First of all, I want to thank Carl Shinyama, for one of his comments on my most recent post-game recap indirectly inspired me to write about this.
Last weekend I was playing a pick-up game at a local church and I realized I had lost a step from when I attempted to beat a friend of mine off the dribble whom I have always had little trouble getting by in the past. I failed miserably so I resorted to a pull-up jumper. This was easily blocked by his 6'-5" frame with monkey arms. I realized how much my back injury and the resulting inactivity had affected my ability to play. That was an injury that did not relate directly to my first step or leaping ability.
This relates very directly to the play of Abdul Gaddy this season. It is obvious that he does not have the explosion he had before he unfortunately fell victim to an ACL tear. This takes time to rebuild, and typically a torn ACL has to recover for two years before it is at full strength. I personally know somebody who tore her ACL and now, over a year later, it weighs on her mind with nearly every single time she cuts or jumps. She has mentioned that she no longer fights to stay up when she has been bumped, she just falls to protect her knee. This is a girl who can push people around. She is strong and can throw other girls around the court if she really felt like it. This is most likely very similar to how Gaddy feels.
I do not remember where I read this, but somewhere I read that when Deion Branch tore his ACL while playing for the Seahawks, he stated something to the affect of his knee no longer feeling natural. Every movement feels mechanical and stiff. I have not read anything in the years following, which probably means that his knee feels better now. I still believe that his knee will never again feel normal.
Gaddy's confidence in his explosion is most likely undermined by the tear in his knee from over a year ago.
There is another Husky who has torn his ACL. He is naturally more explosive than Gaddy, but the fact that is has been well over two years since the tear has allowed his natural explosion to return. That man is Tony Wroten. Wroten is quick. Really quick. His explosion combined with a low crossover allows him to get into the paint at will.
Wroten tore his ACL as a Junior in high school football. He missed his junior basketball season with the injury. Before, he was considered an extremely gifted point guard with one-and-done ability written all over him. Many scouts started to cool on him during his senior season due to the fact that his explosion was not at the level it was pre-ACL tear. That should have been expected. Knees need time to heal. Especially ACL tears.
We can see now that the explosion has returned and he has the explosion that scouts hoped would return. One must be patient with Gaddy however, it may be that it takes until mid-season next year for his knee to feel good enough and for him to re-gain the explosiveness he once had.
This post is about more than just showing patience with Gaddy however. It is about comparing and contrasting the play-styles of these two.
The first difference is their way of getting past their defender.
Tony uses explosiveness and basic crossovers to get to the rim. Once at the rim he has the ability to finish in heavy, heavy traffic, but seems to prefer to make a pass. He is also able to use his quickness cutting through the lane to allow for post-ups on opposing guards. From this he uses his quickness and agility to finish.
The contrasting style is the style of Abdul Gaddy. Gaddy does little more than make his defender look silly at times. He does not have near the elite first-step of Wroten and knows it, so he compensates for it by confusing his defender as to the direction he is headed and then attacking with a spin or behind-the back dribble.
Gaddy uses a complex sequence of moves as compared to Wroten who uses basic crossovers and God-given natural ability to reach the rim.
Another major difference is how the two finish around the bucket.
Wroten absorbs the contact of his defender and finishes through. We have all collectively dropped our jaws viewing the angles and degree of difficulty of various finishes. He is not afraid to take a bump on his way to the bucket. It allows him to reach the free throw line more, and with his ability to finish, results in quite a few and-ones. He uses his strength and his length very well around the rim.
Gaddy has a different manner around the rim. He continues to manipulate his defender in ways that get him a better look at the rim and an easier finish. He does not have the ability to power through or around the contact like Wroten, so instead tries to avoid the need to do so. He attempts to get his defender to make a mistake so that he has an easy lay-in. I do not remember when, but one of my most vivid memories of a Gaddy play was a shot fake of his. He acted as if he was going to shoot a floater, but somehow kept his pointed toe grazing the hardwood. The broadcast crew was highly doubting he kept his toe down, but replays showed his foot stayed glued to the ground. Needless to say he got his man in the air and ended with an easy lay-up. This play I believe epitomizes the manner of Gaddy around the rim.
The final difference I want to cover is the difference in the passing style of the two.
We all know Wroten has amazing court vision. It seems he look at the wrong basket and throw a perfect lob to Terrence Ross for an easy dunk. The no-look passes are a thing of beauty. The speed at which he can throw the ball with seemingly little more than a flick of the wrist is remarkable. He oftentimes tries to make the spectacular pass too often, but with the ability he has there is no way that he should stop, because the timidity would seep into other parts of his game, and also into his other passes.
Gaddy has a different style again. He doesn't make the super flashy pass. His passes don't have the extreme zip on them to get to the shooter in a millisecond. He does typically do a better job in making better decisions and making the easy pass. One phrase by I believe Bill Simmons about Rajon Rondo sums it up pretty well. He describes Rondo as the "Master of the Easy Pass." This goes to say that he makes the smart choice, doesn't look to make the highlight play, but makes the simple pass that needs to be made. Gaddy is not to the level that Rondo is with his decision-making and passing, but he is on his way to having a similar ability. Very rarely does Gaddy or Rondo have a pass that makes you rewind the DVR. More often, they make the pass that sets up the play well, or gets the ball to an isolated wing player or shooter.
To sum all of this up, Gaddy and Wroten have two of the most contrasting point guard styles, yet both have the ability to be very effective.
Agree, disagree, or just plain don't like me? Let me know below.