T.J. Warren: Hello World

Apparently, a number of pundits and a few scouts had missed T.J. Warren’s games the two years in Raleigh.  One writer paraphrased what some of them were saying:

TJ Warren’s pre-draft scouting report was that he is unathletic, can’t hit 3’s, plays questionable defense, never passes, and scores loads of buckets inside the arc for a SF punctuated by his incredible floater.

State fans obviously didn’t see those weaknesses. Warren is athletic — given his age, his outside jumper improved drastically even over the course of last season and he was playing on a team where not passing all too often equated not getting desperately needed buckets.  State fans also saw a will to win that’s long been missing in Raleigh, with Warren being perhaps the most intense basketball player in a Wolfpack uniform since Julius Hodge.  Sure, other Pack players between Hodge and Warren wanted to win, but they lacked that certain something that those two had: the ability to will their team to victory.

Drafted #14 by the Phoenix Suns, Warren has played quite well in the Association’s Summer League,  averaging 17.8 points per game over 5 games, and with those numbers altered by only getting seven minutes in one game and being forced to play out of position at center in another.  In short, TJ in his NBA appetizer has been more or less the same that he was in Raleigh last year, but this time, against ostensibly better competition than what he saw in college.

That’s changed a few minds:

T.J. Warren “Best Overall Rookie in Vegas”

T.J. Warren’s Game Well Suited For Suns

T.J. Warren Operates With Surgical Precision

You need to have some sort of special powers to dominate inside the arc the way TJ did, and it’s clear that his special powers are excellent footwork, coordination, and body control to go with feathery touch anywhere within 12 feet, especially when he’s on the run. He by far the most polished scoring prospect in the class. But what makes him exceptionally appealing is that he hardly ever wastes any time or motion at all with the ball. He has a knack for catching the ball in a position to score, as he can get where he’s going and get his shot off in 0 or 1 dribbles most of the time. If he’s taking 2 or more dribbles it’s because that’s the required amount of dribbles to get to the rim. Every time he dribbles it’s with direction and purpose. The one time I saw him dribble more than 2 times in the half-court: he tried to go left, it wasn’t there, he pulled back and waited for a screen, and then went right and crisply got off his floater. Even though plan A wasn’t there, he did no aimless dribbling, just pulled back and executed plan B. But every other time plan A worked for him and he got his shot off.

Granted, the regular season and rookie league are two different beasts, and Warren will have to fight hard for minutes, but given the arc of his basketball career over the past two-plus seasons, would it be wise to bet against him?


Alums Mark Gottfried NCS Basketball

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    Alpha Wolf

    Apparently, a number of pundits and a few scouts had missed T.J. Warren’s games the two years in Raleigh.  One writer paraphrased what some of them we
    [See the full post at: T.J. Warren: Hello World]



    He looks to be in an ideal situation in Phoenix. He will score. He’ll initially have some trouble on D, and even TJ admits he has to improve his range. But he can be a star for sure. It’s going to be fun to watch his progress.



    Response to the insanity of the world on Buckets:

    1) I have never seen a player improve on defense as much as Buckets did between his freshman and sophomore seasons. There were times when he absolutely carried us on his back with his defensive intensity. And unless Hipster Cat was in the game…he pretty much did it by himself.

    2) We remember Buckets’ amazing 40-point games down the stretch last season. What was less publicized – I couldn’t remember him taking a single bad shot (and you could argue that any shot Buckets takes isn’t bad by definition). He was always an excellent teammate, and I believe a very good passer for a forward.

    3) Maybe people are focused too much on freshman tape (see item 1), but Buckets transformed his body in the offseason, and he was a total athletic freak last season. He played ridiculous minutes without getting tired, and had to work to chase off double (and triple) teams most possessions. In addition to playing defense, often by his lonesome. There’s a metric f-ckton more to athleticism than being good in a stupid dunk contest. But yeah, I wouldn’t expect NBA followers to understand that.



    Is there just an assumption that if you’re a scorer you don’t play good defense? And he certainly wasn’t a ball hog if that’s what was implied by the passing assessment. He wasn’t one of those guys taking 10 shots to make 2. It’s a little bittersweet seeing him do his thing in a non-Wolfpack uniform.



    He’s a fine defender. It’s just that in the NBA, to really earn your stripes on that end of the floor, you’ve got to be outstanding. As a 3, he’s going up against super athletic and often taller players. He has all the tools to be a great player on both ends.



    His defense got such a bad reputation in college because defensively our team was abysmal. Although he will struggle at times in the NBA to guard more athletic players, I think his size and footwork will make the transition to the pro game a breeze.

    Also, talk about being ignored, TJ’s rebounding prowess has been completely ignored. Good positioning to rebound on both ends of the floor was consistent for both years. In fact, freshman year was the best indicator that his basketball IQ was far beyond most 19-year-olds because a significant portion of his scoring that year came from offensive rebounds. He wasn’t going to get the ball where he wanted, so he made due with letting his teammates shoot, and grabbing the boards for put-backs.



    Love the nickname he gave him.. The Surgeon!



    Maybe people are focused too much on freshman tape….

    Yep… and to be a little more accurate…

    Mid-January last season or earlier… GOTT & Company “challenged” CUZ to step up in several ways…
    And it took him a couple of games to get where he wanted to be….

    Only after that… did we see those “memorable 40pt games” AND that game-winning PASS for that corner 3pointer by Dez Lee.

    Once the genie is out of the bottle… it won’t go back in….
    and I’m sure “some” NBA geniuses saw exactly the same things we all did…

    CUZ should be good for 10-15yrs in the NBA and maybe an All-Star game or two… who knows?

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!


    A solid basketball player with exceptional scoring ability. Best player of ours to enter the league since JJ Hickson.



    I love TJ Warren more than any State player since Hodge, and I think he’s going to figure things out and become a terrific player, but there are legitimate concerns about whether or not his game will translate into the NBA, and it’s hardly insane to point those out, nor do a few strong summer league performances prove them wrong.

    – TJ is, at best, an average NBA athlete. That’s no sleight against him, the NBA is full of terrific athletes. He’s not particularly explosive, he’s not going to blow by people, he doesn’t have elite quickness or strength, and his wingspan (a huge factor in defense) is below average for a SF.

    – The three point shot is IMMENSELY important in the NBA game. It’s hard to overstate just how strongly the league has swung to emphasizing jump shooting in the last 5 years. Three point shots aren’t just a very efficient shot, but an effective three point shooter spaces the floor and spreads the defense in a way that even an elite mid-range threat can’t. TJ is not a very good three point shooter right now. Doesn’t mean he can’t become one, but he’s not there yet, and his release has some serious flaws in it.

    – He’s been a poor on-ball defender so far in his career. I think much of that has to do with the personnel around him at State and the immense load he carried on offense, but part of it is poor fundamentals too. He doesn’t have elite lateral quickness, and, as I said above, the wingspan is an issue that lowers his defensive ceiling.

    Now, I think he’s going to figure out those issues. I don’t think the athleticism matters so much because he’s such a smart, unique player, and I don’t think he’s a poor athlete, just an average one. I also think a good coaching staff can fix his jump shot within a couple years, and he’s such a talented natural scorer that I can’t imagine he won’t figure it out. I think he’s probably always going to be a mediocre-to-poor on-ball defender, but can be a plus team defender due to his court sense and quick hands. Still, it’s hardly a slam dunk, and there are definitely things he’s going to have to work on.

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