The Bobcats are in the midst of a radical transformation, for better or worse. Thus, I show you a photo of my hair in the midst of transforming from black to orange. For better or worse.
Today, I come in praise of Emeka Okafor and his monster game last night, which led the Bobcats to an 80-72 victory over the Washington Wizards. If you can't hear the drumbeat yet, you should: Emeka Okafor is playing at an All Star level. Sure, Chris Bosh moving to forward has a lot to do with making Emeka a candidate, but who's nitpicking at this stage?
29 points, 18 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and the Wizards' three centers combined for 9 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 fouls. All in an evening's work for Emeka, whose season averages are now right in line with his career averages, but with one major difference. Instead of taking 11.4 field goal attempts per 36 minutes, he's taking just under 10, and instead of going 53% from the field, he's going 59%. All that added efficiency is a huge boost to his value, since he's not wasting possessions at the same rate, anymore.
Emeka's been working on a face up game, taking the ball as far out as fifteen feet, which is a welcome addition, but the easiest place for him to improve is at the free throw line. Okafor made only 9-17 free throw attempts last night, and, again, he's hovering under 60% on the season. Making him a 75% shooter from the stripe adds a little under a point per game to his totals, clearly separating him from the Andrew Bogut tier of big man in the league.
Among other Bobcats, Gerald was the only other one who didn't struggle on offense, making 6-7 field goal attempts, including his only three ball. Subtracting Okafor's 10-15 and Crash's 6-7, the rest of the team went 14-50, for a 28% field goal percentage. Abysmal. Putrid. Blech.
Boris Diaw went 3-14 from the field, but at least redeemed himself with 11 rebounds(!). The guards, on the other hand, couldn't do anything to help the team. Raja Bell decided he's a gunner, going 5-12, including 1-3 from long distance. Felton went 3-8. Augustin went 2-6. And Matt Carroll, playing third guard most, if not all, of his time, went a disgusting 1-7 (1-5 from three) in just under 14 minutes. Furthermore, it's times like these that I want a detailed game chart to gauge how well they played defense, because it seemed to me that Caron Butler scored the vast majority of his 31 points while being guarded by one of these guys, whereas when Gerald guarded him he had a much tougher go of it. I'd want to confirm if that's just my mind confirming what I expected, or if it's what really happened.
Finally, I'd like to give a special shake of the fist at Larry Brown for continuing his inexplicable maneuver of playing Matt Carroll at the three for extended minutes, and for his equally baffling decision to replace Gerald with a guard during ten-second plays. That's right. With ten seconds to go in the first half, and Emeka at the line, Augustin and Singletary came in for Felton and Wallace.
Now, this is at least the second time he's done this. I think he had Felton, Augustin, Singletary, Carroll, and Diaw out there for a similar situation before. Ultimately, it's just a really dumb idea to put short people on the floor when you're expecting the other team to take a jump shot. And if you're expecting them to drive, it's a dumb idea to let really short players guard a quick taller player like Caron Butler. The only way you put those guys out there like that is if you're looking for a charge or steal or some other quickness-related high risk play, and even then, Gerald is probably your best bet. Of course Butler drove the lane and got a foul call on Augustin.
Seriously, dude, I think it's time to rethink the strategy.
Rufus on Fire will take the Christmas holiday off, and I'll be back for more