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New Look Bobcats, New Look Pistons

(UPDATE 5:25pm, well after this was written: Looks like Diaw and Bell are starting. Here goes nothing...)

When Gerald Wallace trade rumors start coming hot and heavy on Monday, the day players signed this offseason become available, we'll get into it, but for now, let's think about what the new Bobcats look can do against the new-look Detroit Pistons.

Last time they were here, Chauncey had just been traded and AI wasn't yet on the squad, but they still crushed the Cats in the Cable Box. This time around, the Pistons will start a small lineup, with Stuckey and AI in the backcourt, Rip at the three, Tayshaun at the four, and Sheed at the five. Improbably, the Bobcats will be just as small at the one through three, in a bizarro version of the Pistons' small lineup, going with Augustin and Felton at guard, and Carroll at small forward. However, in the front court, they're going pretty big, with Emeka listed at power forward and Hollins at center.

The guards pair up naturally, with Felton on Stuckey, Augustin on Iverson (ugh), and Carroll on Hamilton. In the front court, though, neither Hollins nor Okafor is well-suited to guard Sheed, let alone Tayshaun, because both can spread the floor and shoot from distance. I think I'd take my chances with Hollins on Tayshaun and Emeka on Sheed. For all his faults, Hollins is a wild, energetic, defender, and that kind of approach might play better against the smaller man than against a guy like Sheed who can grind his defender on the post and in the midrange. Of course, the natural defender for Tayshaun is Gerald Wallace, but he's listed as probable, and I wouldn't be surprised if he'll need a day or two to work his way back into the swing of basketball, physically.

When the benches come into play, after Wallace, I'd like to see Bell, Diaw, and Morrison in a nine man rotation, and Ajinca, Shannon Brown, and Singletary sitting in case someone gets in foul trouble. It seems to make sense that Juwan Howard will be inactive for a game or two, until he's comfortable with the team sets and replaces Hollins, May will be inactive until his tendinitis becomes bearable to play and he replaces Ajinca (D-League him, PLEASE), and Nazr Mohammed will be inactive until he stops sucking or gets dumped in a trade.

As for any particular strategies, Iverson has been the poorest three point shooter on the team this year, while Stuckey has taken a quantum leap forward, Rip has done the same thing he's done for four seasons, Tayshaun keeps on keeping on, and Sheed is also up around 40%, so it seems it's best to let Iverson launch away, but to close out quickly on everyone else. In a sense, since I've heard whispers of Sheed's declining post game, there isn't any inside presence until they bring in Amir Johnson or Jason Maxiell. Unfortunately, they can't take advantage of that offensive weakness because they run the same sort of Larry Brown screen-curl offense that doesn't tend to isolate anyone.

For the Bobcats, if they have to go to Hollins in the post every time, on Tayshaun, they should. Dude's seven feet tall, stronger, and despite his limited abilities should be able to force Detroit to adjust. I love Tayshaun, but I'd make him prove he's up to that challenge.