Farmar Tills Orlando Soil
Posted Jun 7 2006 8:51AM
2006 NBA Pre-Draft Camp
ORLANDO, Fla., June 7 -- The forecast called for a drought, with several high profile players withdrawing from this year’s NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando at the last minute. Jordan Farmar is still here to deliver the goods.
Despite prognostications that list him among the top players in this year’s point guard crop, Farmar ignored fair-weather predictions and came to play, a refreshing change from the current climate, which has players passing on a golden opportunity to help their stock.
The consequences of such a decision won’t be known until June 28, or perhaps even sooner, should Farmar return for his junior season at UCLA. Though he lacks jaw-dropping physical attributes, in terms of size, strength and speed, Farmar is a true point guard with a tremendous feel for the game.
His ability to balance scoring with getting others involved should serve him well this week, and was on display as drills began Tuesday night at the Milk House Center at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
Here are some casual observations from Tuesday’s session, which is more about players feeling out teammates, and GM’s and scouts putting a name to the body and face before game action gets underway Wednesday morning.
Like Farmar, Notre Dame’s Chris Quinn is a true point guard. Despite spending much of his time at Notre Dame playing alongside Chris Thomas, Quinn clearly thinks the game and knows how and when to deliver the ball or create for himself. His ability to shoot the ball is unquestioned and he has a surprisingly quick first step. Whether he’s ready to defend and handle the physical pounding of the NBA is a question he’ll look to answer this week and over the summer.
Marquette’s Steve Novak has added weight since Portsmouth, going from rail thin to merely thin. That said, Novak is one of the best pure shooters in the draft. He figures to shine in individual shooting drills, which begin Wednesday. Novak is also a smart player and an excellent teammate, qualities teams look for when filling out a roster.
Villanova’s Allan Ray also appears to have added weight in the way of increased upper body strength. Ray is looking to combat the notion that he lacks the physical strength to guard bigger players at the NBA level. He’s built like a point guard, but is clearly a player who looks to create for himself. He does have excellent speed and can score in bunches.
Iowa State’s Curtis Stinson differs from Ray, in that, despite not having ideal height (6-3), he’s built like a truck and should be able to swing between guard positions at the next level. Stinson is a junior, but he turned 23 in February and will stay in the draft regardless of how he performs this week.
If drills are any indication, UNLV’s Louis Amundson comes as advertised. He’s limited offensively, but plays with great energy and has a great nose for the ball. A terrific student, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in university studies with a focus in English and philosophy, Amundson is looking to prove he’ll be a quick study as a role player in the NBA.
There are only two international players in the field this year: Australia’s Brad Newley and Russia’s Victor Keyru (also known as Viktor Keirou). Newley has generated positive reviews in individual workouts, drawing comparisons to Manu Ginobili. He’s a slasher who likes to attack the basket, but can also hit the mid-range jumpshot. Keyru also appears to be a solid athlete with slashing skills. Israel’s Yotam Halperin was scheduled to be in the field, but his European team advanced in the playoffs and he wasn’t able to come over to the States.
It was déjà vu all over again for San Diego State’s Marcus Slaughter. He came to Chicago last year, suffered an injury and was unable to play. With less than five minutes to go in Tuesday night’s session, Slaughter sustained what appeared to be a pretty serious knee injury. Slaughter returned to school last year, thus burning his draft card. He’s in the draft no matter what, and depending on the seriousness of his injury, he could be in trouble on draft night.
Boston College’s Craig Smith was at the Milk House center Tuesday, but was unable to participate in drills due to a wrist injury he suffered at the end of the season which has yet to properly heal. A Third Team All-American in 2005-06, Smith has fallen off the radar in the months leading up to the draft. He’s hoping his impressive body of work will be enough to make a team roll the dice in Round Two. When healthy, Smith has all the makings of a rotation player in the NBA.