Last season the Charlotte Bobcats made their first-ever playoff appearance. This season, with Michael Jordan firmly entrenched as owner, it was time to take the next step.
Backwards. At least that is what has happened so far. The Bobcats are 7-13 and out of the playoffs if they started today.
In a fantastic piece — with veteran players being very honest — the Charlotte Observer lays out what is wrong in the team’s own words.
“We don’t play together, we don’t play hard enough. We don’t move the ball, we don’t defend as a team,” said coach Larry Brown, adding, “That’s my fault.”
Oh, so that’s all.
The issue is defense (the team’s offensive output is almost identical to last season). Last season the Bobcats had the best defense in the league at 102.6 points per 100 possessions, this season they are giving up 4 more points per 100, and that makes them average. Combine that with that below average offense and you have problems.
Personnel is a big part of it. Tyson Chandler is protecting the rim in Dallas now. Raymond Felton’s physical defense at the point is in New York, replaced by DJ Augustin. Gerald Wallace was blunt about the change at the point.
“D.J. doesn’t have the fight. Not to compare them as far as abilities, but D.J.’s personality is not as high as Ray’s was as far as aggression and attitude on the court. D.J. is more laid-back.
“We’re not physical. We’re a soft team,” (Stephen) Jackson said. “We had an edge last year and we don’t have any edge now. We felt really confident in the way we’d play.”
That is in part a leadership issue
“No disrespect to anybody, but I think everyone was more focused on doing their jobs last year,” said Jackson. “We had such professionals last year. We had Theo and Tyson, and when Tyrus (Thomas) first came here, he had a lot of energy. And Raymond led this team.”
Larry Brown’s team notoriously start slow and improve as the year goes on, but there are questions if this team can do that. The personnel may not be able to rise up in the same way.