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Hollins, pt. i: offense

OK, now that we're back into the swing of things after a vacation I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the newest Wolf: Ryan Hollins.  Hollins is a 24 year old backup center with solid size, length, and athleticism.  You can view his career numbers at Basketball Reference by clicking here.  Before we start breaking down his game, I would like to make a few general points:

  1. Ryan Hollins is a backup, is a backup, is a backup.  We are talking about a guy who will likely get anywhere between 13-20 mpg.  He will be playing a large chunk of his minutes against lineups and opponents that themselves perform below league averages. His dqual numbers from last season were .791 in Charlotte and .768 in Dallas.  In other words, his opponents performed anywhere between 21 and 24 percent below league average.  All he has to do is perform at a replacement-level against sub-par subs and the Wolves will have everything they need from the guy; anything extra will be gravy. 
  2. Hollins' player type is a necessary addition to a team running out a starting front court of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.  This team needs length and athleticism in a bad, bad way and Hollins' physical numbers fit this bill. That being said, it remains to be seen if he has the skills to supplement his size on the court.  (BTW: I recently heard Dan Barreiro complaining about a "Wolves-related website" writing about Hollins being just what the team needed [along with a pair of long athletic wingmen] in order to get the ship back on the right track.  That sounds suspiciously like something this website might have put out and I find it amazing that a talk show host who purportedly prides himself on nuance would make such a clumsy point about an argument no one is really making.  There is quite a difference between player type and a player actually fitting that bill in terms of functional performance.)
  3. Ultimately, Hollins' worth will be measured against his 3-year $7 mil contract.  Hollins has made just over $1 mil in his career to this point.  He is being paid on potential, as Dallas was unwilling to match the offer sheet and his net numbers don't exactly jump off the page. 

Now that we have that out of the way, let's apply the first rule of player evaluation: who or what are we using as a bar for performance?  In Hollins' case, I think the best place to start is to look at young backup (or limited-minute) centers who have played at or below the MLE or who were on the free agent market this off-season.  Our peer group will consist of Shelden Williams, Marcin Gortat, Aaron Gray, Joakim Noah, JaVale McGee, and Chris Anderson.  These players played between 10 and 24 mpg and none of them took more than 5.5 fg/game.  I'm not saying that all of these players could have been available to the Wolves; rather, they represent a group of players that Hollins' future role will be weighed against.  Let's take a look at how these players stack up in some key offensive areas in order to get a sense of how good they are, what they bring to the table, and how they play:

2p% Jump (att%/eFG) Close (att%/eFG) close blk oreb% fga/game pts/play ft/fg draw foul
Williams .452 (31/.333) (51/.457) 29% 12.2% 4.5 0.86 21 11.7%
Gortat .567 (24/.380) (55/.644) 12% 11.9% 3.0 1.03 14 12.6%
Hollins .525 (27/.188) (29/.294) 59% 10.8% 2.2 0.89 29 19.2%
Gray .488 (16/.296) (72/.492)


11.7% 3.0 0.84 20 13.9%
Noah .558 (6/.227) (53/.444) 23% 13.3% 4.6 1.0 33 18.6%
McGee .494 (37/.264) (37/.448) 10% 10.6% 5.2 0.93 28 18.4%
Anderson .560 (25/.333) (31/.544) 19% 11.8% 4.0 1.01 45 19.3%


I chose these numbers because limited-minute bigs need to be able to efficiently shoot from close range, grab offensive rebounds, and get to the line. 

Before I go any further, let me take yet another opportunity to talk about just how much the Wolves could use Joakim Noah.  I really hope Corey Brewer works out and that he fully recovers from his knee injury and I wish him the best in life but holy crap: wrong Gator.  From size to rebounding to shot selection awareness to efficiency to an ability to draw fouls and get to the line when he does have the ball, Noah is the perfect fit next to Big Al and the Big Piranha.  Anywho...

The first thing you will notice about Hollins is that he is a terrible, no-good, awful jump shooter who takes waaaayyyyyyy too many jump shots.  Look at Noah: only 6% of his shots are jumpers.  Why?  He's a terrible jump shooter.  The problem for Hollins is that he isn't much of a close-range shooter either, shooting a Bassy-esque .294 on close jumpers with a mind-bending 59% of them being blocked.  This is a good ol' fashioned "WTF?!" sort of stat.  Hopefully it is something of an outlier, as he was able to pull a .528 eFG in 07/08 with only 22% of them being blocked.  We're also talking about a guy who took less than 3 shots a game so Small Sample Size Theater is somewhat in play. Ultimately, I guess we'll have to wait and see but it is definitely something to keep an eye on as I'm not really sure how a 7-footer with plus athleticism could have his shot blocked so frequently...even with so few attempts.

Where Hollins makes up for his poor shooting is with his frequent dunking.  In 07/08, 23% of his shots were dunks.  This past season that number shot up to 44% of his attempts.  This is how a guy with sub .300 numbers on his jump shot can end up with a 2p% over .500.  If there is anything in Hollins' offensive repertoire to get somewhat excited about, it is the thought of him eventually taking ally-oops from Jonny Flynn and (hopefully) Ricky Rubio.  The guy can really get up and down the court and to the rim. 

The only other big positive Hollins has on the offensive side of the court is his ability to get to the line.  In the 07/08 season he ranked 4th among all centers in free throws per field goal attempt.  This past season he averaged 29 ft/fg with the highest drawf% on our list. 

Looking at the stat sheet it is pretty easy to see that Hollins is a fairly limited offensive player in a half court setting.  There is really no way around his extremely poor jump shot numbers as well as his modest OReb%, ast-r, and ppr.  However, the guy does have some things that make you perk up just a little bit: His dunk numbers, % of close shots and % of attempts within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock (51%) suggest that he can really get up and down the court and this is something that could be useful on a team that is apparently being built for such a style. 

In comparison to his small peer group, Hollins is clearly never a guy that you'd want to choose for 1/2 court ball, rebounding, or shooting.  His offensive value will largely be determined by the Wolves' ability to place him in situations where he clearly is more comfortable and able to produce.  In other words, this guy had better not be given the green light to shoot a bunch of jump shots and he better hustle up and down the court.  It would also be nice to see him up his offensive rebounding numbers, as a 7-footer with athleticism should be able to at least reach Aaron-Grayian heights.

In the next post we'll look at what Hollins brings to the table in terms of defense, overall efficiency, and how well he can hang on to the ball.