The sport was designed to be played inside-out. Call it a belief that I started subscribing to the first time I watched basketball being played. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the post-up games of the current squad, in alphabetical order.
Solomon Alabi: To quote Draft Express, he is “very raw in regards to his ability to score from the block, and is unlikely to ever emerge as a huge scoring presence”. His footwork, high dribble and general uneasiness with the ball in summer league confirmed these sentiments. His offensive weapon is a mid-range game which he complements with a floater, it’s early in his career but there’s nothing to suggest that he’s got the instinct and ability to become a threat on the block. The Catch-22 here is that if he adds weight to throw around in the block, he’ll lose the one thing he’s known to be good at – using his Dalembert-type body to block shots and play help defense.
Marcus Banks: He might have a post-up game. He also might have a purple unicorn. Nobody cares either way.
Leandro Barbosa: Cheating on defense and picking the passing lanes is his specialty, once he gets the ball he’s going full-speed ahead every time trying to catch a retreating defense. In the half-court set, he can use his quickness and unpredictability to get the hoop using screens but doesn’t have genuine post-up or face-up moves.
Andrea Bargnani: When he sets his mind to it, he’s the Raptors’ best post-up player. He can be effective on the block or at the elbow, especially if being guarded by shorter players which is when he’s more likely to use his hook with confidence. Unfortunately, only 34% of his shots come from less than 10 feet (55% FG), whereas 55% come from beyond 16 feet (38% FG). These two numbers of his need to balance out so that the Raptors’ offense can balance itself. The love affair with the three-pointer needs to stop, he led the team 4.1 attempts but was only 5th in percentage at 37.2%. It wouldn’t be bold of me to claim that he’s a better post-up player than a three-point shooter.
Marco Belinelli: Doesn’t have the physical strength to post-up other twos, but when made to play the point, he has in the past used his soft shooting touch to get scores from the baseline and elbow positions. In GSW, he rarely posted up and last year we saw it sparingly. His streaky ability to make off-balance shots should make him more suitable for a post-up game, but he hasn’t made the effort in that department, and neither have his coaches.
Jose Calderon: No post-up game.
Ed Davis: Prefers to play in the post and has displayed a feathery touch around the rim in college and summer league. That feathery touch has been much needed because his lack of strength prevents him from establishing deep position. His dedication to playing around the rim should serve him well in his career, and once he adds the necessary bulk and accustoms himself to NBA help defenses, he’ll improve. Next year will be very much a learning experience for him as he’ll spend a lot of his time figuring out how to get his shot off against bigger, stronger players. There’s no reason to believe Davis won’t develop into a decent post player, maybe even an Al Jefferson type game, but it’s not going to happen next year.
DeMar DeRozan: Flashes. That’s what he’s shown so far in his career. His efforts seem to be drawn towards improving his drive and jumper (21ppg in summer league), with the post game receiving little attention. He’s gained 15lbs this summer and is starting to get a solid NBA two-guard body which is helping him absorb contact and finish at the rim, but we haven’t see that strength being put to use on the block. In fairness to him, his ball-handling and slashing should remain a higher priority than his post game.
Joey Dorsey: Not even an offensive player but does muscle one up once in a while. Chances are that if he’s trying to post-up, there’s something very wrong.
Reggie Evans: Makes Dorsey look like Hakeem.
Jarrett Jack: At 6’3″ and 197lbs, he has got the bulk to back down point guards but just doesn’t have the finesse and know-how of going about it. Nobody’s expecting him to Barkley his way in there, but we haven’t even seen him operate with his back to the basket. Point guards who can survey the floor with their man pinned in the post (thus taking them more or less out of the help-defense) tend to be very effective – Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Andre Miller, and Chauncey Billups to name a few. Instead, Jack uses his physical advantage to bully his way using high-screens and is a prime candidate for netting And1s.
Amir Johnson: His lankiness, activity-level and wingspan make it almost impossible to block his shot once he has position underneath. He’ll definitely need to refine his hook, coordinate his footwork, and add a short fade to his game before anybody feels comfortable with giving him the rock on the block for more than just a couple possessions a game. The potential is there, and at 23, there’s no reason he shouldn’t get better. It’s as much up to him as it is up to the direction and training he’ll receive from the coaching staff. I’ve always felt that adding a veteran big man coach with NBA experience is a worthy investment, one Johnson and Bargnani would benefit greatly from (see Ewing with Howard for the obvious example).
Linas Kleiza: His 245lb frame should be an advantage against threes, but so far in his career he’s made his living sneaking around on the weak side, whether it be for threes or baseline cuts for jams. An occasional post-up will lead to good things, but thinking of him as a post player is much like thinking of Luke Walton as one.
Sonny Weems: As fadeaways have always been the popular finishing touch on post-ups for guards, I have faith that Weems can improve his back-to-the-basket game. His effective mid-range game serves as a good platform for him to extend his effectiveness and not just be a catch-and-shoot or pull-up type scorer; physically he’s well-rounded with a great release which when you combine with his jumping ability and athleticism, should give him great lift on any fadeaway. Just like DeRozan, the summer league saw him tend to his drive more than hist post game. He also seems to have extended his jumper to the 20-foot range.
Have yourself an easy Saturday.Follow @raptorsrepublic