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Game Thread #28: Bulls vs. Charlotte Bobcats

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When you lose to the Knicks, all bets are off when considering what's a 'winnable' game or not. Then again, maybe the Knicks aren't that horrible, especially after the 'losses' of Francis and Robinson.

But Charlotte is pretty bad. Going with a similar draft philosophy as John Paxson, Bobcats GM (and coach) Bernie Bickerstaff has used his lottery picks (and I don't believe for a second that Jordan is doing anything to earn a paycheck from the Bobcats) to get 'proven winners' from top NCAA programs such as Okafor, Felton, May and Morrison. They are all decent players thus far, but none seem to be showing much star quality outside of Okafor's strong start to this season and Felton's strong finish to last season. The Morrison pick is looking especially awful, delighting those like myself who automatically resent players blown up in ESPN college hype, deservedly or not.  David Thorpe recently did an in-depth scouting report of Morrison's early NBA career, and it was pretty scathing at points.

Morrison has had some success so far, at least superficially. He's had six games with 20 or more points, and he was selected the NBA's Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month.

A deeper study, however, reveals ample evidence thus far that the skeptics were right. Morrison averages 13.3 points per game, which leads all rookies by a wide margin -- but he is putting up 13.7 field-goal attempts per game and is shooting just 36.8 percent from the field. He's collecting only 2.8 rebounds per game, despite his 6-8 frame, and he is averaging just 2.0 assists per game, despite handling the ball often.

His player efficiency rating, which measures a player's overall contributions per minute, is 7.29 (the average PER is 15.00), which ranks Morrison last in the NBA by far among all players averaging 30 or more minutes. The NBA's only starter with a lower PER is defensive specialist Jason Collins of New Jersey, while Morrison is a disaster on defense. So, while harsh, it is fair to call Adam Morrison the worst regular in the NBA according to the stats -- at least so far this season.

Thorpe sees potential for improvement, but nevertheless it's another situation where a player getting heavy minutes make his per-game averages seem better than the actual production.

So they do have alot of intriguing young talent, but the Bobcats are learning a lesson that Bulls fans have seen many times: kids don't win. The 'cats are the type of team that can hang in games just to ultimately blow them. The sad thing is they have the cap space to get some free agent help, or even take a salary dump from another team to get an overpriced yet productive veteran. However the franchise itself is in financial straits already, not uncommon in today's NBA, unfortunately. One mistake Bickerstaff (or perhaps ownership) made in the franchises' young history is thinking that getting local products on the team would help attendance more than actual winning. Or maybe I'm just still bitter over UNC beating Illinois in the '05 Title game. (two Illini references in a week: coincidence, I assure you)

Blogging with the Enemy: Bobcat Bonfire | Charlotte Blogcat