For the sixth-straight year of his career, Tyler Hansbrough perfectly played the role of "guy you absolutely hate unless he’s on your team". Luckily for Toronto fans, all of his elbowing, kicking, clawing, and shoving happened in a Raptor uniform.
He spent most of his season anchoring a relatively effective second unit, but he occasionally racked up DNP-CDs and garbage time, and even started and played important minutes as Amir Johnson’s injury replacement at the end of the season and start of the playoffs. In other words, he was kind of all over the place and did a bit of everything, role-wise.
The 74 games played and scattered spot-start make it seem like he was an important part of the rotation, but the ultimate result was a season in which he registered career-low averages in minutes, points, field goal attempts, rebounds, assists, and steals.
His on-court M.O. was still his signature mixture of hustle, harm, and hunting down rebounds, but his reputation as an able defender took a hit as he registered a career-worst defensive rating of 107 (estimated points allowed per 100 possessions). Playing 85% of his minutes at the backup center spot (according to Basketball-Reference.com’s position estimates) exposed his undersized frame and inability to effectively protect the rim like never before, putting a major question mark on his value as a big in this league going forward.
The Raptors will have a decision to make on Hansbrough this summer as he enters unrestricted free agency. Since they know pretty much exactly what Psycho T does and doesn’t bring to the table, will he be worth keeping around?
74 games (8 started), 14.3 minutes, 3.6 points, 52.1 FG%, 14.3 3P% (1-for-7), 69.8 FT%, 3.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.2 blocks, 0.3 turnovers.
Best Game (Statistically)
Apr. 4th vs. Boston Celtics
It was Hansbrough’s first in a string of games in the starting lineup for an injured Amir Johnson, a role he occupied for the final six contests of the season and the first two of the playoffs. In nearly 36 minutes of action, he scored 18 points on a perfect 5-for5 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free throw line. He added eight rebounds, two steals, and a block and fouled out with a minute to go in overtime.
Yes, it is fantastic that Hansbrough’s best game of the season was the only one he fouled out of all year. Very Hansbrough.
Also, it contained what was perhaps the best end-to-end play of Hansbrough’s career:
Jan. 23rd @ Philadelphia 76ers
There were plenty of games that Hansbrough played limited minutes or was relegated to garbage time throughout the season, but his worst performance that came in significant minutes was this home game in January against Philly.
In nearly 15 minutes of action, he scored only one point on 0-for-2 shooting from the field and 1-for-2 from the free throw line. He added five rebounds, fine, but didn’t manage to record a single assist, steal, or block in his time on the floor. He did, however, manage to rack up two turnovers and four fouls.
Strengths & Weaknesses
+ Infinite hustle and effort in rebounding and going for loose balls.
+ Gets in the head of the opposition, throws them off their game, and draws technical fouls:
- Ineffective rim protector (opponents shot 58.1% against him in 3.1 attempts per game at the rim this season, second worst on the team after Lou Williams’ 67.5%)
- Can’t really pass (0.7 assists per 36 minutes) or shoot (only 16 shots taken outside the paint this season, five of which he made).
Role Next Season
Well, if you can’t shoot, pass, or protect the rim, there’s not much of a place for you as a big man in today’s NBA. For that reason, counting on an undersized and physically limited Hansbrough to slot in as one of your primary frontcourt players off the bench or a spot-starter is suboptimal. He’s great as an energy guy or fourth or fifth big, especially when you need six fresh fouls to use against a tough opponent, but asking for anything more than that is expecting too much.
Hansbrough is an unrestricted free agent this summer and retaining him would be fine, as long as the Raptors can do it on the cheap and they don’t see him as more than what he is. With Jonas Valanciunas and Patrick Patterson being the only non-Bebe bigs left on the books, it’ll be interesting to see how the Raptors plan to reconstruct their frontcourt this summer. Whether or not Hansbrough is part of that plan remains to be seen.
A GIF To Sum It All Up
Because it’s impossible not to visualize this and hear the ree ree ree violin swells every time someone calls him "Psycho T".