NBA Player Archetypes: Goons – Northwest Division
The NBA is a hotbed for the most talented basketball players on the planet. Athletes who have and continue to captivate audiences around the world with their unique set of skills and limitless potential. With that said not everyone can be a superstar or posses the ability to carry that title. A team’s potential can be maximized through chemistry, and chemistry stems from unselfishness. Role players come in many forms and excel at many different areas, but most importantly they are willing to sacrifice for their respective squads.
The first of our 3 part series will focus on a particular group of players called the” enforcers” or in this case the “goons” from every team in the league. Goons are known to protect their teammates, getting in the head of an opponents, intimidating other players, refs and coaches, etc.
Denver Nuggets – Kenneth Faried
We arrive at this familiar destination once again: high energy guys and dreads/braids. It’s like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Kenneth Faried‘s nickname, the “Manimal” may the most fitting description for his role as a “goon” for the Nuggets. His play this year is the quintessential play any team wants from their “goon(s)”. Without a steady diet of plays being ran for him, Faried has managed to put up averages of 14.1 points and 11.8 rebounds (good for 5th in the league, along with an Offensive Rebound Rate that ranks 2nd) per game. He’s a relentless, energy-filled, ball of disruption, which is a sure-fire way to fire up teammates, wear down opponents and embody the reckless style of this Denver squad. He’s the heart and soul of Nuggets.
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Minnesota Timberwolves – Nikola Pekovic
Nikola Pekovic the Montenegrin center of the Minnesota Timberwolves had to be an extra in the widely popular Liam Neeson movie Taken. One of the chain-smoking, gun waving brutes that accompanied Marco from Tropoja in his “endeavors” throughout the movie. He’s built like a brick house. He’s a lumbering silent giant, that was the former owner of an awkward set of forced post moves that left you laughing hysterically and shaking your head at former head coach Kevin McHale‘s usage of the man. That is until current head coach Rick Aldeman unleashed the bulldozer off-the-ball. Now you can see what Pekovic can really do. He doesn’t glide to the basket as much as he tramples. He doesn’t block shots as much as he plows into them. Read this article:
I’m speaking, of course, of Nikola Pekovic, massive human being. Nikola Pekovic whose face looks like a brick. Whose arms and legs (and torso and neck and whole body) appear to be hewn from concrete and thousand-year-old petrified oak. Whose internal organs, studies suggest, are made of a hearty beef and potato stew. This is the Nikola Pekovic who has a tattoo of an armored warrior standing on a pile of skulls, which we can only presume once belonged to enemies he (the warrior, but Pekovic if you’re into it) has slain; the skulls are, at the point at which we meet the tattoo, now presumably the warrior’s property, to do with whatever he wishes.
I will say this, the man may not have been a “goon” in Taken, but he is one in Minnesota.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Nick Collison
The “Boss of setting screens“, the “Maestro of the offensive rebound tap-out”, the lunch pail, steak and potatoes leader of the dirty jobs. Mike Rowe has nothing on this man. No, not Kendrick Perkins and his scowl, but Nick John Collison is the resident “goon” of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He, the fabled “Master of
the +/-“. Where the Thunder outscored opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions with him on the court last season. Yes, that guy. The one that ranked 13th out of 70 power forwards in offensive rebound rate. That guy. The “Chief of defending pick-and-rolls”. The “President of taking charges“. Get the picture? I guess I can let Nick speak for himself:
Nick Collison in his recent GQ blog: “The hard part is being able to have the focus to do it over and over again, knowing you aren’t going to get a lot of credit. Doing a great job of talking on defense won’t get you any high-paying endorsement deals. Nobody is making a YouTube mix of all your badass screens with a Rick Ross track playing over it. (I’m not saying I would complain if someone did this for me.)”
Nick Collison, we salute you.
Portland Trail Blazers – J. J. Hickson
“Just being active, doing everything that we ask him to. He’s a dog. You don’t need plays run for him. I think that’s his best asset. You forget about him and you’re like, look out, he’s dunking on your head after an offensive rebound. That’s what he does. He plays with energy, he’s got an extremely high motor. He’s athletic and he keeps us in games.”
That’s how Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews describes starting center J.J. Hickson. If you watched the long-lost brother of Utah Jazz forward Paul Milsap play, you’d agree. Especially this season. Last year, you could argue that Hickson’s propensity to rely on midrange jumpers instead of using his abilities around the rim as a reason to disallow his “goon” status. They were a third of his shot attempts and he made only 29.9 percent of them. I guess you live and you learn. The man is one of nine players in the entire NBA averaging a double-double. An undersized, energetic, that relies on his motor and athletic gifts? A beast he is.
Utah Jazz – Derrick Favors
I was leaning toward fellow young prospect, Enes Kanter, but Kanter hasn’t had near the impact of the fill-the-in-betweens like Favors does. Silent, athletic, and a turning into a destroyer on the glass, on defense, and when finishing around the basket. The clamor for more than the three-year average of 22 minutes a game, began after his trade to the Jazz last year, when Favors started doing this. He’s developing into more of a “goon”, by this time next year, he may on the “up-and-coming stars” status. I’m sure if he wasn’t in Utah, we’d hear more about Favor’s contributions, but don’t you worry, you will soon enough. And if don’t believe me? Read this article from Evan Hall of Salt Lake City Hoops of ESPN.com’s True Hoop Network. “INCONTROVERTIBLE FORCE OF NATURE” is all I have to say.
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