Sorensen: Hansbrough big, pesky and needed on Bobcats

January 15, 2013 

I do not own a North Carolina Tar Heel sweatshirt, T-shirt or cap. I don’t even own khakis. I think North Carolina’s football program was as corrupt as Miami’s. I don’t drop to one knee when somebody says “Roy.’ I was disappointed when the Charlotte Bobcats drafted North Carolina’s Raymond Felton and Sean May.

So I write the following sentences not as a fan of the Tar Heels but as a fan of the NBA.

The Indiana Pacers will play the Bobcats Tuesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena. One of the players sliding toward the back edge of Indiana’s rotation, and perhaps oblivion, is former North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough.

The Bobcats ought to trade for him.

He won’t cost much. He can’t. And Charlotte’s front line could use an infusion of hustle and energy.

If the Bobcats’ little men don’t beat you, the Bobcats don’t beat you. Charlotte’s top four scorers are guards.

Brendan Haywood, a smart, prototype center (and another North Carolina big man) doesn’t so much play as make guest appearances.

Second-year player Bismack Biyombo, who like Hansbrough is 6-feet-9-inches, has moments. But rarely does he have games. He’s a superior athlete. But basics such as catching the ball and making it go in the basket still elude him. He was raw when he entered the NBA last season and still is.

DeSagna Diop, like Haywood a 7-footer, is said to be on the roster.

Byron Mullens, another 7-footer, is hurt. Although his game was evolving, his strength is long-range shooting.

If 6-10 Tyrus Thomas played the way he did when the Bobcats traded for him in 2010, they’d have a running, shot blocking, rebounding big man who resides above the rim. He doesn’t.

There are evenings when you aren’t aware the Bobcats have big men.

You are aware of Hansbrough. He plays as hard as anybody in the league. He runs relentlessly, goes through bigger men for rebounds and is just really annoying. That’s why he shoots so many free throws. To see him is to want to foul him. Fans want to foul him.

Gerald Henderson, now of Charlotte, once of Duke, made incidental and accidental (I like Henderson) contact with Hansbrough in 2007, knocking him to the Dean Smith Center floor. Henderson, one of the Bobcats’ best players, would or should love Hansbrough as a teammate. What’s one more Tar Heel in the organization? He’s accustomed to them.

Hansbrough is 27 and in his fourth NBA season. He was the best player in the ACC but will never have the impact against the pros he had against, say, Wake Forest. He doesn’t have a pro post-up game or a pretty jump shot. His game is kind of ugly.

It was ugly against the Bobcats last week. Hansbrough played 10 minutes, grabbed one rebound and had as many fouls, three, as he had points.

But in the season opener against the Bobcats, Hansbrough played 17 minutes, scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds, blocked two shots and hit seven of eight from the free-throw line.

Hansbrough averages 16.3 minutes, 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds. But only three times in the last 14 games has he played as many as 16 minutes.

Indiana is deep and talented and has a nicely constructed roster. Charlotte doesn’t.

The Bobcats are as good as we thought they’d be and the season is playing out the way we thought it would.

So explore. If you can add a nice piece, add it. What would Hansbrough cost?

And what’s there to lose?

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