Part 2: Honest Conversation about JJ
By Blazer Fanatic Posted in: Blazers
(Honest conversation about JJ cont': please check out Part 1)
JJ is a competitor. His teammate like him, and fans and teammates alike appriciate his effort. His attitude and energy are most certainly an assett to the Blazers, but what value does that equate to for contract purposes?
Along with JJs lack of passing out of the post, and his lack of assist, he doesn’t have the softest hands – catching passes, corralling rebounds, or shooting the basketball. Granted, its rough going in the paint, but Hickson seems to struggle to settle down and collect his self after going full boar for rebounds. This is one of those, “take the bad with the good,” but could have a real impact on Hickson’s value.
As I mentioned in Part 1, Hickson is only averaging 1 Assist Per Game (Matthews 2.5, Aldridge 2.5, Batum 4.4, Lillard 6.5). There are 19 other centers in the NBA averaging more APG. If JJ isn’t passing, he needs to score when he gets the ball. JJ takes 68% of his shots from inside the restricted area. Hickson is ranked somewhere between 5th and 8th in the NBA in second chance points, which is awesome, but I think for a starting center, his field goal percentage should be much higher. I see him missing so many shots in the paint and I wanted to look and see if my eyes were lying to me. The following chart shows JJ’s shots and his percentages.
After tonight’s loss to OKC, JJ is shooting 56% from inside the restricted area. For some perspective, I made a list of qualified (on pace to play 70 games) players grabbing at least 8.6 RPG and their FG% inside the restricted area:
Playing on a team like the Blazers, surrounded by so many perimeter threats, 56% isn't very good, and neither is 53% from inside the paint. In fact, Hickson has played in 17 games with 5 minutes remaining and the game within 5 points. I personally expect much better for a starting center. Granted, that sample size it not very big, but the following numbers are even less encouraging and could explain why Hickson has been on the bench at the end of games.
Not many fans would question Hickson ability to defend. Improved or not, Hickson's post defense is relatively poor, and it doesn't help that he is undersized at his possition. He is ranked 64th in Blocks Per Game ( 0.74) and 161st in Steals Per Game (0.54). I think this is actually the most significant factor in Hickson's value, or lack of value, to the Blazers. What is the value of an undersized center that is a defensive liability, average at best in scoring in the paint, has inflated rebounding numbers on the defensive end, and doesn't pass well?
Personally, I like Hickson, especially his effort. Unfortunately, his notoriety for double-doubles does not seem as impressive when you consider his advanced stats which shows he isn't improving team rebounding, and his FG% inside the paint, which is average at best. Throw in a lack of passing and defense, and I just can't see the Blazers spending any more than $5 mil. And, I don't even see that happening if Portland is able to hit a home run during free agency with a legit center and/or 6th man. What do you think Hickson is worth when you take all this into consideration?