"Motor": Most overused term in describing prospects?
I want to come out and say it:
I dislike the term, "motor" in accordance to a basketball prospect!
With a passion. I understand that it is a metaphor for the player being like an automobile (whip, car, whatever floats your boat. Well, could be a boat to, I suppose). If a player has a "high motor", that means that they have a lot of energy and seem to be involved throughout the game. If a player has a "low motor", that means that they take plays off and float at times rather than making the most out of what people deem to be abilities they should use constantly. I guess it seems simple enough, I suppose.
My biggest issue with this term is, I think it cuts corners in describing a players strength or weaknesses. It also seems to be used disproportionately on forwards and centers as opposed to guards. I do not remember hearing a PG being called a low motor player. I also have a hard time remembering when a forward or center does not get a mention on "motor".
So, what the hell is "motor" in basketball terms?
Can a person with a "high motor" still be limited by physical characteristics or skill set?
Can a person with a "low motor" not improve their skill set and still make an impact with characteristics that they possess?
I could go further into my general dislike of this term, but I feel it is a cop out. It leaves out so many things and is incredibly subjective. It seems to be an umbrella term for a failure in conditioning or skill set. When you say something about someones "motor", than you are usually leaving out areas for development for those with a "low motor" or leaving out possible lack of skill set or physical capability for those with a "high motor".
What I want to know is, what does everyone think the term "motor" represents? Do you like this term and think it is a fair evaluation of what a prospect brings to the court? Can a person with a "low motor" ever develop a better one? To me, this term just encompasses actual basketball worries people may have about a prospect, but it does not bring them to the surface. I want to know why the hell this term seems to be one of the most thrown around words about basketball prospects right now.
for me "motor" is one of the most important things to look for in prospects. It means they have a passion for the game try their hardest on every play.
To me "motor" means a person loves the game of basketball and just doesn't play it cause they're good at it.
Potential is by far the mosted overused word in describing prospects.
IMO, "athletic" has been the word used by many many scouts many many times...
I mean, a person playing hard can still lose their love for the game. Also, if it is about love for the game, why call it motor? What is the connection? Energy, heart, I guess. I do not know, that is really confusing to me. I would say "he may not love basketball" rather than "he has a low motor".
Potential is definitely overused as well, but I understand what potential represents more than motor. The concept of a person "not living up to their potential" makes sense to me. The concept of "he has a low motor so I am not sure he cares or wants to get better", makes a lot less sense.
Joe Smith (1995, #1 pick) was not seen as a player who had a "low motor" coming out of Maryland. But, he never really lived up to his potential. To me, it is more about attitude and a drive to improve rather than the characteristics that usually get thrown in to play on the court, which I believe is what motor describes. Also, is trying hard on every play necessarily all about passion for the game? Is it not also maybe about an increased awareness or superior conditioning? Can these things not be taught?
I will say, some guys will never give the amount of energy you think they should be able to. But, these players can still be very effective and are sometimes better than "high motor" players. Case in point, lets look at Ekpe Udoh and Greg Monroe. Ekpe worked his butt off at Baylor, was one of the nations best shot blockers and was taken 6th in the 2010 Draft by the Warriors. However, Greg Monroe, a person deemed less athletic and as someone who did not necessarily go all out, dare I say, someone whom many questioned as being "low motor". Well, Monroe is clearly much more physically capable than Udoh, someone who may be more energetic and athletic. I think potential and motor almost can fall in the same boat of over use.
Just want to know what "motor" represents and what people feel this term encompasses. I should probably not have said "overused", but I feel like this term is kind of a cop out in the description of a prospect. High energy I get. Is "high motor" the same thing? Or does it encompass more than that? Just a term that I feel gets beaten into the ground that I do not necessarily feels tells as much about a prospect as people seem to think by its now universal and constant usage in describing players.
very agree with tyrober who was ahead of me...
upside, potential is the most overused expression/word. cause it refers to nothing real : it's just opinion (sometimes a consensus) based on "who do you tink will perform the best as a pro ?".... that's very subjectiv and highly risked.
I prefer talking about mental attributes (toughness, work ethics, hunger, will to win, bball IQ, unselfishness....) paired with physical and technical attributes (easier to judge). This package of skills generally gives you a good estimation of the future success/failure of a prospects.
I am sorry for the confusion, but this was not meant to be a, "What is the most overused term describing prospects?" thread. This is about MOTOR. What does it mean to you? Do you think it is a helpful term in separating or desribing prospects? Or, do you feel like it is a term used to cut corners on a players actual issues?
So, I agree, potential is more often used. But, I think we understand what potential represents and the limitations and things it leaves out. But, with motor, what does it mean? Why is it used so often? I guess I am trying to say, why has this become a new part of draft vernacular?
sorry... a little digression....
motor is about physical and mental abilities (to me) : being able to stay overactive in D and O during a whole game... and willing to do that.
it helps to separate prospects between those who will be able to do that and those who won't.
I think iguodala is a good example of a high motor player.... D and O, very active, will to do that
Maybe scouts are using more and more this word cause they are looking more and more for prospects with those attributes. The game (not only the players, the rules too) is being more and more athletic, quicker with an increased rythm.
Therefore scouts are looking more and more for high quality role players able to bring that kind of energy and some mental leadership : à la Noah.
If motor is love for the game, Kobe must have a freaking valkeyrie, solar panel powering his game.
I always thought someone who had a "high motor" just ment that they played hard all the time. They don't mind making a hustle play like getting back on a fast break, diving for a loose ball, etc. I think it is a much better term for describing football players than basketball players but it can still be effective none-the-less. I'll give a few examples of stars with what I see as a high/low motor (when they were in their prime):
High: Iverson, Rose, LeBron, Jordan, Gary Payton, Reggie Evans-not a star but a prime example
Low: VC and TMac are two obvious ones, Beasley, Javale McGee, Baron Davis
As you can see it's harder to name "stars" with a low motor because you have to be crazy gifted to pull that off. And yes I did mean to mention LeBron in the high motor category. The dude might not have brass balls but i've seen him make some incredible hustle plays that only someone with the combination of a high motor and measurables that were created in a lab can make.
Any one word has limitations on how descriptive it is, but I think talking about Motor is okay. It basically means how much a player hustles, especially outside of plays called specifically for them. It is an important thing to look for in a propsect because it means they get that they have to put in effort throughout the game and that they can't just turn it on at key moments. The best players usually can coast, especially in highschool, against lesser competition. Some can even coast in college. But few are so good that they coast in the NBA and especially not during the NBA playoffs (which is a whole different level of basketball).
Often you will see lesser talents with higher motor because they overcome their limited skills and abilities by effort. Sometimes a great talent gives 100% and you end up with a true superstar.
I think motor is hard to change. By the time you make it to the NBA a player has 10 to 15 years of habits. Some guys don't see the value of hustle plays. They may not even see the hustle plays that they could have made because they just have no experience doing it. They may even subconsciously feel like hustling is cheating; like the game should be easier and their talent should be enough by itself. We have all seen a great talent get frustrated by a lesser talent who just is working hard on defense.
So I think Motor is important. But it can't make up entirely for lack of talent or skills. It is just another thing that a player can bring to the table to try to be effective.
As much as he has a lack of fundamental awareness. He gambles too much, but I do not think he takes plays off or does not play hard. I truly never saw Tracy McGrady as a low motor player either. I do not remember T-Mac taking plays off and I think he was indeed pretty active. He may not have practiced as hard as one should have, but in the games he still seems very involved.
The thing is, can we not point out skill deficiencies in these players? I do not remember watching Michael Beasley and complaining about his motor. I think he does indeed try. I also think that he lacks certain skills and awareness that are reasons that people tend to complain about him as a player. In college, was his motor seen as much of an issue? Jay Bilas was all about his "second jumpability", I remember that.
With Vince, it probably was a bit of a lack of will. He had injuries and he obviously was not completely on the same foot with a number of teams he played for. Many questioned whether he loved basketball and why he was not what Kobe Bryant was. Honestly, Vince had incredible talent almost to the point of Kobe at a time, but he never seemed to have the will to work that Kobe possessed. But, is motor the will and ability to get better? I do not see it as that as much as a term to quantify how one plays the game. Vince flat out got to a point where I believe injuries made him less than he was previously.
Obviously Kobe Bryant would be the definition of who we would view as having a "high motor". The guy has a high pain thresh hold and is obsessed with being the best player he can possibly be. I think Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were the two most possessed, driven basketball players in history, with obvious athletic advantages that combined to make them two of the games best.
I guess what I am trying to find out is, if a players "motor" should effect where they are drafted. Joakim Noah obviously works incredibly hard, but as you said, he is a role player. I have seen him getting taken advantage of by players who may not work as hard or have as much passion as him, but they are just flat out better players. Also, Iguodala can do a lot on the basketball court, but is he not limited in ways as well? I mean, Rudy Gay was seen as a player with a questionable motor, but if the two matched-up against each other, who do you want on your side? They are both better at different things, but it is at the very least a question.
I find that people who question "motor" tend to be overlooking certain attributes that you can't teach or possess. It is hard to teach a player desire, but you can teach a player new skills or abilities that can maximize their effect in a game.
Just came up with an idea. Here are some players I want people to quantify as having a "high" or "low" motor. BUT, MOST IMPORTANTLY: WHY? Is it a physical or mental issue as to why they maybe can not do the things that one would deem as being done by those with a high motor? Also, are the people with "high motors" still maybe not completely living up to the entirety of their potential?
- Zach Randolph
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Andrea Bargnani
- Channing Frye
- David Lee
- Lamar Odom
- Amare Stoudemire
- Emeka Okafor
- Andrew Bogut
- Robin Lopez
I will hit up with my breakdowns later on, but I am curious to see what people have to say about these players "motor". To me, it is a term that has little clear use and is just used when someone underperforms or is inconsistent. I deem having a "low motor" can just as easily be from a lack of awareness, confidence or skill set, which are things that can be improved upon, as it is a lack of passion for playing basketball.
Plus, when is it ok to draft someone over another person due to one being "high motor" and one being "low motor"? I think that the Udoh and Monroe example is one that shows that it does not always work. But, if you were to provide more examples to the contrary, I am all ears. Again, will be back on this later.
Motor is a fake term used by scouts who are watching games that really have no bearing on how a player will fare on the next level.
Motor is a term that is used to separate talented players. For example, you look at Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones, they are both extremely talented players, physically, athletically, and skill-wise. What separates them? How hard each of them player. How much they give game-in and game-out. It's not supposed to be used when comparing players of obvious different skill levels. It's only used to differentiate players that are of near skill level.
For example, you don't take Kenneth Faried over Carmelo simply because of his motor, but you take Durant over Carmelo because of his motor. Players that are near the same skill level are separated by their motor. It's not supposed to be used as a prime detail of a player to figure out where they will be drafted, but it's just another wrinkle that scouts look at to separate talented players.
BTPH, you said it in a lot fewer words than I used.
Still, I wanted to know what other people thought about it. Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones is a perfect example.......of why I think "motor" is incredibly broad and overused term. I mean, obviously they are different players and of course Harrison Barnes has been more consistent. Still, does Harrison Barnes not have weaknesses as well?
Barnes has struggled giving a consistent effort on the boards, has difficulty creating shots for himself and many times settles for jumpers instead of being proactive or agressive. Perry Jones play has been entirely inconsistent and he can be gotten the better of physically. He struggles getting position and it is probably a major reason he is seen as having a "low motor". But, Barnes at times shies away as well and has a hard time creating, but he has a high motor?
When Harrison Barnes was struggling at the start of his freshman year and all of those "Jones over Barnes" posts came around, I did not hear too many people talking about Barnes motor being higher. Barnes just seems to have fewer weaknesses as a player, with Jones obviously having physical characteristics that are definitely harder to come by. If you think that Perry Jones is a SF, than odds are that you should side with Barnes on this debate. Still, if you are looking for the best player, does Barnes really win this due to "motor"?
Definitely feel that Harrison Barnes mental make-up may indeed be superior to Jones and that he also has the superior skill set. But, Jones has the things you cannot teach and for those that place him in the category of "a 6'10/6'11 with a low motor", they could be surprisingly mistaken. I think that if anything is the short coming of Jones, it is his lack of strength even more so than his lack of agression. But, people will just throw that under the "motor" category.
To me, BTPH's answer makes the most sense to me. Maybe it is just a term I dislike because I feel it encompasses so many different things. I personally prefer the terms "effort" or "energy". Possibly even "passion". But, motor, is not something I feel anyone has ever properly defined. Just do not like this term and find it to be the most broad, baseless term used in basketball analysis. Consistency is definitely a key, of course you want consistent effort, but I find that "motor" is becoming overused and is almost a term used to combat "potential".
Potential is what all these guys are drafted. No one knows for certain what they will do. So potential and overall skills is what your looking for..
Okay, maybe that was a bad example because Barnes has less weaknesses than Jones so let's look at this example instead.
Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. Both have very similar skills, almost identical. Both are extremely talented. Only one of them is constantly in MVP talk and considered a top-5 player in the league and that's Durant. The reason? Durant's motor. Durant plays hard on both ends every minute he's on the floor. You can argue that Carmelo is better than Durant and vice-versa but when it comes down to it, you want a player who gives a damn about the game. You want a player that will do anything possible to win. You want a guy that's going to give 110%.
Like I said, motor is the last detail scouts use to differentiate elite players with similar draft stock. It is, in essence, the breaking-point between being a top-5 pick and being a top-10 pick.
Motor, heart, passion, effort are all terms that basically have the same meaning. The reason why motor is used more is because in literal terms, a bigger engine means a faster/stronger vehicle; a vehicle that puts more effort. Whereas a bigger heart doesn't necessarily mean that and passion/effort don't have literal meanings.
Simple question, would you rather have Blake Griffin or Amar'e Stoudemire on your team? Their motor plays a huge role in an otherwise lopsided decision if you go by talent alone because Amar'e has a lot more skills than Griffin.
I think Kevin Durant is better because he is a smarter player. You can flat out look at their percentages to know they are not as similar as you might think. Kevin Durant is also much better at playing without the ball and I feel he is quicker. Melo is stronger, the better rebounder (definitely offensively) but lacks elite length and the same lateral quickness as Kevin Durant. To put all of that under "Kevin Durant has a superior motor" I think is straight up not legit. Kevin Durant may love the game more, but he clearly has characterisitcs beyond just energy level that make him superior in the eyes of many people. When they play each other, Melo definitely has things he can use to his advantage as well.
The "Blake Griffin versus A'mare Stoudemire" conundrum is not exactly rocket science due to STAT's knees and age, but I think motor is not necessarily the case there either. For those who have seen A'mare Stoudemire, he is a tooth pick. The guy is strong and all, but he is SKINNY. Blake Griffin has a build that Stoudemire never will ever have. This helps make him a better rebounder and establishes him to excel offensively. A'mare may not have Blake's energy, but I think the physical characteristics play a large part in that. That is not a bad definition, but I truly think that some people are able to do things others can't. It is not necessarily all effort or "motor".
Maybe A'mare does not try, many seem to think so on the defensive end and being seen as an underachieving rebounder. But, could this also be to limitations in his skill set or physical ability? It could be passion, that is possible, but I do not know if "motor" necessarily is the reason that Kevin Durant is seen as being better than Melo or Griffin is seen as better than Stoudemire. I think there are basketball reasons, beyond effort level, that make these players better. I think motor is used just so one does not have to necessarily address these reasons.
Simply put, motor is how hard someone plays on a consistent basis, possession to possession....both offensively and defensively. Personally, I don't think it's overused.
I think it's a very important aspect of basketball, even sports in general. Players with a "high" motor are more likely to succeed than players with a "low" motor. Players with a high motor are giving 100% on every possession, working hard both offensively and defensively, and doing all the little things necessary for a team to be as successful as possible. Players with a low motor often coast in games, take possessions off, and don't do all the little things they should be doing.
I'm not saying the Amar'e vs Griffin decision is "all effort or 'motor'." but like I said, it's the final detail you look at as a breaking point. You're telling me that if Griffin played with the same amount of motor and energy as Amar'e and it was only one game, both were 100% healthy, you would go with Griffin? No, because along with health, motor makes a huge case as to who you're going to choose.
Look at the percentages of Melo and Durant from last year, when Melo wasn't forcing his shot in every game. They are nearly identical.
"Maybe A'mare does not try, many seem to think so on the defensive end and being seen as an underachieving rebounder. But, could this also be to limitations in his skill set or physical ability? It could be passion, that is possible, but I do not know if "motor" necessarily is the reason that Kevin Durant is seen as being better than Melo or Griffin is seen as better than Stoudemire. I think there are basketball reasons, beyond effort level, that make these players better. I think motor is used just so one does not have to necessarily address these reasons."
Do you really believe Amar'e does not have the physical ability to average 9 or 10 rebounds a game? He has done it before in his career, it's the fact that he chooses not to. He's a chiseled 6'11, 260lbs; I really do not believe his physical ability is what keeps him from averaging double-digit rebounding and over 1.5blocks per game.
If that's the case, what's the reasoning as to why Paul Millsap outrebounds Amar'e at only 6'8, 250lbs? What's the reason that DeJuan Blair (when given the minutes) outrebounds Amar'e at 6'6", 270lbs (mostly fat and not muscle)? What's the reason that Kevin Love nearly doubles the rebounds of Amar'e at a mere 6'8" - 6'9", 260lbs and nowhere near as chiseled as Amar'e? They are not as athletically or physically gifted as Amar'e yet they outrebound him in nearly every game. It's their motor. They are relentess on the boards.
By the way, I personally believe passion, heart, and motor are all the same thing.
I'm sure if you ask Charles Barkely, if Amare's physical ability limits his rebounding, he would say it's completely ridiculous because Barkely averaged nearly 12rpg during his career at 6'4, 250lbs.
"By the way, I personally believe passion, heart, and motor are all the same thing."
Awesome way to put it. Same way I feel. Also, I like the Amare example.
Many players do have a motor, be it high or low.
However, all Perry Jones has is one of those $5 fans that you plug into the wall.
About as much energy as a baked potato.
I absolutely believe that Charles Barkley gave an incredible effort. As does Kevin Love or any other fantastic rebounder. But, was he not built and wired differently as a basketball player than most? Say what you will about A'mare Stoudemire, but I truly believe there is a reason that he is not able to carve out as much space or dominate the boards like someone his size is thought to be able to. His averaging one more rebound per game aside, someone has always been a better rebounder than A'mare on his own team.
Do you really think that A'mare Stoudemire can do the things that Charles Barkley and Kevin Love CAN do? I think that this is honestly more of a lack of comprehension or skill set rather than effort. This may sound like a cop out as well and it may be, but has A'mare ever displayed the aptitude for being anywhere the rebounder the caliber of Barkley or Love? I think there is clearly a reason that Barkley was a great rebounder at his size beyond pure effort. The guy was strong as anyone and he knew how to use his body better than anyone.
Charles definitely seemed to work harder than A'mare, but I think A'mare could spend his life and not be able to rebound like Chuck. It goes beyond just raw desire, players have limitations beyond "motor". To me, it is incredibly hard to quantify A'mare as not working as hard as someone at something. I think it just gets to the point that other guys are flat out better than he is at rebounding. It seems like "motor" is a category that is ordained upon a person. They either have it or they do not. I do not know if I buy that and I think that many people are trying to sell prospects based on this concept.
Personally I always felt like a motor was a combination of passion for the game, skill set, workmanship, and simply, ...stamina. Early on in my playing, I always played with a high motor, due to my inability to carry a team with my skillset so i used my passion and workmanship to make an impact whith back door cuts, offball screens, hard-nosed D, and plenty of rebounds. Further along as I developed more skills, my "motor" somewhat diminished as I wasn't constantly going at it 100% high octain anymore, but simply doing my share offensively and defensively to keep us in a game, saving my "motor" for when it counted at the end of a game.
IMO, there is a difference between a guy having a "low motor" and simply not being able to figure out a way to impact a game. IMO, Anthony Randolph always seems to play hard and be going after rebounds, yet he is consitently referred to as a "low motor" player.
WOuld you say that Kobe plays with a low motor simply because he saves his "high motor" for the end of a game or when he sees that the rest of his team are playing with no "motor"?
IMO, this is the best topic of the year Mikey as I feel like I really relate to how you feel and think the exact same way. I don't think i even realized how much i disliked that word until this topic.
Motor is basivally hustle. Keneth Faried has a great motor, Eddy Curry had a terrible one.
It is not overused, potential is by far the most overused term.
I don't like the word motor, people say Blake Griffin has a high motor, wouldn't that mean he would've worked on his game and become a good/great defender or got a mid-range shot already, instead i see him give very little effort on the defensive side of the floor, he hustles for loose balls, but doesn't play man to man D, and to me that is someone who doesn't have a high motor, so yes it is vastly overused.
A motor to me is more relavant to stuff away from game time, who puts in the effort to get themselves better in the offseason and looks after their body, constantly adding things to their game, now that is someone who has a high motor.
Interesting you bring this up. Now that I think about it, motor, I feel, is just a commonly adopted term when talking about basketball. I guess I always thought it was a player's "hustle".
If I were to describle a player which is described as having a high motor without using the word. I'd say that player is willing to make hustle plays, box out, and plays every play.
I think rebounding is an aspect of basketball commonly equated with really having to "out duel" another player in order to get loose balls, forwards and centers are more commonly found being described in terms of "motor".
That brings up a point, because a guard with a high motor, I would describe as a player who plays great defense, gets in the passing lanes without making stupid gambles and boxes out their guy 18 feet away from the hoop...Not a lot of guys like that out there right now.
Anyways, good question, that is my theory.