Anthony Tolliver doesn’t expect some huge role with the Charlotte Bobcats, but he knows precisely what he’s being paid to do next season.
“The thing I do that doesn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet is I space the floor for everybody else,” said Tolliver, who signed a one-year, veteran-minimum contract Monday.
“When I’m out there, (defenders) usually don’t leave me. So that gives the guards larger driving lanes and gives Al (Jefferson) more space under the basket. I take pride in that. I know it’s important to a team.”
Tolliver, a 6-foot-9 forward, has averaged a modest 6.1 points and four rebounds over five NBA seasons. He is a career 33 percent shooter from 3-point range. That’s not exceptional, but it’s good enough that opposing power forwards will be reluctant to leave him along the perimeter. That’s what the Bobcats were looking for off the bench when they pursued him this month.
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All three of the Bobcats’ power forwards – Josh McRoberts, rookie Cody Zeller and now Tolliver – have perimeter skills, and that’s quite intentional. New coach Steve Clifford wants to force defenses to guard farther from the basket, which should make Jefferson’s low-post scoring more effective.
Tolliver has played for five teams over as many NBA seasons: San Antonio, Portland, Golden State, Minnesota and most recently Atlanta. The Hawks used him primarily as a small forward, which Tolliver found less than optimum.
“My biggest worth is at power forward,” he said. “At the offensive end, my biggest asset is pick-and-pop (a play where he sets a screen, then peels away to shoot jumpers off the catch) to spread the floor.”
“If I’m asked to play small forward, I can because I’ve done it now for two years. But it will be nice to get back to my natural position.”
Tolliver has worked with two Bobcats assistants before – Stephen Silas in Golden State and Bob Weiss in Atlanta. They see him as a veteran who will adapt to however large or small a role he develops here.
“You can always strive to have a bigger, better role, but you can’t have 14 guys all wanting to score 25 points a game,” Tolliver said.
“You don’t want your minutes to be sporadic, but (Clifford) was up-front and honest about the situation. And I think I bring something none of the other bigs bring, so I’ll get a fair shot at minutes.”