Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer league round-up: Washington Wizards

View the Wizards summer league roster.

- Alade Aminu: I've not seen Aminu, to be honest with you. But his stats from last year go like this; 11.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 27 minutes per game. Solid. So is the 6'10 230lb size with a 7'3 wingspan. However, the points came somewhat inefficiently, he turned it over a lot, and he fouled quite a lot too. And he could use some weight gain. But he's also only 21, despite having just played his senior season, and that's got to bode well.

- Dwayne Anderson: In all the times I watched Villanova last year, I didn't realise Dwayne Anderson was a senior. But I did realise that he wasn't very good. He didn't have a bad senior year, but he's a forward in a guard's body, with not much of a jumpshot and little dribbling ability, who rebounds well and who could be a good defender, but who kind of isn't. This is probably his only ever NBA sniff.

- Ryan Ayers Ryan Ayers is here for three reasons. The first is because he has great size for the NBA at 6'7. The second is because he has a fine set jumpshot that already has NBA three point range. And the third is because he's the son of recent Wizards assistant coach Randy Ayers. To be 6'7 and a fine shooter sounds like a good thing, but here's the thing with Ayers; he does nothing else. He only catches and shoots. He's fairly athletic and his defense is all right, but he will only ever catch and shoot. Even at the college level with 6'2 prospective morticians matched up on him, all he did was catch and shoot. That's not going to get it done, even if he is extremely good at shooting and with a good NBA physique.

- Jimmy Baron: See this.

- Andray Blatche: Andray Blatche, there's a reason you're still doing summer league after 5 years in the league. It's because you still haven't figured out that you're not Kobe Bryant. I tell you this in the hope that it may help. Go to the post and stay there.

- Javaris Crittenton: In August 2007, the Grizzlies traded a heavily protected first rounder to the Wizards for the rights to Juan Carlos Navarro. The pick was at least top 12 protected until 2012, at which point if it still hadn't been conveyed, it became a second round pick and cash instead. However, the Navarro move went a bit wrong, and the Grizzlies got all of one year out of him because he buggered off back to Spain, ne'er to return. They then traded Crittenton to the Wizards in December last year to get the pick back, in spite of all its protection. To be honest, I'd rather have Crittenton.

- John Edwards: Edwards is 28 in about a week, but he never stops trying. Aside from one stint in the Ukraine, he's never played outside of America; he's either in the NBA, or in a minor league trying to get back there. Unfortunately, it's no longer happening for him. Last year in the D-League, he averaged 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.6 fouls for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. That's not getting it done.

- Josh Heytvelt: Heytvelt had a good college career, if you ignore the whole recreational drugs thing, but that doesn't mean he'll have an NBA career. His inside outside offensive game is fun to watch. However, if you're 6'11 and not a defender or a rebounder, you'd better be a bloody good scorer. And Heytvelt isn't. But he is a pretty good Formula 1 driver.

- James Lang: Lang is a former Wizard, and the owner of his own theory. He played 11 games with the team in 2006-07, doing nothing at all. He's done nothing at all since then, too, averaging only 6/4 in the D-League last year. Lang is still freaking huge, so the NBA still continues to monitor him. But he's never developed.

- Tits McGee: The bad news for McGee is that Brendan Haywood is back this year. The good news for McGee is that the Wizards will no longer have to feel like they're obliged to play Darius Songaila. Even at centre.

- Dominic McGuire: McGuire's contract for next year is fully unguaranteed. He's the 15th man on the roster. On a team that figures to be a heavy tax payer next season. Somehow, Dominic McGuire is going to have to show that he's worth the $1.65 million it'll cost to keep him. And I don't think the 21% shooting he managed in summer league is getting it done.

- Tywain McKee: None of us watched a Coppin State game last year, so let's not kid ourselves. So here's some numbers; McKee averaged 18.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.8 steals and 3.0 turnovers per game, shooting 40% from the field, 36% from three point range and 815 from the foul line. Those are the numbers. This is the fluff piece.

- Tyrese Rice: Rice averaged 21/5 in his junior season, but that dropped to 17/5 in his senior season. Maybe he was trying to reinvent himself as more of a pass first player - which wouldn't be a bad idea as a 6'0 guard with not a great jumpshot - but either way it was a downwards trend. And that's why he went undrafted. I do love the Boston College uniforms, though.

- Jason Rich: Rich got a pre-draft workout with the Wizards last summer, but went undrafted out of FSU. He then spent the year in Italy, averaging 9.8 points and 3.1 rebounds for NGC Cantu in Serie A. He shot 39% from three point range, which shows improvement, but he still doesn't have NBA talent.

- Alex Ruoff: Ruoff has signed in Belgium next year for Belgacom Liege. I feel this is all the Alex Ruoff news and views that you need.

- Diamon Simpson: Simpson is a great rebounder but a crap shooter, and not much of an offensive player in general. His points come from hustle and scrappiness around the rim; he got to the line over 7 times a game last year, just to shoot 58% from there. His size at 6'7 230lbs isn't really getting it done, either. And as is mentioned in the McGuire section, the Wizards are already carrying 17. Apart from the four already with contracts, none of these boys really have a chance. Still, thanks for playing.

- Kyle Spain: A fat shooter out of San Diego State. (Sorry. I can just see the end in sight, finally.)

- Brandon Wallace: Last season in Poland, Wallace averaged 7.8 points and 5.6 rebounds. His usual high defensive numbers weren't really there, averaging less than a block per game. He shot 38% from three point range, which is a good sign, but it came in limited attempts. If the Wizards decide they can replace McGuire with an inferior but cheaper version, then Wallace could be a candidate. But that doesn't seem as likely as just not bothering with either of them.

- Nick Young: Fun Nick Young fact: Nick Young's career PER in the playoffs is 1.3. That is all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer league round-up: Utah Jazz

All right! Only three weeks late!

View the Jazz summer league roster.

- James Augustine: Augustine was covered in the Bulls round-up from bloody ages ago. He played well for both teams and definitely re-established himself. But neither team has room for him next year.

- Jimmy Baron: Jay Bilas lookalike Baron just played four years at Rhode Island, where his coach was his dad. I've always wondered why players think this is a good thing, but anyhoo. Baron set the school record for made three pointers in a season in his sophomore season, then broke it in his junior season, then broke it again in his senior season. He made 118 of those bad boys last year in only 34 games. So you get the idea of how he plays. 6'3 shooting specialists have to have something extra to make the NBA, and Baron doesn't, but no matter; he has already signed for Mersin in Turkey next season, presumably as Chris Lofton's replacement.

- Cedric Bozeman: I'm a big fan of Cedric Bozeman and I don't know why. As such, it buoyed me to see him play well last year, to the tune of 19.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Even the jumpshot is getting there, shooting 35% from three point range last season. This encourages me. Here's hoping he's doing enough for one more go-around.

- Derrick Brown: Brown is a second round draft pick of the Bobcats who has signed with the team for two years, who played on the Jazz summer league team because his own team was too cheap to run one. Typically, he led the team in scoring, which probably makes the Jazz feel a little weird about their hospitality. Especially since their own second round draft pick this year, Goran Suton, played pretty badly.

- Josh Duncan: Duncan barely played last year, going to France briefly to play for the very bad Pau Orthez but suffering an injury and playing in only 18 games. He had a pretty crazy summer league for the Jazz, shooting 72% from the field, 78% from three point range and 73% from the foul line, but grabbing only 2.2 rebounds per game and fouling 20 times in 83 minutes. Either way, it's irrelevant, as he has already signed with Belgacom Liege for next year. You can guess which country they play in.

- Andre Ingram: Ingram is not good enough to be here. He had three decent but not great seasons at American University - not a big program - and one shocking season. Since then, he's spent two years in the D-League, averaging 6.1 points per game in his first season, and 10.0 points/3.3 rebounds in his second year. The only reason he's here is because the D-League team that he was with was the Utah Flash.

- Kosta Koufos: It may have been a good idea for Koufos to leave Ohio State after one year, or it may not. But considering that he was a first round pick, and ended up being a useful contributor on a playoff calibre team at the tender age of 19, he can't feel too bad about it.

- Kevin Kruger: Kruger started last year with Lukoil Akademik in Bulgaria, a team sponsored by a trainee petrol pump attendant's night school. He averaged 12.0 points and 7.5 assists in two games, before being released when the team was knocked out of the Eurocup and waived all its American players. Kruger then returned to America, and joined the D-League with the Utah Flash (NOW it makes sense). He averaged 13.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, and led the D-League with a 51% three point shooting percentage. But, as is the case with all 26 year olds in summer league, I am obliged to tell you that he is 26 years old. It counts for something, whether we want it to or not.

- Kevin Lyde: This is the third straight season that Kevin Lyde has appeared on the Jazz summer league roster. I have no idea what they see in him. Last year, he even got a training camp roster and the opportunity to play in some preseason games. At least they've finally started getting his measurements vaguely closer to the truth, changing his originally listed 6'10 260lbs to a more apt 6'9 294lbs. Dude's got some podge, you may have noticed.

- Wesley Matthews: See this.

- Eric Maynor: I'm not sure how, but a VCU game just came on my telly. And I'm all love Eric Maynor. I love me some floaters, despite the statistically proven inefficiency of the shot. I'm also REALLY all over Larry Sanders, who has it all. The athleticism, the length, the name, everything.

- Goran Suton: If I was court ordered to give a comparison for Goran Suton, I'd probably choose Paul Davis. Such a court order would be frivolous and wasteful, but if it happened, that's where I'd take it. And yes, the facts that they're both white and from Michigan State factor in heavily.

- Dar Tucker: Tucker's first name is short for Darquavis, and not Darth as you may have hoped. He just left DePaul early, a decision which might not have been a great idea. DePaul sucked last year pretty damn badly, but so did Tucker. He took 6.4 three point shots per game, and shot only 28% from out there. He scored big (18.5 points per game), but they came on a piss poor true shooting percentage of 49%. And since he's a one dimension scorer, you can see the problems with this. Stay in school and wait for backup, or transfer to somewhere that might help you more, but don't declare after a bad year like that. There's really no point.

- The People's Champion Larry Turner: Turner is a 26 year old big man who sucked at Oklahoma, transferred to Tennessee State, and sucked there as well. Amazingly, he got a summer league spot in 2007 with the Lakers, which even more amazingly led to a training camp spot. But the normality kicked in and he was waived. Since then, he's played 47 games in the D-League, played in some NBA minicamps, played in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Korea and the PBL. I only have numbers for the D-League stint in 2007-8 = 7.8ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.1bpg, 49.2% FG 54.8% FT. Woop. His summer league numbers were even better - 27% shooting, 18 fouls and 10 turnovers in 63 minutes. Oh yes, you want that. You want that all over your face.

- Gary Wilkinson: Wilkinson's story is unconventional. Last year, he took Utah State to the NCAA tournament, averaging 17.1 points and 6.8 rebounds, on the efficient numbers of 58%/31%/83%. Not bad at all from a 6'10 big man. However, he's also 26. And the reason he was 26 years old and in college was because he spent a lot of time not doing much. Wilkinson didn't play high school basketball because he fell out with the coach, who kicked him off the team for his bad attitude. Wilkinson then left high school before graduating, and spent time kicking about aimless, drinking, partying, and doing drugs. Then he found Jesus, straightened himself out, and went on a two year mission to Canada. He came back, put in two years at Salt Lake Community College, and then went to Utah State for two years, where the story culminated with the NCAA Tournament birth and now Wilkinson's pity spot on the Jazz summer league team. It's a lovely story. But he's not Josh Hamilton.

Summer league round-up: Toronto Raptors

View the Raptors summer league roster.

- Paul Davis: Davis was waived by the Clippers to save some money, after being brought back for no obvious reason whatsoever. Strangely, he didn't sign anywhere after that, but he did appear on Millionaire Matchmaker, where it was determined that he showed an "immature" attitude towards sex. But he did win the heart of one spectacularly energetic pseudo-blonde:

These. These are the things we must know.

- DeMar Derozan: The Raptors wings last season had all the athleticism of a grilled perch, so at least they addressed that. But I can't say I'm overwhelmed with the pick. No word on what Derozan's attitudes towards sex are, or what he deems to be an "upscale" bowling alley. Yet I'm sure the feisty blondes are digging that already.

- David Doblas: Doblas (listed as Doblas in the Raptors official summer league release, which was confusing) is a soon-to-be 28 year old Spaniard with the usual Spanish problems with hair. (This is one thing I noticed when I holidayed there earlier this year; everyone has black hair, and they all bald at 30. Without exceptions. And their women are overrated. Good luck, David.) Last year for Bruesa-Guipuzcoa BC - the ACB team that you've totally never heard of - Doblas averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 rebounds. Why is he here? I....I.......I don't know.

- Quincy Douby: Speaking of things I don't know, I don't know Quincy Douby's amount of guaranteed salary, so stop asking. (Although I'm fairly sure it's $0, that's only an educated guess.) There's basically no reason for him to make the team, or even for him to be in the NBA; Douby may well be a versatile scorer with the ball in his hands, but he's very undersized, does not rebound or create for others, is not efficient, and is not a good enough shooter to be much use as a catch-and-shoot specialist. Just go to Europe and start starring, Quincy. It'll be easy.

- Carl English: Despite the name, English is Canadian, which is why Raptors fans have had a long standing thing for him. But even though he finally got a chance to play on the Raptors team, he inevitably didn't, as he signed a lucrative contract with Tau Ceramica before summer league began. The opportunity to be a key contributor on a big team, and to embrace the unenviable task of replacing Igor Rakocevic, seemed more inviting to English than the prospect of trying to beat out Quincy Douby for a spot on the inactive list. And I can't say I blame him. (This is the reason why I think you should move to Europe, Quincy.)

- Ekene Ibekwe: Ibekwe (whose full name is Ekenechukwu Brian Ibekwe, which is pretty brilliant) is a former Maryland shotblocker who developed some offense from last season out of roughly nowhere. Last year in Turkey, Ibekwe averaged 18.6 points, 8.23 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.8 steals per game, shooting 61% from two point range, 38% from three point range, and 57% from the foul line. He was never more than an 11ppg scorer in college, so the breakout was quite unexpected. It's certainly made him more interesting.

- Nathan Jawai: Jawai didn't play for the Raptors in summer league, for the simple and obvious reason that they traded his ass to Dallas in the Shawn Marion deal. He might not make the team, though, because Dallas now has 16 under contract, with exceptions they still want to spend. Dallas still needs a centre, and there's no denying that Jawai is one, but Ryan Hollins is better. If Dallas is able to make something out of the Shawne Williams/Greg Buckner/whatever else package, then maybe Jawai has a chance. But if not, maybe Colangelo can get his boy back.

- Demetris Nichols: Nichols was a member of the Bulls for over a year and $750,000, and in that time he did precisely zip. After that, he went to the D-League, and averaged 21 points per game for the Idaho Stampede, before getting a call-up to the team that so raved about him for a bit, the Knicks. Nothing happened, and after a workout for the Indiana Pacers, this is where he's ended up. The Raptors probably don't have a roster spot for him, unless they do the right thing and put Devean George to sleep.

- Patrick O'Bryant: The Raptors just agreed to bring back Rasho Nesterovic, and that's a bloody good thing. Had they not, Patrick O'Bryant would have been next year's backup centre. And that's not helping anybody. Three years in now, and O'Bryant still hasn't gotten anywhere. He still fouls at an alarming rate, is increasingly sure of his own jumpshot (which, admittedly, is getting better), is no stronger than before and is still mistake ridden. He could use a dose of Smush Parker's swag, more than anything.

- Smush Parker: Question: Does Smush Parker still largely chug ball? Answer: yep. Parker split last year between the D-League and China, and it's the same old story. Plenty of athleticism and a decent scorer, but no defense, no lead guard abilities, criminal recklessness and too much swagger. Here's a fun fact, though; Smush Parker and Tony Parker both really have the first name "William." Good trivia. Write it down.

- Brent Petway: Brent Petway dunks, raps, plays defense and Tweets. Be sure to holla at ya boi.

- Shawn Taggart: Taggart was brought in late as Jawai's replacement. He decided to forego his senior season this year due to the vague possibility of him getting drafted. He may have had a case, since Robert Dozier got drafted (albeit with the last pick), and it's not like there's much between them. But it didn't happen, and so now Taggart is on the outside, looking in, where he'll probably always be. If things go badly, he'll always have his long running detective series to fall back on.

- Roko Ukic: In the interest of speeding these things up a bit, yet also due to the powerful validity of the statement, I would like to sum up the life and times of Roko Ukic with the following quickfire repartee: Roko Ukic sucks. That is all.

Summer league round-up: San Antonio Spurs

View the Spurs summer league roster.

- Antonio Anderson: Anderson was Tyreke Evans's completely ill-fitting backcourt team mate last season. Like Evans, Anderson is 6'6, athletic, and a good passer and playmaker for that height. Like Evans, he's not ideally suited for guarding the point and has no significant jumpshot. But unlike Evans, Anderson is a bit crap. And unlike Evans, Anderson is 24. The dribbling and shooting flaws haven't gone away yet, and time is running out for it to happen.

- Romel Beck: Beck is a 27 year old former UNLV grad whose four year professional career has included his native Mexico, the CBA, the D-League, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Italy and Croatia. Last year in 16 games for the Dakota Wizards, Beck scored a blindingly efficient 15.9 points in 27 minutes per game, on percentages of 50.9%/49.2%/90.2%. Beck pretty much only scores; he doesn't rebound, make plays for others, or play much defense. But even though he's thin, he's very tall for a shooting guard. And he's definitely got the scoring talent. Here's a video of him crossing over Kobe Bryant before making a step back four point play;

(Note: that really is him. His full name is Romel Roberto Beck Castro.)

- DeJuan Blair: Should be a Bull. Dammit.

- Eric Dawson: Dawson is a 25 year old big man who's only had one season of note. He attended Midwestern State, a division 2 school that you've probably never heard of, and since leaving has spent two years with the Austin Toros of the D-League. Last year he averaged 10.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.2 fouls in 24 minutes per game. They're not bad numbers, but in the D-League, it should be easy when you're 6'11. And he's also 25, which limits his upside. Still, he's come far.

- Nando De Colo: I'm not going to pretend that I know anything about Nando De Colo, so here's some numbers; last year, he averaged 14.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the French league for Cholet, the team that houses the immortal Steeve Ho You Fat. De Colo has signed in Spain for next year already, and he didn't play in summer league due to his commitments with the French national team. Here's his performance from this very night. It's also nice to see Joakim Noah working to develop a three point shot. It's totally his main area for concern right now.

- Alonzo Gee: Gee averaged 15.0 points and 7.2 rebounds for Alabama last year, but it wasn't a very efficient 15 points, coming on 12.4 shots per game. The chances of him playing for the Austin Toros next season are about one jillion percent.

- James Gist: Gist was taken by the Spurs at the very arse end of the 2008 draft. The Spurs traditionally have lots of success at the arse end of the draft, and Gist hasn't let the side down; last year for Angellico Biella, Gist averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds, shooting 54% from the field and 51% from three on a relevant 96 three point attempts. He could contribute in the NBA one day.

- Malik Hairston: The Spurs also have a fine history of success when drafting foreigners in the second round, and they did that in 2008 as well when they took Goran Dragic. However, they then immediately traded him for Hairston, who they then waived in training camp. Then they brought him back again midseason. Then they waived him again at the end of the season. And then they signed him again at the start of the month. In the times Hairston wasn't on the Spurs roster, he was on their D-League affiliate, the Toros, scoring a crazily efficient 23.7 points per game. It's a real explosive relationship they've got going on. Even when they're apart, it's just a trial separation, and then it's back on. But then soon enough, it's off again. They're so good together, and yet they can't coexist. It tears me up to see this.

- George Hill: The Spurs tried their best to sell this pick on draft day 2008, going as far as sending a mass email to all teams asking them to bid for the pick. In the end, they got no good offers, ended up keeping the pick, drafted someone you've never heard of from a school you had to Google, dragged out contract negotiations with him, and eventually made him sign for less than the scale maximum for his draft position. And boy, did it ever work out for all involved.

- Carldell 'Squeaky' Johnson: Johnson was also on the Toros last year, averaging 8.7 points and 5.1 assists in two separate stints with the team. He's 26, etc. Note to all NBA teams; buy your own D-League team. It's way more fun that way. Forget the financial drain for a minute.

- Stephane Lasme: Lasme has already signed with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, and is putting together a decent European career. He's still not really NBA suitable, though.

- Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi was drafted 4 years ago. We're still waiting for him to do something. During those 4 years, he's been in the NBA for the last two, and has played all of 6 games in that time. Last year, he played in 0, and played in 1 D-League game, totalling 2 points, 1 rebound and 4 turnovers. He was injured, to be fair, but he could really freaking do with making some progress soon. Especially since this might well be the last year of his contract.

- Jack McClinton: Every team needs a shooter, even a team with Roger Mason Junior on it. As such, McClinton should have a slight chance to make the Spurs roster this year. But it might now be a smaller chance since he shot 22% in summer league. Whoops.

- Donell Taylor: Last year for BC Egaleo in the Greek first division, Donell Taylor averaged 12.9 points and 4.2 rebounds. Last year for AEL Limassol in the Cypriot first division, Ronell Taylor averaged 13.7 points and 4.8 rebounds. Does Donell not have enough lure to pull a Kevin/Tony Durant type of situation here? No? Bugger.

- Marcus Vinicius: Vinicius went back to his native Brazil this year, and scored big, averaging 22.8 points on 46% shooting. But he still doesn't rebound too well, he still doesn't give forth much effort on defense, and as such, he's still not in the NBA. Least of all on the Spurs, who right now could use a defense and rebound-minded small forward with only Richard Jefferson and Michael Finley there right now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer league round-up: Sacramento Kings

View the Kings summer league roster.

- Robert Battle: Battle's great. Every time he takes contact, he yells. And considering that he nails himself to the basket at both ends and never leaves the paint, that happens quite a lot. Good times. Battle averaged 12.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in the Spanish LEB Gold last season, good enough numbers to get his team (Valladolid) promoted. But he's not ever going to have NBA size, no matter how much he shouts (which he does on every contested layup attempt.

- Jon Brockman: All Brockman did in college was rebound, take charges and break his nose. He's not a scorer, he can't play away from the basket, and he doesn't block any shots whatsoever. However, of all the abilities that translate from the college game to the NBA, rebounding, charge taking and nose breaking are arguably the three most transferrable, especially for the terrible rebounding Kings. So he should be OK, even if he was picked too high.

- John Bryant: Bryant's numbers in his senior season for Santa Clara were big: 18.1 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in only 31 minutes per game. He also has the size for the job, being listed at 6'11 and 275. But he wasn't drafted anyway, despite how little size there was in the last draft. Why is that? I'm not sure, having not seen him, but being stabbed in the back three times during an off-campus assault probably didn't help.

- Pat Calathes: Like his brother Nick, Calathes has a Greek passport, and like his brother Nick, Pat has already signed there for next year. He was there last year, too, where he averaged a sensational 3.7 points and 1.8 rebounds per game for Marousi.

- Omri Casspi: Nice beard.

- Tyreke Evans: Please play him at point guard full time please play him at point guard full time please play him at point guard full time please play him at point guard full time please play him at point guard full time. I realise that we have no real reason to doubt that this will happen, but I need to be sure.

- Donte Greene: Greene is one of the most selfish players I've ever seen on a basketball court. His shot selection is as garish as Timmy Mallet's wardrobe, and he plays with all the grace and poise of a clown fight. He's extremely athletic and quite skilled, but DUDE, STOP SHOOTING CONTESTED STEP-BACK 20 FOOTERS. FORCHRISTSSAKES. I'M SERIOUSLY.

- Spencer Hawes: Hawes didn't turn up to summer league. He was supposed to, but he arrived late, still intending to play, before changing his mind at the last minute. Geoff Petrie wasn't happy. He was even less happy considering that Hawes never told him directly, instead using go-betweens to deliver the enticing news. Whispers of Hawes's apathy towards the game and/or his ever-inflating ego will have been bolstered by this little exchange. Good times, unless you like the Kings.

- Marcus Landry: Landry was disadvantaged at Wisconsin by having to spent so much time on the interior, defending bigger players and then trying to score over them at the other end. He did rather well at it, considering his big size disadvantage for a centre (even in the NCAA), but it didn't let him show his strengths. Landry doesn't rebound especially well, but he's a decent interior scorer for his size, and has developed a jumpshot to go with it. He's not a bad defender, either, despite the size disadvantages. He's also married with three kids, which feels really weird to say about someone younger than me.

- Wesley Matthews: Matthews is a solid all around player with no particularly standoutish attrbutes, who, because he's a solid all around player with no standoutish attributes, did not get drafted. Sam Young has much the same thing going on, but he's a little bit bigger, so he went at 36. Them's the rules, Wes.

- Jerel McNeal: I've said this a lot, but it's worth one more mention; Jerel McNeal should well have been drafted. Of course, there's a lot of undersized scoring guards in the world, and McNeal doesn't hugely stand out from the rest of them. But he's a good slasher, good shooter, and not a bad defender. Luther Head was a first round draft pick, and he can't dribble. How much worse is McNeal? There can't be much in it, I reckon. Oh well. God bless Emir Preldzic.

- Brian Roberts: Roberts was with the Lakers summer league team last year, but didn't play much. He spent last year in Israel, averaging 15.5 points and 2.4 assists per game with 32% three point shooting. As you can no doubt tell, he's a score-first guard, despite his height, who is normally a fine three point shooter. Last year was the exception. He has already signed for next year with Brose Baskets Bamberg in Germany.

- Victor Stowes: To say that information on Victor Stowes is hard to come by is an understatement. All I've got is that he's a 6'2, 215 pound guard who played two years at Reinhardt College in the NAIA, after spending one year as a wide receiver at North Carolina State. Stowes averaged 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists assists per game) in his senior season, all team highs, and he spent part of last year with an ABA team called the Atlanta Vision, who played 6 games and went 1-5. Slick website, though, as long as you can handle how out of date it is. Most notably, he is Terrell Owens' brother, which I guess explains why he's here. The Kings seem to be having a brothers theme to their team this year.

- Jason Thompson: The fan vote on the Jason Thompson pick during last year's draft pick was an "F". On reflection, maybe a "B" would be better suited. I don't like the pairing of him and Hawes in the long term, but, for now, screw the long term. It's all progress.

- Ryan Toolson: Toolson averaged 23.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for Utah Valley State last year, on percentages of 46%/39%/93%. In fact, the 93% from the line was his lowest output in four years; he shot 456 for 472 from the foul line for his whole college career, a 97% success rate. Last year, Toolson had a 63 point, 12 rebound and 6 assist performances, the highest output in division 1 since Eddie House's 61. He also spent two years on a mission to Guatemala, so he's now 24 and a half. That forms one of the reasons why he wasn't draft; the other more pressing reason is that's he's a not very athletic 6'4. He's already signed in Turkey for next season, where he'll no doubt score freely and spread the word of our Lord Jesus Christ to an avid audience of Muslims.

Summer league round-up: Portland Trail Blazers

View the Blazers summer league roster.

- Deji Akindele: By being in this list, Akindele shows himself to once again be on the fringes of the minds of NBA executives, somewhere where he's been for about 5 years now. Last year in Italy, Akindele averaged 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.6 blocks. He even hit a three. The offense gets slightly better every year. However, the age keeps creeping up too.

- Jerryd Bayless: Rumour has it that my Bulls are pursuing - if not insistent upon - Bayless' inclusion in any potential three way trade that also sees them acquire Carlos Boozer. Not entirely sure of why, to be honest. Isn't the team with Derrick Rose the last team that needs to be looking to acquire a player whose strength is slashing to the rim, but who has a weak jumpshot, can't defend off-guards who isn't really a pass first player? The two can't pair up, and there aren't going to be many minutes behind Rose. So I'm not sure I understand this insistence. (Portland fans will probably speculate that trying to trade for Bayless means the Bulls can now trade Rose, since Jerryd will be better. They're like that.)

- Dante Cunningham: Cunningham once tried out for the British national team, but hasn't been heard from since; presumably, he didn't get a passport in the end. I have no idea what his claim on one was anyway, since he was born in Maryland to American parents, but it's a shame if he's never going to join us. Pops Mensah-Bonsu needs a backup, after all. Cunningham developed a fine mid range jumpshot last season out of roughly nowhere, which is what turned him from an undrafted talent into a high 30's pick. It serves as a nice compliment to the rest of his game, which is solid if not spectacular. He'll probably make the team after Portland's pursuit of Paul Millsap went awry, but even if he does I can't imagine he'll play much next year.

- Uche Echefu: A thoroughly ordinary player who rebounds and defends fairly well, but whose offense is unspecific. I realise that this is a really dumb criticism to levy against a player, and thus I should explain; by "unspecific", I mean "I never quite figured out where he was best at. He'd sometimes play in the paint, sometimes from the midrange and sometimes shoot some threes, yet wasn't really good at any of the three." Make of that what you win. By the way, I only saw Florida State twice, so you don't have to listen to me if you don't want to.

- Matt Freije: Last season, Matt Freije played in the Lebanon for about two weeks, in China for about two months, and in Puerto Rico for two more. He averaged 20/8 in China, and 20/7 in Puerto Rico. Yet strangely it was the stop in the Lebanon that made the biggest impression, as last month Freije received a Lebanese passport and agreed to join their national team. - news that matters.

- Thomas Gardner: Many of my fellow Bulls fans fell in love Thomas Gardner after a garbage time outing that saw him jack up outside shots relentlessly, shooting 6-16 overall for a sweltering 14 points. My fellow Bulls fans are an easily led bunch. And kind of stupid, too.

- Pooh Jeter: Jeter played 4 years at the University of Portland, and his hometown ties probably factor in his appearance here. Of course, the 16.3 points that he averaged in Spain last year will also help. Jeter is clearly beasting it up in Europe and will probably do so for quite some time. But he's also kind of small for a point guard, and once the NBA tars you with that brush (often correctly), you're never getting rid of it. So he should probably stay in Europe. It's not a bad continent, after all. As long as you stay out of France.

- Bobby Jones: In a 14 month period from September 2007 to October 2008, Bobby Jones moved 10 times between NBA franchises, including of them three times. Since then, though, he's not made one single stop. And he's not going to, either, having already agreed to sign with Banca Teramo in Italy for next season. Has his whistlestop tour stopped so soon? That would be a shame. Especially since Quentin Richardson's about to break his record.

- Joe Krabbenhoft: Krabbenhoft is ideally suited to the NCAA game. He doesn't score much, and is only about 6'7, but he's strong, physical, likes to elbow people in the face and punch them in the balls. He's a decent rebounder and good passer, but with little offensive talent, size concerns and mediocre athleticism. In the NCAA, you can start at centre for four years with that, and have yourself a lot of fun and playing time in doing so. But you need more than that for the NBA.

- Patrick Mills: Mills broke his foot in his first day with the team, after falling about 15 places too far down the draft. It's not been a good month for him. I'd like to say that he's going to make the Portland team, but Christ knows what their roster's going to look like come opening night. If Kevin Pritchard gets his way, it won't be anything like this one.

- Dwayne Mitchell: Mitchell signed with the L.A. Lakers last training camp, didn't make the team, went to the D-League, and was assigned to the Lakers' affiliate, the L.A. D-Fenders. There, he averaged 18.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists, shooting 51% from the field, and upping his assist/turnover ratio from 1:1.37 to 1.58:1. He still can't shoot, though, shooting only 23% from three point range and 68% from the line. The turnover numbers are better, so he's getting there. Unfortunately, he's 27 next month.

- David Moss: Moss is a former Indiana State player player who rebounds very well for a 6'5 and who has a solid all around game, but no other stand out characteristics. In the Lakers post, when I mentioned that David Monds had already signed elsewhere....he hadn't. I was thinking of David Moss instead, who has already landed a plush gig with last year's Serie A champions Montepaschi Siena. He signed for three years, too, which means he'll be nearly 29 before he's back on the market again. So that's probably the end of his NBA dream.

- Drew Neitzel: Neitzel is still trying to rework himself into a pass first guard, and it's going fairly well. But he also only averaged 5/3 in Germany last year. And that's.....pretty bad. Pretty damn bad.

- David Padgett: See this.

- Jeff Pendergraph: Pendergraph's going to make the team. Channing Frye, Shavlik Randolph and Michael Ruffin are not. That trio combined for 818 minutes last year. Those minutes look like they're Pendergraph's.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer league round-up: Phoenix Suns

View the Suns summer league roster.

- Kaspars Berzins: Kaspars is a tall Latvian, but he's not Andris Biedrins. He's a fine outside shooter for a 7 footer, but he's not Dirk Nowitzki. And he's a good athlete, but he's not Chris Andersen. Mainly, he's a tall jumpshooter who hates contact and doesn't play much defense. In the fine tradition of teams drafting tall foreigners in the second round despite their unsuitability for the physical NBA game, being 7'3 would probably have gotten Berzins drafted. But a mere 7 foot? Pah.

- Josh Carter: Carter is a decently sized wingman out of Texas A&M, who is primarily a jumpshooter. He's a good jumpshooter at that. But he's not a really good jumpshooter. And that's why he wasn't drafted. (Even then, being a really good jumpshooter is not a guarantee you'll be drafted. Anthony Morrow wasn't, after all. But it worked out all right for him in the end. If Carter gets his jumpshot to that standard, he'll have a chance as well.)

- Earl Clark: I saw a lot of Louisville last year, because they played in a lot of games, because they were good. And Earl Clark is a large part of why that was. He should have been taken ahead of Terrence Williams, given that he's younger, bigger, and won't struggle to score as much. But he will struggle a bit; the jumpshot's not good and nor is the free throw stroke, he's not much use off the ball at the moment, and he barely posts up. Still, a lot of this was true of Boris Diaw once, and he turned out all right. I'll push this comparison for a while yet.

- Geary Claxton: Claxton is one of those rare beasts, a 6'5 man with forward skills in a guard's body. He's versatile, has a mere inkling of a jumpshot, rebounds well and defenders better, but can't hit a foul shot to save his life (or a basketball game, depending on which comes first). Claxton put up four big seasons at Penn State, but tore his ACL before the draft. Last year he spent a couple of months with the Erie BayHawks, yet averaged only 3 and 3 in limited minutes before being released. I'm guessing his knee wasn't fully rehabbed yet. And I'm guessing because I'm too lazy to look.

- Lee Cummard: Giggidy. Cummard just spent 4 years at BYU, and before that spent a year serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nashville. Groovy. He's an unathletic wing man with a fine shot and plenty of offensive skill, but every athletic disadvantage under the sun, particularly with regards to his skin pigment. And spending a year on that mission won't have helped his upside.

- Zabian Dowdell: Dowdell averaged 19.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.2 steals in Italy last year, numbers pretty much identical to his senior year at Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, they were in the LegaDue, which makes them a bit less impressive.

- Micah Downs: Downs is tall, thin, athletic, a good shooter and better dunker. He's also well travelled, having gone to seven high schools in three states and transferring from Kansas to Gonzaga after one year. He left Kansas because he didn't get on with the coach, he left some of the high schools for the same reason, and for not getting on with the players. He also used to run his own Micah Downs-orientated offense, and refused to join weight programs. Supposedly he's figured it all out now, but it's come a bit too late for him to get drafted.

- Goran Dragic: Dragic was really, really REALLY bad for the first half of last season, before his jumpshot turned up for the last three months and saved him. Should we blame all this on Terry Porter? Yeah, screw it, why not. Goran, you get a mulligan.

- Taylor Griffin: What's Taylor Griffin's skillset like? Not great - a sub-par jumpshot, no significant interior offense, aggressive and physical defender but undersized for the NBA, and a bad rebounder. What's his upside like? With so few skills and an unassailable height disadvantage, not much. What's his hairline like? Better than Blake's. Why was he drafted? Not sure. Will it matter? Probably not.

- Jiri Hubalek: Former Iowa State big man Hubalek was with the Suns summer league team last year, too, and it was reported that he was going to get a training camp contract. He didn't get one in the end, but it didn't hold him back; he went to Italy instead, and signed with Lottomatica Roma, averaging 8.3 points and 5.0 rebounds for a very good team. He put up much the same for the Suns in summer league, too. Hubalek is probably too slow for the NBA game, but he's not talentless.

- Takuya Kawamura: Kawamura was a late and ultimately unnecessary addition to the Suns roster, who led the Japanese JBL in scoring last year. The JBL is one of two Japanese leagues that are kind of at war with each other, the other being the brilliantly named BJ League. Haven't figured out how that unalliance works yet. Either way, Kawamura played in one game for the Suns, did nothing, and is now back in Japan for another year, perhaps forever. Nice knowing you.

- Robin Lopez: Robin Lopez was bloody awful last year. Really quite bloody awful. As his brother Brook went on to be one of the 10 best centres in the game in only his rookie season, Robin was so bad that the Suns had to bring in Stromile Swift. But I still believe. And it's hard not to believe in a man that's tapping Michelle Wie. Surely he can achieve anything now. Imagine the genes those two could put together.

- Carlos Powell: Powell puts up huge, huge numbers wherever he goes, basically because he never lets go of the ball. Australia, Portugal, Ukraine, anywhere; the numbers are big. Perhaps his most notable achievement was leading the D-League in scoring in the 2007/08 season (along with a far from shabby 6.4 rpg and 4.8 apg) that came immediately after a training camp contract from the Golden State Warriors. His career went a bit weird last season, though, as Powell spent the year in South Korea for some bizarre reason. He averaged typical Carlos Powell numbers (56 games, 32 mpg, 25.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 4.2 apg), but when you're on the cusp of cracking the NBA, why the extremely bloody hell do you go to Korea?

- Chris Rodgers: Rogers left Arizona in 2006 in not very good standing. Since then, he spent the 2006/07 season in the D-League, the 2007/08 season in Belgium, and last season in the holy trinity of Bosnia, Finland and Hungary. Now THAT'S a career move. Take note, Carlos Powell. Rodgers' Arizona connections seem to be his sole reason for visiting the Suns team, because his resume isn't strong. But it is kind of funny. And so is this.

- Alando Tucker: Fun if slightly pathetic fact - on a plane flight a few months ago, I was sitting on my own, bored out of my freaking mind. I hadn't brought a book due to an unfortunate hand luggage situation, and it was a dirty cheap flight so there was no on-board entertainment to keep me sane. I wouldn't even have done any of the air hostesses, that's how cheap this flight was. Needless to say, I was struggling for things to do. After spending a good twenty minutes in the toilet, struggling valiantly to make the tap work before eventually complaining to a crew member that it was broken (apparently it wasn't), I sat back in my seat and tried to sleep. But I was surrounded by too many kids, and no shuteye was forthcoming. So to pass the time, I decided to try and recite every person on an NBA roster at that time, for no reason other than to stay sane. (Also, the chicks love that sort of thing. Love it.) A few minutes later I opened my eyes, list completed, and proceeded to double check it. And Alando Tucker was one of the two people I forgot. Sorry, Alando.

The other person that I forgot was Rashard Lewis, of all people. Not sure how that happened. Chris Mihm? Got him. Othello Hunter? No problem. Jeremy Richardson? A doddle. But Rashard Lewis, the most novelty oversized contract in the world today, somehow slipped my mind. Must have had deep vein thrombosis or something.

Summer league round-up: Orlando Magic

View the Magic summer league roster.

- Maurice Ager: The highlight of Maurice Ager's NBA career was when he cried on draft night after being taken at the very end of the first round. That was touching. Since then.........nothing. In three years with two teams, Ager has shot 33% from the field, put up more fouls than rebounds, and more turnovers than assists. He's a scoring specialist, yet he's never shown the ability to score on an NBA court. He's never demonstrated NBA three point range on his jumpshot, gets wild, and chucks in the few opportunities he gets. You can say, rightly, that he's never had an extended run in the NBA. Yet he's also been in it for three years now, fully healthy, yet still never seeing rotation time. He wasn't even any good on his D-League assignment. At some point, you're just not suitable.

- Lance Allred: Allred is now 28, but he's only been on the NBA radar for two years after averaging a double double with the Idaho Stampede in 2007/08. That landed him a brief stint with the Cavaliers down the stretch of the season, who waived him last October. Allred then returned to the Stampede and averaged 15.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last year; more importantly, he took his new found fame and fortune, and wrote a book about his professional basketball career. Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA is the title of Allred's book, and it's available for all good book stores, or by clicking the link there.

- Ryan Anderson: Yes, I saw how Anderson did in summer league. Yes, it was very good. Yes, he's probably a lottery selection had he been drafted in 2009 instead of 2008. Yes, I know that his rookie year PER was a solid 13.6. And yes, he's more than a throw-in to the Vince Carter deal. But he also had plenty of opportunities in his rookie year, starting 30 games and playing over 1200 minutes, just to shoot under 40% and rebound badly. He should be a nice player for the Magic, and a good fit for the system. But he's also not really a starter. Not yet.

- Brian Chase: Chase is a 5'8 score first guard. You don't need me to tell you that it's really hard to make the NBA as such a player. Nevertheless, Chase is good, and scores everywhere he goes. Last year was no different; Chase averaged 12.2 points and 2.5 assists for Le Mans in France, before moving to Dynamo Moscow to act as Jannero Pargo's replacement, where he passed more and averaged 10.7ppg/3.7rpg/2.9apg. The Magic could use a third point guard after trading away Rafer Alston, and Chase has at least a shred of NBA experience. But they'd rather have a second stringer and kick Anthony Johnson further down the bench. And even if they can't get C.J. Watson or whoever to do that, then Tyronn Lue is still a better option. Magic fans may now disagree with that.

- Ronald Dupree: He's like Courtney Lee, except he's a worse jumpshooter, quite a bit bigger, shoots every layup like Lee's game 2 effort, and has a bigger head. Doop is one of the better D-League players not to be in the NBA, and last year was the first year of his professional career that he wasn't in it for at least a bit. Hopefully we can buck that trend before it becomes a trend.

- Courtney Fells: If you watched Courtney Fells in summer league, you'll have gotten the idea of what he's like. He's a decently sized highly athletic two guard who shoots a lot, but often not very well. He's streakier than an old man's nappy after a fulfilling fry-up, and he has far from a complete all around game. For all his athleticism and occasionally brilliant shooting, he's decidedly normal, and never averaged more than 11.3 points per game in college. Why is that?

(Note: feel free to send in any "streakier than a....." similes. I'm starting to run out.)

- Levance Fields: Fields is pretty brilliant, if you like undersized point guards with little scoring talent. Good passer, though. The NBA probably isn't on the horizon, with maybe a few seasons on the fringes, but his European career has already begun; Fields has signed for Spartak St Petersburg, which is in Russia (not Florida).

- C.J. Giles: Giles was covered here. He played one game for the Magic's summer league team, playing 4 minutes and 36 seconds, scoring 2 points, grabbing 3 rebounds and recording 2 steals. A pretty solid 4 minutes and 36 steals.

- Richard Hendrix: I went on about Hendrix quite a lot during the Warriors round-up, as well as the Nuggets round-up. Unsurprisingly, he played well for Orlando in summer league, averaging 9.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He'll get signed by an NBA team this year. If he doesn't, then.......well, then Devean George, Ryan Bowen, Jason Hart, Jarron Collins, Kevin Ollie, Rob Kurz, Juwan Howard, Michael Ruffin, Malik Rose, Brevin Knight and Cedric Simmons had better not be in it either.

- Stevan Milosevic: Stevan Milosevic (often confusingly listed as Stefan) is a big old Serbian centre who plays in Germany. Last year for the Koeln 66ers, he averaged 9.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Hmm. 9/5 in the German league. It's not a lot, really. I realise that he's a big 23 year old 7 footer who's showing a modicum of offensive talent, and that such things are always highly regarded (as evidenced by Hamed Haddadi getting a contract similar to that of a late lottery selection last year), but it's not much of a resumé, really. Oh well. Duly noted. (By the way, in summer league play, Milosevic channelled his inner Chandler and totalled 7 fouls and 7 turnovers in 16 total minutes. Pretty hard to do.)

- Jeremy Pargo: Pargo is nothing like his brother Jannero, which is somewhat rare to find in brothers. He doesn't really have NBA talent, though. Being in a draft so heavy on point guards didn't help, just like it didn't help Fields, Dominic James and the rest. But he isn't a good shooter or a decision maker, and Jannero can at least do the first one.

- Kasib Powell: It's purely circumstances that have prevented Kasib Powell from having a solid 5 season NBA career so far. Ronald Dupree did, after all, and he's no better. He has the talent and a solid all around game, and has had a couple of looks. But the only NBA playing time he's ever gotten was 11 games down the stretch for the abhorrently tanking Miami Heat team of 2007/8, and that's not fair on anyone. Nonetheless, Powell has a chance here, because despite of Orlando's solid moves this summer, they could use some cheap wing depth. And personally I'm rooting for him.

- Milovan Rakovic: Rakovic was the last pick in the 2007 draft that the Magic bought off of the Mavericks. He hasn't really done anything since, averaging 8.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in the Russian league last year for Spartak St Petersburg, rebounding really badly for a 6'10 player and blocking only 2 shots in 26 games. However, next year, he'll have Levance Fields passing to him. So that should cheer him up.

- Jeremy Richardson: Richardson was with the Magic all of last season, despite them waiving him at one time. He barely played, appearing in spot minutes of 13 games and shooting 28% (including a 2-14 outing), and the Magic didn't extend a QO. His time in Orlando is especially over now that they've agreed to terms with Matt Barnes. Richardson might catch on with another NBA team next year, but that would mean he's been in the NBA for four straight years, and I'm not sure he's quite that good. He's all right, though.

- Russell Robinson: Robinson wasn't drafted in 2008, despite being the starting point guard on the national champion Kansas Jayhawks and after earning his third straight trip to the Big 12 All-Defensive team. Instead, he went to the D-League, and averaged 12.3 points, 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals for the Reno Bighorns (giggidy). He shot 45% from the field and 36% from the three point line, and had a far better second half to the season than the first one. If his offense keeps trending upwards and the defense doesn't waver, he might get a chance one day.

- Darian Townes: Townes started last in Poland, buggered off to the D-League, played there until the season finished, then went to Puerto Rico. He has already signed in Holland for next year. The most important thing here is that he won't be playing for the Orlando Magic next season.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer league round-up: Oklahoma City Thunder

View the Thunder summer league roster.

- DeAngelo Alexander: Last year, DeAngelo Alexander averaged 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in the German league, shooting 16% from three. Before that, he was in Romania. I don't think you'll need any more than this. If he does something significant one day, we'll come back to it.

- Marcus Dove: Dove is a former four year player at Oklahoma State, who went undrafted in 2008 and buggered off to Belgium. There, he averaged 10.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, shooting 7.7% from three point range and 56% from the foul line. Dove is an unashamed defensive specialist, but you can't be a complete non-factor on offense and still make it as a small forward in the NBA. Not unless you're RyBo.

- Tony Durant: The "relations of stars who got summer league spots because their star cousin/brother/uncle asked the team to bering them along" list gets a new addition. It's a great list, that over the years has featured William Pippen (Scottie's nephew), Joel Bosh (Chris's brother), John Millsap (Paul's brother), Zach Marbury (Stephon's brother), Daniel Artest (Ron's brother), Romeo Travis (LeBron James's toyboy) and Rodney Billups (Chauncey's brother). The common theme with these players is that they have absolutely no NBA calibre resumé outside of that, and Tony Durant is no different. Last year for Towson, he averaged 3.4 points and 2.0 rebounds. Towson is not a big school, in a not big conference, and those are not big numbers. At all. But the bloodline is enough.

Speaking of Joel Bosh, here's Joel Bosh being awkward.

- Moses Ehambe: Ehambe was in the D-League last year, functioning as a three point specialist for the Tulsa 66ers. He averaged 10.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 18 minutes per game, shooting 41% from both the field and the three point line. Here's a story.

Looks a bit like Kevin Garnett, no? Only a bit less intense. Obviously he's less intense. No one is more intense than Kevin Garnett. If you don't believe me, ask him yourself. Ohhhh, he'll be sure to tell you. The big silly highly intense goose.

- James Harden (giggidy): Earlier, I compared James Harden to John Salmons. I just want to reaffirm here that I mean the 17ppg version of John Salmons, not the highly awkward version of Salmons from his Philadelphia days. And hopefully Harden is a bit less awkward that Salmons is.

- DeVon Hardin (giggidy): Harden played in only 11 games last year due to injury, averaging 6.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game for Egaleo in Greece. The 1.5 blocks was enough to lead the Greek league, though, which says more about how Greek centres play than it does about DeVon Hardin. Given that Hardin and Harden are now owned by the same team, you can probably see where my childish mind is going with this; I am now openly campaigning the Oklahoma City Thunder to draft Erik Harder from Groene, Ayron Hardy from Jacksonville and Dick Hardman from Arkansas-Little Rock. Yes, I spent a very long time looking those up.

- Kyle Hines: Kyle Hines puts up numbers wherever he goes, and last year was no different. Last year, for Prima Veroli in Italy's LegaDue, Hines averaged 16.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. While it is admittedly only the Italian second division, those are huge defensive numbers. Prima Veroli also won promotion to Serie A on the back of Hines' play, and he has re-signed with the team for next season. So now he'll be taking his game to a big stage. We'll see how it translates.

- Serge Ibaka: Ibaka has already signed with the team for next season, after turning himself into hot property (not hot garbage) in Spain last year. He didn't play huge minutes last year, but he did play well in them, averaging 7.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in only 16 minutes per game for Ricoh Manresa in the ACB. 19 year olds barely see any playing time in the ACB unless they're really good, so bear that in mind. Here's a picture of Ibaka's naked torso for the ladies and/or homosexuals out there:

- Shaun Livingston: Earl Watson has been waived, and Chucky Atkins soon will be, so it's looking good here for Shaun Livingston to win a roster spot. He looks to be properly healthy now, if no better than he was pre-injuries (which is to be expected)

- Keith McLeod: Keith McLeod hasn't been in the NBA at all for the last two years, after managing to stick around for the previous 4. Dallas almost ruined that by signing him strangely early last July, but McLeod never made it out of training camp, and we were spared once again. Instead, he spent the season in the D-League, scoring 14 points per game on 40% shooting along with 4.4 assists for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He'll also be 30 in November. It's hard to fathom that this man was a 23ppg scorer in college.

- B.J. Mullens (giggidy): In keeping with a fine tradition of players who changed their names once making their big time, through fear of their former name being a perceived as childish (a list that off the top of my head consists only of Jamie Shields), B.J. Mullens wants to be known as Byron from now on. Fine. Whatever. Nick Collison's contract expires next summer, and Nenad Krstic's contract the summer after that; in theory, as those two move on to pastures anew, Mullens' role will grow accordingly. But in practice, he might suck too much.

- Richard Roby (.....giggidy?): Roby wasn't drafted in the 2008 draft, despite averaging 17/7 in his senior season as a wingman. He spent last year in Israel, averaging 9.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game in the Israeli league for Bnei Hasharon. He shot only 30% from three point range, though, so his inconsistent shooting is still a concern.

- Doug Thomas: Thomas is a weird one. He's never done a damn thing; he was a bench player for two years at Iowa, he's played in Switzerland, he's not got NBA size, he's not especially skilled, and he spent last year in Sweden of all places. And even then he couldn't average 10 points per game The only thing vaguely of note in his career was a 10/6 season with the Iowa Energy back in 2007/08. Yet somehow, the 25 year old Thomas keeps getting NBA looks, even signing with the Suns once. I guess athleticism is enough.

- Robert Vaden: As alluded to here and here, my opinions of Robert Vaden aren't very well rounded.

- Kyle Weaver: Towards the end of last season, Weaver had finally beaten out Damien Wilkins for shooting guard minutes. And it's about time somebody did. Weaver's all around game is a bit unconventional, focused on defense and passing first, but he almost managed to show more of a jumpshot that I think we all expected, shooting 34% from three point range. Not great, but not a bad start. Weaver is under contract for three more years due to a really weird deal that Sam Presti gave him, so he'll be back to backup Harden.

- Russell Westbrook: Last year, Westbrook led the NBA in turnovers, shot under 40% from the field, and shot under 28% from the three point line. He was pretty much worse than Jay Williams' rookie year, but without the oppressive Bill Cartwright version of the triangle offense to blame it on. Yet everyone will tell you that he was pretty good last year and a lot better than we all thought he was going to be. And they're kind of right.

- D.J. White: White played in only 7 games in his rookie year due to injury. He had surgery to remove a benign growth on his jaw, then had another follow-up surgery to remove another growth that also involved taking a bone graft from his hip. Tough break. When he did play, though, he was good, averaging 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18 minutes per game, shooting 52% from the field and 77% from the foul line. All things considered, that's a pretty good rookie year.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer league round-up: New York Knicks

View the Knicks summer league roster.

- Wink Adams: Adams just graduated from UNLV, where his senior season numbers were down across the board. He averaged 14.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists, shooting only 37% from the field. As a general rule, 6'0 guards that shoot 37% don't make it in the NBA, but Wink clearly has something to show.

- Alex Acker: Acker started last year with the Pistons, who salary dumped him onto the Clippers. He scored 63 points on 65 shots in the NBA last year, which isn't good. He also spent 4 games on assignment to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, averaging 18.0 points and 5.3 rebounds, but the Clippers declined his team option and didn't make him a restricted free agent. That's not a glowing endorsement.

- Blake Ahearn: Ahearn was covered here. If he can show some rudimentary point guard skills suited to the Knicks' high octane offense, then he has a chance. But the Knicks are damn short of roster spots. They have 16 under contract already, and that's before a single free agency move. This presents a problem for Ahearn.

- Morris Almond: Utah are so tax concerned right now that they had to decline Almond's third year option, even though it was very cheap and he didn't really do anything wrong. Almond doesn't have an all-around game - he's pretty much only a scorer. But even though he barely played in the NBA, and didn't do much in his time in it, he was drafted to be a scorer, and score he did. He averaged 25.6 points per game in the D-League in 2007/08, and last year averaged 22.4 points in 29.8 minutes. Of course, Almond didn't pass at all to score that many, averaging a special 1.1 assists per game. But he scored a lot, and he scored it efficiently. It's only Matt Harpring's dead weight salary keeping him out right now.

- Warren Carter: Former Illinois forward Carter played his first professional season in Turkey, then split last year between Spain and Latvia. Carter averaged 11.8 points and a slightly poor 5.0 rebounds in the Spanish ACB for Cajasol Sevilla, and then moved to the joyfully named BC Ventspils, where he led the Latvian league in rebounds (9.1 rpg) and second in blocks (1.4 bpg), to go along with 13.0 points. Carter played on the Mavericks summer league team in 2007, but didn't make the big league roster. He's not making this one, either.

- Joe Crawford: Crawford was drafted by the Lakers at the very end of the 2008 draft, and was a late season pickup by the Knicks, signed through 2010 (but for no longer, as is the Knicks way). He played in two games for the Knicks last season, and totalled 9 points and 4 rebounds. Before that, he was in the D-League, where he averaged 20.8 points and 4.6 rebounds for the L.A. D-Fenders. The retired Cuttino Mobley is probably going to be taking up Crawford's roster spot, and the drafting of Douglas also spells bad times for him. But he should be in training camp at least.

- Toney Douglas: Douglas is a very good scorer, who pretty much only scores. He averaged 21.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his senior season for Florida State, an out-and-out scorer despite his height. However, since he's with the Knicks, he could probably handle playing at point guard, such is the nature of their offense. Leandro Barbosa managed it for a time, after all.

- Patrick Ewing Jr: Last year, Sacramento drafted Ewing 42nd overall. He was then traded twice before his rookie season even began; once to the Rockets as a par of the Ron Artest deal, and then salary dumped to the Knicks in exchange for the completely arbitrary rights to Frederic Weis. This got everyone horny, given the good times that his father brought to the team, and the idea that Ewing would thrive in a higher paced offense made people want to touch themselves. But no one took enough note of the fact that Ewing sucked. He was a sixth man in college, and averaged only 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds as a senior (and that includes sitting out a season to transfer). Then in summer league for the Kings, Ewing played in three games - all starts - and totalled 45 minutes, 2 points, 7 rebounds and 12 fouls. That's really quite awful, and the Knicks cut him in the end, shattering the dreams of dozens. The only time Ewing has ever played well in significant minutes was last year in the D-League, when he averaged 16.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists in the D-League for the Reno Bighorns (giggidy). But even then, he was a sixth man. And he's 25 now. The rawness excuses run out eventually.

- Jordan Hill: The third best big man in the draft, apparently. Hill averaged 18.3 rebounds and 11.0 rebounds last year for Arizona, but was made to look pretty average when the NCAA tournament rolled around. Knicks fans dislike Hill already purely because he's not Stephen Curry; whether an imitation of Chris Wilcox by Hill this summer league would win them over or not remains to be seen.

- Ron Howard: Howard was a Buck once, although only for about two weeks. He transferred from Marquette after his freshman season and went on to put up three decent but unspectacular seasons at Valparaiso. He then travelled to Holland and Mexico, before spending the last two years in the D-League (with his short Bucks stint in between the two). Last year, in 48 games and 1,711 minutes for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Howard managed to boast the frankly impressive statistic of 0 made three pointers for the entire year, in 10 tries. This is pretty hard to do as a team's 6'5 high-scoring two guard with an 18.7 points per game scoring average. It should give you some idea of how he plays.

- Yaroslav Korolev: Korolev was a complete and total washout in the NBA, drafted by the Clippers way too high for a man with no history of ever playing well and with no obvious standout skills to project. The fact that Danny Granger was taken after him doesn't help anybody. The Clippers waived him for good in 2007 training camp, and Korolev buggered off back to his native Russia. Last year, for Dynamo Moscow, Korolev averaged 1.5 points and 1.0 rebounds in 10 Russian Superleague games. He is now 22, and is no further along than when he was 17. He still can't play. But, good luck with this.

- David Noel: Noel also did little in the NBA, playing only one and a half years for the Bucks before being waived. He spent last year in the D-League, putting up huge numbers; he started with the Albquerque Thunderbirds, averaging 17.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.3 steals in 30 games, before moving to the Reno Bighorns (etc) and averaging 19.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists in 18 games. When the D-League season ended, Noel moved to the Philippines for a summer job, averaging 20.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists for the Barangay Ginebra Kings, a team with a name not nearly as awesome as it should be for a Philippines team. His team plays in the potential title winning game tonight. And that's why he's not playing for the Knicks. Also, Noel has already agreed to sign with Roanne in the French ProA league next season. So you can cross him off your list.

- Mouhamed Sene: Like Crawford, Sene was a late season pickup that signed through 2010 for the hell of it. Like Crawford, he was waived by an NBA team earlier in the year, this time by the Thunder. Like Crawford, he's probably going to training camp. But, like Crawford, the Knicks' draft night moves (in this instance, Darko Milicic) probably just took his roster spot.

- Rashaad Singleton: In his junior season with Georgia, Singleton (whose first name is really Donald, and who looks like a picture of Nate Dogg stretched out weirdly with the contrast turned up) averaged 2.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Apparently 136 minutes of playing time wasn't enough for him, as Singleton transferred to Florida Southern down in Division 2, a team that boast the great nickname of "The Moccasins." It didn't really change much, though, because the 7'0 Singleton (whose weight I've seen listed between 220lbs and 280lbs) played in 35 games but started only 10 times, averaging 15.1 minutes per game. His averages overall were 6.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 0.5 assists. Furthermore, he shot 24-92 from the free throw line, a sizzling 26%. That's pretty brilliant. Less brilliant are Singleton's NBA chances.

- Nikoloz Tskitishvili: Skeeter also busted spectacularly in the NBA, out of it before he was ever in it. The Knicks actually had him under contract back in October 2010, but he didn't make the regular season roster. Last year he was in Spain, playing for Fuenlebrada, averaging 8.3 points and 4.1 rebounds acting as a spot-up shooting for the team. While the averages aren't good, he shot 44% from three point range, which is very good. Tskitishvili had a tryout (or two) with the Grizzlies recently, before this Knicks gig came to pass. I admire their entrepeneurial spirit.

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"The brain behind ShamSports could have been featured in a number of these Twitter lists, but because his website often spends our entire working day lodged in one of our browser tabs we decided to take the boring route and place Mark amongst the professors. Deeks might be the funniest man you've never met, he does exhaustive work with the NBA's salary minutiae and transaction follow-ups, and he's a stone-cold must-follow. Stone-cold fox, too, ladies. Or, some gentlemen."