Let me go out and say this off the bat: Christopher is not playing like the guy I see in the reel above right now.
I'm not trying to go out of my way to bash the guy. He's congenial with that great big smile, he has a fantastic wardrobe, hell, I even dig his crazy shoe collection. But it frustrates me to watch him not play to his potential. (I wonder if this is how Bruins fans felt about Jrue Holiday last year)
Yeah, I know Theo's out, and it makes it easier for defenses to key in on PC, but I saw this all of last season too. There were games where Christopher looked like a great player, like Von Wafer without the insanity. Then the next game, he'd come out and throw up a no-show that would leave you baffled. This pattern went back and forth, sometimes right within games. You'd sit down at your computer, check up the box scores and be perplexed to see 35 minutes next to Patrick's game when it felt like 20 minutes less.
What I'm seeing right now is a player who shies away from contact, who takes tough shots instead of the right shots, who plays below his talents when we really need him to step up. For a guy who is playing for a shot at the pros, it's really disappointing to see.
What are your thoughts on Christopher? Is he playing up to his potential? Will he play better? Or is this who he is and should we come to live with it?
On offense, the biggest issue is PC settles for his jumpers, especially the three ball, instead of driving to the rim and making content. Last year 33% of his shots were 3 point shots, which is about at the mean for a shooter. But so far this season 43% of his shots have been from behind the arc. And he isn't exactly lighting it up--34% from 3 is alright, but that's real inefficiency for a guy taking nearly half his shots back there, especially when he's knocking down a much steadier 45% from 2.
The passive play shows at the line. For a guy that's supposed to score a lot, Christopher doesn't attempt many free throws. He attempted around 2.8 per game last year, and it's down to 1 per game this year. For God's sake, Jorge's attempted twice as many free throws and gone to the basket as much if not more than Patrick, and Jorge isn't exactly the Mexican version of Carmelo Anthony out there. I guess it's great Christopher can generate that many points without heading to the charity stripe, but when his shot is off where will he find his points?
Worse of all, Christopher's game looks totally dependent on whether he's lacing it up at Haas. Since playing in Pauley last spring, Christopher is shooting 43 of 138 on the road for a dismal 31% shooting clip (including the Coaches/Cancer, the Pac-10 tourney game against USC, the NCAA tourney game). Even worse, he's also shooting 12 for 62 from downtown at 19%.
His defense is also hit and miss. Yes, his steals are up--he had four against New Mexico, the lone bright spot of another tough performance. But the little things are missing, things you only see after you watch thousands of basketball games. He isn't closing out on shooters well--there were some wide open 3s in that New Mexico game, and even not-so-obvious open 3s (Christopher would put the hand up, but it'd be pretty late for it to bother the other guy). His help defense seems to be out of whack; when opposing point guards blow by Randle, he rarely comes over to make the penetrator give the ball up, allowing him to attack lumbering bigs like Zhang and MSF. Oftentimes he wades in between both areas, trying to leave options for both sideThe results are lamentable.
Finally, unlike his alley-oop feeder Randle--who plays better on defense, drives to the basket fearlessly, takes high-percentage shots (for him, not for everyone else), who's improved in almost every facet from last season except some turnover hiccups--it doesn't seem like Christopher has improved that much from last season, if at all. Right now he's shooting worse, his defense is worse, his free throw attempts are worse, his 3 point shooting has slightly regressed. And on the road, we can barely count on him at all.
The most damning thing is trust. I feel you can go to war with Randle, with Boykin, with Jorge, and feel like those guys have your back...but I don't know how I feel about Christopher. He has a little too much Upham in him--when you need him the most he's nowhere to be found.
The talent is there, but the will is lacking right now. If Christopher's going to be our barometer, the pressure better start rising now.
Commenting thoughts on Christopher:
CBKWit: Patrick Christopher had has best game of the year, going for 23 points. He didn't have much in the first half and struggled as he has for much of the year, missing two three pointers and scoring only a few points (though he did have a spectacular two-handed put-back jam, getting up way above the rim). Then, early in the second half, he came up with a steal and breakaway for an easy bucket. He was lights out after that, hitting four threes on four attempts from the left arc. The performance was yet another indicator that Christopher's play is, for better or for worse, influenced by his mental state. He wasn't much of a factor in the first half; once he came up with the steal and breakaway, perhaps boosting his confidence, he was the most dominant player on the floor.
concordtom: 2) PC’s disappearing act. Yes, surprising to witness, and very frustrating. He is not the highly rated NBA draftee-in-waiting some have suggested, but we will all be singing his praises once again when he gets his groove going sometime later this season. His long 3 is being targeted and taken away by defenses and he needs to develop some slashing dribble moves to the basket and finding other ways of getting open by moving without the ball. Surely he is working on these things and it’s only a matter of time. Have faith.
BeastMode: I think people are missing a big part of PC’s game . . . defense. He is a good on the ball defender and actually hustles on that end, more than I can say for a number of Bears. Of course he is an incomplete offensive player, but I think the defensive element makes him a decent college player and at least gives him a shot at the Association.
Missing Barry: He’s got a lot of work to do to get there. Christopher isn’t as athletic as he seems, either – he’s a good jumper, but he’s not that long, and not that quick, laterally or in terms of being explosive with the ball. He’s going to have a hard time making it in the pros. I think concordtom’s assessment is pretty spot on, he’s a good player, he plays D and can shoot, but he struggles to create his own shot at the college level…that’s a pretty good indication that his pro prospects aren’t great. That said, Europe pays well too, so you don’t have to feel sorry for him or anything.
It’s not as much the skill of creating a shot itself that’s the problem – it’s that it’s an indication of a lot of skills in general. It reflects poorly on the players athleticism, on their ball handling, on their shooting (good shooters force the defense to play tighter making it easier to drive past the defender to create something)…I wouldn’t ever expect Christopher to be expected to create his own shot consistently in the NBA, it just raises red flags about his abilities beyond that for me.