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Quick Przybilla

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I'm sure you caught Jason Quick's piece on Joel Przybilla this morning.  It's a great read about an issue that has many of us stumped including, apparently, our head coach.  I guess since this is the second time this week I've highlighted a JQ piece it's time to officially say that I think he's doing great work lately and I've gotten new insight from what he's shared/reported.

The best quote in the piece for me came from Przybilla himself.

"It's eating at me," Przybilla said. "You think it's not bugging me? I mean, I can't sleep, I can't nap before games like I used to. I don't know what it is, either. I just know I'm so much better than this."

That makes me feel a LOT better for some reason, because I'll tell you what it looked like to the uneducated, outside eye.  It looked like Joel was just throwing up his hands and giving up out there.  And that didn't seem at all like the Joel we've seen in a Blazer uniform (and very much need back).  And that worried me.  At least if it's bothering him that worst-of-all-conclusions is pretty much eliminated.

That aside, since neither author nor contributors had a definitive answer and seemed to be fishing in the article, I don't feel too bad pointing out a couple of things I read that I don't see the same way:

From Quick himself:

Although he has continued to block shots at a good pace, he has abandoned any attempt at an offensive game...

Actually I think Joel's gotten slightly more aggressive offensively in the last few weeks, but his only shots have been that free-throw line jumper.  He's hit a fair number of them but he doesn't often take another after his first miss.  But I'm not sure I want him on a steady diet of those shots anyway.  His offensive rebounds are down (as are his rebounds in general, but that's going to happen when your playing time is cut by a third) and I'd like to see him get more easy buckets.  But he's way more aggressive now (even though that's still not much) than he was earlier in the year.

And then there's this:

McMillan scoffs at the notion he is not using Przybilla offensively, saying he could point out 10 to 12 pick-and-roll plays with Przybilla per game, but because he fumbled the pass or didn't finish the shot, it hasn't reflected in Przybilla's statistics.

My first thought upon reading that was "that can't be right"...meaning that it can't be right Nate said that, not his statistics, which are just dead wrong.  Even a cursory look at the statistics says that Pryzbilla averages .9 turnovers and 1.9 shots per game, which together don't even come close to adding up to 10 (or 12). And both those eventualities Nate mentioned would be covered by the boxscore. I'd believe that Przybilla sets a dozen picks a game but he never gets the chance to fumble away the ball nor to miss a shot because even when he rolls the guards won't give it to him.  Granted there might be reasons for that (him not being an offensive powerhouse and the defense packed in the lane, sitting and waiting) but you can't really blame the entirety of Joel's offensive slump on Joel.  It's the offense and the people around him too.  

This is a guy who shot near .600 two years ago and almost .550 last year because people were getting him the ball on the move, on the way to the basket, where he could do some damage.  (Anybody remember his video-game-textbook body jackknife on some of those dunks?)  If they can't manage that, they could at least let him taste the ball down low every once in a while, like on the first play of the game?  (Better than those long jumpers they're taking.)  Mike Schuler used to do that for defensive specialist Caldwell Jones just to give the big guy some love because he knew he'd expect CJ to play the rest of the game without ever touching the ball on offense again.  

Anyway, if Nate really did throw Joel under the bus like that he needs to re-check himself (and probably some tape...and then some tape from two years ago too).

Last one:

Also, he [McMillan] said he is reluctant to re-create last season's high-low post game with Zach Randolph and Przybilla because he is fearful that Randolph will start living on the perimeter again instead of establishing post position.

This is a semi-hidden cost to Zach's game, but we'll leave that aside.  A question...am I silly or could the pick and roll occasionally be worked with a guard instead, just having Zach drawing his defender away on the weak side to help free up the middle?  Again I don't want to take the ball out of Zach's hands too much, but would once or twice a game hurt, just to give Joel some energy and a look or two?  And maybe you could whisper in the guard's ear, "The big fella closes out rotations and blocks your guy's shot when you blew it and let it slip past you, so feed him every now and again and let's see if we can get his confidence back."

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)