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.
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.