Four games into the season the Bobcats have shown a few glaring weaknesses. They have started just 1-3 under Larry Brown.
Gerald Wallace has continued his solid play, particularly against the Knicks on Wednesday night when he hit a few huge three-pointers to keep them in the game when nobody else could find the basket. Wallace is leading the team in scoring (19.5 ppg), steals (2 spg), and is second in rebounds (9.3 rpg) as he continues to be the most versatile player for the ‘Cats.
Jason Richardson has gotten off to another slow start this year, averaging 17.0 ppg while shooting 40 percent from the field and 27 percent from beyond the arc.
After Richardson led the league in three-pointers made last season, Larry Brown wanted him to drive to the basket to draw more fouls. There are some changes to his game this season and as the year wears on, Richardson will increase his scoring average as the Bobcats settle into their new coach's system.
Emeka Okafor has looked good so far by averaging 13.0 ppg and 11.3 rpg and playing solid defense after signing a large contract during the offseason. The only problem has been that Okafor is the lone threat for the Bobcats down low after Sean May was put on the inactive list for being out of shape.
May had an unimpressive preseason after coming back from knee surgery and has not come close to the form the team expected when Larry Brown penciled him in as the team’s starting power forward. May’s absence has left the Bobcats very thin up front without another big man that can log significant minutes and be effective.
Raymond Felton is still entrenched as the team’s starting point guard and while he has played pretty well so far, his averages are way down (9.8 ppg, 5.0 apg). D.J. Augustin hasn’t done much to push Felton by averaging 8.8 ppg and 3.3 apg.
Brown has played both Felton and Augustin together for stretches, but one of the two is going to have to step up to be this team's floor general and at this point I think that Felton is going to be that guy.
Adam Morrison, also coming off knee surgery, has played decently since cutting his hair off. However, he is the type of player that needs to get into the rhythm of a game and that can be hard to do with only 17 minutes a game off the bench.
Matt Carroll isn’t getting much playing time early in the season and only has one basket so far this year, but it seems like every season he has to play his way into the rotation. Once Brown finds the right niche for Carroll, look for him to give the team a scoring boost off the bench.
The Bobcats' core of Okafor, Wallace, and Richardson are showing promises this season but they desperately need help. With a glut of wing players and jump shooters, I would be surprised if the ‘Cats don’t make a move to get some help for Okafor up front, but for now they are left to see if May can get back into game shape.
There have been defensive lapses during games (Nate Robinson scoring 24 in the first half) that have left trailing early, but despite their shortcomings the Bobcats already look like a better team than they were under Sam Vincent last year.
The Bobcats host the New Orleans Hornets tonight in the beginning of a six-game homestand and now would be a good time to get comfortable with Brown’s system and get a few wins under their belt.
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