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Hickson Shows Potential In Win Over T-Wolves

January 28, 2010

Last night's victory over the NBDL's Minnesota Timberwolves served as an excellent testament to the potential J.J. Hickson has to really turn into a good NBA 4. Despite being a D-League team, the Timberwolves do have a few good, young NBA players. Two of them are Minnesota's starting bigs, Al Jefferson (who I personally covet for the Cavs even though it will never happen) and Kevin Love. Both are 6'10" bangers who can both score and rebound in double figures. Really Minnesota should find some way to be better with those two.

Against a pair of legitimate bigs J.J. Hickson was flying around dunking the ball and getting to the line, where he was perfect on the night. Hickson is one of the most explosive Cavaliers (behind only The King and, probably, Jamario Moon). He has a good knack and feel for the game around the basket. He would only be a junior in college right now and still has a lot of room to improve.

All that being said, J.J. is going to have to improve. Austin Carr correctly pointed out approximately 26 times last night that J.J. needs to develop a consistent midrange jumpshot (giving A.C. a total of 537 "J.J. needs to develop a midrange game" references on the year). Frankly I don't think AC belabored the point enough. I'm serious. If I were the Cavs, I would pay AC to follow J.J. around all day long repeating that same mantra to him. I would have AC stand behind J.J. after practice while he shoots until he makes 500 or so shots in the 15-18 foot range. J.J.'s need to develop that shot cannot possibly be overstated.

Here's why. If J.J. could hit that shot consistently, he could become a 18-20 per night player. Look at how well he finishes around the hoop. When the lane is open and J.J. flies down it he seems to catch a pass, explode up with the ball in two hands high above his head, and finish with authority all in about .21 seconds. Now imagine how many more of those high flying dunks J.J. could get if he we able to get his man to bite on a jumper and then take it inside. Not to mention, J.J. could knock a few of those jumpers down every game to add to his point total. Oh, and holy crap, what if J.J. then learned to pass?!? Could you imagine J.J. pump faking to get his man off his feet, driving, facing a help defender off of Shaq or LeBron or whoever and then slipping the ball to the open man for an easy finish? He could do this 5 or 6 times per game if he had a midrange J!

The bottom line is J.J. needs to be developed. You can learn a jumper. You can have boxing out and fighting for rebounds drilled into your head. You can adopt the proper mindset to play well on defense. You can learn the proper defensive rotations to play in a scheme. You can evolve your game to mesh with guys your going to play with for the next 3 or 4 or 5 years like LeBron, Mo, Delonte, and Andy. You can get to that beautiful point where you and your teammates know what everyone is going to do before anyone does anything. However, you cannot teach J.J.'s explosiveness. It gives J.J. an inherent advantage in all things around the rim: scoring, shot blocking, and rebounding. Please continue to develop J.J. Hickson.

Jack Bacevice

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