Orlando Pre-Draft Camp Day 2

Posted by rtmsf on May 29th, 2008

So Wednesday was Day 2 of the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp (Day 1’s notes are here), and once again we’ll try to synthesize some of the reports coming from various sources who are actually attending the camp. Hopefully we’ll start to get a sense as to who is improving or shatting all over decreasing their stock. Our sources today are DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, Jeff Goodman and Doug Gottlieb.

Players Doing Well So Far:

Lawson Really Must Not Want to Return to UNC (photo credit: USA Today)

  • Ty Lawson, UNC
    • DraftExpressTy Lawson was a cut above everyone else on the floor here, showing incredible quickness taking an outlet pass and getting his team out in transition, and fantastic court vision finding open teammates on the move. He made the game very simple for all of his teammates, as all they had to do was run with him and make sure their hands were ready for the pass.
    • GottliebBest point guard here so far – UNC’s Ty Lawson, trailed closely by Sean Singletary. While Singletary is more refined than Lawson and seems to be using his experience from being here last year to his benefit, Lawson has an extra step that you just cannot teach.
    • NBADraft.net – (10pts, 5ast, 3stl) From the moment he came on the floor he changed the tempo of the game. Pushing the ball in transition, he made some nice decisions finding open teammates or getting to the hoop and finishing. The highlight for him may have been the fact that he completely outplayed Lester Hudson, the man he was matched up with. Not only did he get by Hudson at will of the dribble, but he held him scoreless for the longer part of the game.
    • Gary Parrish also wrote an article yesterday explaining how shocked Ty Lawson has been by UNC fans’ reactions to his attempts to enter the NBA Draft. Many of the same people who congratulated him as a Tar Heel are now trashing him through this process. Maybe that’s why he’s playing so well?
  • Joe Crawford, Kentucky
    • DraftExpressJoe Crawford had a very strong game with 19 points on 6-11 shooting, thanks to an extremely hot and aggressive start that kept his team in the game. He took the ball to the rack extremely well, showing smoothing body control, solid ball-handling skills and impressive overall scoring instincts, and also knocked down a number of shots from outside.
    • GottliebKentucky’s Joe Crawford and UAB’s Robert Vaden both looked very much at ease with the added 3-point range needed for this level of basketball. Crawford looks smaller that the 6-5 he has always been listed at, but he was explosive in terms of scoring in the first half of his first game.
    • NBADraft.netJoe Crawford was one of the big surprises of Day One. His 19 points were the high point total on the day. Crawford was able to use his quick first step to get by his man and to the rim. He also knocked down 2-3 from 3 showing the ability to pull up off the dribble from distance. Crawford appears on his way to claiming a spot in the second round if he can keep up his quality play.
  • Pat Calathes, St. Joseph’s
    • DraftExpress – Pat Calathes only got to play 15 minutes (sitting an extensive amount of time between stints), but really made the most of his time out on the floor, scoring 10 points and dishing off 5 assists (compared to just one turnover), many of the spectacular variety. His ball-handling skills, vision and all-around creativity were on full display throughout, looking aggressive and intelligent while not forcing the issue in the least bit. He would have had even more assists playing with some more skilled big man. He seems like a lock to get drafted at this point, and may be able to work himself considerably up the board if he continues to play like this in the next two days.
    • NBADraft.net (10pts, 5ast) Showed some nice moves off the dribble and in transition, he was able to use his quickness to get by the defense. He seems to have put on some weight since Portsmouth, but still looks extremely skinny. He can knock down the mid-range shot, but with his unorthodox release he seems to lack range out to the NBA 3.
  • JR Giddens, New Mexico
    • Gottlieb – Giddens looked like, well, J.R. Giddens of old. He can still shoot the deep 3, runs like a deer, had a nice two dribble pull-up jumpers and generally looked good in trying to score. He did pout and not run back on defense a couple of times, he struggles to handle the ball on pick-and-roll situations, and he is not a pure guard by any stretch of the imagination. The consensus is Round 2.
    • DraftExpress(not the most skilled with the ball, but capable as a spot-up shooter and constantly making plays offensively and especially defensively thanks to his trademark length and explosiveness)

Players Hurting Themselves:

Can Shan Foster Do Anything Other Than Shoot? (photo credit: vanderbilt.edu)

  • Davon Jefferson, USC
    • GottliebDavon Jefferson will be taken in this draft. He moves well offensively off screens and looks like he will become a solid pro shooter. But he has no left hand and seems lost defensively. Jefferson will knock heads will Walker both in workouts and maybe the D-League.
    • NBADraft.net(7pts, 6rebs, 3ast) In the early going it seemed as if Jefferson may have made a mistake showing up this week, as he was almost non-existent. Although his performance was still not spectacular, he was able to salvage the day as he put up a decent 10 minutes together to finish the game off. His offensive skill is still in need of much work, but one cannot deny his terrific frame, and explosiveness.
    • DraftExpressWho hurt himself the worst? Most likely Davon Jefferson. He came here out of shape, and has barely been hustling at all for the past two days. Although he was able to use his freakish athleticism to make some plays on the glass and in transition, NBA types can’t be crazy about what they are seeing here. He needs to realize the urgency of the situation quickly if he wants to avoid destroying what otherwise might be a very promising future. At this point it looks very obvious that the 21-year old freshman is not ready to be in this draft, and definitely made a hasty decision hiring an agent
  • Wayne Ellington, UNC
    • DraftExpressThe most intriguing story might have been the incredibly poor play of North Carolina shooting guard Wayne Ellington—projected by some as a first round pick, but looking like anything but one from what we’ve seen in the first two days so far. Ellington was 1 of 8 from the field until the game was pretty much over with two minutes left and he managed to make his boxscore look somewhat respectable with two garbage-time baskets. He forced a number of shots badly, dribbled the ball off his foot on his way to 6 painful turnovers, played poor defense and did not grab even a single rebound in 27 minutes. He finished the game with 8 points, and is looking like he’ll be on the first plane back to Chapel Hill to kick off his junior season once this camp is over unless he can turn things around in a major way.
    • NBADraft.netWayne Ellington was one of the day’s big disappointments. He scored a couple buckets late to salvage his stats to a degree but in reality he was thoroughly outplayed by Gary Forbes who appears to have strength, size and experience over Ellington.
    • GottliebIf UNC gets Wayne Ellington back, which they should, Roy Williams should thank Deron Washington. Washington played picture-perfect defense on the UNC sophomore the entire first half of their matchup. Ellington got just two contested looks and struggled to separate himself from Washington’s long arms and great lateral quickness.
  • Shan Foster, Vanderbilt
    • DraftExpressShan Foster was a big disappointment once again, continuing the same trend we saw in the morning and the day before. He looks completely out of his element mentally, forcing bad shots and even air-balling one 3-pointer by about five feet, which is completely uncharacteristic of the player widely considered the top shooter in this draft class. He got chased off the 3-point line way too easily, getting caught into the trap of being forced to use his ball-handling skills, which he is much less effective at than just spotting up from behind the arc. He looks like he’s putting way too much pressure on himself, and will need to settle down a bit and remember what got him here.
    • NBADraft.netShan Foster struggled to get on track with just 7 points on 2-7 shooting. His lack of a great handle and ability to get by opponents appears to be getting exposed some. He’s a great shooter, but still must show a more diverse offensive game.
  • Danny Green, UNC
    • DraftExpressAlso on the negative side of the spectrum we found Danny Green (forcing the issue way too much, especially from behind the arc [0-4], and looking clearly hobbled by his sprained left ankle).
    • GottliebGreen is dribbling too much and seems stuck between wanting to be a 2 guard and playing more like his natural 3 position. He has plenty of upside since he is only 20, but family concerns may keep him in this draft.
    • GoodmanHe said he felt somewhere between 75 and 90 percent. Green also sounded upset that Roy Williams didn’t initially include him among the Big Three (Tyler Hanbsrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington), when he was getting early reports from NBA executives on where his players were projected

More takes on some of the other players at the Pre-Draft Camp:

  • GottliebRichard Hendrix looks leaner (he said he has lost 15 pounds and wants to lose more), and he was much more agile because of it. Hendrix, Maryland’s James Gist and Memphis’ Joey Dorsey are three very different, yet very draftable big men who give teams in the late first round and the early second round interesting options. Hendrix, who looks like the only one who could go in Round 1, is a skilled wide body who can face up and beat you with a catch and shoot off the pick-and-pop, and he is a good rebounder/outlet passer. Gist is the lean athlete who can block shots, has streamlined his jumper to 18 feet and runs the floor very well. Dorsey is a beast. He caught two alley-oops that counted, he is a pretty solid passer both on the outlets and in the offense, and his long arms make up for his lack of great height.
  • NBADraft.net – LR Mbah Moute (9pts, 5rebs) He seemed to have tweaked his ankle in the early going, but showed some character fighting through and still put up a decent performance. With his length and athleticism, he is always able to alter plays defensively, and convert on hustle baskets offensively. Devon Hardin had three thunderous dunks but struggled to display any touch or post skills. As impressive a physical specimen as he is, he appears to be a big tease, a player who gives the impression that he can become a force, but lacking the focus and direction to get there. Patrick Ewing (14pts, 5-7fg) With Ewing Sr. in attendance, the younger Ewing put in a decent game. He was able to convert on a number of open jumpers and showed some nice athleticism, but his overall skill set has glaring holes and he does not have a natural position on the floor. James Gist displayed his tremendous athleticism with a reverse jam in which he was fouled and missed, followed by a nearly identical reverse dunk in which he was able to covert. He also showed a mid range game knocking down a number of 12-15 foot jumpers. And while he still needs to add consistency to his shot, there’s some reason for optimism about his offensive game.
  • DraftExpress Richard Hendrix had a solid outing with 12 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes. He was extremely unselfish and did a great job crashing the glass, showing a good feel for the game but also struggling a bit defensively on the perimeter and not being very effective finishing around the rim in traffic. Malik Hairston’s stat-line might not have been that impressive on paper (8 points, 4 assists, 3-4 FG), but he did a very nice job finding teammates within the flow of the offense and playing with and off of Pat Calathes, who he seems to have nice chemistry with. His athleticism looked better than advertised getting off the floor and elevating for dunks. DeMarcus Nelson was intense and aggressive, but looked a bit out of control at times too with some of his drives. Trent Plaisted had some flashes with his ridiculous athleticism, but was a bit too quiet in stretches, not making his presence felt enough.

Update: See our summary of Days 3 & 4 of the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp here.

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ATB: Weekend Wrap

Posted by rtmsf on January 28th, 2008

ATB v.4

Still Unbeaten. #1 Memphis and #2 Kansas remained unbeaten through the weekend, and until both lose a game, this will be the top storyline for the last six weeks of the regular season. This is the latest point in a season that two teams have been undefeated since 2005 (Illinois and Boston College), and there are no signs that either team is slowing down soon. Kansas, the top defensive efficiency team in America, knocked the stuffing out of Nebraska 84-49, but we figure the Big 12 (#2 conf in both KenPom and Sagarin) is too tough as a conference for the Jayhawks to go 16-0 this year (est. KenPom chances of running the table = 38.5%). The real intrigue is whether Memphis (#2 defensive efficiency) will run the table until March, and given that they handled Gonzaga 81-73 in a workmanlike manner on Saturday, we’re feeling like Calipari’s team has a great shot at getting into the postseason unblemished (est. KenPom = 58.3%). He’s no stranger to this kind of pressure, either; remember, in 1996, UMass was 26-0 and #1 deep into February before finally losing a late A10 game to GW. That year also happens to represent Calipari’s sole trip to the F4, before Marcus Camby’s “homemade” bling ultimately led to its vacation by the NCAA. Both teams face somewhat tough opponents on the road Wednesday, however (Memphis @ Houston; Kansas @ Kansas St.), but if they survive those tests we might have a situation similar to 2004 when both Stanford and St. Joseph’s made it to the first week of March unbeaten. It must be noted, though, that neither of those teams made it to the F4.

The Truth About Duke. We were absolutely sure that Duke was going to lose at Maryland yesterday. After watching the first half, where James Gist and Bambale Osby seemingly scored inside at will, we were beyond absolutely convinced that the Terps were on track to beat their second top five opponent in eight days. So what happened? Duke 93, Maryland 84. We’re not going to pile on Gary Williams and his squad for their typical carelessness with the ball, etc., here – that’s what they do, and they were still able to beat UNC in Chapel Hill last weekend. No, we’re going to give all the credit to Duke for their hustle, resilience and clutch play down the stretch last night. It was funny, once Duke got the lead with 12 minutes remaining, we knew in our gut that the game was over. Sure enough, Duke methodically pulled away by getting after the loose balls, battling on the boards despite being undersized, and forcing some of those poor Maryland turnovers. We generally try to avoid the stereotypical “Duke is smarter” BS that you hear the Dick Vitale and Mike Patricks of the world prattle on about, but this year we have to give it to them. Duke plays with a very high basketball IQ, they absolutely get after you defensively, and they simply don’t beat themselves. They just don’t have enough of an inside attack to win another national championship this year, but Duke haters everywhere should prepare themselves for another depressing February and a #1 seed for the Devils in March.

Conference Muddling. The middle of the six BCS conferences are about as wide open as we can remember. In the ACC, after Duke (5-0) and Carolina (4-1), who is the third best team? There are nine other teams with either three or two wins. The Big East is even worse – after Georgetown (6-1) and Louisville (5-2), there are eleven teams with four or three wins, including an absurd six teams with identical 4-3 records. The Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC are a little better, but it’s the Big 10 that is the only league exhibiting true have/have-not behavior. Five teams have five-plus wins, five teams have two or fewer wins, and poor Iowa sits in the middle at 3-5.

Saturday Games. Here are the games that caught our attention on Saturday.

  • Notre Dame 90, #23 Villanova 80. As soon as we think we’ve got ND figured out, they do something like this.
  • Connecticut 68, #8 Indiana 63. We watched this game and still can’t figure this one out.
  • Texas-Pan American 54, NJIT 42. 0-21 now… Circle the home date v. 4-19 Longwood on 2/4 as the breakthrough win.
  • NC State 69, Florida St. 66. This was pretty much a must-win for the Pack.
  • #19 Texas A&M 59, Oklahoma St. 56. OSU continues to struggle in the Big 12 (1-4).
  • Arizona 84, Washington 69. Arizona is starting to look like the third best team in the Pac-10.
  • Louisville 67, St. John’s 57. Terrence Williams with triple 8s (8/8/8 assts).
  • UNLV 72, San Diego St. 69. A key road win in the Mtn West for Vegas.
  • Virginia Tech 81, Boston College 73 (OT). Would the real BC please stand up?
  • Oklahoma 77, Baylor 71. BU’s first B12 loss is at the hands of the surging Sooners (Blake Griffin with 17/15).
  • Purdue 60, #11 Wisconsin 56. Very nice home win for the young Boilers (6-1 in the B10).
  • Mississippi St. 88, #15 Ole Miss 68. MSU is starting to look a little like that team SEC:TGTBTD predicted back in September.
  • Rutgers 77, #17 Pittsburgh 64. Nice egg-laying by Pitt in this one.
  • Kansas St. 82, Iowa St. 57. KSU continues to surge (Beastley 33/15).
  • #18 Drake 58, Northern Iowa 54. The class of the MVC continues to roll…
  • #6 Washington St. 56, #25 Arizona St. Heartbreaking home loss for the Sun Devils.
  • #22 Stanford 82, California 77. Once again, it appears as if Cal is the odd man out in the Pac-10.
  • Richmond 80, #14 Dayton 63. Two straight blowout losses for the Flyers – what happened?
  • #10 Georgetown 58, West Virginia 57. GTown just keeps sneaking by…
  • #3 Tennessee 85, Georgia 69. Lofton came out of his shooting slump with 7 threes.
  • #12 Texas 73, Texas Tech 47. DJ Augustin with 19 as Bob Knight continues to teach mediocrity.
  • #21 Marquette 79, Depaul 71. MU’s backcourt combined for 44 pts.
  • Arkansas 68, LSU 52. The John Brady firing watch continues…
  • USC 95, Oregon 86 (OT). Forget what we said last week about Oregon always winning at home – tough weekend for the Ducks.
  • #7 UCLA 85, Oregon St. 62. What’s laughable is that OSU thought they were in this game at halftime (43-39).

Sunday Games. A few more…

  • #20 Xavier (OH) 77, Massachusetts 65. UMass has really fallen off, but Xavier continues to look fantastic.
  • Florida 86, #16 Vanderbilt 64. Let’s remove Vandy and Ole Miss in favor of Florida and Miss St. in this week’s blogpoll, shall we?
  • #9 Michigan St. 77, Michigan 62. We just can’t get a sense as to how good this MSU team really is (6-1 in the B10, but that one loss was so hideous!).
  • Miami (FL) 75, Clemson 72. Miami really needed this win to avoid a freefall in the conference race.
  • Syracuse 71, Providence 64. Both teams needed this one, Cuse got it.
  • Georgia Tech 92, Virginia 82 (OT). Tremendous ending in regulation in this one, but Virginia has now earned itself last place in the ACC.
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