Dallas Mavs Season Review: A.J. Hammons - 'A Tiger In His Tank'?
Mavs Season Review: A.J. Hammons
The Dallas Mavericks selected center A.J. Hammons in the second round with the 46th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Hammons came in to the Mavs as a project with an upside after a successful college career at Purdue.
This season, Hammons saw action in 22 games for Dallas, averaging 2.2 points and 1.6 boards per game while hitting 40.5-percent from the floor. In the month of April, Hammons averaged 4.8 points, and 3.2 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game, while seeing action in five of the final seven games of the season.
Hammons is still a young player, so as a second-round pick, his lack of playing time shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. However, he does have the tools to become a contributor for the Mavs as his career moves forward, something he demonstrated during his time on D-League assignment with the Texas Legends.
It was in Frisco, mostly, where we saw some of his skills as an athletic big-man. He has a knack for blocked shots. And he has the size to be a strong rebounder. And he can also knock down shots from mid-range and has been known to hit the occasional three. But with those realizations come some fair criticism from inside the organization.
Hammons is not a "banger.'' Coaches have explained to him that while it's nice to have a fade-away shot from the paint, it's even better if a 7-footer actually goes TOWARD the basket in many of those situations. There is the impression that the fade-away shots come as a way to avoid contact ... when physical contact is the best way for him to succeed.
Hammons has a lot of room to improve, and has the talent and upside the Mavs are looking for to be considered as part of their youth movement. (But that role may be no more likely than Hammons' role as a trade throw-in.) He will likely be a key figure in the Mavs Summer League roster this offseason, and will need that opportunity to both polish his game and show the Mavs front office what he can do on a consistent basis. ... and an engaged basis.
Most of all, though, are the haunting and daunting words of honesty from GM Donnie Nelson from a year ago, when he openly questioned whether the sometimes-lethargic Hammons could be taught to play "with a tiger in his tank.'' That teaching is ongoing. The learning is what's in question.
Overall Season Grade: C
Note: All player ratings are based on a combination of player expectations and production for the season.