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Charlotte Bobcats, surprisingly good defenders, want to buckle down on defense

Dec 27, 2013, 12:01 PM EDT

Gerald Henderson; Patrick Patterson

There was a decent amount of debate about the Charlotte Bobcats before the season.

Would they compete for the NBA’s best lottery odds, or would they slip lower in the lottery?

Instead, Charlotte has shocked the Eastern Conference by starting the season 14-15, not a great mark but still fourth-best in the conference.

And it’s totally because of defense.

The Bobcats’ offense ranks 29th in the NBA, ahead of only the Bucks. Their defense ranks third, behind only the the Pacers and Thunder.

But Charlotte has slipped a little, allowing its last three opponents – Bucks, Jazz and Pistons – to score more points per possession than they’re each averaging for the season.

So, with a few days off between games, Bobcats coach Steve Clifford is preaching defense. Clifford, via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

“We worked on it today – just getting our defense organized,” Clifford said Thursday. “When we’ve gotten back, for the most part, our defense has been good. The other night we did a poor job of that. So today we watched film, worked on it, and hopefully it will get better.”

“We are making mistakes on cuts and coverages that we haven’t had,” Clifford said after the game. “I told them you can’t get away from that.”

Clifford, a first-year coach, has done an incredible job implementing his defensive system – and this shows exactly why.

The Bobcats have plenty of room to improve offensively, but that’s not where they’re focusing. They’re all about defense, something they already do well.

It really seems the entire team has bought into a defense-first approach, and that was the first step to reaching this level. The next step is ironing out the kinks.

And then maybe the Bobcats will get around to repairing that ugly offense. Or maybe they’ll work more on their defense.

  1. gschwartz1 - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Interested to see if the Cats will be buyers before the deadline. They’re actually one scorer away from being arguably the 3rd best team in the East. Although that comment legitimately sounds like an insane person wrote it, I think it’s not far off. They have the athletes, but could definitely use a consistent scorer. Maybe someone like Thaddeus young will be available? Sixers really want to bottom out hard, and that might be the way to do it. Thoughts?

    • tcclark - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      The Sixers will definitely be sellers with their “big 3” of Turner, Young, and Hawes. The Cats could trade for any of them but the Sixers want assets in return. The Cats have the Blazers and Pistons picks but both are protected. one or both of those picks would have to come over in a trade for any of them.

      Short term, Turner might be their best bet. He’s the most natural scorer of them all and can pass, rebound, and dribble as well, but has defensive limitations that won’t make Steve Clifford happy. Hawes is another good player and is unique being a stretch five who can handle his own in the defensive low post. Young is the best long term option as he has multiple years left on his deal, but he isn’t the go-to scorer that the Cats would be looking for. He scores a lot on hustle plays, but usually doesn’t have plays called for him. He would also cost the most. Young is the best player, but if I were the Bobcats, I would look at Turner as a cheaper, low-risk, option.

      btw, Ben Gordon’s deal should come over with any trade. He’s an expiring and adds no positive value to the Bobcats.

  2. bougin89 - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    “The Bobcats’ offense ranks 29th in the NBA, ahead of only the Bucks”

    So you’re saying an offense with the likes of Brandon Knight, OJ Mayo and Khris Middleton is last in the NBA? With 3 such efficient creators you’d think we’d be top 5.

    • sportsfan18 - Dec 27, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Uh, none of those three you mentioned are efficient creators. Their individual stats this yr and for their careers and the teams stats this yr confirm that.

      • bougin89 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:02 PM

        I was obviously being sarcastic. There is no need to look at stats to know they are inefficient players, just watch a Bucks game.

        I’m fine with the Bucks being terrible this year. The only chance we have at acquiring a franchise centerstone is in this incredible draft. We just need to get into the top 3 and we can pick best available player regardless of position.

  3. sylpkt - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    We’ll see how good that defense is when the Thunder come to town tonight.

  4. MyTeamsAllStink - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    go hornets!

  5. themagicfanguy - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    @sportsfan He was being sarcastic.

  6. JMClarkent - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    I wonder how much of the focus is Al “excuse me, padnah!” Jefferson. He is a good shot blocker, but subpar on rotations.

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