Jonnie V is the definition of a Slab veteran, he’s been doing what he does best since the first game of the first season. But much like his beard, he’s only gotten better with time. Jon’s playstyle has evolved through the seasons (again just like the beard) to show all the iterations of a basketball player he has been. As a 5 foot nothing pipsqueak in middle school he learned that the only place he could find space, was far away from the rim. His youthful basketball days would mostly consist of bombing three pointers and pestering ball handlers and leaving the physical contact for others. As his body matured so did his game. Adding a lengthy frame and a few pounds and inches to his body helped make the paint seem not so scary for this once 3pt specialist. And now, as an adult who plays basketball once a week, while the mechanics and shooting stroke might not be the same, he has a full repertoire of options he can pull from at anytime.
Jon takes the Rocky approach to his basketball games. He simply plans to outlast with superior conditioning, staying mentally sharper, and always finding that 14th round rally. But with all that grind and grit, his game still features a shooting stroke my
wife High School girlfriend frequently (and annoyingly) refers to as both graceful and sexy.
However he works extremely hard with backdoor cuts, offensive rebounds, and grinding post possessions, to compliment his shooting. Leaving any defender exhausted as he simply outworks you and forces you to cover the entire length of the court for the full possession. Mixed with his team’s (shoutout to Slab City) slow and often methodical pace, it’s a perfect match. His lack of Isolation scoring often has him drawing small guards as defenders, but his development of his post-ups, particularly a somehow physical -yet fancy- fadeaway over the right shoulder mixed with his ability to seal in the post will have teams quickly reassessing their defensive matchups.
If you weren’t tired enough already, he really shines on the defensive end. Never surrendering an easy point and chasing every loose ball, rebound, and box out you could possibly hope for. He’s never given up and easy dribble drive in his life and his long reach surprises even the craftiest of shooters time and time again. He helps well off the ball but recovers quickly and relishes stopping the other teams’ greatest scoring threat. If you were barely winning the matchup in the 5th minute you sure as heck ain’t in the 25th. You might be able to score on him but he will make you earn every frickin’ point like he is playing for the future of the galaxy.
Ultimately, Jon is a perfect teammate. A tenacious competitor with a winners mentality coupled with the most well balanced stat distribution in the League. Long gone are the juvenile days of 8 for 11 shooting from 3, but instead his impact is felt in ways that might not show up on the stat sheet. Statistically, he SHOULD shoot more 3’s, shooting a staggering 50% from behind the arc.
But if the trade-off is getting his teammates more involved and running a more balanced attack offensively, it’s something he is always willing to do. That is the characteristic of championship basketball, and something everyone feels every second of every game, maybe part of the reason he pulled in a Fall Slab 2020 -MVP. When others players were asked who was the MVP of the league, I’m sure they all thought back to the hellish, meat grinder he put them through, and put in exasperated vote for Jonnie V. Only time will tell if Jon will be as much of a pest on both ends of the court in his 30s as he was his 20s. But one thing you can count on, his game will fit exactly what his team needs him to be. And that makes him something special.
1. Gordon Hayward
2. Fred VanVleet
3. Malcolm Brogdon
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