On Friday night, Mitch Creek put in probably what was one of his worst performances as a basketballer (I'm guessing) in a tough loss to Melbourne. Several people hit the message boards after the game claiming he was "overrated" and was not worth the hype. His backers (including me), pleaded for patience (he is 19) but there was no defending the case that he'd made several costly plays, most notably when he subbed back on in the 4th quarter and quickly complied 2 turnovers before being subbed back out. 48 hours later things changed quickly when Creek opened the scoring with an "And 1" and didn't look back from there. His penetration and hustle, particularly early, opened things up and played no small part in the team hitting 5 first quarter 3's. Creek ended up with 19pts, 5 boards and 3 assists and reminded 36ers fans of what he can do.
In many regards Creek has suffered the almost mythical "sophomore slump" with his numbers being remarkably similar to last year. A lot of hoops fans were expecting him to make a big leap this year but it hasn't been so. While Daniel Johnson moved to become a regular starter, Creek was relegated to 7th-9th man until Nathan Crosswell got injured and he got the starting SG position by default. He didn't set the world on fire with the move but there were reasons, most notably............
-He generally only got another 5-15 extra minutes after taking his first sub
-He doesn't have a true PG looking for him on cuts, backdoor plays,alleys etc and Simpson and DJ aren't exactly renowned for their passing
-His shot has been shaky (FG% down from 47.8% last year to 42% this year)
Sunday night showed what Creek can do and with the season shot the 36ers need to be giving him 25-30 minutes a game. Here's how I think the 36ers should utilise Creek over the last few games.
-Play him in a full court press with Warren, Herbert, Simpson and Johnson. He's an excellent defender and an excellent "presser".
-Run him for the first 6-7 minutes of the 1st quarter, then the last 8 of the 2nd. He needs to find a rhythm and to get a good stretch of court time.
-Give him some SF minutes. Against smaller lineups let him play some "3" and use his speed and leaping ability against players Weigh might struggle with.
Creek has the tools to be a gun and he needs confidence Adelaide is the place to be. He needs some minutes and to be "let off the leash". His game is unique on the team and the 36ers become very predictable with certain lineups when opponents know guys are looking for open 3's. Creek doesn't want the 3 and looks for every opportunity to take it hard inside.
Here's hoping he gets plenty of time this Sunday.