Saturday, May 10, 2008

Marcus Landry

I've been watching a lot of NBA playoffs lately -- cue the boo birds -- and have gotten to thinking: is there any player on the Badgers' 2008-09 roster that is capable of playing in the NBA?

From what I've seen, probably not. Trevon Hughes has some of the required attributes, but guys his size usually need to be a lot quicker or much better shooters to make the league. J-Bo's a great shooter, but sometimes has troubles getting his shot off against college defenders. Jon Leuer is a darkhorse, a big guy who can shoot; hell, Steve Novak is still playing professionally stateside, so why not?

Actually, it's one of Novak's Rockets teammates, Carl Landry, who piques my interest. Carl was a helluva college player -- powerful, good mid-range jumper, workmanlike. Thought he was an inch or two too short to make it in the NBA. Was wrong. He played a key role on one of the league's most overachieving teams this year. Good for him.

So what about his younger brother? The buzz on Marcus coming in was that while he was not as strong as Carl, he was more advanced skill-wise than his older brother at age 18. Carl was an instant success at Purdue, but that was after two years of junior college ball.
Marcus has become a fine college player, but has he reached Carl's level? It would be a reach to say yes. There have been times when he has seemed on the verge of becoming a dominant player, then fades back into being just another guy spreading the wealth in the Swing offense. Granted, Carl's Purdue teams were not nearly as good as Marcus's Badger teams; Carl never had an Alando Tucker or Kammron Taylor go-to guy on his roster.

As a freshman, Marcus was ready to contribute, and was getting about 15 minutes of playing time per game until sitting out the second semester with academic troubles. His absence hurt more than Stiemsma's, in my opinion, and was a major reason for what was really the only mediocre season in Bo Ryan's time in Madison.

As a sophomore, Landry apprenticed under Tucker, and while he averaged just 5.9 points per game, he shot over 50% from the field. Comparisons to Alando probably held him back at the beginning of his junior season -- Marcus was slotted to play the 3 and become the team's go-to scorer. But in reality, Landry, like his brother, is more of a 4, and his personality is not comparable to Tucker's. He played much better when Stiemsma was taken out of the starting lineup and he returned to the 4 spot. His scoring average increased by about 5 points per game, but his field goal shooting percentage went down about 5 points.

So what can we expect from Marcus Landry as a senior? Without Brian Butch around, he becomes to unquestioned first option in the post. The more I think about it the more I think that Landry is more like Butch on the court than he is like his brother. So here's a projected stat line for Landry in '08-'09: 13.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.1 blocks per game. About 45% shooting from the field, a willing 3-point shooter. Guards the other team's top big man. First team All-Big Ten.

Will Marcus Landry reach the NBA? Probably not. But if he hits those projections, and the Badgers contend for a title in what is looking like a weaker-than-ever Big Ten, then his career will have to be considered an overwhelming success, no matter how his resume compares to Carl's.
And by the way: if you're not watching the NBA playoffs, you're missing Chris Paul's coming out party. The guy is amazing. Deron Williams is pretty awesome, too.

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