Steve Clifford knows the type of team the Charlotte Bobcats must become under his watch.
The banner above, proclaiming the Bobcats as a “work team,” is hanging at the team’s training camp in Asheville, NC. The banner shows a clear picture of the hard-nosed, blue-collar style of play Clifford wants to enforce in Charlotte.
Clifford, among the league’s top defensive minds, aims to improve the team defense. The Bobcats allowed 102.7 points on average last season, good for 29th in the league. They were also among the league’s worst at defending the three-point shot at 38.8%. The biggest aspect of defense will be in transition, which Clifford believes is non-negotiable; the Bobcats were 20th in opponents fast break points.
Without a superstar scorer the Bobcats will have to control the ball. Despite a stagnant offense, they were eighth in turnovers and fifth in free throw attempts; a good base to build to build efficiency around. Al Jefferson, a high-minute, low-turnover big man, will be one of the offense’s focal points. His double teams should create easier looks for the team’s high scoring guards.
The Bobcats are a poor three-point shooting team, but the hope is the young players can make strides from the perimeter this season.
TRAINING CAMP NOTES AND THOUGHTS:
- Josh McRoberts (sore big toe) and Brendan Haywood (sprained foot) have been limited in camp, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
- Stan Van Gundy has been attending the Bobcats training camp to advise Clifford, according to the Charlotte Observer. Clifford was an assistant for Stan and Jeff Van Gundy in New York, Houston and Orlando.
- Bismack Biyombo has told reporters that he doesn’t feel threatened by the additions of Jefferson and Cody Zeller. Biyombo continues to work extensively with assistant coach Patrick Ewing. Clifford wants Biyombo to focus on maximizing his strengths, rather than worrying about his weaknesses. “We talked about that – to keep it simple, do what you do best and help the team however you can. There’s no pressure and that gave me time to work on my game. If I’m here, then I’m here for a reason.” (Charlotte Observer)
- There have been some bad circumstances in past training camps. In 2011, the team lost leaders in Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, in addition to the loss of Larry Brown. 2012 featured the wake of the infamous seven win season. From reading around, there seems to be a much more optimistic tone than previous years. Whether that leads to anything significant, remains to be seen.
- Players aren’t commenting on win predictions. The most we’re hearing is about changing the culture and playing winning basketball. Playoffs, at least publicly, doesn’t seem to be the end game for this season. Improvement is the main desire and that can happen regardless of record.