It’s no secret that the Nets have their issues. They fired November’s Coach of the Month in December. They have two potential all-star guards yet are dead last in PPP (points per play) in Pick-and-Roll ball handling scoring situations. Brook Lopez is playing at an all-star type level, during the year that centers are no longer considered on the ballot. Their $12 million a year power forward has been up until recently been unable to find time on the floor. Last year’s top player in Europe, Mirza Teletovic, appears to be in his adjustment year. The Brooklyn Knight exists. And, the man who was traded for the draft pick that has turned into potential rookie of the year Damian Lillard has been hampered in his current role.
That man is Gerald Wallace. Wallace is currently using 35% of his attempted scoring chances as a spot-up shooter. For a career 31.9% three-point shooter, the occasional spot up chance doesn’t seem too harmful, but for someone with Wallace’s ability such a high percentage of his usage seems to be quite inefficient. But, the blame for this can’t entirely be placed upon Wallace’s shoulders.
His four most used line-ups feature him exclusively at small forward and to properly space the floor it is important that Wallace remains on the perimeter. The Nets do not have a stretch power beyond Teletovic and his struggles adapting to the NBA game have made it difficult to play him, leaving Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries as the other options inside.
Lopez is the cream of the crop, but has his deficiencies. And, this is why Evans and previously (and seemingly reemerging Humphries) get regular minutes. Lopez in the past has struggled as a rebounder and isn’t thought of highly as a defender. But this year, Lopez has performed adequately in both regards.
This may afford new coach PJ Carlesimo the opportunity to play Gerald Wallace at the four. There Wallace isn’t required to spot up, but can play a much more integral role in the abysmal pick-and-roll game that Brooklyn has been producing. According to Synergy Sports, Wallace only has been featured as the roll man on pick-and-roll opportunities just 1.8% of the time. And, the rim would be much more open to attack without a lumbering rebounder clogging the paint.
Thanks to 82games.com you can see how Wallace has performed at power forward versus small forward not only this season but last season as well (both with the Trail Blazers and Nets).
Clearly, Wallace has proven to be more effective in his limited minutes at the 4 spot. But, it must be noted that Wallace gives up some effectiveness to opposing power forwards when matched up there.
Wallace is obviously unable to match up with certain types of power forward who are more accustomed to bodying around the paint, but he’s Brooklyn’s best bet to match up against the uber effective new breed of hybrid forwards who are dominating the game like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Also, it must be noted that Wallace’s three most used line-ups with him featuring at power forward do not also feature Brook Lopez.
Regardless of whether or not Carlesimo will play Wallace more minutes at power forward remains to be seen, but if he wants to make Wallace be as efficient as he is capable of he is going to have to tweak the offense and stop turning Crash into a jump shooter.
Special thanks to Synergy Sports, Basketball-Reference and 82 games for the statistics as well as opensourceway via Flickr for the heading image.