Career-high 16 assists in last night's victory. Way to go Kemba!
(Photo Courtesy – www.bobcatsbasketball.com)
3 times we faced the Detroit Pistons, and 3 times we beat them. The first time was a win, but at the loss of Jeff Taylor for the season to a ruptured Achilles tendon. The second win was a more impressive one, 2 nights ago in Detroit. The third win was last night, also an impressive one in which Kemba Walker set his career high in assists with 16. I promised a recap to cover the back-to-back Detroit games this week, but after attending the game last night, I’m not so sure that a standard recap is necessary. Instead, I want to share some numbers from the season series so that everyone can get a feel of what it took to get victories against the Pistons this year.
The Pistons truly expected to be competitive this year, bringing in Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, and adding them to the likes of Stuckey, Turner, and the impressive Drummond. Unfortunately, this experiment has not worked out at all. With the trade that sent Ben Gordon to Charlotte with a 1st round pick attached to it, the Bobcats could net a pick as high as 9 in this year’s draft. It would only take the Pistons being just bad enough to not make playoffs, but be good enough to not get the top 8 picks. If they shift into a tank mode and unload what pieces they have by the trade deadline today, they will be in the running for a top pick. What does that mean for us? Well it means that next season’s pick that Detroit would owe us is top 2 protected, so we could get a pick as high as 3 in the 2015 draft. I’m not seeing that the Pistons would be much better next season unless something dramatic happens, and we will be even better…but…I’m not here to talk Pistons.
So, how did the Bobcats own the Pistons this season? Well, I pulled points & assists over this Detroit series. Believe me, there was more to it than that, but I’m going to keep with these 2 stats alone.
Let me begin with points. I’ve always stressed that we had a “trifecta” of players that had to always play big in order for us to get points on the board in order to win basketball games. Well, in 2 of the 3 games against Detroit, Big Al, Kemba, and Josh McRoberts was our trifecta for point scoring. Gerald Henderson stepped up in the first game, and the Al /Kemba / Hendo trifecta combined for 80 points. In the other 2 games, the Al / Kemba / McBob trifecta combined for 68 points in each game. It is interesting that total points scored in the 1st and 3rd game was the same exact point total, but the trifecta contributed less. There is a reason for that, and it is my very next topic; assists.
It is so much easier to score the ball when there is good ball movement. Ball movement was not that great in December, and that is why we saw such a high point total for 3 players. The goal had to be that whoever had the hot hand had to score. Kemba scored 34 points, but only dished 3 assists, which was good enough to be “top 3” for team assists in that game. Total assists in the first Detroit meeting? 19. In the second and third game, the assists numbers only got better, and the scoring became more balanced among the players. Big Al and Gerald Henderson each had 7 assists and Kemba had 6. Total assists for the 2/19 game? 25. Then we have to take a look at last night’s game. It was the best night for ball movement with 32 total assists. Kemba set a career high with 16 assists, Ramon Sessions dished out 10, and Josh McRoberts had 5. So as the Detroit series went, game 1 saw 44 made shots off of 19 total assists. Game 2 saw 39 made shots off of 25 total assists. Last night’s game saw 42 made shots off of 32 total assists. Ball movement and well distributed scoring could very well be the best way to beat the Pistons.
So, with today being the trade deadline, are you wondering who may be most expendable? I’ll be honest; I’m wondering the same thing. It seems that every time we speak poorly of one of our players, they step up and prove me wrong…usually. We all know that we could really use 1 more scoring force that would bolster our roster and spread the floor to allow for easier scoring. We don’t have that one guy that can do that right now. My argument has been that if Henderson or MKG can’t step up and score some points, one of them needed to go…unless we could bring in a scoring threat by moving Ben Gordon, or some other option that isn’t used (Brendan Haywood, Jeff Adrien, picks, etc.) in order to get that scoring punch. Primarily, our scoring comes from the C and PG position, and I want more scoring to come from 1 or 2 more spots. I’d take it from the SG, SF, or PF spots. That’s why I’ve had difficulty saying for certain, what player I’d like to see us pick up. There have been so many names thrown out there. Some I believe could help while others I just don’t know about. At this point, I think the Bobcats play it as safe as they can, and the will go after a scoring threat like a Gary Neal, Anthony Morrow, or Aaron Aflallo. I have no clue what they would cost us, but I just have this feeling that we won’t rock the boat of our core players since we are making a push to the playoffs. We’ll get a guy that can come in and score points, make the defense spread the floor, and open up more offensive opportunities (open paths to the basket). I could be wrong about this, and we make some insane trade that really mixes things up, but realistically, we are where we are with what guys we got. Obviously, I don’t mean Ben Gordon, Jeff Adrien, Chris Douglas-Roberts, or Brendan Haywood, but the rest of the guys. I mean, of these guys, only Haywood has not been seen on the court this year, but with his time on the court last season and what he brought to the team; it was not anything that I believe would make things a lot different this year. Bismack is improving, and I believe he is our future, not Haywood. I also believe that Jeff Taylor is our X factor next season, so we don’t want to get too crazy at the SG/SF position in terms of trades. What am I saying? I’m saying that today will most likely land us Aflallo, Morrow, or Neal. All three would most likely be possible for Gordon and the Portland pick. If it were for Neal, we’d most likely send someone with Gordon, and be taking Caron Butler in the deal. With Aflallo, we’d probably be spending a little more, and getting Davis as well. I got a good feeling that something happens today. I have no clue what or when, but I believe it happens at some point. As of 9AM I haven’t seen or heard anything. I’m at work, so whatever happens; I won’t have a chance to write about it until tonight. Whatever happens, I believe that we make playoffs this year, and if we get the right player and improve our seed spot (only 2-3 games separate us from 8th and 6th right now) we may see ourselves into the 2nd round of the playoffs.
So, for now…
Let’s Go CATS!