Pivot Points: Stephen Jackson Upgrades Charlotte Bobcats From Bad To Mediocre

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 11, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics tries to steal the ball from Stephen Jackson #1 of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on December 1, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

I'm the type of person who hates to admit when I'm wrong, but in the pursuit of objectivity, I have no problem owning up to my mistake once it is made.

For that reason, I must say that I was wrong about Stephen Jackson, and his impact on the Charlotte Bobcats.

I thought that Jackson would bring his attitude and his ego from Golden State and would ultimately be more trouble than he was worth in Charlotte, but in reality Jackson has proven to be just the right tonic to soothe the ailments of the Bobcats.

Since Jackson's arrival in the Queen City, the Bobcats have improved on their overall shooting percentage six whole points from a league-worst 37 percent, to a little more respectable 43 percent.

Charlotte has been shooting 47 percent since Jackson became a starter, and his offensive diversity adds an element to the Bobcats that was lacking before.

It's not just that Jackson has the ability to score, but he is the most adept player on the roster at getting his own shot, and Jackson attacking the rim is a lot better than hoisting an array of ill-timed shots.

The most essential services he has provided to the young team are the ones that can't be found in the pages of a statistic book, nor the graphs of a shot-chart.

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His presence has allowed point guard Raymond Felton to calm down, and start to trust his talent, which is considerable but often muted by Felton's own fear of failure.

Having a ball-handler in the back-court with Jackson's abilities has let Felton use his quickness as a weapon, while running the perimeter, free to play off the ball.

Raymond has been shooting the perimeter jumper better and making better decisions with the ball, and this can be attributed to his confidence of having Jackson in the back-court to have his back should something go wrong.

Jackson's immediate bonding with forward Gerald Wallace, is something else that has made a huge impact, because Wallace and Jackson give the Bobcats two of the most athletic, and versatile players in the Eastern Conference.

Wallace may be the most unique player in the NBA because his impact on the game is truly felt in every aspect. Wallace does it all: he scores, rebounds, gets steals, blocks, and may be the top hustle player in the league.

Jackson and Wallace on the floor at the same time gives Charlotte the enticing dynamic of presenting various types of match-up problems for opponents from a variety of angles on the court.

None of Jackson's ego problems have materialized in Charlotte, and in fact the players are calling him one of the best teammates a person could have, always willing to offer words of encouragement and advice.

To his credit, coach Larry Brown never bought into the hype about Jackson's personality anyway, and is a coach known for letting a player prove his own worth, through the merits of his performance.

Even Brown has been impressed with Jackson saying that he is one of the smartest, and most hard-working players that he has ever coached. Brown went on to say that Jackson's leadership is a valued asset to his young team.

That's evidence enough for me, because Brown is not known to throw around the accolades, and he has a refreshing tendency to tell it like it is.

So, Jackson has obviously made Charlotte a better team, but where does that leave them in the race for an Eastern Conference playoff berth?

Jackson makes Charlotte better, but he is not the type of talent that would vault the Bobcats into the upper tier of power teams in the conference. More likely, he just gives the Bobcats the ability to compete with the other mediocre teams in the East.

If you think about it, mediocre may not be that bad for the 'Cats, because mediocrity gets you a spot in the watered-down Eastern Conference, and if the season ended today Charlotte would be included in that mix.

Charlotte has shown the ability to defeat the stronger teams, having disposed of Cleveland and Denver recently, but they are also capable of losing to teams like the New Jersey Nets.

If the Bobcats were to make the playoffs the trick would be avoiding Boston and Orlando, who are the worst possible match-ups, and to do that Charlotte would have to get at least a number five seed.

With Stephen Jackson at the helm Charlotte at least has a chance to make that a reality, and judging by the rest of the mediocrity that permeates throughout the Eastern Conference, it might not be such a long shot after all. 


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