Blazers scout Chad Buchanan was nice enough to spend the first half of this afternoon's Rockets vs. Lakers game dropping knowledge to Blazersedge. Our conversation will run in a series of four posts.
picture by Alex McDougall for Blazersedge
Blazersedge: With Jeff, the thing that stood out yesterday is that he's a little mechanical but he attacks the rim when he has the ball, there's no second thoughts. I think people got on Channing for thinking too much; Jeff doesn't seem like he has that problem.
Jeff is mechanical, robotic. Those are the words everyone says when they see him. He does play that way. He's a very programmed player. Part of that is his coaching -- Herb Sendek is a very old school, fundamentals, on balance, taking care of the ball, taking good shots, that's the way he's been taught, that's the way he still plays. And that's a good thing.
He doesn't take a lot of risks when he's got the ball in his hands, he takes open shots when he should take them, he doesn't try to put it on the deck, he sets good screens, he's going to make the right pass. He's never going to be a guy that you throw it to on the block and he gives you a lot of offense. I think he's done a good job here of accepting the role of being the antagonizer on the floor. Not backing down from guys, our team needs a little more of that. We need some guys to go out there and do the dirty stuff. I don't think Jeff judges how he plays by how many points or rebounds he gets, he judges it like, "tell me one thing you want me to do and I'll do it." He doesn't care if he doesn't touch the ball, he is happy to set screens.
He needs to get better rebounding the ball on both ends. At Arizona State he played only in zones and he was given an area to rebound and don't worry anything else other than that. For him he's got to go get stuff out of his area. He's got to go track down balls he's not used to trying to go after. I thought he did a great job yesterday of battling Joey Dorsey. That's a strong dude.
Blazersedge: He was laughing about it too.
Jeff's one of those guys who either didn't realize who he was messing with or he's a legitimately tough guy. [laughs]
He's just so happy to be a part of our team right now. He would run through a wall for Nate. Whatever we ask him to do he would be glad to do.
Blazersedge: Did he get the short end of the stick in Summer League because he's playing 5 instead of playing the 4?
I think he's going to have to play 5 on our level. I think there's some 4s that are going to be really hard matchups for him. Guys who can take him away from the basket will be a hard matchup for him. His lateral quickness guarding the ball is not a strength of his right now. You couldn't see that last night because he could just lean on Joey Dorsey, he does a good job getting low with a strong base. You take him away from the basket and the quick moves are hard for him.
He's a guy that will have to play a lot of five for us. There are going to be some fives that are too big for him to guard. All the backups and third string 5s in our league -- he will be fine against those guys. He's not capable of guarding Dwight Howard or Yao Ming or someone like that.
He's going to be a really good guy off our bench. He has a great attitude, he's constantly showing positive energy and that's a value for us. Teams in our league, good teams in our league have benches in our league that are into the game. I thought at times last year we didn't have that. We need that. Especially on the road, you need to see your bench over there when you're on the floor. I think Jeff has an amazing personality, he'll be ready to play when he gets the opportunity.
Blazersedge: He seems like the biggest personality on the team.
He is. He's a loose guy, a very intelligent guy, he has a lot of interests outside basketball, very well-spoken, understands how lucky he is. Understands the opportunity he has in front of him. He's going to do everything he can to take full advantage of it.
Blazersedge: When he was coming up was he a highly regarded prospect? Was he off the radar?
His freshman year, if you think he's robotic now, he was really robotic then.
He's filled out physically over the course of his four year career. He came in without an identity as a player at ASU and then really got great coaching and figured out what role was for him.
Then he got a chance to play with a great guard in James Harden. James got him a lot of easy opportunities offensively. He's going to need that if he wants to score on our level he's going to need to have guards that can get his offense for him. Hopefully he'll have some guys on our team who can help him out like that.
At least he's a guy when defending him, you've got to honor him because he can shoot it.. Guys like Joey Dorsey, for example, can't shoot it, so guys don't have to guard him. With Jeff, you've got to at least respect his shot and that creates opportunities for other guys because his man can't protect the basket or clog the lane.
He's progressed a lot in four years.
Do you think his perspective on his role on an NBA roster was shaped by the fact that he really had to work hard for what he has right now? The fact that he wasn't as highly regarded, the fact that he was off the radar.
He wants to help us win. That's what he wants to do. It's not about him. It's not about anything other than "how can I help the team?" He has that mentality of "give me an opportunity."
In college, he was about doing everything to win. He was on ASU's recruiting team. He was about winning, never about the stats.
If you're a 4 year guy sometimes you have trouble playing with talented underclassmen like James Harden, who's getting all these accolades. That can be hard for seniors. Jeff was all about the team, he didn't care if it was some freshman or sophomore getting all the credit, it didn't bother him one bit.
I like the way you put it -- he's coming into the league with that mindset. That's what's going to help him understand that if he's not playing for a 10 game stretch but he's helping the team in practice or on the bench, that's still important.
He just wants to be a part of it.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)