Tuesday, September 16, 2008

YouTube Tuesdays! The man they call Mobe

As far as roster depth at SG goes, it's not like the Jazz brass are in a bad spot. Sure, there's no Superstar playing SG in our offense, but it's not like our offense is built around a Superstar Guard who takes a lot of shots either. Do any of the Jazz guards have what it takes to be a superstar? Probably not, but out of what they currently have, you can clearly see that at least ONE of them may one day be an NBA All-Star. Having to divvy up 48 minutes between three point ace Kyle Korver, super athletic Ronnie Brewer, a 4th year player who is only 21 (C.J. Miles) and the Impact player of the year in the NBA-DL (Morris Almond) isn't as bad as having to split that same amount of time between Greg Ostertag, John Amaechi, Curtis Borchardt and Jarron Collins. (and yes, we almost made the playoffs with that at center) That's why I suggest that the Jazz brass are not in a bad spot, because they've been in much worse spots before.

Morris Almond wowed fans and opposing coaches alike last season in the NBA-DL, though this season he must try to impress Jerry Sloan with the other parts of his game besides offense

Today we're going to see Morris Almond break the D-League scoring record, and while the length of this video does not span a large sample size of the game, we can clearly see the makings of a solid offensive player. Certainly, it's not a bad thing if the 4th guy on your shooting guard depth chart can score 50+ in a game (which Almond has demonstrated in his games of 51 and 53 points last season) in an American professional basketball league (which the D-League is).

I probably look at Almond's game a lot differently than other Jazz fans who are holding out for a complete player. I don't expect him to be Ray Allen. I don't expect him to be Dell Curry either -- Almond's game somewhere in-between those two.

Morris Almond wowed fans and opposing coaches alike last season in the NBA-DL, though this season he must try to impress Jerry Sloan with the other parts of his game besides offense. Photo by NBAE/Getty Images.  

As I live in Detroit I get to enjoy a lot of exposure to Pistons players (heck, Preeti (if you don't know who she is then sucks to be you) had dinner with Chauncey Billups tonight); one player that I've had a good hard look at has been Rip Hamilton. He's not the most athletic guy around, nor is he a great one on one defender. (If he was, then the Pistons wouldn't get killed by LeBron every other game) Rip isn't a complete player -- he's not going to dunk on other guys, or beat 3 guys off the dribble like Kobe does. On offense he runs other guys through the Reggie-Miller-hamster-wheel-of-death, gets open, and makes jumpers. Aren't those the only shots that SGs really get in our offense anyway?

With this information (that the only shots for SGs in our half court offense happen to be the types that Rip gets and makes) I heartily envision a spot on the floor for Almond in the future. Why? Because Morris Almond (if plugged into such a system) can perform that well. He has all of those moves already and can be just as efficient. He only looks like a chucker who never gets assists because we've only seen him play with marginally capable point guards and really bad players everywhere else. Just check out the video, and try convincing yourself that if he played with Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and the pass-happy Andrei Kirilenko that he wouldn't be able to keep the defenses honest more than Brewer does with his broken shot.

Almond Tops Scoring Record [1:37] Uploaded by sanskrit953263 -- Earlier in the season Almond had scored 51 points, and he breaks his own (and the NBA DL's) record with this performance on January 30th, 2008. He ended up shooting 19-34 (3-7 from three, 12-14 at the FT line), and added 6 boards, 2 steals and 2 assists. He's never going to get to shoot it that much in a week of NBA action next season, but it's not like he was chucking the ball, he's the only offensive player on his team (hello triple teamed?) and he still managed to shoot 55.8 fg% on his way to 53 points !!!

The YouTube comments section is interesting to read, especially how non-Jazz fans suggest that he has some, albeit minor, Kobe-like skills with scoring the ball. (Particularly with his post up game, which is good for a guard, and as his Jazz teammates Paul Millsap and Ronnie Brewer tease, how he never passes the ball) That's basically why they named him Mobe. Looking at how smooth he plays on offense, I can easily see why the name has stuck.

Do I think he should start? No. Do I think he should get a chance to show his stuff with good players? Yes. Realistically, he is a season or two away from being a legit NBA player. Watching him in summer league I came to the conclusion that he was not learning anything new by playing with guys worse than him. For him to get better he needs to play against guys who are better than he is -- essentially, NBA players. His defense is not so hot (but he does try and has a good blocks to foul ratio, one of the better ones on the roster for sure).

But . . . is defense really a Jazz priority in the first case? We win games by out scoring them, our paint area is patrolled by our small forward and our bigmen don't play any defense. To fix our defense we'd have to break down a lot of our current structure. It's almost better to keep getting better at offense, because we sure as heck can't stop anyone from scoring. I guess this is what will only make Almond that much more important to our future -- I'm sure that he will become the best offensive player out of him, Korver, Brewer and Miles. Again, Rip Hamilton has flaws, but he can be an All-Star, I'm sure we can coax 12 ppg out of Morris Almond 2-3 seasons from now.