After suffering, by far, their worst loss of the young season, the Philadelphia 76ers will look to bounce back in a big way tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats own the NBA's worst record at 3-16, along with the league's worst road record at 1-9. They've lost six consecutive games, including a beat down at the hands of the lowly Washington Wizards their last time out.
Adding injury to insult, the Bobcats are also a banged up bunch, missing D.J. Augustin, Corey Maggette and Reggie Williams with various ailments.
To understand just how bad the Bobcats are, consider this: PER (player efficiency rating) is a statistic which measures how efficient a certain player is, most defense excluded. The league average in terms of PER, is 15.0. The Sixers currently have nine players at, or above league average with Lavoy Allen, Spencer Hawes and Louis Williams in the 20s. The Bobcats, have only three players above average, and barely above average at that. Their leader in PER is D.J. Augustin at 16.5 – who will miss tonight's game – followed by Byron Mullens at 16.4 and D.J. White at 15.4.
Comprised of bad players and decent players who are injured, it should come as no surprise that the Bobcats rank near the bottom of the NBA in almost every statistical category. Instead of listing all of their shortcomings, I'll list the areas in which they rank in the top 20: turnover rate (10th), assist rate (19th) and bench points (18th).
Likely without Hawes and Vucevic again, the Sixers are extremely vulnerable in the paint and on the glass. Luckily the Bobcats best rebounder is rookie, Bismack Biyombo, who only averages 13 minutes per game. Besides Biyombo, two guys to keep an eye on are Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas. Diaw can be a load in general, but particularly on the glass. And Thomas is one of the league's best shot blockers. He had 9(!) against the Wizards on Wednesday.
Rookies Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker, who were drafted seventh and ninth in the 2011 Draft, respectively, are the only two players outside of Tyrus Thomas who I'm even vaguely interested in watching. I'm actually really excited to see Biyombo play live. All I've seen are highlights and read scouting reports, but if you remember correctly, Biyombo was number three overall on our Liberty Ballers Big Board, and I ranked him number one overall, personally. (Keep in mind it was a Sixers-centric big board).
I've always been a sucker for big men with the potential to be absolute studs defensively – behind Iverson, Dalembert was the only other Sixers jersey I've ever owned – and the 19 year-old Biyombo has all the tools. At 6'9", 240 pounds and 4 percent body fat Mr. Biyombo is a physical specimen, with a 7 foot 7 wingspan! He's still raw and foul-prone, but already leads the league in block percentage and has a respectable defensive rebound percentage in the low 20s. I often dream of a player like Biyombo anchoring the Sixers defense and catching lobs from Jrue and Evan for the next decade. Unfortunately, I'll just have to watch Biyombo from a far and satisfy by big man cravings with Wight Howard and Air Vucevic.
As of right now, Vegas doesn't have a line on tonight's game. I imagine the Sixers will be at least 13 or 14 point favorites. After seeing them lose straight up to the Nets entering the game as 11.5 point favorites, I'm a little hesitant to go back to the well, but lightning doesn't strike twice, does it? The Bobcats also don't have Deron Williams. Sixers win easily, book it.
Check out Rufus on Fire, but prepare to get Bismack'd.