HoopsHype.com Articles

Big guns show up
by Matthew Kamalsky / May 31, 2008

Derrick Rose With this year’s edition of the Pre-Draft Camp drawing to a close, executives got the chance to watch the likes of Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley perform in basic drills for the first time this offseason. The day also featured the usual three games and a combine, giving the participants one last chance to show their stuff.

Friday’s activities were highlighted by the presence of this draft’s top 15 prospects. The session consisted of transition shooting drills, and then some position-specific work. While these drills don’t indicate much about a player, it is an easy way to gauge how much work they’ve put in recently, and how they approach practice.

Anyone who watched the Memphis Tigers play this year knows that Derrick Rose is a freak athlete, but nothing makes that more apparent than watching him participate in offensive drills again token defense. He may be the best athlete in basketball, casually attacking the basket at a speed that most players can’t even achieve in game settings. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but made a few NBA threes and showed off his amazing repertoire of crossovers and change of direction moves. The fact that he not only participated, but went hard on every repetition is probably a good sign.

Anthony Randolph, on the other hand, struggled to hit anything, but it is his potential, not his current skill level, that has him slated as a lottery pick by most scouting services. He has ridiculous length and athleticism, and it shows when he attacks the rim, but he’s got a long way to go.

No player struggled as much as JaVale McGee amongst the lottery-bound participants, and while he’s a tremendous athlete, he needs to work on staying confident after he misses from the perimeter. His calling card is his jumper at this point, but he was struggling to hit anything.

Jerryd Bayless was essentially going through the motions, not trying to simulate game situations and looking generally disinterested. He was still hitting his shots consistently, and his ability as a shooter can’t be questioned.

Donte Greene went out of his way to show off his athleticism every chance he got, throwing down a number of impressive tomahawk dunks. His jumper looked decent, but his ballhandling still needs work.

Russell Westbrook is one of the most impressive athletes in the draft, and while he looked good in transition shooting drills, he went from making 1 of 5 shots in his first rep of shooting coming off of cuts to making all 5 on his second rep. He’s obviously got the raw tools to be great, and just needs the right situation to excel.

Darrell Arthur had a very nice showing, looking crisp in the post, and the mid-range, while managing to bank in a couple of three’s from the top of key on consecutive reps. Brook Lopez was the other big man in Arthur’s group, and isn’t the smoothest post player, but is effective nonetheless.

Kevin Love seems to have trimmed down a bit, and looked bouncier in transition drills. He’ll always excel in this setting, given the polish he has on his game. Joe Alexander is in a similar boat, looking effortless in almost everything he does.

DJ Augustin is a heck of an offensive player, knocking down his shots with consistency and showing a very quick first step. He shot the ball well, but not as well as OJ Mayo, who looked simply incredible from the mid-range. DeAndre Jordan is long and athletic, but he’s really raw, and it shows.

Michael Beasley can shoot the NBA three, which should render every team outside of the top-two worried. He looked scary good in drills. Eric Gordon can hit the three effectively, and has tremendous footwork for a player his age.

Though these drills may not mean much, they are a useful point of departure as we move into private workouts. Measurement results from the combine should be available soon, bringing with them even more insight into these players.

Game One: Team Three (0-3) 73 Team Two (2-1) 77

The story of this contest for Team Two was once again Gary Forbes (15 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast), who has come up big in every game he’s played in this week and at the PIT, giving himself a legitimate chance to be selected in the late 20’s or early 30’s.

Longar Longar was a nice surprise, coming back from an injury to put together a nice performance. He isn’t strong enough to bang bodies in the NBA, but could be a nice option for a European club. Richard Hendrix also gave a strong contribution from the post, showing the same rebounding ability and assertiveness around the basket that he has all week long. His strength and potential from the midrange could make him an early second-round pick, and his stock has remained pretty much neutral through this week. David Padgett lacks Hendrix’s strength, but he showed good court vision and his usual good fundamentals in the post. He needs to sell a team on his health in workouts to get drafted.

Robert Vaden had another good outing, and his ability to shoot the ball with a hand in his face makes him worthy of a second-round pick. He isn’t going to wow anyone with his athleticism, but he is an aggressive perimeter scorer with great touch.

Team Three was once again led by DeMarcus Nelson, who has propelled himself strongly into second-round discussions after being a candidate to go undrafted before this week. He’s got good athleticism, but isn’t quite big or perimeter oriented enough to be a factor in the NBA. James Mays had a good outing, using his length and athleticism to be a factor. He isn’t as athletic as he was before his injuries, but has the chance to play in the NBA eventually.

Lester Hudson is sitting in the second-round right now, but his age and questionable point guard skills will likely require him to perform well in workouts to stay there. JR Giddens, on the other hand, may have played himself out of the draft, and needs to prove that this week wasn’t representative of his talent level to get back to the early late first-round consideration he had before camp.

Game Two: Team Six (3-0) 87 Team One (0-3) 78

In what amounts to a mismatch, Team Six rode the production of George Hill (15 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast) and Davon Jefferson (16 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast) to an easy victory. Hill had a great game for his stock, showing that he can score, which we knew, but also setting up his teammates. He’s a good athlete and a natural scorer, and could be an NBA player down the line if he continues to run the point like he did tonight. Jefferson on the other hand, is firmly on the bubble of the first-round. He’s got nice skills and good athleticism, and will continue to develop considering his age. Mike Taylor (0 pts, 4 reb, 4 to) had an off game, struggling to put up the numbers he did in previous games.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (8 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl) had a good game, and has been solid all week long. Joseph Jones (10 pts, 4 reb) is in the same boat. Both need to put in some work to make it into the draft, but could have tremendous European careers should that not happen. Brian Butch (10 pts, 5 reb, 2-2 3fg) is likely headed for the same future, but is a sound center with good range.

Unlike his counterparts, Joey Dorsey (6 pts, 4 reb, 3 blk) is headed to the NBA, and he’s a good workout away from getting consideration possibly as early as the late first-round. He’s going to be a role player, and isn’t a very risky guy to pick up considering that he is tailor-made to fill that role. His strength, rebounding, and defense, may be enough to find him some playing time in a rotation early in his career.

Darnell Jackson (10 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast) and Quan Prowell (9 pts, 4 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk) have been two of the most consistent players for the winless Team One. Jackson is a great all-around talent that plays like a grizzled veteran. He might not be a sure-fire NBA player, but he’s going to at least give teams reason for pause. Prowell offers a different kind of skill-set, and is just incredibly consistent at what he does. He’s got a great jumper, shooting it the same way regardless of the distance all the way out to NBA range, and is a fantastic athlete. He’ll score from the inside and out by playing off his teammates, but doesn’t create his own shot. He’s not a great rebounder for his size and needs to handle the ball better, but he’s a guy that stands out in terms of consistency. The effort he gave defensively was pretty impressive.

Mark Tyndale (6 pts, 2 reb, 1 stl) had another good outing, and improved his stock in Europe this week. Tyrone Brazelton (11 pts, 2 ast) did the same by finishing off his final game with some nice shooting and steady play at the point. Joe Crawford (11 pts, 1 ast, 2 stl) can put points on the board in a hurry, and while he’s got some work to do to get into the draft, his offensive skills will allow him to get a chance at the NBA through the NBADL.

Wayne Ellington (10 pts, 3 ast, 4 to) had a decent game, struggling to run the point, while scoring on a couple of shots in the paint. He’s a strong candidate to head back to school, as he isn’t the first round selection he hoped he would be.

Game Three: Team Five (1-2) 92 Team Four (3-0) 105

In the final game of this year’s Pre-Draft Camp, both teams put on great performances, with a couple of players doing wonders for their respective stocks. Team Five got an offensive explosion from Jeremy Pargo (20 pts, 4 ast, 6 to), who showed the ability to get to the basket at will, but still needs to work on his decision-making as a point guard. He may be drafted in the second-round at this point, but could always benefit from another year in school.

DeVon Hardin (11 pts, 4 reb, 3 blk) continued his impressive player, finally putting up the defensive statistics that he is capable of. He could be a late first-round pick, but will have to earn it in workouts. Bryce Taylor (14 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast) is a draftable prospect, and showed some nice things, but a bit of inconsistency offensively. Kyle Hines (11 pts, 10 reb, 1 ast) had a good game as well, but doesn’t have the perimeter game to get picked. Ramel Bradley (10 pts, 1 ast, 3 to) won’t be drafted either, but did a good job distributing.

Josh Duncan (13 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl) and Othello Hunter (11 pts, 14 reb, 1 blk) could be selected, but both are more likely to go the European route. Hunter should be an NBA player down the line. Hunter scored with his typical blend of size, athleticism, and inside touch, while Duncan showed some nice perimeter skills for a power forward.

For Team Four, Keith Brumbaugh (12 pts, 2 stl, 2 blk) had his best game of camp, showing more defensive intensity than usual, but his shot selection remains very poor. Brain Roberts (13 pts, 13 ast, 0 to) has been the most consistent backcourt performer at this year’s camp, shooting the ball well from NBA range and finishing with a very impressive stat line as a point guard. Frank Elegar (10 pts, 8 reb, 3 blk) and Vladimir Golubovic (10 pts, 8 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk, 3 to, 6 fl) gets mention here for producing well in the last game, but neither has a shot at getting drafted.

Malik Hairston (20 pts, 4 ast, 2 stl) capped off a fantastic week for his stock, and has put himself in position to be drafted. He’s got some impressive offensive skills, and even showed the ability to distribute the ball effectively. Sonny Weems (16 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast) also finished off camp strong, showing the same raw versatility he did in his collegiate career.

Pat Calathes was listed as injured, but likely felt comfortable with what he showed here in Orlando, much like Ty Lawson.

This year’s Pre-Draft Camp doesn’t have many guaranteed first rounders, but there are a ton of guys that could hear their name called on draft day. Most of the players here will still have to earn their spot in workouts, but many used the week as an opportunity to reposition themselves on draft boards around the League.

Matthew Kamalsky is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

Tell us what you think about this article. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com