The Playoff Bound Charlotte Bobcats?

This is the 10th season of Charlotte Bobcat basketball in the NBA.  So far, it hasn’t been very inspiring.  The Bobcats have only made one trip to the playoffs and have never won a playoff game.

If the season ended right now, though, the Bobcats would be the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.  Of course, that is primarily because the East is mostly awful.  Nevertheless, it is possible this current Bobcat team could rank among the best in franchise history (and yes, that is also because the Bobcats are generally awful).

Since lottery picks are the key to success in the NBA (so I hear), it is surprising the Bobcats are just not dominating the NBA in 2013-14.   After all, this team is employing six former lottery picks (Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Ben Gordon, and Cody Zeller).  An average NBA player produces 0.100 wins per 48 minutes [WP48].  And as the following table illustrates (after the team’s first 20 games), only two of these lottery picks are above average this year.

Bobcats

Minutes

WP48

Projected

Wins

Projected

WP48

Wins

Difference**

across 82 games

Bismack Biyombo

354

0.097

0.7

0.264

2.0

5.1

Josh McRoberts

539

0.086

1.0

0.163

1.8

3.5

Jeff Adrien

184

0.152

0.6

0.419

1.6

4.2

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

481

0.170

1.7

0.140

1.4

-1.2

Al Jefferson

341

0.095

0.7

0.139

1.0

1.3

Kemba Walker

700

0.102

1.5

0.068

1.0

-2.0

Gerald Henderson

648

0.102

1.4

0.065

0.9

-2.1

Ramon Sessions

418

0.054

0.5

0.056

0.5

0.1

Anthony Tolliver

211

0.006

0.0

0.024

0.1

0.3

James Southerland*

3

-1.724

-0.1

-1.730

-0.1

0.0

Ben Gordon

56

-0.033

0.0

-0.139

-0.2

-0.5

Jannero Pargo

18

-0.058

0.0

-0.591

-0.2

-0.8

Cody Zeller

363

0.082

0.6

-0.030

-0.2

-3.5

Jeff Taylor

486

0.052

0.5

-0.068

-0.7

-5.0

Summation

9.0

8.9

Summation per 82 games

36.9

36.3

-0.6

*- Southerland is a rookie I didn’t project, so his numbers are the same in 12-13 and 13-14; **- Difference across 82 games is simply [WINS – WINS Projected] * 82/20.  WP48 Projected numbers are my own calculation.  WP48 13-14 come from boxscoregeeks.com.

The above table also presents projections of each player’s WP48 (I did these projections for ESPN the Magazine before the season started).  These projections indicate that the Bobcats could have expected to be about this good this year.  Although the team is about where it should be, there are a few players who are doing something different than projected.

Three players are exceeding what we would have expected given past performance.  Biyombo, Josh McRoberts, and Jeff Adrien are all doing more.  Of these three, only Roberts generally starts.   But McRoberts plays less than 30 minutes a game.  A similar story can be told about another starter.  Kidd-Gilchrist is the fourth most productive player on the team, but regularly sits for more than 20 minutes of each game.  All this suggests that maybe the Bobcats are not entirely aware of who is responsible for the team’s meager success.

On the negative side, Jeff Taylor and Zeller have been quite bad.  Zeller was the team’s lottery pick last year and so far he is not helping much. That could change (although it also could not).  Taylor was just below average last year.  This year he is definitely not helping. If this duo could just raise their WP48 to 0.000, this team could actually be a 0.500 team (for just the second time in franchise history).  And that would happen if either player could start hitting some shots (both have a field goal percentage below 40%).

Even if that doesn’t happen, though, the Bobcats might make the playoffs this year.  And that means the team won’t get a lottery pick in 2014.  Given the team’s general lack of success with lottery picks, this might not be horrible.  Then again, I hear every single lottery pick next year is the next LeBron James.  So maybe this was the wrong year for the Bobcats to fail to rank among the worst teams in the East.

- DJ

 

 

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