Thursday, October 4, 2007

Giving Foye a Shot

I had my reservations about Randy Foye's place on the Timberwolves when we traded away the rights to Brandon Roy for him. I like players like Roy who have a definable postition, in his case shooting guard, who play at NBA-style programs against other teams with, for the most part, conventional lineups. Most importantly, drafting and retaining Roy made more sense if the organization's intent was to make another run with KG. Roy was bigger, with a more reliable jump shot, and seemed to have the ability to make a more immediate impact on a team with a superstar begging for help.

<-- These jumpers need to fall consistently.

Though I preferred Roy I didn't mind the Foye acquisition, but my first thought was: Is Randy Foye a point guard or a shooting guard in the NBA?

Foye played college ball in what I call a gimmick system (any system that doesn't employ at least an attempt of a classic 5 position starting lineup). Villanova had 4 guards and a fast post player and their goal was simple: run people out of the gym. And this system can work in college...until you hit the later rounds of the tournament. They eventually lost to Florida, who runs an NBA-clone lineup (the majority of basketball programs to win the national championship over the years employed 5-position lineups, the only team I thought had a credible chance to win with a "gimmick" lineup was the 2004-2005 Illinois team with Head, Brown and Williams). Back to the point, Foye's college system was not employed in the NBA (even by the run & gun Suns), and I knew he would take work to develop.

Last year, he resembled an undersized shooting guard with exceptional speed and decent slashing skills who was moved to point guard towards season's end. This season all signs indicate that Foye will start the year at point guard and it is his job to lose.

Before going into my criticism of Foye's game last year, I want to acknowledge that he had two head coaches and a poor supporting cast. I also want to preface that I like Foye as a player and hope he does well for this team. Now the gripes:

1) On the pick and roll, Foye did not look in the direction of the screenor as the play developed. He would keep his eyes forward in the direction he was moving and often missed an easy pass that could lead to a layup or open jumper. Garnett and Craig Smith, in particular, set excellent screens and had/have the basketball IQ to know where to go on a pick and roll and Foye did not look their way when the screen was set. From what I know of Richards and Brewer, they also have excellent basketball IQs and I think they will go to the open spot, so Foye needs to find them.

2) In relation to the previous point, Foye had the tendancy to dribble too much up top if a particular pass did not work out at first glance. This led to a lot of hurried shots by whomever had the ball when the shot clock was expiring.

3) Foye has unbelievable speed, but unfortunately had an unreliable jumper. Jumpshots can be worked on in the offseason and I hope Foye has taken the steps to make defenders respect his so they do not play back expecting a drive. Benny Gunzz says if Foye does not find a jumper, he is destined to become the next Robert Pack.

4) I hope he slashes more this season and gets to the line. This team in general needs to get to the line more (29th in Free Throw Attempts last season).

On a positive note, I liked Foye's effort, his perimeter defense, his ability to finish around the basket and his desire to take the big shot.

This leads to this summer. I was dragged by my fiancee and her friends to a downtown Minneapolis bar I don't particularly care for, but on that particular night the NBA's Summer League was playing on TV. I saw a game where Brewer pulled down 12 boards and Craig Smith (looking as ripped as one of the marines in Gears of War) resembled Charles Barkley from Tecmo Super NBA Basketball. Smith could not be stopped. However, most positively, I saw Randy Foye running the point, dribbling with his head up, and surveying the court like a QB checking down to his third and fourth options. I know Foye dominated summer league last year, but this Foye looked like he had worked on his game and, at least in the 20 minutes I saw him, justified his projection as the starting point guard.

And I hope this works out for him. Deron Williams took a year to develop down in Utah and that year made a world of difference. However, Williams knew what offensive system he would be running under Jerry Sloan. So I guess this goes back to yesterday, how are you going to use Foye, Witt?

News today worth commenting on:

- It looks like Gerald Wilkins has kin in the nicknames department. In news that I'm sure will cause Kobe to try and score more than his personal best 81 points in a game, Clippers undersized power forward Ruben Patterson has nicknamed himself "The Kobe Stopper". In the 1992-1993 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Gerald Wilkins to be the Jordan Stopper. The Bulls swept the Cavs in 4 games with Jordan averaging over 30 ppg en route to a third straight title.

1 comment:

Bring-back-JRRider said...

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that a convicted sex offender is the "kobe STOPPER"?