Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bobcats, Game 64
Both the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats are in the midst of the Eastern Conference playoff “chase,” even if each team more closely resembles an imperfect hurdler benefiting from the fact that most other racers broke their own knees and asked their parents if they could please just leave this camp please because they’re so, so bored. The playoffs approach, though, and both Washington and Charlotte plan to dance.
While the Wizards have their hearts set on overtaking Chicago and Toronto for the third seed, the Bobcats assuredly have their hearts set on overtaking Brooklyn and Washington for the fifth seed. No one is ever satisfied.
Kanye West may think that Chicago sports fans should have never let Michael Jordan (now the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats) play for the Wizards. But the truth, as many Washington fans will tell you, is that Jordan’s presence set this Washington franchise back. In 2009, now-defunct-blog-relocated-to-Twitter, THE WIZZNUTZZ, ran a feature on Jordan that featured this paragraph:
People always ask us: “guys u love the DC ballers so much, is there a player u love most” and our answer is no there isnt one we love most (pssst: Tyrone Nesby!) , but there is one we love the least and he is the only dc baller we ever hated and boy do we hate him good!!! And his name is Michael Jeffrey Jordan but we call him “SALIERI” after the Amadeus dude because he was a washed up and bitter player who got consumed with envy for the young manchild genius kwame brown and set about to poison and methodically ruin him.
Jordan’s response was almost certainly a detached ashing of the biggest cigar you’ve ever seen.
Teams: Wizards vs Bobcats
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, Washington, D.C.
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Wizards favored by 5.5 points.
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Q #1: Al Jefferson was Charlotte’s major acquisition this summer. Outside of Charlotte, I remember rumblings and grumblings to the effect of “small market overpays for third-tier talent.”
But Big Al has been great, and my #HotBobcatsTake (were I imbued with hubris enough to write such a thing without closely following the team) might center around the parallels between his bucked expectations and those of the team. Jefferson was on ESPN Radio last week talking about his success paving the way for another big free agent this summer. Is there support for his theory about systematically luring free agents? What has Jefferson done on the court to make a case?
@QCHSpencer: Al Jefferson has done everything for Charlotte on the offensive end. I can’t even imagine how many less wins this squad would have without him. As far as luring another free-agent to Charlotte, that would be tough. For no other reason other than it’s just hard to get a big time free-agent to want to come to the city of Charlotte.
I do think that Big Al could be a good recruiting tool, though, and you also have the ‘House of Jordan’ to build your case around. I don’t really know how much it matters to NBA players that Michael Jordan is the owner, but the name is there, nonetheless. Luol Deng and Danny Granger are a few names that I’d keep an eye being linked to Charlotte this summer—not big time free-agents, but a guy like Deng would move the needle for the Bobcats in the East.
Q #2: February was an interesting month for Kemba Walker, who averaged almost two more assists (7.3) than he did in December (5.4), but also scored five less points (16.6) than he did in the last month of 2013 (21.5).
He also posted his best plus/minus of the season in February (plus-5.8). From the gears and cogs that make up Kemba Walker, human, construct an artificial version of the Charlotte point guard that plays basketball the way you’ve always wanted him to.
@QCHSpencer: My point guard would be a facilitator, a connector. A guy who was poised, hardly ever turns the ball over, but also wasn’t overly important when it comes to scoring. Kemba has made leaps to becoming more of a true point guard, and the proof is in the pudding—the stats you listed in the question. Ideally, for Walker, he’s going to have to learn to flirt around 8-to-9 assists per game and get to the foul line at a higher rate. I think he’ll probably always been somewhat flawed in 3-point shooting, and maybe even in field goal percentage in general. Again, there are other ways that he can maximize his value in efficiency. Don’t turn the ball over and get to the foul line more.
Q #3: Wizards fans haven’t seen much of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist since the 2012 draft. MKG may very well have been selected by Washington had Charlotte not taken him at No. 2 overall (and then the Wizards selected Bradley Beal). Almost two seasons later, what’s the outlook on MKG’s NBA career?
@QCHSpencer: Oh gosh. He’s extremely limited offensively. Probably more so than any other starting SF in the entire NBA. I have a good buddy that I grew up with, he’s a huge Kentucky fan and swears that MKG’s jumper has gotten worse since he got to the league. When I watch MKG attempt a mid-range jumper, and after I finish cringing, I can’t but think he has to be right. It’s pathetic.
All that being said, there isn’t a guy on the floor who’s going to play harder than ‘Gille the Kid’. He’ll also draw the assignment of guarding the opponents best wing scorer every outing and there is major value there that won’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet. I like the kid as a player and prospect for the game of basketball in general—he has the intangibles that most coaches look for in a player. By the same token, if he can’t improve offensively in the next few years than MKG will be nothing more than a defensive spark plug for the remainder of his NBA career. And that would make him more-or-less a bust as a No. 2 overall draft pick.
Over/Unders! with @QCHSpencer:
Over/under 40.5 wins for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season?
Over. I do believe that the Bobcats will win eleven of their last eighteen games. The schedule is very favorable for a run.
Over/under 9.5 more years of annual “Michael ‘Salieri’ Jordan beat this Bobcats player in one-on-one action at a random practice” stories before dude is too old or full of cigar smoke to even entertain the notion of physical activity?
Over. Are you kidding me? Those rumors will still be going on when Michael is long gone.
Over/under 49.5 custom McBob jerseys in existence?
Under. There are 48 that exist and I have the personal contact info for every individual on this planet that owns one. Won’t tell you why, though.
Over/under 5.5 Bobcats with hyphenated names in 2019?
Under. Ha! Definitely an anomaly.
Philosophical Question! with @QCHSpencer:
Everyone’s archetypal scientist bro, Albert Einstein, once said “Information is not knowledge.”
When asked about the value of advanced basketball data, or analytics, Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford said “I like [analytics], you can never know too much.”
How can a basketball coach transform information into shared knowledge?
@QCHSpencer: A coach can always use advanced analytical data to construct his gameplans, but all of these advanced stats are a double-edged sword to me. It all depends on how you want to dissect the data.
I coach on the high-school level in Virginia, so I’m somewhat flawed with the response here. That being said, basketball is a game that is played by reacting, not necessarily thinking your way through everything. Sure, you want a player to be able to process information quickly, but once a guy is always trying to think their way through the course of a game, they’re probably toast.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that advanced analytics can be very valuable to the coaches, but how much of it do you really need to relay to your players outside of the X’s & O’s of the gameplan? Keep it as simple as possible so the guys on the floor can just play the game.
[Ed. note: Memphis coach Dave Joerger expressed a similar sentiment about the transmittal of data to players. —C. Dirks]
Look, I love all the stats you can delve through in the game today, but at the end of the day, players win games. The best players.