It’s getting harder and harder to not actually believe that JJ Hickson has in fact turned the corner. Officially. Like, turned it for sure to stay and only become better and more consistent from here. He’s been pretty good lately, and while it remains to be seen how close he’ll end up getting to becoming an All-Star caliber player next season, there’s definitely good reason to be encouraged at the moment. ESPN’s John Hollinger, for one, expects the progress to continue.
In naming his All-2012 Break-Out Team, Hollinger made note of JJ’s recent development, and he also shouted out our boy Skyenga too.
First what Hollinger said about JJ:
J.J. Hickson, Cavaliers
Probably the most encouraging development in a mostly lost season in Cleveland has been the turnaround by Hickson over the past two months. Early in the year, he was barely playable as a low-efficiency robot in the post and an indifferent rebounder at best. Since New Year’s Day, however, a new, more energetic Hickson has emerged.
He has pulled down more than four offensive boards a game since the start of the year, with salutary effects on his free throw opportunities and shooting percentage. Overall, he’s averaging double-figure rebounds in that stretch. While he’s still likely better off in the long term as a 4, rather than as an undersized 5, he is only 22 and has shown Cleveland’s earlier faith in him was not misplaced.
Then his take on Skyenga…who he also called Skyenga too by the way:
Christian Eyenga, Cavaliers
This is more a subjective call than a stats-based one, but “Skyenga” can fly and needs to only add experience to become, at the very least, a quality defensive player. He didn’t see any game action until January but has taken over the starting small forward role.
While his offensive game is a work in progress, his quickness and elevation defensively put him in stark contrast to most of his teammates. Eyenga’s dunks get the attention right now, but it’s his defensive potential that bodes best for his future.
Agree, agree, and agree on the Skyenga points. Specifically though, he is right to point out the defensive potential. In addition to those points made, Skyenga has also shown the desire to go up and challenge the best in the game. Whether it’s Kobe, Melo, or whoever, it’s just like Eminem says in that one song, he’s not afraid.
The other players named to Hollinger’s break-out list include the following: Tyler Hansbrough, Pacers; Paul George, Pacers; Chase Budinger, Rockets; Gerald Henderson, Bobcats; Marcus Thornton, Kings; Toney Douglas, Knicks; Austin Daye, Pistons; Rodrigue Beaubois, Mavericks
For the full article up at ESPN, go here.