From Kevin Arnovitz’s piece over at ESPNLosAngeles.com:
Knowing one’s limitations as a player might be one of the least heralded attributes in basketball. It’s a quality that’s been absent on recent Clipper rosters, a primary reason the team has struggled to put up points despite plenty of competent scorers. But that acute awareness of his strengths and weakness is one of one Gomes’ defining traits as a player.”[The Clippers] aren’t looking for someone dominant at this position,” Gomes said. “Sure, if I average 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists, that’ll be wonderful. But I feel like my best quality is my knowledge of the game. I don’t think I’m going to wow you athletically, but I can dabble in a little bit of everything.”Gomes’ humility isn’t an aw-shucks brand of athlete-speak and isn’t born out of a lack of confidence. He’s just far too versed in basketball to peddle anything other than devout truths, and he loves talking about the game. Gomes is happy to discuss his move to Los Angeles, the apartment he’s rented for himself, his wife, young daughter and mother-in-law. But what gets Gomes going, what he really loves to schmooze about is chalk-talk.
Ask him why the Timberwolves struggled in the triangle, and he’ll tell you the specific point in the sequence when defenses anticipated the action and clamped down on the offense. Ask him how his good friend Al Jefferson will fare in Utah’s flex offense, and he’ll speak in detail about how Jefferson will flourish and which reads will prove most difficult for the big man. Ask him about the particulars of his game as an NBA small forward, and Gomes is an open book.
“I’m not going to back guys down,” Gomes said. “But I’m going to turn, face up and use my quickness — get fouled, get to the rim, shoot my jumper.”
Since he came into the league from Providence College, Gomes has been tagged as the dreaded “tweener” — a player who straddles the small and power forward positions. The Clippers plan to use Gomes as a small forward, which he’s played the past two seasons in Minnesota. Gomes readily acknowledges that he’s not a prototypical 3. He’s confident in his ability to play strong, straight-up, one-on-one defense, but that certain assignments give him problems.
“At the 3, there are some nights where it might not work in my favor,” Gomes said. “But Carmelo [Anthony], I think I can guard him. I can guard guys like [Al] Thornton. I think I can do a solid job on [Paul] Pierce. I can guard guys who face up and attack you one-on-one. [Ron] Artest is a perfect matchup for me.
“Where I have limitations is with guys who get their shots by running off screens. [Kevin] Durant. A guy like Jason Richardson is tough for me.”
Gomes conveys a refreshing self-awareness that could be mistaken for self-deprecation. Coaches and general managers often characterize a player as a “glue guy,” but few NBA veterans are comfortable enough in their own skin to tout their intangible qualities as their strongest assets.
“You have to find a niche,” Gomes said. “Find something you do well to stick around in this league. That’s the case for all of us except for those 30 who can do everything. For the rest of us it’s about finding a way — knowledge of the game, smarts, those little things.”
To read more on Gomes and his approach to the game, go here.