A Daily Babble Production
It's good to see Renaldo Balkman's boundless energy being put to good use.
The third-year forward out of South Carolina is in the midst of the most productive month of his career, and he's getting the job done with the same tools he showed in his two seasons in the Big Apple.
With some added opportunities thanks to injuries and his own productivity, Balkman is posting a near double-double in 23.1 minutes per game in March. He averages 9.1 points (54.5 percent field goal shooting) and 9.4 rebounds over his nine games played in that time.
The Knicks gave up on Balkman after a disastrous second season in which his production declined across the board from that of his rookie year. He deserves blame for not improving his game, though then-coach Isiah Thomas' propensity for jerking around his minutes didn't help matters.
But while in New York, the youngster did gain a reputation as the team's version of the Tasmanian Devil. He couldn't shoot from the outside, but he materialized all over the floor, leaping to crash the glass, occasionally blocking a shot and finishing on the fast break every now and then as well. Given his willingness to work all over the floor (including the defensive end), I wondered last season about his value if he ever managed to find himself in a better situation.
While Balkman hasn't averaged the double-digit points on dunks alone that I once postulated he could if placed with a good point guard, and while he no doubt has yet to prove himself a consistent producer, seeing him begin to experience some personal success is still nice. Just as in New York, he still can't shoot a lick. Only 33 of his 177 field goal attempts this season have come from outside the immediate vicinity of the basket, and he has hit only 10 of those. But Balkman finishes nearly 63 percent of his looks around the rim for the season, and he has looked comfortable throwing down on occasion while running the break with the fast-paced Nuggets. He even put up a 22-point performance on 10-for-14 shooting in a win over the Clippers.
The 24-year-old continues his devilish ways on the glass, especially the offensive end. He never quits on a loose ball, using his strength and leaping ability to track down rebounds. In fact, more than half of his boards this month (and nearly 45 percent overall) have been of the offensive variety. His 15.5 percent offensive rebound rate on the season ranks him third in the entire Association. In the last two and a half weeks alone, Balkman grabbed at least five offensive rebounds in a game six times. That's insane.
He still works on defense as well. Balkman guards the three and the four, and the Nuggets are nearly three points per 100 possessions better defensively with him on the floor than off it. Though it comes on an admittedly small sample size, the fact that opposing threes and fours post below 47 percent effective field goal shooting figures when he is in the game doesn't hurt either.
Ultimately, Renaldo Balkman remains in the midst of his first noteworthy month of the last two seasons. He still needs to demonstrate a ton of improvement in his offensive game and to show the positive effects of his Taz side more consistently. But even over a brief period, there's something pleasing about seeing the guy make the most of the tools he already has while getting the opportunities to use them.