This is what I wanted to submit to the Bobcats FanBlogger, but it was just too long. I was using parts of it in the Bobcats Better or worse 2010 -2011 and I wanted to share the whole thing...so here:
Bobcats Nation, we have something to fear. We are entering our first season since making the playoffs, and we have 2 major unknowns:
Who is our Starting Point Guard and who is our starting Center?
Concern number one is who will lead this team on the court? Who will be the voice and leader of this team? Who will call the plays and make the decisions that are necessary to pilot us to another post-season appearance? Will DJ become the PG that he was expected to be? Will he be able to take the talent on this team and use it to its utmost ability? In college he was a pass first player, but he was also a very good shooter as well when he needed to shoot. What has happened? Has the NBA discouraged him to be himself? He’s been in the league for 2 years and I pray that last year was a sophmore slump and nothing more. Being a 5’11" (I know he’s listed at 6’, but I call it like I see it. I’m 5’11" and so is he) guard in the NBA is very difficult unless you are super athletic. I hope that he has worked on some different aspects of himself this off season. I hope to see a stronger DJ. Perhaps a 185-190lb DJ with more muscle and strength. The ability to stop on a dime and pop a short jumper. The development of a soft Tony Parker floater on drives would be nice too. If we’re getting the same DJ we had last year, we can only hope that increased playing time gives us a better DJ on the floor. I hope his troubles last year just float out of his mind, and he picks up some Captain Jack size swagger, and we have a great leader that can win the hearts and trust of the fans this year. If not…
…there’s always Shaun Livingston. Liv is a great guy to fill the roll of PG for the team as well. He is a defensive mismatch being 6’8". Having Liv starting allows for lots of point guard post-ups, and more points in the paint. He is a young guy as well, that, after suffering a catastrophic knee injury, has been able to come back and still be a competitive asset in the NBA. Can he play 40+ minutes a night at the starting PG position? He was doing it at the end of last season with the Wizards. Granted, he only played 10 games for more than 30 minutes, and only 2 that were 40 minute games, but the minutes he had proved that even on a weak Washington Wizards team at the end of the season, he was putting up quality numbers, averaging 14 points and 6 assists per game with only an average of 2.3 TO per game. If he were to pick up where he left off at the end of last season, he has a chance to be a stand-out PG this season. The increase in talent that will surround him this year, will most definitely put him in a position to increase his assists and points per game. As for the knee, the injury took place while he was young. He’s still young, not overweight and has rehabbed his knee as the doctor has ordered. There is ZERO reason that Liv shouldn’t be even better than last year. I see this guy to easily be a starter on an NBA team.
DJ has to prove himself and Liv has to prove his durability. Either way, I believe that games are like a chess match, and you make your matchups as such. Either of these guys can start games for us. I believe that either guy can start, but DJ has to prove that he can do so, and has to be given the opportunity. If he cannot, I believe that Liv can fill the role and we can pull in DJ to back him up. Let’s pray Sherron Collins has shed about 15lbs and is fit for camp so we have 3 PGs.
Verdict on the PG position: Shaun Livingston starts for us this season, unless DJ comes out of Summer camp looking like he has the heart of Muggsy Bogues, and the game of Tony Parker.
Who starts at Center?
Wow what a choice. We have Nazr Mohammed, who proved after last off season, he still had game, and as long as he was healthy, he was enough to fill the role on the team. Who is next in line? That is the BIG question with Chandler now gone. I see this to be a bigger concern than the PG position. Chandler was hurt for most of last season, so it isn’t like we didn’t cope without him. How did we cope? Well, we did have Theo Ratliff. He was a great defender, and shot blocker to come in and fill in some time. He didn’t have much in terms of offense though. That said, what do we have now in the arsenal? Well we have Kwame Brown and DeSagana Diop. We all presume that Erick Dampier will be gone ASAP for salary relief. This departure gives us relief in the salary department, and if it is a salary dump, no one else is coming in. If this is true, we have to muddle through what we got, and see where it all falls out. Here is the depth chart at Center, as I see it. Nazr will be our starter. There is no question about that. I honestly believe that Kwame will still be our #2 option, game shape or not. I do believe that there will be a push to get Kwame in the game shape that Larry Brown wants him to be in. This push will be to make Kwame our starter. Diop, I am afraid, is buried at the far end of the bench. Unless he does what Nazr did during last year’s off season and has worked on his game nonstop to show that he’s more than a bench warmer, we’ll seldom see him in a game unless Nazr’s back gives out for good, and Kwame is injured beyond the ability to run up and down the court. Kwame being 28, I am hoping game shape isn’t far away. If he is truly serious about making something out of his career, and proving the nay sayers wrong. I hope his tenure with Larry Brown is what he needs to become, even at least, a role player in the NBA. If Larry can get Kwame to play at the level that Nazr plays at, or can get the performance that Theo was giving us, with a touch more offense, it is entirely feasible that by December, Kwame could be our starter with Nazr as backup and mentor, with Diop as third fiddle, coming in to donate 6 fouls as needed.
I need to mention alternate options…for example, we still have Diaw. So unless we move him, in a small ball scenario, we could See Tyrus Thomas at Center with Diaw playing PF. Yes, this means that I see Tyrus as our starting PF. I won’t go into detail on that one. It has to be saved for another blog.
Verdict on the Center position: Nazr starts the season, and dependant on how Kwame takes to the Larry Brown system, Kwame may be starting by December. Worst case…we’re D league shopping for another Center.
It is hard to make calls like this without actually seeing the guys play together. Fanboy sense tells me that per team chemistry, DJ and Nazr just have to start. Proven talent tells me that we may be safer with Liv starting at PG and DJ backing him up. As for Center, it is a lock that Nazr starts. We could get lucky, and after September 14th, and a trade may be in the works to move Dampier and others for a player at the Center or the PG position...or both. Only time will tell. I would prefer snagging a solid starting PG, and a reasonable backup center in a trade. PG is the absolute most important player on the court. His decisions and actions make the rest of the team perform at their best possible talent level. The correct pass, the correct play called, recognizing defenses, looking for mismatches, reading the other team when on defense; these things create the best opportunity for success.