On November 6th, J.J. Hickson started his first game of his NBA career. Coach Mike Brown, Lebron James and Shaquille O'Neal have all been vocal about Hickson's potential. Heading into his first start, Hickson was only averaging a measly 0.8 points in 6.5 minutes per game, while shooting a poor percentage of 20%. Coach Brown had witnessed what Hickson could do when given extended playing time during the preseason, when he averaged in 10 points in 20 minutes per game, shooting an efficient 52%. Looking to give the young sophomore a cortisone shot, his head coach inserted him into the starting lineup, hoping it would bring the embedded potential out of their 2008 1st round draft pick.
In J.J.'s first start, he was tremendously effective in a short period of time, scoring 6 points, on 3 of 4 shooting, in 13 minutes of play. Hickson has now started 4 straight games, and it should be noted that the Cavs are also on a 4-game winning streak. On November 12th, the budding star played like he belonged in the starting lineup, posting a career high of 18 points (7 of 9 shooting) in 31 minutes of play, which was also a career high. Hickson would continue to set new career highs in his next game on November 14th, scoring 20 points in 38 minutes of play. J.J. has scored 47 points in his last three games, after scoring 11 points in the first 7games. In his Hickson's first 4 games as a starter, he is averaging 13 points in 26 minutes per game, knocking down shots at a 59% clip.
"To know that Mike Brown and the rest of the coaching staff want me to start (is great)," Hickson told The News-Herald. "It was crazy. Coach told me that about 10 minutes before we met (prior to the Knicks game). I was surprised. I felt I made the best of the situation."
Coach Brown believes that this lineup allows him to get the most out of Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson. Varejao has shown in the past that he can be tremendous burst off of the bench and Hickson seems to flourish in the starting role thus far. Hickson spent most of the summer under the wing of reigning MVP Lebron James, and the 'King' approves of Coach Brown's decision to give J.J. the nod.
"I commend Coach for making that change," James told The News-Herald. "I think it can help us. It's not always who starts. It's about who finishes the game. "It gives J.J. some time to work with the first unit and build a lot of confidence. It could be good for not only our team, but also for Andy and J.J."