On Monday, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer put forth some interesting defensive stats about the Charlotte Bobcats through the first two weeks or so of their play in the NBA preseason. Defense had been a point of emphasis from new head coach Steve Clifford coming into training camp and it seems, thus far at least, that his message has been heard loud and clear.
As Bonnell pointed out, the Bobcats have the league’s best defense thus far in terms of points per game, giving up only 82.7 points per game, in the preseason. They are the only team in the NBA that is giving up less than 90 points per game in the preseason, as well. In addition to just that, the Bobcats are holding opponents to just 39.5 percent shooting in the preseason, the third best opposing percentage of the league’s 30 teams.
Obviously the first takeaway from these defensive numbers is that this is the preseason, which means that you can’t read too much into it. They aren’t running lineups that you’ll see in the regular season on the floor often in the regular season and neither are their opponents, which must be taken into account.
Another thing that you have to look at is the fact that points allowed per game and opposing field goal percentage aren’t the end-all of defensive statistics. Those numbers don’t factor in pace, rebounding, how they defend certain sets, second-chance points, and other things of that nature. They are decent indicators, but they don’t tell you everything that you need to know.
Taking those two things into account, I’m still skeptical of this Bobcats team as a defensive unit. They certainly look better than they did last season thus far under Clifford, but there’s still some glaring issues. The Bobcats big men still lack a lot of what they need to bring to the defensive end of the floor, even if they have improved, and their perimeter defense still has plenty left to prove as well. What they’ve done so far in the preseason deserves our attention, but it’s not enough to make me believe in the Bobcats defense quite yet.