Steve Clifford

Don’t look now but Bobcats playing some defense in preseason


Charlotte had the worst defense in the NBA last season giving up 108.9 points per 100 possessions, then this summer they went out and got Al Jefferson as their big free agent signing — a guy who admits that he’s not good on defense.

We all expect more of the same matador defense this season (ole!), but so far this preseason things have been different under new coach Steve Clifford. Very different. The Charlotte Observer had the stats.

As of Sunday, the Bobcats were giving up the fewest points per game in the NBA at 82.7. They’re the only one of 30 teams not to allow 90 or more points in any game, one of two teams (with Chicago) not to allow 100 or more. Their field-goal percentage defense (39.5 percent) is third-best in the NBA and they have committed the fewest personal fouls (17.3 per game) in the league.

Here are the caveats: it’s preseason, so take everything with a whole lot of salt, and second the Bobcats are doing well in transition defense and with that slowing the game down, which is part of the reason for the low per-game numbers.

That said, at least in the preseason they are defending better. The defense is more in a Spurs/Pacers mold of taking away the paint with a focus on not fouling, and while Charlotte is down a few rungs on the talent ladder from those teams — although Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should be a good defender — the strategy has them on the right track.

Come the regular season nobody sane expects to see the Bobcats in the top 10 in the league in defense, but if they can stay out of the bottom 10 Charlotte could win a respectable number of games this season (and screw up their lottery chances in the year of a deep draft, but that’s another story).

Gordon Hayward goes behind Jordan Clarkson’s back with dribble

Gordon Hayward, Nick Young
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Utah’s Gordon Hayward abused the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson on this play.

First, Hayward reads and steals Clarkson’s poor feed into the post intended for Kobe Bryant, then going up the sideline he takes his dribble behind Clarkson’s back to keep going. It all ends in a Rudy Gobert dunk.

Three quick takeaways here:

1) Gordon Hayward is a lot better than many fans realize. He can lead this team.

2) It’s still all about the development with Clarkson, and that’s going to mean some hard lessons.

3) Hayward may have the best hair in the NBA, even if it’s going a bit Macklemore.

(Hat tip reddit)

Could Tristan Thompson’s holdout last months? Windhorst says yes.

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”

That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.

Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:

“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”

Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.

And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.