Five things Observer NBA writer Rick Bonnell saw, heard or learned at the Charlotte Bobcats' intra-squad scrimmage Sunday night at UNC Wilmington:
1 It's a good thing D.J. Augustin has to wear that grammar-school backpack (yes, it's hazing) because that's the only way you'd tell he's a rookie. Augustin is remarkably efficient for a point guard yet to play even an exhibition in the NBA.
Yes, he had five turnovers, but he also had seven assists and turned four shots from the field into nine points. And those four steals – he blind-sided Gerald Wallace for a take-away in the open court – were head-turning.
One play particularly caught my eye: He ball-faked Wallace out of a play, and the typical rookie reaction, once he knew he was open, would have been to rush up a shot.
Realizing he hadn't used his dribble, he bounced one step forward, squared his shoulders and patiently swished a 20-footer.
There's something cool about any point guard knowing exactly how much time he has to do what he does.
2 Coach Larry Brown was pragmatic enough to leave the projected starters together as a group on one team for this scrimmage. He must get eight core players ready for the opener.
3 Great line from a smart-aleck in the crowd when Frenchman Alexis Ajinca blocked Matt Carroll: “Hey, Matt! That make you French Toast?”
4 Ajinca, by the way, will be worth the 20th pick. Maybe not this season, but for the long haul. He's a quick study (much more so than Ryan Hollins or Jermareo Davidson) and his length, footwork and jumping ability balance off his weighing seemingly 12 pounds.
Brown is a big fan of Ajinca's intelligence and maturity. Yes, there's a language barrier, but Brown is struck by how quickly Ajinca assimilates what he's told. And when he doesn't get something, he's not too proud to go back and ask the coaches to further explain.
5 Jason Richardson will be the Bobcats' first All-Star. Jump shots come so easily to him, but he's listening when Brown tells him to lead and go to the rim. He'll have 60 backdoor layups this season.