NBA

Hamed Haddadi: How Raptors Can Use Center to Their Advantage

Dec. 12, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Grizzlies 82-80. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJanuary 31, 2013

The Toronto Raptors received Rudy Gay and center Hamed Haddadi on Wednesday in a three-team trade, giving up point guard Jose Calderon and big man Ed Davis in the process, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

While the acquisition of Gay is the big news for Toronto, what can the club do with Haddadi if he isn't released?

Well, as the Memphis Grizzlies found out in previous years, there are ways to bring the limited center into the fold.

Most importantly, Haddadi is a very efficient rebounder. In his five seasons in the league, he's posted a rebounding rate of 20.6 (an estimate of the percentage of available rebounds a player grabs when he's on the floor), via Basketball-Reference.com. By comparison, only five players in the entire NBA have a higher rebounding rate this season.

Also, against true centers, Haddadi has some defensive merit. He's averaged 3.1 blocks per 36 minutes for his career and a lot of that has to do with his size (7'2", 265 pounds), which makes him a capable post defender against the bigger bodies in the league.

And while Haddadi has gone 7-of-21 from the floor this season, he did go 26-of-48 (54 percent) for the Grizzlies in 2011-2012. Offensively, he's not much to look at, but he did display the ability to convert easy buckets when he gets the ball under the hoop (kind of like Andris Biedrins back in the day).

Of course, there's a reason Haddadi received just over six minutes per game in Memphis. In addition to his limited offensive abilities, he's not very athletic and doesn't have a very good motor, which hurts him in transition and against mobile big men.

As former ESPN analyst and current Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations John Hollinger put it, via ESPN:

He can only impact the game in a short zone around the basket area, which means he can't be asked to defend mobile bigs, or 3-point shooters, or pick-and-rolls, or teams that run, or ? well, you get the point. 

In short, if you use Haddadi as a middle anchor in a zone and ask him to crash the glass, he has some value as a backup center, which is what he would be in Toronto.

The 27-year-old is not exactly going to raise eyebrows and he's not well-rounded enough to get a lot of minutes for the Raptors, but the Grizzlies showed in prior seasons how to make him a plus on the court, rather than a minus.

 

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