No worries about Tyler Hansbrough floating while out on the court.
In fact, if Hansbrough jumped off a platform at the Nat, I'm pretty sure he'd sink. Floating is just not something I'd associate with Hansbrough in any facet of life, let alone on the basketball court. And it's that style of play that has drawn him so many detractors outside of Chapel Hill over the past few years.
During his debut, the rook seemed drawn to the action. If there's a scrum in the pain, he's in the middle of it. If the ball is moving on offense, he's working like crazy to get open for a touch.
But these were things we kind of expected from Hansbrough as he transitioned from North Carolina to the NBA. Getting in the mix and giving a strong effort. The questions arose over whether his very productive college game would translate to the NBA. Would that same effort produce similar results against the bets players in the world?
Plenty of haters doubt he'll be more than an undersized Jeff Foster, yet in his brief debut he showed plenty of Foster but with the ability score some points. The doubters don't think Hansbrough is big enough to play big, yet there he was collecting fouls in the paint. The hoping-he'll-fail set doesn't think the rook is athletic enough to play in the open court, yet there he was beating his man down the floor for a layup.
No doubt, the haters aren't convinced after such a brief stint in his first NBA game, nor should any apologist boldly claim, I told you so when after a positive first step.
So the question remains: Will Hansbrough's rough and tumble, unorthodox game translate from college to the NBA?
Hansbrough seemed to get the benefit of every call at Chapel Hill to the tune of well over 200 free throws in his senior year. Surely that game would be swallowed up in the L, right?
But there he was in his first game, fighting his way into position to draw fouls, go for five two-shot trips to the line and seven of his 13 points. Drawing contact and working his way to the line is a big part of Hansbrough's game which we witnessed in the summer league games as well. There are a couple of factors that lead to whistles in his favor.
First, Hansbrough's patented, rapid-fire, double-pump fake which no defender with an ounce of shot-blocking instincts can resist. But the odd timing doesn't just get the defender in the air, it puts them off-balance. That's when Hansbrough strikes, strongly finishing the foul. He makes sure there is plenty of contact and lets the ref sort through the debris.
Finishing the foul is huge for a rookie, or really any NBA player not among the 15-20 best in the league. If a defender is off-balance and/or up in the air, the offensive play has to take advantage and finish the play strong, forcing enough contact to draw a whistle. When the offensive player assumes any contact will draw a foul and tries to get cute, maybe turning around to flip up a shot for a potential and one, the refs have a tendency to swallow the whistle after such a weak finish. We've seen that happen in the past with Brandon Rush, Danny Granger and Troy Murphy to name a few.
In college, Hansbrough was known for some of those post-contact, from-the-hip chucks, but in his NBA debut he wisely took the hard contact and two free throws and went on his way. No doubt many a Wizard fan was complaining about some of the call Hansbrough drew, as will other fans across the league.
As for Pacers fans, just sit back and enjoy the artistry in the ugliness that Hansbrough brings to the court which raises the level of play for the Pacers along with the ire of opponents and their fans.