HEAD COACH: LARRY BROWN
Here we are again.
Another less than impressive Bobcats roster, meaning another year where fans and “experts” will sell this team short. Thing is, these guys are likely to end up in the playoffs again, and might even win a game or two while they’re there. Doesn’t add up, right?
It does if your coach is Larry Brown.
Once again, Brown is putting the teaching back in the pro game and taking a rag-tag roster of players far beyond what they are supposedly capable of. That’s the genius of the old master, the only man to win The NBA and NCAA championship as a coach.
Now, with fellow North Carolina alum Michael Jordan installed as Owner of the team, Larry can count on Jordan’s reckless spending and shrewd personnel moves to improve the team by leaps and bounds.
OK, I’m kidding. Sorry about that.
Truth is, MJ has never proven himself as a deft talent evaluator, and the Bobcats off-season moves were mostly ones of frugality, highlighted by the trading of high-priced center Tyson Chandler for a bag of balls (or Erick Dampier, same difference) to save some money. Other than that, they signed a handful of players to small money contracts, and managed to plop down 40 million over 5 years for talented (but terribly casual) Tyrus Thomas, who at the very least, shouldnt have to worry about pocket money any longer.
In short, Brown will be counted on to do the heavy lifting once again, doing what we does best: get the most out of the least. As rosters go however, this one is not without talent.
Stephen Jackson has evolved into a pretty darn good leader, albeit a guy who can shoot you in our out of games depending on what day of the week it is. regardless, Jackson has a reputation as one of the most liked and repsected players around the league among peers, and definitely seems to be at the helm of this group.
Likewise, Gerald Wallace has made a rep as an athletic marvel who plays the game with reckless abandon, and who has improved his game over the years thru hard work to become a borderline all-star caliber player. Wallace is the quintessential “I’d go to war with that guy” type. Of course, that same style generally causes him to miss at least a dozen games or more every year, but Wallace is a warrior. I mean, less than 2 years ago he had his freakin LUNG COLLAPSED by Andrew Bynum and came back in 3 weeks. I’ll take a dude like that on my team, thank you very much.
Beyond that though, there isn’t much to be psyched about.
DJ Augustin will assume point guard duties after Raymond Felton’s free-agent departure, and Coach Brown will try to work his magic on another shoot-first point after a sophmore season in which Augustin’s productivity fell off sharply from his rookie season. Augustin would appear to be a good fit for a roster full of athletes capable of playing at a breakneck pace, but it remains to be seen if he has what it takes to run a team.
Power forward will be manned by the platoon of Thomas and Boris Diaw, giving Brown the flexibility of using the crafty Diaw as something of a point-forward type or the muscular Thomas in bigger line-ups. My guess is the teams’ best line-up would be Augustin-Jackson-Wallace-Diaw-Thomas, with the offense running thru Diaw. This is also a line-up that could wreak havoc on slower, older teams.
At center, well let’s just say the Bobcats look like a graveyard for wayward big men. Kwame Brown (already out 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury) Nazr Mohammed and DeSagana Diop? Perhaps the team can come up with a fancy nickname for this bunch? I’d go with THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE? Just imagine the merchandising possibilities!
Also worth mentioning is the fact that the money-strapped team decided to take a flyer on several bargain-bin types at slashed prices, notably Shaun Livingston, only a few years removed from a GHASTLY knee injury (seriously, your leg was not made to bend that way), Darius Miles, who missed 2 years with his own knee injury (and 2 games for calling his coach a very dirty word, ) and noted Fire-arm enthusiast Javaris Crittenton. If nothing else, this team is a safe bet to be entertaining on some level.
IF THEY GET LUCKY
Augustin excels at the point, Wallace manages to stay in one piece for a whole season, and the re-treads they picked up become productive members of the team (and society). And if they get really lucky, they can manage to swing a trade for a respectable big man.
Don’t hold your breath on that last one.
IF THEY DON’T
Wallace ends up plastered to a wall a la Wile E. Coyote after a hustle play gone wrong, Jackson starts acting all crazy (as he’s been prone to do), and Larry Brown decides playing Bridge in Florida beats coaching a team full of troublemakers.
This team should make the Play-offs again, just barely. This is a statement of the value of Larry Brown more than anything else. As long as he is there, the fans of Charlotte have hope. On the other hand, it’s tough to see them building on this success without any significant cap room or trade assets.
But hey, it’s the NBA-crazier things have happened.
HEY, IT’S TIME FOR THE “I FOUND A REALLY FREAKY PICTURE OF MJ AND LARRY” BONUS SECTION
Seriously, I can’t stop staring at this picture. Jordan looks like some kind of freaky bronze statue that should be standing outside Chicago stadium.