Bobcats bench to face heavier burden, new problems without Kemba Walker

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Shammgod willing, the Bobcats won't be without Kemba Walker for more than two weeks with his ankle sprain. It's an unfamiliar situation for the team to be in considering Walker's consistent health previously.

This team without Walker will be a mostly unfamiliar, too. All of the Bobcats' nine most-used five man lineups include him at point guard.

So with Ramon Sessions now in the starting lineup, Coach Steve Clifford's lineups are going to be a shift from what he usually likes to do. With Walker available, Clifford prefers to utilize both guards in a double-point guard lineup to take advantage of each's slashing abilities and to help ball movement.

But now Sessions has to be the main point guard and no longer can the Bobcats run effective double-point guard lineups for a couple weeks, unless you are really jonesing for a Sessions-Pargo backcourt, you monster.

Depth is the biggest casualty of Sessions becoming a starter in Walker's absence. If you're mystified as to how a bench consisting of Jannero Pargo, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Anthony Tolliver, Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo helped give up a 30-point lead yesterday, why is that? Charlotte's bench talent is very limited, and that was the case even before injuries sidelined Walker and Jeff Taylor. Still, it's not like the Bobcats are running five-man hockey substitutions.

Clifford has had to mitigate roster liabilities by keeping starters in as he rotates them out to the bench. Regardless, we're talking about a group of playing who are very limited offensively. Sessions gets tunnel vision when driving; Douglas-Roberts and Tolliver are dependent on others to create the offense and have the ball fed to them on spot-up shots; Cody Zeller is at his most comfortable shooting midrange jump shots (where he's hitting 26.4 percent of those shots); Biyombo has improved as a finisher but cannot create a shot well and has trouble with turnovers.

Clifford has opted to keep a smaller rotation as of lately with Jeff Adrien and Ben Gordon the odd men out, so it's possible they see some more time now, even if it's just marginally.

The problem is going to be replacing Walker's 19 points per game, which isn't quite something I expect the Bobcats to accomplish solely by giving more minutes to Sessions and Pargo. It will require much of the team to take on slightly larger scoring roles, which is no easy task given this is already one of the more inconsistent offenses in the league.

Gerald Henderson will see the ball in his hands more, and the Bobcats will have to expect him to add to the distributing in the offense. Al Jefferson is already a major focal point of this offense, but he might get a couple more touches a game.

How well Clifford and the Bobcats manage roster deficiencies moving from the starters to the bench will be a big issue as Sessions was the lone player on the bench who could create his own shot consistently. A defensive lockdown will also be necessary to give the team the best shot with a further-limited offense.

Charlotte is back in the 8th seed in the East, just narrowly slotted for the last playoff seed. How they compensate for Kemba Walker's injury for the next couple weeks will prove instrumental to possible postseason aspirations and lottery implications.

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