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Controlled chaos is the best way to describe Gerald Wallace, aptly nicknamed “Crash” during his tenure with the Charlotte Bobcats for his aggressive, punishing, treat your body like a crash test dummy style of play. After acquiring Wallace at the trade deadline, Portland fans got an appetizer of Crash’s unique approach to the game. Watching him play brought back memories of Jerome Kersey, but with an elevated skill-set (no offense to Jerome). Wallace appeared to be out of control in his cuts to the basket; yet every time, he found a way to maneuver his body to avoid an offensive foul—it was impressive.
Before Wallace came to Portland, their offense was already going through a metamorphosis, shifting from a Roy isolation offense to an Aldridge-centric offense that depending on an inside-out game and sharp cuts to the basket (ala the Utah Jazz). This change brought a spark to the most methodical offense in the league, resulting in an abundance of high flying dunks. However, there were two major problems with this new offense: poor spacing and out of control cuts. With the acquisition of Raymond Felton from Denver on draft night, the spacing issue should be resolved. Therefore, it is critical that Gerald Wallace become a leader on the Blazers, mentoring his teammates on how to attack the basket with grace.
If Crash can teach two players in particular, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum, how to aggressively cut to the basket without drawing a charge, the Blazers offense will leap to another level. With a spread offense that goes through LMA, the players need to cut sharply and controlled. Yet young players like Matthews and Batum were unable to alter their bodies to account for weak-side help last season. So instead of two free throws or a three point play, the Blazers turned the ball over, and the next time down the floor, these young and talented players were more hesitant to attack the basket.
Crash needs to coach Matthews and Batum on the physical and mental aspect of controlled recklessness. He needs to help them become more aware of defensive movement to his cuts. He needs to practice with them how to adjust their bodies in mid-air. He needs to go through half court cuts and breakaway drives to the basket with them. Crash needs to help create mini-Crashes.
If Gerald Wallace can accomplish this feat, not only will the Blazers be a more exciting team to watch and a very difficult team to defend, they will win more games and be a legitimate contender in the West.
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