[Quotable]: Eddie Johnson on Why Intimidation is the Most Important Missing Ingredient in Deandre Ayton’s Game

(photo courtesy of Heavy.com)

Legendary NBA sharp-shooter and voice of the Phoenix Suns, Eddie Johnson tells us how the (lost fundamental) big-man skill of intimidation can help Ayton take the Suns defense to the next level, courtesy of the March 4th episode of Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast:

He’s got to understand that intimidation can become a major part of his game. He has to continue to grow to that, and don’t worry about it–what goes on between the lines, its just happens–you gotta be ferocious! When I played and I was getting ready to drive the ball, the few times I did–if I saw Kevin Willis there waiting on me, if I saw Bill Laimbeer there waiting on me, I thought two times about it. If I saw Buck Williams there waiting for me, I thought about it, because they would hurt you! And literally not hurt you on purpose, but they gave you the sense that if you come in here, you’re gonna hit some combustion man. And you kinda hesitate. And Ayton has to develop that. I think Embiid has that and that’s why he is in the running for MVP. That he will attack you, he will be very aggressive with you. And you tend to back off him knowing that he might. Ayton is intimidating. He’s one of the largest in the league, one of the largest we’ve seen. He has a tremendous body. And that attitude that he’s going to break the rim down every time he dunks instead of laying it up. And that his fouls mean something, like, you get 6–you should never end the game and have less than 3 fouls–never! There’s no value in saving fouls. Fouls are there for you to be able to hit somebody. And get to the point where if you’re playing the Phoenix Suns and you drive that ball, he’s in there waiting for you and he might block it or he might hurt you. And that tends to hesitate in the minds of many players and helps your defense even more. That’s what I want from him now more than anything.

For those who aren’t too familiar with Johnson’s all-world scoring, here’s a great article from NBA.com (with video) telling the story of the time he scored 43–in a half.

[Quotable]: Zach Lowe on Steph Curry and the Difference Between Superstar ‘Floor Raisers’ and ‘Ceiling Raisers’

Very interesting question’s raised by Zach Lowe on the December 28th Lowe Post pod with 538’s Chris Herring, as they analyzed the early season struggles of the Golden State Warriors and what category of superstar player Steph Curry fits into:

The referendum on Steph is gonna be if the Warriors are just bad, right? The referendum is gonna be: LeBron’s teams are never just bad. Kevin Durant‘s teams are never just bad. Kawhi Leonard‘s teams are never just bad. James Harden is…James Harden can go to strip clubs 80 nights a year and he’s a walking playoff birth. It doesn’t matter — he’s a walking playoff birth. Why are Steph’s teams bad? If he’s a 2-time MVP, I don’t understand–why are his teams just bad? We’ve seen other players like Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday have bad teams in New Orleans. So that’s the discussion that’s going to happen, and I think part of it is, lets TBD the whole thing, we don’t know if they’re bad yet. And we have seen other superstars helm bad teams before, but we don’t know if the Warriors are bad yet.

I do think there’s a lot of truth to the floor raiser vs. ceiling raiser player archetype–that Steph’s skills are such that he can take an okay team and a good team and make them a supernova, but he’s maybe even less equipped than a guy like Russ to take a bad team and make them mediocre through sheer physicality. Like, why can’t you give the ball to Steph 20 feet from the rim in the triple threat possession 50 times a game? Well, he’s a pretty skinny dude and do you want him getting destroyed at the rim to get you 14 free throws a game? Can he do that every night? I don’t know, but I do know that his version of that is: I got two people on me 30 feet from the basket and if you give me anybody who I can pass to that can make the next play, we’re going to be alright.