Meet Anthony Tolliver.

Who are you?

Hello Kings fans. I do tons of posts over in /r/detroitpistons and I had some spare time tonight so I figured I'd give you a little preview on Anthony Tolliver, and just so it is fully out there as to my experience. I do watch quite a few Kings games on league pass because, honestly I don't even know why. I also watched a lot of Nets games the past couple years. I have weird allegiances to teams sometimes. That said, I am absolutely a Pistons fan first, and so when I talk about the Kings as a team, I would like to think I have a decent grasp of the players and their roles, but it is certainly not on the same level as I do with the Pistons. So if I say something that is not really on point with regards to the Kings go right ahead and correct me. That said, this post is mostly about my dude Tolly.

 

Follow along with all the relevant stats on basketball reference.

Tolly's shot chart from last season.

 

So what's the deal?

The Kings and Tolly have agreed to a 2 year $16 million deal, with just 2 million guaranteed for next season. Obviously no contracts have been signed yet so it could change slightly. 

 

Who is Anthony Tolliver?

Anthony Tolliver hails from Missouri, where he played his high school ball where he won a state championship. (like most NBA players did) He was not very highly recruited coming out of high school and attended Creighton University for 4 years. He spent his first 2 season's coming off the bench and did not play a ton, but in his last two years he was a starter and a very solid one, scoring just over 13ppg and grabbing just under 7 boards per game. He earned all conference honors his senior season and finished his career with over 1,000 total points.

He was undrafted out of college, and bounced around a ton. He has played for the Spurs, Blazers, Warriors, Timberwolves, Hawks, Bobcats, Suns, and Pistons in his 8 year career, and has pretty much always seen at least somewhat regular playing time at each stop. To give a real idea as to just the sort of career he has had though, despite being a 8 year veteran, in his 1 and a half (slightly over half) years with the Pistons, he played in more games than he has for any other team.

 

The Good:

Tolly can shoot 3s. This is far and away his best asset. He is hella reliable as a shooter with a career average of 35.7% from deep, and he shot exactly 36% in both his seasons in Detroit. And even though 36% is not a incredible mark, it is on very high volume. Dude has a quick release and a quick trigger as well, and even though 36% is not an awesome mark, when the high volume is combined with being a PF it equals a really solid stretch 4. He will also have 3 or 4 games a year where he goes 5-6 from 3 or something and basically wins the game on his own. (While basically never having games where he does the opposite.)

Other than his shooting, he is a hustle guy. He is not an elite rebounder but he goes hard and manages to get his fair share of boards and will compete with anyone for rebounds. He regularly is going to dive into the stands for loose balls and will always be the first guy on the floor as well. Simply put, Tolly goes hard, and will endear himself to Kings fans almost immediately with his high effort. (He did in Detroit at least)

On defense, he is a bit undersized as a PF which can occasionally be a problem, but for the most part he is a plus defender. Once again he plays his tail off for every minute he is on the floor and he is pretty quick too and can stay in front of most guys. And while he isn't any sort of rim protector, every few games he will have a huge block out of no where that always seem to come in the clutch. Essentially on defense, he works hard enough that he is generally a slight positive, even if he doesn't do a ton to make your defense better. But his combination of effort and surprising athleticism will make a really nice play or two a night that can make a big difference in close games. He also draws lots of charges, I think he was 2nd in the NBA the last 2 seasons in charges drawn.

Off the court Anthony Tolliver is well known around the league as being one of the best guys in basketball. He is a great teammate who plays hard and is a pro. He doesn't complain and does whatever is asked of him. Particularly given some of the issues the Kings have had in the past with regards to the locker room (although it didn't appear to be quite as bad last year) he should be excellent to have around. Like think about how literally everyone who ever talks about him says that they love Omri Casspi and he is pretty much the only teammate that Boogie has seemed to really gell with. Tolly is kind of like that. Everyone loves him.

Lastly, Tolly almost always wears knee high socks and that is super dope.

 

The Bad:

Tolly can do pretty much nothing other than shoot. Once in a blue moon he will put it on the floor, but he doesn't really even have any sort of a basic pump and drive game, and he is not a great passer either. He usually is good having a quick trigger to shoot it, but if he doesn't shoot it, he has a bad tendency to just sort of stand and wait for a guard, or slowly dribble towards a guard to get the ball to. This isn't the worst thing obviously, but he rarely is able to make the quick plays that sometimes open themselves up to spot up shooters (whether that's a slight lane to the hoop to exploit, or a cutting teammate finding some space) and it does make him a bit less valuable.

On defense, as much as I like his defense and the effort he gives. There are times where he is just overmatched and is pretty much hopeless. Obviously you won't have him guarding really good players most of the time (ideally) but it will still happen, and he just can't really hang with them. Also his size is occasionally an issue, and he can really get abused inside by bigger guys, he does have some switch-ability going up towards guards, but can't really go down to centers.

 

What will his role with the Kings be?

Assuming no big trades are still coming down the pipe, he will essentially be a real stretch 4 on a team that most of their bigs are centers. People have made tons of jokes about the Kings having lots of centers, and those jokes are partly warranted, but it is an interesting look that can/did give opposing teams some issues at times. (I thought at least) And Tolly will be a nice change of pace to all of the bully ball that the Kings will figure to use. I also don't know for sure how exactly he would do, but he should in theory be able to play some SF as well if the Kings want to play him alongside one of the duel center lineups. Once again, I don't know if that would work well, but on paper it should be ok. Also there is the locker room role that he will be good in regardless of how they use him on the court.

 

How will he fit?

Really well, because he is the sort of player that fits in well anywhere. Playing him and Caspi at the forward spots with Boogie in the middle would be a super spacey lineup that would be very difficult to guard for opposing teams, and you can put in WCS or Kofus or whoever at the center spot and it would still be a really good lineup. (assuming whoever the SG and PGs in those lineups can shoot a bit, which they should be able to since Rondo is gone.) I really like the potential of him and Casspi being on the floor together, because there are not a lot of teams who will have the ability to put that much shooting at the 3 and 4 spots at once. 

As said earlier, he should in theory be able to play the 3 a bit as well, I don't know how much that would be needed. But he has the quicks to stick with most SFs, the lack of ball handling and creation at the SF spot is the thing that could cause a SF Tolly to be fatal. But if played with Cousins on the floor, it would likely negate the lack of ball handling for Tolly, and obviously the Kings are really the only team with a center who is capable of doing that for Tolly.

Overall he should be a really nice role player who gives the Kings a different look from their other bigs. And once again, I really like the potential of him and Casspi on the floor together, and I'll make a tentetive prediction that Casspi/Tolly/Boogie will be one of the Kings better lineups this year.

 

Upside?

Tolly shoots 36% from 3, and his shooting at the PF spot is a boon for the Kings and in particularly Boogie and the spacing that Tolly provides for Boogie. And he even proves up to the task of playing SF occasionally in ultra big units for the Kings. Tolly's good nature and effort in games and practice are contagious, and a team plagued by poor effort and locker room strains suddenly is getting back on defense and playing their hearts out with regularity. (Obviously Joeger, or however you spell his name, could be a big positive in that regard as well.) Tolly ends up making the Kings his long term NBA home, the first one he's had, and retires 8 years from now with a ring and everyone points to him as being one of the main guys who helped to change the culture of the team. (And FWIW, the changing the culture stuff, absolutely happened with the Pistons. Obviously one player can only do so much, but any Pistons fan who was watching at the time will tell you, his effort was contagious. And if you don't know, he is the guy the Pistons added when they cut Josh Smith and went on that win streak.)

 

Downside?

Tolly is starting to get old and it shows. He still shoots pretty well but has lost enough bounce that he can't really play defense or rebound anymore, and as such he is not all that useful as a player. He falls out of the rotation, and is often hurt. Due to being often hurt and ineffective while healthy, he is not even all that useful as an effort guy in practice and in the locker room. The Kings suck again and they waive him eating the 2 million next season.

 

The Verdict?

I love this pickup for the Kings. 8 million might be a bit high for Tolly, but it is about on par with other guys who are solid rotation players so it certainly isn't too bad, and the reality is that the Kings are not exactly an attractive place right now. I really like his basketball fit, (again, the Casspi/Tolly combo. I like it.) but the main thing I like is how he could be a hugely positive force to changing the Kings culture to a winning culture. Because that is exactly what he did for Detroit, and the reality is that Detroit had been similarly as much of a tire fire that the Kings have been the past few years (minus a player on par with Boogie), and they were to start last season again. Cutting Josh Smith and adding Tolliver was a great move, and after SVG made it a priority, and seeing the results, I am a full believer in "culture" guys. I want the Kings to be good, and I could see the combination of the new staff and a guy like Tolly doing wonders for the organization. Like, Joeger doesn't have the same track record of being a top shelf coach as SVG, but I can see the Kings ready to start going down the right path, just like the Pistons have. I just hope they get there in time to keep Boogie.

 

What do you think? Am I crazy about the Tolly/Casspi thing? (probably) Let me know! We all get smarter!