There is always a silver lining. One of the little ones in Cleveland was that JJ Hickson was finally going to get the run and recognition he deserved. No shadow of LeBron, new coach with a running system, this was going to be Hickson’s coming out party.
But while Hickson is putting up 14.3 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting, coach Byron Scott sees far too many mental lapses in the team’s new Princeton-style offense, as he told the Akron Beacon Journal
”He’s one we’re counting on to play a major role in what we’re doing. Right now, from an offensive standpoint, he’s not understanding what we’re trying to do,” Scott said. ”That’s disappointing, especially as much as we go through it every day.”
‘I’m not very confident that he’ll have it down pat,” Scott said. ”But it won’t be because of a lack of effort on our end.
”It’s just lack of focus. He wants to do it, but sometimes he’s 22 years old and he comes to practice and he’s not focused. This is a job and something you have to take seriously. There’s nobody in that locker room that has an excuse because they have a video playbook and they have a playbook. They can go home and watch it on DVD, go home and open the book up and we’re always available. So there’s really no excuse. He has to get a little better and take it more seriously.”
Scott has moved from the positive encouragement model — “it’s his job to lose” — to the kick him through the media model. He’s gone to the Phil Jackson school.
For Hickson, this new system seems like a radical change from how he played his whole life. Which is not a shock, when you look at the high school, AAU and college systems. The floor spreading and balance, the cuts that are taught at a young age to European players are not learned here. Here we get our best player the ball and get out of the way. So you put in an offense with those movement/balance principles and it is hard for some to learn and adjust.
Scott needs to find a way to get through, because at the end of the day he needs Hickson. Talent wins in this league, and Hickson has that. He is a great athlete who can excel, especially when the Cavaliers run.
But he’s got to be working within the system, too.