Blazer Preview Part Four: Joel Przybilla

Joel Przybilla

Height: 7'1"
Weight: 255 lbs
Age: 27
Years Exp.: 6
Games Played: 56
Started: 52

Minutes: 24.9
Points:  6.1
FG%:  .548
3PT%: .000
FT%:  .532
OffReb: 2.6
DefReb: 4.4
TotReb: 7.0
Stl:  .36
Blk: 2.32
Ast: 0.8
TO: 1.4
Ast/TO:  0.57
Fouls:  2.7

Assets

--There are bigger and more obvious assets, but  the one I want to lead with is Joel's heart.  He's intense on the court without being out of control.  He never quits on plays.  He's seldom out of position when guarding straight up.  The errors he makes are of commission, not ommission  Every once in a while he dominates games on the defensive/rebounding end.  This isn't from athleticism, extra energy, or even overwhelming talent.  It's all about the guts, and Joel has them.  And best of all, he doesn't take crap from opponents.  If there's going to be an emotional leader of the team this year it'll be Przybilla.

--Obviously his shot blocking ability is in the stratosphere.  2.3 blocks a game in 25 minutes is close to insane.  Same with his rebounding stats.  Before all is said and done he'll be a very good defensive center.  If he can get through a few full seasons with decent minutes I wouldn't be surprised to see him average 11.5 rebounds in his peak years.

--Joel is mobile and reacts fairly well.  Taking the weight off and training in the ring were both great decisions.

--He doesn't take many shots, but the ones he does take he makes.  

--He may have offensive limitations, but he's devastating in the pick and roll.  First and foremost he sets excellent picks.  In fact the whole rest of the team should be required to go to Przyie-U to pick up that trade.  He gets to the spot quick, he's available, upright, and solidly imposing while remaining still.  He doesn't roll until the guard has gone past and when he does roll he's always ready to catch the ball.  Plus he finishes a heck of a lot better than you think he does.  Anybody remember the two-handed, leg-lifting jams that were his staple a couple of years ago?  None of this new-fangled pick-and-pop stuff for him!

--We haven't seen it much (and we may not this year either), but Przy is capable of getting a rebound quick, spinning, and triggering the fast break.

Challenges

--Number one on the challenges list has got to be foul trouble.  It's been a chronic problem since he came into the league.  Granted his current teammates hang him out to try on a nightly basis and further granted that the refs appear to whistle him for things they let other players get away with routinely (How many blocks did he get taken away from him last year alone?) but he's still got to be smarter about picking his spots to challenge.  We need him in the game.  Better team defense and a better record/reputation will help somewhat, but still...

--Somewhat related to that is the fact that Joel often over-pursues when he could make a better play by staying down and staying still.  I think the coaching staff tried to emphasize this to him last year but he's still got a ways to go.  Blocked shots are fine, but you don't get most of them.  If you're not whistled for a foul on those you miss, you're out of position for the board.  Helping out is one thing.  Jumping after everything that moves is another.

--Beyond dunking, Joel's offensive game is limited.  It's great to stay within yourself, but no matter how great you are on the defensive end it's hard for a team to play 4-on-5.  He's shown the ability to hit an open 10-footer if given time and space.  He probably needs to develop some kind of back to the basket post move too, as a safety valve if nothing else.  In the same vein Joel is not only a member of the Shaq Club (shooting a higher percentage from the floor than the charity stripe), he could be the president.  He doesn't take a ton of foul shots right now, but if he wants to be a 35-minute a game man who plays inside he's going to get more.  Shaq's too proud to call Rick Barry, but Joel shouldn't be.

--While he's always looking to receive the ball on the pick and roll, he has hands of stone elsewhere.  He can't be trusted with the rock, which further limits our already poor passing possibilities.

--Much like Theo Ratliff, Przybilla sometimes has trouble guarding bulky players straight up.

--He's also been injury-prone.

Notes

If I were playing against Joel I would...well...not play against Joel.  At least not on the offensive end.  I would let him catch the ball anywhere he wanted unless he was headed right towards the basket.  On the defensive end I would realize that the key to attacking him is the 1-2-3 positions.  Let your little guys drive deep into the lane and jump into his body.  The possession list will look like, "Tweet!  Tweet!  Block.  Tweet!  Rebound.  Tweet!  Now coming into the game Backup Center #2 for Joel Przybilla." (insert polite applause from fans here)

If I'm Portland I want Przybilla starting, I want him vocal, and I want him a little angry.  I might let him make the pre-game speech in the locker room.  I want to see 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 4 fouls out of him per night. I also bring back the pick and roll. If he could give me 8-10 points off of three dunks and another shot or two I'd be ecstatic.  I want the rest of the team to feed off his defensive energy...to put out the extra effort so he doesn't have to get in those risky positions.  I want my guards to step up on a phone book, look him in the eye, and say, "I know you got my back if I mess up, so I'm gonna show you that I've got yours too."  (I mean, the guards ought to love him already.  His main job is bailing them out and he doesn't take any shots away from them on the other end.)  I want my forwards to start diving in for rebounds on his wing.  If everybody commits, Przybilla is exactly the kind of guy who can key/anchor a devastating defense.  I fully expect that, barring injury, within two years this will be Portland's calling card.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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