Augustin needs confidence to keep Bobcats’ PG job
It appeared early this summer that Toronto’s Jose Calderon would
become Charlotte’s point guard. Then the Bobcats appeared poised to
acquire Devin Harris from New Jersey to replace the departed
Deals for those players stalled, however. And while the
trade-happy Bobcats may not be through dealing, the starting job
now falls to a guy who acknowledges his confidence was shot during
a miserable 2009-10 season: D.J. Augustin.
”If you play in the NBA with no confidence you’re going to have
a tough situation,” Augustin said Tuesday after the Bobcats’ first
practice of training camp. ”I struggled last year.”
The slight, 6-foot Augustin had a steep fall from an impressive
rookie season. The ninth pick in the 2008 draft averaged 11.8
points and led all rookies by shooting 89 percent from the
free-throw line. He also shot 44 percent from 3-point range and
made the NBA All-Rookie second team.
But late that season Augustin pulled an abdominal muscle. The
injury kept him out of games and then sidelined him for much of the
He returned last season a bit overweight and with demanding
coach Larry Brown constantly in his ear. He made 5 of his first 21
3-point attempts and had a seven-game stretch early in the season
in which he shot 6 of 27 from the field. Things got so bad he
didn’t get off the bench in consecutive December games.
”I think he got down,” forward Gerald Wallace said. ”I think
he had a couple of DNPs and I think that really broke his
confidence and made him focus on his shot.”
Things didn’t get much better, with Augustin still having some
abdominal pain. He averaged just 6.4 points and shot 39 percent
from the field as Brown turned to other players to back up Felton
late in the season.
”I was tough on him and I don’t know if he handled it great,”
Brown said. ”I think really he was hurt. He didn’t have an
opportunity last summer to work. I think that set him back a little
bit. Toward the end of the year he started getting back.”
Augustin said he took only one week off after Charlotte was
swept by Orlando in the first round of the playoffs and started
working out. He ran nearly every day, did pilates, lifted weights
and even showed up for some summer-league workouts in Orlando.
He still weighs only about 175 pounds, but said he’s gained
”I wanted to get stronger in case guys like Deron Williams try
to post me up, which the will do,” Augustin said. ”I just want to
be able to hold my ground and be stronger.”
Barring another trade, Charlotte’s starting point guard job is
Augustin’s to lose because there are numerous questions behind
Newly signed Shaun Livingston was limited Tuesday as he recovers
from a severe knee injury, Javaris Crittenton is trying to return
from a foot injury and his gun suspension from last season in
Washington. Sherron Collins is an undrafted rookie.
Augustin must still win over Brown, notoriously tough on point
guards, and who holds a soft spot for Felton. Despite being
schooled by Jameer Nelson in the playoffs, Brown said ”I died”
when Felton signed with New York because ”everything I value he
Augustin isn’t as strong as Felton, but is a better shooter –
when he’s not in a funk.
”He looks so much better physically,” Brown said of Augustin.
”He’s got more muscle and less fat. His weight is pretty low and
he seems much more confident.”
Confidence may be the key issue, however. The quiet 23-year-old
New Orleans native needs to regain the swagger he had in college in
Texas and as a rookie.
”He’s probably the best shooter we’ve got on our team,”
Wallace said. ”When he starts doubting himself it hurts him out on
the court. Our main thing is to keep his head held high.
”It’s going to be a task for him. This is only his third year,
so we can’t expect him to come out and perform like a veteran point
guard. But us as veterans have got to help him get through these
Brown suggested he might dump some of the ballhandling chores on
Wallace, Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw. That could allow Augustin,
more of a scoring point guard than Felton, to thrive.
But it will only work if he’s confident.
”It’s definitely an opportunity,” Augustin said. ”I’m going
into this training camp not thinking I’m getting anything. I want
to earn minutes and my teammates respect.”
Notes: Brown was pleased with the opening workout, saying
Wallace, Jackson and Boris Diaw ”made the practice” because they
”led by example.” … Brown said he gave a ”fat test” and
Wallace, Livingston and Tyrus Thomas had the least body fat. …
Reserve F Eduardo Najera won’t be able to practice for three weeks
as he recovers from hernia surgery on Sept. 10. … F Darius Miles
is being limited in workouts because of his chronic knee problems.
… Former NBA head coaches Eddie Jordan and Mike Woodson took in
the morning practice.