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On The Search For a Scapegoat

The Bobcats are bad. We know this now and we knew this would happen before the season began. I'm not sure how anyone could look at this roster and think this team could be good. But no worries; they're nowhere close to good anyway!

But as is the case when you're dropping games by 30 or 40 points, there has to be someone held accountable. Surely this team can't just be that terrible by itself? There has to be someone to blame. And as is the case with pro sports, that usually rests in blame on the head coach, in this case, Paul Silas.

"He's not getting the most out of this team," a fan decry.

"He's not motivating them," says another.

"He's not teaching them," says a wizard with magical access to watching the team practice.

"He's using up all of my anytime minutes and now my phone bill totally sucks!" whines Cory Higgins.

And Silas most certainly is not perfect. His lineups often perplex me and I sigh dejectedly watching the team on both sides of the ball. To say he is blameless is blatantly false, but the reverse is also true in that he is not the sole person to blame for this team's uncompetitiveness.

I and many others have said this before: the Bobcats' roster is extremely untalented for an NBA team. Add injuries and youthful inexperience to that, and you get the base for the awfulness behind the Bobcats' current 10-game losing streak in which the team has averaged margins of defeat of 17.8 points.

I understand why fans want him gone, but outside of giving Bismack Biyombo more consistent playing time, there's not a whole lot I can fault Silas for.

It's easy to say that he's failing as a mentor in the frontcourt when we see the Bobcats give up tons of points in the paint every night. But he's also working with DeSagana Diop and Byron Mullens. So much of what's wrong with the Bobcats interior defense is positioning and basketball IQ. Diop often fails to recognize when his opponent is creating space and easily gives up space before recognizing it and recovering late, only to foul. Byron Mullens can't read a pick and roll to save his life. I'm pretty sure I saw him try to hedge on one play on the wrong side of the pick recently. He's not strong enough to hold his ground on the block, nor is he quick enough to deny his man the ball on entry passes. These are not things that can be fixed easily, either because they're physical issues that are on the shoulders of the player to fix, or they're just things that have been ingrained for so long that two months of practice won't change. And the same things go for other players.

I'm sure they're trying to ameliorate each player's weaknesses, but if it were that easy to do that in two months' time, we'd be seeing better basketball all over the league.

Undoubtedly, the Bobcats do look unmotivated and struck with malaise on the court. It is Silas' duty to encourage them to play hard, but he cannot play for them on the court. If I know Silas' coaching style, and I believe I do, Silas is undoubtedly trying his darnedest to get the team play their hearts out for, if nothing else, pride. But it's easier said than done to actually get that out of an NBA team. I see this Bobcats team come out of the gate in games strong, most of the time, only to quickly get outclassed and fall behind. How miserable that must be for these players. The effort level is not constant and for that, Silas deserves some grief, but one man can only do so much. Individual players must also need to be self-motivated in some part, at least (coughborisdiawcough).

The Bobcats are just so untalented that they will look that bad regardless of coach. Phil Jackson couldn't come in here and magically turn Boris Diaw into Scottie Pippen. Bill Russell couldn't come to Charlotte and build a strong team defense out of this roster. Jerry Sloan couldn't return to the coaching world and transform Bismack Biyombo into a new-age Karl Malone. This is in no way all on Paul Silas. Changing coaches would be, if anything, a marginal improvement, and a minor one at that for having to pay two coaching staffs for a season that will undoubtedly go down as one of the (if not the) worst seasons in franchise history.

You want someone to blame? Blame the front office. Blame their history. Blame everyone. That's why the team's in the spot they're in. They've built a team this year that cannot win and is not expected to do so. They didn't have the means in talent to form a solid core coming into this season, nor did they have the salary cap space to drastically improve it in the offseason. The Bobcats shorted their future in making the run for the playoffs in the Larry Brown era and they're paying for it now.

That's who you can blame.