Blazer Preview Part Seven: Travis "The Leaping Enigma" Outlaw

Travis Outlaw

Height: 6'9"
Weight: 210 lbs
Age: 22
Years Exp.: 3
Games Played: 69
Started: 11

Minutes: 16.7
Points:  5.8
FG%:  .440
3PT%: .264
FT%:  .697
OffReb: 0.7
DefReb: 2.0
TotReb: 2.7
Stl: 0.45
Blk: 0.67
Ast: 0.5
TO: 0.5
Ast/TO:  0.92
Fouls:  1.6

Assets

--Travis has more hops than a bunny in a brewery.  He elevates so high his seat doubles as a flotation device.  The latest scouting term to hit the public airwaves is "separation", meaning the ability of a player to create distance from a defender in order to get up a clean shot.  Every time Travis goes vertical he might as well be in a new area code.  Though he is nowhere near as talented, skilled, polished, or accomplished (and probably never will be) T.O. is almost McGrady-esque in this particular raw aspect of the game.

--Travis' production has risen in most categories as his playing time has increased over three seasons.  At times last season he appeared to show a little more attention to rebounding.

--He's a decent percentage shooter for a small forward.

--He's developing a couple of semi-consistent moves, most notably his turn-around jumper which, when it goes in, is a thing to behold.  He has looked more consistent on all his moves than he used to.

--If you see him on the wing on a fast break, woe is you.

--The kid's 22, and you hope he has places to grow in the league.

--He's never caused a lick of trouble since he's been here.

Challenges

--The biggest thing hamstringing Travis' development has been his ability to pick up plays.  This is well-documented.  As I said in June, he can single-handedly ruin either your offensive or defensive sets without prejudice.  He doesn't he help out with the little things, leading to considerable frustration with coaches.

--For a guy who thrives on jumping and dunking, Travis can't get by people much.  For such an amazing raw athlete, he ends up looking slow when he moves laterally.

--Despite some developing consistency, T.O. handling and shooting the ball is still a crap shoot.  His release point tends to stray when he doesn't concentrate.  He'll make a move, get stopped, then not know what to do with the ball.

--He gets tunnel vision something awful.  His first three options are "shoot".  And while he needs to develop some range in order to open up his drives, he tends to fall in love with the jumper.  Some of the most ridiculous looking shots last season flew from his hands...the kind that say, "Please bench me now, I have no idea what I'm doing."

--Much like Darius, you want him to create more one-man havoc on the defensive end.  The steals, blocks, and bothers just aren't there.  Nobody in the league is scared to be defended by this guy.  Given his assets, somebody should be.

--You never know what you'll get out of Travis one night to the next.  In a season he'll have 7-8 very good games, 1-2 fantastic ones, 5-6 bad enough to make you cringe, and 60 where you go, "He was in?  I forgot."

Notes

If I were playing against Travis...well...I don't really have to do anything special to play against Travis right now.  That's the problem.  If I stay mostly in front of him in the halfcourt and am not foolish enough to let him loose in transition I've got a very good chance of seeing an insignificant contribution.  He's not going to force the issue and his teammates won't be in a hurry to get him the ball.  When going against him on defense a pump fake or side juke should get him leaping and then I'm by him.  I only have to worry if I see signs of motivation like rebounding or pressing.  In that case I probably elbow him in the ribs (or, if necessary, the chin or more sensitive regions) a few times as he goes for the ball to try and knock him back into passivity.  I'm betting he doesn't have the drive to keep it up.

I have many of the same concerns about Travis that I had about Darius.  The lack of a consistent running game will take one of his strengths away, and he's not generally helpful when running efficient halfcourt sets.  Like so many others on this team he's an endpoint, not a conduit.

In more general terms, for a guy with his raw ability, you kind of hoped for more by this point.  At times last year he looked stalled and directionless.  Having three coaches in the last two seasons hasn't helped his development any.  Still, you need to see more out of this kid.  He had a chance last year and couldn't capitalize.  He's likely to have a bigger opportunity this year.  His all-around game must pick up and if he's decided to be an offensive force we need to see more passion, consistency, and better judgment.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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