A Substitute for War

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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Nicholson

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

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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.

Written by jr.

March 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm

33pt Thursday – Final predictions for 2012-2013 rookies

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This year was the first time I used the 33pt method to evaluate draft prospects. The real test of this metric and what would gain it respect is if it will predict well. Although I posted a Big Board in June, I have a few issues letting that list stand. One is that was made very shortly after I had come up with the 33pt idea and before I had hashed out my specific criteria for the scores – as a result of the changes to my criteria, a few players’ scores and rankings have changed. Secondly, in that iteration of my big board, I didn’t lay out the specific scores for players, merely the rankings. Thus before the preseason started I wanted to make a revised post of my official predictions for 2012-2013 rookies using this metric, to test it when the players eventually hit the floor. I listed all of the 1st round picks, in addition to any significantly relevant picks outside of the 1st round. I also included the 2011 draft picks that will be rookies this year.

Superstar scores

Anthony Davis

Physical: 11, Skill: 7, Feel for the Game: 10

Total: 28

Davis looks even better than I thought in June, because I realized how rare elite shotblocking is at the 4 position – with his offensive explosiveness as well, Davis may in fact be one of the highest scoring physical talents at PF the NBA has seen. He has a tremendous feel and a skill level that should be somewhere between good and great for a PF.

Jeremy Lamb

Physical: 6

Skill: 9

Feel for the Game: 11

Total: 26

Lamb looks a lot like a SG version of Kevin Durant to me. He has an otherworldly feel for the game, has a tremendous array of shots and skills off the dribble, and has an elite first step and great size to finish at the rim.

All-star scores Read the rest of this entry »