Why Hasnít Foster Developed Offensive Game?

Monday, Aug. 14, 2006

Conrad Brunner

. We all know that Jeff Foster is one of the league's best per-minute rebounders. I am wondering if the Pacers ever tried to develop his offensive game, I.E. develop a jump hook or other inside moves. It just seems to me that he gives the Pacers so much on the boards, it's a shame he's never been able to provide just a little more scoring to give J.O. the alternate inside offensive threat that is needed. (From Mark in Bloomington, Ind.)

A. In order to find a picture to illustrate this article, I logged into the NBA's photo server and began searching for images of our favorite feisty center. When I typed in the keywords "Jeff Foster," fully 932 images appeared. When I typed in the keywords "Jeff Foster scores" there were, well, eight. That pretty well sums up Foster's game. It's not hard to find him doing just about everything else. But if you want to see him score, you're probably going to be disappointed.

I'm sure there were Pistons fans who believed Ben Wallace should've either been given more opportunity to score, or could've developed something of an offensive game. I'm sure there will soon be Bulls fans who feel the same. This is not to say Foster is on Wallace's level as an overall force but he fits the same basic profile. He does the dirty work: loose balls, deflections, floor burns, etc. He is one of the game's most productive rebounders, particularly on the offensive glass, and plays with a relentless energy.

He's one of those guys that can make a starting lineup work because he doesn't demand the ball. If he wants it, he'll go get it. That leaves more shots for the scorers, and that generally is good for chemistry. It's nearly impossible to construct a successful lineup that features five scorers. In fact, I can't remember any. Most great teams have three; Detroit won it all with four and that was a rarity.

That said, would it help if Foster was able to develop one reliable offensive weapon? Absolutely, although I don't think he needs to be able to score from the post. If Foster had a consistent mid-range jumper, either from the baseline or high post, it would really help the offense because of the space it would create inside. But he's 29 now and has been in the league seven seasons, so it's safe to assume he is basically a finished product, and that's not a criticism. He can't do it all, but it's certainly does a lot.