Hickson Debuts Solidly, Blazers Lose, All is Well (Almost)

Posted: March 24, 2012 in Blazers, Hoops
Tags: , , ,

If you’re 7’2″ then do you think my release is 13’9″ish?

JJ Hickson made his debut with the Portland Trailblazers last night against the Lakers add proved to be pretty efficient offensively, even if he did not show much on the defensive end.  According to Hoopdata’s advanced box score for the game, Hickson and LaMarcus Aldridge each lead blazers who took more than 1 field goal attempt, with a 66.7% Effective Field Goal percentage.  At the same time, Hickson posted a very pedestrian 5.3% rebound rate (to put that in the context of other blazers last night, the rebound rates for Kurt Thomas (22.5%) LaMarcus (12.8%) Przybilla (6.9%) and Wes Matthews (8.1%) were all superior and every member of the Lakers who played (except for Troy Murphy, who played only 3 minutes) was over 6.5%.    Obviously, the blazers got godbodied on the boards last night in general, and it’s a small sample size – so it’s too soon to draw any definitive conclusions.  By all accounts and metrics Hickson was one of the most efficient and effective players on the court for the blazers last night offensively, while playing against some pretty solid defensive bigs.

More importantly, the blazers lost.  They didn’t eek out another meaningless win against a solid western conference opponent and jeopardize the quality of their potential draft picks.  Combine that with the fact that NJ won tonight, Detroit lost, Washington lost – this was a pretty important loss for the blazers last night.

On the more disappointing side of things, Kaleb Canales found only 4 minutes for Flabeekabbitt (all 4 going to Luke Babbit, who was scintillating in his second best on the team, +7 +/- performance, contributing a block, a foul and no other statistics whatsoever).  The point being, Canales obviously hasn’t gotten a legitimate mandate to give solid rotation minutes to the young guys leading me to believe that the blazers don’t have a real intention of auditioning these guys at all.  They also haven’t siphoned enough minutes away from the short-term liabilities (Felton & Crawford – who combined were an almost unbelievable 5 of 25 from the field last night – or Thomas & Przybilla were a combined 2-4) who played 88 minutes, to their short-term assets (Nolan Smith, Jonny Flynn, Luke Babbitt, Hickson, and Thabeet – who shot 9 for 12 from the field) who played a combined 41 minutes.  While I’m not here to argue that Kurt Thomas and Raymond Felton aren’t as good at playing basketball as Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet, the point is that there’s no way the blazers re-sign Felton, and Thomas is edging closer to retirement, there’s nothing the blazers have left to play for, other than a high lottery pick, and there’s no reason not to shift more minutes to the young guys.  It doesn’t make good basketball sense in the short term or the long term.  Felton has been a disaster since he landed in Portland looking like Shamu, Thomas hasn’t been a difference maker, nor was he brought in to be one.  It’s not that I think Flynn or Thabeet are difference makers, but if guys like Jeremy Lin, Gerald Green, Anthony Tolliver, Reggie Williams etc have proven anything in recent years, it’s that you can’t just evaluate talent on the practice court, in draft workout/scouting sessions, or even in limited opportunities with NBA minutes.  You have to give players a chance to play to prove what they can do.  Thabeet has never really gotten that, and Flynn hasn’t had it since he came back from hip surgery a couple seasons ago.  Give them a chance, they might surprise you.

“Because you already know I’m ’bout these cupcakes.”

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