February 1, 2012
Taj Gibson- By midseason everyone will fully realize that he’s not far off Carlos Boozer. One of the few things keeping Gibson from starting now is the fact that Boozer makes more than 10 times his salary. Boozer is a better shooter, but he rarely scores from the block anymore. He’s morphed into a long range jump shooter like his former Duke teammate Elton Brand. Defensively Gibson is worlds ahead of Boozer. Consider that in this his third season Gibson will surpass the ten year veteran Boozer’s career block total (another sad fact is that a 6’4” shooting guard Dwyane Wade has more blocks in the last 3 seasons than Boozer has for his entire career )! He’s already 26, which isn’t very promising, but as the 1st big off the bench for a good team, he’s going to wow people all season.
Marcin Gortat – Gortat has been in the shadow of Dwight Howard for his entire career. No matter how athletic and skilled he was, he had to play behind the best center in the NBA. And he could not play beside Howard because their size and skill set was too similar. But, Marcin Gortat should flourish in Phoenix with the added minutes and his new found importance in the offense. In Orlando, he could not the ball with Howard demanding so many touches. In Phoenix the only other post option is Robin Lopez. So far, Gortat is showing his soft shooting touch, solid post moves, and soft hands averaging 14.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this season.
Enes Kanter – The fans of the Kentucky Wildcats missed out on Enes Kanter. He was the most skilled post man in last year’s draft without having played a single college, and he was also one of the only big men in the draft that actually played big. Kanter has a fairly well-polished game for a 20 year old, and a good stroke out to 17 ft. Kanter has a solid hook shot over either shoulder and good footwork. The only thing slowing him from getting his numbers is playing behind Paul Millsap who has a $60 million dollar contract and the super-athletic Derrick Favors.
Kris Kaman – Kris Kaman is one of the best centers in the league when he is healthy. In his one full season as a starter Kaman averaged a double-double and made the All-Star team. He has impeccable footwork for a man his size, is as strong as an ox under the rim, and shoots a good hook shot with either hand. Kaman is deadly out to twelve feet and can knock down shots at 15-17 ft. Last year, he was not healthy and had to share touches with the super-athletic Blake Griffith. This year, Kaman will play for the Hornets where he should be not only the best option in the post, but possibly the best scoring option altogether. He should get as many touches as he wants in the post in New Orleans which means that he could have another All-Star year.
Tyler Hansborough – Tyler Hansborough has spent the last three years learning the NBA game and the subtleties between it and the college game. He brought his hustle and work ethic with him to the league, but he had to hone a different skill set for the league. The push shot that he leaned on in college was blocked against the bigger, more athletic players of the pros. But, Hansborough has pushed his jump shot out beyond fifteen feet with lots of practice, and he maintains the same drive in the pros that made him one of the best college players in the nation. He grabs offensive boards and does all the smaller things on the court. Under the tutelage of Larry Bird, Hansborough has broken into the starting lineup meaning more minutes and more production.
Tristan Thompson – Tristan Thompson is one of the least polished offensive players in last year’s draft, but he has a real chance to put up the best numbers as a post. In college, Thompson relied on superior athleticism, great hands, and excellent offensive rebounding to compete instead of polished moves and a reliable jump shot. Fortunately, athleticism and rebounding, especially offensive rebounding, translates well to the next level. Most of his points came from putbacks and dunks off the penetration of his front court players. Thompson steps onto a Cleveland Cavaliers team where he will be forced to play right away, and will have a decent point guard with rookie Kyrie Irving. If he learns a good hook shot, Thompson could be an All-Star in the NBA.
Kris Humphries – Humphries is a big athlete with good rebounding skills, good touch, and good hands. He labored to get enough minutes behind the number three pick of the 2010 draft, Derrick Favors. But now, Favors is in Utah and Humphries should move into the starting role. He was productive in limited minutes averaging a double-double in 28 minutes per game last year. And, Humphries will get starter’s minutes this season. Expect bigger numbers especially since the starting center of the Nets, Brooke Lopez has never averaged more than eight rebounds per game.