Player Capsules 2012, #190-192: Carl Landry, LeBron James, Marreese Speights

As our summer mainstay, Aaron's writing a 370-part series discussing almost every notable player who was -- as of last season -- getting minutes in the NBA. Intent is to get you talking, thinking, and appreciating the myriad of wonderful folks who play in our favorite sports league. Today we continue with Carl Landry, LeBron James, and Marreese Speights.

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Follow Carl Landry on Twitter at @CarlLandry24.

While he's not a flashy player, no one can impugn Landry's skill -- what he does, he does well. And he does it with a hilarious disregard for his size. Seriously -- he's an NBA big man that stands around 6'7" or 6'8" -- he's listed as 6'9", but visually, there's absolutely no way he's actually that tall. Despite the genuine size disadvantage, Landry has perfected the use of angles and movement to become an incredible paint scorer. He's consistently among the absolute best at-rim finishers in the league (69% last year!), and his 3-9 foot post-up game is (surprisingly) not bad at all -- he shoots well above position average from that range. Despite, again, his size. People often get on his case for taking too many jumpers, but I'm not sure that's entirely fair. While Landry does take more jumpers than most big men, he's also more efficient with them -- his 42% from the true midrange was in the top 25% of all power forwards last year, and his free throw form (a scintillating 80%) indicates his shooting is actually just that good. And while he's awful from the long two and a nonentity from three, he actually takes fewer long twos than 50% of his PF brethren, in terms of the percentage of his shots from that range. He seems to have a decent understanding of what works and what doesn't for him, offensively. And when something works for Landry on the offensive end, it really works.

Unfortunately, the game is played on two ends, and Landry's size makes him a pretty awful defensive player. At no point in 2012 did Landry find a consistent place in Monty Williams' rotations, and from the looks of it, the reasons were primarily on his lacking grasp of and ability to capitalize on the Hornets' defensive schemes. Often I'd cry foul and say the coach needs to find better ways to utilize enigmatic talents like Landry, but in this case, I don't think I can -- Landry simply looked lost on the defensive end, lost in a system that required at least some modicum of size to complete the rotation and close the circuit. When Landry was on the court, he actually improved the Hornets' offense by a full two points per 100 possessions -- the problem was, he gave exactly that back on the defensive end, meaning they were virtually the same team with him as without him.His synergy numbers are rough, his adjusted plus/minus looks even worse than the raw on/off numbers, and visually you always get the sense with Landry that he's simply far too over-matched size-wise to compete on the defensive end. It's sad, although honestly not entirely unexpected. You can be a good defender as an undersized guard -- as an undersized big, you need to have an absolutely ridiculous grasp of steals and positioning to be even a slight positive on the defensive end, and that's something you don't tend to have if you weren't naturally blessed with it.

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