Friday, April 08, 2005

Secondhand Portsmouth Reports

The college basketball season is over, but Hoopinion rolls on. My difficulties with structure and my lack of free time make me best suited to previewing seasons, tournaments, play-offs, and drafts anyway.

DraftCity is providing some excellent daily coverage of the Portsmouth camp. Jonathan Givony has singled out these players as excelling thus far: Jason Maxiell, Ivan McFarlin, Carlos Powell, Will Conroy, TJ Sorrentine, Jackie Manuel, Mindaugas Katelynas, and Aaron Miles.

Portsmouth exists for guys to play themselves into the second round of the draft or a nice contract in Europe. We're talking about guys who most likely have the upside of useful bench players, but that can be more interesting than arguing the infinitesimal separation of greatness between Duncan, Garnett, Nash, and Nowitzki.

Despite Givony's raves I'm still skeptical of Maxiell and not because he's a 6-6 power forward. He's a gifted athlete who is excelling in a less structured environment than he ever did as a college player. He'll need to translate his performance in Portsmouth first to the Chicago camp and then organized basketball in order to be useful.

McFarlin had a wonderful career at Oklahoma State, improving every year despite remaining a role player. Barring injury, he will make a lot of money playing basketball over the next ten years. I suspect that will happen in Europe because of his size and the fact that he is, at least not yet, much more than a serviceable defender. He makes up for the limitations in his game with exceptional basketball knowledge.

Carlos Powell is a small forward without a perimeter game. Pass.

TJ Sorrentine was an excellent college player, but I have a very difficult time seeing him play point guard in the NBA. His defensive limitations will likely force him to Europe. It's a fine line between Sorrentine and Luke Ridnour.

Jackie Manuel demonstrated some defensive ability on teams both great and terrible during his time at North Carolina. He could develop into the next data point on the Michael Cooper-Mario Elie-Bruce Bowen continuum.

I have never seen Mindaugas Katelynas play basketball. He went to Chattanooga, won the NCAA slam dunk championship at the Final Four, and is a 6-9 SF. He'll get a chance somewhere, sometime.

Will Conroy will have an opportunity, either as a second round pick or as a free agent to be somebody's backup point guard next fall. It seems to me that all teams would be better served to have a backup point guard capable of increasing the game's tempo as the second unit is presumably less talented than the first and needs more help in creating easy shots.

Aaron Miles is essentially the same player as Jacque Vaughn. Vaughn got more attention at Kansas, but Miles played on better teams. Unlike Vaughn, Miles will not be a first round pick and won't get a three-year grace period to establish himself as a serviceable backup point guard in the Association. Like Vaughn, Miles will past first, play decent-to-good defense (depending on the matchup), and not cause any problems in the locker room.

There don't seem to be a lot of second round point guards available in this draft. If Miles or Conroy get picked by a team with point guard issues and some frontline talent (Lakers, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Houston, or Cleveland) either one could hit the Chris Duhon lottery.

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