J.J. Hickson shot sixty-five percent from the field against Atlanta on Tuesday night on his way to a career high 31. Sitting at 1-3 after a game in which the visiting squad scored 40 points in the opening session, this is something I am going to chose to focus on, and be excited about. How excited? Well not MVP chanting excited, but I would say I am bullish on The Hickson.
Which is why I fired a question off Byron Scott's way about J.J's performance during the post-game interview. My question was as follows:
Can you talk about J.J. Hickson's play tonight, a career high for Hickson?
Byron Scott in response on Hickson:
"He did a good job, he did a good job. Offensively he scored the ball, he got the basket, made his jump-shots. He did a real good job, he deserved to have one of those type of games tonight."
Photo Credit: Chuck Crow / PD
Offensively is right too. I don't think Byron Scott included that word unintentionally. He did do a real good job on offense, and he has been working hard offensively both on and off the court from what we can tell. He's added some ball handling to his game, stretched the floor some with a jumper we didn't know he had, he got himself to the line enough times to shoot 11 free throws connecting on 9 of them, and absolutely deserved to go 11 of 17 from the field. He played great, and he did it not only efficiently, but with no real help. He looked like he belonged with Atlanta's top-six. He was the only Cavalier that did on Tuesday.
Five rebounds isn't real good though, and he's still making mistakes defensively. But to be clear, five rebounds isn't horrible either. Sure, he did play 32 minutes and he is a 6'10" power forward, but if he grabbed two more it would've looked a lot better. Think 31 and 7. Nevertheless he only did grab five, and there's no denying he needs to be more active on the glass, and he has to know what he's doing at all times defensively or Anderson might body slam him I think out of frustration. But all in all, far more positives from the kid than negatives. The defense and rebounding will come.
The real test will come though as we get further and further into the season. Can he consistently score his current average of 18 - he has scored 21, 6, 15, 31 so far this season - once he becomes the focal point of the defense? Will he develop a counter move when teams game-plan to stop his first one? In about thirty games we'll get a better idea. I say he does. I think this kid's for real. Honestly I think he is a budding All Star. He has to prove that though.
J.J talked about his career night after the game and he came off real level-headed about it too, which is also encouraging (recall Ricky Davis shooting at wrong hoop to get triple double) when considering he just went for thirty for the first time in the Association. And in Ricky D's defense, I was actually standing by JJ's locker during the interview thinking to myself - if I was 22 and I just scored 30 in the NBA for the first time I would be super cocky right now. Not proud of it, just saying. Hickson wasn't cocky though in the least.
As far as what J.J. thought when asked if he took much satisfaction personally in the game where he scored his career high in points:
"It feels good but it doesn't mean anything because we didn't get the win. We gotta get back to the drawing board, see what we did wrong, especially in the first quarter, and get ready for Philly."
On if his jumper feels better this season:
"Oh yeah, I 've been working on it alot, so it's just a matter of me gaining more confidence and just shooting the ball when I get an opportunity."
Hickson when asked about the M-V-P serenade he received from the home crowd at one point in the game:
"I'm so focused I didn't even hear it."
Next up, Philly on Friday.