The Charlotte Bobcats are a terrible team, by any measurement.
Go ahead and click around ESPN.com's stats page. It's very, very difficult to find encouraging numbers for Paul Silas and his crew. 26th in points per game, 29th in point differential, 25th in 3-point percentage, 29th in points per shot, 29th in points allowed, 26th in opponent's field goal percentage (at over 50 percent), 27th in rebound differential, and so on.
Charlotte has lost eight straight and 13 of 14. They're 1-10 on the road, and via John Hollinger's playoff odds, have a zero percent chance of playing this postseason.
Zero. Not even a fraction of a point, so we could more easily insert this clip. Bottom line, this is one of those teams where it shouldn't matter at all what the Bobcats do tonight. 48 minutes of zone? Go for it. Seven seconds or less? Feel free. Confetti-instead-of-water in the bucket trick? Have at it.
Still, there's a game to play, and in an effort to gain more insight into the Bobcats, we hit up Spencer Percy of Queen City Hoops, who was nice enough to answer some questions:
1. This team seems like a transcendent kind of bad. Are they as horrid as a 3-18 record suggests?
Percy: This team is worse with the injuries that they've taken on lately to D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson and Corey Maggette. Bad is not a word that can describe just how unbearable it's been lately.
2. Byron Mullens seems like he's been a bright spot. What accounts for his improvement, and how much more are the Bobcats hoping to get from him over time?
Percy: Mullens can do one thing exceptionally well- shoot the midrange jump shot. He lacks any physicality at all on the post and leaves much to be desired on the defensive end- low defensive basketball IQ. A film breakdown of Mullens so far this season can be found here.
3. With D.J. Augustin sidelined, Kemba Walker is getting big minutes at the point. What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Percy: His strength is his quickness and ability to beat just about any defender off the dribble, but what he's failed to realize so far this season is that the defenders are much taller. That being said, his fade away jumper from anywhere inside the arc hasn't been nearly as effective in this league. Kemba has got to learn how to distribute the ball and get his teammates involved more.
4. What weighs more, 260 pounds of Boris Diaw, or 260 pounds of feathers? (Note: Diaw arrived in camp wildly overweight.)
Percy: Frustrating topic. Diaw is the most unpredictable player on this roster. At the beginning of the season, he was a complete feast or famine from game-to-game, but lately he's basically been only famine. The most frustrating part of watching Diaw play though is the simple fact that he can produce when he wants to, but his effort has been comical in past 10-12 games.
5. What game plan can the Bobcats execute that gives them a shot at beating the Lakers?
Percy: Still not sure why this team hasn't played more zone defense. Silas experimented with it earlier in the season, but then dumped it and since have free-fallen to one of the worst statistical defenses in the league. With this team it all starts with effort. Bottom line is they're going to be severely outmatched in the talent department every single night, so playing harder than their opponent is mandatory.
Thanks to Spencer for his input.
I'm interested in seeing how quickly the Lakers can put this team away. With 10 of the next 14 after coming on the road, the Lakers can't afford to screw around with the Bobcats. Get in, beat 'em up, get out. Get Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum some pine time down the stretch. Tonight's game, combined with two off days before the Grammy trip begins Friday in Denver, give the team its best chance to prep for the challenge ahead.