It’s only been one game with a rather incomplete roster, but for the Charlotte Bobcats much can be taken away from their Summer League opening 69-68 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Several key young cogs to the Bobcats future –Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, and Jeffery Taylor –were on display last night, and different aspects of their play make up the Three Things we can take away from Day 1 in Vegas.
1) Biyombo Excels On Defense
This should be no surprise to fans who have watched Biz since the day we was drafted back in 2011. Biyombo was picked 7th overall to become a defensive game changer; the next Serge Ibaka, if you will. While his offense is still extremely raw (and only time with Patrick Ewing will tell if there’s any hope of improving it), Biyombo’s comfort on the defensive end continues to grow. Last night was further proof of that ease on D; Biz pulled down 11 rebounds (nine on the defensive end of the floor), swatted two shots, and swiped the ball once. His four personal fouls could be seen as a concern, but in a League where fouls don’t matter (i.e. Summer League invite Jerome Dyson’s seven personal fouls), it’s good to see Biz stay active and be a nuisance on defense.
2) Kidd-Gilchrist and Zeller Working on Range
It’s difficult to get a consensus opinion from fans on last night’s performances from Kidd-Gilchrist and Zeller beyond 15 feet: encouraging that their confidence has grown to take those shots, or frustrating that none of them went in. MKG was once again scoreless from downtown and Zeller couldn’t get anything to drop outside of the low post. Yet the fact that the two are comfortable enough to attempt those shots shows growth in itself. Kidd-Gilchrist attempted only nine three-pointers all of last season, and Zeller attempted only two collegiate three-pointers in his time at Indiana. The willingness to step out and take chances for these young Cats will continue to prove if they can make these attempts, and how confident they will be moving into the regular season.
3) Jeffery Taylor…’Nuf Said
Although he only averaged 6.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, and 0.8 apg in 19.4 mpg during his rookie campaign, Taylor seems poised for a breakout year in only his second season in the NBA. His performance against the Spurs could be great evidence of that: 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting (2-of-5 from downtown) along with two rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Last season, Taylor had the second-best three-point percentage on the team (34.4%) behind only Ben Gordon (38.2%), and he seems to play better when he starts at shooting guard alongside MKG as the small forward. Should talks between the Bobcats and Gerald Henderson continue to break down, Taylor could appear to be the next long-term option for the Cats at the two-spot; Taylor and Henderson had extremely similar per-36 rookie campaigns, and Taylor’s ability to consistently hit from three-point land could help him force his way into the starting line-up. He would need more seasoning, of course, before regularly putting up 24 points a night, but it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.
The Bobcats will next play against the Dallas Mavericks on July 14 at 6 p.m. (EST).