Friday, July 22, 2011

Pooh is NBA worthy

Pooh proved to me he is worthy of being a backup NBA PG
The Kings did not pick up the option year in Pooh Jeter's contract. Pooh ranked tied for 50th in NBA Point Guard efficiency last season as a rookie off the bench for Sacramento. While you may think 50th is not so hot - consider that there are 30 NBA teams. Each has a starter and a backup (30 x 2 = 60). So any player ranked in the top 60 at his position is a guy that is (or at least should be) playing minutes in the NBA.

The one thing Pooh excels at is making the pass ahead to the open man. He proved on many occasions that easy baskets are available in the NBA if the point guard looks up the court and finds willing runners in 'early offense'. Beyond that - Jeter was enthusiastic and a model citizen by all accounts.

Will Isaiah replace Pooh?
Isaiah Thomas was drafted by the Kings with the final pick of the 2011 draft. The Washington Point Guard showed flashes during the 2010-11 season of looking like a player that would willingly get his teammates involved. That was not always the case however - especially during Thomas' first two seasons when he seemed more intent to "get his" from a scoring standpoint. If Thomas can continue to work on being a more of a true Point Guard while remaining a scoring threat - he could prove to be a viable replacement for Jeter off the Kings bench.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Father Time and the NBA

Camby, born in 1974. 
I recently took the time to look at the year of birth of the top 15 players at each NBA position (based on the Efficiency Rating). The hope was that I would see a trend or glean some sort of crucial insight to when players are ascending, peaking, and descending. The 75-man pool of players (5 positions x  top 15 players) had a range of 16 years, from the 1989 born Michael Beasley, Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans, and James Harden - to the 1974 born Steve Nash and Marcus Camby.

Because the range was 16 years - I thought it would be convenient to group all the players into four categories: 1989-1986 born players ("freshmen"), 1985-1982 born players ("sophomores"), 1981-1978 born players ("juniors"), and 1977-1974 born players ("seniors").

Griffin, born in 1989
  •  Blake Griffin  Clippers 1989 
  •  Michael Beasley Wolves 1989 
  •  James Harden Thunder 1989 
  •  Tyreke Evans Kings 1989 
  •  Kevin Love Wolves 1988 
  •  Russell Westbrook Thunder 1988 
  •  Kevin Durant  Thunder 1988 
  •  Derrick Rose Bulls 1988 
  •  Stephen Curry Warriors 1988 
  •  JaVale McGee Wizards 1988 
  •  Thaddeus Young Sixers 1988 
  •  Eric Gordon Clippers 1988 
  •  Landry Fields Knicks 1988 
  •  Andrew Bynum Lakers 1987 
  •  Marreese Speights Sixers 1987
  •  Ty Lawson Nuggets 1987 
  •  Marcus Thornton  Kings 1987 
  •  Al Horford Hawks 1986 
  •  Roy Hibbert Pacers 1986 
  •  Ramon Sessions Cavs 1986 
  •  Rajon Rondo Celtics 1986 
  •  Rudy Gay  Grizzlies 1986 
  •  Reggie Williams Warriors 1986 
  •  Dwight Howard Magic 1985 
  •  Chris Paul Hornets 1985 
  •  Al Jefferson Jazz 1985 
  •  Joakim Noah Bulls 1985 
  •  Paul Millsap Jazz 1985 
  •  Josh Smith  Hawks 1985 
  •  LeMarcus Aldridge Blazers 1985 
  •  Monta Ellis  Warriors 1985 
  •  J.R. Smith Nuggets 1985 
  •  Lebron James Heat 1984 
  •  Carmelo Anthony Knicks 1984 
  •  Marcin Gortat Suns 1984 
  •  Deron Williams Nets  1984 
  •  Andrew Bogut Bucks 1984 
  •  Andre Iguodala  Sixers 1984 
  •  Raymond Felton Blazers 1984 
  •  David Lee Warriors 1983 
  •  Kevin Martin Rockets 1983 
  •  Danny Granger  Pacers 1983 
  •  Amar'e Stoudemire Knicks 1982 
  •  Dwyane Wade  Heat 1982 
  •  Nene  Nuggets 1982 
  •  Tyson Chandler  Mavs 1982 
  •  Tony Parker Spurs 1982 
  •  Tony Allen Grizzlies 1982 
  •  Gerald Wallace Blazers 1982 
  •  Zach Randolph  Grizzlies 1981 
  •  Carlos Boozer Bulls 1981 
  •  Jose Calderon Raptors 1981 
  •  Andrei Kirilenko Jazz 1981 
  •  Joe Johnson  Hawks 1981 
  •  Pau Gasol  Lakers 1980 
  •  Luis Scola  Rockets 1980 
  •  David West Hornets 1980 
  •  Matt Barnes  Lakers  1980 
  •  Lamar Odom Lakers  1979 
  •  Baron Davis  Cavs 1979 
  •  Corey Maggette Charlotte 1979 
  •  Dirk Nowitzki Mavs 1978 
  •  Kobe Bryant Lakers 1978 
  •  Chris Andersen  Nuggets  1978 
  •  Shawn Marion Mavs 1978 
  •  Manu Ginobili Spurs 1977 
  •  Paul Pierce Celtics 1977 
  •  Tim Duncan  Spurs  1976 
  •  Kevin Garnett Celtics 1976 
  •  Brad Miller Wolves   1976 
  •  Chauncey Billups Knicks  1976 
  •  Andre Miller  Nuggets   1976 
  •  Ray Allen Celtics 1975 
  •  Steve Nash  Suns 1974 
  •  Marcus Camby  Blazers 1974  
In looking at the list - one trend that is clear is that the majority, 65.4% in fact, are players that would be classified as "freshman or sophomores". These players are 29 years old or younger. The juniors and seniors (players aged 30 and older) represent only 34.6% of the list. 

Ray Allen takes care of himself. 
The three oldest players on the list are three guys that either don't carry a lot of weight on their frame, or are known as consummate professionals that take care of their bodies. Camby, Nash, and Ray Allen are the only players ranked in the top 15 by efficiency at their respective positions that were born in 1975 or earlier. Since "Father Time" is undefeated - our list and a little common sense says that the end of the road may be closer for the four players born in 1976 that seem to have less pep in their step these days than the aforementioned Camby, Nash, and Allen. Those born in `76 include Brad Miller, Chauncey Billups, Andre Miller, and Tim Duncan. 

Where youth is concerned - the Oklahoma City Thunder are the only team with three, top-15 (efficiency at their position) players.  This data supports the overflow of media attention for the Thunder as the "team of the future". Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden are the talented trio.

Teams that have an efficient duo in the "freshman" category include: the Clippers with Blake Griffin, and Eric Gordon, the Wolves with Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, the Kings with Tyreke Evans, and Marcus Thornton,  the Warriors with Steph Curry and Reggie Williams, and the Sixers with Thaddeus Young and Marreese Speights. 

LeBron was born in 1984. He should still be ascending. 
The largest group is the "sophomores" with 26 players. These guys - born between 1982 and 1985 are between the age of 25-29 years old. These players are established in the NBA and all should be approaching their prime. Portland is the only team with more than two players in the group. Their trio of LaMarcus Aldridge, Raymond Felton, and Gerald Wallace makes for a solid established core. Other teams have dynamic duos that fall into this age group. Miami has LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade. The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. The Warriors can boast Monta Ellis and David Lee. Utah has talented BIG's in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Denver's J.R. Smith and Nene are in there too. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Casspi out. Hickson in. Kings improve but still have questions.

"Crispy Crusty", as one caller called him,
brings energy and transition finishing skills. 
The Sacramento Kings were busy up to the NBA lockout deadline with a last day trade of Omri Casspi and a conditional first round pick to Cleveland for J.J. Hickson. I like the deal. I'm sorry to see Casspi go but I too would have pulled the trigger on this trade. Hickson is younger (22), more efficient, and higher ranked at his position than Casspi (23). But this is not to say that I think Casspi won't be a legit player in the NBA.

I believe with extended minutes - which he should get in Cavs-land, Casspi will become a more efficient player. To achieve that however - Casspi must become better at sharing the ball. He is passionate and energetic, and very self-confident. He moves well without the ball, and he reacts quickly, playing at NBA speed. On the other hand, Casspi needs to have more confidence in his teammates (and coaches).

In my opinion Casspi WAS justified in thinking he should be playing more while with the Kings. The inefficient Donte Greene ate into Casspi's minutes, particularly late in the season. Casspi only appeared in three April games - averaging not even five minutes per contest.

Hickson shows promise as a young BIG that, had he stayed in college, would have just completed his Senior season. Instead - he will have three years in the NBA under his belt whenever there is NBA action again. Hickson has excellent hands, a strong base, and enough athleticism to get rebounds outside his area. He can also score on the low-block; absorbing hits and powering though. Hickson has improved his assist-to-turnover ratio in each of three NBA seasons but, in my opinion, decision making is still his biggest weakness. His 67% free throw percentage could obviously improve as well.

Hickson is a Power Forward.
I've heard that Sacramento may play Hickson some at Center which I am not sold on. In my book - Hickson is strictly a classic Power Forward. He can block some shots but he is not an NBA caliber rim defender. He would be giving up too much size on a consistent basis playing the FIVE.  Honestly - Sac still needs to sign a defensive presence down low if Samuel Dalembert is not returning (and most guesses are that he is not). I don't think you can expect Hassan Whiteside to go from being a non-factor to suddenly being a rotation player.

In case you were wondering - by efficiency rating the Kings BIG's break down in this order based on their play in the 2010-11 regular season: DeMarcus Cousins .534, Hickson .529, Jason Thompson .478, Darnell Jackson .385 (yuck).

The John Salmons deal probably helps the Kings in one way. Defensively. Salmons actually is not even as efficient as Casspi or Francisco Garcia. But Salmons certainly moves his feet one-on-one more quickly than Garcia. I've often thought Garcia has been unfairly described as a poor defender. True - his initial foot movement is not top-tier. But Garcia recovers as well as any wing player. He has uncanny timing and an ability to 'dig back' and get his fingertips on many balls. Garcia has averaged 45 blocked shots per season (including 09-10 when he played just 25 games). Tyler Honeycutt, a Kings second round draft pick from UCLA, is as good or better than Garcia in the shot blocking area.

Greene is ONE with Kings fans. 
Back to Salmons, the unspoken benefit of his return could be if he takes whatever minutes Greene was getting. That is, if Greene continues to ignore his own obvious gifts of size versus the rest of the NBA Small Forward talent pool. Greene has to learn to take his game inside-out rather than outside-in. He had mismatches and size advantages throughout last season but rarely, if ever, hurt shorter defenders in the mid-post.

Despite Greene's ability to accept a defensive challenge - the truth is he wounded the Kings on many nights with poor shots. To be specific - Greene needs to turn down some of the three-point shots he jacks in favor of getting a closer look at the hoop. To do that - he will need to improve his ball-handling ability and come up with a few basic low post moves. This past season he had more turnovers than assists which is a now a career theme. We are three years into Donte Greene the NBA player and he is at 32% from three-point range. He seems to shoot it well enough from the corners but from straightaway he struggles.

While I am critical of Greene - he is also one of my favorite players in the NBA. He genuinely connects to the fans. His borderline O.C.D. pre-game routines are pure entertainment. He cheers for his teammates as much as any guy since M.L. Carr.  And I still believe when I look at Greene's mobility on a 6'11" frame - that he can raise his efficiency and become the player that so many envisioned he would be. He has the tools.

Sacramento's Small Forward efficiency looks like this: (based on the 2010-11 regular season): Garcia .390 (41st at SF in the NBA), Salmons .366 (41st at Shooting Guard), Greene .301 (67th at SF). ...Honeycutt is another possibility.

Evans is proof that playing Point Guard doesn't mean you
ARE a Point Guard. 
Some may say - why not run Tyreke Evans as a Small Forward? The answer is simple to me. He doesn't shoot the three-ball well enough to honestly stretch defenses. Evans is at 27% for his NBA career from beyond the arc. Even though Evans is listed at 6'6" - which is small for a SF, he has a standing reach of 8'8" which would put him solidly in the SF pool. (Garcia's standing reach is an inch shorter than Evans').

So Tyreke would be best served as a Shooting Guard. He can play Point Guard. He may not be the pass-first, all-sharing Point Guard that everyone wants but his 1.83 to 1 career assist-to-turnover ratio is not horrible either. It just isn't in the range of guys you would call "pure Point Guards". For example - if you don't know this stuff off the top of your head - here are the assist-to-turnover ratios for ten really good Point Guards on teams that win:
The assist-to-turnover king is CP3

  • Chris Paul 4.42 to 1
  • Rajon Rondo 3.25 to 1
  • Kyle Lowry 3.16 to 1
  • Andre Miller 2.87 to 1
  • Raymond Felton 2.77 to 1
  • Ty Lawson 2.75 to 1
  • Tony Parker 2.57 to 1
  • Chauncey Billups 2.42 to 1
  • Derrick Rose 2.24 to 1
  • Russell Westbrook 2.12 to 1
(Again Evans is at 1.83 to 1.)

The point of all this is that the Kings are headed into a season (whenever that is) with Evans, Marcus Thornton (also a TWO), and draft pick Jimmer Fredette as the guards that figure to play the most. Fredette's highest assist-to-turnover ratio ever at BYU was 1.71 to 1. Last season it was a very non Point Guard like 1.22 to 1. It is undeniable that Fredette has a great chance to raise his assist-to-turnover ratio playing with NBA caliber finishers. But it is also a bit of a gamble to think you can win in the NBA with a three-guard rotation of all TWO guards. 

A couple of players that don't figure to get major minutes are Pooh Jeter and Isaiah Thomas. Jeter boasts "real Point Guard" numbers at 3.18 to 1. Isaiah Thomas had his best season in three years at Washington in 2010-11 with a 2.05 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2012 NBA Draft - first look.

Anthony Davis is our projected #1 pick

In our first 2012 NBA Draft post a few things jump off the pages. North Carolina and Kentucky players comprise seven of the first dozen listed (if everyone came out). ...Think about that! The Tar Heels have six guys that, in our estimation, are potential NBA Draft picks. Kentucky is not far behind with four of the top 60 - including our projected number one pick - Anthony Davis

Other teams with more than one player in our top 60 include Vanderbilt (3), Ohio State (3), Connecticut (2), Missouri (2), Alabama (2), Washington (2), Gonzaga (2), and Villanova (2). ...Brazil, Serbia and France are countries with two players in the top-60. 

Players outisde the "power-six" conferences that are in our top-60 include this group to be aware of: Tony Mitchell - North Texas, Wendell McKines - New Mexico St., Elias Harris - Gonzaga, Chris Gaston - Fordham, Arsalan Kazemi - Rice, Eli Holman - Detroit, C.J. McCollum - Lehigh, and Sam Dower - Gonzaga. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Do over! 2006 NBA Draft was a mess.

Adam Morrison went 3rd in 2006. Uh-roh!
I remain steadfast in my resolve that one cannot judge the NBA Draft one day after it takes place. Obviously - I have my own opinions about who did a good job yesterday - but at this stage - nothing has been proven. It makes more sense to me to do what I have done for years - which is to examine the draft that took place five years ago.

Let's do it! Below is our 2006 NBA Draft re-do order five years later. In parenthesis will be the position the player was actually picked.

  1. Rajon Rondo (21)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (2)
  3. Rudy Gay (8)
  4. Andrea Bargnani (1)
  5. Brandon Roy (6)
  6. Paul Millsap (47)
  7. Kyle Lowry (24)
  8. Tyrus Thomas (4)
  9. Daniel Gibson (42)
  10. Ronnie Brewer (14)
  11. Thabo Sefolosha (13)
  12. Shawne Williams (17)
  13. Shannon Brown (25)
  14. Jordan Farmar (26)
  15. J.J. Redick (11)
  16. Craig Smith (36)
  17. Randy Foye (7)
  18. Ryan Hollins (50)
  19. Leon Powe (49)
  20. Shelden Williams (5)
  21. Hilton Armstrong (12)
  22. Renaldo Balkman (20)
  23. Steve Novak (32)
  24. Solomon Jones (33)
Oleksiy Pecherov was not the next Dirk. 
It is interesting to note that we can only come up with 24 players that are still getting playing time in the NBA. In hindsight - the worst pick of the draft was Adam Morrison going third to the Charlotte Bobcats. But the entire first round is littered with poor choices. All these guys were actually selected in round one: Patrick O'Bryant, Mohammed Sene, Cedric Simmons, Oleksiy Pecherov, Quincy Douby, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Sergio Rodriguez, Maurice Ager, Mardy Collins, and Joel Freeland. The preceding list shows that over one-third of the players picked in the 2006 NBA Draft first round were busts. 

The order of our re-do is certainly debatable. Debate away. I felt like there were three possible choices at number one in this re-do. I chose Rajon Rondo over LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. Roy could be viewed as the player who has accomplished the most individually. But Roy's knees have failed him and he is clearly descending as a player. So Rondo vs. Aldridge is a matter of personal preference and I chose Rondo because he ranked 10th in Point Guard efficiency while Aldridge was 16th at his position (Power Forward). 

Going up! Shawne Williams is still maturing. 
There are seven players from the 2006 draft that would represent the "top-shelf": Rondo, Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Andrea Bargnani, Roy, Kyle Lowry and Paul Millsap. After that - things get decidedly less attractive but there are players that can still have a bigger impact than they have had to date. Shawne Williams is listed 12th because he is clearly still ascending in his career. He rated 28th in Small Forward efficiency in 2010-11 while playing a career-high amount of minutes. 

The lesson is that not every draft produces great NBA players. Even high lottery picks can and will fail. Accept it. Know it. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Average size of an NBA starter?

On April 8, 2011 we charted the listed sizes for every player that started on a 12-game night in the NBA. Now that the NBA Draft is just four days away - I wanted to go back and review what is TRULY the average size at each position. After each position's average size I will list those in my top 115 that are equal to or bigger than the average height AND weight at their positions.

Reggie Jackson has the required size at his position.
Point Guards: Average was 6'2", 190 lbs. Smallest starter was 5'11", and tallest was 6'8". The lowest weight was 160 lbs., and the heaviest was 223 lbs.

Point Guard prospects that meet both height and weight averages: Jimmer Fredette, Iman Shumpert, Reggie Jackson, DeMetri McCamey, Brad Wanamaker, Shelvin Mack, Ben Hansbrough, E'Twaun Moore, Darius Morris, Mark Payne, Blake Hoffarber. (I don't consider Malcolm Lee a PG.)

Shooting Guards: Average size was 6'6", 211 lbs. Smallest starter was 6'3", and tallest was 6'9". The lowest weight was 188 lbs., and the heaviest was 240 lbs.

Prospects that meet both height and weight averages: Jamine Peterson, Damian Saunders, Mario Little, Gilbert Brown, and D.J. Kennedy.

Small Forwards: Average size was 6'8", 224 lbs. Smallest starter was 6'5", and tallest was 6'10". The lowest weight was 195 lbs., and the heaviest was 260 lbs.

Prospects that meet both height and weight averages: Derrick Williams, Chris Singleton, Kyle Singler, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Justin Harper, Billy White, and Justin Safford.

Biyombo can play PF or C.
Power Forwards: Average size was 6'10", 245 lbs. Smallest starter was 6'7" and tallest was 7'0". The lowest weight was 220 lbs., and the heaviest was 270 lbs.

Prospects that meet both height and weight averages: Enes Kanter, Bismack Biyombo, and Rick Jackson.

Centers: Average size was 6'11", 253 lbs. Smallest starter was 6'7" and tallest was 7'3". The lowest weight was 215 lbs., and the heaviest was 285 lbs.

Prospects that meet both height and weight averages: Nikola Vucevic, Giorgi Shermadini, and Jeremy Tyler.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Selby a gamble, Nolan Smith a possibility.

Saunders is being slept on in our opinion. 
Damian Saunders of Duquesne brings a considerable amount of talent to the court. He is a right handed wing player (6'8" 215 lb.) that can score and defend well one on one. He was the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year as a junior. ...Team defense may take patience with Saunders because he gambles and digs for steals all the time. That said, he is VERY good at stealing the ball from his man. He has quick AND strong hands.  ...He recovers quickly. ...Not a good three point shooter by percentage (.304 career) but he will still jack threes. He is very good at getting to the hoop. He has some of that Tyreke Evans ability to get to the rim. He can finish with his left hand. ...Has the body of a SG. ...Capable of an acrobatic finish in transition (measured 36" vertical at Chicago Pre-Draft Combine - ...Poor shot selection. ...I'm of the opinion that Saunders overall skill set is being wildly underrated. I think he would be a steal in the second round.

Selby is athletic but low hoop IQ
Josh Selby was just shy of horrible at Kansas this past season. the 6'3" 195 lb. freshman guard shot only 37% FG and looked out of place on a team that moved the ball so well when he was not on the floor. However - Selby is a player. His gifts include quickness, leaping ability, and an aggressive nature. He is a right handed guard that can really score. He is quick and can take his man off the dribble. His three-ball looks pure. A lone bright spot at Kansas for Selby was a solid .362 percentage from beyond the college arc. ...He makes plays at NBA speed. ...Offensively, he is not a Point Guard. He had 63 assists and 60 turnovers in the numbers I could dig up for him in all of his games in the last year. He certainly has the quickness to guard opposing PG's. ...73% FT. ...A 2010 McDonald's All-American that also played in the Jordan Brand Classic. In fairness to Selby - he joined the K.U. team after missing the first nine games of the season (suspended for improper benefits). That can be tough to come in and suddenly just fit in. On the other hand - a player with a higher basketball IQ would have done a much better job than Selby did. ...I view him as a risky pick that could possibly be a huge reward. But in this case - I would let someone else gamble on him. I just don't see an 'overall type of player' (including off-the-court) that I would select.

Nolan Smith keeps improving. 
Nolan Smith dramatically improved since his freshman season. He became a confident leader at Duke and was named the ACC Player of the Year as a Senior. He led the conference in scoring at 20.6 points per game. ...He can score in a variety of ways. He is best at driving into the paint after a little hesitation dribble he uses. He is athletic enough to finish at the rim. ...He can hit a three-point shot (35% as a Senior). ...Had a career free throw percentage of .800. ...Smart player that uses screens well, and plays with poise and patience most of the time. His career assist-to-turnover ratio was 1.66 to 1. ...He participated with the USA Basketball Men's College Select Team in 2010. The Select Team trained with the U.S. Men's Senior National Team in Las Vegas and New York in preparation for the 2010 World Championship. ...As a high school senior, Smith averaged 22.1 ppg., 4.6 rpg., 4.1 apg. and 3.2 spg. to help Oak Hill to a 40-1 record, tying the school’s all-time season high for wins, and a final No. 1 spot in the USA Today 2007 Super 25 national rankings. ...Son of the late Derek Smith.

Hazell is already 25 years old but he could help. 
Jeremy Hazell is a 6'5", 185 lb. scoring guard that can get hot and hit shots of all varieties. He was among the handful of players I watched that I thought had an unquestionable NBA game. What I mean by that is that the things I saw Hazell do at Seton Hall were all moves that would also fly in an NBA contest. …He is athletic, he has deep, deep range on his jump shot and he showed signs of "clutchness". He averaged 19.8 points per game this season. …Great body control and great speed. …Quick to shoot. …Has coast-to-coast ability. …Finishes at the rim. …Has enough of a handle to create for himself. ...75% free throw shooter (career). ..Finds a way to score. ...On the downside, Hazell is a volume shooter that made only 42% of his career field goal attempts. He also had more turnovers than assists and he is already 25 years old. ...Hazell was robbed and shot in December 2010. Read this story.

Jackson is a good defensive BIG
Rick Jackson is a BIG with good hands that blocked 2.5 shots per game this season on his way to being named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. While the guards on his team hog the spotlight - Jackson is in the back doing the dirty work and doing it well. …A lefty, standing 6'10" and weighing in at 246 lbs., Jackson rebounds well, and recovers quickly defensively. He rebounded in traffic as well as any BIG in the college game. …Controlled tips of the ball at the rim are a specialty for Jackson. He has a nice drop step half-hook that he uses to score effectively in the low post. …He shot 59% FG for his career with the Orange. ...This season, Jackson averaged 13 points and 10.6 boards per outing. ...What he does not do well is shoot free throws. Jackson is a putrid 51% for his career. He also had more turnovers than assists.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I don't hate Klay Thompson. Plus Tyler, Leslie, and Reggie Jackson profiles

It's not hating to say he's not Reggie Miller.
No player has more "buzz" right now than Klay Thompson. He can shoot the ball and has good size (6'7", 206) for a projected NBA Shooting Guard. Thompson was All Pac-10 Conference First Team in 2010-11 where he led Washington State and the Pac-10 and ranked 11th in the nation in scoring (21.6 ppg). Thompson can shoot it. He uses screens well and he squares himself to the hoop in all situations. He does his damage from the perimeter. He is not very good at creating his own shot, and he lacks the elite athleticism that many NBA SG's possess. He shot just 42% FG for his three years as a Cougar.

He reminds me of a less-quick version of Kevin Martin. Thompson is the son of former L.A. Lakers big man Mychal Thompson. ...Can Klay Thompson play in the NBA? Absolutely. But I've read where he is being compared to Reggie Miller and that is just silly. There is a difference between good, very good, and great. Klay Thompson's 3-pt percentage, this season was 39% (good) but not the 44% (great) that Miller's was at UCLA. Miller shot 54% FG (GREAT!) as a Bruin. Thompson's, as we mentioned, is 42% (not very good). Miller, as a junior, averaged 25.9 ppg. (very good). Thompson was 21.6 as a junior (good). ...I think Klay Thompson can be a good starter in the NBA sometime - but I don't foresee stardom.

I like Travis Leslie.  Leslie in an ELITE athlete. His .550 Efficiency Rating translates very well as a Shooting Guard. The problem is - he is not known as a good shooter at this stage. However - he does shoot 80% from the foul line - so there is hope for his perimeter game. He rebounds like a forward (7.2 rpg) and he does a number of things well enough that if he develops the way Shannon Brown has - you could be looking at a guy capable of being in the top-five at his position down the road. ...Right handed. He is quick and gets steals at a high rate. …Slasher. Gets to the hoop and scores. He averaged 14 points per game last season. He has decent vision - and will drop a nifty backdoor assist. He dished three dimes per game as a junior at Georgia. …He is great in the open court. …He can knock down a mid-range jump shot. However - from deep, his percentages are low (33% 3-pt. career).

Tyler is high risk, potential high reward.
Among the biggest risks in the 2011 NBA Draft is BIG Jeremy Tyler. Tyler is a kid that got some questionable advice and went from high school, after his JUNIOR year, to Europe to be a pro. He spent his first pro season in Israel where he played just 10 games, averaging only two points in seven minutes per game. He quit the team and headed home to San Diego. He spent the 2010-11 season in Japan where he played well and showed signs of becoming a mature man. ...The sample size of data isn't huge on Tyler and although he WAS efficient - you have to consider that he was playing in Japan - which is not the highest level by any means. ...On the court - he has the sought after combo of great length and good athletic ability. Unfortunately - that is really all he gets by on at this stage. This season, for example, he had 18 assists and 83 turnovers. Yuck. And he shot 47% from the free throw line.  ...In 33 games, he averaged 9.9 points on 51.7% shooting and 6.4 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game. Does he have upside? Yes. Does he have a LONG way to go to get there? Yes!!

Reggie Jackson is a guard with good speed and scoring ability. He averaged 18.2 points per game to go with a rock solid 4.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per contest. He has impressed me as kid that can compete in the NBA. He can really turn the corner. He finishes plays but he also can shoot it deep. He improved his three point percentage to .420 this season. …Has ability to feed the post well. …Alert as a help defender. Right handed. …Will sometimes try to do too much but he improved his assist-to-turnover ratio while increasing his scoring each season at Boston College.  He also shot a better free throw percentage with each successive season at BC (75% FT for his three year career). It seems clear to me - that Jackson is still improving and he has the size (6'3") to be an effective NBA Point Guard with scoring ability.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Harris rises on big boards. ...Profiles on Willis, White, Thomas, & Hoffarber

Harris is a safe pick.
As a freshman Tobias Harris averaged over 15 points and seven rebounds per game at Tennessee. ...Harris is a right handed forward that has a knack for being in the right position. He is presently more of a FOUR than a THREE. I say this because he shot just 30% from beyond the college arc, and because he had more turnovers than assists. ...He also has a large backside that may keep him from being able to defend SF's in the NBA. ...He gets traffic rebounds. He uses his off-hand well. …He has a post-game but he also has the ability to handle the ball a bit and go "coast-to-coast". ...Composed. ...Was a McDonald's All-American. …Suffered a broken foot in Spring 2010 during the McDonald's game. ...High school: 2009-10 New York’s Mr. Basketball. His grandfather is a Lt. Col. ...Cousin of Channing Frye.

It appears that Tre'Von Willis is getting no love from any NBA teams. I have not seen his name associated with any workouts. That's too bad. I believe Willis is worth a look. He is a right handed guard that knows how to play. I wish he was bigger and quicker but he finds a way to be efficient. He was injured and then suspended from his UNLV team for a misdemeanor domestic dispute arrest. …Willis brings it. He is unselfish - which is seldom said of a team's leading scorer. Willis averaged 13.2 points per game as a Senior for the Runnin' Rebels. He also contributed 3.5 rebounds per game, while dishing 3.6 assists per contest. ...He raised his assist-to-turnover ratio in each season at UNLV.  Willis had minor knee surgery in early August 2010.

White likes to wolf.
Billy White is an NBA athlete that shot 60% FG for his career at San Diego State. He struggles with his perimeter shooting for a Small Forward. he shot 34% from beyond the college arc this season but he only attempt 24 3-point shots. ...He is an outstanding defender that talks a little trash and plays with a swagger. …He runs well and can finish in transition. …Left handed. …Reacts quickly. …Can be out of control on offense. He averaged 10 points, 4 rebounds and 1.6 assists on a good San Diego State team.

Malcolm Thomas has a quickness advantage over most Power Forwards he faces. He averaged 11 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocked shots per game this season past for San Diego State. …Thomas has long arms (his standing reach is 8' 11.5" - He shot a solid 53.6% FG in 2010-11. …He has good vision despite having more career turnovers than assists at SDSU. ...He runs the floor well and is a good offensive rebounder. He will rebound in traffic. ...Can draw fouls in the mid-post. ...Right handed. ...He is only a 58% free throw shooter for his career.

Is Hoffarber athletic enough?
Blake Hoffarber is a three-point shooter that also can pass the ball well. He averaged 13.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game as a Minnesota Senior. He has outstanding vision, and he reads defenses well. …Left handed. 80% free throw shooter (career) - but he rarely gets to the line. ...Minnesota’s career record holder for three-point field goals with 279. ...He has a quick release on his shot. He shot just 44% FG for his career at Minnesota. ...Smart kid that was a 2011 Academic All-American. 2007 Mr. Basketball in Minnesota.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Get to know the name Mindaugas Kuzminskas

Kuzminskas is underrated.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas is a late bloomer that never was a part of the Lithuanian National Basketball teams. However he was named the 2010 MVP of the Lithuanian league. Kuzminskas has improved rapidly to become a possible draft pick. He shoots the ball decently at 6'10" and has enough dribbling skill to play point forward at times. He looks to score but not so much that he forgets his teammates. …A smart kid that seems to understand the game. He has more assists than turnovers. ...He has struggled with the three point shot this season - hitting only .295 from beyond the arc. ...He has a low post game. Right handed. ...Needs to be stronger but he plays hard (at least on offense). 70% free throw shooter. ...Needs to become a better defender. His hands to be to be stronger. ...I like Kuzminskas. I think he would be worth drafting just to see how he develops in Europe. If he continues to progress - he is on path to be an NBA player.

No European player is hyped more than Jan Vesely. Vesely is an active, athletic forward that is more of a THREE defensively but more of a FOUR on offense. He really runs well and is known for highlight reel dunks in transition. However, Vesely simply does not shoot the ball well enough at this stage of his career to a consistent outside threat. He is at .322 for his three-point shooting this season (for all the attempts we could find). He struggles at the free-throw line to say the least. his 47% from the charity stripe is scary bad. ...He is a poor defensive rebounder - which is why I don't like him as a PF. He is an inconsistent shooter - which keeps me from being wild about him as a SF. Really - he will have to find a niche as an energy guy that you don't run plays for. In that sense - how is Vesely much different from Omri Casspi? ...Casspi is a nice player - but was he a lottery pick? Would he be a lottery pick in this draft? ...Vesely does have more assists than turnovers (barely). ...He plays hard and with passion - and he has room to grow - given that he is only 21 years old. It's not that I don't like Vesely. I just don't see him as a top-ten pick.

JaJuan Johnson is a BIG that can score.
JaJuan Johnson, of Purdue, is long (7'2" wingspan, 8',11.5" standing reach - and he has a growing set of offensive skills. ...He is a quick jumper and he blocks shots at a high rate.  He can score. His face-up game is as nice or better than any other BIG in this draft. ...He is a good athlete with good speed. …He has a fairly consistent jump hook. He finishes around the rim. ...Right handed. ...His length allows him to make plays others simply cannot make. …Hits the offensive glass. …Gathers himself under control. ...Johnson had almost two turnovers for every assist.  ...Needs to add strength. ...Played with the USA Select team.

Justin Harper is a guy that improved during his college career at Richmond. His points, rebounds, and assists per game all increased in each of his four seasons. By his Senior year - he was nailing the 3-pt. shot at 45%! ...If a team is drafting Justin Harper - thinking he will be an inside power player - I think they will be sadly mistaken. But Harper can thrive -  if from day one - a team runs him at Small Forward - where he suddenly becomes a match-up nightmare as a guy that can shoot it deep or simply shoot over smaller defenders in the mid-post. ...Harper has way to go as far as being a "wing". He had more turnovers than assists in his career at Richmond. ...I'd like to see him get himself to the free throw line more often as well.

Nikola Vucevic has lots of potential due to a high skill level and his pride. He posted 17.1 points per game and 10.3 rebounds last season at USC, and then carried that momentum into the NBA Draft Combine where he measured in at a full 6' 11.5" and 260 lbs., with a 7'4.5" wingspan and only 6% body fat ( He is a right handed BIG that grew up around basketball - with both of parents being professional players in Europe. He can score on the low block with his back to the basket. He has a variety of moves. His face-up game is also nice - stretching all the way to the three point line. He has shown the skill to make passes out of a double team but at the end of the day - he has significantly more turnovers than assists for his USC career. Vucevic is not as efficient as he could be due to a habit of drifting on the perimeter as opposed to using his big frame down low. ...He could be a better rebounder.

Dayton's Chris Wright is a sick, above-the-rim, athlete!
Chris Wright from Dayton is an NBA athlete without question. He can guard Small Forwards but his offensive game is more about transition scoring and offensive rebounding. He lacks a consistent perimeter stroke (only 22% from three-point range). ...Right handed and limited in using his left. ...Rebounds in traffic. ...He can make a play off the dribble. ...He excels in transition where his speed and strength is on display. ...He's a high riser that blocks shots. ...Good frame. There is lots to like in Chris Wright - especially if he ever can become a better shooter. Right now though - he is just a 66% FT shooter, and he is turnover prone with more than two turnovers for every assist (career).

Durell Summers is athlete that is just scratching the surface of what I believe he is capable of. He is strong and athletic with the ability to make a hard drive and finish in traffic. He moves without the ball - and is most comfortable as a catch and shoot guy. Good hands. He struggled in his Senior season - averaging just 11 points (on 38% FG shooting) and four rebounds per game for an under-achieving Michigan St. group. ...He could really improve his efficiency by getting to the free throw line more often, and by turning down some of the quick threes that he jacks. ...Named Michigan State's Most Improved Player as a sophomore.

Ben Hansbrough is a determined and skilled Point Guard that holds his teammates accountable and plays hard - the way you wish every kid would play. He is not going to beat his man off the dribble very often so he relies on his smarts. He takes good shots. He can really shoot the three-ball. He made a fantastic .43.5% of his three-pointers this season. ...Averaged 18 points, four  rebounds, and four assists as a SR.  ...He takes charges. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.87:1 (career). He helps as a rebounding guard. 78% FT (career). ...He is the brother of Tyler Hansbrough. He is one year older than the rest of the draft class. He played his first two years of college ball at Mississippi State before sitting out all of 2008-09. He played his final two years of eligibility at Notre Dame.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kemba is winner. Plus - Thompson, Dunn, Hurtt & Balbay

Kemba "All I Do Is Win!" Walker
Kemba Walker was the biggest reason that Connecticut won the NCAA Championship. He is a small guard with the ability to create his own shot due to his fabulous footwork. He owns a 39.5" max. vert. (, and has great speed, and ball-handling skill. …Not afraid to go to the hole. …He competes. …Stays in plays defensively. …Crafty. Good in transition. …Can make a play one on one in crunch time. ...He has a nice stroke that is consistent and reliable. ...Quick hands. ...Alert. He will be among the steals leaders wherever he plays. ...He uses his off hand well (left). …Willing to accept a challenge. ...From the Bronx, NY.

Walker played for the USA Basketball Select team that practiced against the USA Men's senior National Team in the Summer of 2010. The concern with Kemba is his overall field goal percentage for his career at U-Conn. He shot just .428. And his three-point shooting could only be called "acceptable" at .330 this season. His 1.78:1 assist-to-turnover ratio is also just "okay" for a Point Guard. ...Despite any concern, I like Kemba Walker. He is a winner.

I see some Yogi Stewart in Tristan Thompson's game. 
Tristan Thompson is a player I am having a hard time trying to visualize in five years. Is he a special BIG or is he such a bad shooter that he will never develop? The Canadian that balled at Texas this season is a mobile lefty BIG that has a real ability to maintain his focus and follow through when converting shots around the hoop. ...Great length. His standing reach is over nine feet! He will dunk anything close to the rim. He's a good offensive rebounder that will dunk in traffic. ...He understands how to seal his man and get good position in the low post but his post moves are a work in progress. ...He can finish in transition. He was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team as a freshman. …The issue with Thompson's game right now is his horrid fee throw shooting. He also has more turnovers than assists. ...McDonald's High School All-American that transferred away from St Benedict's where he was said to have clashed with Dan Hurley. He wound up at Findley Prep and led that team to the high school "national championship". ...The upside here is tremendous.

I soured on LaceDarius Dunn this season but does that mean he should be totally disregarded?

Dunn is too good a scorer to be dismissed.
LaceDarius Dunn is a shooting Guard that finished his career at Baylor as the all-time leading scorer in Big 12 history! He really came alive in the N.I.T. Tournament at the close of the 2008-09 season. He is a scorer that does have a questionable shot selection but he also makes things happen with his aggressiveness. This season he averaged 19 points, four rebounds and two assists per game. In a "down" year for Dunn as a Senior his percentages were still better than most SG prospects. He shot .398 from beyond the arc, and .826 at the line. ...He is good at splitting a double team with his dribble. He is an  excellent shooter. Right handed. ...He has good speed. ...He will get a technical foul now and again. ...A red flag on Dunn's resume was that he was suspended for the first three games of 2010-11 due to an arrest for aggravated assault stemming from a domestic incident. ...Dunn reacts quickly and sometimes gets by on his athleticism as opposed to moving without the ball. ... I also think he could be more alert as a defender. ...Overall though - I like Dunn as a big shot taker and maker - and in the current landscape of NBA SG's where Tony Allen and J.R. Smith rank among the top-ten in efficiency - I don't think you can overlook Dunn. ...In high school: Led Excelsior Christian School (Monroe, La.) to 118-9 record and one state championship over final three prep seasons.

Justin Hurtt will be among those working out in Sacramento Monday. The Tulsa Senior is a lefty, high-riser that became a better shooter as his career progressed. He shot between 36% and 39% from three-point range during his last three seasons. He is a 80% free throw shooter. However - Hurtt is another guard that has more turnovers than assists (career), and shoots a low field goal percentage (42%). …He is a good athlete; he won a Kansas City All-Star slam dunk contest after his high school Senior season.  ...Check out this video to get a better idea about Hurtt's hops.

Dogus Balbay from Turkey earned some love in several articles about day one of the Adidas EuroCamp. He played at Texas for three seasons and convinced us he is a real point guard that defends well, and finds the open-man with consistency. In each of his three seasons as a Longhorn he had a better than two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio. His problem is that he just isn't much of a scoring threat at all. He ever averaged more than four points per game a Texas. That said, there is no doubt that Balbay can run a team, and provide leadership by example. He doesn't take plays off. ...But the NBA is the NBA and a Point Guard needs to be able to light up the scoreboard more than four points per game.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is Jimmy the real deal? We say - YES!

Butler will be a PR staff's dream
Jimmy Butler from Marquette is a player that I really enjoyed watching. His coach (Buzz Williams) called him the hardest working kid he's ever coached. Butler is a late bloomer that improved by leaps and bounds since starting his collegiate career at a Junior College. …He rarely takes a bad shot - which is reflected in his career 51% FG shooting. ...He is smart - with a 1.63:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. ...He is a good athlete with hang-time in his jumping ability (measured 39" max. vert. at Chicago combine.) ...Butler averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game in 2010-11. His three-point shooting ability is a key part of his evolving game. He doesn't shoot a high volume of threes but he makes 39% of them (career). ...There are no red-flags with Butler. I think he is among the safest picks in the draft. I have him ranked higher than any other draft site I've seen.

Xavier Silas will have worked out for ten NBA teams by the time the NBA Draft rolls around on June 23rd. ...He played his freshman season at Colorado before transferring to Northern Illinois. As a Senior he averaged 22 points per game. He is a 6'5" Shooting Guard that improved his outside shooting to the point where he hit the three-ball at 41% in 2010-11. …80% FT (career). …Unfortunately - he has way more turnovers than assists - so he is NOT a Point Guard prospect. He CAN guard PG's but offensively he needs to improve dramatically as a distributor. ...Right-handed. ...He is in great physical condition. ...Confident. ...Silas is the son of James Silas who played six seasons in the NBA.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Outside the top 60, a couple intriguing prospects

Today we look at a half-dozen players that needed to be reevaluated...

Gilbert Brown is a great athlete that made strides as a shooter during his five-year career at Pittsburgh. …In 2007-08 he shot just 24% from 3-pt range but by the end of his Senior season (2010-11) he was up to a very good 42% from beyond the college arc. ...He also improved his assist-to-turnover ratio to a very respectable 1.51:1. ...He is an excellent offensive rebounder for his position and he also can defend. ...He is clearly improving and is also putting in the time to improve. He has been working out in Las Vegas at Impact Basketball Academy in preparation for the draft.

Leon Radosevic is a solid basketball player that seems to have an understanding of how to play the game. However - he lacks the athleticism and dynamic ability that most NBA players possess. He rarely takes a bad shot and that is a strength in his game. He shoots 54% FG. ...He struggles at the line at 67%. ...He does not shoot the long-ball at all. Radosevic recently signed a contract extension with Cibona through 2014.

Willie Reed played two seasons at St. Louis but sat out the 2010-11 campaign after being dismissed from the university following a sex scandal. He is a 6'9" shot blocker that struggles with any perimeter shooting. His free throw percentage for two years as a Billiken was a putrid 50 percent. He led the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage as a sophomore (.587). ...In high school - as a junior - Reed was ranked 32nd among forwards in the nation by the scouting service

Xavi Rabaseda can be seen on YouTube doing Rex Chapman-like reverse dunks but is his overall game ready for the NBA? Rabaseda is a good enough athlete but his skill level just is not there yet. He might be a guy worth drafting just to retain his rights because his ceiling is higher than most in Europe due to the bounce in his step. Rabaseda's low efficiency this season (.324 EFR) just does not translate to success at the NBA level. He shoots just 43% FG, and 69% FT. He has more turnovers than assists. …Right handed. ...He does demonstrate the ability as an athlete to compete in the league but so does Terrell Owens. Video of Rabaseda below:

Another under-the-radar player garnering looks from NBA teams is Chaisson Allen of Northeastern. Allen has size at 6'4" for a point guard but his overall efficiency is not high enough to warrant NBA consideration. He is not able to sufficiently create his own shot or get consistent penetration into the paint. He does shoot the three-ball well (38% as a Senior), and he does defend well too.

Joffrey Lauvergne worked out today for the Boston Celtics. The French product is a right handed PF that pursues the ball well. He shows promise for a 19 year-old kid but he lacks the hyper-athleticism needed to compete favorably against NBA BIGS. …I like his all-business demeanor on the floor and he has good timing and rebounding instincts. This season he is shooting only 64% from the line and he has more turnovers than assists.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Is Knight worthy of top-five talk? Plus Macvan, Djedovic reviews.

Will Milan Macvan be athletic enough
in 2015 to be in the NBA?
Milan Macvan was the MVP of the 2009 Hoop Summit. Ever since then I've wondered if he would ever sniff the NBA. Macvan is built like a Mack Truck. He is a powerful Forward with a shooting touch (over 80% from the line). In his impressive showing at the `09 Hoop Summit - he put up 23 points, grabbed 14 rebounded and handed out six assists. ...He has good hoop instincts. …He now plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv where he is under contract through 2014-15.  He has the skill but his athleticism is lacking and now he is in the the first six months of a five year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He is 21 years old now and any team thinking of selecting him should really consider whether or not you think he can still be reasonably athletic by the time he is 26.

Madman, ala Olberding, gets
nasty on dunk!
Mark Madsen comes to mind. The Mad Man actually had some terrific 'above the rim' moments, especially on the offensive glass, at Stanford. But barely two years later - Madsen looked every bit like the guy who aged too fast and could no longer finish inside.

...Peeked into Nihad Djedovic's game today and here is what I learned. With a solid frame, a quick release on his shot, and a low center of gravity with solid ball-handling skills - Nihad Djedovic is a European Shooting Guard worth being aware of. …He is right handed with an unorthodox jump shot (released low and in front of his eyes, but also done every quickly). ...Crafty. He plays the game with high energy and is very aggressive. This leads to a turnover problem (this season 58 assists, 83 turnovers) - which you never like to see from a Guard. ...Djedovic is worth a look though for sure. Check out this highlight package to get a feel for how he plays:

In closing - some food for thought. Brandon Knight was in Sacramento yesterday to work out. It is widely believed he will be gone by the time the Kings select at number seven in June 23rd's NBA Draft. I really have to question why Knight is being talked about as a lottery pick. Of course, with me, the issue for Knight is overall efficiency as it relates to others in this draft and those players already in the NBA. Knight simply did not demonstrate in his freshman season at Kentucky or at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit that he was dynamic enough to be so highly thought of.

Remember how most thought Jonny Flynn couldn't miss? How about Randy Foye, or Acie Law? All of those guys were selected inside the first eleven.

Is Knight dynamic enough to thrive in the
talent rich pool of NBA Point Guards?
Brandon Knight had some nice games down the stretch for Kentucky. He is smart, and he should get better. I get all that. But why is Knight really the only guy in the Draft right now where the science (or math or whatever you choose to call it) doesn't come close to justifying him being so highly ranked? He shot 42% FG in the SEC, and his assist-to-turnover numbers were okay only if he plays the TWO. As a Point Guard, Knight will really have to improve upon a 1.325 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He will also need to distribute more and not jack so many shots. He put up the rock over 500 times last season as a Wildcat. The Kings have plenty of shot-jacking at Guard already in Tyreke Evans, and Marcus Thornton. ...I'm not saying Knight can't be a good NBA player. I AM saying the landscape at Point Guard right now in the NBA is very tough, and Knight's historical numbers should be a lot better if he is to be talked about as a top-five pick.

On top of Knight being a bad value relative to his historical data - there is no shortage of Point Guards in this draft that may prove to be better if not just as good as Knight. Chris Wright of Georgetown (who may not even be drafted) is only two one thousandths of a percentage point lower in efficiency than Knight. Ben Hansbrough, Antoine Diot, Charles Jenkins, Reggie Jackson, Kemba Walker, and even BYU's Jackson Emery posted higher efficiency ratings than Knight did. Iman Shumpert - while not as efficient as Knight - has a bigger upside.

Again - this is just food for thought.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Prospecting - Can you dig it?

In honor of Shaquille O'Neal's retirement - we ask "Can you dig it?" That's what you have to do. DIG! If you want to really know about players that will be selected in the June 23rd NBA Draft, you have to spend the time, scour the loads of information available, watch as much video as possible, and look back on your notes from actually WATCHING full games. 

Shaq as Kazaam
I laughed out loud at a tweet on Draft Express where at the NBA Combine - an NBA Exec said, ""If you were watching Enes Kanter or Nikola Vucevic for the 1st time yesterday, close your eyes and pick one of them from 10-20." From DraftExpress.com
That immediately tells me - the NBA exec didn't really watch Vucevic play at USC. Vucevic is not in the same efficiency zip code as Kanter. Vucevic is a BIG that likes to drift on the perimeter - even though his massive frame says he should be posting up low. For lack of a better term - I always came away thinking Vucevic was "soft". ...One thing in Vucevic's defense that has to be considered is that he never played with an efficient Point Guard as a Trojan. Had he been playing with someone that looked for him more - he would have been more efficient. ...That said, I still think Kanter is BY FAR the better prospect.

Enes Kanter is a BIG 19 year-old that can run. He is powerful and fluid. This we know for sure. He dominated as a member of the International team at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit. Kanter blistered Team USA (and Jared Sullinger - now at Ohio St.) - with 34 points in just 24 minutes. He added 13 boards, and made eight of his nine free throw attempts. Unfortunately - that is the last game he played in - as he was ineligible at Kentucky for the 2010-11 season. However - if you dig a little you can find stats for Kanter's play in Turkey before the Hoop Summit. Those numbers reveal that he was just as dominant. I have him with over 900 minutes of action - posting an efficiency rating of .915. That is through the roof GREAT!  Can that efficiency translate to the NBA? If it does - you are talking about having an Al Horford type talent at Power Forward or Center. ...Kanter is VERY good around the hoop. His large frame allows him to get great position in the low-post - and he can use either hand. He is naturally right handed. His face-up game is advanced. His footwork is excellent for a 19 year-old. ...By all accounts, Kanter is a good kid and a hard worker with no red flags. Both of his parents are doctors. ...Please take the time (an ad will run before the video) to watch this footage of a recent Kanter workout: 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mirotic City - Talent among European players is strong.

In a draft that I feel is deep with future NBA players - albeit not rich in future All-Stars, I see value in two of the European players in particular. Perhaps it is simply because the commercial mock-draft sites are USA based - but it appears that most mocks are maligning European prospects when in fact many of these dudes can really play.

Let's start with Nikola Mirotic. He is a 6'10" Small Forward that at age 20 is playing for Real Madrid. He is under contract with the Spanish powerhouse until 2016. Because of his contract situation - I wouldn't swing for him in the first round - but if I were a GM with a contract of my own through 2016 - I would certainly gamble on him in the second round just to retain his rights. Mirotic has length (7'1" wingspan - Draft Express), and he can score and rebound at a high rate. He shoots the ball well (.505 FG%, .865 FT), and he moves with a fluidity that translates to the NBA game. Check out this video to see what I mean:

Next up is another Small Forward prospect from Germany by the name of Robin Benzing. This 22 year-old can really stretch the defense with his three point shooting ability. …He is a scorer. …Right handed. He is aggressive when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop. I like that. I also like that he gets to the free throw line at a high rate for a Small Forward. ...Benzing takes charges, and he competes. In my opinion, he is being underrated by nearly every mock draft board I've seen. ...His shortcomings include his passing and playmaking for teammates. Benzing has more turnovers than assists for all the stats I can dig up for him.

I am a fan of Adam Hanga from Hungary. He is a 6'7" Shooting Guard  that is athletic enough to blend in with the best athletes in the world that populate NBA floors. Hanga he has a nice combo of ball-handling and passing skill to go with solid size for his position. This season he dished 132 assists while only turning it over 72 times. 

I am not high on Pablo Aguilar, Chu Chu Maduabum or Pere Tomas. I'm lukewarm on Andrew Albicy - a French Point Guard that can lead a team with his heart, hustle, and passing skill. On the flip-side though - he is small (although solidly built), and his shot is inconsistent.

I'm warming to 6'11" forward Jan Vesely but I am still convinced he is being grossly overrated by everyone. His athleticism is legitimate but his efficiency just does not equate to greatness - especially if he turns out to be more of a FOUR than a THREE. His hands are questionable. He is only a 47% free throw shooter.

Tomislav Zubcic is an athletic 6'10" kid that can shoot, and handle the ball (he ran the point for portions of the 2009 Hoop Summit). He - like Vesely is much more valuable if he can play Small Forward but I believe he would struggle to guard most NBA Small Forwards - so he will be a "stretch four". He likes the perimeter game and is unselfish with good vision. ...He is under contract in Europe through 2014.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lottery leads to all things NBA Draft

The NBA Draft Lottery offered clarity in the order of selections for the June 23rd NBA Draft. The Lottery is a bit like when Santa Claus appears in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It symbolizes the start of the "Draft season". ...The Pre Draft combine starts tomorrow in Chicago and we will begin to get into the nitty gritty of measurements, and testing results. But as previously stated - nothing beats actually having watched full games in their proper context.

Most of my feelings on 2011 Draft prospects are set. Certainly I will continue to filter all of the information I can stomach but it seems funny to me that so much attention is placed on the combine where the players NEVER actually play ANY games or team basketball.

How would Dirk Nowitzki fare in the weight lifting and running and jumping tests were he to be subjected to them? Remember when Kevin Durant couldn’t lift the bench bar once? The information gleaned at the combine IS a piece to the puzzle but it should be a nano-particle size piece.

…Here are some players I believe could have easily been invited to Chicago but somehow were shut out:
Mario Little - Kansas - This one really stumps me overall. I search for any news regarding Little and the NBA and I come up empty. Didn't anyone watch Kansas games this year. Little outplayed Josh Selby by miles.

Justin Brownlee - St. John's - NBA body - and he can make mid-range shots. He moves the ball - and sees the floor very well - often winding up with assists - passing from the hi-post. …Has a dependable turn around, fade away jump shot that is hard to guard. ...He rebounds outside his area. Quick enough that he will take almost any opposing PF off the dribble. ...Powerful enough to take contact and still hit a shot.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

NBA 82 Gamers

Each year we acknowledge the guys who play in every regular season NBA game. This season 31 players accomplished the feat that screams "professional". If you manage to play in all 82 games that means you took care of your body, didn't lose your cool, and earned the confidence of your coaches. The "82 Gamer" list for 2010-11

Derek Fisher played in all 82 for the sixth straight season.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Sweet 16. From an NBA perspective

Irving is the ONE to watch.
Kyrie Irving - Duke 6'2" 172 Point Guard - Freshman ...A possible first pick in the NBA Draft. He is a pure point guard that passes ahead, finds the open-man, and does so at NBA speed. He is a smart right-handed guard that may not wow you with the type of athleticism that Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose possess - but nevertheless - Irving gets the job done (think more like Chris Paul style). Irving has good first-step quickness - which gives him the ability to get into the paint. He only played in eight games this season to date but in those eight contests - he was at times dominant. His .702 EFR translates to ELITE Point Guard status at the next level. The question is whether or not - the small sample size of efficiency could have been maintained through ACC play - had he been healthy. ...Irving is a former McDonald's All-American.  

Kawhi Leonard - San Diego State 6'7" 225 Sophomore. ...I am sold on Kawhi Leonard! He has a unique skill set that is highlighted by a scorer's instinct, ball-handling ability and rebounding prowess. Really - he is just a basketball player. Leonard has big hands and a nose for the ball. He is a SPECIAL talent where rebounding is concerned. There are very few players who have what I call "suction cups" (for hands). Leonard is one of the few. His ability to grab balls sticks out like animation in reality. Imagine a player with guard-like dribbling ability that can get you nearly eleven boards per game and you begin to understand the rare value in Kawhi Leonard. He also finishes in transition, and powers through opponents with an advanced dribble-drive game. ...He has more assists than turnovers. Leonard's weakness to date is his three-point shooting (.240 career). ...If you wonder why San Diego State has been unusually good this season, Kawhi Leonard is the biggest factor.

Marcus Morris - Kansas 6'8" 225 Junior. ...Morris is one half of the "Kansas Twins". He and brother Markieff are hard working kids that bring skill and toughness to a team. Marcus was recently named the Big 12 Player of the Year. He is great in transition and can finish plays at the rim. In half-court sets - he is patient and smart. He can step out and hit a three point shot. He takes charges. He is alert. His combination of strength and quickness in face up situations vs. power players is very nice. …While not the playmaker that Rodney McCray was - Morris nevertheless reminds me of McCray with his ability to handle the ball or post up. Both are the kind of player that holds a team together with their ability and no nonsense approach. Morris is an excellent rebounder and he shoots 56% FG (career!). Led the Prep Charter High School Eagles to back-to-back Pennsylvania state titles in 2007 and 2006. In `07 he hit the game winning shot in the state championship game. 

DeShaun Thomas - Ohio St. 6'7" 221 Freshman - Thomas only plays an average of 14 minutes per game off the bench as a Buckeye freshman but his efficiency and past accomplishments lead us to believe he may be the best Shooting Guard (or Small Forward) prospect in this tournament when we look back at it in five years. ...Thomas was Mr. Basketball 2010 in Indiana where he was a McDonald's All-American. He is an NBA athlete that can score and rebound at a high rate. ...Thomas won two Indiana state high school championships (2008 & 2009). 

Jimmer Freddette - BYU 6'2" 195 Senior. - Jimmer Fredette is a phenomenal scorer. He is a combo-guard that leads the nation at 28.5 points per game. He can create his own scoring opportunities off the dribble. Right handed. ...He is a tremendously accurate shooter (40% from three and .90% FT). Freddette is coming off a Mountain West Tournament where he had a 52 point game vs. New Mexico. In that game - he hit seven triples.  ...Good ball handler. ...He has long arms. ...Fredette has the ability to control his pace. …Not just a three point shooter. …Good with the ball in his hands - and capable of making plays at full speed. He has ability to make crazy, circus shots. ...He will jack some quick attempts but you live with it because he can light up the scoreboard like few ever have. Freddette is so popular - he is featured on CNN's website

Jared Sullinger - Ohio St. 6'8" 262 Freshman - Sullinger has been an impact freshman for the #1 ranked Buckeyes. He is a big, wide bodied low post scorer that entered college prepared to be a BIG man. He is remarkably fundamentally sound for his age. This season his averages are 17 points (53% FG) and ten boards. ...While there is considerable hype around Sullinger - one must keep in mind - this is a down year overall for talent. The truth is - Sullinger's game is below the rim and he turns it over more than he assists. His free throw percentage is 70%.

Thomas Robinson Kansas 6'9" 237 Sophomore - Robinson is a hyper-athletic front court playmaker that has the athleticism necessary to compete on the NBA hardwood. He is a fantastic offensive rebounder and energy guy. His efficiency in limited minutes translates well to the NBA. On the downside, most of Robinson's success comes from his athleticism and power rather than from skill. He is a poor free throw shooter at 50%, and he also has more than two turnovers for every assist. ...Sadly, Robinson's mother died January 22nd. Read an excellent feature here.

John Henson - North Carolina 6'10" 210 Sophomore - Henson is a super long shot blocker and offensive rebounding force that struggles with his shooting. He is rail thin but he changes opponent's shots with his long reach, and quick reactions. He has 113 blocked shots this season in 934 minutes! His field goal percentage is .503 - which is more of a reflection of the number of dunks and tip-ins he gets due to his length than due to his shooting skill (or lack thereof). …He is at .454 for his career at the free throw line which is horrible. ...The biggest question with Henson I see going forward is will his thin frame be able to withstand the rigors of the NBA? He looks too thin. I am already sold on his ability to impact games in the paint with his combo of reach and bounce. 

Tyler Zeller - North Carolina 7'0" 245 Junior - Zeller can run and finish well for a seven footer. He hustles. …Owns a quick release on his shot and he has touch. He uses both hands well in the low post. He is more effective with hook shots going over the top of the defense than he is trying to go at someone. ...He competes. He takes charges. ...Hits offensive glass and will score on tip-ins. ...He needs to be a better passer out of the low post. His assist-to-turnover ratio is horrid (4 to's for every 1 assist. ugh.) ...He needs to get stronger - especially in his lower body - as he will have difficulty holding his ground to get his low post game off at the next level. 

Derrick Williams - Arizona 6'8" 241 Sophomore - Williams is a strong one-on-one player that can score and get to the free throw line with regularity. …He hit the game winner with a quick-reaction move while falling down to send Arizona to the Sweet 16. He is too quick to be guarded by Power Forwards yet too powerful to be guarded by small forwards. …He doesn't pass the ball much. …Mostly a determined, confident scorer. He has an uncanny ability to make three point shots. He is shooting 60% from THREE POINT RANGE! ...He has a quick second jump. 

Jimmy Butler - Marquette - 6'7" 220 Senior. ...His coach (Buzz Williams) calls him the hardest working kid he's ever coached. …Jimmy Butler is a late bloomer that has improved by leaps and bounds since starting his collegiate career at a Junior College. …He rarely takes a bad shot - which is reflected in his career 51% FG shooting. ...He is smart - with a 1.6-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio (career). ...He is a good athlete with hang-time in his jumping ability. ...This season Butler averages 16 points and six rebounds per game. His three-point shooting ability is a key part of his evolving game. He doesn't shoot a high volume of threes but he makes a great percentage (.409) of the long ball shots he throws up.

Jeremy Lamb - Connecticut 6'5" 185 Freshman - Lamb is an athletic guard with ball-handling skills. He averages ten points, and four rebounds per game as a sidekick to Kemba Walker. Lamb stands out for his leaping ability and speed. He looks like a track athlete. He has a feel for the game - evidenced by his solid 1.19-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. His deep shooting is respectable at .351 from beyond arc. He hits 80% of his free throws. It will interesting to see how Lamb blossoms once Walker moves on to the NBA, and Lamb becomes a bigger part of the offense. 

Markieff Morris - Kansas 6'10" 245 Junior...Markieff is the less ballyhooed of the "Kansas Twins" but he is a formidable player himself. He scores 13.6 ppg, and grabs 8.2 rebounds each outing. Morris is shooting 60% from the field this season and also has the skill to stretch the defense with spot-up three point shooting (40%). He could be a better free throw shooter and he has more turnovers than assists but Morris is nevertheless as solid as they come. 

Kyle Singler - Duke 6'8" 230 Senior. ...Singler is a scrappy Small Forward that never ceases to amaze with his smarts, boundless energy, and relentless hustle. He shoots the three, he rebounds, he's a good free throw shooter. ...Singler seems to be mentally a step ahead of other players. He reads offensive situations and then makes the proper cut at the precise time to help his team. He is unselfish. …Limited in taking players off the dribble but he does uses crafty shot fakes and hesitations to get free. …Focused. ...High hoops I.Q. …Singler is Duke's most well rounded player. He was the 2010 ACC Tournament MVP.

Kemba Walker - Connecticut 6'1" 172 Junior - No player has received more television coverage this season than Kemba Walker. An ESPN darling, Walker is a strong Point Guard with great ball handling ability, combined with good speed. He repeatedly has nailed clutch shots for the Huskies this season - and he seems to shine when the lights are at their brightest. …Not afraid to go to the hole. …He competes. …Stays in plays defensively. …Crafty. Good in transition. …Can make a play one on one in crunch time. ...He has a nice stroke that is consistent and reliable. ...Quick hands. ...Alert. He will be among the steals leaders wherever he plays. ...He uses his off hand well (left). …Willing to accept a challenge. He reminds me of Ben Gordon but Walker is a little more of a PG than Gordon ever was. Walker has better vision than Gordon. ...Walker played for the Team USA Select team that practiced against the USA Men's senior National Team in the Summer of 2010. ...From the Bronx, NY. ...For his career his field goal percentage is just .430 - which helps to explain why U-Conn struggles to win with consistency. Defensively - I would like to see Walker have more active hands in on-ball situations.

Harrison Barnes - North Carolina 6'8" 210 Freshman. ...Barnes has NBA scouts mostly drooling over his scoring ability in an athletic package. He has come on strong down the stretch of his freshman season highlighted by a 40-point outburst vs. Clemson in the ACC Tournament. He has been hitting big buckets for the Heels. ...What concerns me still is that Barnes has mostly done his damage from the perimeter - showing a reluctance to get to the free throw line consistently. He also has more turnovers than assists. ...He is an excellent transition player that can finish above the rim. ...Right handed with ability to drive and score or hit a perimeter jump shot. A former McDonald's All-American.