Remember a week ago when Charlotte Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said he based his starters in part on who gets the most deflections?
Its showing. While this is just the second week of the NBA season, the Bobcats best trait so far is ball security: They steal it as well as anybody and protect it as well as anybody.
The Bobcats commit a league-low 11.5 turnovers per game. Their opponents turn over the ball 20.5 times per game. That ratio an extra nine possessions per game to the Bobcats favor ties the Atlanta Hawks for best in the league.
This is important, in part, because the Bobcats dont rebound particularly well. They average eight fewer boards per game than their opponents. So creating extra possessions by stealing the ball seems essential.
If you have low turnovers, you always give yourself a chance, said Ramon Sessions, the teams veteran backup point guard. But those steals, weve got guys to do that, too. The young fella, (Michael) Kidd-Gilchrist, is athletic and Kemba (Walker) is very active.
Coach always talks about pressure 94 feet of it and deflections. We talk about it a lot and we do it.
Walker and Sessions have set the tone: Walker commits a turnover every 32 minutes played, Sessions a turnover every 25 minutes. Thats remarkably precise for players dribbling and passing so much. Sessions, signed over the summer, had a big game in Dallas Saturday: 22 points, five assists and one turnover.
Ramon is getting comfortable with the style of play and the players, Dunlap said.
We always knew hed be good and comfortable at some time and hes showing that already.
The rest of it is about takeaways. Throughout the preseason Dunlap preached ball-pressure and the value of getting a hand, even just a fingertip, on opponent passes.
As far as steals, we want to play extremely hard pressure basketball. So far weve done that, said Walker. I think I have a good feel for where the ball is going to be. I just try my best to get it.
Walker is one of three Bobcats in the leagues top 20 in steals. Hes 17th at two per game. Rookie Kidd-Gilchrist is ninth, averaging 2.5. Shooting guard Gerald Henderson is sixth at three per game.
Henderson could miss Wednesdays home game against the Phoenix Suns with a sprained left foot. Though hes not yet been ruled out, he missed practice Monday with the injury.
Asked what losing Henderson would mean, Dunlap was stoic.
Wed miss him dearly, but we have some young guys who are waiting to get that playing time, Dunlap said. Our attitude toward injuries has to be that of everybody whos really good in this league: Next guy up.
Henderson suffered that sprain in the second half Saturday in Dallas. Monday he was out of the protective boot he wore after the game. He did not speak with media following practice.
• The preseason indicated free throws might be a concern, so Dunlap emphasized foul-shooting lately in practice. So far the Bobcats are making 81 percent in the regular season.
• Walker said the Bobcats avoided using the zone defense they were practicing in preseason games so that it would be a surprise in the opener. It certainly had that effect on the Indiana Pacers.