When considering the Bobcats lottery prospects this loss will likely help in ensuring a higher draft pick. In the here and now however, it raises a few concerns.
Firstly, there are few players on the Bobcats who aren’t defensive liabilities. For as much as Augustin gives on offense (26 points, 9 assists), he gives up as much on the defensive end. DJ White is more or less in the same boat. This isn’t a new issue for either, but it’s too bad considering both are off to the best starts of their careers. The rest of team has trouble defending as well, with the Cavaliers scoring 56 points in the paint, and at other times getting too many open looks. The size disadvantage contributes to this, so the return of Tyrus Thomas is needed quickly if this team wants any chance of defending down low.
This was supposed to be Kemba Walker vs. Kyrie Irving, but Walker had his worst game as a pro. Two points on 1-6 shooting compared to Irving’s 20 points and six assists. When looking back, the absence of Walker made a difference. In both of the Bobcats close games, Walker had stretches of play that kept the Bobcats in the game. He may not be a starter, but if the Cats are going to win any games this year he will need to show up.
Diaw has crashed down to Earth after his good start. He looked tired, unfocused and still out of shape. He was scoreless with five rebounds and five fouls, and it was hard to find any justification for him being in the game in the 2nd half.
After a scoreless first half Henderson got hot in the 2nd finishing with 16 points and seven rebounds. These numbers are what you want from him, but not necessarily all in one half. The next step for him is to become more consistent.
Corey Maggette had a typical night for himself, 21 points but on 4-12 shooting, getting most of his points at the free throw line (and a majority of those late in the 4th). He also added eight rebounds. It’s a better performance than the two against the Heat, but he made little impact on the floor.
Okay, now to the positives.
Byron Mullens might just be legitimate. The scouting report on him out of college said it would take at least 2-3 years for him to develop, and he’s in year three. Coming into this season he had only 40 points for his career. He surpassed that tonight, and the guy formally known as the big white guy at end of the Thunder bench is taking full advantage of the minutes given to him. He had 14 points on 7-13 shooting and scored from outside, on turn around jumpers, and from the post. He’s active, unafraid to shoot, and isn’t as bad on defense as one would expect. At this point he’s earned himself the backup center spot, and if Diaw continues to stink and White continues to play well, swapping Diaw for Mullens at the center spot may just need to happen.
DJ White continued shooting efficiently as well, and while he only scored 10 points, he did it on 5-6 shooting and added five rebounds. He’s the best forward on the Bobcats right now and like Mullens, is taking advantage of the playing time given to him.
Biyombo scored a career high eight points, had five rebounds and 2 blocks, and is getting better little by little. He still jumps on every pump fake, and has no idea how to build a wall in the post, but these things will be learned throughout the year. He’s disruptive, but he needs to tone it down at times. Late in the game he had a thunderous two-handed dunk picking up the foul, showing his strength. He’s got a long way to go but fans should be encouraged by his progression.
This was not a good loss for the Bobcats. Losses are never “good” but compared to the never back down mentality shown against the Heat at home there was uninspired play from Boris Diaw and the spark expected from Walker never happened. The Bobcats put up their highest point total of the year, but against better defensive teams that doesn’t happen. Defensively they may be the worst in the league, so it will be interesting what impact Thomas makes on that end, if any, when he returns.