NBA Scouting Reports: Filling in the Blanks- the Centers

NBA Scouting Reports: Filling in the Blanks- the Centers
Aug 20, 2009, 08:00 pm
With these scouting reports, we take a look at players moving into their fourth year in the NBA as well as some others that gained experience elsewhere before coming to the NBA. As we found when we identified which players from the 2005 draft were still in the NBA, the trajectory of a players career is often unpredictable, which is why we opted to wait until these players were transitioning out of their rookie contracts to gauge their progress.

Marcin Gortat

Overview: Quietly emerged from Dwight Howard’s shadow during Orlando’s 2009 playoff run. Has a rather impressive physical profile. Complements his 7-0 size (in shoes) with a 7-3.5 wingspan and a sturdy 255 pound frame. Shows excellent straight line speed for a player his height, and is a very quick leaper as well. Has the strength to establish position on the block against many matchups. Not the most coordinated, agile, or graceful player, but is quite a physical specimen. Will bobble some passes, but doesn’t have bad hands. Originally drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2005, but traded for cash on draft night. Developed considerably during his time with RheinEnergie Cologne of the German Bundesliga after learning the game in his native Poland. Saw little playing time in his first season in Orlando, and spent some time in the NBADL. Improved year after year, largely thanks to his outstanding work ethic. Played only 12.6 minutes per game this season, but offered great energy on defense and showed some major improvements, especially in his offensive arsenal. Ranked among the league-leaders in rebounds per-minute, and in the top-20 for blocked shots per-minute and field goal percentage. Signed an offer sheet for five years at the MLE with the Mavericks in July 2009, which the Magic subsequently matched. Locked in as Dwight Howard’s backup for the foreseeable future, which will limit his playing time, but hasn’t stunted his growth as a player thus far.

Offense: Not the most productive player in the world, but displays a predictable repertoire that lets him exploit some matchups with his athleticism and offer nice efficiency. Uses his foot speed and size well. Gets a lot of touches by being active without the ball and working hard, but also gets some touches one-on-one in the post. Creates very few of his offensive looks on his own. Can really give players fits with his dedication to getting up the floor after the ball is secured. Runs hard from baseline to baseline and looks to establish position immediately. Is rewarded for his effort occasionally, though he doesn’t show ideal coordination finishing on the run. Proves to be a capable finisher around the basket, and makes an effort to dunk the ball when he has space. Offers a big target when rolling to the rim or ducking in down low, but is especially good at establishing a low base and utilizing leverage to seal his man on the block. Has four moves that he likes to use on the block that aren’t very smooth, but are clearly the result of endless hours in the gym. Can operate over either shoulder, but prefers his right. Uses a show and go move to get off some baby-hooks with his left hand that he makes with good consistency. Will make a quick spin and attack the basket for a runner or a reverse-layup if his man falls asleep. Displays an aggressive drop step when working over his left shoulder in an attempt to create space for a running scoop. Is able to counter that move with his hook, though sometimes forces his way too deep in the lane to do so. Has also developed a very quick release on his face up jumper and can make running hooks with either hand. Appears extremely mechanical when he makes a move or looks to shoot. Can hit a spot up jumper from time to time, but is inconsistent with his shooting motion, leading to erratic percentages. Doesn’t often find success when he goes away from the reliable moves in his repertoire, nor does he get to the line at a high rate since most of his moves allow him to get his shots off over defenders. Does not shoot a good percentage from the free throw line. Terrific offensive rebounder, who offers little as a passer, but helps his teammates score by setting solid screens out on the perimeter. Will get called for quite a few moving screens though.

Defense: Uses his mobility effectively on the defensive end as well. Never lets his man beat him down the floor. Has developed solid fundamentals. Makes an effort to get in a stance and stay with his man regardless of the situation. Is prone to playing behind his man in the post, but always looks to avoid giving up position. Gets extremely low when trying not to get backed down, making it tough for him to contest turnaround jumpers at times. Tends to stay at home on the pick and roll rather than hedging in an effort to protect the rim. Gets a bit antsy when closing players out on the perimeter, though he gets a hand up and attempts to contest every shot the same way he does in the paint. Very competent shot blocker who remains a bit foul prone because of the aggressiveness in which he plays with. Gets quite a few blocks right at the rim by quickly jumping into position and getting his hands up. Gets called for some cheap fouls since he doesn’t always go straight up. That doesn’t present a major issue due to his limited playing time, but is something he needs to work on. Does a nice job rotating over from the weakside, but doesn’t block as many shots that way. Cleans the glass well and offers a consistently high energy level.

Ryan Hollins

Overview: A young center trying to solidify himself as a legitimate backup. Incredibly long and athletic for a 7-footer. Skinny build reflects the time he spent as a collegiate high jumper. Will play well above the rim when he can get his feet set, but struggles with contact and is easily pushed off balance. Primarily functions as a hustle player and lacks polish both offensively and defensively. Bring some things to the table as a shot blocker due to his wingspan and leaping ability. Doesn’t display a great feel for the game, which often limits his ability to use his physical tools. Had a fairly marginal career at UCLA, playing the same complementary role that he does now. Showed some promise during a short stint in the D-League, but remains a very raw player –even with a few seasons in the NBA under his belt. Compensates for his unrefined skill set with a nice energy level. Plays with passion. Hoping to earn more minutes with a rebuilding Timberwolves franchise.

Offense: Gets essentially all of his offense by working without the ball. Does a decent job cutting the rim when the opportunity presents itself, but is mostly a pressure release for driving teammates. Presents a large target and has decent hands. A nice alley-oop option if nothing else. Decent finisher around the rim when he has space, likes to try and dunk the ball over defenders when the opportunities presents itself. Finishes at the rim at a respectable rate, but has some issues getting and maintaining position to do so. Lack of bulk allows opposing centers to knock him off balance easily, but when he isn’t pushed out of position, he draws a lot of contact on his shots. Gets to the free throw line at an outstanding rate on a per-minute basis. Will take an occasional jumper, showing mediocre touch and mechanics from the midrange. This lack of form is reflected in his poor free throw percentage. Won’t get touches in the post unless they come during garbage time, and has little back-to-the-basket ability. Gets most of his points by virtue of his mobility. Runs the floor well, rolls quickly to the basket after setting screens, and is able to crash the glass aggressively from the high post. Poor passer who seldom puts the ball on the floor and lacks ideal decision making ability. Will never be known for his ball skills, but has improved his ability to make an impact offensively slightly since his rookie season.

Defense: Decent defender overall, who shows a high activity level, but is limited by some of the same things that hurt him offensively. Can use his length and leaping ability to block shots –denying quite a few attempts just by going straight up and occasionally providing highlight reel-caliber rejections when he can get himself in position. Very aggressive with his hands when his man tries to back him down, leading to fouling. Has a lot less trouble when his opponent looks to use a finesse move. Often the target of isolations in the post. Has the lateral quickness to defend the midrange against most centers, but seldom gets the chance to do so. Hedges the pick and roll well and is capable of switching off to defend many players. Has some issues boxing out due to his lack of lower body strength and ideal rebounding instincts, but manages to clean the glass at a respectable level due to his athleticism. Extremely foul prone, which often limits his playing time. Seems to lose focus at times, but will have some nice possessions when he shows a sense of urgency.

Josh Boone

Overview: Hustle player with the tools to make an impact off the bench from the center position. Big wingspan makes up for the fact that he is slightly undersized. Possesses good mobility, leaping ability, and overall physical strength. Had a solid college career at UConn, although he was deemed somewhat of an underachiever by the time he left. Was a freshman when the Huskies won the NCAA Championship in 2004. Named Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, and then regressed a bit as a junior. Still landed in the first round when he declared. Stepped in and saw minutes immediately for the Nets. Offers good energy, rebounding, and athleticism, but hasn’t developed the skills to be more than a roleplayer. Seems to lack some passion for the game. Has shown some improvements in his fundamentals and defense, which have helped him function more effectively as a backup. Not going to post consistent offensive numbers due to his role and limited skill-set. Saw his minutes nearly cut in half between his second and third year due to roster movement around him.

Offense: Offers catch and finish ability, which makes him efficient as he’s learned not to try and do too much. Uses his mobility and athleticism to earn most of his shot opportunities. Gets most of his touches off of cuts, offensive boards, and rolling to the basket. Moves well without the ball and has learned how to fill the lane very effectively both in transition and in half court settings. Gets essentially no opportunities to create his own shot, allowing him to do what he does best. Doesn’t show any polish in the post or the ability to hit a jumper with any range. Most of his mental errors occur when he’s wide open from the midrange and he pulls the trigger, since his sub-50% free throw percentage is an accurate representation of his jump shooting on the whole. Excellent offensive rebounder who plays his part in the offense. Takes advantage of his touches at the rim by using his explosiveness and strength to finish or get to the line. Shows questionable touch when he is forced to take shots when off balance.

Defense: Decent defensive player who isn’t able to make as big of an impact as he did on the college level. Doesn’t show a lot of intensity guarding the perimeter –not getting in much of a stance or using his quickness well at all. A little more aggressive on the interior, showing a bit more focus when defending the post or coming over to help a beaten teammate. Shows nice explosiveness when defending short range shots going away from the rim, which he attempt by staunchly defending penetration directly to the rim. Will get beaten off the dribble when he has to keep up with two or three dribbles when closing out on the perimeter. Doesn’t look terribly comfortable when he has to move away from the basket, though he gets a hand in the face of shooters when he can. Able to contest shots, but doesn’t often go straight up on the shot. Uses his muscle to fight for rebounds, but could stand to show a more consistent energy level on the defensive end to better use his quickness.

Hilton Armstrong

Overview: An athletic forward-center who is a legitimate backup at this point. Not very tall for a center, but compensates with a 7-4 wingspan. Extremely well built, and has added some bulk since his college days. Could stand to continue adding weight. Not a late bloomer physically, but is the definition of the tag from a basketball perspective. Averaged roughly 10 minutes per game in his first three seasons at UConn. Blew up as a senior, primarily on the defensive end. Named Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2006. Showed enough promise offensive to propel himself into the lottery. Hasn’t been a major impact player in the NBA, and needs to have a similar spike in production to avoid being labeled an underachiever. Turnovers, an aversion to rebounding and his inability to stay out of foul trouble have all been major issues for him thus far. Will need to work hard to earn his minutes behind former UConn teammate Emeka Okafor and faced competition from Ike Diogu. Consistency and focus will be the name of the game for him moving forward. Question marks abound regarding his physical and mental toughness.

Offense: Has covered a huge amount of ground on the offensive end in the past few seasons. Much more skilled than he was early in his career. Has all kinds of potential on this end, but rarely is able to show it on a consistent basis. Gets about a quarter of his offense in the post, with the rest coming from hustle plays and an occasional spot up jumpers. Shows a solid turnaround jumper from over his right shoulder when operating down low, as well as a developing hook with his left hand. Appears comfortable making hook shots with both hands, but isn’t as consistent when he takes one on the move. Shows a drop step to the baseline and an up-and-under move every now and against as well. Will often just turn into his man over his left shoulder and shoot over him. Has a high release point on his jumper, which helps him taken advantage of his quick leaping ability and not get his shot blocked under defensive pressure. Strong enough to take contact at the rim and still get the ball up. Excellent finisher on the whole. Not a great foul shooter though, which hurts his efficiency. Shows adequate form on his jumper, but lacks consistency. Doesn’t have a fluid release, which hurts him. Would be well served to take the time to refine his midrange game, as it would help his face up game immensely. Has all kinds of issues when he puts the ball on the floor against pressure, but isn’t a bad ball handler in space. Wants to go left or come back to his left hand with a spin move if he does put the ball on the floor. Has some issues catching bullet passes in the lane. Struggles badly with turnovers, coughing up about 30% of his possessions over the last two years. Often looks lost in his team’s half-court sets. Decent offensive rebounder who uses his mobility well on the glass and in transition. Shows signs, but seldom strings together good performances. Needs to continue working hard to polish his skills, and especially become tougher and more aggressive on this end of the floor.

Defense: Average defensive player who could definitely be better. Not aggressive defensively and doesn’t seem to have a great deal of fight in him. Uses leverage to compete for position down low, but doesn’t always keep his man from catching the ball on the block. Lack of ideal bulk hurts him when defending the center position. Susceptible to fakes as well, which takes away from his quickness and lets his man score with counter moves. Has improved his weakside defense to an extent, but only to the point that he attempts to contest shots, often still arriving a step late. Will block most of his shots coming from behind, or surprising his man with his wingpan and leaping ability at the rim. Uses his length well out on the perimeter too when contesting shots, but needs to be more aggressive and work harder when defending the midrange. Extremely poor rebounder on the defensive end, has the tools, but just doesn’t pursue the ball hard enough. Needs to give his all defensively in an effort to compensate for his still developing offensive game. Doesn’t look bad when he’s giving a good effort and throwing his body around, but that unfortunately does not happen enough.

Patrick O’Bryant

Overview: Big center who didn’t live up to lofty expectations, and likely never will at this point. Has great height and an enormous wingspan. Blessed with impressive physical tools aside from a slight lack of strength. Extremely mobile big man who can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. Classic late bloomer who didn’t emerge as a player until his second year at Bradley. Showed his merit as a shot blocker and displayed enough potential to warrant a spot in the top-10 after just two seasons in college, largely on the heels of a terrific NCAA tournament performance. Named Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2006. Was never overly productive on the offensive end, but showed some signs. Looked out of place and disinterested at times early in his NBA career. Really struggled in Golden State’s system, taking a lot of jumpers and essentially being exactly what the team didn’t need. Physical profile garnered him a second chance, and will likely earn him additional opportunities down the road. Never really shows much passion on the floor, but has played with a greater energy level since leaving the Warriors. Audition for the Raptors late in 2009 had him playing the best basketball of his career. Still hasn’t played 80 games in his three year NBA career. Toughness will always be questioned, both mentally and physically, as will his work ethic and feel for the game. Has a lot to prove still.

Offense: Puts up an inordinately high number of jumpers for a player his height. Has made his biggest strides on the offense end. Though his skills haven’t improved enough to show on the stat sheet, he no longer looks as entirely out of place and completely uncomfortable. Gets his offense from a blend of post ups, spot ups, and catch and finish opportunities. Not assertive enough to take advantage of any one situation particularly well. Will be aggressive with his jumper from the perimeter, taking spot up shots with range out to 20-feet. Capable catch and shoot player when given lots of time and space. Extremely inconsistent when he has to deal with a hand in his face or isn’t perfectly in rhythm. Falls in love with his perimeter game far too easily. Not at all polished with his back to the basket. Will get off hook shots with ease, but is often way off target. Rarely shows flashes of good things in post up situations, often looking tentative and overly methodical with his moves. Has his turnaround jumper blocked sometimes, a testament to how slowly he will operate on some occasions. Size and length allow him to earn some easy baskets around the rim. Lacks ideal hands, but isn’t a total liability catching the ball. Pretty turnover prone when he catches the ball in traffic. Doesn’t always like taking contact, which forces him to rely on his questionable touch from the short range when he doesn’t have a dunk or layup. Not a good shooter from the line. Able to use his mobility and length to pull down some offensive rebounds and provide a big target cutting to the rim. Doesn’t excel at doing either though. Not a terribly attractive option due to his propensity to pull the trigger from the outside, though his efficiency at the rim adjusts for that tendency in his shooting numbers.

Defense: Offers obvious utility on the defensive end. Enormous wingspan and ability to move around the paint allows him to effectively contest shots, if nothing else. Lack of strength is an issue for him when opponents try to back him down. Will use leverage in the post and attempt to fight for position, but lacks the core strength to compete for position with many centers –especially when fighting for rebounds. Uses his length to force some tough shots, but doesn’t go straight up and often hacks shooters when they look to score. Extremely high rate of fouling hurts his ability to impact the game positively on this end since he sends opponents to the line, while taking what shotblocking presence he does provide off the floor. Doesn’t show very good lateral quickness when defending ball handlers, though he moves fast enough to contest some shots rotating over from the weakside and when closing out shooters. Won’t wow anyone with fundamentals, effort or awareness, but has too big of wingspan not to change some shots and pull down some rebounds.

Solomon Jones

Overview: Young center who is trying to solidify himself as a backup. Isn’t terribly tall for a center, but has an enormous wingspan. Shows nice athleticism, but remains skinny for a post player despite adding a lot of weight throughout his college career. The definition of a late bloomer. Didn’t emerge as a serious draft prospect until his senior season. Played two seasons at Daytona Beach Community College before moving on to South Florida. Had some nice games as a senior and provided a nice defensive presence, but really emerged during the draft process. Has improved in each of his seasons in the NBA. Now has some of the skills to match his solid basketball instincts. Brings some things to the table on the defensive end. Will be asked to make an impact off the bench for the Pacers.

Offense: Has seen his role shift considerably as his skill set has developed. Did most of his damage finishing around the rim as a rookie, when he posted a solid shooting percentage before taking almost exclusively jump shots in a limited role in his second season. Came back strong in his third year, showing a vastly improved shooting stroke and regaining many of the touches he didn’t get down low as a sophomore. Has improved his jumper dramatically over time. Now capable of knocking down midrange jumpers with surprising consistency. Has a super high release, allowing him to hit many shots with a hand in his face. Not a bad catch and shoot threat for a player that didn’t develop a jumper until reaching the NBA. Still does most of his damage around the rim. Long and athletic enough to finish down low. Doesn’t show a refined post game, meaning he gets most of his touches by moving without the ball and pulling down offensive rebounds. Shows a face up jumper as well as a turnaround, but lacks the consistent hook shot to be a threat to make a move going at his opponent. Outstanding finisher when he doesn’t have to put the ball up moving away from the rim. Length and quick leaping ability are great tools for him, as he often beats his man into the air and is the first player above the rim. Gets to the line at a solid rate and shoots a decent percentage. Not a glamorous scorer by any stretch of the imagination, but his finishing and midrange shooting make him very efficient with what touches he does use.

Defense: Foul prone shot blocker who is big on tools and small on fundamentals. Has more than enough lateral quickness, length, and leaping ability to make an impact on the defensive end. Very good weakside shot blocker who is good at anticipating shots and helping his teammates moving from block. Lack of bulk hurts him against some players. Tends to have issues with fouling due to his aggressive shot blocking mentality and struggles with holding position. Will diligently protect the rim, making him an attractive player in limited minutes. Needs to cut back on his fouling to get more playing time.

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