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Bleacher Report featured a fluff piece written by Michael Dulka (Featured Columnist) about JJ Hickson entitled "Making the Case Against Portland Trail Blazers Trading J.J. Hickson."
If you are a Blazer fan that wants Hickson to remain a Blazer, devoid of any salary cap implications, and thinks the Blazers can be a contender with Hickson starting - this artical is for you. For me, it just makes me feel like a sad panda shaking my head and wondering why people keep trying to feed me steak. I EAT BAMBOO!!! I digress.
If I sound a bit critical of Dulka's column, hold on to your bottom. I don't even know where to begin, so lets just go with the title of the artical for starters. Hickson's first name is not J.J., it's JJ. It doesn't stand for anything - according to JJ.
"The Trail Blazers face a tough decision in the next week and a half..."
Not exactly. Blazer GM, Neil Olshey, is resolved to the fact that Portland has their All-Star power forward, Hickson is not a center of the future, and they aren't interested in paying Hickson much more than they are now. Dulka quotes Chris Hayes, who I believe is a liberal reporter for MSNBC. Perhaps he meant Chris Haynes, the Blazer beat reporter. Would have been nice had he also included what Neil Olshey has been very open about since the season started. The plan is to build the team around 4 guys, and JJ isn't one of them.
"He's averaging 12.9 points and a career-high 10.6 rebounds per game while shooting 56.3 percent from the field."
Yes, his double-doubles jump off the page. He is getting a lot a rebounds, but yet if you look at his advanced statistics, JJ doesn't increase team rebounding. In fact, the Blazers have a higher team rebounding rate when he is off the floor. No Blazer fan will say JJ doesn't hustle or work hard for rebounds, but there is statistical evidence that his rebounding is over-rated as I blogged about not long ago (Honest conversation about JJ: Part 1). It should be pointed out that 69 percent of JJ's shots are inside the restricted area. When last I posted Part 1, Hickson was only shooting 57 percent from there, where as now he's at 62 percent. It's an improvement, but not exactly amazing. Dunk count! Can I get a dunk count please!?!?
"In addition to filling the stat sheet, Hickson has shown an edge to his game with his willingness to do it all for the Blazers... In addition to Hickson being a "do-it-all" player..."
"Willingness" to play out of position at center, absolutely - "Do it all," not so much. Hickson's post defense is not good. Not only does he struggle to rebound against legit big men, he struggles to even be in position. Recently in a post-game interview with Jason Quick of the Oregonian, JJ stopped short of outright blaming the coaching staff. Say what you will about Kaleb Canales (Blazer defensive coordinator), but JJ is out of position. Even if Kaleb is the worst guy for the job, and the system is the worst ever conceived, JJ is simply not consistently in position to defend, stop penetration, or rebound. If you don't follow the system, and communicate, it's not going to work. Defense is a team game. Aldridge even said as much to Quick after the same game in which JJ made those comments. "Missed assignments, slow rotations reading it, not communicating ... all of those things together," Aldridge said. So is it the Coaches or the Players Quick asked? "I just know that we have to do the game plans better and we have to work on doing them to the best of our ability and doing those things we haven’t done - communication, early rotations. We have to be consistent with it."
The one thing Dulka did get right is that Hickson likes playing with this Blazer team, he like Portland and the fans really appreciate his energy and hustle, and his emphatic dunks.
"Hickson's breakout season has provided the team with a great asset to trade high and likely get a good return."
Please give a second look at the title of Dulka’s article. Ok, so he is making a case against a trade, but Hickson’s value is that the Blazers have a great asset to trade high for a good return. Excuse me while I beat my face against this bamboo stick I just pulled my dinner off of.
"Hickson has been incredibly consistent over the season."
And in closing…
"He needs to prove he can be consistently produce for the Blazers."
Is it just me, or is this article as contradicting as a starburst? (Solid, yet juicy like a liquid)
Nothing about Hickson’s defense has been consistent. And while he’s shooting 2 percent better since I last wrote about it in Honest Conversation about JJ: Part 2, it has little to do with what would justify the price tag to keeping him in Portland next season.
Perhaps I should be thanking this Bleacher Report contributor for the attention? So, thank you Michele Dukla (You see what I did there?) – now, back to my bamboo shoot.
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