Bobcats Insider: Diop to play bigger role

BY foxsports • January 10, 2012

Seven-foot center Gana Diop is the biggest body on the Bobcats' roster, and he makes about $7 million each this season and next. Now that he's at least approaching game shape, coach Paul Silas is willing to put him to work.

Diop made a cameo start in Indianapolis Saturday to match up with the Pacers' Roy Hibbert. He showed enough promise in that game that Silas decided to keep him in the lineup for Monday's 91-87 loss to the Knicks. If Diop keeps dropping weight, he'll likely remain a starter.

Diop missed nearly a year after rupturing an Achilles tendon last season. The inactivity -– he was unable to run for about nine months -– allowed his weight to balloon to about 350 pounds, 25 above where he usually plays.

With constant extra workouts (Diop had a one-on-one session Sunday with rookie Bismack Biyombo during the Bobcats' day off), Diop has managed to trim away 15 pounds. He believes it won't be long until he's down to 280, where he belongs.

Diop admitted he was worn out by the 10 first-half minutes he played against the Pacers. He played just five in the second half, with Byron Mullens playing inside.

"I haven't played in so long and we haven't really practiced much," Diop said. "In training camp I was kind of lost out there. I'm getting back to it."

Silas appears to have given up on playing Boris Diaw at center, moving him back to power forward. That means Diop or Mullens has to start. Diop is the more physical of the two, Mullens the more skilled. So Silas will use up some Diop fouls early, then bring in Mullens to score.

"We need what he can provide -– the defensive abilities, the shot-blocking," Silas said of Diop. "He can't really block a lot of shots now, but if he loses the weight, down the line he's really going to help us.

The Bobcats host the Houston Rockets Tuesday night.


NOTES

--In the reconfigured, post-lockout NBA schedule, each team must play at least one set of games on three consecutive nights. For the Bobcats, that starts Thursday (at Atlanta, followed by home games against the Pistons and Warriors). When coach Paul Silas played in the 1970s and 1980s, four games on consecutive nights were commonplace, and that was before charter flights. That meant rising before dawn to catch the first commercial jet, rest up in the afternoon, and play – four days in a row.

--Boris Diaw is a power forward, but offensively he's primarily a jump-shooter. That's reflected in his statistics when it comes to free throws. Diaw draws so little contact that he took two foul shots in his first 245 minutes this season.


ROSTER REPORT

F Boris Diaw continues wild inconsistency. After a brutal game against the Pacers, he goes for 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in New York. Said Silas, "He's got to look at himself and say, 'I've got to do it.' It's not what I say" that will change that.

F D.J. White lost his starting spot to get a true center into the lineup. Either way –- starter or reserve -– he's efficient. He finished with 15 points and seven rebounds against the Knicks.

G Kemba Walker continues to struggle with his shot. He was 2-of-9 versus the Knicks. But he did get to the foul line, taking seven free throws in 17 minutes.

F Tyrus Thomas had some real trouble guarding Carmelo Anthony without fouling. He had five fouls in 22 minutes, with Anthony spinning him all over the court.

G-F Reggie Williams (torn meniscus left knee) is likely out the month of January.

F Eduardo Najera (torn cartilage left knee) likely won't return until sometime in February.

F Corey Maggette (left hamstring strain) is out until late January to early February.


QUOTE TO NOTE

"It was expected that you'd come and play and there was no complaining." -- Coach Paul Silas, on when he played four games in four nights in a bygone time.


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