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Posts Tagged ‘talent

Why Steve Novak may be more talented than Andrea Bargnani

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English: Basketball player Steve Novak during ...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Knicks traded for Andrea Bargnani, clearly they anticipated an upgrade, or the chance at one. Bargnani is both much more expensive than Novak and it cost New York a 1st and two 2nds to make the swap, thus by logic they prefer Bargnani.

Regardless of how they feel about Novak’s production the last 2 seasons vs a standard Bargnani year, it seems obvious they prefer Andrea’s talent. Bargnani is a former #1 pick and is more physically gifted, thanks to both a 7’1 height in shoes and greater athleticism.

However I’ve made the point repeatedly on this blog, that treating physical tools as the near end all of talent is dangerous. What Novak lacks physically compared to Bargnani, he may make up elsewhere:

First consider that Novak is a better pure shooter than Bargnani. Aside from his career 43.3% 3P to Bargnani’s 36.1%, Novak has a career FT% of 88.6% to Bargnani’s 82.5%. Novak shoots free throws at a rate reserved for the NBA’s shooting greats. In addition to this, Novak had an incredible shooting career at Marquette, hitting 46.1% from 3 and 93.1% from the FT line over 4 years. While Novak has only taken 105 free throws in his entire NBA career putting his FT% in small sample size dispute, that he took 261 FTAs in college at an even better rate, helps confirm his ability. The evidence suggests that for pure shooting, Novak is among the best of the best along with NBA players like Steve Nash, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, etc. Whereas Bargnani is an above average shooter for a big man, but not as freakishly gifted at it.

However the biggest difference may be in mental talent. Bargnani has awareness issues, the root of falling behind so often in help defense. Even on offense, Bargnani has never struck me as a natural or fluid basketball player. He’s not a player who surveys plays or feels his opponents out. Very few of his plays could be described as crafty. Bargnani to me, has a similar affliction that athletes like Javale McGee and Anthony Randolph do. Despite obvious talents they do not read the game well. Chris Kaman is another big man who has standout skills with size and mobility, but can’t pick up plays fast enough in a read and react dominated game. What separates Brook Lopez and Chris Kaman has everything to do with this feel and instincts.

Novak on the other hand, knows positioning, recognizes space when shooting and in the few times he needs to move shows a degree of smoothness and fluidity. Overall I would argue Novak has a better feel for the game than Bargnani does.

That’s not to say Novak is for sure more talented than Bargnani. Bargnani’s athleticism does give him more versatility attacking the basket or creating midrange jumpers off the dribble. Bargnani’s height and strength allows him to defend the post more than Novak. While defensively he may lose plays mentally more than Novak, if he’s in the area his physical tools allow him to contest shots better. It’s hard to pin down just how much value Bargnani’s physical talents could have, if it’s accepted he’s an enigma who doesn’t use all of it.

Nevertheless, to me calling Steve Novak more talented than Andrea Bargnani is perfectly reasonable. For while Bargnani may have the edge in physical gifts, I see Novak’s special talent as a shooter and his feel potentially making up the difference.

Written by jr.

October 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm

How Gerald Green’s flaws represents the different way I judge talent

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English: Gerald Green Lokomotiv-Kuban

English: Gerald Green Lokomotiv-Kuban (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At a certain point in high school, Gerald Green was pegged as one of the next great superstar talents and a strong contender to go 1st overall. Due to concerns about being a player who didn’t get it and limiting his workouts after neglecting college to declare immediately, he was selected 18th overall out of high school. But nobody doubted his talent, just whether he’d develop the skills and mentality to use it. After bombing out of the NBA, he returned last season to decent productivity with the Nets, leading some to believe the new mature version of Green could reach his talent level in the NBA. The Pacers gave him a long term contract and he’s once again reverted to the sub-NBA caliber player he had been in his original stint.

Why do I care about Gerald Green? Because he represents two of the ways I grade talent differently than most. Here are the two “inefficiencies” I see in regards to why Gerald Green’s talent is overrated:

#1 – The difference between physical talent and physically impacting the game

Gerald Green is a fantastic athlete, with the Dunk Contest being the near highlight of his career. He has amazing vertical explosiveness and lift. The main reason Green got called a superstar in the making in high school is his athleticism for a 2 guard.

Here’s the problem: Because of a lack of ball-handling, Green has never been much of a “slasher”. Instead, he is a player that almost strictly takes jumpshots. When a perimeter player is relegated to jumpshots, I consider him to not be physically impacting the game. The players who impose speed and power on the opponents by going to the basket, physically impact the game. Thus in regards to talent, Green is given credit for his athleticism, but his lack of on ball/slashing skills, means that he can’t use that athleticism effectively. As a whole I would consider Green a weak physical impact talent.

#2 – Feel for the Game

Green has a poor feel for the game. He often looks robotic, stiff or out of control. He does not have natural instincts or smoothness to his game. He plays like a shooting guard version of Anthony Randolph or Javale McGee. One can make the case that he’s among the most obvious examples and prototypes for perimeter players with poor feel for the game.

If both these weaknesses are accepted it’s easy to see Green is not a very talented NBA player. He lacks the talents to physically impose himself on the game and he has a very week feel and instinctual talent base. His closest thing to a strength is a 3 point shot as well as the defensive potential his physical tools gave him. With a better attitude perhaps he could’ve stuck as a rotation player in the league, but in my opinion he has always been too flawed to have more than a limited role in the NBA.

Written by jr.

February 12, 2013 at 10:39 am

Posted in Basketball, NBA Draft

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