Blogcat's Take, 7/25
As of this writing, the contract details have not been released. Also as of this writing, I’m vomiting down my shirt at the thought of having to watch and theoretically cheer for Hansbrough for approximately 15-20 minutes every game. Those swinging elbows; those Tebow-like mechanics; that finesse of a hemorrhoid; those graceless shot put-like attempts from three feet. Ugh. For me, the enduring image of Hansbrough is of him fumbling around and clumsily missing a layup, but then grabbing his own rebound and getting fouled on the put-back. It’s the kind of sequence that just enrages, because you’re basically watching an opponent’s incompetence get rewarded. In fact, I’d love to know what percentage of Hansbrough’s rebounds are him simply collecting his own futile attempts from point-blank; it’s gotta be over 30%. You know, I’m starting to wonder if Hansbrough might actually be more aggravating than Biyombo. It’s a real Manning-Brady rivalry either way.
Also, I just can’t wait to take in all of the Charlotte Observer reminders about how Hansbrough once played for UNC, which they’ll do about 30 times an article. How fun will it be to hear all those anecdotes about his various former college rivals who are now teammates, or vice versa? About as funny as chemo, especially when it’s obvious that Hansbrough himself hasn’t even thought it in years, and it’s really just the reporter bringing it up (longtime readers of this column can always expect two things whenever the Hornets sign a former Duke/UNC player: a staggering array of mentions about it in the Observer, quickly followed by an even more staggering array of me bitching about it).
If there is anything to celebrate here—and I’m obviously prepared to be talked out of this—it’s that at least Hansbrough’s no longer playing against us. For some reason (the reason could very possibly be that we’ve loudly sucked for most of our existence), he’s almost always stepped up his game against the Hornets, which has improbably made him even more annoying to watch. Look at this chart, which shows Psycho T’s overall per-48 minute points and rebounds against the rest of the league and against us over the past 5 seasons:
Per-48 PTs/RBs vs. League
Per-48 PTs/RBs vs. Hornets
12.2 / 12.0
16.6 / 12.0
15.3 / 14.1
17.6 / 9.4
20.0 / 13.1
33.0 / 14.3
20.4 / 9.7
32.0 / 12.2
24.0 / 11.4
27.6 / 7.3
Let’s forget about Hansbrough’s style for a minute—okay, for a second. Is there anything redeeming about him whatsoever? Basketball-Reference.com has him at a negative box plus/minus for his entire career, meaning he contributed less than an average player over 100 possessions on offense and defense, so the answer is no. However, the light at the end of this tunnel is that last year with Toronto was his least-worst; his BPM was just -0.5, so he was just about dead-average. Tellingly, his usage rate last year was also a career-low 10.5%, meaning the Raptors pulled a mini-Biyombo with him by basically removing him from the offensive picture (for context, Biz’s usage rate last year was 11.6% and his BPM was -0.4). Actually, Biyombo and Hansbrough share a pretty similar career arc in that at some point their coaches realized that the less you use them on offense, the more productive they become. The problem is that Hansbrough isn’t the rebounder or shot-blocker that Biz is, and he doesn’t get fouled at as high a rate. In the plus column, he is a more effective shooter, because he can actually connect on jumpers (more like “heavers,” in Hansbrough’s case) from 3-10 feet, which he did at a .489 clip last year—whereas Biz’s jumpers had lottery-level odds from anything beyond 3 feet. Hansbrough also has a long-distance, catapult-style, slow wind-up, Cody Zeller Award Nominated-hoist from about 18 feet that goes in a semi-regular 42.9% of the time. So we’re probably slightly (emphasis on slight, and I guess also on –ly) more effective on offense with Hansbrough than we were with Biyombo. But that praise is so faint it’s wearing a corset.
I’m probably getting too worked up over nothing; I think my beef is 99% related to aesthetics. Let’s look at it objectively: Charlotte is most likely paying Hansbrough just a portion of the mid-level exception, and doing it for just a year, and, hey, someone has got to fill out the roster. More importantly, Biyombo might not necessarily even be the right comparison for Hansbrough, who’s probably more of a replacement for Jason Maxiell than he is for Biz. And in that context, he’s a solid step up in basically every category—even in finishing put-backs. Also, individually Hansbrough’s a pretty solid lock-down defender at the 4 (7.7 opponent PER last year, according to 82games.com) and can manage the 5 in a pinch (16.9 opponent PER). This should come in handy when Spencer Hawes is set adrift, or when Marvin Williams summons his powers of invisibility. And I’ve alluded to this before but it can’t be emphasized enough: Coach Clifford practically invented the concept of marginalizing a big man right to the point of totally breaking his spirit with Biyombo without ever crossing that fine line, so Coach basically just needs to keep it up with Hansbrough. If we can just limit Psycho T-time to 15 minutes a night, I can probably grin and bear it. I’ll just need to remember to wear dark shirts.
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