New-Found Hope: How the Hiring of Paul Silas Has Helped the Charlotte Bobcats

Yaneek SmithContributor IIIJanuary 29, 2011

Since Larry Brown was dismissed by head of basketball operations Michael Jordan as head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats on Dec. 22 and Paul Silas was named the team's interim head coach, the Bobcats have gone 11-6, improving from 9-19 to 20-25, good for seventh-place in the Eastern Conference.

Silas, 67, has been a head coach in the league three times, coaching with San Diego (1980-83), Charlotte/New Orleans (1998-03) and Cleveland (2003-05).

During Silas' tenure, 10 of the team's 17 games have been played at home, which has helped, but the Bobcats have gone 5-2 on the road during his time on the bench.

Brown, one of the league's most successful coaches, did have his share of success in Charlotte, taking the team from a 32-50 record before he got there to 44-38 and an appearance in the playoffs in his second year with the club.

But one of the downsides to Brown's coaching style is that his constant demands, nit-picking and uneasy demeanor tend to wear on players after a while.

It appears that's what happened in Charlotte.

Now, things are different.

Since taking over as head coach, Silas has created a sense of optimism amongst the team.

When describing Silas, co-captain Gerald Wallace had this to say.

"His demeanor—it says everything is okay," Wallace said. "The coaches are making us calm. We don't panic."

When Silas was brought in, the Bobcats had been struggling mightily. They had lost six of their last seven games, with three of the losses coming by 30 points or more.

"Any time you lose games by 30 points, something is wrong," Silas said. "I didn't see them getting up and down the court. They didn't seem like they were really into the game for whatever reason."

Silas has the team employing more of an up-tempo style with the hope that it would motivate the players.

Thus far, it has worked.

The freedom on offense has given the players some new-found hope.

"It's a good feeling knowing the coaches are allowing you to use your brain and make basketball plays and not be sort of a robot out there," shooting guard Stephen Jackson said.

Point guard D.J. Augustin agrees.

"Before, we were trying to run the play all the way through and getting shot clock violations and guys were just standing," said Augustin. "Now guys are getting open shots and taking them."

One of the primary reasons for the Bobcats improvement over the last month of the season is because of the play of Augustin. Augustin, who is replacing Raymond Felton, the team's point guard for the last five seasons, who signed with New York in the offseason, has been playing extremely well since Silas took over.

During the 17-game run, Augustin is averaging 19.0 PPG, shooting 47.6 percent from the floor, 43.7 percent from the three-point line, 93.4 percent from the free-throw line and averaging 7.2 APG.

Besides the stellar play of Augustin, Jackson and Wallace have provided consistent scoring, averaging 18.0 and 15.9 PPG, respectively.

Up front, Boris Diaw (5.7 RPG), Nazr Mohammed (5.0 RPG), Kwame Brown (6.5 RPG) and Tyrus Thomas (5.8 RPG), who recently injured his left knee, have rebounded the ball and provided a defensive presence underneath the basket.

Wallace is the team's best rebounder, averaging 7.9 per game.

Currently, Charlotte is tied for 13th in the league in rebounding.

With scoring options in Wallace and Jackson, a point guard who is playing very well and some bodies up front to play defense and rebound, the Bobcats have a chance to remain competitive for the duration of the season.

But it's about more than their ability—it's about their commitment and focus. 

In the end, Silas summed it up best.

"Not giving up, knowing that you can rise to the occasion (is important). Since I've been here, they have basically not given up. And as long as they do that, it always gives us a chance."