Me, Myself and Orlando
Posted May 31 2007 10:26AM
Pre-Draft Camp: Day 1 | Day 2 | Sloppy play Wednesday | Marty Blake: Inside Camp
ORLANDO, Fla., May 30, 2007 — The late Frank Zappa once sang, “You Are What You Is.”
Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians addressed a similar theme with their hit single “What I Am.”
Former NBA player Jay Humphries, acting as an assistant coach this week in Orlando, channeled Zappa and Brickell Wednesday, urging his players to “do what you do.”
No player in camp personifies this idea quite like Syracuse’s Demetris Nichols.
His ball skills are below average. His in-between game needs an overhaul. Don’t ask about his defense. Just don’t leave him open. Nichols shot 4-for-5 from behind the arc (7-for-9 overall from the floor) on his way to 18 points as Team Six defeated Team Five 106-84.
Sizing up Nichols for this year’s draft is not an easy chore. He clearly has NBA range, and you can never have enough shooters. You just have to wonder if the lack of diversity in his game will scare teams away.
Detroit’s Ryvon Covile did nothing to scare anybody away, finishing with a team-high 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
A strong showing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament earned Covile an invitation to Orlando, and he’s clearly out to make the most of it, arriving in terrific shape and showing strength and polish near the basket, all of which begs the question about the importance of the PIT.
Every year, draft pundits speculate about its value. Without Portsmouth, Covile doesn’t get an invitation to Orlando. The same is true for many players in this year’s field.
In the case of Coleman Collins, who led all scorers with 22 points, he didn’t even receive an invitation to Portsmouth. A sup-par senior campaign left Collins on the outside of the pre-draft circuit looking in. The Orlando selection committee threw him a bone and Collins made the most of it in his first game. You’d like to see more of a physical presence (see one defensive rebound in over 22 minutes), but Collins was opportunistic near the basket.
Pittsburgh’s Aaron Gray added 15 points and nine rebounds for Team Five. It wasn’t a signature performance, as Gray mishandled several entry passes, but when operating in his comfort zone, Gray was able to throw his weight around and get to the line (7-for-10).
Clemson’s James Mays did his best Renaldo Balkman impersonation for Team Six, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds, while showing an excellent nose for the ball. Like Balkman in 2006, Mays is a junior and will use this week to examine his stock before making a decision about his future.
Team Two 80, Team One 76
Florida’s Taurean Green scorched his way through shooting drills Wednesday morning. He never cooled off, making three three-pointers and finishing with 11 points. He also did a steady job running the team. He basically played like Taurean Green, never trying to do too much, while getting other people involved.
There’s not a player in the country who handled as many pressure situations as Green did the past two seasons, and he essentially passed every test. Critics question his size and athleticism, but many feel Green has the right combination of skill and intangibles to succeed in the NBA.
Green split time at the point for Team Two with Marist’s Jared Jordan, who tallied six points and five assists. As you’d expect from the nation’s top assist man, Jordan knows how and when to deliver the ball. He has mechanical flaws in his jumpshot that keep him from being a reliable perimeter threat, which could affect his ability to stick in the NBA.
France’s Ali Traore had a strong first showing, finishing with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting. One of five international players in the field, Traore has a fairly polished inside game, with the ability to finish with either hand. He’s also mobile, with decent length. Traore was largely viewed as a second round pick coming into camp, and he did nothing to dissuade such a view.
Ditto for Stephane Lasme of UMass, who finished with a game-high six blocks. Despite matching up against taller players, Lasme used his superior length and hops to frustrate his opponents. With his ability to affect a game defensively, you have to figure someone will give him a chance in the second round. He’ll almost certainly be in a training camp in the fall.
San Diego State’s Mohamed Abukar led Team One with 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Like Nichols, Abukar is a stone-cold shooter, though he does most of his damage from the 20-foot range. Beyond that, Abukar doesn’t have an in-between game to speak of and doesn’t absorb contact well, given his ultra-skinny frame. Still, he can really stroke it, and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he plays in the NBA at some point.
Team Four 78, Team Three 67
Nothing about the day’s nightcap was pretty, as the two teams combined for 39 turnovers. Ohio State’s Daequan Cook led the way with eight giveaways, while making only 3-of-10 shots and finishing with six points. It was a tough debut for a player supposedly looking to play his way into the first round.
Cook’s body language so far this week has been off in both drills and his first game. To put it bluntly, his approach has been pretty lackadaisical. He has the ability to get it going form the outside, but at 6-4, without exceptional ball skills, you really have to wonder if the first-round talk is warranted in such a deep draft. Cook might be better served returning to school and working on his game.
San Diego State’s Brandon Heath led all scorers with 17 points. Heath also failed to register an assist, not a positive sign for a supposed combo guard with point skills. Heath has some range, but he’s not the type of shooter or scorer who’s going to be able to get away with not making some plays for other people.
North Carolina’s Reyshawn Terry had a solid outing for Team Four, finishing with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Terry has the makings of NBA small forward, with good size, range and athletic ability. He simply needs to play a little harder at both ends of the floor.
That wasn’t the case for Oral Roberts’ Caleb Green, who was easily the most consistent player on the floor in terms of effort, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds. Green is another player who turned a strong showing in Portsmouth into an Orlando invite. What he lacks in explosion and height, he makes up with effort and positioning. It never really jumps out at you, but he almost always finishes with a double-double.
It was a forgettable first game for Marquette’s Dominic James, who finished with zero points and zero assists in just over 20 minutes. James is obviously a gifted athlete, with terrific speed and quickness. He should really be able to make plays for himself and others with such physical gifts.