Wolverine: JJ Hickson
By Blazer Fanatic Posted in: Blazers
Traded from Cleveland, waived from Sacramento, and picked up for nothing by Portland to fill out a roster that, by most measures, had been blown up. JJ Hickson played like a man possessed for the final games of last year, fighting for his NBA career's life. And for the effort, when a giant hole remained at center after a failed free agency bid, JJ took up the tall task that his size says he wasn't fit to perform. Neil Olshey saw things differently, and Terry Stotts wasn't going to accept "no" for an answer.
Undersized, undervalued, and underappriciated by all but the try hards and die hards in Portland, JJ has spent the last 33 games making a name for himself. Working on a one year, $4 mil contract, JJ currently ranks:
78th in Points Per Game, 13th for all Centers (12.5 PPG)
Remember, JJ's playing fewer than 30 minutes per game as the 5th option on a team with Aldridge (20.6 PPG), Lillard (18.2 PPG), Batum (16.3 PPG), and Matthews (15.6 PPG), each playing 35-39 MPG. Those four alone combine for 58 FG attempts per game, while the entire team averages 83 FGA PG.
7th in Field Goal Percentage (0.551 FG%)
5th in Rebounds Per Game (11 RPG)
2nd in Double-Doubles (20), tied with Dwight Howard and David Lee
No, he's not a center and no, he's not a dominate, defensive presence in the paint, but he has been an invaluable part of something the Blazers (19-17) failed misserably at last season - winning. Portland had 19 losses before they had 19 wins, and once reaching 19, became a sub .500 team the rest of the season.
JJ has a fierce tempter that is unleashed when a shot goes up as he lashes out with the intense aggression of an enraged animal to get his hands on the basketball. His effort is contagious, and has become the identity of a Blazer team that never gives up, never stops working, and always has a chance to win. I doubt JJ will ever command a max deal, but he may very well be pricing himself out of his new home in Portland.