Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things to look for this season: Mehmet Okur

Memo is a man-mountain of offensive firepower. (not unlike the Janissary warriors of his Turkish heritage) He's a fantastic spot up shooter for a guy 6'11, and has legit range all over the court and is pretty clutch. He can play pick and pop, pick and roll, or even take his man off the dribble after a cute little pump fake. (Something he worked on all last season with Tyrone Corbin) Most people don't know that he's pretty good in the paint as well, heck, Memo routinely schools Amare Stoudemire when he posts up. After the All-Star break last season Memo averaged 17 and 10, and while a lot of NBA fans think that he's just a soft Euro because he has three point range may have failed to notice his absolutely insane rebounding numbers down the stretch. [15 games of 13 or more boards, 6 games of 16 or more, a season high 19 against the Lakers in the playoffs]

Memo is a bad ass He nails threes . . . . . . and has an under-rated floor game.
All photos by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty Images    

Okur was almost Dirk-like from February onwards, as he averaged a double double. Moreover, in games where Memo played in 35 minutes or more [he averages 33 mpg in the regular season] from February onwards he averaged 18.7 ppg and 11.2 rpg. If you further select only games where he plays a Dirk-like 38 mpg then his numbers balloon to 19.3 ppg and 12.1 rpg. You're a pretty good team if your 3rd option is giving you 19.3 and 12.1 when he plays big minutes. "Oh," you say, "these are only for the regular season." Well, In the playoffs he averaged 15.4 ppg and 11.8 rpg. [Up from 14.5 and 7.7 in the regular season] In the games where he only played 38 minutes or above (again, Dirk like numbers) he ends up getting 16.5 ppg, 13.1 rpg -- and 2 apg and 0.78 bpg to boot. If you ramp his stats up to just the games he played over 40 mpg those go to 2.8 apg and 1 bpg respectively if you were wondering. This may even prompt us to ask ourselves if we really do have a center problem when ours averages a double double and pulls down over 13 rebounds per game in the playoffs (in games where he gets star player minutes)?

I'm sorry, for whatever reason people (outside of Utah, Detroit and Turkey) have failed to recognize that Mehmet Okur is a serious bad-ass. Tyson Chandler has that rep, and he averaged 8 ppg and 10.3 rpg in the playoffs. If you forgot already, Okur averaged 15.4 and 11.8. Tyson blocks more shots [a whole 2/3rds of a block more when Memo plays big minutes -- but then Tyson's 8 ppg looks really bad against Memo's 17.2 ppg], but Memo actually makes his free throws and hits threes. If Okur gets better stats than Tyson, why is Tyson a bad-ass, and Memo is soft? There are many reasons, but this isn't the time to discuss racial provincialism in NBA fans. What is it time for is time to talk about what three things we should look for this season from Memo:

  1. We need him to start off 'Hot': This is especially true when we've got two rotation guys currently down (Deron Williams, Matt Harpring). Memo is a capable player, his stats from February on through the playoffs show this. He was an All-Star two seasons ago, and the Jazz are going to need him to start off 'Hot' this season, instead of allow him to sleep-walk for half the season, and then turn it on in a Shaq-like development. Thankfully he has come into camp in the best shape of his life and he's been getting praised for his added mobility by coaches and the media alike. This is potentially a contract year for him as well, and if he could be nominated for the All-Star game it would greatly improve his asking price. Memo is an All-Star level talent when he's on the floor for star minutes (35+ mpg) and is averaging 19 and 12.
  2. Needs to get to the line more: Did you know that one of our top scoring options and top free throw shooters (by percentage) only gets to the line 3.2 times a game, based on last year's statistics? That was remarkably low for him, as in his previous seasons he was going to the line 4.7, 5.5 and 4.8 times per game. The Jazz offense should put Memo in more situations where he draws fouls (maybe on those pump-fake drives of his, or dare I say it, more post up work). I think Memo needs to shoot between 5 and 6 free throws a game. Andrei went to the line 3.6 times per game and he never even has the ball in his hands on offense, what gives? Even Tyson Chandler went to the line more, at a whopping 3.7 FTA/game, not that he did much good there (59.3 ft%), but that's besides the point. Only Kyle Korver shot better from the line than Memo last season, we need to get our best FT shooters to the line more for easy points.
  3. Three point accuracy: It kind of begins and ends with Memo's three point shooting. Being a three point ace makes him a three point threat. Being a three point threat allows him to pump fake people closing out on him, which allows him to put the ball on the floor and drive. Driving allows him to get fouled more, and thus, go to the line more for freebies. Memo needs to shoot a high percentage from deep again this year, especially with Deron possibly being out for a few games we're a little week on outside shooting for the time being. Dirk was like this as well, but he just ended up shooting less and less threes every year and now people remember that he's a three point maker, but he doesn't actually make three pointers. Last season Dirk made 79 threes (up from 72 the season before), but only at the rate of 35.9 3pt%. Last season the Jazz had a few people who shot a higher percentage than Dirk did: Deron @ 39.5%, C.J. @ 39.0%,  Memo and Kyle both @ 38.8%, AK-47 @ 37.9%. I think that Memo's driving ability should make him take (potentially) less threes, but with the over-all result of making him take (shoot and make) a higher percentage of threes. I want to see him shoot above 40% from deep this season while still making more than 100 of them (last season he hit 114 threes, the season before he made 129) . I think that he can.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. I can explain my opinions about memo to my friends but they have some misconceptions about him because of his outside-oriented game. We have same opinions about memo and I'm very happy and I feel more comfortable because eventually a jazz fan thinks that memo has post up plays and he is good rebounder; moreover, an All-Star level player.I live in Turkey and I've been watching,following him for years. Sloan should give him a chance to play inside and sometimes play as PF.