The Wizards’ Present Day Ron Harper

One month before we celebrate the 50th birthday of legendary 90’s NBA star Ron Harper we find a present day version of the super skilled wingman in D.C.  Harper, who would later win five rings as a role player with the Phil Jackson coached Bulls and Lakers, was a super all-around talent in his twenties.  Before he signed with the Bulls in 1994 Ron Harper’s career averages looked like this:

19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals & 1 block

Who can we find in the NBA with the unique “Harper like” skill-set of scoring, perimeter defense and rebounding?  The super-terrific Basketball-Reference Play Index spits out the following seasons of players averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals per night (since 2008).  The particularly “Harper like” Trevor Ariza is having a career year with the Washington Wizards.

Totals

Per Game

Player

Season

Age

Tm

G

TRB

PTS

STL

Trevor Ariza

2013-14

28

WAS

23

5.9

15.5

2.0

Michael Carter-Williams

2013-14

22

PHI

19

5.5

17.8

3.1

Paul George

2013-14

23

IND

29

5.8

23.9

2.1

Chris Paul

2008-09

23

NOH

78

5.5

22.8

2.8

Dwyane Wade

2008-09

27

MIA

79

5.0

30.2

2.2

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/31/2013.

In addition, Ron Harper, Anfernee Hardaway and Andre Iguodala each have two such seasons of fifteen points-five rebounds-two steals.

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10-Day NBA Contract Watch: D.J. Stephens

Former Memphis Tigers guard D.J. Stephens is playing in Greece this season.  Video evidence shows Stephens as a high-flyer ala Dominique Wilkins.

At 6’5″ Stephens led Conference-USA in blocks during the 2013 season. He blocked 6 shots in a game twice despite playing fewer than 30 minutes in each contest.  At 7 rebounds/game the guard also led Memphis in rebounding by two per game.  The team’s 6’9″ combo inside players Shaq Goodwin and Tarik Black each averaged just below 5 rebounds/night.

To recap, at 6’5″ D.J. Stephens averaged 10 rebounds and 4 blocks/36 minutes played his senior year at Memphis.

Stephens seems like a great 10-day contract pickup in the NBA.  We may be looking at a future Clarence Weatherspoon or Terry Tyler type player.  If anyone has an update from Greece please share.  We need more D.J. Stephens…

Not In My House aka “The Charlotte Bismack’s”

I realize that a stat line of 2 assists and 16 turnovers is not overly impressive but the Charlotte Bobcats back-up center Bismack Biyombo is elite in one area.  Rim protection.  According to “Stats” at NBA.com Bismack is holding opponents to 39% shooting at the rim*.

Coach Steve Clifford is running out an excellent defensive squad this season.  Al Jefferson and Biyombo are two of the twenty best defensive rebounders in the NBA.  Clifford’s back-court of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson are both wonderful rebounding guards.  Throw in back-up power forward Jeff Adrien (12 rebounds, 2 blocks/36 minutes) and the Bobcats defense may drag their very limited offense to a playoff spot this year.

*Andrew Bynum and Taj Gibson are the two best “Rim Protectors” in the NBA this year (38% opponents FG)

 

The Rarified Shot Blocking Area Code

The Milwaukee Bucks standout second year big man John Henson will celebrate his 23rd birthday on Saturday.  When he came out of North Carolina NBA teams viewed him as a defensive and rebounding specialist.  When the Bucks picked him 14th in the 2012 draft it seemed reasonable.  His rookie season Henson proved to be a below average shooter (50% True Shooting) but awesome rebounder (13 rebs/36 mins).  He was a decent shot blocker who got into some foul trouble.

Coming into this year Milwaukee hoped for an improvement but no one banked upon the strides Henson would take under new coach Larry Drew. His minutes have doubled this year while his scoring has maintained (16 points/36 mins each year).  Key improvements have come in his shooting (54% TS) and ball handling (more assists and fewer turnovers).  The only part of his game to decline at all is his offensive rebounding though Henson is still leading the team in O-Rebs.

Last but not least John Henson’s shot blocking totals have gone through the roof.  Seemingly overnight he has become one of the top five shot blockers in the league equaling his outstanding college record of 2.5 blocks/game.  The final component that coach Drew must be happy about is that Henson is committing 25% fewer fouls while raising his block totals.

Nearly all post defenders commit more fouls than blocked shots. As a second year player John Henson is nearly one-to-one (63 fouls-to-62 blocks).  The “more blocks than fouls” territory is inhabited only by Anthony Davis and Tim Duncan.  Could John Henson become the third member of this elite group of rim defenders?

The Latest Great Passing Big Man

The Charlotte Bobcats leading assist man is big guy Josh McRoberts.  Not only is the former Duke Blue Devil passing out five dimes/36 minutes but he is also limiting his turnovers (4-to-1 ast/tov).

Below is a list of great passing big men who were also good at holding on to the ball:

Totals

Advanced

Player

Ht

Season

Age

Tm

G

MP

AST

TOV

AST%

TOV%

Toni Kukoc

6-10

1996-97

28

CHI

57

1610

256

91

24.3

11.8

Kevin Garnett

6-11

2002-03

26

MIN

82

3321

495

229

25.8

11.9

Josh McRoberts

6-10

2013-14

26

CHA

26

761

112

29

24.4

12.4

Kevin Garnett

6-11

2001-02

25

MIN

81

3175

422

229

22.4

12.5

Toni Kukoc

6-10

1994-95

26

CHI

81

2584

372

165

23.4

13.0

Alexander Volkov

6-10

1991-92

27

ATL

77

1516

250

102

23.2

13.5

Pau Gasol

7-0

2005-06

25

MEM

80

3135

371

235

23.7

13.8

Brad Miller

6-11

2010-11

34

HOU

60

1015

145

54

21.4

13.8

Toni Kukoc

6-10

1997-98

29

CHI

74

2235

314

154

23.4

14.1

Bill Walton*

6-11

1977-78

25

POR

58

1929

291

206

22.8

17.2

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2013.

The First Place Boston Celtics

Despite being outscored through their first 27 games of the year the Boston Celtics are in first place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division.  Rookie coach Brad Stevens has his team playing solid defense while over- achieving on offense.

Most surprisingly, the Celtics two best players are guard Jordan Crawford and forward Jared Sullinger.  Both score 14 points/game while posting a 55% True Shooting.  Crawford is dishing out a career high in assists (nearly 6/night) and Sullinger is showing he can rebound despite being undersized for an interior player.

Hats off to Stevens and the young C’s for holding down the fort while waiting for Rajon Rondo to recover from his knee surgery.

The Knicks Grab a Stud Outside of The Lottery

Some of the blame for the disastrous start to the Knicks season can include injuries.  Their staring center (Tyson Chandler) and point guard (Raymond Felton) have played a combined twenty games.  Carmelo Anthony has picked up the rebounding slack grabbing a career high 21% of available defensive rebounds.  Though without Chandler they have absolutely no presence against opposing centers. Knickerbocker fans have had very little to be happy about.

Fortunately their first round draft pick out of Michigan Tim Hardaway Jr. has been very effective.  Despite falling to the 24th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft the son of “killer crossover” has had a nice first two months to his career.  He is playing 17 minutes and scoring 8 points/game.  For a rookie picked late in the first round this is solid.  It looks even better when compared to the start by fellow rookie Ben McLemore.

Hardaway and the Sacramento Kings rookie come from the same mold (6’5″, 200 lbs), play the same position (shooting guard), have three letters in their first name and eight each in their last name.

The difference is that twelve months ago some scouts saw McLemore as the #1 overall pick in the draft.  The former Jayhawk slipped to #7 but was still considered an outstanding pure shooter and athlete.  The Kings picked McLemore ahead of Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams.

Look at the early returns of rookie two-guards:

Tim Hardaway – 17 points/36 minutes, 60% True Shooting

Ben McLemore – 13 points/36 minutes, 46% True Shooting

This is not to say that McLemore won’t turn into an all-star guard.  It simply shows how much of a pleasant surprise Hardaway has been with the Knicks.