The Spurs will win if: Ball movement is sound. San Antonio averages 24.9 assists per game, first in the league, and Charlotte has struggled to impede unselfish teams, allowing 24.4 assists per game themselves. A perfect time to employ Nando De Colo, Boris Diaw and Manu Ginobili, right?
The Spurs will lose if: The Bobcats play flawless basketball which means preventing turnovers and creating free throws. Neither offense or defense is their strong suit so taking care of the ball and getting to the line — Charlotte is eighth in both categories, respectively — is just about the only way they will score enough points to compete.
X-Factor: Though Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard have emerged as the top two rookies thus far, No. 2 pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has developed into a productive player as well.
His player efficiency rating (17.1) is above-average and is only behind Davis, Lillard, Andre Drummond and Brian Roberts, among rookies.
Kidd-Gilchrist has yet to become a productive offensive player, however. Without a perimeter game to speak of MKG is limited to attempts at the rim and in the paint. Approximately six of his nine attempts per game are classified as shots in the paint per Hoopdata.
Defensively, considered a strong point of his game, MKG excels. He records a block on 3.9 percent of opponent’s shot attempts, fourth on the team. Rebounding hasn’t been a problem either as he has grabbed 12.8 percent of rebounds, also fourth.
The impact of the league’s youngest player is illuminated by the NBA.com/Stats database. Adjust for schedule and the Bobcats are among the five worst teams in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Their efficacy improves with MKG on the floor — essentially, from a top five lottery team to a slightly below-average unit. The difference is a significant 10.3 points per 100 possessions. Add MKG to the equation and the Bobcats improve on the glass, passing and shooting.
There is an array of possible explanations but this one is simple: MKG is invigorating the Bobcats franchise by playing with an added intensity.