David King believes the elite handballing skills of Melbourne midfielder Clayton Oliver have “dissipated” this season.
Oliver battled hard for the Demons in their shattering 16-point loss to West Coast at Optus Stadium on Friday night, winning 29 disposals, three clearances and 12 tackles.
The All-Australian has been troubled by shoulder injuries throughout this career, and King thinks that could be a contributing factor to him releasing the ball before receiving contact.
“At the start of the year it was Oliver and (Patrick) Cripps, which one would you take? It was a genuine 50-50 call,” the North Melbourne great told SEN’s Crunch Time.
“Clayton Oliver’s elite handballing skills seem to a have dissipated.
“Three or four times in critical moments last night his desire to be Quick Draw Mcgraw and handball it as fast as he possibly could coughed it up to the opposition, costing them a goal at a really critical stage.
“And I thought: ‘Are you playing like this because you don’t want to take contact on the shoulders? Is he not wanting contact? Is he not wanting to burst out of gaps once he’s won that ball on the inside of the traffic?'”
The dual premiership Kangaroo says Oliver “needs to be better” in what is his primary role for the Dees.
“He’s not getting ball from inside to out and that is his role – that is his primary function for Melbourne,” King added.
“If you’re going to be an elite handballer, be an elite handballer – he is miles from that.
“He’s a senior member of this team, he is one of their absolute top-liners – he needs to be better than that.”
Oliver, 21, averages 32.1 touches and 5.8 tackles per game in 2019.