Player Profile: Greg Stiemsma

Published: August 15, 2013

*Photo Credit: AP/Jim Mone

Lost amidst a busy Pelicans offseason filled with moves and the Greg Oden chase was the signing of Greg Stiemsma, a 6-11 center entering his 3rd NBA season on his 3rd NBA team. New Orleans reportedly tried to grab Stiemsma last summer, but he chose the Timberwolves, who looked (and turned out to be, despite their injury woes) to be a more competitive squad. Stiemsma has largely been considered an afterthought, but he is a quality NBA role player. Here are some notes about Stiemsma’s game.


Mid-Range Set Shot
Stiemsma boasts a quick release and has range to a couple of  feet inside the 3 point line. His shot is almost always created from his man leaving to help on the ball-handler and he was assisted on a sorta-kinda-high 100% of his mid-range shots. He finished at an excellent clip from 16-23 feet his rookie year but had a limited sample size, and last year, his percentage dipped as his shot volume from that area increased. He has been very successful from 10-15 feet, but again, the sample size is just so limited because of his low usage rate, low minutes, and because he has only been in the league for two years. Stiemsma isn’t Jason Smith, but he is good enough shooter to garner respect from defenders and he has also shot a very respectable 74.5% from the line for his career.

Information via Hoopdata*


Stiemsma’s calling card as a player. He is a very aggressive defender and makes a living altering and blocking shots near the rim. If he’s in the vicinity of someone shooting near the basket, you better believe he’s going after the shot. He has very good timing and does a good job keeping his blocks in play.

Stiemsma came back to earth after a rookie campaign that saw him post an elite 8.5% block rate and registered a 5.8% last season, which still placed him near the top of the league (14th, according to Basketball Reference).

Grabbing Steals
The same attributes that make Stiemsma a very good shot-blocker make him an excellent ball thief. He is aggressive, has quick hands, and anticipates well, and consequently, he has registered excellent steal rates in his two years as a pro (2.6% and 1.9%). These two rates rank near the very top of the league for his position.

Overall, Stiemsma is an excellent disruptor on the defensive side of the court


Finishing at Rim
Stiemsma’s shots at the rim are usually a product of botched rotations. In the pick and roll game, Stiemsma does not command a lot of “helping the helper” because he is not incredibly quick or athletic. If Stiemsma is getting the ball at the rim, it is usually because the man helping the helper will stunt to prevent the pass to Stiemsma and then go back to his man, but Stiemsma’s defender will lose focus and leave Stiemsma open.

Overall, Stiemsma is average finishing at the rim, and he is much more likely to be successful in situations where he can receive the feed very close to the basket and finish without putting the ball on the floor. He is athletic enough to finish with a dunk if he has momentum going towards the hoop.

Stiemsma is not a poor passer, nor is he an excellent one. He can pass over the top of the defense to open cutters, but can be sloppy with the ball at times.


Illegal Screens/Turnovers
Stiemsma has a bad habit of sticking out his hip or arms on screens, and illegal screens accounted for just over a quarter (15/58) of his turnovers from the 2012-13 season. Illegal screens are both a waste of a possession and a foul, and Stiemsma would do well to be more focused on his screens so that he can stay out of foul trouble and remain aggressive on defense.

His other turnovers often resulted from not being able to handle low bounce passes from guards or from putting the ball on the floor on rolls to the basket. Also, he had a few turnovers trying to save loose balls that would have resulted in the other teams’ possession had he not made an effort. This is fine, so long as his effort to save the ball isn’t resulting in the opposing team getting fast breaks out of it.

His turnover rate was just over the league average for centers, so he’s by no means a wreck with the ball, but he is better served if he’s not a decision-maker.

Stiemsma is a poor rebounder for his position, but it is largely a product of his inability to grab offensive rebounds. He spends a lot of his time on the offensive side of the ball setting screens and finding space in the mid-range area (seriously, he spends almost all of his time there), so it is not altogether surprising that he posts such low offensive rebounding numbers. His defensive rebounding rate is just short of the league average for centers. Altogether, he is a below-average rebounder for his position.

Stiemsma has been assisted on almost 90% of his field goals for his career. He is certainly not someone you throw the ball to and say “go get me a shot,” and is also not someone you want to see putting the ball on the floor. Luckily, he will be not be asked to create his own shot on a Pelicans team that features many guards who can serve as shot-creators.

Post Game
According to mySynergySports, Stiemsma has registered 20 post possessions in 2 years as a pro and has made 2 field goals out of those. The limited available video reinforces the idea that Stiemsma has been poor in the post.

Foul Rate
Stiemsma, as I mentioned earlier, is extremely aggressive on defense and gets into foul trouble very frequently. He cut down on his monstrous foul rate from his rookie season (6.8 fouls/36 minutes) but needs to cut this average down more. His average will likely always be high because of the way he approaches the defensive side of the ball. Truthfully, his fouls are only worrisome because they can lead to the bonus for the other team. Even if Stiemsma starts, he should receive fewer minutes than Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, and Jason Smith, so this is more a team concern than an individual one.

Post Defense
Stiemsma struggles to hold his ground versus strong post players and is likely to get backed down if his teammates do not help and force his man to pass out of the post. His lack of lower body strength forces him to lean into his man to hold him off the block, and this allows his man to spin off of him and get good looks at the basket. Stiemsma is also unlikely to block or even challenge shots while defending in the post.


The number of concerns listed above may paint a negative picture of Stiemsma, but that is my not my intention- he is, like I said, a valuable role player, and role players have flaws. His offensive game is limited, but his ability to finish at the rim and from mid-range at respectable levels prevent him from being a hindrance on offense. Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis, and Ryan Anderson all have the capability of scoring in bunches: we don’t need Stiemsma for his offense. Defense is his specialty, and his ability as a defensive disruptor absolutely has a place on this Pelicans squad.

Playing alongside Anthony Davis would also mitigate the few defensive concerns he has (rebounding, post defense), as Davis has the potential to be an excellent rebounder and one of the best help defenders in the NBA. I think this is the most natural frontcourt pairing for Stiemsma and it seems that it would be an absolute nightmare for other teams to score in the paint versus these two shot-blockers.


  1. Pingback: Player Profile: Greg Stiemsma | New Orleans Pelicans News

  2. Pingback: New Orleans Pelicans Introduce Morrow, Stiemsma | New Orleans Pelicans News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.