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The transformation of Tacko Fall into a solid NBA center - where does he start?

No one ever knows what to make of the next NBA big man. As the seasons passed, the League welcomed George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - and now Tacko Fall. Mikan was big and talented, but no one ever called him super-athletic. Red Auerbach saw the potential in Russ, and it paid off with 11 Championships for the Celtics. For a player close to 6'10", Big Bill could run, jump, rebound, block shots and defend like no center before him. He was athletic with a Capital A.

Wilt came into the NBA at 7'1" and 250 pounds. His "Wilt the Stilt" nickname fit his physique. He later went up to roughly 300 pounds, and he was super-strong and tough to defend physically. Even Russell needed some occasional help from his back-up, Wayne "The Wall" Embry. Grinding in the paint with Goliath could take a toll. Jabbar brought a new challenge for opposing centers. He was tall, slender and graceful. His sky hook was virtually unstoppable.

All four of these former centers became super stars, and they all brought something new to the table. So does Tacko Fall. The League has never seen anything quite like the Green Giant. At 7'7" and 290 pounds, with a 10"2" reach and 8'2" wingspan, he has already earned Embry's nickname, "The Wall".



Upon Russell's arrival on the NBA scene, fans were surprised how well he could move for a man of his length. His stride down the court was reminiscent of a gazelle. Fall's run down the court may not quite match Bill's, but he is 10-inches taller and 70-pounds heavier. As the above tweet indicates, he stands straight, runs the court as no one expected and appears to be improving right before our eyes.

Tacko may never reach the heights of Mikan, Russell, Chamberlain or Jabbar, but if he works hard enough, he will find a place in the NBA. His wide shoulders tell me he can get stronger and more muscular, much like Chamberlain. He will need that against the Andre Drummonds of the League. And that strength may help him avoid injury, always a major concern with the super-tall bigs.

The shorter shot-blockers in the NBA need to rely on timing their jumps. Not so important when you have a 10'2" reach. That reach will get Fall a lot of offensive boards and put-backs, but he may need to work on more-aggressive rebounding. This is the NBA after all.

How about 3-point shooting? Forget it - for now. He took no treys in four years of college play. Free throws? A very-poor 43% at UCF. But he can score in close, as his 74% on field goals indicates. His assists/game in college will not rank him with Chris Paul anytime soon (only 0.4 APG).

So there you have it. In a word, Tacko is RAW. But that also means he is a clean slate, and with dedication to the task and hard work, he may never be a super star, but he could have a long NBA career. You can't teach size, and he certainly has that with a good share of grace and fluidity to his movements. Hopefully his strength, distance shooting and passing skills will improve with time. Tacko has become such a fan favorite so quickly, it would be a shame for him not to make it in the NBA.

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel, @_Celtics_Center and Facebook





Comments

  1. If Tom has created the "Green Giant" nickname, we should give him credit for thinking up a good one--I rarely look at Twitter, so I'm not really sure whether or not it's been used by others before Tom.

    I've seen Tacko's weight listed as high as 311 lbs., but still, he needs to make sure he's not pushed out of the post--I've heard that Danny wants him to put on some more muscle. As should the younger Rob Williams.

    And let's put the 43% free throw shooting into perspective. The great defensive center Ben Wallace shot 41.4% for his 16-year NBA career, and only 30% in his rookie season, while Shaq shot 51.1% for his career. Considering that Tacko hasn't been playing the game that long, I suspect that he will be able to pass Shaq with normal growth and development, and he's already ahead of Ben.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Believe "Green Giant" is mine. Opened a can of Green Giant asparagus, and the thought hit me. Thanks for mentioning. I had commented in an article back a ways that Green Giant needed to hop on this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Though he seems very serious--4 years of college, a Computer Science degree, and 95th percentile in the SATs. So "Jolly" doesn't fit, but "Green" and "Giant" both certainly do.

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