcats would have had to make a qualifying offer of $4.4M to Augustin to retain him, and for just $600K more they got a better all-around player who has also played in over 95% of his games since 2008. The fact that I have had to justify this move more in accounting terms than in basketball terms is admittedly not very inspiring, but just remember all of this when we see Augustin sitting on the Indiana bench for a third of the season, nursing his cracked feet and tendinitis.