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Los Angeles
11-05-2006, 02:53 PM
This is the single most clear argument I can make for keeping JO at PF and playing either Harrison or Powell at center:



Francisco treat

By Steve Kerr, Yahoo! Sports
November 3, 2006


DALLAS Francisco Elson isn't exactly a well-known quantity in the NBA. The 7-footer has played three relatively anonymous seasons in the league, all with the Denver Nuggets as a decent backup center. Unless you're a hardcore basketball fan, you've probably never heard of him. In fact, "Francisco Elson" sounds a lot more like the name of the principal at your local Catholic high school than a dominating NBA center.


But if you didn't know Elson before, you will soon enough.

The San Antonio Spurs' quiet offseason pickup made a huge splash Thursday night in the teams' season opener, showing great speed, length and activity at both ends of the floor while helping the Spurs to a 97-91 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. His defense of Dirk Nowitzki changed the game and halted a hot shooting start by the Mavs.

For San Antoino head coach Gregg Popovich, slowing down Dallas occupied most of his thoughts throughout the offseason. Last May's epic seven-game series loss to Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals was more than just a defeat. It was a setback for Popovich's system.

The Mavericks took the Spurs out of a defensive comfort zone they'd been in for the better part of nine seasons. Using the dual shot-blocking tandem of David Robinson and Tim Duncan, Popovich built the best defensive scheme in the NBA. The strategy was simple: send the offensive player with the ball toward the baseline, where one of two centers was always there waiting outside the lane to block the shot.

When Robinson retired, Rasho Nesterovic and Nazr Mohammed filled his role with assists from Malik Rose and Robert Horry and San Antonio continued its tradition of outstanding interior defense that has been instrumental in the franchise's three NBA crowns. But in the playoffs last season, Dallas put a lineup on the floor that destroyed the Spurs' defensive system. The Mavericks went small and proved too quick for San Antonio's big lineup, forcing Nesterovic and Mohammed to the bench. The aging Horry was ineffective trying to cover Nowitzki, and when Popovich put Bruce Bowen on the 7-foot All-Star, it freed Josh Howard to attack the defense because the Spurs had no answer for him.

In the end, Popovich altered his lineup to match Dallas' speed, but in doing so, he compromised the long-standing, two-center-pronged defensive strategy that San Antonio hung its hat on. With the lane opened up, the Mavs obliterated the Spurs' defense, averaging 104 points and getting to the free-throw line an astounding 32 times per game. Even though San Antonio came within one basket of winning the series, it was a decidedly un-Spurs-like team that went down in defeat.

Following the season, Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford searched for a big man who could help them play their preferred defensive style. The league was going through a downsizing trend, with more and more teams playing smaller, quicker lineups, so the plodding Nesterovic and Mohammed were unloaded.

Popovich and Buford went after the more agile Elson, a restricted free agent with the Nuggets. Their timing was right because Denver was in the midst of giving Nene Hilario a $60 million deal, and with a loaded frontcourt and huge salary-cap concerns, the Nuggets failed to match San Antonio's three-year, $7 million offer. Popovich was intrigued by Elson's combination of size and quickness, but admittedly, he wasn't sure what he was going to get.

Elson quickly established a presence during training camp, picking up the defensive system with ease and wowing the Spurs' coaching staff by routinely finishing second to Tony Parker in team sprints. His offensive game surprised the staff, too.

"He can score down on the block," Popovich said before Thursday's game. "The only thing I want to see is if he can do it in a real game, under pressure."

Elson dispelled any of his coach's doubts right away against Dallas, spinning around Erick Dampier and nailing a 10-foot jump hook as soon as he touched the ball. Elson went on to make five of seven shots in the game, scoring 12 points, grabbing six boards and blocking two shots. But it was his defense against Nowitzki that had his teammates most excited.

The Mavs after making 53 percent of their shots in the first half cooled off considerably as Elson hounded Nowitzki while also protecting the lane with his shot-blocking presence. Dallas scored just 16 fourth-quarter points as San Antonio pulled away.

It was only one game, of course, and the Mavericks are trying to incorporate four new players into their 10-man rotation. They will surely improve as the season goes along. But Elson's interior presence and ability to cover Nowitzki seemingly has given Popovich's team the edge over its Texas rivals again.

Because if these two teams meet in the postseason, it appears the Spurs will be able to play the game the way they like it &nash; with two centers patrolling the lane and a slower, more grinding pace. And as they've proven time and again, when the Spurs play the game on their terms, they usually win.

Steve Kerr is Yahoo! Sports' NBA analyst. Send Steve a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Saturday, Nov 4, 2006 2:59 am E

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slu...yhoo&type=lgns

Hicks
11-05-2006, 03:56 PM
Since when is Powell a center? Isn't he 6'9?

Bball
11-05-2006, 04:08 PM
Since when is Powell a center? Isn't he 6'9?

I don't have a problem with a 6'9" center per se'... But he's got to be tough. Wingspan can be a factor too... But toughness, passion, and heart, along with a willingness to do the dirty work is where it's at.

Of course those are important for the prototypical centers too but the margin of error is less for the smaller guys.

Whether Powell could cut it in that role during the regular season is not something we'll learn by watching him sit behind the bench in a suit.

-Bball

Los Angeles
11-05-2006, 04:12 PM
Since when is Powell a center? Isn't he 6'9?

Isn't Ben Wallace 6'9"?

EDIT: This shouldn't be about classification, we're not talking about a fantasy league. I think JO matches up well with strong, athletic inside men. And I'm pointing to how Duncan has been paired up with similar players to suggest that it's worth a shot.

I do think Powell is a good compliment to JO, just as I thought Dale Davis would have worked well in that role also.

As for wether or not these guys are classified as Centers or Power Forwards, I don't think that matters.

Mourning
11-05-2006, 04:44 PM
I don't have a problem with a 6'9" center per se'... But he's got to be tough. Wingspan can be a factor too... But toughness, passion, and heart, along with a willingness to do the dirty work is where it's at.

Of course those are important for the prototypical centers too but the margin of error is less for the smaller guys.

Whether Powell could cut it in that role during the regular season is not something we'll learn by watching him sit behind the bench in a suit.

-Bball

Thanks for that article, LA. Btw Elson IS tough. I wanted him on our team, because he is fast, plays tough, can rebound and block.

He only got limited minutes in Denver to develop. I hope he'll do well. Shame he isn't on our team though.

Regards,

Mourning :cool:

Bball
11-05-2006, 04:58 PM
As for wether or not these guys are classified as Centers or Power Forwards, I don't think that matters.

Apparently JO thinks it matters... Tho for the life of me I don't know why he cares so much whether he's announced as a center or power forward.

-Bball

SycamoreKen
11-05-2006, 05:27 PM
Apparently JO thinks it matters... Tho for the life of me I don't know why he cares so much whether he's announced as a center or power forward.

-Bball

Duncan is the same way. Popovich joked that he lets it go since Duncan is the boss.

CableKC
11-05-2006, 05:52 PM
We don't have a player that can do what Elson ( a guy I wish we were able to somehow get in the offseason :censored: ) does. Actually...we did have Dale Davis...an older version of Elson. .

Pacerized
11-05-2006, 06:11 PM
Why in the world would you want to play Powell at center when you have Foster? Foster is by far our best big man defender.

CableKC
11-05-2006, 06:29 PM
After reading about Popavich's comments on Elson ( about his size, defense and quickness ) .....too bad we couldn't work out a S&T for him to Denver.

It sounds like he would have fit in well with our new offense with his quickness and our defense.

JayRedd
11-05-2006, 10:28 PM
Apparently JO thinks it matters... Tho for the life of me I don't know why he cares so much whether he's announced as a center or power forward.

-Bball

Because there is another O'Neal that is guarenteed the starting C spot in the All Star Game for the East.

Los Angeles
11-05-2006, 11:43 PM
Because there is another O'Neal that is guarenteed the starting C spot in the All Star Game for the East.

Goodness - that's so obvious that it never even occurred to me. No wonder he's got a stick up his *** about it.

Anthem
11-06-2006, 01:10 AM
I don't think the All-Star game is as big a deal to JO as you make it out to be. He's opted out at least once.

Arcadian
11-06-2006, 01:42 AM
He wanted to be a PF before Shaq went East.

Having seen JO break down the last two seasons playing bigger guys makes me agree with JO that it does matter.

spreedom
11-06-2006, 01:44 AM
Steve Kerr's really blatant bias towards the Spurs is nauseating at times.. when I watch TNT, with one of the Spurs' division rivals playing, I just know Kerr is going to do color on it, and I know he's going to be talking about the Spurs the entire time. He's brutal.

He did, however, print my e-mail in a column a few weeks ago, so that's pretty cool!

Leisure Suit Larry
11-06-2006, 01:59 AM
Steve Kerr's really blatant bias towards the Spurs is nauseating at times.. when I watch TNT, with one of the Spurs' division rivals playing, I just know Kerr is going to do color on it, and I know he's going to be talking about the Spurs the entire time. He's brutal.

He did, however, print my e-mail in a column a few weeks ago, so that's pretty cool!

i'm glad someone else sees it, i dont know if its still the case but it used to be that all of his yahoo articles were about the spurs

Bball
11-06-2006, 02:11 AM
I don't think the All-Star game is as big a deal to JO as you make it out to be. He's opted out at least once.

But he's complaining about being called a center whether he's effectively playing center or not.

-Bball

Dr. Goldfoot
11-06-2006, 02:51 AM
I don't see how this move would make this team any better at all. David Harrison hasn't proven to be effective and he's not getting many minutes so far this year. He's averaged 16 a game for his career and alot of those came due to injuries. He may have an intriguing offensive game and some good size, but he lacks any discipline on the other end of the floor and hasn't shown he's willing to bang for boards consistently. He does get the occasional thunderous dunk or in your face block but there are a couple of guys ahead of him in the rotation because he's not as good as they are. While Josh Powell and Ben Wallace are the same height, I'm sure Powell would even roll his eyes if someone told him he could play center because Ben does. Powell hasn't even suited up yet and I think that speaks volumes as to what the coaching staff thinks about him. If they thought this guy could get off the bench he'd be active. He's not so therefore you have to assume they aren't just trying to keep him a secret until the playoffs.

Mourning
11-06-2006, 05:56 AM
He wanted to be a PF before Shaq went East.

Having seen JO break down the last two seasons playing bigger guys makes me agree with JO that it does matter.

Same here!

Fool
11-06-2006, 10:47 AM
Following the season, Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford searched for a big man who could help them play their preferred defensive style. The league was going through a downsizing trend, with more and more teams playing smaller, quicker lineups, so the plodding Nesterovic and Mohammed were unloaded.

Popovich and Buford went after the more agile Elson, a restricted free agent with the Nuggets. Their timing was right because Denver was in the midst of giving Nene Hilario a $60 million deal, and with a loaded frontcourt and huge salary-cap concerns, the Nuggets failed to match San Antonio's three-year, $7 million offer. Popovich was intrigued by Elson's combination of size and quickness, but admittedly, he wasn't sure what he was going to get.

This is missleading. After Ben Wallace chose Chicago, the Spurs first attempted to resign Mohammad, then went after Pryzbilla. Both players would have commanded most or all of their MLE. It was only after those attempts failed that they landed on their current situation of splitting their MLE for Elson and Bonner (I think it was Bonner).

As for Elson, I think a lot is being made about him for one game. Cro did well in that game as well and I think the reason both players did well is that everyone else was old hat. The new elements were the only ones that neither team had a playoff tested game plan as to how to counter. Since that game, the Spurs have been going with Oberto at C more than Elson, but thats only been 2 games and one was the 2nd of a back-to-back. Of course Dallas is a huge matchup for the Spurs and regardless of how he does against anyone else, if he produces against them he's worth the small price tag he came with.

As for Steve Kerr's bias: My first reaction to the thread title was "How extrodinary that Kerr would write a positive article about the Spurs...."

DelNegro
11-06-2006, 11:12 AM
This is missleading. After Ben Wallace chose Chicago, the Spurs first attempted to resign Mohammad, then went after Pryzbilla. Both players would have commanded most or all of their MLE. It was only after those attempts failed that they landed on their current situation of splitting their MLE for Elson and Bonner (I think it was Bonner).

There was bad blood between the Spurs & Nazr by the time last season ended so the Spurs were never really serious about re-signing Nazr, nor was Nazr ever serious about wanting to come back. The Spurs & Nazr put on the false happy face in case someone wanted to work an S&T which would have benefitted them both, but nothing materialized.

Pryzbilla they were serious about signing, and they offered their full MLE for 4 years, but Portland offered that 5th year and Pryz took the money. The Spurs were firm on not going 5 years because they're setting up for capspace in 2010 when Duncan & Ginobili's deals come off the books.

The Spurs ended up splitting their MLE on Butler & Elson, not Bonner. They got Bonner as part of the Rasho deal.


As for Steve Kerr's bias: My first reaction to the thread title was "How extrodinary that Kerr would write a positive article about the Spurs...."

What do you mean? I find Kerr to be a great analyst who's always completely objective and never shows any bias whatsoever. :D

Fool
11-06-2006, 11:29 AM
Yeah, my only complaint is that the article makes it sound like Pop and RC were visionaries for going with such an untested player as their C, when in reality they prefered several different options prior to landing on Elson. That said, they still did go with Elson so they deserve credit for that.

As for Nazr, I was aware that the Spurs relationship with him and his with the Spurs wasn't the best but I thought the Spurs did give him an official offer of at least 3/4 of their MLE. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but if not I don't think you can say the Spurs were "never really serious" about signing him.

docpaul
11-06-2006, 11:52 AM
Apparently JO thinks it matters... Tho for the life of me I don't know why he cares so much whether he's announced as a center or power forward.

-Bball

I thought this was fairly obvious? He wants to go to the All-Star game, and his best opportunity is as a PF. ;)

Naptown_Seth
11-06-2006, 11:58 AM
Isn't Ben Wallace 6'9"?

EDIT: This shouldn't be about classification, we're not talking about a fantasy league. I think JO matches up well with strong, athletic inside men. And I'm pointing to how Duncan has been paired up with similar players to suggest that it's worth a shot.

I do think Powell is a good compliment to JO, just as I thought Dale Davis would have worked well in that role also.

As for wether or not these guys are classified as Centers or Power Forwards, I don't think that matters.
Isn't Ben Wallace a physical rock compared to someone like JO or Powell? Powell is not a big brawny guy. To me his game is a JO clone and he is more of a back-up PF than a C.

Foster and Harrison are both much more imposing as a physical center than Powell is. Powell is SMALLER than Granger and Harrington. He looks to be a really solid PF, don't get me wrong, but he's not some magic "big" that helps at center all that much.

JayRedd
11-06-2006, 01:55 PM
Having seen JO break down the last two seasons playing bigger guys makes me agree with JO that it does matter.


Whether or not he likes it, he's been our starting center for a while now. Or maybe you could argue that we haven't been starting a center. Neither Jeff Foster nor Al Harrington was more of a center than JO.

I was half joking about the All Star thing, but I do believe it matters to him a good deal to be continually voted in as a starter.

But I think the biggest reason he is still classified as PF internally within the Pacers offense anyway is because the offense is structured with respect to a number system (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). For JO to be re-classified as the 5, he would have to initiate his offense from a different starting location than the 4 spot he's been playing since Rick and company put their sets together. Either that or Rick would have to switch things around to cater to an offense that utilizes the 5 in a way that is better suited to having your best offensive player there.

It's a lot easier just to throw Al into the 5 since he's new and has to learn new positioning/rotation/spacing anyway, rather than disrupt the flow on offense by having two guys trying to remember where to set up each time down the floor during set schemes.

This way, Tins stays 1, Jax stays 2, Granger stays 3, JO stays 4 and only the outsider Al needs to adjust, as he would have to regardless of his official position.

So, from the team's perspective, I believe it's really more about offensive continuity than bowing to the whim of Jermaine O'Neal. It's just easier this way.

Los Angeles
11-06-2006, 02:10 PM
Isn't Ben Wallace a physical rock compared to someone like JO or Powell? Powell is not a big brawny guy. To me his game is a JO clone and he is more of a back-up PF than a C.

Foster and Harrison are both much more imposing as a physical center than Powell is. Powell is SMALLER than Granger and Harrington. He looks to be a really solid PF, don't get me wrong, but he's not some magic "big" that helps at center all that much.

Powell looks a heck of a lot stronger and bigger than the 225 he's listed at.

Anyway, let's forget about Powell. How about Harrison?