Finding the Silver Lining

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 17, 2009 under Roster Moves | Be the First to Comment

Ryan Hollins isn’t going to rock your socks off.  He’s not Dwight Howard, and he’s not even Erick Dampier.  But there’s no reason why we can’t dig through every shred of evidence to uncover what he might be able to offer the Mavs.

On the surface, he would seem like he’d be able to supply spot back-up minutes at the center position.  I do think he’s capable of playing against NBA caliber back-up bigs.  The glaring problem is a potential injury to Damp — if Hollins was somehow thrown into the starting lineup, things would get very ugly, very quickly.  I find Damp to be pretty underrated in terms of his ability to defend the post, score without demanding the ball, hit the offensive glass, and set picks.  But believe you me, the world would be singing his praises if they ever see Hollins in the starting frontcourt this season.

He’s incredibly raw on both ends, really, but what he does have in spades is athleticism.  He’s got good reach and could potentially be an excellent shot-blocker (he’s already a surprisingly good one), but his ability to erase shots is somewhat negated by his completely unspectacular defensive positioning and footwork.  But that’s exactly why he could be an ideal back-up for the Mavs; when was the last time you saw a seven foot beast come off the bench and try to bruise and bang his defender in the post?  Most big men off the bench are coming off the bench for a reason, the biggest issues being size, chemistry, or style of play.  I’m not sure how Hollins will grapple with more perimeter oriented bigs, frankly, but I think he could potentially give undersized power forward types (in the Bass mold) fits.

3.2 points per game and 2.0 rebounds per game don’t exactly jump off the page and punch me in the face, but upon further inspection his statistical output in Charlotte this season has actually been pretty impressive.  For starters, he’s averaging nearly a block a game in just 10 minutes of playing time.  That’s legit.  Plus, when you take a look at Hollins’ block % (“an estimate of the percentage of the opponent two-point field goald attempts blocked by the player while he was on the floor,” according to Basketball-Reference.com), you’ll find that he blocks an estimate 7.7% of two-point field goals while he’s on the floor — a startlingly high number that beats out DeSagana Diop, as well as the likes of Dwight Howard and Marcus Camby.

But it doesn’t end there: despite talents like Emeka Okafor, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, and Boris Diaw (AND NAZR MOHAMMED!!!!) suiting up this season for the Bobcats, guess who leads Charlotte in net +/- (a stat that measures the team’s production when the player is on the court compared to off the court)?

From 82games.com, one of the premier sites for basketball stat-heads:

Now, there’s probably an obvious explanation: the Bobcats have not been a good team this season, and Hollins (at just over 10 minutes per game) was likely on the bench during key runs in which the opposing teams pummeled the ‘Cats, and possibly hitting the floor during “garbage time” after the game had been decided.

Oh, and there’s the little eensy weensy issue of me breaking just about every guideline of advanced basketball statistics by using these types of metrics to extrapolate value from a guy playing just 10 minutes per game.  There are often HUGE flaws in this exact line of thinking that I just outlined, but hey, there’s not much else to go by with Young Master Hollins.  But as a 24-year-old seven footer on a bargain bin salary, there’s no reason why we can’t see the bright side of a guy who was already out-producing Diop with less playing time.