It took 33 games, but Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas should finally have all 15 bodies available tonight against the Detroit Pistons.
There are many reasons for the Bobcats 4-28 record, worst in the NBA, but injuries have certainly been a big factor. They have lost 91 player-games to injury already, 41 of those to starters D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson and Corey Maggette.
Henderson is expected back tonight in Auburn Hills, Mich., after missing nine games with a hamstring strain. Maggette practiced Tuesday, after a knee scare over All-Star break. A magnetic resonance imaging indicated a meniscus tear, which would have ended his season. A second opinion determined the injury was less serious and that Maggette could play through it. Maggette said hell likely need minor surgery in the off-season to clean up his right knee.
Regardless, Silas will finally coach the team he thought he was getting when training camp opened in December.
Coach has been going through a lot because hes had so many different guys out, Maggette said. Intricate parts of the team leave and then you have to fill other guys in who really havent had the (experience). Now we can really have roles: We know Reggie (Williams) can come off the bench and give us scoring, we know (Derrick) Brown has been playing extremely well, and D.J. White. We can have a lot of parts off the bench now to help.
Silas already used 13 different starting lineups. Excited as he is about having all five starters, hes equally engaged by having a dependable bench. He wants what will be the first five off the bench Williams, Kemba Walker, Brown, Tyrus Thomas and Byron Mullens to develop some chemistry the second half of the season that just wasnt possible with all the roster shuffling.
Its about these guys getting together and knowing one-another. The first five are going to play together and the second five are going to play together, Silas said. According to the website hoopstats.com, the Bobcats bench is averaging 31.2 points per game and opponent benches average 33.1 points per game. That doesnt sound like a big difference, but opposing benches are dramatically more efficient offensively: Charlotte reserves shoot 42 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range. Opposing reserves shoot 45 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range. That opposing 3-point percentage is particularly high, when you consider its non-starters only.
Even with a full roster, Silas has realistic expectations for the last 34 games. He agreed with Bobcats president Rod Higgins that they must balance the rest of the season between trying to win and developing young talent.
Were in the wins business, but understanding what we have, Silas said. I want to see us improve. I want to see us play hard, get better offensively and defensively. Give ourselves a chance every night, which we have not so far.