Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Knowing your role...making your name

As we are in the heat of the holiday season I thought it was time for us to recognize four players that are starting to make a name for themselves as role players on some of the leagues best teams. These four are giving the gift of quality minutes to their squads. As you know championships are won with the perfect mix of stars and role players and these four have really been playing well thus far:

Linas Kleiza-Denver Nuggets
Kleiza has been giving the Nuggets some extra scoring off the bench as his 10.7 ppg in 22 minutes per night has been a big help on a team that is just now getting healthy and starting to gel. Kleiza has the ability to play the 3-spot or be a step out 4 as his range and ability to run the floor for Denver make him very versatile. As the season goes on and teams are game planning for Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Marcus Camby, it will be Kleiza who will find himself benefiting from open looks and the Nuggets ability to run.

Kelenna Azubuike-Golden State Warriors
While Stephen Jackson, Baron Davis and Coach Don Nelson’s bad mock neck’s get most of the attention in Oakland, Azubuike has been a key contributor for them thus far. After scoring 7 ppg last season he is up to 12.6ppg which includes shooting 35% from three. His versatility on the perimeter at both ends makes him very valuable as he can guard either the 2 or 3 spot and take some of the defensive pressure off of Jackson who since returning to the team has averaged 40 minutes per game.

Jason Maxiell-Detroit Pistons
With Ben Wallace gone for over a year and Chris Webber not returning many were wondering who would step up inside on the Pistons to shoulder the load with Rasheed Wallace. Jason Maxiell has answered the call in Motown. The former Cincinnati Bearcat is now getting 24 minutes per contest off the bench for Detroit and his contribution has been very strong. His 9 ppg, 6 rpg and team leading 1.63 blocks per game have been huge. In December his numbers have increased to 11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg and he is shooting 63% from the floor. But besides the numbers Maxiell is a physical force that plays a bit bigger than his 6-7 260lb frame. Detroit needed a boost depth wise and Maxiell has been getting it done.

Glen Davis-Boston Celtics
Throughout the years in Boston there have been many fan favorite’s, some stars, others role players. Well, Glen “Big Baby” Davis has already joined that list. The rookie forward out of LSU has become Boston’s first big off of the bench and has responded as only a man of his stature would…with force. Davis has been a terror in the paint as his 289lb frame at most times has been immoveable. While he did not receive a ton of minutes in November he is making up for it with his play this month. In December he is getting 7ppg and just under 6rpg in 20 minutes per appearance. On December 12th against the Kings he got his first career start, his line was 16 and 9 in 27 minutes which included 10-10 at the foul line. When the season started one of the so-called question marks was the Celtic’s lack of depth in the front court behind Kevin Garnett. Davis is beginning to be the answer there. Yet again Danny Ainge finds NBA ready talent in the 2nd round of the NBA draft.
A Tommy Point for Big Baby and DA.

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