Since Cleveland and Dallas haven’t announced their rosters yet, and Charlotte aren’t having one, we’ll advance list this along to Denver, whose summer league effort this year is a strange one. Their roster is only small, but they’ve made a decent effort nonetheless..
– Derrick Byars: Byars survives as a testament to the reign of Billy King as Sixers general manager. The Sixers acquired the 30th pick in the 2007 draft as a part of the Allen Iverson to Denver trade, but they decided that they didn’t want the guaranteed contract that it necessitated. Therefore, on draft night, the Sixers traded the pick to the Blazers for the #41 pick and cash, using the 41st pick on Byars. They then waived Byars in training camp, and wound up with just the cash. Nice return on a first-round draft pick, that, particularly one which featured a second-round with Marc Gasol, Ramon Sessions, Glen Davis and Carl Landry in it. Byars’ only other NBA flirtation came when he signed with the Thunder in training camp last year, but he didn’t make the team. He then went to the D-League, and averaged 17.7ppg and 4.9rpg for the Bakersfield Jam, but there’s a guy elsewhere on his list who has taken any potential roster spot that Byars may have had. (Clue: it rhymes with “creams”.)
– Dontaye Draper: Draper is a 5’11 guard out of the College of Charleston, who was also on the Nuggets 2007 summer league roster. He split last season between France and Belgium, averaging 20.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists in the EuroChallenge for Hyeres-Toulon Var Basket (the French half of that split). Draper has been trying to establish himself as more of a pass-first guard over the years, which is kind of necessary when you’re 5’11, but while the assist numbers have continued to go up, so have the turnovers (he averaged 5.1 assists in the French league last year, but against 4.5 turnovers). He also doesn’t shoot well, shooting poorly from the foul line and inconsistently at best from three-point range. As quick and explosive as he is, it’s difficult to play in the NBA if you’re a 5’11 shoot first-player who’s prone to turnovers and not the best shooter. Although maybe it’s not all about the NBA – at most European levels, he is too quick to stop..
– Ronald Dupree: Dupree was in camp, too, but with the Cleveland Cavaliers. If you’re willing to count that, he’s now been in the NBA for parts of the last six years, which is not bad going. Dupree spent last year in the D-League, averaging 19.8/6.6/3.7 for the Tulsa 66ers, and 17.3/7.2/3.9 after a midseason trade to the Utah Flash. That’s not half bad from a guy who’s better on the defensive end, and if the Nuggets decide they can’t overpay Dahntay Jones, then Dupree is a minimum-salary replacement waiting to happen. But then again, Captain Creams might be in his way, too.
– C.J. Giles: Giles went to summer league with the Raptors last year, and played sufficiently well for them to get a training camp contract with the Lakers. If that makes sense. His only plus-NBA skill is his athleticism, but then again, the same can be said of DeAndre Jordan, and people love him. Giles spent last year in the D-League, averaging 12.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 4.5 fouls per game for the L.A. D-Fenders, and 8.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 2.8 fouls for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He then went off to the Philippines in May for the Asian Club Championships, where he totalled 73 points and 46 rebounds in four games. Giles has no significant pre-NBA resumé to speak of, having been kicked off of two college teams, having only one professional season under his belt, and having underdeveloped skills outside of what his length and leap get him. But he’s tall and jumpy.
– Richard Hendrix: Last year, the Warriors drafted Hendrix 49th overall, and signed him to a three-year contract. They then waived him in December when Monta Ellis returned from the suspended list, choosing to do so over waiving Rob Kurz (who just left as an unrestricted free agent) and Marcus Williams (who they waived later anyway). Williams never appeared in a game for the Warriors, yet he got paid a guaranteed salary anyway, and is even going to get $100,000 from the team this season as well. His situation is kind of symptomatic of the Warriors management last season. Hendrix then went to the D-League, and averaged 11.6 rebounds in 31 minutes per game for the Dakota Wizards. If he sounds like a man who has NBA talent to you, that’s because he has.
– Coby Karl: Karl was covered in the Celtics round-up, but he features on the Nuggets roster as well because his dad is the head coach. And that makes it easier to make rosters. Walker Russell was once briefly a Knick because his dad is a scout for the team, and Jason Capel was a Bobcat for a couple of weeks because his dad Jeff was an assistant coach at the time. It’s all very who-you-know, this NBA thing.
– Tywon Lawson: I want it on record that I don’t think Ty Lawson will be a worse NBA player than Jonny Flynn, the man taken twelve places ahead of him. I will accept the shellacking if I’m wrong, but take your time in reminding me of that, since one of them has Chauncey Billups for company next year, and one of them have Sebastian Telfair.
– Kareem Rush: Rush is still a one-dimensional scorer, and he’s still not a very efficient one. He scored 54 points on 58 shots last year with the Sixers, lowering his overall career numbers to 2,204 points on 2,178 shots. The Sixers appear to have realised that they, as the employers of Willie Green, are the last team that needs another shooting guard like that. And they’re right.
– Cedric Simmons: If you’re an optimist, you’ll look at Cedric Simmons’ age and his draft position, and think that he’s a worthwhile prospect for your team to take a flyer on. “There must be something there”, after all. Well, if there is, it’s on one end, as he so far has been one of the worst offensive players in the league. He also is a sub-par rebounder, doesn’t move too well, hasn’t NBA size, and has all the polish of a schoolyard bundle. He shoots worse from the foul line than Ben Wallace or Chuck Hayes, and although he is good for one or two poster blocks a year and is a deterrent around the rim, he does not move outside of the paint defensively nearly as well. It’s all a bit limited..
– Sonny Weems: Weems is partially guaranteed for next season, to the tune of $174,284, a seemingly arbitrary amount the logic behind which I can’t figure out. Nevertheless, he should make the team easily enough, and might even get an expanded role if Dahntay doesn’t return. Weems spent most of last year in the D-League, where he averaged 21.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 28 minutes per game for the Colorado 14ers. Pretty good, that. And that’s why the first two players on this list need to turn to prayer.