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. Caffeinedisaster

    August 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Stiemsma is also a good choice to mentor Withey in his first pro season.

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

  3. mrcatz22

    August 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I like what he brings to the table defensively and Withey will most likely not be ready to handle a large amount of playing time (at least for this year), but where does Jason Smith play into this? Steimsma is the better defender out of the two but is Dell considering gradually moving Smith out to make way for younger Centers? The day Jason Smith is no longer a Pelican is going to be a sad day for me. But for this year, the extra boost on defense will be nice.

  4. palochak

    August 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Caffeinedisaster I’m hoping that Withey develops into a rich man’s Stiemsma one day

  5. Michael McNamara

    August 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I actually would have the steals in the negative column. I watched all of his defensive posessions on Synergy and the guy just reaches all the time. Yeah, he gets a couple of steals here and there, but the unneccessary fouls he accumulates by doing so bothers me. I will happily do away with 1 steal every other game if it keeps him from reaching and picking up dumb fouls that sends teams to the line and puts us in the bonus faster. It is my #1 pet peeve with Steimsma’s game. Hope Monty breaks him of that habit. 
    The finishing at the rim part was the most surprising part for me. He’s not great at it by any means but his athleticism surprised me. Had a couple OMG moments watching his P&R game. He has some hops and some agility. He can become a fan favorite because of his effort if he stays on the court long enough.

  6. palochak

    August 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    mrcatz22 Stiemsma is actually about half a year older than Smith- he played in the D League before making it in the NBA. 
    I doubt that Dell sees either Stiemsma or Withey as guys getting starter minutes.. my guess is these guys are just players that have value and that can serve as role players. 
    Expecting Smith to get more minutes than Stiemsma and Withey

  7. palochak

    August 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Michael McNamara he’s a weird explosive.. not sure exactly how to describe it.
    The ticky-tack fouls reaching in are a problem, but I am considering them separate from steals, even though they result from the same action. His ability to get steals is undoubtedly related to his habit of reaching, but I just prefer saying he gets his hands on the ball AND fouls. Steal rate truly is ridiculous for a center, and yeah, the fouls are a problem. I just prefer listing both

  8. RobertWelch

    August 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Caffeinedisaster Nice…I see whatcha did there.

  9. Michael McNamara

    August 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    palochak Michael McNamara Fair. I would have the ‘action’ in the negative column. And it is a thing young guys do a lot, can be fixed. I would just prefer he stops doing the action, and I would be willing to lose half of his steals if it meant losing half of his fouls. 
    Loved the way he guarded Dwight and Z-Bo particularly from what I watched. I think he is hands down better than Withey right now, and might still be by the end of the year.

  10. Sportnlyfe

    August 16, 2013 at 2:33 am

    Thanks so much for the write up. You do high quality work and add a lot to the site. I haven’t seen Stiemsma play and so I was curious about why him and not a bulkier space-eater type, or someone like Ivan Johnson who MM likes that has the mean streak to play enforcer. The best case scenario is Smith and Stiemsma make life so difficult for the Gasols and Howards by cashing 15 footers and dragging them from the basket area that other teams are forced to shift their own personnel to match up better. This works only if the team decides that they can just outscore the opposition, sorta like Houston before the Dwightmare.
    My main concern is on the defensive end, whether J. Smith can transition from energy guy off the bench to starter who has to pace himself and use fouls more judiciously. His kamikaze style is his brand sort of, so does him being a starter force him into a less energetic, less productive floor identity defensively? Does a foul-prone Stiemsma put even more pressure on J Smitty to downshift his aggressiveness? Are their games too similar maybe, given how much (or little) resistance they put up to low post offense? Can we trust a two-years-away Withey to provide any quality minutes, given his physical deficiencies and limited offensive package? Now that even McNamara is skeptical of AD playing many defensive minutes in the post, isn’t this position one injury away from the other really big nightmare scenario besides losing Holiday?
    All of which is to say that I don’t see the p’cans standing pat with this group of 5s. Our division has a mess of low post scorers, so the paint defense will be a headache early and often if things don’t go well with the revamped lineup. I mean, there’s got to be a pre-All Star Game move coming, right? Given the favorable early schedule, they should pretty much know by then whether this group can make the transition to contenders. Their window for getting a starting quality low post defender is pretty near closed for this summer/ fall, so do they eventually just break down and do Asik/ Anderson in December/ January and try to find their baseline shooter at small forward going into the stretch (Granger expiring for a proven fulltime Gordon? Wilson Chandler?). That way, Steimsma comes in mostly as a backup stretch 4, which sounds more suited to his skill set. 
    Bottom line, I think they get about two months to test-drive this new roster before they have to decide how to proceed with the center position in order to seriously contend.

  11. palochak

    August 16, 2013 at 4:02 am

    off, thanks for the comments. I consider myself very fortunate to write for the
    site and positive feedback is always great to hear.

    Figuring out rotations isn’t easy, but Monty’s track record indicates that he
    is not going to over-exhaust his players. I say this because some coaches would
    throw AD out there for 37-38 minutes a night, but I’m guessing he’ll average
    closer to 34 per night this season and Ryno will average around 30. Assuming no
    strange lineups with three of these centers or power forwards, that leaves 32
    minutes (48*2 minus (34+30)) to divide among the remaining bigs. They didn’t
    sign Stiemsma to collect dust, and unless Withey outperforms him early on, I
    think Stiemsma will collect the majority of the 32 remaining minutes that aren’t
    allotted to Smith. My guess? Smith will be around 20 per night, which is something
    that he has done before, and should be able to do at his usual “I’m running the
    floor like I’m trying to stop a worldwide disaster” pace. These are just rough estimates and I’m sure some other writer(s) will chime in on this once the season approaches.
    gets backed down in the post, but it’s something that can be covered with
    aggressive rotating defenders, and I imagine that that is how it will be dealt
    with. This team significantly upgraded its athleticism in the summer and that
    will help a lot in its rotations once everyone is comfortable in the system. Quick defenses can cause serious havoc and overcome not having a great post defender. Miami is an extreme example because they have LeBron, but you don’t need a great post defender to make the playoffs, and that’s the goal right now.
    This team just underwent a pretty major overhaul this offseason, but Dell is always
    looking to upgrade the team’s talent and everything he has done since coming
    here validates that. It is far too early to know exactly what we need to be a
    contender- there are so many variables in play- and in my opinion, Dell is just
    collecting talent and seeing what sticks and how our coaching staff can develop players into tradeable assets. For his role players, he likes to buy
    low, and consider how Vasquez, Lopez, and Smith have elevated their NBA
    standing since joining this franchise.
    in sum, I agree, I think he is test-driving this roster and plans on making
    more moves going forward. I don’t know who, where, or when, but I hardly believe
    he is finished upgrading. First step is making the playoffs, and after that, it’ll
    be easier to see what we are lacking. As for now, I think this team is talented
    enough to at least make a run at the playoffs given no significant setbacks

  12. Caffeinedisaster

    August 16, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Michael McNamara palochak He will definitely be a great asset considering Dwight is in our division now.

  13. palochak

    August 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    xman20002000 palochak Sportnlyfe Big difference between making the playoffs and contending. 
    Saying this team will contend for a playoff spot isn’t a knock and isn’t saying they will be in the lottery. It’s acknowledging the fact that we are not a lock to make the playoffs in a loaded conference and hoping for the best.

  14. JefferyDuplessis

    August 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I think that Stiemsma will be the starting center on opening day.  I think the Pelicans prefer to bring Jason Smith and his energy off the bench along with his mid-range shooting to assist the second unit.  I think you will see Stiemsma play the first 6-8 minutes of the game and giver way to Smith and possibly a little to Withey to finish the half and the dame will occur in the 2nd half.  I think the three of Smith, Stiiemsma and Withey along with Davis at times will be enough to cover the 5 spot.

  15. palochak

    August 16, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    JefferyDuplessis I agree, 5 will almost certainly be covered by committee. Not sure of Withey’s role yet, but I think you are correct in saying that Stiemsma may start, grab 6-8 before Smith comes in.

  16. Sportnlyfe

    August 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    palochak xman20002000 Sportnlyfe I like the new personnel and the perimeter focus on both offense and defense also. @xman20002000,  You’re spot on about Holiday. Did you see him in the National Team scrimmage? He had a very strong game, and coexisted well with the ball hogging of Irving. He caught my eye by turning it down a notch (unlike Waiters). He picked his spots, stayed in a flow throughout. Got his points quietly but very efficiently. All those worries about his turnover-proneness are likely a non-factor when he doesn’t feel he has to do it all himself. 
    So I think the offense takes a quantum leap next year. On the other end, can’t overlook J Smitty being foul prone, Withey needing way more in the upper body strength department. Do not want to see AD playing too many minutes at the 5. HIs center of gravity is too high, gets walked under the rim too easily. All the wide bodies seem to be in our division and they’ll be watching to see how the experiment goes. If we can get quality play from center by committee, we can compete for playoffs, but as @palochak says, legit title contention will depend on a lot of guys simultaneously playing the best ball of their lives while learning how to play together in a new system. I’m optimistic, but I gotta believe that there’s a Plan B.

  17. 504ever

    August 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    I have to say the idea that in the “favorable early” 2013-14 schedule we should know “whether this group can make the transition to contenders” strikes me as bordering on absurd.  Here is why.
    First, the most we may know in the favorable early 2013-14 schedule is this team won’t be in the playoff hunt.  The Pelicans could get such a bad start that they are just too far behind in the playoff race.  I don’t think that will happen, but it’s possible.  More likely is the Pelicans will win enough favorable early 2013-14 schedule games to remain in the playoff hunt.
    Second, contending for a (even Conference) Championship is out of the question in 2013-14.  We don’t even need to play a game.  No professional writer, not even writers on this site, see the Pelicans as contending this year.  This has everything to do with talent level, NBA experience (including playoff experience), and time (measured in years) on the court together for individuals to blend into a team.  It has nothing to do with the early 2013-14 schedule.
    Finally, there is no way Dell/Monty are finished adding talent to this group of players.  Of course there will be tweaking of the roster, including upgrades at the C and SF positions, but this has nothing to do with the early season schedule.  Again, this is a function of talent, and there is no reason it has be via a pre-All-Star Game move.  It will be when Dell can get the best deal.  Look at the last year.  Dell brought in a huge amount of talent without a single pre-All-Star Game move.  I don’t think Dell has made a pre-All-Star Game move yet.

    So I suggest it is time to enjoy this multi-year ride Dell and Monty have in store for us.  It’s not about how quickly the Pelicans improve from 2012-13 but how much total improvement is made over the long haul of several seasons.

  18. Sportnlyfe

    August 16, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    504ever Sportnlyfe “Given the favorable early schedule, they should pretty much know by then whether this group can make the transition to contenders.” (“Then” meaning December/ January.) So this is what I said. Not sure why you interpret this to mean we should start measuring for rings. No wild-eyed optimism there that I can see. 
    Look, if you want to make a point about what you see as the state of the franchise, be my guest. But trying to lecture me to be patient because I posted on why I think the team has MORE MOVES TO MAKE before it can. . . . what? . . . “make the transition to contenders” is just evidence that you really didn’t read or understand what I said. Here’s a hint: I’m the skeptic in the conversation. We have More Moves to make. See? I said what you said. Only I said it first.

  19. Papa Pelican

    August 17, 2013 at 8:34 am

    The Steamer will be a beast and he look like Drago from Rocky IV.I really think Anderson will be traded after what he been through he need a change of scenery because he’ll be an distraction we do need an SF and a center.

  20. PelaSaintiac

    August 17, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Last time ryno was a distraction he was probably a crying baby in church. What happened to ryno is something brothers will rally around. The New Orleans pelicans have to become a brotherhood and saying we are so immature that we would make a death of a loved one a distraction is ignorant and pestimestic thinking to me. (Hope I am not making this circumstance sound like a positive for our team because it is not by all means) Was Favre’s pop dying in the middle of the year a distraction to the Packers or did they come out the very next night and throw record breaking numbers threw the air on MNF?

  21. Papa Pelican

    August 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Would you want to work or play in a city where you lost someone you care about or stay in the same home where it happend.I don’t know about you but all the team unity in world wont help this guy.

  22. Papa Pelican

    August 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I wonder if you guys remember what happened when that Chiefs player did the same thing last year.

  23. Roger.That.

    August 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Papa Pelican I’ll defend Papa Pelicans – Anderson is by far the most overrated Hornet/Pelican in the history of this franchise’s tenure in New Orleans.  It would be insane to pass up any kind of swap for Asik and I’m still hoping this deal will come through.

  24. 504ever

    August 17, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Roger.That. Papa Pelican  
    If you are correct about the value of Anderson versus Asik, why hasn’t Dell made this trade?  It certainly makes sense from Houston’s point of view!
    (I say because you, and others, are undervaluing Anderson and overvaluing Asik.  Specifically, I see Anderson as more than a 3 point specialist.  Maybe the USA Olympic staff does, too, and that is why they invited him to camp.)

  25. Houpgarou

    August 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Understand your line of thinking papa pel, but I would think Ryan needs support system that a group of very good character teammates / organization provides more than a tabula rasa with no support system.Basketball wise completely disagree with roger, Ryno is essential to this teams success. You can’t compare skillsets in a vacuum. We have plenty of defensive minded players but very few shooters who provide balance for the large stable of slashers we do have. Yes d would b sick with asik, but watching teams pack the paint against us as we score 80 points against zone defenses each night would not be fun

  26. Mr. West

    August 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Papa Pelican None of us know what Anderson needs. Saying he needs a change of scenery is almost disrespectful, as if just leaving town will heal his wounds. It will be awful for a long time wherever he goes. Me personally, I’d rather say in a place where I have friends and I chose to be rather than traded to a new city and meet new people while still being in pain. But I would never assume thats what he wants. If you want to trade Anderson for basketball reasons, say that. Don’t say he’ll be a distraction.

  27. bucklezzzman

    August 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    How the hell is the best shooting big man in the league, on the cusp of his prime, and on a team littered with exceptional lane penetrators, overrated?! Stop it.
    And idk how somebody could say he’d become a ‘distraction’ negatively because of his gfs tragic death. Ryno is arguably the best PERSON on this team and has very strong faith. Idk what the hell y’all are talking about, foreal smh

  28. bucklezzzman

    August 18, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Exactly, idk why it was even brought up as it being a negative going forward enough for us to trade him. And now apparently he’s the most overrated player in franchise history also smh trading him now rather than rallying around him & Gia’s memory would be outright cold blooded and would reflect horribly on our organization as a whole who many league wide have really garnered respect for post-CP3.
    Ryno is an integral piece to our core, not just any guy who we can easily replace either. Yes we have needs at C & SF but 3-guard lineups are dominating the league & Centers are becoming a lost position which is why teams thirst over Centers with ‘potential’ and they A.) usually don’t pan out or B.) are just grossly overpaid. We can definitely get away with a Stiemsma, Smith, Withey, AD, Center rotation this year.. BUT..
    Name me another 6’10, top three 3-pt sniping, underrated offensive rebounding rate machine, on the cusp of his prime not named Kevin Love?!
    Don’t worry I’ll wait..

  29. bucklezzzman

    August 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Because of our new up tempo offense, but I doubt he’ll see anymore than 8-12min at Center anyway. And despite all the hype about him being ‘bullied’ while playing at Center last year, he actually registered a higher PER playing at C than PF last year. He held his own alot better than he’s gotten credit for.
    What about the double double he dropped on the Bulls that game (better stats than Boozer)? Or him dropping 21 & 11 on Duncan in his very first regular season game?

  30. Nithenz

    August 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

    No new post about Lance comming back on a two year deal? is it official yet?

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

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