Previewing the Charlotte Bobcats: Q&A with Rufus on Fire

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Derek James from Rufus on Fire was kind enough to answer some questions about the Charlotte Bobcats before their game with the Mavericks tonight.

The Bobcats acquired Al Jefferson over the summer in free agency. He is arguably the best free agent signing in Bobcat history. How has Big Al played thus far?

Considering the ankle issues he's been dealing with since the preseason, fairly well. Even though he's hurt his production is just a notch below the numbers he was posting in Utah. His touch isn't quite there yet and neither is his rebounding, but you try those post moves with a bum ankle. Once Al gets passed the injuries and gets his game on track, he'll be able to boost the Bobcats' rock bottom shooting efficiency.

Josh McRoberts and Kemba Walker take a lot of shots behind the arc. Other than them, though, Charlotte is not a team that takes many three-point attempts. When they do take them, they do not connect often. How should the team remedy this? Should they further limit the number of shots they put up from behind the arc or would that be detrimental to a team that already struggles to score?

You're correct: they don't take or make many shots beyond the arc. I don't believe the solution is to avoid them altogether because I think that hinders a player's confidence, which you don't want to do with a still-developing team. Outside of Josh McRoberts and Anthony Tolliver, no one has shot the ball well from deep, but the Bobcats are still hovering around .500 a quarter of the way through the season. How do you remedy it? I think you wait it out. Guys like Gerald Henderson, Jeffery Taylor and Kemba Walker are all better shooters than they've shown so far, so it's likely they will come around. Eventually you do have to worry, but for now there's still time for them to figure it out.

While the Bobcats are hesitant about shooting threes, they seem to have no problem shooting long twos, especially from the right side of the floor. Is first-year head coach Steve Clifford taking a page out of Doug Collins' playbook or does he just enjoy watching his team make only 28.6 percent of their jump shots?

That is a problem, and also a likely cause of their shooting woes thus far. At the same time, they are just 23rd in the league in total team assists, which tells me that the ball movement hasn't been there. Another reason for that could very well be they're just not making the shots, therefore putting assists at a premium, but their spacing at times has been poor and that has led to some very poor shot choices from time-to-time. If the Bobcats are able to improve their spacing, their ball movement becomes more effective and they are able to get better shots. Although, the sooner I don't have to watch a long two thrown up late in the shot clock, the better.

Despite their offensive woes, Charlotte does play sound defense. The Bobcats hold opponents to only 91.8 points per game which is the third best mark in the league. What is the team doing to play defense at such a high level?

While this is largely the same group of players that finished 29th in the league last season, they have taken a step forward defensively. They have good defenders in Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but Jeff Adrien being able to step in for Bismack Biyombo has been a huge advantage. A lot of the progress is based simply on the fact that they are being active and staying focused on the defensive end, which is sometimes all it takes for improvement. That effort combined with their ability to keep their hands active has enabled them to earn a few more possessions in the form of turnovers as well. Keep in mind they are third in the league in Opp. Points Per Game Against while starting Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, so it has certainly been a team effort and paid off to this point.

If the playoffs started today, the Bobcats would be making their second ever postseason appearance. With the Eastern Conference being as bad as it is, is a playoff spot a feasible option for the Bobcats?

We'll see. A lot of that will depend on who progresses and regresses in the conference because it is going to happen. I mean, it has to, because they cannot be this bad. However, if they continue force turnovers, rebound well on the offensive glass and play tight defense then it is certainly an option. There's still a long season ahead of them, but the Bobcats are on the right track with their early-season formula.

Thanks Derek! For more on the Bobcats, head over to Rufus on Fire.

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