I’m not going to tell you I wasn’t happy with the way J.R. Giddens and Lester Hudson played; I was. Both players did a solid job, providing good defense and (mostly) intelligent play. They brought energy, exuberance and enthusiasm, helping to cancel out the skill and experience lost to injury.
I just wish they’d both been more aggressive.
The two young guys’ lack of aggression was likely caused by a dearth of confidence, which tends to happen when a player spends the first couple months of the season stapled firmly to the bench. (Or, in Lester’s case, shuttling between the C’s bench and the Maine Red Claws’ starting lineup.)
Even so, I would have liked to see the two young players make the most of their opportunity by making more assertive plays.
Time after time, Giddens and Hudson showed hesitation out there. Giddens passed on a succession of wide open jumpers, shots he can certainly make, and clearly thought twice about putting up any shots whatsoever.
Hudson didn’t make any strong moves to the hoop, content to dribble the ball east to west until a teammate worked open to run the offense. Well, that is, he didn’t take the ball to the hoop until time was running down on the shot clock and he was forced to make a play… then — and only then — he blew by his defender and finished with a nice floater in the lane.
That’s the frustrating thing about the young guys playing so meekly; I know they can both play so much better. Both were very good scorers in college, known as guys who filled it up in a variety of ways. Hudson was the second leading scorer in all of Division 1 college basketball last season; Giddens was his conference’s player of the year and averaged over 16 points per game.
I know they’re in the NBA now, that it’s different playing against the length and athleticism of NBA defenders; I realize that. But both Hudson and Giddens are capable of doing more than they did last night, of being threats with the basketball rather than a designated swinger. (Swing pass, not a person who sleeps around, you sickos.)
I know how hard it is to maintain confidence when you never know when you’re going to be yanked out of a ballgame: As a sophomore in high school, I never knew when I’d play 20 minutes or when I’d play only 5. Every time I made a bad play, I’d be given the hook and land my ass right back on the bench. My confidence slowly dwindled until, by the end of the season, I was only a shell of the player I was capable of being. All of a sudden, I was throwing turnovers I never should have, missing open jumpers I could make in my sleep, and failing to make plays off the dribble that would normally be so easy for me.
So I understand what Hudson and Giddens are going through; they want to succeed so badly, to impress Doc Rivers so much, that they failed to go onto the court and do what they do best… simply play basketball. Instead, they played tight, robotic hoops and actually ended up making far more mistakes than they would have if they’d just gone out there and played loose and thoughtlessly.
If they do get another chance to strut their stuff — and, with Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce both likely back for next game, they might not — I’d like to see Hudson and Giddens be far more willing to make their presences felt.
They both played solid games, and neither of them hurt the Celtics’ cause… but they could have done more.
I know they could have done more.