From his brute strength to his steady demeanor, there are countless reasons to like Nikola Pekovic, but I’ve always felt that one of the massive Montenegrin’s most fascinating attributes is his efficiency. Now, when I say “efficiency” I’m not referring to a shooting percentage, or a point per shot ratio, or any other statistic, basic or advanced. In using the term “efficiency” to describe Nikola Pekovic, what I actually aim to depict is the ever-concise manner in which he goes about scoring the basketball.
When it comes to Nikola Pekovic, there’s simply no wasted motion. He’s become so proficient at rolling into the paint and establishing deep post position that he needs little time, space, or technique to make his final charge to the front of the iron, where he’ll either finish, be fouled, or finish and be fouled. Unlike many of today’s scorers who prefer to isolate and create their own shots, Pekovic does the bulk of his work before he even catches the ball. Playing under team-oriented coach Rick Adelman and alongside a band of intelligent, unselfish running mates, Pekovic’s proficiency in moving without the ball has made him one of the league’s most potent interior weapons.
Yesterday, Pekovic scored the first of his 13 field goals on a baseline spin that led to a right-handed hook shot over Marcin Gortat. As exemplary an exhibition of post play as it was, I was much more enamored with the simplistic nature of his 26 points that followed. Remarkably, Pekovic managed to score all but 4 of his team-high 28 without making a single individual move, save for a pump fake here and there.
Understand that following is one of the most unspectacular highlight reels you’ll ever see. Also understand that that’s precisely what makes it so beautiful. After all, the game of basketball is about putting the ball in the basket. Hence the name, basketball. The easier this task is accomplished, the better.
As you can see, Nikola Pekovic is a basketball player. While some might contend that these 28 points are rather unremarkable on the basis of the apparent leisure with which they were scored, I firmly believe that that’s a load of horse manure. Have you ever watched Roy Hibbert set a screen and roll to the basket? If so, you know all too well that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. The same can be said for Pekovic’s ability to establish deep post position. It may look elementary, but few possess the capability and/or desire to repeatedly do so, thus making it a valuable talent.
Indeed, Pekovic’s hulking frame, determined mentality, and reliable motor have made him a master in the art of fundamental big-man tactics. His epigrammatic method was on display all evening long as he destroyed Marcin Gortat on Saturday, mostly because Gortat and the Suns were unable to force him to waiver from it. In a day and age where many will complain that style has overtaken substance, Nikola Pekovic has become a master of playing to his most basic strength, which just so happens to be, literally, his strength. To reach that level, it’s taken a certain degree of discipline… one that can be appreciated by anyone who’s watched five minutes of Josh Smith or Antoine Walker.
Rudimentary and repetitive, but ridiculously effective — that’s Nikola Pekovic in a nutshell. Like the wise man who said it before him, Pekovic understands, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.