The Numbers: Adelaide v Cairns 1/2/14 (DJ Special)
33pts (on 14/18 shooting, 5/6 free throws)
That's DJ's stat line from Saturday's game.
They're phenomenal numbers and accurately reflect DJ's efficiency inside and his ability to punish teams when they resort to fouling him. While most 36ers fans would like to see that rebound count near 16 and the block count near 4, most of us are finally accepting that DJ is never going to be a defensive force or a rebounding monster. Yes, he's showed glimpses but we should appreciate him for who he is most of the time. Especially with the possibility this may be the last season we see him for a while.
DJ's blend of height, shooting touch and athleticism have most fans believing he could be the lynch pin of a full-court press, a versatile defender who could defend any of the frontcourt spots, a menacing dunking machine on the break and a virtuoso in the low post. So yeh, we think he's got some upside.Perhaps this year, with some more talent around him, we're starting to appreciate his skill set. 36ers fans have a history though of having big men frustrate the heck out of them for a bunch of reasons, from Wheeler to Bradtke to Simmons to Brogan to Taylor to Brown to Robinson and a bunch in between.
DJ has a better shooting touch than any of them but would be better than few of them at the other end. With his size, athleticism and some experience we'd figure he'd get there. While he isn't a great defender, he has improved. His focus is a lot better and he contests more than he used to. His "areas of growth" would be on help defense, shot blocking and positioning.
One player that he reminds me of (reminds me of people, not "is exactly like") is Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk is 1cm taller than DJ but people gradually started appreciating his offensive skills and cut him some slack on his defense. Dirk also improved in that area as he got older and has only declined over recent years due to age.
I still believe DJ will become a better accumulator of rebounds, blocks and steals but a lot of that will depend on where his career goes. A possible move to Europe would be huge for DJ. His offensive skills will be appreciated in most leagues over there but he'll get a lesson in toughness. The NBL is a very physical league but the European style is pretty rough down low with most teams having a legitimate wide body or two down in the post. For his development, I'd love to see him go over for a year or two to see what it does for his game.
DJ is a MVP candidate but I've maintained for the last few years the Sixers won't win a title if he's our best player. Most great teams in some form resemble their best player and this team is at it's best when Ervin is leading from the front. There will be games where DJ is the best player on the floor but in most circumstances you'd have no problem with turning to Ervin down the stretch, like Adelaide did Saturday night. While DJ surely wanted (and deserved) the ball Saturday, he's yet to hit a game-winner for memory and I wouldn't have been stunned if he did get the ball and it didn't end well (ie a "no call" on a fling at the basket).
He's good and we should appreciate who he is but a season in Europe might just make him great.