2009 NBA Summer League round-up: Los Angeles Clippers
July 10th, 2009

Sean Banks: Sean Banks was in the NBA once, believe it or not. It’s a period of time easily forgotten, but it did happen – after declaring early and going undrafted in the 2005 Draft, the Hornets signed him as an undrafted free agent, and assigned him to the Tulsa 66ers. He was the sixth player ever to be assigned to the D-League, but he didn’t do much there, averaging roughly 12/3. The Hornets waived him before his contract became guaranteed, and he never appeared in an NBA game. He hasn’t made it back since. However, in the 2007/08 season, Banks averaged 21.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the L.A. D-Fenders, which got him back into NBA contention, and he signed with the Raptors summer league team last year as a result. After that, he went to Turkey and played for Darussafaka, averaging 13.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. Banks would do himself a big favour if he either improved his jump shot, or put it away; he shot 101 three-pointers in 30 games last season, accounting for one in every three of his shot attempts, yet he hit only 21 of them.

More importantly, Banks is rumoured to be trying to become a British national. His father was born in England, and still lives here, which entitles Sean to a British passport. He may soon be one of us. If he is, expect me to get biased.


Nik Caner-Medley: Caner-Medley spent last year in Spain, playing for Cajasol Sevilla in the ACB. He averaged 10.7 points and 8.0 rebounds in 25 minutes a game during domestic competition, but he still hasn’t developed a great outside shot, shooting 23% from three-point range on the year. More notably, Caner-Medley was kicked off of the team at the end of the year for getting into a drunken fight with a team mate at a party thrown by the team to celebrate their season. The team mate, Michel Diouf – who reports say came off worse – was also suspended but later reinstated. Considering that the Clippers’ other small forwards are the specialist Steve Novak, the past-it Ricky Davis and the struggling Al Thornton, I’d like to think that Caner-Medley had a chance.


Dionte Christmas: Temple graduate Christmas averaged 20 points per game on 46% shooting in his sophomore year, then 20 ppg on 43% shooting in his junior year, and then 20 ppg on 41% shooting in his senior year. If he’d done them the other way around, he might have been drafted. His turnovers also trended the same way, which isn’t ideal, although his assist numbers also got better, which helps. Christmas might be able to carve himself a nice NBA career as a catch-and-shoot specialist, but he’ll first have to improve on his 35% three-point percentage from last year.


Eric Gordon: Way too good to be in summer league again. Way too good.


Blake Griffin: Same. But I suppose everyone has to have at least one year.


DeAndre Jordan: A lot of the time, you hear about players who are just athleticism and no technique, but rarely is it more true at the NBA level than it is with DeAndre Jordan. Yet some people still think he’s good for some reason. The evidence says otherwise; Jordan’s PER of 14.1 is quite good, but his PER against is 23.5, his win share rating was 1.5, his Roland Rating -7.6, his +/- rating a mere -7.5. His FG% and eFG% are both a tidy 63%, but that’s easy to do when 58% of your field goal attempts are dunks (almost all assisted) or tip ins – he shot 18% on jump shots, and 38.5% from the free throw line. Even on the night that he put up 23 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocked shots, he let his matchup Andrew Bynum score 42 and 15. For him to ever be a rotation-calibre NBA centre, his effort will have to roughly double, and his skills will have to improve about tenfold. If he doesn’t, then the guaranteed contract that he has for next season might be the last one that he ever sees.


Marcelus Kemp: Kemp played on the Lakers, but totalled only 13 points in three games. He spent last year in Italy, playing for Basket Livorno, a team fortuitously sponsored by a wicker basket making company. (Not really.) Kemp averaged 20.7 points and 4.9 rebounds on the season, but must have had a bad Christmas or something, because he only recorded six assists in the whole of 2009 (assistless in 10 of his last 11 games). He had 265 field goal attempts in that time as well. He’s a one-on-one type of player, and apparently it shows. Nevertheless, if he wanted NBA attention, he seems to have gotten it.


Kyle McAlarney: Kyle McAlarney’s offensive game is mostly three-pointers, from between 21 to 34 feet, and the limit of his point guard play is driving baseline every one in a while. He’s a little shooting guard with a dynamite shooting stroke, and few other complimentary skills. He’s awesome. He’s going to be a brilliant player next year. Guaranteed. It just won’t be at the very highest standards of basketball.


Kevinn Pinkney: Pinkney is a fine scoring big man, particularly from the mid-range game and within. It’s troubling, then, to see him take more and more threes. Pinkney averaged 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds for NGC Cantu last year, shooting 71% from both inside the arc and at the foul line. But he shot only 33% from three-point range. Why, then, did he take two and a half three pointers per game?


Mike Taylor: Portland drafted Taylor very late in the second round last year, then traded his rights to the Clippers for L.A’s second rounder this year. That was quite a high price to pay, considering that the Clippers then proceeded to suck and the pick wound up being #33 (which the Blazers then used on Dante Cunningham, another fringe Brit). Taylor showed some ability to score last year, although his defence is quite a way short and he’s not going to become a pure point guard at any point (his turnover numbers are still huge). He should make the team again, given that the Clippers don’t really have any alternatives to explore, but his contract is unguaranteed until the end of the month. And therefore, so are his chances.

Additionally, it was expected that Sofoklis Schortsanitis was going to join the team. He tried to, at least. But FIBA ruled that, because he was still under contract to Olympiacos, he wasn’t allowed to play in summer league. This only appears to be a rule that applies to him, and not anyone else, so I must be missing something here. But that’s the gist of it, at least.

It is obligatory that any mention of Sofoklis Schortsanitis is accompanied with a progress report on his weight. So, here goes.

The latest reports out of Greece state that Sofoklis has lost a staggering 105lbs since the start of last season, which is a huge amount to lose. Their target weight for him is 340, which he’s damn nearly at, supposedly. Yet those reports also state that he now weighs 349 pounds.

You can do that math yourself. That’s a formerly 454 pound man we’re talking about. That’s documentary worthy-big. It’s unfathomable in a pro basketball player.

Those reports also claim that Sofoklis is down to 12% body fat, which seems like it can’t be plausible when talking about a guy that size. But be honest, I kind of believe them. It’s obviously impossible for a 6’8 350lb guy to be carrying around anything less than a load of excess, but I’m also willing to believe that the guy is chiselled underneath the wobbly bits. Watching several Olympiacos games last year, I never quite got used quite how spectacularly massive Sofo is. He would go up against players like Nikola Pekovic, giants amongst men, and yet he’d dwarf them all. He’d be shorter, and obviously chunkier, but it’s not just weight; the guy is freaking…..huge. I can’t really explain it, really. There’s a better way to explain it then this half-hearted attempt I’ve just managed, but I don’t know what it is. He’s just magnetically massive. He’s also pretty spritely for such a giant, pretty smart and highly skilled. He’s an enigma.

However, Sofoklis is still never going to be a factor in the NBA at that weight. He’s too big. And this weight cycle has been going on for at least six years. It’s fun to be optimistic about how good he could be, but maybe we just shouldn’t try to be any more.

Posted by at 9:10 PM