Kemba Walker was a key factor in Tuesday night's game against the Heat (Not pictured). - Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE
Led by Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker, the Bobcats nearly up-ended the visiting Miami Heat on Tuesday. Did they also expose a weakness in their roster?
The Bobcats lost Tuesday night, but that’s not the story. They fought through a slow second half start in which they dug themselves a fourteen point hole, but got as close as 92-90 with 3:40 left. That’s what I wanted to see: How they would respond playing from behind. Sure, it’s only preseason, but that’s not something that comes easily to a young team at any time. I could watch a team that goes 0-82 (maybe) as long as they played hard night in and night out.
Let’s revisit this in February and see if the losing will have caused the youngsters to tune out Dunlap’s style. Hopefully it doesn’t, but it’s something to watch for.
Playing without Ben Gordon and Byron Mullens raised some concerns about the roster balance offensively between the front and the backcourts. For example, Sessions and Kemba carried the Bobcats with 24 points each, and contributed in other areas, but the power forwards and centers could only muster an underwhelming 11 points as a group. Tonight was the kind of night that someone like Tyrus Thomas should’ve been able to take advantage of, but he couldn’t find his range, shooting 2-8. And guys like Biyombo and Haywood are there more for defensive purposes right now.
Byron Mullens isn’t going to fix this, either. The idea of having offensive-minded players (Mullens, Tyrus) and defensive-minded players (Haywood, Biyombo) works better in hockey when you can have substitutions on the fly, but not in basketball. I’m just going to throw this out there, but finding a way to bring in a more complete frontcourt player would go a long way to solve this problem.
Even though Mullens has some range, there are going to be nights when the jumpers aren’t falling and that’s when you are going to need guys who can score high percentage shots at the basket. They’ve been able to rebound; great! But they have struggled to convert those second chance baskets into points. And that’s a big problem for a coach who wants a team to be able to shoot threes or attack the basket.
Anyway, back to Kemba and Sessions. I know I wrote in my first Rufus post that Kemba should start since the Bobcats aren’t in win-now mode, but now I’m not sure if I wasn’t missing something. They both shot at or just below 50% tonight, but Sessions looked much more in control than Kemba in getting to the lane. I don’t think it matters how fast or quick you are if you can still get that step on your man and to the basket, so I’m not worried about that aspect. The offense just seemed to looking better as far as spacing with Sessions running the show, and something like that may help the development of guys like Henderson and MKG, who both struggled tonight.
As far as a team, I liked that the Bobcats continued to force turnovers and keep the rebounding battle close as they have all preseason. I still want to see them do it during the regular season, but to see it consistently in the preseason has been encouraging.
That’s all I have for tonight, but I’ll end this by just saying that it was fun to watch live basketball again and get to write about it. Believe me when I say that it never gets old. Leave me your thoughts and opinions on anything I mentioned above and anything I may have left out in the comment box below!