Player One is listed at 7-1, and 245 lbs. In one year of college play, he averaged 15 pts and 6.5 rebounds in 15 minutes in the PAC 10. In two years of NBA play, he averaged 13.5 pts and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Player Two is listed at 6-11 250 lbs. In four years of college play, he averaged 16.5 and 9.5 in 32 minutes in the MAAC. In his first year of NBA play, he averaged 14 and 9.5 per 36 minutes.
Player Three is listed at 6-9 266 lbs. In three years of college play, he averaged 16 and 10 in 28 minutes in the ACC. In three years of NBA play he has averaged 16 and 9.5 per 36 minutes.
Player 1 has played a total of 150 NBA games. He is 21 years old. He shoots 46% from the field.
Player 2 has played a total of 84 NBA games. He is 23 years old. He shoots 49% from the field.
Player 3 has played a total of 84 NBA games. He is 25 years old. He shoots 46% from the field.
I think you know who these players are and where this is going, but more after the jump.
In case you didn’t figure it out, players one and two are Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson. Shock and Hawes. Our future. They are the 1-2 punch Petrie drafted out of nowhere. They are going to become Webber and Divac reborn. All we need to complete our 4-5 picture is a decent back up at each spot.
But then out of nowhere, we signed an overweight, injured, joke of a washed up player. The only reason we could possibly have signed him is because the Maloofs are cheap and May doesn’t cost much. It definitely couldn’t be because the coach thought he had a chance of real playing time—unless the studs got injured or had foul trouble.
Except, the starting center is not playing much like a center. He is not driving to the hoop. At 245 lbs, he gets man-handled by the big power centers like Bynum and Odom. He skipped Vegas. The power forward looked lost in the first couple of Vegas games, but then he came on strong. So strong, in fact, that he actually looked better at center than the center did. He is more muscular and although two inches shorter is at least five pounds heavier.
And, oh yeah, the overweight joke of a player. He dropped the weight. He looked good. He played well. In fact, he somehow managed to earn a spot in the starting line-up. He is currently shooting 60% from the field and 75% from the FT line. But he still sucks, right? He’s still a joke. Isn’t he?
Here’s where it gets a little confusing. JT is our starting four. We all know that. Noc was going to play some four, along with maybe Donte if things worked out. What we needed was a backup center. So when we drafted May, we assumed he was just an undersized center. Except, he is not playing center.
Looks at those weights and heights again. Yes, Hawes may gain some more weight. He’s young. But he is the lightest of the three players. He’s tall, but that has not translated into a ton of rebounds or points in the paint. The guy who plays most like a center on the defensive end is JT. Realizing that JT may well be our best center at this point, you have to ask yourself who is the better PF, May or Hawes? Or put another way, do you get more out of a Shock/Hawes 4/5 or a May/Shock 4/5? When you study the numbers, it is virtually a tossup. Hawes gives you height. May gives you bulk. And not in a bad way. This is 260+ pounds of pretty solid muscle. He is much harder to move in the paint, and his outside jumper is every bit as sweet as Hawes.
What is my point? Am I saying that Shock and Sandwich should be our 4 and 5 of the future instead of shock and Hawes? Am I suggesting Hawes should always come off the bench? Not at all. The season is young and so are the players. What I am suggesting is that we are far from rock solid at the 4 and 5 positions. We don’t know if Hawes can turn into a top ten center. We don’t know if JT can become an all-star. We don’t know if May will even be here next year. What I am suggesting is that all three of these players have not played enough NBA games to know what they can become. All three have weaknesses in their games. None of the three are a true smash-you-in-the-face, clog-up-the-lane kind of center. In short, any of the three could be starting for us three years from now, or none could.
My best guess right now is that JT has the best shot of securing a long term starting position. As for the other two, the clock is still ticking. But to suggest that May is somehow the weak link, or that PW is an idiot for starting him is completely unjustified by anything other than our own preconceived notions. Remember that those career NBA stats for May include a rookie year, an injured year, and an overweight year. He has never had a complete 80 game season to prove what he can do when he is healthy.
We can keep right on making May jokes—in fact it is almost a requirement that we do. But very quiety and methodically, May is setting out to prove that he is no joke.