A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Is Rob Hennigan making feel for the game the center of Orlando’s strategy?

with one comment

I’ve made a point on this blog of emphasizing feel for the game as a key to player talent and success. I see it being as important as athleticism to a player.

The team who has the biggest trend of targeting feel for the game players is the Spurs. Here is an article I wrote describing how I see it as the key to their infamous draft steals. I am just about convinced they go out of their way to grab instinctual and feel for the game heavy players.

Since Rob Hennigan became GM of the Magic, they look to be following the same path. Check out his moves so far:

2012 draft – Took Andrew Nicholson in 19th overall in the 1st round.

Nicholson plays at a permanently slow, controlled pace – in a good way. He has what can be called an “old man’s game”, a good indicator of feel for the game. Feel for the game overwhelmingly is what makes Nicholson unique.

In the Dwight Howard trade he acquired Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless among draft picks.

Afflalo’s strength is overwhelmingly his feel for the game. He is a natural mover and scorer. Like Nicholson lack of explosiveness to attack the basket and physically impact the game limits his upside, but his feel and instincts are high end.

Vucevic is another instinctually impressive player. You can see the calm he has in the post and around the basket. Furthermore his terrific rebounding numbers largely seem instinctually based, without elite athleticism or lift – similar to Kevin Love’s rebounding.

What about Moe Harkless? You guessed it. Smooth. Fluid. At ease when he drives instead of out of control for a raw player. Above average feel for the game again.

At the trade deadline, Orlando grabbed Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb as the young prospect haul for JJ Redick.

Tobias has the best feel for the game out of all these Orlando players. In fact I would argue Tobias has one of the best feel for the games in the entire league. Look at how natural and fluid this man plays. He manages to get to the rim not because he’s explosive, but because he’s that smooth.

Like a broken record, Doron fits the profile of all these other Magic players. He’s not the fastest or biggest guy, but he has a combination of skills – and more importantly, a natural feel and fluidity to his game. He’s struggled mightily translating his shot this year but I’d expect Doron to pan out over the long run.

All these players being feel for the game heavy, makes me strongly think Rob Hennigan is doing this on purpose. While feel for the game is not the only thing that matters for player success, if added to other skills like athleticism, size and perimeter skills, players are cooking with gas. I’m very impressed by Hennigan with the Magic. This might be a playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers situation.

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Written by jr.

March 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm

One Response

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  1. Good article. Although they are getting beat by Miami (no surprise), I can see what you mean. They get back on defense after missed shots and play at an almost methodical pace offensively. If they could find a good-great PG and just mature together, they could be a playoff team very soon.

    Mike

    March 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm


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