Jannero Pargo felt a little like an interloper. Josh McRoberts felt a little like an interloper.
Thats just how it is in the NBA when one guy shows up on a 10-day contract and another shows up in a trade-deadline deal. Particularly so when youre joining the NBAs worst team, a group with obvious holes to fill.
The transition can feel awkward.
Pargo and McRoberts are the new guys for the Charlotte Bobcats. Each has quickly helped this team. Each says part of that is about a locker room where nobody acts threatened by their presence.
You come into a situation with a bunch of guys whove been on the team all professionals, all competitors, and no one wants to come out of the game, Pargo described.
I come here, or anyone on a 10-day contract comes here, and he hasnt been through training camp. Then you get thrown in the game. Its tough to take two or three shots in a row over guys who dont get that opportunity (without making waves). But Ive noticed here guys want to see you do well.
Thats almost identical to McRoberts impression. He showed up last month in a minor trade-deadline deal. The Bobcats acquired him from the Orlando Magic for Hakim Warrick. Three weeks later, McRoberts is starting over Byron Mullens, Jeff Adrien and Tyrus Thomas at power forward.
McRoberts has said more than once how welcome all his new teammates have made him feel. Gerald Henderson, a former teammate of McRoberts at Duke and a Bobcats co-captain, explained why Monday night.
Nobody on this team is an All-Star, where you just throw him the ball every time and he gets 30 a night, Henderson said.
Translation: There is no one so skilled and talented on this Bobcats roster that he should feel others dont deserve a chance.
Its an open question whether Pargo and McRoberts will be Bobcats beyond this season. Technically its no given Pargo will be on this roster beyond his current 10-day contract.
But each has quickly proven valuable in the here-and-now. In his last four games McRoberts has averaged 12.2 points and nine rebounds. Just as importantly, hes improved the Bobcats ball-movement with his passing. You dont necessarily see that in his assist numbers hes more a pass-that-leads-to-the-pass guy -- but its no coincidence the Bobcats had a season-high 32 assists versus the Washington Wizards Monday.
Pargo, a nine-year NBA veteran, was brought in as an injury replacement for Ramon Sessions. He had 18 points in his second game here and 11 in his third. He can make 3s and, as Henderson described, is a fine on-the-ball defender.
Since he can guard bigger players, coach Mike Dunlap is using some of the same two-point guard sets that worked with Sessions and Kemba Walker.
You dont play a 6-1, 185-pound guy against NBA shooting guards unless hes scrappy tough.
All I have to say is, South Chicago Dunlap said of the neighborhood where Pargo grew up. You dont come out of there unless youre tough.
Pargo agrees, but toughness isnt just physical, its mental, too. Hes become used to these plug-in opportunities, where there is next to no time to prove yourself to new coaches and teammates.
You havent been under pressure in basketball until youve played on a 10-day contract, Pargo said. Im lucky to be playing with a young group of guys who trust me to take a tough shot. Those guys have confidence in me, and that makes it a lot easier.