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2010-11 Portland Trail Blazers Roster Rundown: Gerald Wallace

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A sculptor could have a field day with this guy.  The Portland portion of his season was a work of art too...just what the team needed.
A sculptor could have a field day with this guy. The Portland portion of his season was a work of art too...just what the team needed.

Today we take a look at the guy the Blazers made their Big Mid-Season Move for, Gerald "Crash" Wallace.  While Portland fans were generally enthusiastic about acquiring Crash, questions remained.  How would he fit in?  Could he produce at a slower pace?  Where would he find playing time?  Let's take a look at the stats to see how he answered them.  Note that unlike previous players, the comparison on this table is between Wallace's Charlotte and Portland tours in 2010-11 instead of combining both teams this year and comparing that to last year.  I figured the look at his Portland performance was the most interesting and indicative and given the short timeline, the proper comparison was to the rest of his work this season instead of 82 games last.  The stats:

 

10-11 Portland

10-11 Charlotte

Change

Games

23

48

---

Minutes

821

1872

--- 

MPG

35.7

39.0

-3.3

FG%

49.8%

43.3%

+6.5%

3PT%

33.8%

33.0%

+0.8%

FT%

76.7%

73.9%

+2.8%

FGA/36

11.8

11.2

+0.6

3PTA/36

3.5

2.0

+1.5

FTA/36

3.9

5.5

-1.6

DRB/36

6.0

6.2

-0.2

ORB/36

1.7

1.4

+0.3

TRB/36

7.7

7.6

+0.1

AST/36

2.5

2.2

+0.3

STL/36

2.0

1.1

+0.9

TO/36

0.7

0.9

-0.2

USG%

20.5%

20.2%

+0.3%

ORTG

112

105

+7

DRTG

103

106

-3

PER

18.9

15.0

+3.9

TShooting%

59.0%

53.0%

+6.0%

NETPTS/100*

+9.8

+9.0

+0.8

PPG

15.8

15.6

+0.2

PPG/36

16.0

14.4

+1.6

Click through for an analysis of the stat board, some musing on Wallace's performance and effect this year, and his future prospects in Portland.

You guys can't see it because SBN doesn't do color well, but in order to get an overall view of a player's progress for my own use I mark the rightmost column on this table in color, red for trending bad and green for trending good.  When I got done with Wallace's table it looked like I had dipped a shamrock in lime juice.  Excluding games played and minutes, which were obviously fewer with Portland than Charlotte, Wallace went downwards in exactly two categories after coming to Portland:  free throws per 36 minutes dropped fairly significantly from 5.5 to 3.9 and defensive rebounds per 36 minutes dropped a touch.  Everything else was green, green, green.  Granted, this wasn't Wallace's peak season with the Bobcats else he'd never have been traded.  But if the Blazers liked the Gerald Wallace they were seeing in Charlotte this trade went right because they got him and more.

The most impressive steps ahead for Wallace came in shooting percentage.  He took slightly more shots per minute in Portland than he did in Charlotte but his overall shooting percentage rose from 43% to nearly 50%.  His True Shooting percentage rose from a good 53% to a stellar 59%.  Part of this may have been him bucking the general Portland trend, eschewing jumpers for the drive.   He actually shot fewer jumpers by percentage in Portland than with the Bobcats and his effective field goal percentage went up in every single category of shot.  The offense was good to him.  His PER and net PER versus opponent also rose significantly in Portland while his usage rating remained fairly level.  Fitting in?  Check.

Wallace's defense looked good to the eye and stats alike.  He filled a need for Portland with athleticism and aggressiveness on that end.  So, too, with rebounding.  The most impressive stat there isn't on the table:  his 21.2% defensive rebounding percentage.  That means Wallace grabbed roughly 21% of the available defensive rebounds when he was on the court...excellent for a small forward.  By comparison Blazers small forward Nicolas Batum's percentage was 12.8% and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge's 17.2%.  This guy helps the Blazers in places they're not strong.

Less scientifically you have to mention Wallace's drive.  "This guy has a motor" is a terrible cliché, but with the Blazers you can see where it comes in handy.  Plenty of Portland players take the game as it comes or let it get taken away from them.  Wallace rips the game apart and eats it for lunch.  He doesn't have a motor, he has a jetpack.  His attitude and style of play are novel to this group and sorely needed.  That said, Wallace plays unobtrusively on offense when the situation requires.  At no point was he barging in as he was trying to fit in.  The ball doesn't stop with him, nor will he hesitate to take the open shot.  It's a mixture of veteran savvy, confidence, and identity which again points out the growth still needed from his teammates.

The caveats are simple:

1.  Wallace played 23 games with the Blazers.  While his statistical production held up with his year-long production, indicating it probably wasn't a fluke overall, you could still take 23-game stretches from many Blazers and come up with great numbers.  He'll have to answer those questions anew next season over a far longer period.

2.  Wallace plays a crash and burn style.  He may be a fantastic piece to the puzzle in the short term.  How will his body and game hold up when the clock hits 30?  You can pencil him in but don't use permanent ink just yet.  The faster the Blazers take advantage of what he offers by maturing and growing as a team around him the better off they will be.

Still there's no denying Wallace was a huge positive for Portland and there's no reason to suspect that will change next year.  There's not too much for him to brush up on.  He just needs to show up and be Crash and the Blazers will benefit.

Season Grade:  A

Stock Market Recommendation:  Buy (But don't put all your eggs in one basket.  Stay diversified.)

Share your reflection on Gerald Wallace and his season below.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)