No excuse for Hickson to not learn playbook this season

Whereas there might’ve been last year.  I’ll get to that in a minute, but I do have to first admit that after reading Rick’s piece yesterday I am concerned about J.J. Hickson.  Not panic, just concern. 

tweeted about this in response on Friday, and after twitter’s version of a conversation with @WayneEmbrysKids, he kinda summed up my thoughts on this topic in one word: annoying.

It really is annoying at this point that J.J. appears disinterested enough in learning the playbook to cause Byron Scott to call him out on it.  I do understand that these are the types of things that coaches do, and hopefully he will push the buttons necessary to motivate Hickson to grow in this area, but it’s annoying that he has to. 

Byron Scott’s offense can practically be named after J.J. Hickson.  It’s design capitalizes specifically on the abilities of Hickson.  He could theoretically play twelve more seasons in the NBA in twelve different systems and not have a better opportunity to capitalize on his abilities offensively than he does right now in Byron Scott’s offense.  It’s not too much to ask that he tries to learn the plays. 

I know that this knock on Hickson is nothing new.  I realize that this issue Byron Scott is voicing publicly – already – is the same issue that Mike Brown had with him last season.  It’s also probably what kept him out of most of the playoffs last year.  But this issue is a correctable one, and I’m hoping Hickson wants to correct it. 

If J.J. wants to grow into the type of player that I think he can be – a 19 and 10 guy and a potential All Star in seasons to come – he has to embrace the mental work associated with the NBA grind.  The excuses that people used for him last season are over.

I give J.J. a pass last season for the mental lapses we saw from him, but that pass ended the moment he became the most explosive athlete on this season’s roster.  It was understandable – last year – for him to make the mistakes he did, and beyond that the Cavs could afford those “growing pains” on some levels.  They can’t afford them now though.  

If Hickson stayed at NC State he would’ve been a junior last season, and there’s obvious adjustments to be made transitioning as he did into an NBA starting line-up.  I get that.  I also understand that the guy who took ‘young JJ under his wing’ last season was also a guy who paid no attention to whatever play was drawn up on the dry erase board.  Whether those were good plays suggested in the offensive huddle or not is anybody’s guess at this point, but they were viewed as just that by LeBron James – suggestions.  Maybe J.J. saw that and thinks that’s how things work in the Association.  If he did or does, he has to realize now that he’s not good enough to think that way.

Mike Brown’s not here to blame anymore either.  Most people couldn’t really identify what exactly it was the Cavaliers were trying to do offensively last season.  Some surmised that if the Cavs weren’t really running anything on offense anyways, how could J.J. be accountable for not knowing where to go?  We also said that the defensive philosophy – while effective – takes time to learn.  Whether both, either, some, or none of that is true with regards to the previous coach, what’s obviously true is that Mke Brown’s gone now.  So’s the “negative influence” – per say.  The inexperience has now morphed into a season of regular starts, and it’s time to mature into an NBA vet. 

This is now the second coach saying the same thing about you J.J.  It’s not a them problem, it’s a you problem.  And you need to fix it.  Right now.  If you do, the sky’s the limit for you. You have All Star caliber game.  If you want to be a star in this league badly enough, you can be.  If you don’t, you’ll be an average player with above average ability scoring 9 or 10 when you should score 19 or 20 for the rest of your career.  You have to want to be that 19 and 10 guy though, and we really hope you do. 

So just learn the plays J.J.  That’s all your coach is asking you to do.  They’re good plays, you’ll like them, I swear.

  • JM

    “Maybe J.J. saw that and thinks that’s how things work in the Association.” That pretty much sums up the NBA right there.

  • 6thCity

    Agreed. JJ went from being “over-talented” in high school and college to being raw in the NBA while playing for a team that didn’t really run an offense. I saw it so many times last season… Starting the game with 3 to 5 plays then let 23 just do whatever. So I think it is a big adjustement for him and one he’ll probably only pick up on when the season gets rolling and the rotations are consistent.

  • boogeyman

    Mike Brown deserves alot of the blame for allowing Hickson’s laziness but I don’t excuse Danny Ferry for making the pick either. Hate to keep harping on this but I’m afraid JJ is just another draft pick highly overrated by the hometown fans who looks like despite all the physical tools won’t ever be anywhere near as good. I still chuckle when I think about the people who didn’t want to trade Hickson in a deal for Amare Stoudemire. This is how you go decades without a title.

  • Harv 21

    I wouldn’t blame Brown, Ferry or Scott if jj never gets it. The draft ia an educated guess. Tons of crazy-athletic first rounders wash out, and if scouts could always predict what was in a kid’s head and heart guys like Rodman, Pippin and Boozer would have been taken top of the first round. This is on jj. Ferry needed to get a young big and it was not a bad pick for late in round 1, even in retrospect.

  • Nicko

    Where they got him, JJ was a good pick. That being said, he is never going to amount to anything. Hate saying that, but he is an under sized 4 who has too many lapses.

  • Joe

    It’s not ‘per say’ … it’s ‘per se’ … I know people don’t check spelling when one speaks, but geez, this just looks bad for a writer.

  • Vengeful Pat

    At 6’9″ and 242 lbs, JJ Hickson is in no way an “under sized 4”. He’s right at the height and weight you would expect at that position in the NBA.

    How can anyone consider this guy to be a bad draft pick? He was not a lottery pick… we got him with the 19th pick of the first round. Frankly, I remember thinking he was a steal at that pick considering he was projected as a potential lottery pick.

    Let’s not just start blurting out nonsense, people. Use your heads.

  • Worm

    I think people have avoided talking about the pink elephant in the room. Maybe J.J. doesn’t have the mental capacity to learn the offense or any offense for that matter.