Denver begins a quick two game road trip through Dixieland tonight in Charlotte. I watch a lot of basketball, just ask my wife, but Charlotte is not a team that I make a point of checking out on League pass. Ever. Pretty much the only time I watch the Bobcats is when the play the Nuggets. Therefore I have watched six Charlotte games in my life. Then again, that probably means I have watched more Bobcat games than Michael Jordan.
Charlotte is a prime example of how spending money does not necessarily a good team make. They increased payroll within shouting distance of the salary cap for the first time in team history, but they have only improved by one game over last season’s pace after 36 games. They have been struggling mightily lately going 3-9 over the last 12 games although one of those wins was in Boston. The funny thing is that Jason Richardson has been playing his best ball of the season in those 12 games averaging 27 points a game during that stretch.
Charlotte’s other scoring threat is Gerald Wallace. The Bobcats drafted Wallace in the expansion draft as an athletic wing with a butt ugly shot. Well, he has become enough of a threat from outside that he is averaging over 20 points a game. His three point percentage has actually climbed over 34%. I am not ready to say that his shot is to basketball as Jim Furyk’s swing is to golf (something to laugh at and respect at the same time), but he is definitely put in the time necessary to improve his game.
Nazr Mohammed is also playing well since the Bobcats acquired him in a publicity stunt trade made the day ESPN was documenting everything the organization did on a game day. He is averaging 12.1 points and 8.9 rebounds as a Bobcat. The trade, where Charlotte gave up the flaccid Primoz Brezec and marvelously maintained Walter Hermann, was panned far and wide by pundits in every form of media imaginable. I actually thought it had the potential to be a good deal for Charlotte and so far they have had the best of it. Mohammed’s presence allows them to shift Okafor over to power forward. Brezec and Hermann have had a difficult time getting off the bench for Detroit, which was to be expected as it was basically a salary dump for the Pistons.
We can all watch this game and then chuckle to ourselves as we think back to the Orlando game and wonder how in the world there was ever any debate as to who Orlando should take first between Okafor and Dwight Howard. Okafor has proven to be a solid rebounder and shot blocker, but he has never learned to score at the NBA level.
Enough about Charlotte. I cannot believe I was able to come up with that much to write about them. Maybe I am watching too many Charlotte games after all.
Melo seems to like playing in Charlotte as he has scored 36 and 42 points in the Nuggets two wins there. Carmelo should have another good game as he consistently lit up Jason Richardson when he was with Golden State. I would expect to see Wallace spending a good amount of time on Melo though, which would force Richardson to guard Iverson.
Either way look for both AI and Melo to have nice nights.
Overall, you would be hard pressed to find a statistical category that does not find Charlotte ranking in the bottom third of the league. This is a poor team and the Nuggets should be able to handle them. However, anyone who follows the Nuggets knows that we need to worry about their mental approach to the game. If the Nuggets come out strong and force Charlotte to play at their pace, they should be able to win easily. However, if we see the complacent and disinterested Nuggets team, look out.
It will also be very interesting to see if there is some kind of a hangover regarding the news about Nene. That is something that could either rally a team or have a negative impact on their focus.
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