The Bobcats have a unique situation of sorts on their hands.
Coming off arguably the worst season in NBA history, there are zero expectations. Maybe you're a Panthers fan, poring over the latest NFL standings with a pained expression and a pit in your stomach looking at the loneliest number in the win column next to "Carolina." The team was to make such leaps and bounds towards the playoffs this year. Ryan Kalil took out a full page ad in
The Onion The Charlotte Observer predicting a Super Bowl. Optimism was at a high that hadn't been seen in years. Then it came crashing down as old problems resurfaced. That's not to say optimism and hope is stupid and you should be a cynical butthead all the time. But it's a nice relief to be able to have absolutely zero expectations.
Knocking on wood, the Bobcats can't get worse than last year. Their roster is improved at pretty much every position and they have a coach better-suited to the roster.
In essence, they have carte blanche. If there ever was a time to experiment for this team, it's now.
As the league continues to shift away from the time-honored tradition of basketball revolving around post play, the Bobcats can stretch 'small ball' to new extremes. There is a dearth of dominant post players in the NBA at this time. Meanwhile, teams like Miami and Oklahoma City are pushing tempos and utilizing smart offensive spacing with their offense driven by athletic offenses.
So what I'm getting at is this: the Bobcats have tried playing the traditional style, and they've failed at it. A lot. They just don't have the talent to keep up with many of the teams in the league with that set. Maybe they should try to push the boundaries of what is commonly known as "small ball."
Basically small ball is forfeiting trying to match size to take advantage with speed and quickness. Versatility is required, as is strong, swarming defensive principles.
With nothing to lose, perhaps the Bobcats should go high risk, high reward and maybe try a lineup that utilizes three guards. Much of their offense is already going to rely on the combo of Ramon Sessions, Kemba Walker, Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson, so a combination of the three of them on the court at the same time could be advantageous. I was thinking Walker/Sessions at point, Gordon at the 2, Henderson at SF, Kidd-Gilchrist at PF and Biyombo at C. Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm and CBSsports.com floated up a slightly different lineup of Sessions, Walker, Gordon, MKG and Biyombo. I'm sure these sound at worst, insanely stupid, and at best, interestingly startling.
The main idea behind this is that the Bobcats should just throw conventions into the wind. They're built to run and so run they must. They're going to face immense disadvantages more often than not, so Mike D'Antoni 7 Seconds or Less style offense might not win them more games, but in all likelihood, it won't lose them any more. It would require constant motion on offense and defense. Clearly there would be size mismatches at nearly every position, but trapping and running all over creation "like the ghosts in Pac-Man" (as Moore described it to me) could force turnovers.
The defense will probably be bad regardless of style because of the roster so emphasizing offense could be the focus. This side too centers on movement. Imagining Moore's system, Sessions would push the rock and dish as Walker and Gordon constantly run and find openings. Passing lanes would always be moving and opening up for every player.
And who knows if it will work! I certainly am not convinced, though I find it massively intriguing. I don't think I could be persuaded to trot out Ben Gordon to match up with LeBron James.
But expectation this year is nothing more than a word and the playoffs are highly unlikely. So who cares, maybe they should just go for it and experiment with something they haven't tried before. The scoring runs possible could be incendiary and the scoring runs given up could also be torching.
But we've already seen the Bobcats can give up torching runs. It would be novel to see them turn the tables on that at least offensively.
Trial and error is a scary thing, but only when you have something to lose. It's a 'go for broke' theory where the Bobcats would probably have to bet it all to try it. But you can't get much more broke than broke, right?