What to make of JJ Hickson now, as Cavs win in OT

Antawn Jamison had his best game as a Cavalier last night to be sure, and quite possibly one of his best games ever in the Association.

I’d like to expand on that thought right now, but my mind is still caught somewhere between JJ’s “This is The Hickson’s house” rejection he served Blake Griffin, and the All Star caliber stat line he finished with as the confetti fell from the rafters.

JJ Hickson was a beast last night.  As important as Jamison’s 35 points, 9 rebounds, and massively clutch shooting was in the 126-119 OT win over the Clippers, the Cavs don’t stop the bleeding at 26 if Hickson doesn’t show up channelling his inner Hakeem Olajuwon.

He went for 27 points on 12 of 19 from the floor and finished with game highs of 14 rebounds and 4 blocks.  He blocked a shot that sent it to OT, and was everything Cavs fans ever went out on a limb to dream, hope, think, or pretend he could possibly play himself into becoming this season.  The Cavaliers won because of him last night.

Hickson has now scored double figure points in each of his last seven games, and is averaging 19.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per during that recent stretch.  He said of his blocked shot at the end of regulation, “I knew it wasn’t goaltending, I got the ball at it’s highest point.”

And he left Cavs fans questioning what they thought they knew about JJ Hickson all over again in the process.

After the game Byron Scott called the team’s performance “bittersweet”, saying “with about a minute left in the game, I looked up and said, if we’d have played this hard the last game, we would have won.  It’s great that we finally got the monkey off our backs, but I expect our guys to play this hard every single night. If we do that, then we’ll be OK.”

If Hickson played this hard personally every night, he’d be better than ok.  He’d be an All Star actually. Which leads me to a place where I’m torn between categorizing his performance last night as either “bittersweet” or “encouraging.”

The thing is, the fact that Hickson played a game like this isn’t necessarily surprising.  Everybody who’s paid attention to the guy has known he’s “capable” of games like this.  The ability is certainly there, but is the mental toughness needed to be consistent?  Is he motivated enough to find a way for that light to not only turn on like it has recently, but stay on for the duration?

Hickson said afterwards he was “motivated to get a win,” and that obviously showed.  I hope he stays motivated to get wins, because if he does than they will.

Mo Williams’ return to the lineup obviously helped a whole lot last night too though for both JJ and the Cavaliers collectively.  Mo had a good night scoring in the win that broke the streak, finishing with 17 points on 7 of 18 shooting, and there was no jumper bigger than the one he hit with 6 seconds left in regulation to tie things up.  His most gigantic contribution in the win was as a facilitator, though.

Mo dished out a game-high 14 assists as compared to only 2 turnovers.  No other Cavalier or Clipper finished with more than 7.  I imagine that knowing that the ball will move, and people will find you if you’re motivated to attack the rim would kinda help a young player actually be motivated to attack the rim.  Whether he should be motivated anyways or not.

But regardless of where Hickson goes from here, I’m not going to let myself go to either extreme at this point.  I’m not going to let myself get as overly bullish as I was this summer, nor do I currently think that writing the guy off is specifically necessary right now either.

I’m going to simply enjoy the blocks, enjoy the effort, and enjoy the win.  It was a long time coming, and who knows when we’ll see another one.  I’m just glad we don’t have to wait until Sunday to see the first one in 2011.

  • humboldt

    Trade him. Not being glib, but JJ isn’t a player I see the franchise being able to build a championship team around. Would gladly trade him for support players and a lottery pick, or multiple first rounders. Am sure others will disagree, but that’s just how I see it. Can’t believe we didn’t pull the trigger for Amare last year…

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeus

    Once again… the Suns were the ones who rejected the JJ/Amare deal.

  • EdgewaterJoe

    This can only help if the Cavs are in a position to draft Sullinger. They may be able to package JJ with the exemption or a larger contract for 2-3 help. All good!

  • humboldt

    @DocZues – I know, I meant it more as exasperation that a deal didn’t get done, regardless of the particulars.

    @Joe – Drafting Sullinger and trading JJ for a few other picks/pieces sounds like a great scenario to me

  • Jordan

    Sullinger’s not coming out this year, though, right?

  • Mark

    When was the last time a top 3 pick stayed in school? The last one I can think of is Tim Duncan and that was about 15 years ago. Sullinger is coming out no matter what he says now. They all do.

  • Jordan

    I’m guessing you’re correct, but you just never know. If he does, I obviously hope the Cavs get him.

  • Tsunami

    @Mark – hard to believe he wouldn’t. He stock will never be higher that it will at the end of this year.

    Same could be said for Andrew Luck though.

  • Swig

    If he stays it will be because of the impending lockout, which could be awesome for us if the following years draft is loaded.

    If we can’t build around JJ how would we ever build around amare? By the time we have any pieces he will be well on the downslide

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    Can’t wait for the Cavs to draft Ryan Mallett.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    Personally, I think we see a lot more of “this” JJ next season if the Cavs can land a pure PG. Hickson is getting a ton of credit – and deservedly so – in this one, but Mo Williams being 100 percent and running the offense Byron Scott has been only dreaming about was key.

    With an off. efficiency of 118.9, it was the best offensive game of the season. Hickson used 25 possessions to “contribute” his 22.3 points; 67 percent of which were assisted. 13 of Williams’ 14 assists led to either dunks/layups (10) or three-balls (3). Having a point guard in this league makes everything better. Once this team decides who that PG of the future is, things will get immensely better.

  • mgbode

    imagine if we had a real PG who could setup JJ. Mo did his best true-PG impersonation, but that hasn’t been him consistently over the years. if we get Irving, look out.

    oh, and JJ seems to have his best games on the defensive end when he is playing well on the offensive end. guessing he needs to keep getting involved on that end to keep his head in the game at the other. just noting.

  • mgbode

    @Scott – I was a few seconds late, but I obviously agree :)

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    mgbode – nothing wrong with reiterating facts

  • JM

    It was nice to see Mo finally show up this season. Good game Mo.

  • DKH

    I’m glad for the win, but 17 points on 18 shots is not “a good night scoring.” Also, Hickson had 7 “net possessions” (rebounds + steals – turnovers), while Jamison had 10.

    Obviously Hickson’s blocks and Williams’s assists were great contributions. Let’s hope they can keep that up against teams better than the Clippers.

  • Shamrock

    Hickson should be scoring there isn’t anyone else on the roster other then Mo Williams. I’m still not sold on JJ frankly I think he has the worst pair of hands in the NBA BUT it is nice seeing him rebound. Rebounding is heart and desire. Apparently JJ finally found his.

  • 5KMD

    What worries me about Sullinger is that a lot of what he does in college depends on getting calls down low that he won’t get in the NBA. Wisconsin’s bigs kind of beat him up yesterday.

    Take Irving this year, suck again next year, and then get Sullinger after he develops a midrange game.


    @3….I don’t think the exemption can be packaged with any other players….Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it can only be sent to a team looking to dump salary and receive no players back.

  • Shamrock

    No The eexemption can’t be traded and so much for that win streak huh?