After giving up a pick with very lax protection to get him – in the end, it became the one used on Luke Babbitt – Charlotte have spent two years not playing Ajinca. Jinx played 182 minutes only on his rookie season, and topped that in his sophomore season with only 30 minutes played all year. He spent a lot of the year on assignment in the D-League, averaging 14.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 3.0 turnovers and 3.9 fouls in 26 minutes per game, showing some signs of scoring and shot-blocking ability while committing far too many mistakes and not defensive rebounding much. However, entering his third year, the D-League is now no longer an option. If Ajinca is going to do anything Theo Ratliff-ish, he’s going to have to do some of it in his third year. If he doesn’t, there might not be a fourth.
Despite doing little in four years at Georgia Tech, Aminu was drafted 10th overall in the D-League draft. And despite doing little in the D-League, Aminu managed to get a 10 day call-up from the Heat last year. The oft-banded about comparison for Aminu is Chris Andersen, and however raw he is right now, he’s got more offensive talent than Andersen had when his raw untattooed self stumbled into the Nuggets rotation once upon a time. But whatever Aminu is going to be, he’s a long way from it yet. He’s too inconsistent, and just not especially productive as a shot-blocker or rebounder right now.
Anderson signed with the Bobcats in training camp last year, but did not make the team. At the time, with Ronald Murray and Raja Bell at shooting guard alongside D.J. Augustin and the recently drafted Gerald Henderson, and with Raymond Felton at point, the Bobcats were all right for guards. Anderson went elsewhere, spending most of the year in the D-League and spending a couple of 10 day contracts with the Thunder. He’s still not ideally suited to point guard, which is what the Bobcats need the most, but he has more of a chance than he did last year. And he came pretty close last year.
This is Bowman’s fifth straight season of trying to make the NBA, and he has gotten training camp contracts twice; last year with the Sixers, and in 2006 with the Nets. The versatile Georgetown forward put up his usual brand of versatile numbers last year, averaging 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game for Turkish team Tofas Bursa, even shooting an acceptable 35% from three point range. Bowman is still only 25 and continues to improve his jump shot and turnovers; however, the fact that he doesn’t stand out in any one facet of the game continues to count against him. All fringe NBA players need profiling, whether they should do or not. Bowman can drive, handle, shoot, spin-move, defend, rebound, run and athleticise, with no discernible weaknesses other than a lack of discernible strengths.
Brown was pretty solid in his rookie year for Charlotte, averaging 3.3 points and 1.4 rebounds in less than 10 mpg, with a PER of 12.6. He would have played more were it not for Larry Brown’s Larry Brown-like love for Stephen Graham – the comparable and yet inferior player played 804 minutes to Brown’s 535, and in front of them both, starting small forward Gerald Wallace played 41 minutes per game. Wallace also played in a career high 76 games in spite of that. Given his fragile nature, though, those MPG might want to come down a bit. Brown is more than capable of playing a larger role.
Clemente is about as quick as guards can get, even with the ball, and demonstrates that in the open court. But when it’s not flying down the court in transition, Clemente has problems. He’s not a particularly good outside shooter, yet he has rash shot selection and lets his average jumpers fly anyway. He doesn’t turn the ball over much as a lead guard, yet he also doesn’t create opportunities for team mates outside of the basics. For all his speed, he’s small and slender, unable to finish around the basket or to change anyone’s direction of travel on defence. It’s all floaters, one man transition opportunities, electric speed with or without the ball, the occasional hot shooting night, and plenty of yelling, enthusiasm and unrelenting confidence. A great combination for a college point guard, but not NBA material.
I was fully prepared to besmirch whoever drafted Sherron Collins early in the late first or early second round of last month’s draft. Fully prepared. In a post that never got published, I had written the following rallying cry against Sherron Collins;
Is Sherron Collins really as strong as they say he is, or does he just have a ridiculously wide neck? And if he IS really strong, what good is that if he doesn’t do anything with it? Collins is a good shooter and a fine ball handler, but he tends to use that ball handling ability just to get jump shots off, often counter-productively. He is not a floor leader or a half court point guard, not a great pick-and-roll or penetrate-and-kick player; instead, he’s an undersized scorer prone to occasional streetball moments and weight problems. He has the weight of a 4 year career at a big program behind him, and all the journalistic love that comes with it. But unless he improves throughout the duration of his rookie contract, I don’t think he’ll get another one.
As you can probably tell, I’m not convinced by Sherron Collins.
However, taking me completely by surprise (and presumably him as well), Collins went undrafted. Now, it’s a different story. As an undrafted pickup, I commend the move. Player’s abilities are all relative to expectations, and by going undrafted, Collins’s expectations crashed. Now that nothing is expected of him by any NBA team, I am more confident in his abilities to play in it.
Athletic rebounding combo forward Gilstrap has already signed in Turkey for next season, joining Turk Telekom. Diamon Simpson signed at the same time as him, which seemed strange considering how much the two duplicate each other; however, regardless of how it works out in Turkey, it doesn’t do much for Gilstrap’s chances with the Bobcats.
Ginyard is here because he played for North Carolina. There’s not a lot more to it than that. He is not an NBA calibre talent; his defensive ability is pretty good but not great, and his offence is limited to the uncontested drive, plus the occasional really really really really ridiculously high arcing jump shot. And it’s not a good high arcing jump shot. A combination of local ties and the program he came from has gotten him here, yet it should go no further. He can make some money in Europe, however.
Hazzard is a 6’2 scoring guard who just completed a four year career at Troy University in the Sun Belt Conference. I watched him play there – I’m not kidding when I tell you that I will watch anything – and the following is a verbatim quote of my Brandon Hazzard notes.
Very much a scorer with lots of threes. Almost none of anything else. High TO’s. Quick, has a pull-up.
It’s not the lengthiest, exhaustive or most grammatically perfect scouting report in the world, yet a long at the stats corroborates it fairly well. On the season, Hazzard averaged 33.1 minutes, 16.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game; if that doesn’t count as “almost none of anything else,” then nothing does. Hazzard also turned it over 2.3 times per game, resulting in a 0.68:1 assist/turnover ratio. In a 6’2 guard, that’s pretty bad. There are plenty of places in this world suitable for quick jump shooting undersized scoring guards – France, for example – yet the NBA is not one of them.
Henderson’s rookie year was a poor one. He did not get much opportunity, averaging only 8.3 minutes per game in only 43 contests, but he also didn’t play well when he did. Henderson shot only 36% from the field and 21% from three point range, defending fairly well and getting to the line at a decent rate but not contributing offensively outside of that. I still believe that the open-court and better spaced NBA game will benefit Henderson in the long run, and he certainly is not as bad as he showed in his rookie year; however, playing on a team behind a 39mpg shooting guard and a 41mpg small forward, opportunities will be hard to come by. (Good old Larry. At least you got to the playoffs. Screw everything else.)
After three teams in two years, Jawai couldn’t get so much as a qualifying offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves. They traded for him to fill out their roster in last year’s training camp, and even gave him a couple of starts, but Jawai responded with bad foul and rebounding rates, and a PER of only 11.0. He then injured his ankle and played very sparingly after January; the team then saw fit to bring in Greg Stiemsma for the remainder of the season and did not extend Nate a qualifying offer. Those things do not bode well.
If Jawai proves to be healthy and in shape, that’s one thing. Yet even if he does, Charlotte might not be the best place for him. Due to their insanely bad salary management, the Bobcats already have two backup centres earning over $6 million, one of whom (Lasagna Diop) is tied in for three more years. With Alexis Ajinca hanging around as the permanent project, Jawai doesn’t seem to have a shot here.
Apparently the Bobcats are quite up on their Sun Belt Conference players. Playing for Louisiana-Lafayette, Johnson was the conference’s star performer, and by far and away its most improved player. After barely playing in his first two seasons, Johnson factored in the rotation in his junior season, before exploding in his senior season to become the 2009-10 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, with averages of 17.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Johnson is a versatile offensive and defensive player, with a semblance of a jump shot, the ability to post up and some decent ball-handling for a 6’8 player, athletic enough to defend both forward spots and the occasional two guard as well. He turns it over too much and still needs to work on the jump shot, but from nowhere, the boy got legitimately good.
McNeal went undrafted last year, so he went to summer league with the Kings and training camp with the Clippers. Making neither roster, McNeal went to Belgium to begin his playing career with Dexia Mons-Hainaut. In 14 Belgian league games with the team, McNeal averaged 15.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals in 28 minutes per game, before being kicked off the team in March after testing positive for marijuana. As first professional seasons go, being kicked out of Belgium is not the best. McNeal also didn’t grow any, and remains a solid but unspectacular 6’3 shooting guard.
Speaking of pot, here’s Darius Miles. After his painful soap opera of a comeback attempt in the 2008/09 season ended with Memphis actively encouraging him to leave and an arrest for pot possession, Miles sat out last season, ostensibly to “get back into playing shape.” He’s now back again, again, and ready to make his comeback’s comeback.
Miles wasn’t actually bad for Memphis, having to re-invent himself as a smaller big man. He played less than 300 minutes but posted a PER of 16.1, which would have tied his career best had he played a more significant number of minutes. He chipped in with some rebounds, blocked a ton of shots, and even found a free throw stroke for somewhere, not the world-beating athlete of his youth but still a good one, even after the supposedly career ending knee injury. However, this was all undermined when it was revealed that Memphis were worried about Miles’s poisonous attitude, the reason why they did not invite him back. Of all the things Miles needs to work on – health, staying in shape, jump shot, ball skills, not smoking pot – this one must come first if this comeback is ever to get anywhere.
Pargo has been a target of the Bobcats for a while, and with at least one point guard vacancy open right now, he has a chance of making the team. He spent his first professional season in Israel, where he averaged 14.1 points and 4.5 assists (fifth in the league) for Galil Gilboa. Jeremy is nothing like Jannero, which is his best quality; he’s a ball handler, a point guard, an athlete and a creator, a non-shooter but a strong slasher, who doesn’t always make the right decision but who can always make something happen. With the Bobcats targetting him for over a year now, and with their need for at least two new point guards, a good showing here might get him a training camp contract.
Former Raptors draft pick Pape Sow started last year in Poland with Prokom Gdynia, leaving in January to move to Spain. For Alicante, Sow averaged 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, but also fouled 3.4 times per game in only 17 minutes. Sow turns 29 in a couple of months, and this is his prime. So the excuse of his underdeveloped offence being due to inexperience no longer really applies. He can produce on both ends of the court, enjoys a good European career because of it, and will do a for a good while yet, but he never quite achieved NBA talent.
Another former Raptors draft pick, Tucker spent a year and a half in the Ukraine with BC Donetsk, winning a Ukrainian championship in his first year. While leading the Ukranian Superleague about halfway through his second season, however, Donetsk went bankrupt, and were folded. Tucker had to find a new team, and will probably never find all those paychecks he is still owed.
Tucker improved his jump shot a bit in the Ukraine, but it disappeared again in Israel. He is the same player he ever was; a 6’5 rebounder and defender without a great jump shot, but who’ll do a decent impression of an entry level Bonzi Wells. Players like this just need one person to love them for them to stick in the NBA – the somewhat similar Trenton Hassell just finished up $27 million contract – yet Tucker has not had this yet.
After thee unsuccessful years, Williams fell out of the league in January. Dallas knew they had made a mistake in trading for him, and knew they’d compounded that mistake by exercising his fourth year team option without doing their homework on his play and personality; rather than compound that mistake by waiving Williams to open up a roster spot for Jake Voskuhl, they kept him on the roster (but away for the team) until they could find somewhere to salary dump him. New Jersey became that team, and the Najera/Humphries/Williams trade saved Dallas about $3 million in luxury tax payments. Rather that than Jake Voskuhl.
Williams didn’t play for either the Mavericks or the Nets, and did not sign elsewhere after being waived. On January 13th, Williams turned himself onto authorities to face four charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture/deliver/sell, and four charges of conspiracy to manufacture/deliver/sell a controlled substance (specifically, codeine). As far as I can tell from online court records, Williams was sentenced to a diversionary program. Nonetheless, his NBA career is almost certainly over, and four years in, he still doesn’t have a basketball career to call his own. It’s been nothing but bad stuff so far.