Advertised as a shot-blocker coming out of college, we’d seen glimpses of Larry Sanders rejection abilities before Wednesday, but it’s safe to say he had his shot-blocker coming out party in Denver. Sanders tossed eight Nuggets shot attempts in the opposite direction in Milwaukee’s 105-94 loss. Last week, Scott Skiles noted the difference between blocking shots in college and in the NBA.
“He was a good shot blocker in college, but in large part because he just kind of stood by the basket, people came in and he blocked shots,” Skiles said. “Up here you’re actually guarding a guy who can shoot, and not only shoot, but sometimes shoot threes at his position. So you’ve got to be ready to move around and react to things that are happening and he’s gotten a lot better at those things.”
The improvements have shown quickly. On Sanders’ third block, he stops a penetrating guard, picks up Chris Andersen in the lane and then helps over onto the driving Ty Lawson to get the block. That’s exactly the kind of reaction defensively that will keep Sanders on the court.
A number of years ago, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard that shot-blocking was “a dying art.” He said no one got excited about interior defense any more, but that was before this Bucks crew was assembled. If Sanders can continue to log regular minutes at the power forward slot, the pairing of he and Andrew Bogut could prove to be one of the NBA’s most effective shot-blocking duos. Bogut is second in the league in blocks per game and, if he qualified, Sanders would lead the league in block percentage at 8.6%.
His eight blocks Wednesday not only tied Dwight Howard for this season’s highest output in the NBA, but they secured a place in Bucks and rookie lore as well.
They were the most blocks by a rookie since Sean Williams had eight for New Jersey on Dec. 18, 2007 (NBA.com) and most by a Milwaukee rookie since April 9, 1982 when Alton Lister had nine.
His eight blocks tied for the third most ever by a member of the Milwaukee Bucks and were the most a Bucks player has had since Ervin Johnson blocked eight shots on April 7, 1998.
Since I know you’re wondering ….
Andrew Bogut’s career high for blocks in a game is seven, set April 2, 2010 in Charlotte and tied earlier this season, November 13, 2010 against Golden State. And the player Sanders has earned some comparisons to thanks to his energy and athleticism as a rookie, Dan Gadzuric, also once blocked seven shots in a game on November 15, 2003.
The Bucks record for blocks in a game is 10 by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on November 3, 1973. Abdul-Jabbar combined those 10 blocks with 19 points and 16 rebounds to record his sixth triple double.
[table id=25 /]
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).