Zeb Benbrook, from SBNation's Oklahoma City Thunder blog Welcome to Loud City, has been in Lithuania this month enjoying EuroBasket 2011. Before he left, he offered to file reports on the players involved, and of course I asked him for his thoughts on Chris Kaman. You will find those thoughts below. Our profuse thanks to Zeb for taking the time to provide this write up.
Kaman has always been known as a great scorer and bruiser in the paint, but he suffered a bit of a down year for the Clippers
in 2010-2011, spending a lot of time injured and on the bench. He would make an ideal partner for Blake Griffin
in the post, so I suppose most Clippers fans are wondering whether he is still playing at an All-Star level, and whether he's fully recovered from his injury.
From what I've seen, the results are mixed, but mostly positive. Kaman has been a clear second option to Dirk Nowitzki
while playing for Germany, and he stands head and shoulders above his other teammates. His aggressive style in the paint is both unique and effective, but he doesn't always get to the paint. Often, he'll receive the ball at mid-range and shoot tough jumpshots over his opposition or do a fancy hookshot. This works sometimes, but you can't help wishing that if he was to shoot, he'd look for open space rather than just fading away from his opponent like Dirk. He might have to force a few shots though, because Germany just doesn't have that many offensive options.
When he does get in the paint, he's a force to be reckoned with. He can bully his opponents into giving him space, and he has a nice touch around the basket. He also isn't prone to committing turnovers, since he doesn't look to fool his opponent very often, preferring to face them up and pass if he's in trouble. Defensively, he's above-average. He's quick-footed enough to keep up with guards that come into the lane, and he defends big men reasonably well, but he can sometimes get fooled by more wily centers like Nenad Krstic
His main asset for Germany, though, is his rebounding. Nowitzki is 7 feet tall, but he does like to spend a lot of time on the perimeter, leaving Kaman to do a lot of dirty work on the boards. Kaman doesn't disappoint, as he has led Germany in rebounding for the tournament and gotten the team some much needed garbage points. Germany's offense is prone to stalling out because they don't have a lot of ball movement, so Kaman's rebounds provide a much needed boost at exactly the right time.
Has Kaman recovered from his injuries? Mostly, I'd say. He's not as aggressive as I've seen him be in the past, but even so, he knows how to utilize his skills well. Even if he never reaches the All-Star level he was once at, he would still be extremely helpful to Griffin on the other side of the paint.
Thanks again to Zeb. Citizens of Clips Nation might want to dispute the part about turnovers, but other than that it seems pretty spot on. (In Kaman's defense, some of his turnover issues in Lithuania are likely due to those minor officiating differences that require subtle adjustments, like traveling, illegal screens, etc.) We'd love to see the version of Kaman that was a defensive rebounding monster in 2008 and is leading EuroBasket in rebounding as well. For Team Germany, scoring from Kaman is a requirement as he's their second option, and they don't really have a third option. For the Clippers, he could be more opportunistic (and hopefully more efficient) with his offense.