– 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. If he does something significant from an NBA stand point 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 went 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 non-factor from the perimeter 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 bring 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 high school mate) and Rodney Billups (Chauncey’s brother). The common theme with these players is that they have 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.
– James Harden: Earlier, I compared James Harden to John Salmons. I just want to reaffirm here that I mean tthe 17 ppg version of John Salmons, not the awkward version of Salmons from his Philadelphia days. And hopefully Harden is a bit less awkward that Salmons is.
– DeVon Hardin: 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 maybe 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 bigger stage. We’ll see how it translates.
– Serge Ibaka: Ibaka has already signed with the Thunder 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:
– Shaun Livingston: Earl Watson has been waived, and Chucky Atkins soon will be, so it’s looking good here for 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 four. Dallas almost ruined that by signing him strangely early last July, but McLeod never made it out of training camp. 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.
– B.J. Mullens: 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. 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 will have to get better first.
– Richard Roby: 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 much at high levels; 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 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.
– 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 defence and passing first, but he almost managed to show more of a jump shot 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 weird deal that Sam Presti gave him, so he’ll be back to back up 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 Bill Cartwright version of the triangle offence 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 seven 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.