View Full Version : Question from Jay on Al Harrington's defense

06-08-2004, 01:04 PM
This ws asked in another very long thread, and I figured it deserved it's own thread, hey it is the offseason what else is there to talk about. Want to hear other opinions

Jay's comments:

I've seen a lot comments lately with disparaging remarks about Al's defense.

Does somebody that really pays attention to individual player's defense care to provide a scouting report on Al's defense? We know he's not as good as Ron, so I'm not looking for somebody to just say that... what specifically can he do/ not do and, most importantly, how does his defense today compare to his defense before he blew out his knee?

My response.

You ask an interesting question.

The biggest difference I see between AL and Ron is that Ron plays defense hard 100% all the time. Al plays it hard at times, he gets geeked up to play defense well at times. See this is what sets Artest apart, sure he has incredible defensive talent, but it is his intensity on defense that sets him apart. He never gives up on the play, how many times per game does he get beat off the dribble and yet he finds a way to get back into the play. And this incredible intensity, effort, energy, whatever you want to call it rubs off on his teammates.

Having said that let's talk about AL, I've already said he does not play defense hard more than 80% of the time. Once he is beat, he is beat, and is time for offense.

Al's lateral quickness since the knee injury has taken a turn for the worse, he simply cannot stay in front of people like he used to. Al's defense seemed good compared to Reggie's, Jalen's, Mullen's.

One other very important thing about AL that worries me is he has a natural tendency to put on weight, that is just his body type, as he gets older and older he will become more of a power forward who is incapable of defending small forwards. That has already started. Don't get me wrong it is not about staying in shape it is just a natural aging process.

Al is horrible following players around screens.

We all know AL is great at taking charges, that is his thing, he is good at it and deserves credit for doing that.

Remember game #2 of the Celtics series this year. Ron was suspended. Al guarded Paul Pierce in the first half, but not at all in the second. Reggie defended PP, Foster did, Bender did a lot, but AL did not at all in the 2nd half. That should tell us something.

Two years ago my dream was to have AL and Ron on the court at the same time, I thought that was going to be the best defensive combo in the league, well it never materialized after two full seasons, partly because AL has lost something defensively.

Now he is a power forward defensively. I would be very reluctant to assume he can defend small forwards in the future and it will get worse each season

06-08-2004, 02:08 PM
Very good assessment.

The only thing you haven't mentioned is Al's "pulling the chair" tactic against PFs.

But basically, Ron can successfully guard maybe a handful of PGs, most SGs, nearly all SFs and probably a few PFs as well.

I doubt Al can successfully guard any PGs, but can guard a few SGs, many SFs and many PFs.

06-08-2004, 02:46 PM
I can't make as detailed an assessment as Buck did, but I know Al impresses me with how often and how well he takes charges, as well as the pull-the-chair move beast23 mentioned.

06-08-2004, 02:58 PM
I just re-read my post again, and I don't want to sound too criticial, AL is still a very good defender.

In the playoffs he defended Odom very well and Sheed very well, howver I might add Foster IMO defended both of those players slightly better.

But AL is not a guy you take out of a game because his defense is not good enough, he is an asset on the defensive end

06-08-2004, 03:19 PM
Making this question even 'broader', it sounds like UB thinks Al is becoming a one-position player at PF.

Clearly, that is where he played almost all of his minutes this season.

Do the rest of you agree? Is all no longer even 'in the mix' at SF - for any team?

Because if the general idea is that Al is going to a be a PF, then he's not going to be a starter in the NBA for very long - he's too small to start at PF unless he's playing next to a huge guy, physically (Yao Ming, Dampier, Shaq, that's about it, isn't it?)

06-08-2004, 03:22 PM
He probably has the potential to strickly be a PF, but not at the moment. He is still just a forward. If he can continue to work on his turnaround jumper, he can be almost unstoppable, but that's just what I think. He has to lose that ego of his also.

06-08-2004, 03:58 PM
I don't think Al is just a PF. The Pacers front office doesn't either, hence the overload at certain positions comment by Bird.

UB you hit on my biggest problem w/Al - he is a good, borderline very good defender WHEN HE WANTS TO. I think you were generous is saying he plays hard defense 80% of the time. I think it's more along the lines of 70% at the high end. I've seen his defensive lapses get greater with each season. It seems to me he has started to take it easy on defense so he will be ready to play offense. I don't know if that will ever change. He is becoming like Vince Carter and many others who want to conserve themselves defensively.