Player-by-Player: Joel Przybilla

Minutes--  Last Year: 16.3  This Year: 23.6  Change:  +7.3

Points-- Last Year:  2.0  This Year:  4.8 Change:  +2.8

Field Goals Attempted--  Last Year: 1.8  This Year: 3.2  Change:  +1.4

Field Goal Percentage--  Last Year:  47.4%  This Year: 58.1%  Change:  +10.7%

Three-Pointers Attempted--  Last Year: 0.0  This Year: 0.0  Change:  0.0

Three-Point Percentage--  Last Year:  0.0 This Year: 0.0 Change:  0.0

Free Throws Attempted--  Last Year:  0.6  This Year: 1.6  Change:  +1.0

Free Throw Percentage-- Last Year: 37.0%  This Year: 68.0%  Change:  +31.0%

Effective Field Goal Percentage-- Last Year: 47.4%  This Year:  58.1%  Change:  +10.7%

Offensive Rebounds-- Last Year: 1.4  This Year:  2.5 Change:  +1.1

Defensive Rebounds-- Last Year: 2.5  This Year: 5.9  Change:  +3.4

Overall Rebounds-- Last Year: 3.9  This Year:  8.4 Change:  +4.5

Assists-- Last Year: 0.3  This Year: 0.4  Change:  +0.1

Steals--  Last Year: 0.2  This Year:  0.2  Change:  0.0

Blocks-- Last Year: 1.6  This Year:  1.2  Change:  -0.4

Turnovers-- Last Year: 0.9  This Year: 1.2  Change:  +0.3

 

Salary Status:  Two years remaining at an average of $6.6 million per year then a player option at $7.4 million.

 

 

There’s no way to put it kindly:  Joel Przybilla’s 2006-07 campaign was awful.  Injuries plagued him for most of the season.  Even when he was healthy his weaknesses were featured far more than his strengths.  He shot poorly from the field and atrociously from the free throw line.  His rebounding was non-descript.  His defense (one of his staples) failed him.  He played fewer minutes per game than he had since his second year in the league.  Coming into this year he faced real questions about his ability to play any minutes, let alone major ones.  Nobody would have blinked had he simply faded into obscurity behind the glaring spotlight trained on Greg Oden.

 

Then, of course, Oden went down.  Immediately you started hearing mutterings about Lamarcus Aldridge playing center or Channing Frye filling in.  Nobody spoke much of the obvious solution.  At best people penciled in Joel as a token starter and occasional big body.  To his supreme credit Joel came into this season ready to claim those minutes back and he did…admirably.  Gone was the ball-fumbling, passive-rebounding, bear-hugging, brick-laying nightmare of the year before.  This Joel was on time in his rotations, aggressive on the boards, willing to block a shot without having to pursue every one.  His fouls stayed even despite the large increase in his minutes.   There were plenty of pre-season rumors about Joel’s rejuvenation, especially from the free-throw line.  The more cautious among us, myself included, said, “Wait and see.”  We saw.  He posted a career-high 68% free throw percentage.  His field goal percentage rose 10 points too.  And these aren’t bigger-minute illusions.  His per-minute production rose right along with his raw stats.  HHThis was one of his best years as a pro.

 

By the way, don’t let the relatively stark decrease in blocked shots fool you.  This is as much due to the team’s maturation as Joel’s ability.  We didn’t let as many plays through that would require blocked shots as in years past.  Plus Joel played to stay in the game and give us rebounds more than he played to swat.

 

Joel’s limitations haven’t disappeared, however.  Offensively he’s still a non-issue.  You’d better not pass to him in traffic.  If you do pass you’d better hit him in the hands.  His 77 games this year were a career-best and he’s never posted two seasons like that in a row.  He’s an effective player in his element, but he’s not what you’d call well-rounded.

 

Joel’s future with the Blazers depends on a couple things.  First we need to see how much he can produce in 12 minutes as a back-up instead of as a starter.  He’ll likely get more than that in the coming season but in the long run Greg Oden will play 36 minutes per game.  If Joel can come in and give the team rebounds and defense he’ll have a clear place.  If he’s not motivated in that bench role he’ll not fit here.  The second question, somewhat dependent on the first, is how the Blazers will eventually view that $7.4 million player option at the end of his contract.  If he’s producing that could be seen as a reasonable insurance price for a back-up center on a contending team.  If he’s not this year’s Joel that contract starts looking pretty expensive. 

 

Either way, there’s no denying that Joel bore down this year and gave us what we needed.  We would not have won nearly as many games without him.

Verdict:

Joel_medium

                That was one heck of a ride, Baby!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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