By Scott Lauer
November 7, 2013
Scott Lauer is the radio play-by-play voice of the Charlotte Bobcats. His column will appear on bobcats.com on Thursdays throughout the season. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bobcats organization.
The preseason hype surrounding this Bobcats team is living up to expectations in the early stages of the season following a 3-2 start, which matches their run to start the playoff year in 2009-10. What’s even more impressive about the early stretch is the fact that they’ve succeeded without their best player, Al Jefferson. Coincidentally, they lost the one game that he appeared in; the opener on the road in Houston. So it’s a 3-1 start without a premier low post scorer and rebounder in the lineup. He’s been out with a sprained right ankle injury and only appeared in two preseason games and one regular season game, so it’ll be a pleasant problem to integrate him into the lineup when he returns.
We knew that this would be a deep team, but I love what Head Coach Steve Clifford is doing with his rotation, tightening it during most games and letting his core players get the main minutes and find their grooves. There will be games where Ben Gordon and Jannero Pargo will get their opportunities (maybe James Southerland, too), but for now, they’re sitting, allowing others to find their rhythm. On a similar note, we didn’t see Anthony Tolliver last night in the win over the Raptors.
Which leads me to my next point about Jeff Adrien, the burly big who’s played really well in four-straight games. The former Warrior and Rocket logged a career-high 13 rebounds in New Orleans and followed that up with eight more in New York. His energy and hustle aren’t measurable in the box score, but it helps in winning. The former UCONN player also possesses a wonderful disposition, and is a genuinely good character individual who’s mature and focused.
Those qualities are also shared by guard Ramon Sessions, who continues to get to the free-throw line a freakish number of times. He’s averaging eight free throw attempts per game! Considering he doesn’t start and plays less than some other guards, it makes it even more impressive. He’s averaging a free throw every three minutes on the court. He’s the epitome of a player who attacks the rim in almost every possession, which gets him field goals, or usually trips to the line. We all know that the team that gets to the line more, generally will win games.
The next Bobcats game is tomorrow night – a rematch from the Tuesday game at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks that Charlotte took, 102-97, where they persevered late to secure their first road win of the season. Carmelo Anthony was held to an inefficient shooting night (10-for-28) by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor. Kemba Walker struck for 25 points, the Bobcats out-rebounded the Knicks by 18, and the Bobcats got to the line 38 times. Knicks big Tyson Chandler injured his leg and is out several weeks.
Regarding the NBA landscape, I’ve made a wild prediction heading into this season… the Indiana Pacers are going to win it all. Their (5-0) start doesn’t surprise me, and when/if they face the Heat in the playoffs, they’ve already proved that they’re Miami’s toughest matchup. Paul George is my pick for MVP (I know that LeBron James is the best player, but voters get tired of picking the same guy every year). Indiana is emerging as the latest small market team to become a potential perennial contender for a championship, joining San Antonio and Oklahoma City (perhaps Memphis can join that list). These are teams that build through the draft as well as any. We certainly hope that Charlotte will join that list too.