The Charlotte Bobcats dropped their seventh consecutive game on Saturday, this one against the San Antonio Spurs. In this last game, the Spurs attempted 34 three-pointers, converting on 19 of them. That amount abnormally high, in fact it was the most made threes in a game in Spurs history. However, it is indicative of a problem that the Bobcats have had all season.
Charlotte’s major weakness on defense this year has been the amount of threes they allow their opponents to take. Just watching them on the defensive end, it looks like more of the opposing teams’ possessions end with looks from long range than normal.
That perception is valid, too. The Bobcats have allowed the most three-point attempts by opponents in the NBA this season with 471. Charlotte has also allowed the second most made threes in the league with 175.
If they were playing the run-and-gun style of Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns, those numbers would be somewhat justifiable because the Bobcats would be looking to play high scoring games and shoot threes. The problem is that they don’t play anything close to that style of offense.
The Bobcats have only attempted 355 threes on the year and made only 122 of those. Part of the recipe for winning does not include such a substantial differential in three-point shooting. This team isn’t built to shoot a lot of threes, though. Ben Gordon is their best option from long-range, but after that there is no one that is known for their three-point shooting.
To fix this problem, Charlotte is going to have to limit the attempts, especially open ones, that their opponents get from beyond the arc. The Bobcats struggle with getting sucked into the paint and struggle even more with closing out on shooters set-up outside the three-point line.
Starting with getting sucked into the post, Charlotte’s big men need to became better off-ball defenders so that the defense isn’t forced to collapse when an opponent drives into the paint. Bismack Biyombo needs to develop himself in the mold of Tyson Chandler defensively, being able to guard his man, but also stop guys who penetrate into the lane. Doing this will allow wing players to stay with their men on the outside instead of having to play help defense.
However, if those guys are forced to help and collapse into the lane, they have to show more effort when they close out on three-point shooters. Countless times this season, I’ve watched Bobcats defenders half-heartedly jog with their hand raised at their man shooting an open three. That’s not going to cut it if Charlotte wants to become a relevant team.
Both of these defensive elements have to happen to improve to help prevent Bobcats’ opponents from having such success and opportunity from the three-point line. If not, this season might end up more similar to last season than anyone expected after Charlotte’s hot start.