Hickson joined Dwight Howard as the only players this season to average at least 12 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field, and was one of four players with 1,000 points and 800 rebounds this year.
For all his offensive statistics, it was on the defensive end where the undersized Hickson -- and the Blazers, who were were near the bottom of the league in points allowed in the paint (40.6 per game) -- came up short.
"For us to make a jump next season, JJ can't be our starting center,'' general manager Neil Olshey told The Oregonian's Jason Quick as the season closed. "I'm not saying he can't be part of the roster, but we need to find a starting-caliber center who protects the rim and gets defensive rebounds at a high rate and that has a presence. And we have to do a better job at defending the paint. So you have to ask: Is it likely there is enough minutes to commit the kind of dollars JJ will command, when clearly there are other positions that need to be upgraded? Probably not.''
Joe Freeman, Isaac Ropp, Mike Acker and I provided panel thoughts on Hickson here.
Joe Freeman: When GM Neil Olshey's go-all-in pursuit of free agent center Roy Hibbert didn't pan out, Hickson provided the perfect one-year stop-gap at center for the Blazers - and the 2012-13 season ended up a win-win for all involved in the partnership. For the Blazers, Hickson willingly played out of position and mostly played hard, finishing with career-highs in rebounding (10.4 per game), double-doubles (40) and field goal shooting percentage (56.2). His emergence helped the Blazers surprisingly remain in playoff contention for five months of the season. And for Hickson, the opportunity to play big minutes on an overachieving team generated some national recognition and elevated his free agent status during a contract season. So why wouldn't the Blazers chase him? There are a host of reasons, but this is all you really need to know: His defense was stunningly bad. The Blazers are desperate for a space-eating, rim-protecting big man in the middle and Hickson is - without a doubt - not that player. He would be a nice backup power forward behind LaMarcus Aldridge, but he wants to be a starter - and he wants to be paid like a starter. Those two things won't happen in Portland. With all that said, JJ treated me well and his goofy, laid-back demeanor always brought a smile to my face. The NBA season is (way too) long and Hickson always managed to keep things light. I'll miss having his care-free attitude around.
So far, 57 percent of voters favor Hickson's return.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter