Ryan Hollins key stats:
|12-13 per 36
|Career per 36
Ryan Hollins is entering his eighth season in the NBA, and returns for his second season with the Los Angeles Clippers, once again on a one year veteran's minimum contract. As you can see from his per 36 numbers above, Hollins had a decent season with the Clippers last year as compared to his career numbers -- but he's not exactly a superstar in the NBA.
Hollins appeared in 60 games for the Clippers last year, averaging right around 11 minutes per game. On Vinny Del Negro's deep bench, he flip-flopped with Ronny Turiaf throughout the year as the fourth big -- and there were more than a few times when VDN played five bigs in games. That's not a bad role for Hollins -- he brings enthusiasm and energy to whatever minutes he gets. He began the season as the center on the second unit, and was a key part of that unit's pressure-defense, fast-break identity.
Hollins is a pretty good pick-and-roll defender for a big, a decent rim protector, and finishes well around the rim on the offensive end (as evidenced by his .614 shooting last season). But for a big man he's a pretty dismal rebounder, and his frail frame makes it difficult to defend opposing bigs without fouling. Hollins was a fouling machine last season, committing more than seven fouls per 36 minutes on the floor.
After playing out a one year deal last year, Hollins, an L.A. guy who is one of three current Clippers to have played at UCLA, hung around the Clippers training facility all summer. He was in the building when Doc Rivers was announced as the new head coach, and as it happens he had played for Rivers in Boston directly before coming to the Clippers. In fact, it was probably the 2012 playoffs in Boston, where Hollins played 10 minutes per game during the Celtics' run to Game 7 of the Conference Finals, that revived Hollins career. A familiar face to both the team and the new coach, the Clippers acted early and signed him to another one year deal.
Which is fine -- if you expect him to be the fifth big. He's a good teammate, he brings energy to the bench and the locker room, he will definitely have the back of any Clipper. The problem for this edition of the Clippers is that it's currently unclear whether Hollins is the third big or the sixth big. Hollins has the advantage of being something of a known quantity -- he's been around the league long enough that we know who he is, and at 29 years old today (Happy Birthday, Ryan!) he is not yet in an age-related decline. After signing Hollins, the Clippers picked up 24-year-old Byron Mullens (a player with plenty of potential who has yet to figure things out in the NBA) and 37-year-old Antawn Jamison (a former All-Star without much left in the tank). The Clippers hope that Mullens and Jamison can play ahead of Hollins -- if they can't and Hollins has to play a significant role this year, it will not be a good sign.
Don't get me wrong -- Hollins is a solid end-of-the-bench-big and he'll do a good job when asked. But he's not the third big on a championship team. Whether Hollins ends up being the third big or the fifth big for the Clippers this season will say a lot about how the season turns out.