First of all, I apologize for this stupid headline, but I had to change my original idea at the last minute once I saw that Travis had titled his latest article, “Who Can Lead the Bobcats Out of the Cellar?” His was too close to what I was going to use: “Who Can Lead the Bobcats Out of the Gimp Trunk In the Cellar?” Anyway, this is Part 2 of my recap of the season, and as I see that there haven’t been any news developments in the past week (nope, the team’s still a flaming wreckage), let’s jump right into it. As I did last week, I’ll continue in the order of minutes each player played. Also, as I did last week, I’ll try to finish the article without hanging myself:
Byron Mullens (1,465 minutes played) – Let’s start with the good: Mullens, some tall, unknown hayseed from Oklahoma City suddenly popped up days before the season began, looking for a job. I actually picture his arrival in my mind as very similar to Axl Rose stepping off the bus in the “Welcome to the Jungle” video, complete with a piece of straw sticking out of his mouth. From there, with absolutely no expectations whatsoever, Mullens had the team’s highest unadjusted +/- (+3.74). Moreover, he and Reggie Williams were the only two players on both of the team’s positive adj. +/- 5-man units (post-Boris Diaw). Of course, this is all thanks to his unique long-range scoring ability. This is NOT thanks to his defense or rebounding. I was about to severely criticize his 5 RPG average…until I saw that it was second on the team (I’ve got to pace myself). If Mullens can toughen up and/or get paired with a certain game-changing rookie at center whom I won’t jinx by mentioning (hallowed be thy name!), next year could be awesome! If not, next year could end up with him tied to a chair and screaming for his life in front of a bunch of television screens showing graphic images of police brutality, with Corey Maggette hovering over him and telling him that he wants to watch him bleed.
Bismack Biyombo (1,455) – It’s impossible to duplicate the trajectory of the fans’ reaction to Biyombo’s play. It went from hoping we had the next Serge Ibaka (after the draft) to fearing we had the next Alexis Ajinca (after actually seeing him play). Then it went from astonishment at how quickly he had improved to delirious joy when he single-handedly preserved the win against the Hornets with a last-second blocked shot (by the way, that’s how bad the season was—I can remember individual wins and where I was when they happened, just like I can for when I heard Bin Laden was killed). Then he regressed again: after getting 14 points and 14 boards against the Bucks on April 6th, he didn’t have another double-double for the rest of the season, including a bunch of downright stinkers. I personally went back to thinking he was crappy, but much less crappy than I originally feared, though far more crappy than I would have expected him to end up, if you can follow. Anyway, his offense remains a work in progress—much like the situation in Afghanistan—but presumably he’ll continue to improve in the off-season, and the fans will love him again—because, believe me, we want to. But you can’t hurry love, like my man Phil Collins has explained before. Nope, you’ll just have to wait.
Derrick Brown (1,443) & DJ White (1,097) – Where would this team be without Derrick Brown and DJ White? 5-61? Considering we only had 7 wins, I suppose that’s a dumb question. But anyway, I’m lumping these two together because they played about the same amount of minutes and did a lot of the same things, plus they were the only two Bobcats with a positive +/- impact on both offense and defense—meaning our offense scored more points with each on the floor, and the defense gave up fewer points with each on the floor. Considering this team would struggle in a game of hoops against the cast of Taxi, that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment. Of course, our crack coaching staff was all over this and didn’t start playing them regularly until about April, and even then only because everyone ahead of them went down with injuries or were shoved into lockers—just in the nick of time, coaching staff! White is more of a post-up player while Brown is more of a slasher/finisher. We need more rebounding from both of them and White needs to get to the hoop more, but the two of them combined to make less than a third of what we’re paying Corey Maggette. I don’t know if that’s a happy ending or a sad ending to this evaluation, by the way. It’s like a Donnie Darko ending.
And that with that, I need another breather, because this is only going to get harder. In fact, recapping the seasons of these last four dudes—DJ Augustin, Reggie Williams, (shuddering) Maggette and (gasping) Tyrus Thomas—is probably going to require consuming more painkillers than Hunter S. Thompson. I’ll see you next week, and if my scouting report of Thomas includes his advanced stats against flying unicorns, you’ll know why…