Monday, September 29

Everybody Loves Raymond (and DJ?)

With the Bobcats first preseason game just over a week away, I have a confession. On draft night, I described DJ Augustin as my nightmare pick. I firmly held that either Brook Lopez or Jerryd Bayless would be better options for this team.

I saw Lopez as a poor man's Tim Duncan, an intelligent big man that can score, rebound and pass, with the added benefit of moving Emeka to his more natural Power Forward position. The flaw in that logic was Emeka needs to be near the hoop to be effective, and he's not comfortable chasing the more athletic PFs around the perimeter (think Bosh, Sheed, and Turkgolu). Drafting Lopez to pair with Mek would've had the same issues that he and Nazr Mohammad had last season.

Jerryd Bayless, a score first point guard is cut from the same cloth as Raymond Felton and would've likely necessitated moving Felton. They have similar skill sets, and playing them at the same time would not be a viable long term plan, because the Cats would be undersized at four of the five positions. Bayless may end up being the best player of the three, but if the team remains committed to Raymond, bringing Bayless in would have added little.

When I heard the Augustin pick, I thought about Coach Larry Brown's affinity for taller, veteran guards. Nothing about the pick seemed to fit, but upon revisiting the pick as we start the season, I now believe DJ was the right pick. The styles of Felton and Augustin are complimentary and should provide Coach Brown with flexibility to exploit specific match-ups on a nightly basis. A veteran and a rookie at the PG position is reminiscent of Brown's tandem in Indiana where he effectively used Mark Jackson and an undersized, young Travis Best. In that pairing, Jackson was the distributor and Best the more talented scorer, so the roles will be reversed, but the 80/20% playing time split between the two will probably be similar for the new pair.

My hope, and I suspect that of the team's, is that with the contrasting styles, Felton and Augustin will push each other to be better, without direct competition. With no other PGs on the roster, the team's success will be dependent on Coach Brown's ability to get both to perform to their fullest.

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