Blazer Preview Part 12: Raef LaFrentz

I am away from the blog until Sunday attending to family matters.  My main man Atma Brother One of Golden State of Mind fame is helping out by continuing to post the daily Blazer preview stuff for me.  He also said he would post himself if any significant Blazer events went down.  I didn't pay him extra to monitor the comments, so please keep them to their usual excellent standards.

Raef LaFrentz

Height: 6'11"
Weight: 245 lbs
Age: 30
Years Exp.: 8
Games Played: 82 (Boston Celtics)
Started: 63

Minutes: 24.8
Points:  7.8
FG%:  .431
3PT%: .392
FT%:  .680
OffReb: 1.0
DefReb: 4.0
TotReb: 5.0
Stl: 0.35
Blk: 0.88
Ast: 1.4
TO: 0.8
Ast/TO:  1.77
Fouls:  3.3

Assets

--LaFrentz is famous for his outside shooting.  While the Europeanization of the league has made this talent less rare in seven-footers than it once was, Raef can still hold his own.  You love how this pulls opposing big guys out to cover him.  This should allow Magloire or Randolph to get some offensive boards.

--His other calling card (historically anyway) has been his long-armed shot blocking.  He averaged some truly prodigious numbers early in his career.

--He's one big guy on our team who can actually pass a little.

--He's seen a lot of games and won't get rattled.  Neither does he have delusions about his role.  He'll be a good teammate.

Challenges

--His game is a whole lot of "used to be".  His stats, especially the defensive ones, have been in the crapper the last four years.  The Celtics are still starving for a man in the middle yet they let him go without blinking an eye.

--You depend on big guys to bring up your team scoring percentage.  LaFrentz won't, aggravating an already thorny problem with this team.  If it's not facing up and open, he probably won't hit it.

--He's never been a great rebounder or post defender.

--He's not particularly mobile.

--He's erratic from the foul line too.

Notes

If I were playing against Raef I'd basically be happy I didn't have to deal with Zach, Magloire, or Przybilla (depending on his position).  If he's in I'm hammering him down low and rebounding all over the Blazers.  I'll take a couple long bombs going against me the other way.  He's going to miss most of them anyway.  I try the old Shaq trick of outrunning the guy down the court in transition and setting up low before he can get position.  I run him vertically, sideways, and every way there is.  See if those distance shots fall then.

Raef looks like a decent pick-up for a team that wants to run a primarily halfcourt offense.  He gives you another option...a different look.  He won't hog the ball either.  He could be a nice balance to Zach on the floor.  I just worry about all the other aspects of the game that could slip through the cracks in order to get that offense.  Raef and Zach defending down low doesn't exactly strike fear in your heart.  I could see Raef in on a lot of game (or quarter) ending sets.  You have to respect him and that means the middle is less clogged for the dribbler coming from the top of the arc.  If they collapse then Raef gets and open chance to win it from distance.  That's the kind of thing--limited and specialized--that's going to be his bread and butter.  He's not a big minute answer.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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