There are some players in the NBA whose skills are so high and work out regiment so diligent, they are able to have a long career. But there are few players whose natural playing style (with pieces of the above), is their greatest asset towards boosting their mileage.
Paul Pierce defines this type of player.
Pierce had a few dips in statistics last year. This usually begins when a player gets toward his mid-30s. It might also happen when you have an elite point guard breaking through and you are spreading the rock more.
He had his lowest PPG (18.3) since his rookie year and had slight dips in both assists and rebounds.
Pierce also had the best shooting percentage in his career, best free throw percentage in his career, and best three-point percentage in his career.
The previously diminishing stats are also accompanied by his lowest career minutes per game, and lowest field goal attempts (1.3 APG lower than his second lowest season). So what give Pierce the ability to keep his game up and why do I think he will continue to do so for a few years?
There are some very unique and intangible reasons.
Pierce has an excellent pump fake. He has mastered that annoyingly dominant move where he gets his opponent up in the air to draw a foul (you hate it because its good).
Sure, this trickery gets him some extra shots at the line, but most often it gets him an open shot. This is not his greatest asset in regards to his jumper, however.
Pierce is able to create a ridiculous amount of space with his jumper. His motion is an original.
Whether pulling up or fading away, Pierce is able to get an extremely high percentage of good looks at the basket.
Pierce also has great footwork. There is something about the way he moves on the court that seems to destabilize defenses. Pierce moves in a perceptibly slow motion, but you never seem to know where he is going to go. He is able to create space by an uneasy shifting of motion and direction that keeps players on their heels.
This also applies to his defending. Pierce is often able to keep the elite players in the league in front of him with his skilled footwork. He is strong while having the remote quickness to maintain his proximity.
Although some of Pierce's speed will diminish in coming years, these unique abilities are foreign to a lot of players. Pierce has already conveyed his desire to play in Europe after his new contract is up and barring drastic injury, he will no doubt be able to hold his own.
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