Nets vs. Bobcats: What You Need To Know

Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo

Oh, right, the Nets still play basketball.

Tonight: The 14-14 Brooklyn Nets take on the 7-21 Charlotte Bobcats, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 7:30 P.M. Neither team is having their best month. The Nets have gone 3-10 in their last 13 games and have fired coach Avery Johnson, replacing him in the interim with assistant P.J. Carlesimo. Meanwhile, the Bobcats have lost 16 in a row after starting the season 7-5.

Watch & Listen: The game is broadcast on YES Network. Ian Eagle & Mike Fratello are on the call. You can also listen to the game on WFAN with Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw.

Advanced Statistics:
Charlotte Bobcats: 98.7 offensive rating (25th), 109.0 defensive rating (30th), 95.44 possessions per game (8th)
Brooklyn Nets: 102.9 offensive rating (11th), 104.0 defensive rating (21st), 90.29 possessions per game (29th)

To help preview this matchup, I snared Ben Swanson, show-stopper and Bobcats expert at SB Nation Charlotte Bobcats blog Rufus On Fire and notorious Gerald Wallace fan.

Ben Swanson on the Charlotte Bobcats

Devin: The Bobcats have lost 16 games in a row, but the Nets are both in freefall and disarray. Do you think this game will be anything but ugly?

Ben: Past Bobcats-Nets games — in my memory — have been pretty dreadful to watch, but the Bobcats and Nets are both completely different teams. This is a game that I hope will be a combination of so much craziness that it makes for something wildly entertaining, but I doubt it will be. The Nets’ pace is so slow that if they force the Bobcats to run their halfcourt offense, this will not be pretty since Charlotte’s halfcourt offense is often a bumbling mess.

Devin: Take this time to stoke my basketballcrush on Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Ben: The things we knew about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist before the draft are true, for better or for worse. His jump shot is mangled and hitch-y, his defense is excellent and his motor is always at 100 percent; we already knew that. What really has impressed me is his shot selection and picking his spots with his jumper decently well.

MKG does have the tendency to get a bit too excited and forcing layups on his off foot, which often gets blocked. All that said, his rebounding is spectacular for a small forward and he can drive well. Kidd-Gilchrist has a great knack for how to use his physical combination of quickness, agility and strength, which makes him one of the top rookies this season.

Devin: Bobcats PG Kemba Walker struggled last year during his rookie season in Charlotte but seems to have improved substantially. Is this fool’s gold? Is he for real?

Ben: I think it’s for real. Kemba’s always had this potential, but last year left many concerned. His midrange game is where he’s always made his bread and butter but last year it was disappointing how well he shot there. There just wasn’t much reasoning for some of the open shots he was missing. Free throw shooting is generally a good indicator of how well one shoots and Walker has improved back to what we should expect from a player with such tight shooting mechanics. He started slow this season from behind the arc, but his three-point percentage is now a respectable 34 percent, another significant improvement over last season. Players used to be able to consistently go under screens against him, but now they do so at their own risk.

Further, this improvement in jump shooting from midrange and from deep increases the space he can be given to drive, where he excels at finishing at the rim. His athleticism allows him to get vertical enough to taken on two defenders and his instincts combined with an effortless runner or floater are dangerous. Not to mention he’s not afraid of contact and can draw fouls with how quick he is. I certainly wouldn’t sell on Kemba Walker.