Hakim "The Tween" Warrick

It was December 17th 2010 the last time Suns PF Hakim Warrick scored in double figures.

The Suns lost to the Mavs in Dallas that night and Warrick played 28 minutes, scored 15 points and grabbed 14 boards. In the following 25 games he never recorded more than 9 points or 8 rebounds. What happened? Well the Suns acquired two more forwards in Carter (a SF “in disguise”) and Pietrus in that trade with the Magic.

Warrick has been one of the most relevant victims of Coach Gentry shortened rotation.

In January Hakim played an average of 12 minutes per game and things aren’t looking much better in the still young month of February. “He plays well with the starting rotation but the Suns probably don’t have time to mess with rotations and still make the playoffs” was one of the comment I collected while working on this post and I tend to agree with that.

Warrick needs space on the floor, needs people moving quickly around him, he needs open lanes and pick and rolls. That’s why he’s at his finest playing with Channing Frye at center, since he usually operates some 24 feet from the basket.

His aggressive style of play would benefit the Suns very much. He can attack the rim, put the ball on the floor and will go to the line very often. According to NBA.com Hakim ranks #11 in the NBA in Free Throw Attempts Per 48 Minutes (10.54) and he can dunk with the best of them.

A decent – yet inconsistent – mid-range shooter and a great overall athlete, the 5-year pro from Syracuse University is a solid NBA forward. He’s 6-9, has 22 career double-doubles (not bad really), a decent rebounder and a good finisher  (a .499 shooter as a pro).

He’s not great around the boards, even if I believe he’s a bit underrated as a rebounder (at 219 lbs he grabs around 9 boards per 48-minute). Warrick has the second worst +/- on the Suns roster and he’s nothing special (to be generous…) on defense but that was never a problem in Phoenix.

So, what’s wrong with Warrick? He’s a power forward by attitude in a small forward body on a team with simply too many forwards.

Hakim is on the lighter side of an NBA PF. Not good enough as an outside shooter, not strong enough to fight in the paint with the big boys in the Association. Add to that the fact that the Suns have possibly the best collection of forwards in the NBA, not just forwards, but “tweeners” if I may add.

A “tweener” in basketball “is a term, according to Wikipedia, sometimes used derisively, for a player who is able to play two positions, but is not ideally suited to play either position exclusively, so he/she is said to be in between. A tweener has a set of skills that do not match the traditional position of his physical stature“.

The Suns seem to have one of the NBA largest (and most expensive) collection of forwards on their roster: Vince Carter is a small forward playing SG, Grant Hill, Mickael Pietrus (5.3 million), Jared Dudley (2.1), Josh Childress (6.5 million), Warrick (4.2 million) not to mention a center Channing Frye who basically plays SF.

Now, this is the question: Can the Suns use their “atypicality” as a competitive advantage or is it just a negative mismatch?

Hakim, the prototype “tweener” forward, could be a 20-minute, 12 points and 8 boards per game in the right system, but how many of those players can you fit on an NBA roster (at that cost)?

Hakim would have been a perfect “0:07 seconds or less” player…only problem, it’s not 2006 anymore.

Yours truly

Luca, the Steve Fan

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