The Charlotte Bobcats matched last year’s win total in just their 12th game of the 2012/13 season last night in Washington. So how are they, right now anyway, this good?
They’re winning close games. The Bobcats have seven wins. Six of them have come in games decided by four points or less. They won just three games like that last season. Of the ‘Cats losses this year, the closest games were decided by seven points. One other was decided by eight, and the final two were essentially blowouts. So, right now, if teams want to beat Charlotte, they should get out to an early lead, AND keep pouring it on, because Charlotte has made a habit of coming from behind in the fourth quarter to win.
Their players are better than last year. It sounds simple. Of course they’re winning, because they have better players. Well, it’s not that simple, and it’s slightly confusing to figure out just how these guys have managed to get better. Last year Charlotte had one player on its roster to post a PER equal to the league’s average of 15. This year? They have SIX players at or above that average mark. Actually, they have five players above 15 and one at it. The one guy is Byron Mullens. The five are: Ramon Sessions (19.7), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (18.9), Kemba Walker (18.1), Gerald Henderson (17.4), and Ben Gordon (15.6). That’s good stuff right there.
They’re hitting their free-throws The Bobcats are shooting 78 percent from the charity stripe, and they’re getting to the line a ton; This year they’re hitting 20 free-throws per game and shooting 26 of them. That FT percentage is good for seventh in the league (the ‘Cats sit right between Houston and Philly and ahead of teams like New York and Miami). Last year Charlotte hit just 16 of their 22 attempts per game and sat at 20th in the league, shooting 74 percent from the line. That might not seem like too much of a difference, but 78 percent on four more free-throws per game in one year is a significant difference and one that has helped this team down the stretch in all of those close games they’ve won.