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Just The Sports: He's One Karl Malone

Just The Sports

Friday, February 23, 2007

He's One Karl Malone

After signing a six-year, $60 million contract, when Nene Hilario expressed his desire to be like Karl Malone, I scoffed, assuming he meant that he wanted his play to mirror that of Karl Malone in Malone's prime. One look at Hilario's career numbers would have cast a long, dark shadow over the likelihood of that happening so I dismissed him out of hand. Recently, I realized Hilario's proclamation was just vague enough to make it unclear which Karl Malone he actually wanted to be like. Since my realization, I have had to endure the side effect that attacks someone who assumes.

However, in his first season after signing that monstrous contract, it is now clear which Karl Malone Nene Hilario was referring to. He has no interest in being like Karl Malone's prime. The Karl Malone Hilario is emulating is the 40-year-old Karl Malone in his last season of the NBA where he set career lows in games played (42) and scoring average (13.2 ppg). With the identity of the Karl Malone settled, the similarities between the two are now easy to prove.

Hilario has played in only thirty-five games this year, but his true shooting percentage (56.1 TS% to 55.5 TS%), points per shot attempt (1.12 to 1.11), turnover rate (14.8 to 13.5), and rebound rate (14.7 to 15.1) are all comparable to the 2004 40-year-old over the hill version of his idol, Karl Malone. To fully match Malone in his last NBA season, Hilario will need to raise both his scoring average and his assist rate. Malone currently leads him in both categories, 13.2 ppg to 10.9 ppg and 21.3 AsR to 8.0 AsR.

Lately, there has been no stopping Nene Hilario from scoring so he will probably soon match 2004 Malone's scoring prowess. In the month of February, Hilario has scored 18.2 points per game on 52.2% from the field. If he keeps that up, he may actually find himself playing at a level somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of Karl Malone at his best and Karl Malone at his worst.



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