Shot-clock violations have quickly become Bobcats’ worst enemy

December 22, 2012 

  • Failure to communicate Most shot-clock violations in the NBA through Thursday’s games   1. Charlotte Bobcats, 32 over 25 games. 2. Cleveland Cavaliers, 26 over 27 games. 3. New Orleans Hornets, 21 over 25 games. 4 (tie). Brooklyn Nets, 18 over 25 games. 4 (tie). Detroit Pistons, 18 over 28 games. Source: Elias Sports Bureau.

— Is it really that hard to get the basketball to at least graze the rim in the span of 24 seconds?

Seemingly so. There are numerous statistics that illustrate the Charlotte Bobcats’ recent struggles: They give up the most points. They get their shots blocked more than any other NBA team. Their field-goal percentage is third-worst in the league. They give up the second-most offensive rebounds.

But here’s one that strikes me: The Bobcats don’t just commit the most shot-clock violations in the NBA … they commit the most by a jarringly wide margin.

It took a while to research this because shot-clock violations are combined with in-bounds violations under the generic category “team turnovers.” But Elias Sports Bureau helped out with the actual data:

Through last Thursday’s games, the Bobcats had committed 32 shot-clock violations in their first 25 games. That’s 1.28 violations per game. There are NBA teams that don’t commit a shot-clock violation in a week of games.

Consider the gap between the Bobcats and the second-worst team in this category. The Cleveland Cavaliers committed 26 violations in their first 27 games. Only one other team, the New Orleans Hornets with 21, has crossed the 20-violation barrier.

A bit of history: The NBA shot clock has been around since 1954, after then-Syracuse Nationals owner Danny Biasone advocated it as a way to keep teams from stalling. Biasone determined that an entertaining pro game involved each team putting up at least 60 shots. Divide 48 minutes by 120 shots, and you get 24 seconds.

I doubt it occurred to anyone back then that some team in 2012 would struggle just to get a shot to the rim within 24 seconds. But that is what has happened.

I’ve asked a lot of people connected to the Bobcats why these shot-clock violations are so constant. I’ve yet to hear an illuminating answer. So here would be my top-five reasons why these shot-clock violations occur:

• They have yet to establish a true post scorer: Their best offensive big man is Byron Mullens, and he’s still primarily a jump-shooter. The Bobcats have tried to work small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist more in the post and Gerald Henderson has some post moves. But when your 3 and your 2 are your best post options, how good are your options?

• Their shots get blocked a lot: Opponents block Charlotte shots an average of 8.12 times per game – most in the league this season. Blocked shots almost never get to the rim and a bunch of those blocks come with the shot-clock winding down.

• The Bobcats have no one player of such offensive skill that he can bail them out of bad half-court possessions. Kemba Walker is evolving in that direction, but he’s not there yet.

• They don’t always swing the ball effectively from side to side. The ball sometimes gets bunched up on the strong side, so defenses don’t have to cover as much ground. When that happens, open shots dwindle.

• Bad late-possession choices. When there are four seconds left against the shot clock, and the ball is passed to Bismack Biyombo or Brendan Haywood, is it really their fault they’re of limited help getting off a shot on goal?

Five passing thoughts on the NBA and the Bobcats

• At 32, former Wake Forest star Josh Howard might be done as an NBA player. Howard was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves to help fill the injury gap, and was doing well. Then Thursday he was diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament tear. It would be rough for Howard to come back from that injury this late in his career. You might recall Howard went at the tail-end of the first round after his senior season; scouts just missed how well his versatility would play in the NBA.

• Former Western Carolina star Kevin Martin loves playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He arrived as part of the package that sent James Harden to the Houston Rockets. Martin is a free agent after this season, and gives every indication he’d like to stay with OKC. Why not? A contender, surrounded by stars, where Martin’s complementary talents would be optimized.

• Charlottean Antawn Jamison was apparently blindsided by Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s decision to bench him when Pau Gasol was ready to play again. I know D’Antoni inherited this roster on the fly and has a lot of stars to keep happy. But Jamison has done enough in this league that he at least deserved to be in the loop. I’m sure Antawn could live with a cameo role on a contender. But will the Lakers be a contender?

• Another rough week on the Bobcats’ schedule will include a home game against the Heat and a first trip to Brooklyn to face the Nets. But home games against the New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers and a trip to the Detroit Pistons should give them some matchups with peers.

• More importantly than the opponents, the Bobcats will get a three-day break from games between Saturday at Denver and Wednesday home vs. the Heat: They looked tired out West.

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