Blazer Fanatic

Jan 13

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?


  1. I'll be the first to say I've flip-flopped like 6 yimes.. I can't imagine the position Olshey is in with this

    by knorton181 on 1/13/2013 11:58 PM
  2. I'm with you Knorton but, the more I watch the more I think getting a true center should be the first priority before trying to resign JJ and to be honest I see other team will have more leverage to sign Hickson because they can offer something we can't a spot to be their starting 4 and on this team that spot isn't going to be taken anytime soon. You can only go so far when playing out of position and it's definitely starting to take it toll on JJ and our interior defense.

    by CarlJ1 on 1/14/2013 1:35 AM
  3. JJ will win us some games but I think his price will determine whether we resign him next season. JJs double doubles are great but actually I wonder how many of his rebounds are from his own misses? JJ needs to improve his defensive rotations and also to pass out to the wings

    by riverman on 1/14/2013 2:08 PM
  4. I wrote about his rebounding in Part 1 - for a guy standing under the rim, and having inflated defensive rebounding number (and as Riverman suggests, perhaps even inflated offensive rebounds from his own misses), his rebound doesn't appear as impressive as a box score would suggest. I hope people can look at JJ as a whole package.

    Pros: effort, attitude
    Average: rebounding, shooting
    Cons: size, passing, hands, defense

    I don't think JJ is worth more than $5 mil, and it lends explaination why Portland was willing to even give him $4 mil this season. We had no center with any NBA experience. JJ is certainly better than no center right?

    by Blazer Fanatic on 1/14/2013 2:22 PM
  5. @ Blazer Fanatic, AMAZING blogs (part 1 & 2)! U know I'm already a fan of all ur other blogs (ALWAYS exceptional) & comments but these 2 JJ blogs... r of an unprecedented level of greatness! :) Everything you've put in these 2 blogs can't b disputed & is all Olshey needs to look @ to make maybe THE toughest decision the organization has to deal w/.

    by Simpson on 1/14/2013 10:00 PM
  6. Is that in the clutch chart accurate? I see him as 8-18 for 3's on that chart. Might be bugged... but overall I dont disagree with what you said about that.

    by sedare on 1/16/2013 8:44 AM
  7. Nice catch. It's still a small sample, but definitely not very good.

    by Blazer Fanatic on 1/16/2013 12:45 PM
  8. Actually, I saw the clutch thingy too but i just disregarded it bc like u said, small sample (< 30 sample size, I never pay any attention to ;)

    by Simpson on 1/16/2013 1:49 PM
  9. Small sample size or not, 6-16 inside the restricted area is definitely not very good. And this really is a great example of JJ's struggle to get the rebound, collect himself, and make a good decision to pass out to a better and more open scorer. One assist per game is extremely low. When you aren't passing, you'd better be hitting 60-70% of your shots at the rim.

    by Blazer Fanatic on 1/16/2013 6:33 PM
  10. @ Blazer Fanatic, we’ve been on the same page. I definitely didn’t mean that I disregard the stats believing that his percentages were/r good (clutch or regular shots); what I meant was that in this case (his lack of being clutch), I disregarded the stats because no matter how good/bad the #’s were (& they ARE bad ;), the small sample size couldn’t tell me as much as my eyes (I’ve watched all games w/ JJ & plenty more ;) have. Sorry, sometimes I’ll comment w/o all my thoughts/meaning out there bc I jump on here a lil’ bit @ a time & I've a tendency to be verbose (so I also try to keep things as short as possible but sometimes leave out some key things ;)

    by Simpson on 1/16/2013 11:45 PM
  11. JJ committed 3 traveling violations versus Washington. Missed several easy lay-ins right at the rim. I'm developing the impression that his energy and aggressiveness is not all Roses. Someone needs to install a transmission in that guy with at least one more speed. He struggles to focus and shift gears to collect himself and make the best play, which is often: looking the ball into his hands, being deliberate but soft with his passes and his lay ups, and sticking with his man and boxing out.

    by Blazer Fanatic on 1/22/2013 7:24 PM
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