Ryan Brooks is a shooting guard whose nose is a different colour to the rest of his body. He just graduated from Temple, where he led the team in scoring in his senior season with 14.6 points per game. He also chipped in 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, while turning it over only 1.2 times, an incredibly solid number. He’s a solid all-around player and a quality college guard; unfortunately, there’s nothing that stands out about his game. Brooks is slightly undersized, a mediocre athlete, a crafty scorer but not a standout shooter, an interested and pretty effective defender without the physical tools to be so at the next level, a man who doesn’t make many mistakes but who doesn’t create much either. That’s a summer league calibre player, but not an NBA calibre player. Not at 6’4, at least. But he’ll make some money in Europe.
Sandwiched amongst all their vetoed Timberwolves first rounders from the Joe Smith debacle came Ndudi Ebi, a half-British man who was a first-round draft pick of the team in 2003 out of high school. He did not justify his draft billing and failed to even get to the third season of his rookie contract, but not before a shambolic a moment that saw the Timberwolves ask the NBA if they could send Ebi down to the D-League for his third season, in circumvention of the rule that states only rookies or sophomores can be assigned by teams to the D-League. Their justification for the request? Ebi hadn’t played much, and thus didn’t really have two years experience. The NBA denied the request, and Ebi was waived to accommodate the incoming Ronald Dupree.
After leaving the NBA, Ebi spent a couple of years in the D-League (fittingly), playing very averagely. He then spent a year in Israel and a year in Italy’s Serie A, before spending last season in Italy’s Lega Due (second division) playing for Rimini. There, Ebi averaged 15.3 points and a huge 13.6 rebounds per game, alongside 3.2 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. He had to drop all the way down to the Italian second division to do it, but Ndudi Ebi finally starred. Now, he has something to build from.
Before Shelvin Mack came Mike Green, a player who transferred to Butler from the less-than-mighty Towson State, and vaulted his way into the NBA’s spotlight. Green is good at most things, even rebounding well for a 6’1 guard (to the tune of 4.3 in 31mpg last year); this year, playing for Liege in Belgium, Green was 9th in the league in scoring and 6th in assists, leading Liege to the D1 Finals. However, his outside jump shot, always a concern, reared its ugly head again; Green shot only 30% from three point range, and shot only 31% from there in Turkey in 2008/09. Were it not for that, he’d probably have made an NBA roster by now.
Goodridge was covered previously in the New Jersey Nets summer league roster round-up.
Hardin is an athletic 6’11 ex-Cal centre, whose athleticism and size are the majority of his game. He blocks some shots, but is a pretty mediocre rebounder, and he has no post offence. He can stick the occasional mid range jump shot and runs the floor better than almost everyone else of that size; however, his two year professional career so far has been highly disappointing, as Hardin has not developed or refined his game any from its athletic base coat.
Bizarrely, DeVon Hardin is a former draft pick of the Sonics/Thunder, who is appearing on the Sixers roster. Even more bizarrely, he isn’t on the Thunder’s one. And even more bizarrely still, as we’ll see later, Hardin is not the only person in this to be cheating on their team in that way. Philadelphia, you home wrecking slut.
Holiday’s rookie season was a mixed bag. He shot 39% from three point range, shoring up one of his weaknesses early, but he also turned it over 2.1 times a game in 24 minutes. He also posted very bad defensive statistics, yet this is attributable in no small part to the fact that from the very first day of his career, he drew all the toughest defensive assignments, a task to which he took admirably. Of course, it also won’t have helped him that Philly really didn’t run an offence worth a damn, had no set rotation or balance in ther lineup, relied on Andre Iguodala as the primary halfcourt creator (which he just isn’t that good at), and had a coach devoted to a playbook entirely ill-suited to his personnel. And considering Holiday turned 20 only three weeks ago, we can overlook slightly excessive turnover numbers at his age in the midst of such turmoil.
Love is a big man out of Xavier whose weakness is that he has no weaknesses. If that doesn’t make sense, the following elaboration probably won’t help.
Love is a 6’9 centre, not quick or very athletic, but very strong. He’s a good rebounder and capable offensive player, able to finish around the basket and make foul shots. He is physical but not clumsy, is a smart player, who plays good man to man post defence and who rotates pretty impeccably on his rotations. Aside from being a bit slow, there are no obvious weaknesses to Love’s game.
However, there are also no major strengths. There’s just no one facet of the game in which he stands out. As a 6’9 centre, that won’t get it done in the NBA. But it will in Europe.
The Sixers obtained Meeks from the Bucks at the trade deadline in one of John Hammond’s overly fiddly moves. (He trades away Meeks for no reason partway through his rookie year, but then trades a future second to bring in Chris Douglas-Roberts a few months later? What was wrong with Meeks?) Jodie instantly became one of the Sixers’s best shooters, and in that respect he fills a need. He didn’t get a huge amount of opportunity with Philly kast year, and probably won’t do this year either for as long as Willie Green is around. However, Green’s contract expires after this season. And once it does, if Meeks is still around, he might (ought) get the chance to take Green’s place.
Muonelo is a fairly athletic wing player and a shooter, whose shot selection has improved over the years. To go with that athleticism, he is very strong, and can play good defence on opposing wings when he wants to. He also became an interested rebounder in his junior season, when Oklahoma State played a four guard lineup and needed someone (anyone) to do it.
But like Love, he has no stand-out characteristics about his game. Muonelo is prone to bad shots and prone to daydreaming on defence, and he loves the jump shot more than he loves his strength advantage. His free throw shooting also got worse year on year in college, for no obvious reason whatsoever. Muonelo will probably be a fine D-Leaguer if he goes that route, and could well be back here next year. But he’s not an NBA player.
Plaisted is the second member of this list to have his draft rights held by another NBA team. He is a former draft pick of the Pistons, who missed all but two games and 31 minutes before succumbing to a back injury. He returned this year and played for KK Zadar in Croatia, for whom he averaged 6.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in the powerhouse Adriatic League.
Why he is on the Sixers roster and not the Pistons one is not immediately clear – the same can be said of Hardin, who is on the Sixers roster but not the Thunder’s. Last year, Charlotte allowed Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown to play on other team’s summer league rosters, but they did this because they did not have one of their own. Detroit and Oklahoma City do. And yet they chose not to include them. It’s a poser.
The first season of Simmons’s professional career outside of the NBA was disjointed and largely underwhelming. He started it with Peristeri in Greece, but was released in preseason, and returned to America to play in the D-League. After 13 games with the Idaho Stampede – in which he averaged 14.8ppg, 7.1rpg and 2.9bpg – Simmons left to go play in China, where he averaged 19/9/2 for the Dongguan New Century Leopards. But if those numbers look impressive, then the competition in which they came need to be considered; the D-League and the CBA are both stat-friendly places, particularly for big men. Simmons bookended his season with a return to Greece, where he averaged 3.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for Kavala/Panorama.
Simmons did not improve during his time in the NBA, and he needed to improve a lot to even come close to justifying his draft position. As it is, he remains an athlete 6’9 forward with good shot blocking instincts and absolutely no offensive game whatsoever. Philly could use a defensive big man, but this isn’t it.
Speights followed up his brilliant rookie season with a fairly similar sophomore season, which was slightly disappointing if not in itself a bad thing. He didn’t really show much improvement on either end of the floor, particularly defensively, where his only impact remains the bad foul. Nevertheless, he’s still good, and would have been starting were Philly not committed to flogging the dead horse that is Elton Brand.
With the exception of Ebi, there isn’t really another small forward on this roster. That then suggests that Philly understands the obvious; no matter how much Jay Bilas tells you otherwise, Evan Turner will be a small forward in the NBA. Which is fine. We knew that going in.
Yet it further confirms the obvious problem Philly now has in balancing their roster. They already had two small forwards they were struggling to cohabitate. Now, there’s another. And because he’s better than both, the game just got switched.