The Rockets seem to have an untoward number of draft picks who never play in the NBA, as well as an uncanny knack for accumulating unwanted draft rights from other teams. They currently have nine unsigned draft picks, most in the NBA, and while quite a few of them weren’t their own picks, Newley was. The Australian guard spent his first two years after being drafted in Greece, but moved to Turkey this summer to play for Besiktas. He has averaged 16.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in Turkish league play, while upping his three-point percentage from 32% last year to 43% this year. Newley missed two months of the year due to injury, but it didn’t take him long to pick up from where he left off. In fact, his only single digit outing of the year was in the season opener.
Jared Newson is a kind of small but very athletic swingman out of Tennessee Martin (perhaps more famous for Lester Hudson), who made the Mavericks’ training camp roster in 2007 after a strong summer league performance for them. This is his fourth professional season; he spent two of his first three in Germany, and one in Australia. Martin spent this year in the D-League, split between the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the Bakersfield Jam. Between the two of them, Newson has averaged 23 minutes, 9.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, shooting 47% from the field and 30% from three.
Maryland alum Drew Nicholas is playing his second season with Panathinaikos, last year’s EuroLeague champions. Functioning as a shooting specialist, Nicholas is averaging 10.0 points in 19 minutes per game in the Greek league, alongside 10.9 ppg in 27.0 mpg in the EuroLeague. He is shooting 42% from three in the EL, and a scorching 51% from there in the A1. These numbers are strangely close to his 67% and 64% free throw percentages.
After an awkward first couple of years in the NBA, which featured stints with four teams and only 58 total minutes, Nichols tried two more teams this summer. He went to summer league with the Raptors and to training camp with the Pacers, but stuck with neither team. Nichols then went to Azovmash in Ukraine for a tryout, but lost out on a roster spot to Erik Daniels, and then went to France to play for Gravelines. In 18 French league games, he is averaging nearly 6.6 points per game, shooting 32% from three-point range.
Matt Nielsen is an Australian forward who is fouled every trip down the court and who has never made contact with a player in his life. Or so he insists to the refs. He has had a strong career, mainly in his native Australia and in Lithuania, but this year he finds himself in Spain, playing for Valencia. On the season, Nielsen is averaging 9.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in the EuroCup, alongside 8.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 2.8 apg in the ACB. He has never been much of a three-point shooter, but he’s taken pretty much every open look he’s had this year; unfortunately, that has resulted in only 29.8% three-point shooting in the ACB (14-47), and 7.7% in the EuroCup (2-26). He’s in to mix it up, with any shooting being a bonus.
Mavericks draft pick Nivins has spent his first professional season in Spain, but it’s been short. Nivins averaged 7.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in Manresa’s first 13 ACB games of the year, but he seriously injured his knee in a game on December 18th and has not played since. Manresa signed 40-year-old Larry Lewis to replace Nivins, but they’ve not had much luck with injuries this year; centre Brian Cusworth missed the first two months of the season, and Hawks draft pick Sergiy Gladyr has only just returned from six weeks out after breaking his hand punching an advertising hoarding. So to be 12th out of 18 teams like they are is ultimately a pretty good effort.
David Noel’s European career has been a bit underwhelming. He has played well during his various stints in the D-League, but he hasn’t found the right gig for him in Europe yet, and has been a fairly ordinary player. In France this year, Noel is averaging 9.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in the French league for Roanne, as well as 11.0 ppg and 3.7 rpg in the EuroChallenge. It’s not bad, but he hasn’t quite gotten going yet.
Timberwolves draft pick Norel is still with DKV Joventut, even if Ricky Rubio isn’t. He is averaging 5.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 fouls in 11 minutes per game in the ACB, alongside 4.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 fouls in 10 minutes per game in the EuroCup. He is still more about running about than skill.
I’d tell you what Moochie Norris is doing, but it’d be hard to do so more succinctly than Moochie himself. Love to see humility. Well played Mooch.
Polish big man Obrzut spent four years deep down the Kentucky bench from 2003 to 2007, averaging 2/1 in his senior season. This somehow led to a training camp contract with the Indiana Pacers in 2007. Not sure of quite how. Obrzut spent the 2007-08 season stuck on D-League benches, and returned to his native Poland for the 2008-09 season, only to be stuck on Sportino Inowroclaw’s bench. This year, Obrzut returned to America to play for an expansion ABA team, the Kentucky Bluegrass Stallions. The Stallions have made it through their first season without folding, which is rare for expansion ABA teams, and Obrzut has been their starting centre all year. Even with that, he has averaged only 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. But he’s tall.
Olowokandi is a tough one to find. He turned 35 last week and has not played since playing for the Celtics for the minimum in 2006-07. After that, there’s pretty much nothing. The only thing we know is that Olowokandi was in St Louis last month, and we know this because he said so on his official Facebook fan page, a fan page with four times fewer fans than this one. It appears there’s still time to win the competition.
Ostertag retired in 2006, and announced this year that he regretted it. In his time away from the game, Ostertag fished, hunted, played golf and hockey, and found a new love; cake-making. But he missed the game, and attempted a comeback this offseason when he worked out with the Blazers. But it didn’t work out, and now he’s back to doing what he was doing before; the fun things that become available to you when you earn lots of money and don’t piss it all away. It can’t be bad.