Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Aaron Gray: Offense Good, Defense Pathetic

Since the Bulls have begun making regular playoff appearences, their biggest need has been scoring in the post. Enter this year's draft when the Bulls had the 49th pick, selecting center Aaron Gray from Pitt. Most people thought Gray would be a first rounder after his junior year, averaging 13.9 ppg and 10.5 boards in the Big East. But Gray chose to stay another year, and put up another 13.9 ppg and 9.5 boards. Not exactly mind blowing stats, but still effective. However, staying for his senior year hurt his draft status as more scouts got to see his weaknesses, causing him to slip to the second round.

Well, Gray has turned alot of heads as Scott Skiles has inserted him into the starting rotation for an opening day lineup that, barring injury, would look like this: Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Ben Wallace and Gray. The first thing I noticed watching the first quarter of the Bulls-Mavericks preseason game is his ability to move with his pivot foot in order to get good position and pass out of the post as well. He hit a wide open Nocioni at the top of the key for three early in the game. He can also fight for rebounds on the offensive end, as he missed his first two attempts scrapping for the ball and eventually drew a foul. He definitely looks polished on the offensive side of the ball, however...

THE GUY LOOKS LIKE HE'S WEARING CONCRETE SHOES. My dear lord is he slow to the weak side help defense. In a way, he kinda reminds me of Bill Wennington. Wennington was a good offensive center who seemed to be automatic from his sweet spot, which was 10 feet and in on the baseline. However, I think the line-up Skiles is tinkering with would work: Having Gray on the offensive side of the ball is perfect. You can have Hinrich, Gordon and Deng cutting and weaving as usual with Wallace setting picks, and Gray close to the hoop. Gray can get you the inside scoring the Bulls have desperately needed, and with his good passing abilities can kick out to the open shooters ala Tim Duncan.

On the defensive side, you could substitute between Wallace, Thomas and Noah. But I would never leave him alone without one of those players out there. He really is that slow. It's like when Stacey King does his famous analysis of a play, and says freeze it; then says ok now roll it. The problem is Gray never unfreezes. Just wait to you see him's pretty bad. In terms of his first year, I think Gray can be a solid contributer, and I would be happy if he could add 10-12 ppg and 6-7 rpg. Overall, he's going to have to work on his lateral quickness, and that might be asking alot. But if he could slightly improve on that, the Bulls found good value at 49.

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