Tyson Chandler got pretty frustrated. It was obvious. He wasn’t happy.
Thank Ryan Hollins for that.
Amar’e Stoudemire also didn’t seem too pleased with whatever Hollins was saying to him. Actually, at one point after a made basket, Stoudemire threw a forearm to the chest of Hollins, an embittered jab to say the least.
But what did Hollins say after the game?
“I wasn’t talking to them at all.”
Surely, it’s the diplomatic answer. You’d say the same thing if you were in his situation. I definitely would. Trash talking is a part of the game, but no player wants his patented words getting out into the public domain – nor should he.
But really, this speaks to a greater issue. How can a smart player like Ryan Hollins affect a game? How does he get himself back into the rotation? How does a tenth or eleventh best player on a squad that has depth for days overtake an energetic and a historically better rebounding Ronny Turiaf?
Turiaf’s personality has to have something to do with it. This is a guy who Jamal Crawford refers to as “the ultimate teammate”. But, per usual, it’s beyond that.
Hollins was given the chance to make an impact for the first time since the beginning of the season three games ago. With Blake Griffin out against the Orlando Magic, Hollins played 22 minutes and split time at both center and power forward.
Those 22 minutes tied a season high for Hollins, who had been seldom used before Griffin went down. He hadn’t played more than eight minutes in a contest since Dec. 23. He hadn’t played more than 13 minutes since Nov. 23.
They key: Hollins doesn’t want to be the same player he once was.
“I’m trying to change everything [about my game],” Hollins reveals. “I’m trying to be a better player.”
And change he has. Seemingly out of nowhere, Hollins has become a rebounding feind since usurping Turiaf’s spot in the rotation, pulling down 20 boards in three games and averaging 13.1 rebounds per 36 minutes in the 55 minutes that he’s played.
This is a player who has posted a rebound rate no better than 9.5 percent in any of the previous three seasons coming into this year. But this season? In 2012-13? 13.3 percent.
And it might be rising.
“It’s just a mindset,” explains Hollins. “I’m trying to watch the ball come off the rim better. I watch other guys who are great rebounders, see what they do.”
It might be safe to say that this year, Hollins is crashing the boards better than he ever has before. That rebounding rate is a career high. His 8.2 boards per 36 minutes are a career high, as well.
If rebounding was the criticism of Hollins coming into the year, it may not be as fair a critique now as it was before.
Maybe a change from Turiaf to Hollins was building up. Maybe it was one of those things people on the outside didn’t notice but those on the inside could’ve predicted. Hollins seems to be making a conscious decision to change his game.
Against the Knicks, he was a rebounder. He was a trash talker. He was a mind bender. It wasn’t the Ryan Hollins we’re used to, but if it’s one that is here to stay, we should hope we can lip read some of that trash talk. It might be too good to miss.