by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista
The first time I heard the expression ‘50/50 play’ was from Gerald Wallace. I never really heard it used before and now it seems like I read it in every other sentence. It has become one of my favorite basketball expressions because it describes an impact invaluable to the game and invisible on a stat sheet.
In Wallace’s case, he shouldn’t give the opponent even odds on a play that involves effort, because close to 100 percent of the time, he will come away on top. Nicknamed “Crash” for obvious reasons, Wallace isn’t afraid of upgrading basketball from a contact to collision sport.
Wallace ranked second in the NBA last season in minutes per game at 41.0, and the 6-7 forward led the Bobcats in rebounds with 10 per game. He averaged 18.2 points on 12.4 field goal attempts, shooting over 48 percent from the field and 37 percent from three. His 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks round out the stat line and make him one of the most versatile forwards in the game.
Throughout his career, Wallace has never had trouble filling up a stat sheet, but his ability to mold his talents to fit the team’s needs shows an adaptability not many star players possess. Wallace easily adjusted to the early season addition of Stephen Jackson, and the duo’s production propelled the Bobcats to new levels of success.
Wallace said in an interview last season, “You’re only as recognizable or as popular as your team is doing.” As the Bobcats became relevant, more people began to recognize the intricacies of what he brings to the court. And that recognition garnered a selection to the 2010 All-Star team, making Wallace the first Bobcat ever named an All-Star. The Bobcats finished as the No. 7 seed in the East and reached the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
Wallace was named a member of the First Team All-Defensive team, which was a well-deserved honor due to Charlotte’s position as a top defensive team all season. The Bobcats allowed a league-low 93.8 points per game—a necessity in order to win, since they ranked 28th in points with 95.3 per game.
Wallace has his work cut out for him this season since the team traded (a now healthy) Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks and free agent Raymond Felton signed with the Knicks. Wallace may have to play a little less unselfishly and take more shots, since he and Jackson will have to carry most of the scoring load. He will still be counted on to play above his size, as his rebounds, blocks and steals are crucial to the defense-first system.
As the Bobcats look to build on the many franchise-firsts reached in ’09-10, Gerald Wallace will still be front and center—his game quiet in that it doesn’t beg for attention—but loud in the way he lives up to his nickname. Crash is hard to describe. You just have to watch him.
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• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
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