Something I had forgotten about in the Hornets summer league round-up, pointed out to me by ticktock6 of Hornets Hype.com, was that Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter will be joining the Hornets roster once their as-yet-uncompleted trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder goes down. This goes some way to explaining why their roster is, frankly, a bit weak.
However, a look at the upcoming Nets roster also highlights the flaws in the Hornets’s lineup. New Jersey have on their team many undrafted players from this year’s draft class, several of whom could easily have been second-round picks. There are a couple of also-rans, of course, but with roster spots to be won, the Nets have drawn a crowd of players who can certainly win them. This is in contrast to the Hornets roster, which, apart from the NBA players on it, has few possible NBA players on it.
(If that makes sense.)
Julian Wright was intended to play on the Hornets team as well, but he opted out. Doesn’t seem like a smart move for a man who needs to both win favour and improve greatly.
There are many undersized shooters in the world, most of them pretending to be point guards to advance that career. However, Abrams has no such pretense; he’s a shooter and plays accordingly. This is evident in his first professional career, where he played for Trikalla in Greece and put up A.J. Abrams-like numbers; 17.3ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.0apg.
Abrams left the team in December and did not play elsewhere that season. He was on the Nets summer league roster last year as well, but did not make the team. Indeed, as a 5’11 shooter with no point guard skills, he never will make an NBA team. He is what he is; undeniably talented, but not fit for the NBA.
Atchley, who graduated from Texas at the same time as Abrams, screwed the pooch somewhat in his senior season and went undrafted. To his credit, he was trying to adjust his game around Dexter Pittman, which is why he ended up becoming primarily a three-point shooter. But it didn’t help. From there, Atchley started his first professional season in Turkey with Darussafaka, but left after only 2 games, 27 minutes and 3 points. He returned to the D-League with the Dakota Wizards and played 33 games there before being dealt to the Iowa Energy, where he played his usual irritating defence and put away the jump shot (albeit not entirely by choice; he shot 0-14 from three in 47 D-League games).
Atchley plays good and persistent interior defence, grabs some boards and hits open shots. There’s nothing to dislike. But there’s also nothing that stands out.
Carter had a much-improved senior season at Baylor after Curtis Jerrells left. Rather than just standing in the corner and waiting for passes, Carter was allowed to handle the ball and run the offence, and he proved that he could. Carter was efficient with the ball, ran the team in the open floor and the halfcourt, and mixed in his long range jump shot with an endless series of floaters. He finished the season averaging 15.0 points and 5.9 assists per game; to put that into some context, the 5.9 assists per game tied for fifth in Division I. And three of the five players ahead of him (Evan Turner, John Wall, Greivis Vasquez) were all first-rounders.
He’s still small, very small. Not as small as Devan Downey, but still small. However, save for about 20 lbs, some leaping ability and four years of media love, there’s not much to separate Tweety from someone like A.J. Price. Such is life.
Chism would be easy to like if he knew how to wear a headband. Sadly, he has absolutely no idea.
He’s a likeable player, an athletic 6’9 big man with a rangy jump shot and an ability to get open without the ball. Chism gives forth effort, has decent physical tools, and can make shots, but he doesn’t really post up and fouls far too much defensively. And he also clearly has no idea what angle he sweats at.
Jakim Nestakaya Donaldson is a 26 year old power forward formerly of Division II school Edinboro. He has spent the last four years playing for Spanish team Ciudad de La Laguna Canarias, helping them in 2008 win promotion from the LEB Silver (third division) to the LEB Gold (second division), and helping them get to the LEB Gold semi-finals this season. The athletic Donaldson is La Laguna’s best player, averaging 17.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 blocks per game last season on 60% shooting from the field and 76% from the line. He’s certainly capable of a move up the ranks from the Spanish second division. But the NBA might be a leap too far.
The Big Sexual completely redefines a power forward rotation that last year was nothing short of putrid. How he and Left Eye Lopez co-exist is called into question; both have ok-to-decent jump shots, yet are post players on both ends, and should play as such. It’s a pleasant problem to have, though. Much more pleasant than trying to find a use for Yi Jianlian.
By the way, look at the money in the power forward market so far. Players like Amar’e Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Bosh will be getting max money, or at least close to it. Other players such as Carlos Boozer and David Lee will get paychecks upwards of eight figures a year, and others on the market such as Drew Gooden and Amir Johnson have already been overpaid. This, therefore, begs an obvious question: why the hell didn’t Kris Humphries opt out?
Once intriguing, Vernon Goodridge absolutely and completely fell off the map. He enrolled at Mississippi State aged 21, and barely played for two seasons. He then sat out a year while transferring to La Salle, and then averaged 6.7ppg, 5.9rpg and 1.6bpg in 2008-09 for the Explorers at the ripe old age of 25. His professional career since then has involved one stop (in a Dominican Republic minor league with the catchy name of the ABASAPEMA) and one dismissal from the team (for an undisclosed breach of contract). That begins and ends the chronicles of Vernon Goodridge so far.
Former San Diego State guard Heath played in Cyprus last year for APOEL Nicosia, where he averaged 13.5 points and 5.2 assists per game. That was enough for third in the league in scoring, fifth in assists, and a championship.
This is Heath’s third turn on the summer league merry-go-round, a carousel he’ll never quite get off. Heath can get to the basket, and his jump shot is pretty good in spite of his cack-handed release. However, he’s a solid yet unspectacular 6’4 scoring guard. Good enough to play in any league, except this one.
Damion James can post, run, rebound, play help defence, play man to man defence, grow beards, and shoot better than he used to. His ball-handling ability is limited to the three steps it takes to the basket, but that’s enough, and while he’s only 6’7, that’s enough too. James is athletic enough to be productive in the NBA at the small forward position, and a lack of ball-handling doesn’t change that.
It’s just a shame that he’ll do so on the team already with Terrence Williams. The two are not identical by any means, but in an ideal world, they’ll fit much the same role. And it might be a struggle to play them together.
Peters is a journeyman power forward formerly of UNLV, whose professional career has taken place mostly in Korea and the D-League. Last year was no different; he started out in Korea with the LG Sakers (5.5ppg, 3.0rpg) then moved to the D-League to play for the L.A. D-Fenders (13.6ppg, 5.1rpg). Peters is a nice D-League player, without NBA talent. But the CV boost will be most welcome.
The Celtics waived Pruitt in the summer before his contract became guaranteed. He caught on with the Knicks for training camp, but did not make the team and went to the D-League. Pruitt started with the L.A. D-Fenders and averaged 11.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists, but when he moved to the guard-heavy Utah Flash in January, his numbers dropped to only 11.1/2.5/2.5 per game. Pruitt shot a combined 25-94 from three point range, and had an assist/turnover ratio of only just over 1:1. In the three years since being drafted, he has not improved.
Ruoff is a shooter out of West Virginia who didn’t shoot very well in his first professional season. He spent it in Belgium, playing for Liege and averaging 6.6ppg in the Belgian league, but he shot almost four three-pointers a game to get that mark, and hit them at only 32%. He scored 244 points on 227 shots. In Belgium. The Nets need shooters, but there are other options out there.
The Hawks signed Siler for training camp last season, but despite their perennial lack of centres, they did not keep him. Siler then went to China, where he averaged 14.1ppg, 9.3rpg and 1.6bpg in only 23.2 mpg. His per minute numbers are obviously substantial, and the field goal shooting (76%) was as ridiculously freaking efficient as ever, but unfortunately Siler can’t stay on the court. After putting up 13 points, 14 rebounds, 7 blocks and 6 fouls on 32 minutes on debut, Siler’s PT after that was inconsistent due to his foul problems. Only four times did he play more than 30 minutes per game, and he once fouled out in only 10. Siler averaged 4.2 fouls per game while playing less than half of it, which is quite an extreme problem. (Mind you, Amir Johnson just got $7 million a year after a lifelong struggle with the same problem.)
Scoring that efficiently cannot be overlooked, though. The lowest field goal percentage Siler has ever shot anywhere, ever, is 68.9%. That is simply ridiculous, and it makes a team want to overlook the flaws in his game. Rightly. Siler has a chance.
Mike Shasheffski thinks Lance Thomas can play in the NBA. But he’s maybe the only one who does. Thomas is defensively versatile, able to guard both forward spots, the bigger centres, and perform admirably on guards when switching. However, that’s about it. He just can’t score, he just can’t dribble, and he just doesn’t rebound. Ryan Bowen got by for many years on much the same skill set, but he shouldn’t have done, and nor should Lance Thomas. He’ll make money somewhere, but not in the NBA.
(And anyway, how do you get Shasheffski from Krzyzewski?)
He was the only 30-year-old Polish centre in the D-League this season. Playing for the Reno Bighorns, Trybanski averaged 15.6 minutes, 7.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, shooting 66% from the field and 69% from the line. He bookended his season nicely, totalling 10 points, 6 rebounds and 9 blocks in the second game of the season, and 17 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks in the penultimate one. For two games, at least, the potential Jerry West saw in him was realised.
Trybanski has actually already signed a contract for next season, joining up with Czech Republic team BK Prostejov. I guess he just wanted to give the NBA one final shot on the dismount.
It was entirely possible that Uzoh would get drafted. After all, we are a mere 12 months removed from when Patrick Beverley was drafted, and he was picked in a draft stacked with small guards. Uzoh resembles Beverley defensively, good size for a point guard with a huge wingspan and fine athleticism, and can harass opposing point guards when he tries to. It’s also perhaps unfair to overly penalise the guy for being a mediocre playmaker, since it’s not exactly easy to set up shots for starting forwards Bishop Wheatley and Joe Richard when the two just can’t score. When it came to feeding the post for Jerome Jordan – which was about half of Tulsa’s offence – Uzoh was pretty good at it. And when it came to creating for himself – which was about the other half – he wasn’t bad at that either.
Unfortunately, like Beverley, Uzi is still not much of a ball-handler or a shooter. But Beverley scored a gig with Olympiacos this year as a defensive role player. Uzoh could get something similar down the road. Or, if he gets something even better then that, he is a logical Keyon Dooling replacement. Time will tell.
Williams had a fine end to his rookie season, including putting up a triple-double in a win over the Bulls. (An extremely painful win which we assumed ended our season. But we just about got away with it.) Williams demonstrated the same skills he did at Louisville; athleticism, perimeter defence, rebounding, good passing ability, and solid secondary ball-handling. But in spite of his rousing crescendo, Williams also demonstrated that he’s not a scorer. He took 651 shots to score 656 points, shooting 40% from the field, 31% from three and 71% from the line, and not getting to the line much anyway. He is a useful role player that has no go-to shot to call his own. Having better players around him will help, and the versatility and overall impact of Williams’s game is genuine. But a role player is a role player, and ought to be viewed as such.
Zoubs led the NCAA last year in defensive rebounding percentage, and by quite a long way. Zoubek pulled in 21.4 percent of all defensive rebounds; the only other players over 17% were DeMarcus Cousins (5th overall) and Justin Rutty from Quinnipiac (an athletic 6’7 lefty who is doggedly persistent, but who bleeds turnovers and struggles to score). Zoubek is six inches taller than Rutty at a huge 7’1, and will prolifically grab rebounds wherever he goes; for this reason, it’s somewhat amazing that he didn’t get drafted. The era of the big slow clunky backup centre is dwindling, yet there should still be room for the good ones. Zoubek’s offence is awkward and his defence is post-specific (which is not the same as being post-modern), but he wins your team the ball.
Isn’t that the purpose of centres?
EDIT – Uzoh and Zoubek have both signed official contracts with the team. Good signings, and both may stick.