Fabricio Oberto, You Complete Me
Fabricio Oberto can’t jump. He can’t lock down today’s athletic big man, nor keep up in a fast break sprint. Block shots? A career 0.6 blocks per 36 minutes says it all. He has a nice shooting touch, but don’t look for him to be a scorer. Hell, his career 60% from the free-throw line knocks on the door of atrocious. The guy even fouls at a per 36 minutes rate slightly more than Andray Blatche (however, I’m willing to bet that Oberto’s fouls are “smarter” than Blatche’s). Oh, did I also mention that he recently had heart surgery? Yuck.
Oberto is exactly what the Wizards need.
I’ve been contentious about Ernie Grunfeld pigeon-holing the final free agent big man target to 8-10 minutes per game. That announced strategy put way too much trust in Blatche and JaVale McGee. Plus, it limited the attractiveness of the job opening.
But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m neither a GM nor a coach. If this is the direction in which the guy I’ve come to trust would like to go, so be it. I’ll be behind the movement.
What Oberto brings to the table is a composed veteran presence on offense. He’s fluid, he’s efficient, he’s smart. He can pass, and his hands don’t resemble oven mitts. Leave him open and he’ll gladly knock down that J. No, Oberto doesn’t have the floor spreading range of Darius Songaila. His .364 eFG% on jumpers is dwarfed by D-Song’s .460 eFG%. But Oberto’s overall .587 eFG% would have been tops on the Wiz last year, and much better than Songaila’s team best .532.
Why is this good? Well, Oberto works closer to the basket. Maybe this type of guy is better in Flip Saunders’ offense, but a down low banger is definitely more desired for someone playing limited time, especially when Jamison and Blatche tend to drift around the perimeter.
Another note about Flip’s offense, in his purportedly more efficient system, one that limits easy, fast-break opportunities for the opponent, the Wiz want a guy creating second chances. Oberto’s 11.6 offensive rebounding percentage in 08-09 more than doubles Songaila’s 5.6, and would have been third on the team after Oleksiy Pecherov’s 14.4 (an anomoly), and McGee’s 12.0 (mostly a result of length and athleticism … can you imagine when the kid learns technique?).
Defensively, as mentioned, Oberto is not going to ‘wow’ anyone. But the 34-year old vet is crafty. He knows the art of positioning, and the dude ain’t scared to throw his weight around. Let’s be honest, Oberto is a Euro flopper (note: Oberto is Argentinian, not European, this I know … but all those soccer-based countries get lumped into one when it comes to basketball and flopping).
He’s our answer to Anderson Varejao. Take that with a middle finger other NBA teams/fans.
So … maybe Oberto doesn’t complete ‘me’ per se. But when considering the wholeness of the 2009-10 Wizards, this passionate player, this piece who’s like no other currently on the team, the offseason has been brought to a close. I feel better about Grunfeld’s constructed roster. I now feel this team is complete.
What Spurs Bloggers Have To Say:
It’s hard to know exactly what the Wizards are getting with Fabricio Oberto. In 2007 he was a critical part of the Spurs rotation. Last season he played mostly garbage minutes. His limited playing time was partially due to his heart condition (which, theoretically, should not be an issue post-surgery). But it’s also clear that his athleticism, which wasn’t off the charts to begin with, has slipped some.
That being said, I still think Oberto is a worthwhile pickup. As a fourth or fifth big, you could do considerably worse. His value will be most evident on the defensive end of the floor, where his high basketball IQ will be on display. He still has the toughness and savvy to cover some marquee bigs. He’s a pretty limited offensive player (the only points he scores are pretty much garbage buckets) but he is a deceptively good interior passer.
In short, if you wanted a reliable veteran big who will contribute solid minutes but fundamentally isn’t going to make or break your team, you got him.
The Oberto signing by the Wizards doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and I’m kind of dumbfounded to try to list the positives of signing Oberto. Well here’s one. If the Wizards ever form a beach volleyball team, Oberto would be killer. The guy plays basketball like he’s living out his childhood dreams of becoming the next Karch Kiraly. Instead of coming down strong with rebounds, he often tips them or lets smaller players box him out and out-rebound him.If the Wizards didn’t already have three better bigs, the signing would make much more sense. He is smart and makes the easy shots by knowing his way around the floor and knowing the offense, but that took a few seasons and one off-season of Tim Duncan working with him.I can’t see Oberto playing more than 12 minutes a game, which means the Wizards just signed the first ever player/cheerleader/waterboy. But here’s the great thing, Oberto is awesome for bloggers. There’s potential for some comedy gold there with comparisons to Fabio, twitpics of him shirtless eating ice cream and you can always continue the Little Known Oberto Facts web started a few years back.
What the D.C. Folks Have To Say:
I asked Rudoy what pushed Oberto toward the Wizards and he said Oberto “thinks they have a chance to have a terrific team. He analyzed the teams that were interested in him and he felt that in Washington, one, he had a good chance to play, two, they have a new, experienced coach and they have terrific players, which is what he was used to in San Antonio. He figured it out. He thinks it is a great opportunity for him to continue winning.”
Oberto chose the Wizards over Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Sacramento and the Lakers. He was hopeful for a return to San Antonio, where he spent his first four seasons, but the Spurs signed veteran center Theo Ratliff on Thursday.
While Oberto’s acquisition is not all that flashy, it serves the team’s needs perfectly. The Wizards get a capable big man to play about 10 minutes per game and provide rebounding and defense with the occasional basket thrown in for good measure. He can play either power forward or center, and unlike a rookie with a higher upside he won’t need a lot of time on the court to develop his game. For a team built to contend immediately this is a perfect use of the $1.99 million bi-annual exception.
With Oberto, the Wizards get skill over brawn, and experience over potential; something that the Wizards need much more of to make a respectable run for the playoffs.
The bottom line, though, is that Oberto’s a way better investment as a fifth big than Darius Songaila. That’s not to say Oberto is better than Songaila, because he probably isn’t, but for less than half the price and (assuming it’s only one year) half the years, he’s a much better bargain.
Oberto’s biggest contribution to the team may be as a practice player and tutor for McGee and Blatche. Well-versed in the art of the flop and possessed with a deep bag of dirty tricks, Oberto should be capable of helping the young’uns learn the basics of leverage, force, and how to be “physical” without getting caught.
As the free agency period began July 1, the Wizards eyed Rasho Nesterovic, Channing Frye, Jason Collins and Jamaal Magloire. But when Oberto was waived that day in a cost-cutting move, he immediately became Washington’s top target.
And Finally, John Hollinger on Oberto’s 07-08 Season:
He also received an Academy Award and two Emmy nominations. Oberto is a shameless flopper who drew 33 offensive fouls last season; in his case, most of them aren’t the traditional let-a-guard-run-into-you offensive foul but rather the result of hand fighting and other Jedi tricks off the ball. Oberto loves to grab an opponent’s arm and then snap his head back violently when he gets a response, and officials take the bait surprisingly often. In one early-season game, he got L.A.’s Andrew Bynum so upset with this tactic that Bynum was ejected.