Definite Keepers in Chicago
This is NBA Pre-Draft Jeopardy.
Now entering the studio are representatives from all 30 NBA teams, here to substantiate pre-existing opinions; collect data on those who may have flown under the radar to this point; and gain a sense of the overall draft picture.
The prevailing view, as this year’s camp swings into high gear, is that this year’s crop is better than last year’s harvest, in which three players -- Delonte West, Tony Allen and Beno Udrih -- ultimately found their way into the first round.
The correct question is: Which players in this year’s camp may not be drafted in the first round this year, but will most certainly be in the NBA next season.
While the first round brings the security of a guaranteed three-year contract, history has shown us that the way onto an NBA roster isn’t always through the front door. The reality is there are several players here who will have to wait until the second round to hear their names called, but should find a home in the NBA next season.
We begin with Turiaf, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds in Wednesday’s opener, as Team Six easily defeated Team Five, 88-71.
The word on Turiaf of late is that he’s failed to distinguish himself in individual workouts. Last we checked, basketball was a game of wins and losses and not a means to get in shape and look good.
No player in the camp embodies this idea more so than Turiaf. What he fails to show in drill work, he more than makes up for with a relentless approach on the interior, grabbing rebounds, getting put-backs, setting screens and helping his team win games. In short, he’s a known commodity in a market that caters to potential and intrigue. If he doesn’t work his way into the first round -- and he’ll no doubt go down swinging -- he should be off the board early in round two.
Head was less of known commodity heading into this season before a wonderful senior campaign planted him firmly on everybody’s radar. While the debate rages on as to his ability to play the point in the NBA, he’s clearly one of more skilled guards in the field, with the ability to shoot, handle, defend and make athletic plays. He finished with 14 points in a losing effort.
As for Stoudamire, bets were being taken as to when he’d actually miss a shot in the morning shooting drills. Questions persist about his ability to be a lead guard in the NBA, but there’s simply no denying his ability to flat-out shoot the rock. If this were 1982 (pre-suffocating defense) and Stoudamire was just entering the league, he’d probably step in and average 20 points. His stroke is that good and he doesn’t need time or room to get his shot off.
Unfortunately, Stoudamire suffered a minor ankle sprain during the morning drill session and was unable to play in his first game Wednesday.
Travis Diener did his best Stoudamire impersonation in Wednesday’s opener, making all five shots he took and finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. While some guards in the field clearly struggle with the balance between dribble, shoot and pass, Diener knows how and when to deliver the ball. Though his team struggled, Diener made a nice first impression.
Another player who continues to impress is Oakland’s Rawle Marshall. As one scout put it, he has the type of body and athletic ability that will enable him to play multiple positions on the professional level. Whether his career begins in the NBA remains to be seen, but he’s clearly a player to keep an eye on this week.
Team One 98, Team Two 88
“This Eddie Basden is a ditch,” said Ryan Blake, the NBA’s Assistant Director of Scouting.
When asked for clarification as to the meaning of such a statement, Blake was quick to point out he was being derogatory.
“The guy just sucks up everything. Every lose ball, every steal,” said Blake.
Obviously, there’s a reason why Basden captured Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year award as a junior and senior. He simply never takes a defensive possession of. He finished with a game-high three steals, to go with 10 points and four assists.
Like Turiaf, the word on Basden is that he hasn’t looked great in workouts, because he doesn’t have great ball skills and struggles with consistency on his outside shot. If he keeps defending the way he does and playing with great energy, he’s a player teams will have to consider in the middle part of the second round.
UTEP’s Omar Thomas led Team One with 17 points. Maryland’s John Gilchrist added 15 points and two assists.
Gilchrist is clearly one of the most intriguing prospects in the camp. When he plays under control and keeps his emotions in check, he’s pretty tough to deal with, getting into the lane with ease and finishing with well-balanced runners and pull-ups. He defended opposing points with intensity and vigor. So, why does his stock seem to be all over the board? Maturity seems to be an issue, seeing as how his college career ended on a sour note. He can be streaky, which isn’t an ideal quality for a point guard. It’s not a complete stretch to envision a team burning a late first-round pick on him, though he most likely comes off the board early in the second round.
Sean Banks led Team Two with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Like Gilchrist, Banks’ collegiate career ended up on a sour note when he was declared academically ineligible in January. This came on the heels of multiple suspensions levied upon him by Memphis coach John Calipari.
When the smoke cleared, Banks decided to give the NBA a shot. While he clearly has the makings of an NBA small forward, Banks struggles with shot selection and playing within a team concept, two things that won’t ingratiate him to GM’s this week. Still, Banks could very well be drafted in the second round.
Team Four 80, Team Three 73
The most competitive contest of the day came in the finale, as Team Four emerged victorious behind a game-high 24 points from Michigan State’s Alan Anderson.
A late scratch at Portsmouth due to injury, Anderson needed to put together a solid week to convince teams he’s worthy of second round consideration. So far, so good.
Anderson is somewhat unique in this setting in that he truly thrives in the mid-range and in-between game, backing in smaller guards and shooting medium range shots. He also does a terrific job getting to the free throw line, as evidenced by his 14-for-16 performance in this game.
Florida’s Anthony Roberson led Team Three with 15 points. He played more minutes (31) than any player on the first day and finished with only two assists. Everyone knows he’s capable of putting the ball in the basket. What teams would like to see is a more well-rounded point guard.
It was a fairly quiet Chicago debut for Cincinnati’s Jason Maxiell, who finished with eight points and three rebounds. Maxiell was a show-stopper at the PIT, but appears to have added a few extra pounds, which could be affecting his explosiveness to some degree.
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