On his way to the ring, weighing in at 300 pounds, he is your tub of lard, your king of Kentucky Fried Chicken, your master of McDonald’s, Aaron the “Consumer of food and rebounds” Gray.
The 7-Footer was traded from the Chicago Bulls in a trade last year for Devin Brown to help the Hornets with their severe lack of front-court depth. He is the only legitimate 7-footer on the team and still is for the time being. Now Gray supposedly does not weigh 300 pounds as a strict off-season diet consisting of “no-soda” has helped him trim his mass to a “slim” 278. Now while this may not mean something to most of us, here’s why it might be a difference for the big-man for 2010-11, let’s head over the jump–>
Aaron Gray came into the league a big-mass with a decent post-game and terrific rebounding numbers. Gray has continued the stellar rebounding numbers, but his offensive game has suffered. The NBA game is an athletic, run-and-gun show that doesn’t stop for the weak. Now while Aaron may not be weak, he certainly is not athletic nor does he possess any “run-and-gun” abilities.
Unless someone gives Gray a shotgun, it’s likely to remain the same, but coming down from 300 pounds to 275 is a big deal, especially for him. The 25 pounds that Gray previously consisted of was the 25-pounds that stopped him from getting that rebound, that stopped him from being out of position on the paint penetration, that stopped him from being elusive in the offensive zone to find the crease for the score, and so on and so forth. Aaron knows he has strength’s which are his size, touch about the basket and his rebounding. Being a little lighter will help him get that much better as his maneuverability improves.
Last season Gray came to the Hornets looking for a fresh start. In his limited action with the Hornets the big-man was extremely efficient. His field-goal percentage was an awesome 55.7%, he hit 18-21 free throws and he had 16.5 rebounds per 48 minutes (by comparison his opponent had 9.8 per-48). One thing that Gray brings to the team, outside of the statistics, is just pure size both height and width. Sometimes this is not a good thing (which is why we need a second, more athletic big–not Songaila). But other times it is. When Dwight Howard matched up against the Hornets, Aaron Gray seemed to have his number of the Hornets defensive end, an excert from Hornets247.
When Aaron Gray came in, I groaned, expecting to watch Dwight rip the Hornets apart inside. Instead, Gray worked very hard, fighting for position, and sometimes simply draped himself on Dwight, leaning on him for every rebound, putting a body on him constantly, and generally making Howard work hard simply to move his tremendous bulk. Since Dwight is uncomfortable facing up, the massive size of Gray actually nullified much of his offensive game outside of alley-oops.
For all the positives though Gray does have a lot of negatives. That aforementioned ‘touch’ around the rim may be more a case of gamblers-luck. Often at times Gray would drop the ball stone dead, would miss point blank lay-up’s and not be creative enough in scoring the ball. If things stay as they are expect Gray to decline in efficiency as his sample size increases.
This year I’m looking for Gray to be an effective rebounder, and that’s pretty much it. Sure he may be ‘slimer’ but I want to see him just go for the boards. Back in my days of high-school ball, I would play the 4 or 5 positions. The one thing I would work for is the rebounds, and nothing else. When I harnessed all my mental focus on rebounds other aspects seemed to improve. For big-men like Gray working the boards is the best way to:
- Get easy baskets
- Get to the free-throw line and put opposition big-men in foul trouble
- Stops/Creates second chance points
- Get the team out on the fast break
- Keeps the work-rate up and team’s motivation/spirit
Again, I’m still looking for the Hornets to acquire a more athletic big-man before now and the start of the season, but maybe the Hungry-Hungry Hippo shows us some hunger to be the Hornets primary backup center.
Points per game: 3.8
Rebounds per game: 3.7
Minutes per game: 13
Field-Goal percentage: 46
Free-Throw percentage: 63