What the Backups Offer

Basketball is a game of competing interests, especially at the college and pro levels. As everyone from Bobby Knight to Michael Lewis to Paul Silas knows, the players who get the most glory (and then get paid more) are the ones who score the most points, but not every player is good at scoring points, even the ones who end up with high points totals. On top of that, the most valuable players aren't necessarily even the ones who score points well. So, unfortunately, unless the team culture forces a different perspective, everyone wants to be the one to score points, even though he may be more valuable to the team if he scores fewer points and does other things well.

Thus, there was a whole series of competing interests present on the floor when the Bobcats put their backups in the game last night against the Nets. The final score is relevant to where Charlotte will draft, but it's irrelevant to figuring out who's a player and who's just a body. In this situation, the players have no leverage, and so they pretty much have to do as they're told and use their obedience to show they belong.

AUGUSTIN -- DJ is set for next year. He'll start, and I think everyone knows it. Credit Felton for competing hard to show that he deserves to start somewhere and that he cares about his teammates without ever sabotaging Augustin.

MAY -- It's positively infuriating to watch him play because his superior skills are apparent. However, he just doesn't have the body to allow those skills to translate into NBA performance. Maybe it's still the injury. Maybe it's just how things are gonna be from here on out. I don't know. Normally, I'd say he's still cheap enough to keep around and see if the body can be whipped into shape, but the Cats are overpaying so many guys they don't have much wiggle room when it comes to reclamation projects. It's probably best to let him start over on someone else's dime.

DIOP -- He's a lovely backup center, especially on a team where everyone else off the bench is an offense-minded player. It's not his fault, but he's the symbol of this team's profligacy, because he's getting paid many millions of dollars to be a backup.

RADMANOVIC -- He plays anywhere from guard to power forward, shoots threes, drives the lane, passes, plays solid D. There's so much to like in what VladRad brings to the table, and it's too bad he was marginalized by Lamar Odom's presence in L.A. He can be a starter somewhere in the league, but he's perfect as a bench scorer, because he can sub in and play a wide variety of roles. Again, he's wildly expensive for that role, but he's good at it.

MARTIN -- His future in the league, if he has one, is as a defensive stopper. However, he's not a real defensive stopper. He doesn't shoot all that well. He doesn't attack the rim. What he does do, and if you're building a team, he's nice to have at the end of the bench, is play all aspects of swingman unspectacularly, but reasonably well. He's a minimum player who plays slightly better than that, the poor man's Jared Dudley, if you will, without the explicit hustle.

JEFFERSON -- It's small sample size theater, but I'm wildly impressed with Dontell Jefferson. If Raja Bell gets traded, I would love to see him be the first guard off the bench at point or off guard. He plays great D. He attacks the rim. Sure, his shooting needs work, but lots of guys' shots need work. He's a minimum guy! DO WANT.

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