Name: Ryan Hollins
2013-2014 Key Stats: 2.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 7.9 mpg
Years in the NBA: 8
Years with the Clippers: 2
2013-2014 Salary: Minimum
Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent; the Clippers hold his Early Bird Rights
In a Nutshell
I considered just using the exact same analysis of Ryan Hollins that I published in last season's exit interview. He is who we thought he was. He has worked out better as a Clipper than I anticipated when the first signed him in the 2012 off-season -- but I had set the bar very, very low. He's a serviceable fifth big/third center, the role he filled late in the season after the Clippers picked up Hedo Turkoglu , Glen Davis and Danny Granger. If he's anywhere higher in the rotation -- as he was from November to February in the dark days of Jamison and Mullens -- then your team has depth issues.
Still, he's an enthusiastic guy to have around, an excellent towel waver, and can provide some decent pick-and-roll defense and rim protection in a pinch. His greatest contributions come as a cheerleader from the bench -- so putting him in a game is not really playing to his strengths.
Doc Rivers, who coached Hollins in Boston briefly, really wanted for either Byron Mullens or Antawn Jamison to work out. Mullens was the young player with upside whom the Clippers hoped might figure it out; Jamison was the veteran former all star whom the Clippers hoped might have one more season in the tank. Neither hope was realized, and Hollins was the fallback -- none of the upside, but at least he could play a little defense. I very much doubt that it was part of Doc's pre-season plan that Hollins would play more minutes that Mullens and Jamison combined, but that's how it worked out.
After the late February arrival of Davis and Granger, Hollins was limited to spot duty -- he was a CNP-CD in 13 of 22 games in March and April and eight of 13 playoff games -- and that's as should be. If the rest of the roster is healthy the fifth big is limited to garbage time, an ideal role for Hollins.
Hollins knows his limitations and he doesn't try to do too much. DeAndre Jordan led the NBA in field goal percentage, but he only had the second highest field goal percentage on the Clippers this season. Hollins made 53 of 72 field goal attempts this season, an eye-popping .736 from the field, though obviously not enough attempts to qualify for the field goal percentage crown. He limited himself to just 19 misses on the season by only taking shots he could make -- most of those dunks and layups on hard rolls to the basket on the pick and roll. But he can also make a little face up 12 footer.
On the other end he's solid defending the pick-and-roll and has surprising quickness for a seven footer. He also provides pretty good rim protection. He averaged 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes this season, which was only slightly behind DeAndre Jordan's team leading 2.5 per 36. And Hollins is an energy guy -- he knows he won't be in long, so when he's out there, he gives full effort. Sometimes his energy outstrips his common sense, but he could never be accused of not working hard.
For his career Hollins has been an anemic rebounder for a guy his size. He averaged 6.7 rebounds per 36 minutes this season, which is a bit better than his career average -- and truly terrible for a seven footer. He just doesn't have to upper body strength to battle other centers for position. That lack of strength manifests itself not only in poor rebounding, but also in poor post defense. Whereas he can pretty good defensively in help situations -- showing or switching on the pick-and-roll, weakside blocked shots, etc. -- he is not a good on ball defender because most NBA bigs just push him around.
And as I alluded to before, while Hollins always plays with enthusiasm, he does not always play with a lot of intelligence. He averaged 6.5 fouls per 36 minutes, which is a lot. The fouls aren't such a big problem in and of themselves -- it's not like anyone needed him to play big minutes -- but so many of them were fairly silly; moving screens, fouls trying to trap the ball in the backcourt, that sort of thing. No one drew more exasperated looks and verbal tirades per minute from Doc Rivers than Hollins -- you could just watch Rivers' blood pressure begin to elevate as Ryan was on the floor. And when Hollins came off the floor, it was almost guaranteed that he was going to get a face-to-face meeting with an angry head coach.
Future with the Clippers
OK, so I said I could cut and paste last season's exit interview. I actually will cut and paste last season's "Future with the Clippers" blurb:
Hollins is a free agent. After playing for the Clippers on a one year minimum deal, there's little reason to suspect that he'll command much more than that this off-season. He'll get another NBA job -- he's certainly earned that -- but I don't envision a bidding war for his services. So the question will be fit and opportunity. As a fourth or hopefully fifth big as he was this season, he's a good value but I'm guessing he'll end up providing that value elsewhere. The Clippers will be looking to upgrade at that spot if possible, and the tendency in the case of an 11th man type is to move on -- the player wants to go to another team in hopes of a better opportunity, the team wants to try another player in hopes of getting lucky with a real contributor. If you're looking for a third string big, why not sign one who's in his early 20s and still has some headroom rather than a known quantity who'll be 29 before next season starts? Ryan's an LA kid who went to Muir in Pasadena and played college ball at UCLA so he'd probably love to stick around, but I'd be surprised if he were back with the Clippers.
The only update to make here is that he has now completed his second consecutive one year deal with the Clippers, which means the Clippers have his Early Bird Rights. Those rights allow the Clippers to pay him more than the minimum -- and they are completely irrelevant, since neither the Clippers nor any other team would spend more than the veteran's min on Hollins, who will be 30 next season. Doc knows him, he's a known quantity, he's not completely useless -- but hopefully the Clippers can find a better option at the vet's min.