Adaptation of McBob
Josh McRoberts has been a traveling soul during his NBA lifetime. In his seven seasons Josh has played for five different organizations, which wouldn’t be considered good job stability in any professional field. Wherever McRoberts has roamed in the NBA however, he’s always had different challenges face him. For the Pacers, he was a place-holding starter that was used mostly to offset lottery pick Tyler Hansbrough. His job was to finish the easy play and avoid mistakes at all costs, and he was quite successful at doing so. Josh even got to the point where he was almost traded for O.J. Mayo, a deal now famously mocked because the fax that was sent for league approval wasn’t sent in time.
The following offseason, Indiana let McRoberts go into free agency without a second thought. Signing a two-year deal with the Lakers, there was hopes that by the end of the contract Josh had found a permanent home. It wasn’t in the cards, as Josh was traded after playing only fifty games with the team. He was nothing more than salary cap fodder in the deal that — now infamously — landed Dwight Howard in Los Angeles. In his new home for Orlando, McRoberts was far away from any national recognition. He played 16.7 minutes on a team that had one of the worst records in the league. He was quietly moved again, this time for Hakim Warrick whose guaranteed contract was cut by the Magic.
For the second half of last season with the Bobcats, Josh found himself back in a starting lineup. In a shallow frontcourt like Charlotte’s, someone had to start. And when the organization went out and nabbed Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller, it seemed like McBob would find himself taking a reduced role yet again. Caving in to the more sought after players was a common practice for McRoberts, and this was suppose to be just another notch in the belt.
In the early years of living organisms of Earth, adaptation became vital for a certain groups of organisms to live on longer than others before them. Eventually these underdeveloped creatures had to pick up different traits along the way in order to find certain niches to survive. The NBA is no different for the non-superstar class of players. When one carves out a role that will make them unique to a basketball team, the roster cut days are less stressful than the jack-of-all trades type. The core players are set, thus the rest of roster becomes a game of filling out skills that are most beneficial to those core guys.
In the case of McBob’s adaptation, he grew into a stretch four on a team that was starved for spacing. Whether intentional or not, the one thing that Charlotte truly desired became parallel to the things Josh brought to the table. Instead of being that replaceable player he’s been for much of his career, McRoberts became indispensable part of the squad. Charlotte’s system now runs through Josh as much as any player. He’s currently 22nd in touches per game, and is third out of players who aren’t point guards behind just Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. Somewhere along the winding road of McBob’s career, he picked up these skills that make him the kind of dynamic piece that is coveted by even strong competitors in today’s NBA.
None of this would be possible if McRoberts wasn’t hitting shots. He is 17-45 (37.8%) on three-pointers to start the season, and his 5.7 attempts per 36 minutes are almost three times his career high. Even stranger is where his shots have come from. Playing within the offense has meant McBob has had to take all but four of his threes from above the break. Sitting in the corners and launching the easiest three ball in the game is where players normally find an oasis from the difficulties that come with trying to extend their range. Josh hasn’t been allowed that pleasantry though, as his team has need him to take — and make — deep shots in an offense that calls for him to stand center court. He’s needed the composure of a player that has years of experience knocking down threes with ease in less than a month, and so far he’s been successful.
This has been an important piston in the entire engine of the team. They have been terrible offensively, but find a really nice groove whenever Josh is a deep threat. Opposing defenses respect him more, and driving lanes start opening up for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson. Both soon find it easier to operate in the area they are most comfortable in. Neither has made much noise beyond the arc, but both are athletic finishers when the room to cut to the hoop is there. Often times Charlotte has McRoberts get the ball behind the three point line in order to bring an opposing bigman with him, which allows for Josh to fire a pass to a wing for an easy score. Such as here.
The Cavaliers cover the ball handler well in the pick-and-roll. The issue comes when McRoberts is handed the ball, and Anderson Varejao is left in no-man’s land with a lot of space between himself and Josh. The small amount of time Andy hesitates allows McBob to fire in a pass to a cutting MKG. Tyler Zeller can’t recover fully, and the layup is made. According to NBAwowy.com, Josh leads his team with 20 assists so far this season to the starting wings. Which is a huge reason why he leads all forwards with a 30% assist percentage so far in 2013-14.
Not too shabby for a player who was typically relegated to a role that left him feasting on the easy play. Somewhere along the way, McBob’s game evolved into a much different entity then it once was. If he ever wanted to stick to one team though, that growth was necessary.