Ramon Sessions, the new backup point guard, brings the ball up court and a tall guy reaches in, slaps it away and scores.
The tall guy hits a jump shot, and another.
I’ve seen the tall guy before, but it’s been two seasons since I’ve seen him like this.
Welcome back, Tyrus Thomas.
A few of us watch the Charlotte Bobcats work out Thursday morning from a perch above the court. Coaches huddle with players early and then 13 players scrimmage.
The Bobcats don’t open camp until Tuesday in Asheville, but the closer camp gets the more likely players are to show up at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The only Bobcats not on the court are first-round pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, free-agent Ben Gordon, Bismack Biyombo and Matt Carroll. Some of them lift or work out in other parts of the building.
I had forgotten about Thomas. At 6-foot-10, he weighed about 175 pounds last season. I’m being sarcastic. If I don’t announce that, some of you will write me and say: “You idiot! He weighed 180!”
Thomas lacked energy last season and his game is fueled by energy. He’ll never be the prototype post-up power forward. He doesn’t have to be. When he’s right, he runs, blocks shots and finds easy baskets. He imposes. He disrupts.
If Thomas, who usually plays at 225 pounds, is his old self, the Bobcats have a power forward.
Another player who looks good is 7-0 Desagana Diop. When I say he looks good, I mean he’s lost a lot of weight. It’s as if he and Thomas made a trade. Diop no longer is 350 pounds or 330 or whatever he played at last season. He’s less than 300. He can run down court without pausing to rest.
Guard Gerald Henderson is the best player in the scrimmage, and he plays as if he knows it. He is especially effective in the lane, freeing himself with a quick step or a sudden stop.
Kemba Walker – that’s him in the bright orange shoes – takes fewer shots per minute than he probably did at any time last season. He’s the point guard now and the offense is his.
Before the scrimmage, new coach Mike Dunlap talks to players. One of things he says – one of the things every coach who has ever worn a whistle has said - is: “Keep passing the ball.” Dunlap says it to the team, but Walker plays as if Dunlap is talking to him.
Brendan Haywood, 32, formerly of Greensboro, formerly of North Carolina, formerly of the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks, is Charlotte’s new center.
He’s 7-0 and smart, especially on defense. He’s a presence, challenging shooters and calling for the ball.
Reggie Williams, the team’s designated outside shooter last season, hits some pretty long-range shots. But the Bobcats have so many shooting guards it’s as if they collect them. They have too many shooting guards, two few power forwards. How much time will Williams get with Ben Gordon on the court?
What’s obvious from the perch is that the Bobcats will be better this season. They can’t be worse. If Kidd-Gilchrist is what the team anticipates, if new players mesh and young players such as Walker and Biyombo develop, the Bobcats should compete.
I can’t fathom them winning half their games. But I can see them making basketball interesting.
The player who interests me most Thursday is Jeff Taylor, the first pick of the second round, a 6-7 forward from Vanderbilt.
That’s him playing relentless defense. That’s him slipping through bigger players beneath the basket for an offensive rebound and following with a layup. That’s him on the next possession sprinting down court with Walker, two-on-one, getting the pretty pass and going for the dunk. That’s him outside hitting the open 3-point shot.
It’s just a scrimmage, just a group of players getting work in before the real work begins.
If you like the NBA, you want to see more.