Jannero Pargo felt a little like an interloper. Josh McRoberts felt a little like an interloper.
That’s just how it is in the NBA when one guy shows up on a 10-day contract and another shows up in a trade-deadline deal. Particularly when a player is joining the NBA’s worst team, a group with obvious holes to fill.
The transition can feel awkward.
Pargo and McRoberts are the new guys for the Charlotte Bobcats. Each has quickly helped this team. Each says that part of that is about a locker room where nobody acts threatened by their presence.
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“You come into a situation with a bunch of guys who’ve been on the team – all professionals, all competitors, and no one wants to come out of the game,” Pargo said.
“I come here, or anyone on a 10-day contract comes here, and he hasn’t been through training camp. Then you get thrown in the game. It’s tough to take two or three shots in a row over guys who don’t get that opportunity (without making waves). But I’ve noticed here guys want to see you do well.”
That’s almost identical to McRoberts’ impression. He showed up last month in a minor trade-deadline deal. The Bobcats acquired him from the Orlando Magic for Hakim Warrick. Three weeks later, McRoberts is starting ahead of Byron Mullens, Jeff Adrien and Tyrus Thomas at power forward.
McRoberts has said more than once how welcome all his new teammates have made him feel. Gerald Henderson, a former teammate of McRoberts at Duke and a Bobcats co-captain, explained why Monday night.
“Nobody on this team is an All-Star, where you just throw him the ball every time and he gets 30 a night,” Henderson said.
Translation: There is no one so skilled and talented on this Bobcats roster that he should feel others don’t deserve a chance.
It’s an open question whether Pargo and McRoberts will be Bobcats beyond this season. It’s no given that Pargo will be on this roster beyond his current 10-day contract.
But each has quickly proven valuable. In his last four games McRoberts has averaged 12.3 points and nine rebounds. Just as importantly, he has improved the Bobcats’ ball-movement with his passing. That isn’t necessarily seen in his assist numbers, but it’s no coincidence the Bobcats had a season-high 32 assists versus the Washington Wizards Monday.
Pargo, a nine-year veteran, was brought in as a replacement for injured Ramon Sessions. He had 18 points in his second game with the Bobcats and 11 in his third. He can make 3s and, as Henderson described, is a fine on-the-ball defender.
Since he can guard bigger players, coach Mike Dunlap is using some of the same two-point guard sets that worked with Sessions and Kemba Walker.
A 6-foot-1, 185-pound guy doesn’t play against NBA shooting guards unless he is scrappy tough.
“All I have to say is, ‘South Chicago,’ ” Dunlap said of the neighborhood where Pargo grew up. “You don’t come out of there unless you’re tough.”
Pargo agrees, but toughness isn’t just physical, it’s mental too. He has become used to these plug-in opportunities, where there is next to no time to prove yourself to new coaches and teammates.
“You haven’t been under pressure in basketball until you’ve played on a 10-day contract,” Pargo said. “I’m lucky to be playing with a young group of guys who trust me to take a tough shot. Those guys have confidence in me, and that makes it a lot easier.”