When the Phoenix Suns agreed to terms with forward Hakim Warrick Friday, the spotlight shined brightly on Amare Stoudemire, as the agreement meant that his eight-year run as a Sun was over.
Now that the departure of Stoudemire is imminent, the focus shifts to his replacement. So what can Suns fans expect from the 6-foot-9 Warrick?
Everyone and their mother knows that the former Syracuse standout isn’t Amare Stoudemire, but he is an athletic forward who’s made a solid career for himself in Memphis, Milwaukee and Chicago.
Warrick was drafted 19th overall by the Grizzlies in 2005 and started 82 games in four seasons in Memphis. He’s put together a decent NBA career thus far, averaging 10-plus points in four of his five NBA seasons.
But stats don’t exactly tell you the type of player Warrick is, so I took a closer look at his 2009-10 campaign with the Bucks via Synergy Sports Technology to establish his strengths, weaknesses, and how he should fit in with Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.
After being dealt before the deadline Warrick played 28 games with the Bulls, but didn’t have as big of a role in Chicago as he did in Milwaukee, so the stats and analysis below are based on his 48 games with the Bucks.
Warrick’s biggest positive is undoubtedly his athleticism. Although it’s unfair to compare him to Amare, this may be the one area where it’s warranted. Warrick is an unbelievable leaper — with a 38-inch vertical — and an even more ferocious dunker.
Ever since his days as an Orangeman he’s been a guy you fear coming down the lane off a pick and roll because of his freakish athleticism. He boasts a 7-foot-2 wingspan to go along with his hops and is terrific in transition.
Because he’s far more athletic than most power forwards, he beats his man down the floor more often than not, and has the agility to finish in transition — where he scored 1.21 points per play and shot 70 percent with the Bucks last season.
But Warrick isn’t only a physical specimen, he has some skills to go along with it, most notably his jump shot. Again, it’s unfair to compare him to Stoudemire, but like Amare, his range reaches just inside the three-point line and he is quite accurate from 16-23 feet.
In fact, according to Hoopdata.com he shot 40 percent on shots from 16-23 feet during his 48 games with the Bucks last season, which isn’t bad for a power forward. And that solid jump shot translates to where Warrick excels most — the pick and roll.
Because of his shooting range, he is a great pick-and-pop player. But with his athleticism he is also dangerous streaking down the middle of the lane, making him a above average pick-and-roll player. With the Bucks last season he shot 54 percent out of the pick and roll, resulting in 1.14 points per play.
So expect Warrick to bring athleticism, highlight-reel dunks, mid-range shooting and solid pick-and-roll play to Phoenix next season.
At 219 pounds, Warrick is what the basketball world calls a tweener. He isn’t your prototypical power forward, but doesn’t have the skill set to be an NBA small forward.
One of the main reasons he struggles at power forward is because of his porous rebounding. Although he’s a fantastic leaper, he doesn’t have the bulk and technique to man the boards, and it’s shown throughout his career, as he’s never averaged more than 5.1 rebounds per game.
With big men there is usually a correlation between rebounding and defense, and this certainly holds true for Warrick (as it did for STAT). While he is a solid perimeter defender who can even try his hand at small forwards every now and again, he struggles mightily to defend in the post.
In 51 post-up situations with the Bucks, Warrick allowed the opponent to score 58.8 percent of the time. Because of his slender body type he lets the opposition get way too deep, which, at 6-foot-9, doesn’t give him any chance. With Robin Lopez in the middle he won’t have to defend the opposition’s best big man, but with so many twin towers in the West he will be a liability at times.
And you would think that with his athleticism and wingspan, Warrick would be a good help defender. But he isn’t the shot-blocker you would expect (despite this block in college), as he collected only 18 blocks last season and has never averaged more than 0.5 blocks per game in his career.
He does defend the perimeter well, however, holding opponents to 28.1 percent shooting and 0.63 points per play on isolations. He also does a good job using his quickness and length to get out to spot-up shooters, as he held the opposition to 38.5 percent shooting in spot-up situations.
He is pesky on the perimeter and has solid lateral quickness, as well as a good understanding of where to be on the floor after playing in Jim Boeheim’s zone scheme at Syracuse. But all in all, Warrick is a terrible post defender, a mediocre rebounder and could quickly earn the “soft” label in Phoenix.
He also lacks a complete offensive game. He has zero post moves, other than a face-up or turnaround jump shot, and can’t create off the dribble. Warrick does have nice quickness for a big man, but he certainly isn’t the type of guy you’re going to dump it down to and watch go to work.
Like Amare, expect to be frustrated at times with Warrick’s lack of rebounding and defense.
How will he fare in Phoenix?
Despite Warrick’s sub-par defense and rebounding, and his lack of a polished post game, he should thrive in Phoenix playing with Nash. Everything he’s good at is usually extremely valuable in Phoenix — jump shooting, playing up-tempo and pick-and-roll prowess.
The Suns obviously love to space the floor, and Warrick can help do that with his mid-range shooting. But when the floor is spaced he should have success diving or rolling to the hoop for ferocious slams, especially with Channing Frye lurking around the three-point line.
He and Nash should quickly develop a nice chemistry in the pick-and-roll game, and he should thrive getting out on the break and finishing in transition. His lack of defense and rebounding is cause for concern, but Lopez, the Suns’ second-round picks and maybe even a free-agent big man should help fill in the cracks there.
Players usually post career highs in purple and orange, and Hakim Warrick should be no exception.
Projected stat line: 15.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 49.1 FG% in 29.5 minutes
Synergy offensive statistics (48 games with MIL)
Points per play
Points per play
UPDATE: NBA Playbook on Warrick and Amare
Sebastian Pruiti of the TrueHoop blog NBA Playbook continues this conversation by comparing Amare and Warrick using video.