As the Chicago Bulls return home to take on the Charlotte Bobcats for the second time this season, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that it would be hard for the Bulls to play any worse against the Bobcats this time around than they did last time, when they closed the book on 2012 with one of their worst performances to date. Also, under Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls have a history of rebounding from bad losses with a vengeance. That hasn't always been the case this year, but still.
The bad news is that it would be perfectly consistent with the way this team has performed this year for them to roll over to an inferior opponent at home for no real reason. And since the Bulls seem to go out of their way to make no freaking sense this year, losing to a team they should beat would make perfect sense.
Although, then again, since it would make sense based on their track record for them to fold, maybe they'll flip the script and win handily. Or, since that would also make a lot of sense, maybe they'll lose.
My head hurts.
Anyway, Charlotte has been substantially better than they were last year — they have 11 wins in 43 games after managing just 7 wins in 66 games last year — but that hardly means they've been good. Hoopdata pegs them 28th in the NBA in points per 100 possessions, ahead of only the Washington Wizards — who have been without John Wall until a few weeks ago — and the Indiana Pacers — who are without Danny Granger and have been all year. Defensively, they're 29th, as only the Sacramento Kings have been worse so far.
(For comparison's sake, the Bulls are 20th on offense and 3rd on defense.)
Charlotte's one of those teams that seem like they should be a lot better than they are when you look at them on paper. The guard rotation of Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson looks solid, as all four have been no worse than above-average, statistically. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a solid rookie despite lacking a consistent jumper. Bismack Biyombo is averaging 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes in his second year, and while he's not all that good otherwise, he's got quite a bit of room to grow.
The problem, as far as I can tell, stems from two things: number one, this is an extremely young team and they're still figuring out how stuff works in the NBA, especially on defense. Henderson, Kidd-Gilchrist and Biyombo are all solid individual defenders, but the team defense isn't there. But that should come in time.
The other problem is one of personnel. Namely, that while their guards and wings are solid, Charlotte has some god-awful bigs. Biyombo's decent, but Byron Mullens, Brendan Haywood, Tyrus Thomas, Hakim Warrick and (shudder) Desagna Diop are below-average at best. Their best five-man unit, by my estimation, is two of Walker/Gordon/Sessions, with Henderson, MKG and Biyombo flanking them. Unfortunately, this presents some problems, namely that whoever is the nominal two on the floor is going to get abused, and that neither MKG nor Biyombo really has the bulk to play the four and the five, respectively.
At the end of the day, they're going to struggle until they get some decent bigs in there. Admittedly, that didn't stop them from out-rebounding the Bulls back in December, but still.
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