Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Unsolicited Advice To Go Unheeded

Michael Cunningham reports* on the Hawks' plans with regard to Joe Johnson:
When the Hawks meet with Joe Johnson in Los Angeles at the start of the free-agency negotiating period early tomorrow morning, they will offer him a six-year contract for the maximum amount allowed, according to a person with knowledge of their plans.
If Joe Johnson accepts this contract (and unless he's done an extremely good job of investing and managing his earnings to date, he'd be crazy not to pass up an offer to make more than 150% of what he's earned, in total, over the first nine years of his career whatever his short-term goals in terms of winning a championship are), the Hawks will almost surely be looking to shed salary rather than add additional talent over the next two years.

This maximum contract will cost roughly $119 million total, with the 2010-11 amount being about $15.8 million. If Johnson accepts the offer that would put the Hawks at $64.3 million owed 10 players in 2010-11. Josh Childress playing on the qualifying offer would put them over the expected luxury tax line of $68 million. Just adding the minimum three players necessary to achieve the league's minimum roster size will put the Hawks within $1 million of the tax line as even minimum contracts to undrafted rookie free agents are counted at the value of the two-year veteran's minimum for luxury tax purposes.

Johnson's 2011-12 salary would be around $17.5 million which, combined with the increases due Al Horford ($1.7 million), Josh Smith ($800K), Marvin Williams ($800K), Mike Bibby ($650K), Zaza Pachulia ($500K), Jeff Teague ($100K), and Jordan Crawford ($65K), means the Hawks would owe approximately $60 million to eight players (plus whatever their first round pick would be guaranteed should they keep the pick) even after Jamal Crawford and Maurice Evans come off the books to the tune of $12.5 million.

Looking even further into the future, Johnson would be owed over $20 million per season for each of the last three years of this deal.

*Oh how I wish the beat writer's beanie was a real thing. Full disclosure: my blogger hat would (probably) be a porkpie.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unsolicited Advice on the Eve of Free Agency

Consider this my version of this post...

1. Don't offer Joe Johnson $125 million over 6 years unless you're absolutely sure he's not going to accept the offer and even then only offer Joe Johnson $125 million over 6 years if you're preoccupied with managing perceptions rather than winning basketball games.

Signing Joe Johnson to a max deal will necessitate making future decisions based on finances rather than basketball all in the pursuit of keeping hope alive for the opportunity to get beaten soundly in the second-round. Pushing up against the luxury tax in the short-term and sacrificing future cap flexibility throughout the prime of the careers of Josh Smith and Al Horford so as not to lose a player who, good though he is and has been, projects to be the team's third-best player before the half this hypothetical contract expires is not in the best interests of the franchise.

2. If you can't get Joe Johnson re-signed for a reasonable cost over a reasonable length (and, given this market, I don't think the Hawks can) hold out for useful assets that increase flexibility in the future even if this means taking a hit in the short-term.

In other words, don't sign-and-trade Joe Johnson for an older, less good player who's sort of like him (even if he has an expiring contract) especially if said player could render the resources spent on Marvin Williams even more of a waste than they currently appear. (Plus, adding another 2-guard or wing would seriously weaken the team's bargaining position if they have to or want to move Josh Childress in a sign-and-trade.) The future of the Hawks consists of Al Horford and Josh Smith and, if they're lucky, maybe one of Williams, Jeff Teague, or Jordan Crawford. All decisions should be based on adding to that core either specifically in the present or by creating the freedom and flexibility to take advantage of future opportunities. Young players, expiring contracts, and draft picks should be the only items on the team's wish list.

2b. Don't sign a free agent who is an older, less good version of Joe Johnson.

None of the Hawks' primary problems stem from a lack of guards who can dribble and shoot. At some point perimeter defense and defensive rebounding have to be addressed if this team is going to improve.

3. Convince Josh Childress to be willing to play in Atlanta on the qualifying offer for 2010-11.

The Hawks needn't commit to bringing back Childress but they need it to be an option, both as a short-term replacement for Joe Johnson who would complement both Jamal Crawford and Marvin Williams while splitting time between the two and the three, and to limit the chances they lose him for nothing.

4. Don't spend the MLE.

I don't think any serious person doubts the financial limitations of this ownership group. Spending money in ways symbolic (eight figures on an ex-famous person) rather than useful will only exacerbate those limitations.

5. Do fill out the roster with young free agents (especially those eligible to be assigned to the D-League) who can be had cheap in the short term and could be useful assets for the team, either on the court or when included in trades, in the future.

Because of those financial limitations the Hawks need to be more creative (and scout better) when filling out the roster. Signing Randolph Morris seemed a reasonable decision at the time but when he proved incapable of contributing and the franchise proved unwilling to eat his contract and give his roster spot to someone who might produce, it turned into a small but real waste of limited resources. As did using roster spots for entire seasons on other players unlikely to contribute ever (Thomas Gardner, Mario West) or those who can't contribute immediately but might in the future with the benefit of regular playing time in the D-League to develop either their skills (Othello Hunter) or basketball sense (Solomon Jones).

Presently, the Hawks have two borderline All-Stars (Al Horford and Josh Smith), three guys who fit in the average starter/good bench player bin (Jamal Crawford, Zaza Pachulia, Marvin Williams, two adequate bench players (Mo Evans, Mike Bibby), and two unproven youngsters (Jeff Teague and Jordan Crawford). If Rick Sund does a reasonable job of filling out the roster with role players (young or old) and no major injuries hit, the Hawks should still be able to make playoffs in the short-term while setting the stage to build for something more ambitious in the longer-term. It won't be easy. It probably won't be popular. But it's the franchise's best chance for real, sustained success.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Less Than 72 Hours To Free Agency, A Salary Cap Update

There have been a few changes since I last covered the Atlanta Hawks salary cap situation in depth. Mo Evans picked up his option, the Hawks traded down to the 27th pick in the draft, they did, in fact, make a qualifying offer to Josh Childress, and, presumably, did not make a qualifying offer to Mario West.

Thus, the salary cap is $56.1 million and the luxury tax threshold will be approximately $68 million.

The Hawks owe $48,498,814 to nine players (Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford, Marvin Williams, Mike Bibby, Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Mo Evans, Jeff Teague, and Jordan Crawford). The cap hold for Josh Childress ($10.894 million, which could be in place all summer if Childress chooses to stay in Greece) alone puts the Hawks over the salary cap. Until Joe Johnson signs with a team (be it Atlanta, New York, Chicago, or another), the Hawks have a cap hold of $16.2 million to close a loophole involving his Bird rights. There's an additional cap hold of $854,389 for an empty roster spot.

Compiling A Dossier On Pape Sy

Ball in Europe has a Pape Sy highlight reel and also reveals that he played the tenth-most minutes on France's ninth-place team in the U20 European Championships. has more video and also claims Sy was turned down in his attempt to take part in the Adidas Eurocamp. Approximately 50 players participated.

If Pape Sy can play NBA basketball this will go down as one of the great scouting triumphs of all time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hawks Make Qualifying Offer To Josh Childress

Missed in the wonder and excitement of watching Pape Sy get drafted last night, this announcement from the Hawks.

Pape Sy Is Probably Not That Tall

I first found his statistical profile here. He's listed as 190 cm. That's 74.8 inches, or just under 6' 3".

I've since discovered the STB Le Havre website. He's listed as 1.95 m. That's 76.77 inches, or 6' 4.75".

Time to stop worrying about his poor rebounding numbers.

2010 NBA Draft Reaction

Rick Sund on Jordan Crawford:
"We love shooters."

"It will be hard for him to come to a team that won 53 games and get minutes. But he's talented enough where if we get injuries, he's a quality player who can do some scoring."
Translation: Don't actually want to play him but if we have to...meh.

Next up, The Sweet Comfort of Veterans. Sund:
"I think we need more veterans. We are one of the youngest teams in the league still. I think we need to fill out the rest of the roster with veterans."
Otherwise, Mike Bibby might get lonely.

Peachtree Hoops says the Hawks chose cash over winning:
Euphoria swept the Hawks fandom as we quickly added up that the Hawks could address both a small and a big with the two picks. Sure enough, when #27 came up, Xavier's Jordan Crawford was the pick.

Crawford, who can be compared to Jamal Crawford and Ben Gordon, was a good value there, and it allowed the Hawks to begin to focus on a big man with their next pick. Alabi, Whiteside, and Orton were all still available just before the Hawks were set to pick at #31. Then Orton came off the board, leaving the Hawks with two big men to choose from, as well as Varnado.

This was it. We were going to be one of those teams who played the draft with precision and skill, picking up a couple of players who can help the team and improve the overall depth. No more Jason Collins type player, even if it were a project big man coming into the fold. It was an odd feeling of "we're doing it, we're that team this year". Odd because draft night has been historically a collective stomach punch for Hawks fans over the years.

So the 31st pick seemed like it took forever to be announced. We just knew something sweet was coming. We were going to pull one over on the league, get a scorer and a shot blocking big man by trading back. This was going to be sweet. Folks even started to wonder what we could get at #53, daring to dream about getting (3) guys who could help even this season.

Something became amiss when the pick was announced, and it was Tibor Pleiss, the German center. Then, ESPN announced the worst: Not only was this pick not going to be a Hawk, rather, it would be going to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Hawks weren't even going to take a player for the pick.
Tom Ziller, FanHouse:
The Hawks came in with the No. 24 pick, and used it to trade down to pick Jordan Crawford and some cash. They could have just taken Crawford at 24 and gotten away with it, so good on GM Rick Sund for working to maximize the asset. In the second round, Atlanta took mysterious Senegalese project Pape Sy. The team didn't address more immediate frontcourt depth issues, but Crawford's a fine pull given what the team had to work with. Final Grade: B+.
If my team just drafted DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside, everybody would get an A.

Chad Ford (Insider):
The Hawks had a lot of success last year with a fellow named Crawford. Jamal Crawford won sixth man of the year as a volume scorer who often lit up opposing defenses. His namesake, Jordan Crawford, can do the same. He has deep range, will attack the basket and is always hunting for his shot. With Jamal in the last year of his contract, Jordan looks like he could be a nice replacement down the road.

As for Sy, let's just say that even by the low standards that we have for international "stash" picks, this one caught us by surprise. Sy is a point forward with skills, but this pick felt like a reach -- even at No. 53. Grade: B

Draft Debriefing: Jordan Crawford, Pape Sy, and Money

It says something about the profound lack of confidence Hawks fans have about the organization that acquiring a legitimate prospect with the 27th pick fails to convince. Jordan Crawford does two things this organization has long valued (shoot and score) and could have an immediate role if Joe Johnson leaves via free agency. The resources wasted in acquiring Crawford reminds one, on a much smaller scale, of the deal that brought Johnson to Atlanta in a first place, a deal in which sound player evaluation was undermined, at least in terms of building a championship-quality team, by the cost of the acquisition.

Both deals also demonstrate the team's disinclination to build through the draft* or develop the talent** they do draft. As with the Larry Drew hiring, it will take time and perspective to adequately assess these as basketball decisions but it's immediately apparent that, as financial decisions, they're intended to limit short-term costs. By drafting Crawford at 27 instead of 24, Hawks ownership will save $306,400 over the next three years (should the team pick up Crawford's first option), and, rather than investing the gain of the 31st pick to immediately address either of the team's long-standing and glaring weaknesses (perimeter defense, defensive rebounding), they sold the pick for approximately $3 million before again, at the 53rd pick, declining to add a possible contributor for 2010-11 in favor of a 22-year-old wing (though the Hawks seem to think he's a power forward or center), Pape Sy, who played 14 minutes a game for the 13th-best (out of 16) team in the French League.

*13-win teams probably shouldn't be trading two first-round picks; teams with weak benches probably shouldn't treat the top of the second-round as an ATM.

**The Hawks had no idea that including Boris Diaw in the Joe Johnson deal meant including a league-average starter; drafting Crawford puts a serious damper on any hope of Sergiy Gladyr contributing in the near future.

The Hawks have concluded a head coaching search and the draft and the only certainty is that ownership turned a profit.

Some key Jordan Crawford collegiate stats...

CrawfordPts/1002PTFG%3PTFG%3PTA/FGATS%FT Rate


Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 NBA Draft Open Thread

WHEN: 7pm (Preview) 7:30pm (Live Draft Action)


CHAT: Daily Dime Live, Hardwood Paroxysm, Basketball Prospectus




INSTANT REACTION TO THE 27TH PICK: As of this writing, it appears the Hawks traded down to take Jordan Crawford rather than Damion James, Hassan Whiteside, Solomon Alabi, or Daniel Orton in order to gain the opportunity to sell the 31st pick to Oklahoma City. It's not a hugely encouraging start to the off-season. This season, shooting guard may be to the depth chart what center was last season. The Hawks are three deep at the 2 without either Joe Johnson or Josh Childress yet signed to an NBA team.

INSTANT REACTION TO THE 53RD PICK: Pape Sy played 425 minutes over 30 games for Le Havre. He averaged 5 points a game, made 54% of his two-point attempts, 12-29 three-point attempts, and 71% of his free throws. He grabbed a rebound every eight minutes (and an offensive rebound just every 42 minutes). He's already 22 years old and should not be expected to provide anything other than a cost of $0 for ownership.

Much can be forgiven if Brian Zoubek, Wayne Chism, Marqus Blakely, and Marquis Gilstrap are on the summer league roster.

Consider this an open thread for any stray thoughts (Hawks-related or not) that must be shared before, during, or after the draft.

Red Planet: Wizards To Sign Josh Childress To Four- Or Five-Year Deal

Translated (poorly) from the original Greek:
The last time the "Chilli" negotiates the contract that, probably, will sign with the Wizards and in the coming days there will be reasonable notice. The agreement has not been finalized yet, as the two sides discuss the contract duration, whether it be four to five.
Last we heard, the Hawks intended to extend a qualifying offer to Childress but had not yet done so. With details sketchier than my language skills and the fact that nothing official can happen for at least a week, I'll draw no conclusions about this report at this point.

HT: ProBasketballTalk via ShamSports

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The TrueHoop Network Mock Draft: With The 24th Pick, The Atlanta Hawks Select...

Larry Sanders, Forward, VCU

As has been disclaimed across the network, we've been wearing our predictive rather than our preferential hats during this project so I've received a small estimation of what Rick Sund and company will experience Thursday night. The Hawks have little control over their draft fate. They're unlikely to get the player they want and will be hoping just to get a player they want. Picking 24th, the Hawks figure to select whichever of Sanders, Damion James, Daniel Orton, Solomon Alabi, or Kevin Seraphin falls* to them. In this exercise it was Sanders, a development which should please both the team and its fans were reality to replicate it.

From my draft preview:
Larry Sanders isn't much different than Ed Davis and his lower ranking here could be down to an unfair level of competition bias. Sanders scored more than Davis but was less efficient, both from the field and the line. That Sanders scored more without much of a post game can be judged either impressive or concerning for his development. He can finish and should be a serviceable backup at the 4 as a rookie, could provide good minutes off the bench as a backup center in smaller lineups, and is certain to inspire Hank Kingsley references wherever he goes.
Sanders blocked 7.4 shots per 100 on-court possessions in three years at VCU and his lowest rebound rates (11.3/23.9) came in his freshman season. Measuring 6' 10.5" (with shoes) and possessing a 7' 5.75" wingspan, contributions in those three areas should be considered givens from Sanders in the NBA.

Larry SandersBS/100OR%DR%

Though he's still, as an offensive player, mostly a finisher, his scoring rate and shooting percentages (both from the field and the line) increased (as did his role in the offense) in his second and third seasons at VCU. After earning just 17 assists in 1435 combined minutes over his Freshman and Sophomore seasons, Sanders earned 34 assists in 941 minutes in his Junior season, further providing some reason for optimism (beyond his age: 21) regarding his potential offensive development.

Larry SandersPts/100TS%2PTFG%FT%%PossA/100

Even if Sanders fails to develop offensively his low-turnover, high offensive rebound rate attributes figure to mesh nicely with the Hawks' established offensive identity. His defensive rebounding, shot blocking, and general athleticism could aid an effort to push the tempo should words become actions in that regard this season.

*If all those guys (Sanders included) are taken before the Hawks pick, then Gani Lawal, Craig Brackins, Stanley Robinson, Quincy Pondexter, Jordan Crawford, Eliot Williams, Willie Warren, and Dominique Jones likely enter the picture.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The TrueHoop Network Mock Draft Marches On

Two-thirds of the first round is complete. The 21st pick will be up at 8am EDT at Come back here at halftime of USA-Algeria (11am EDT) for the reveal of the mock Hawks' pick.

1. Washington Wizards -- John Wall (Kyle Weidie, Truth About It)
2. Philadelphia 76ers -- Evan Turner (Carey Smith, Philadunkia)
3. New Jersey Nets -- Derrick Favors (Sebastian Pruiti, Nets Are Scorching)
4. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Wesley Johnson (Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves)
5. Sacramento Kings -- DeMarcus Cousins (Zach Harper, Cowbell Kingdom)
6. Golden State Warriors -- Greg Monroe (Rasheed Malek,
7. Detroit Pistons -- Ekpe Udoh (Dan Feldman, PistonPowered)
8. Los Angeles Clippers -- Al-Farouq Aminu (D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog)
9. Utah Jazz -- Xavier Henry (Spencer Hall, Salt City Hoops)
10. Indiana Pacers -- Paul George (Tim Donahue, Eight Points, Nine Seconds)
11. New Orleans Hornets -- Cole Aldrich (Joe Gerrity, Hornets247)
12. Memphis Grizzlies -- Ed Davis (Chip Crain, 3 Shades of Blue)
13. Toronto Raptors -- Avery Bradley (Zarar Siddiqi, Raptors Republic)
14. Houston Rockets -- Patrick Patterson (Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm)
15. Milwaukee Bucks -- Gordon Hayward (Jeremy Schmidt,
16. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Hassan Whiteside (Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves)
17. Chicago Bulls -- Luke Babbitt (Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm)
18. Miami Heat -- Eric Bledsoe (Surya Fernandez, Hot Hot Hoops)
19. Boston Celtics -- James Anderson (Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm)
20. San Antonio Spurs -- Damion James (Tim Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell)
21. Oklahoma City Thunder -- TBA (Royce Young,
22. Portland TrailBlazers -- TBA (Ezra Ace Caraeff, The Portland Roundball Society)
23. Minnesota Timberwolves -- TBA
(Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves)
24. Atlanta Hawks -- TBA (Bret LaGree, Hoopinion)
25. Memphis Grizzlies -- TBA (
Chip Crain, 3 Shades of Blue)
Oklahoma City Thunder -- TBA (Royce Young,
27. New Jersey Nets -- TBA (
Sebastian Pruiti, Nets Are Scorching)
Memphis Grizzlies -- TBA (Chip Crain, 3 Shades of Blue)
29. Orlando Magic --TBA (Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball)
30. Washington Wizards -- TBA
(Kyle Weidie, Truth About It)

Sergiy Gladyr Expected To Join Teague, Draft Pick(s) at Summer League

Two-thirds of the way into Michael Cunningham's fine piece in the AJC about the franchise's abysmal drafting and player development record, I spotted this gem:
The Hawks will have an entry in the Las Vegas Summer League this year. Teague, 2009 second-round pick Sergiy Gladyr and the player whom Atlanta drafts on Thursday all are expected to participate.
It will be great to get a first-hand look at Gladyr.

Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 NBA Draft: Collegiate Center Prospects

Disclosure: Previous draft analysis, both insightful and woeful: 2009 NBA Draft, 2008 NBA Draft, 2007 NBA Draft preview, 2007 NBA Draft analysis, 2006 NBA Draft preview, 2006 NBA Draft analysis/live blog, 2005 NBA Draft preview, 2005 NBA Draft grades


1. DeMarcus Cousins
2. Cole Aldrich
3. Greg Monroe
4. Hassan Whiteside
5. Daniel Orton
6. Solomon Alabi
7. Jarvis Varnado
-----1st ROUND-----
8. Derrick Caracter
9. Brian Zoubek
10. Jerome Jordan
11. Omar Samhan
-----2nd ROUND-----

DeMarcus Cousins combines the best qualities of DeJuan Blair (rebounding) and Mareesse Speights (high-volume, efficient scoring) and augments those attributes with ideal size for his position. Which explains why he spent one rather than two seasons in college. Evaluating these players from a distance prevents me from having a firm handle on any player's off-the-court issues. From what I've witnessed, Cousins, though he may well be immature (which itself may be a function of age as much as personality type), did not display, at Kentucky, immaturity to the degree that Michael Beasley, to take a recent example, did at Kansas State. There could be compelling reasons to take Derrick Favors or Evan Turner ahead of Cousins but those reasons are not clear from this vantage point.

Because people tend to conflate shot blocking and rebounding, a player who blocks a lot of shots and rebounds extremely well might not get full credit for how valuable and rare the combination is. I am not neutral on Cole Aldrich. He's been the best defensive player in college basketball each of the last two years. His size, reach, strength, movement, and positioning sense (note that his steal rate is superior to the other great shot blockers in this draft class) make him NBA-ready today. The concerns about his offensive game are legitimate. His footwork regressed in his Junior season while he also shot worse from the mid-range and the free throw line. Among centers in this draft class, though, only Alabi, Samhan, Jordan, and Andrew Ogilvy shot a higher percentage at the line last season than Aldrich. Though it's unlikely to be relevant to his professional career, he did improve greatly at both recognizing and passing out of double teams. He's an excellent (though sub-Kevin Love) outlet passer as well. The greatest concern with Aldrich should be his health. He suffered a stress reaction in his foot late in his Sophomore season and labored with bronchitis for the first half of his Junior season. If either should be a potentially chronic condition, he's clearly a lesser prospect than Greg Monroe.

It says much for my admiration of Cousins and Aldrich that I rank them ahead of the wonderful Greg Monroe. There's nothing not to like about Monroe's game as is: his defensive rebound rate compares favorably to both Cousins and Aldrich, he averaged just under 30 points and 7 assists per 100 on-court possessions (similar rates* to Sherron Collins), blocked shots and stole the ball at good rates. There's even good reason to believe that his jump shot can improve and/or he'll grab more offensive rebounds if he spends more time in the low-post. I wouldn't blame anyone for rating Monroe ahead of Aldrich.

*Monroe and Collins probably have similar weights as well.

Hassan Whiteside is a year older than Greg Monroe and just seven-and-a-half months younger than Cole Aldrich so the relatively raw nature of his game does not come with the benefit of relative youth. Furthermore, he fattened up the stat sheet by virtue of Marshall playing three regular season games against non-Division 1 opposition. Take away the the 19 blocks and 27 rebounds he notched in just 66 minutes in those games and he's still a super shot-blocking and rebounding prospect. Take away the 21-31 shooting from the field and 3 of his 10 assists on the season, and his offensive game is even more clearly a work in progress. A worthy risk and a team willing to be patient with him could reap ample rewards.

Scouts will earn their paychecks evaluating Daniel Orton. The rest of us have just 502 college minutes with which to attempt to form an opinion about him. There's no shame in playing behind Cousins and Patrick Patterson but Orton was not especially productive in the minutes he received, posting unimpressive scoring (both volume and efficiency) and defensive rebounding numbers. His solid offensive rebound rate, plus above average block and steal rates, suggest he has the physical gifts to play center but he may never develop beyond serviceable at the position. Youth and size are his greatest attributes at this point.

Jarvis Varnado and Solomon Alabi are roughly equal prospects in value. Preference will likely be based on a particular team's needs. Varnado has a slightly more developed post game and is very adept at defending the basket area. Alabi can defend in space as well as in the post (though the time spent defending away from the basket is evident in his lower defensive rebounding rate) and is more comfortable with the ball in his hands in the mid- to high-post though that may be damning with faint praise. Both should be immediate contributors.

Derrick Caracter could be a second-round steal. He's always been a nice offensive player in the post but further impressed last season as part of an excellent UTEP defense. Size (both vertical and horizontal), conditioning, and effort are legitimate concerns but his skill level compares favorably to other second-round options.

It's only a slight exaggeration to claim (as I frequently do) that Duke won the National Championship because Mike Krzyzewski finally came to terms with Brian Zoubek's limitations and left him on the court to produce rather than wasting precious post minutes on the limited and unproductive likes of Lance Thomas and David McClure. As an NBA prospect, Zoubek's upside is a better-rebounding Aaron Gray or Nazr Mohammed (the later years) but he should find employment as a situational backup center.

Jerome Jordan's NBA potential can be summed up in the phrase "lacks Brian Zoubek's athleticism." Only Jordan, Omar Samhan and Art Parakhouski failed to average even one steal per 100 on-court possessions. Jordan combined that achievement with an offensive rebound rate below 10%. His size and productive scoring record at Tulsa should earn him a look or two.

Jonny Flynn's rookie season may have killed the import of charm in teams' draft evaluations and that could be the difference between Omar Samhan getting drafted late in the second-round or not. Samhan was really productive at St. Mary's and it wouldn't be an unreasonable use of resources to acquire him and see how he'd play if he were in shape.

DRAFT BOARD (Collegiate Players)
1. John Wall
2. DeMarcus Cousins
3. Derrick Favors
4. Evan Turner
5. Cole Aldrich
6. Greg Monroe
7. Wesley Johnson
8. Ed Davis
9. Ekpe Udoh
10. Hassan Whiteside
11. Daniel Orton
12. Paul George
13. Damion James
14. Xavier Henry
15. Patrick Patterson
16. Avery Bradley
17. James Anderson
18. Al-Farouq Aminu
19. Luke Babbitt
20. Larry Sanders
21. Solomon Alabi

22. Jarvis Varnado
23. Eric Bledsoe
24. Elliot Williams
25. Craig Brackins
26. Willie Warren
27. Jordan Crawford
28. Quincy Pondexter
-----1st ROUND-----
29. Gordon Hayward
30. Gani Lawal
31. Derrick Caracter
32. Devin Ebanks
33. Lazar Hayward
34. Lance Stephenson
35. Marqus Blakely
36. Trevor Booker
37. Wayne Chism
38. Mikhail Torrance
39. Stanley Robinson
40. Brian Zoubek
41. Manny Harris

42. Jerome Randle
43. Greivis Vasquez
44. Ben Uzoh
45. Luke Harangody
46. Terrico White
47. Sylven Landesberg
48. Jon Scheyer
49. Dominique Jones
50. Sherron Collins
51. Marquis Gilstrap
52. Samardo Samuels
53. Dwayne Collins
54. Scottie Reynolds
55. Charles Garcia
56. Tiny Gallon
57. Jerome Jordan
58. Omar Samhan
59. Devan Downey
-----2nd ROUND-----

Saturday, June 19, 2010

2010 NBA Draft: Collegiate Power Forward Prospects

Disclosure: Previous draft analysis, both insightful and woeful: 2009 NBA Draft, 2008 NBA Draft, 2007 NBA Draft preview, 2007 NBA Draft analysis, 2006 NBA Draft preview, 2006 NBA Draft analysis/live blog, 2005 NBA Draft preview, 2005 NBA Draft grades


1. Derrick Favors
2. Ed Davis
3. Ekpe Udoh
4. Patrick Patterson
5. Larry Sanders
6. Craig Brackins
-----1st ROUND-----
7. Gani Lawal
8. Trevor Booker
9. Wayne Chism
10. Stanley Robinson
11. Luke Harangody
12. Samardo Samuels
13. Dwayne Collins
14. Charles Garcia
15. Tiny Gallon
-----2nd ROUND-----

It's not probable but I wouldn't be shocked if Derrick Favors turned out to be the best player in this draft. He wasn't a hugely productive scorer in his lone season at Georgia Tech but he was pretty efficient despite playing alongside the similar Gani Lawal and one of the worst collections of guards I can remember seeing on a team that made the NCAA Tournament. As with John Wall, turnovers were his biggest weakness as a freshman and that's the least worrisome weakness a young player can have.

As with Favors, there's some concern as to why the younger, more talented Ed Davis took a smaller offensive role than his older teammate, in this case Deon Thompson. It's a greater concern with Davis because his three years older than Favors and Davis played for a coach whose offense is centered around getting high quality shots for big men so it was more likely down to player passivity or heretofore unrecognized limitations than poor coaching. Davis lacks inspiring upside but he's a solid bet to rebound, blocks shots, and finish the opportunities others create for him around the basket.

Ekpe Udoh was a sleeper before Baylor's NCAA Tournament run but he's fairly overrated at this point as teams and fans appear to hope for the opportunity to take a player with similar skills to Cole Aldrich but smaller, older, and less productive. Udoh's, at worst, the third best defensive big man in the draft but his offensive game is very limited.

In 2009-10 Patrick Patterson didn't get anywhere near the touches he received the previous season but even as the volume of his production shrank he remained an efficient offensive player. Worrisome was the hit his rebound rate took in his Junior season. Playing alongside DeMarcus Cousins isn't a convincing excuse. One need only look at Favors and Lawal to see that teammates are fully capable of both posting 12%/20% rebound rates. The cautionary tale (and this is only in respect to rebounding, Patterson's a far better offensive player) here is Spencer Hawes who had his low collegiate rebounding rates explained away by Jon Brockman's presence. Turned out that Hawes just wasn't a good rebounder. Patterson can succeed despite this weakness but it impacts his ranking.

Larry Sanders isn't much different than Ed Davis and his lower ranking here could be down to an unfair level of competition bias. Sanders scored more than Davis but was less efficient, both from the field and the line. That Sanders scored more without much of a post game can be judged either impressive or concerning for his development. He can finish and should be a serviceable backup at the 4 as a rookie, could provide good minutes off the bench as a backup center in smaller lineups, and is certain to inspire Hank Kingsley references wherever he goes.

Craig Brackins was considered a great prospect this time last year. He returned to Iowa State and had a fairly similar season, being less productive but a little more efficient. The result: a drop of about 30 places on everybody's draft board. He was probably too high last year and sits too low this year. He's a finesse power forward who attacks the defensive glass and has never played with a good guard. An improved jump shot would make him highly useful in pick-and-pop situations. Think Ryan Anderson with less range.

Gani Lawal has size and strength going for him. If he goes to a good team, they'll likely make use of those attributes without asking him to develop his offensive game. If he goes to a bad team, they may give up on him ever developing an offensive game. He's raw, but as a rebounding aficionado I like what he can do.

Neither Trevor Booker nor Wayne Chism were quite as productive as seniors as DeMarre Carroll was the previous season and Carroll's struggles as a rookie in Memphis don't figure to make NBA teams eager to get in on high-energy, 3/4 tweeners from pressing programs. Booker and Chism are both bigger than Carroll, blocked more shots, and committed more turnovers so if you squint you can see more upside. Chism might could develop into a stretch four.

Stanley Robinson took on a bigger offensive role last season but that said more about UConn's limited options than that Robinson took a major step forward. He did improve, though, most encouragingly by making 27-79 three-pointers. He doesn't rebound well enough to project as a full-time power forward but it's a open question as to whether or not he can defend in space on the wing. I'm surprised more teams haven't tried to get production out of the plentiful Louis Amundson types who populate the basketball world. Robinson should hope that changes.

Luke Harangody was a poor-man's Nick Fazekas in college. One might think the three- or four-inch height advantage Fazekas had would have worked in his favor, but playing at Notre Dame will probably give Harangody a better chance to prove himself in the NBA though he's no more (and quite possibly less) athletic than Fazekas. The dividing line for the necessary athleticism to succeed as an undersized 4 in the NBA figures to be drawn somewhere between Harangody and the similarly shaped Craig Smith.

Samardo Samuels posted DR% of 10.1 and 14.7 in his two seasons at Louisville which suggests that his lack of athleticism prevents him from rebounding in more than one spot even at the college level. He is strong and can use that strength to get good position on the block and in anticipation of offensive rebounds but finishing could be a problem against NBA post players.

Solid on the glass and in the paint, it remains to be seen if Dwayne Collins can get out on the floor as necessitated by the modern definition of NBA power forwards. If he can't, he'll have to leverage his strength into a vagabond career as a fifth big man specializing in aggressive, annoying post defense.

Once one adjusts for pace (Seattle averaged almost 80 possessions per game last season, 13 more than an average college team), Charles Garcia's production appears far less impressive. Per on-court possession, the only real comp he has in terms of blocks and steals is Luke Harangody, only Dwayne Collins and Tiny Gallon come within 75% of his turnover rate, his offensive rebound rate is below average (though his defensive rebound rate is strong), and he's a below average shooter inside the arc, outside the arc, and from the free throw line. A year in the D-League is likely his best case scenario.

Tiny Gallon is a) not tiny at all and b) probably not missing much by turning his basketball development over to someone other than Jeff Capel. Other than tracking down missed shots, he has no idea what he's doing: turnover-prone, jump shot-enamored, and defensively indifferent. If a team thinks they can get him in shape, he's a decent risk of a second-round pick but it will be a couple of years before he should be expected to fulfill his modest promise.

DRAFT BOARD (Guards,Wings, and Power Forwards)
1. John Wall

2. Derrick Favors
3. Evan Turner

4. Wesley Johnson


5. Ed Davis
6. Ekpe Udoh
7. Paul George

8. Damion James

9. Xavier Henry

10. Patrick Patterson
11. Avery Bradley

12. James Anderson

13. Al-Farouq Aminu

14. Luke Babbitt

15. Larry Sanders
16. Eric Bledsoe

17. Elliot Williams

18. Craig Brackins
19. Willie Warren

20. Jordan Crawford

21. Quincy Pondexter

-----1st ROUND-----

22. Gordon Hayward

23. Gani Lawal
24. Devin Ebanks

25. Lazar Hayward

26. Lance Stephenson

27. Marqus Blakely

28. Trevor Booker
29. Wayne Chism
30. Mikhail Torrance

31. Stanley Robinson
32. Manny Harris

33. Jerome Randle
34. Greivis Vasquez

35. Ben Uzoh

36. Luke Harangody
37. Terrico White

38. Sylven Landesberg

39. Jon Scheyer

40. Dominique Jones

41. Sherron Collins

42. Marquis Gilstrap

43. Samardo Samuels
44. Dwayne Collins
45. Scottie Reynolds

46. Charles Garcia
47. Tiny Gallon
48. Devan Downey

-----2nd ROUND-----

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 Bradley: Does Joe Johnson want to share? Does he want to win?

In an otherwise fine summation of the questions surrounding the (still) intertwined futures of Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks, Mark Bradley, in addressing the valid question of how much Joe Johnson is willing to sacrifice to play for a winner, perpetuates a common misconception: that Johnson's relative ability and value is defined by his role rather than his production.

How much does Joe Johnson want to win? Here’s the key question. He’s already a rich man, and he’s about to become a richer one. Does he want to retire with a bunch of points and a huge financial portfolio, or does he want to re-invent himself as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have? Each of them was what Johnson is — a great player/main man who could never sniff a title. They changed because they cared more about winning. We’re about to learn what motivates Joe Johnson.
If Joe Johnson wants to be a key, complementary player a championship team, he needn't re-invent himself. He just needs to play on a better team* than he ever has in Atlanta. His peak value is closer to a thirty-something, re-invented Allen, Pierce, or Garnett than any of them at their peak. All four were main men. Only three were great.

*A category which could well include the 2010-11 Hawks.

Despite the amount of time the ball's spent in his hands, only twice (2006-07 and 2009-10) in five seasons in Atlanta has Johnson averaged 20 points per 36 minutes. Ray Allen averaged 20 points per 36 minutes for eight straight seasons before joining the Celtics at the age of 32. Paul Pierce averaged 20 points per 36 minutes for seven straight seasons before Allen and Garnett joined him in Boston. Both Pierce and Allen were (and are) far more efficient scorers than Johnson, were better rebounders than Johnson in their primes, Pierce, in his prime, posted similar assist rates to Johnson, and Allen, in his prime, turned the ball over as infrequently as Johnson. Even Kevin Garnett, whose value as a defender and rebounder dwarfs that of Johnson to the degree that the two are thoroughly incomparable as players, scored and earned assists at a slightly higher rate in Minnesota than Johnson has in Atlanta.

Joe Johnson's career-best PER is 19.5*. Garnett has bettered that in 12 of his 15 seasons and posted a 19.4 PER this season. Ray Allen had a PER of at least 20.6 for eight straight seasons from the age of 24 to 31. Paul Pierce had a PER of at least 19.2 for each of his first ten seasons in the league.

*And that came in his injury-shortened 2006-07 season. His full-season best is the 19.3 he posted last season.

As a further point of comparison, Al Horford's career-best PER is 19.4. Josh Smith's is 21. They're four and five years younger than Johnson, respectively. Those two could form a fine triumvirate* with Johnson for the next couple of years. Unfortunately, that attractive scenario is not an option for the Hawks. Cap mismanagement and waste of resources have left them two unattractive opions: pay Joe Johnson for the next five years as if he's the franchise player he's never been at any point in his career** and is highly unlikely to become in his 30s, or, refuse to overpay Johnson in either the short- or long-term while also lacking the ability to replace his very real and useful production.

*One that would still leave the Hawks short both a Rajon Rondo and a Kendrick Perkins if one assumes championship aspirations, but that speaks more to larger problems.

**That it's almost impossible to imagine Johnson being underpaid for his production is also the argument for him securing his financial future this summer, consequences be damned--a decision I would not criticize.

Choosing the least damaging path for franchise must begin with evaluating Johnson's production against his contemporary and historical peers who have been given similar, primary roles rather than against the
2004-05 Atlanta Hawks. The void he filled for that team no longer exists in Atlanta.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Atlanta Hawks 2010 Summer League Schedule

It's been awhile, but nice to have you back, summer league basketball.

ClipperBlog has the complete 2010 Las Vegas Summer League schedule. The league runs from July 9th-18th. The Hawks play on the 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, and 18th.

Plane tickets from Atlanta to Vegas appear to be running in excess of $300 right now. Budget accordingly but remember, jumping to conclusions is priceless.

Key Quote From the Official Introduction of Larry Drew

It didn't come from Larry Drew, which is no knock on Drew or anything he said. He seems a reasonable man who likely has ideas, good and bad, innovative and naïve, about how to be a head coach. I expect he'll have many new and different ideas about how to be a head coach in six months. As he should. And he did say several intelligent:
"The thing is to get [Josh Smith] off the perimeter. Put him in position to be a little more successful. I believe with his athleticism, he has a lot of capability in low post."
and crowd-pleasing things:
"I really believe [Jeff Teague] has the package. Rick [Sund] and I spoke about it. I think he has the ability to make this team better, to have an impact on this team. The offense will really benefit from his speed and his quickness — to break the defense down."
The key quote (reported, as the above quotes were, by Jeff Schultz of the AJC) though comes from Al Horford speaking on the differences between Mike Woodson and Larry Drew:
"He’s totally different. Coach Woodson was more laid back. Larry’s different. He’s already reached out to us and let us know he’s going to change the offense a little bit and how he’s emphasizing the defensive part of things...Even though Larry was a part of our team before, it’s a big change for us. Because when you have a head coach, you [the assistant] can’t get the last say. With him being in charge now, things are going to be different."
I think Woodson's tendency to be "laid back" then transitioning into a "screamer" when things didn't go according to plan is what ultimately lost the confidence of the locker room. A coach could survive, especially after a 53-win season, an inability to communicate or an inability to make effective in-game adjustments. The combination of those particular weaknesses fails to inspire or even reassure. Horford also indirectly addresses the dissonance between Mike Woodson's frequent invocations of defense in the media and on-court results. Improving the team's defense is, to my mind, Drew's primary challenge.

Hiring Larry Drew doesn't come close to solving this team's myriad weaknesses but, if he can convince the team's young talent to play differently (whether Joe Johnson returns or not) than they've grown accustomed, then the chances of him making a successful head coaching debut increase. The players got what they wanted but, in gaining a new head coach, they lost a scapegoat. Mike Woodson took the bulk of the blame for the team's (relatively) poor playoff performance. If the returning Hawks fail to give Drew a consistent, committed effort as he learns on the job (as he assuredly will) they'll find there's plenty of blame to go around when changes don't lead to improvement.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Larry Drew Interview With Lang Whitaker

From SLAM Online:

SLAM: Having been there the last six years and seeing this team develop, do you see the same things that could use improving upon that a lot of the fans and media sees and has talked about the last few weeks?

LD: Well, I think your normal basketball fan can look at our team and pretty much analyze it. If you listen to commentators and radio shows and whatever, everyone’s saying the same things need improving upon. Certainly I recognize and our team recognizes it. I think these guys are itching to get over that hump. We’ve shown and proven we can make the Playoffs, it’s a matter of elevating our games to make it to that next level.

HT: ProBaketballTalk

Early, Positive Reactions to the Larry Drew Hiring

Michael Cunningham of the AJC spoke with Hawks players to gauge their reaction to the hiring:
...all of them said they expect LD’s approach to be different than Woody’s. Drew often ran the second-team offense in practice and was said to deploy creative sets, with one player describing them as a “fun” departures from the isolations. Another player said when things went badly for the Hawks, LD tended to be more of an “encourager” than a “screamer” and focused his energy on laying out a detailed plan for how the Hawks can get better.
Sekou Smith of also approves of hiring Larry Drew:
Drew is an excellent choice for a Hawks team that needed a new coach and not just a name or a personality to handle a group that piled up the fifth-best season in franchise history. Drew”s not a self-promoter or a guy that’s ever hunted the headlines as an assistant coach. But he’s honed his craft over the years, working all over the league and with some of the best people in the business. Sure, he has plenty to prove as a head coach, but what first time boss doesn’t? Drew has the added advantage of having guys like Al Horford, Josh Smith (below) and Jamal Crawford in his corner.
In the latest Free Agency Dime at, Marc Stein argues that Drew wasn't hired to convince Joe Johnson to stay:
If keeping Joe Johnson was the Hawks' lone aim, there's a case to be made that they just should have kept Mike Woodson.

You don't have to live in Atlanta to know the depths of Woodson's devotion to Johnson. You have undoubtedly heard that Woody's predictable play-calling was routinely referred to as the Iso-Joe offense. You can't be surprised by the suggestion that Johnson would want to keep playing for Woody, who catered to his No. 1 option as few coaches do.

But hanging on to Johnson is not Atlanta's sole goal. The Hawks know they'll have trouble spots to address even if Johnson stays this summer, judging by their embarrassing surrender in the second round against Orlando, when they absorbed a four-game sweep by a combined 101 points.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Atlanta Hawks To Hire Larry Drew As Head Coach

It will likely be months before anyone can fairly judge this as a basketball decision but it should place a moratorium on questions about why the Hawks don't garner more attention locally. Whatever the long-term success of hiring Larry Drew, it's an uninspiring decision in the short term and one that only reinforces the perception that the organization fears change more than it desires a championship.

Nor would it be easy to argue that a (or the) key factor in deciding to hire Drew is not this:
The Atlanta Hawks will hire Larry Drew as their next head coach, a league source told ESPN's Ric Bucher.

Drew and the Hawks have agreed to a three-year, $5 million deal, according to the source. Those figures are slightly less than the three-year, $6.5 million deal Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau received from the Chicago Bulls. In both cases, only two years are guaranteed.
I can't find a complete list of NBA head coach salaries more current than this list from 2004-05. (UPDATE: FanHouse's NBA Coach Tracker has current salary information for more than half the league's head coaches. HT: Matt Moore) Drew will be paid less than Mike Woodson ever was and will be paid less than half of the league's estimated average head coach's salary in 2010. Spending money wisely is most important (that same Dave D'Alessandro report indicates that Scott Brooks currently makes $1.5 million a year) but the Hawks have not demonstrated either creativity or ambition in how they allocate their resources.

They couldn't imagine playing without Mike Bibby's limited skills so they're stuck paying him $12 million over the next two seasons. Being a tenured Hawk (and former second overall pick) earned Marvin Williams $37.5 million over five seasons to be the team's fifth offensive option (and only competent wing defender). The Hawks don't get value from the second round of the draft. They don't find useful undrafted free agents. There's scant evidence that the organization is even aware of the D-League's existence. It's questionable whether the ultimate decision-makers are aware of the larger basketball world. Bibby and Williams seemingly got paid as if their value was judged solely in relation to other Hawk players rather than the league* as a whole.

*Where Ramon Sessions is worth $16 million over 4 years or Matt Barnes signs a series of 1-year deals.

Larry Drew might well be the right choice to coach the Hawks. He was certainly the most familiar choice. The bulk of recent evidence suggests the primacy of that factor and that the organization intends to spend the bulk of their remaining resources on the player only they have ever considered someone around whom a successful team can be built.

Friday, June 11, 2010

2010 NBA Draft: Collegiate Small Forward Prospects

Disclosure: Previous draft analysis, both insightful and woeful: 2009 NBA Draft, 2008 NBA Draft, 2007 NBA Draft preview, 2007 NBA Draft analysis, 2006 NBA Draft preview, 2006 NBA Draft analysis/live blog, 2005 NBA Draft preview, 2005 NBA Draft grades


1. Wesley Johnson


2. Paul George

3. Damion James

4. Xavier Henry

5. James Anderson

6. Al-Farouq Aminu

7. Luke Babbitt

8. Quincy Pondexter

-----1st ROUND-----

9. Gordon Hayward

10. Devin Ebanks

11. Lazar Hayward

12. Marqus Blakely

13. Marquis Gilstrap

-----2nd ROUND-----

Wesley Johnson
is a really nice player but in a well-rounded, complementary vein which puts him clearly behind Wall, Cousins, Turner, and Favors. I suspect Johnson will rely more on his jump shot in the NBA but his already acceptable defensive rebounding rate (18.3% last season) and excellent steal and block rates (3.1 and 2.8 per 100 possessions, respectively) could benefit from playing in a different defensive system.

Paul George
has more upside than Damion James, Xavier Henry, and James Anderson but there's less certainty as to what percentage of George's production is down to skill and what's due to athleticism overwhelmingly superior to his collegiate competition. Which is to say that the NBA's not the WAC, but shooting and athletic ability are still a potent combination. I don't know if George would be better served going to a team that's patient with him or one that throws him into the fire but he appears the most likely candidate to make a (deserved) late charge up draft boards.

Damion James spent his entire Junior season watching the far inferior AJ Abrams shoot the ever-loving hell out of the ball cost James money (he's always had first round talent) and is another mark against Rick Barnes. James can score inside and out and can rebound on both ends of the floor. He's unlikely to create offense for other players and is primitive defensively (again, the Barnes influence). James didn't always conduct himself in an admirable manner as Texas' season fell apart but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk that up to frustration rather than personal defect.

The difference between Damion James and
Xavier Henry is that James can contribute immediately while Henry's game still needs to gestate. Like Cole Aldrich, Henry suffered from poor guard play at Kansas last season. Henry can certainly shoot but even having seen each of his games in college I have no strong opinion as to whether or not he can create his own shot. He might not know either. Then again, he's 19 and there's time for him to figure it out. Like many NBA small forwards who play that position in college and frequently match up against much smaller, quicker players, concerns about his defense and athleticism are overstated.

I prefer
James Anderson to the somewhat similar scorers Quincy Pondexter and Luke Babbitt mostly by the virtue of the stronger competition he faced. Anderson can score against anyone, is a decent passer, and looks to have both the strength and athleticism to at least fake defense at both wing positions.

Al-Farouq Aminu
will be drafted early due to his athleticism (2.7 blocks and steals per 100 possessions, 14.6% offensive rebound rate) and youth (19) rather than any belief that he's a good basketball player right now. Aminu's a better prospect than former teammate James Johnson (and was a better prospect than Johnson at this time last year, also) but figures to struggle in his first exposure to NBA basketball.

Luke Babbitt
is the toughest player for me to evaluate in this draft. He was a terrifically productive (35 points per 100 on-court possessions) and efficient (62 TS%) scorer at Nevada but demonstrated none of the athleticism that he displayed at the combine. Babbitt posted a lower steal rate than any other small forward prospect in this draft, bests only Xavier Henry (among legitimate small forward prospects) in offensive rebound rate, and blocked just one-and-a-quarter shots per 100 on-court possessions. It's not impressive to throw one's hands up and say, "I don't know," but I don't know.

Quincy Pondexter
is a younger and more athletic version of Sam Young. Both are likely to be career bench players but Pondexter possesses a slightly higher chance of taking on a starting role without inflicting damage to his team. He can knock down open shots, fill the lane in transition, and help on the offensive glass. Having played for Lorenzo Romar, any defensive talent Pondexter possesses remains latent.

Opinions of
Gordon Hayward largely rest on what chance one gives him to maintain his high free throw rate in the NBA. If he can get points at the line, he should stick around the league for a long time (assuming his 37% career collegiate 3PTFG% is more indicative of his ability than his 29% mark from beyond the arc last season). If he can't get points at the line, he'll have to figure out a way to get by with what are, at this point, seriously secondary skills. Though he appears a heady player, no one's drafting Hayward for his passing, rebounding, or defensive skills.

Devin Ebanks
can defend and rebound. Sometimes he passes well for his position. He should do so more often because sometimes he forgets he can't shoot. He was a remarkable 8-70 from beyond the college arc in two seasons at West Virginia. A good role player if accepts his limitations, a headache if he does not.

Lazar Hayward
figures to be a decent, late second round consolation prize for a team that misses out on Pondexter at the end of the first round. He's a year older, a little bit bigger, and a better defensive player. Hayward played a supporting role at Marquette until his Senior season and could reasonably be expected to transition easily into spot duty at the end of a rotation. If the Hawks go big at 24, Hayward would be a fine use of the 53rd pick but backup to Marvin Williams is probably close to his upside.

If Marqus Blakely makes an NBA roster it will probably be as an undersized (6-5, 219 but with a 7' 1" wingspan) power forward but it's not outside the realm of possibility that he possesses the athleticism to defend on the wing. 3.5 blocks and 4.5 steals per 100 on-court possessions is impressive regardless of position or level of competition. Factor in a collegiate assist rate that would compare favorably to the combo guards in this class and drafting Blakely would not be an especially cavalier use of a second round pick.

I'm giving Craig Brackins the benefit of the doubt for playing at Iowa State in a subsequent post and I thought it only fair to give similar credit to his teammate
Marquis Gilstrap who put up numbers remarkably similar to those of Brackins' disappointing Junior season. Gilstrap doesn't have the 2008-09 season that boosts Brackins' standing but he could be a late bloomer who had his development slowed by injury.

DRAFT BOARD (Guards and Wings)
1. John Wall

2. Evan Turner

3. Wesley Johnson


4. Paul George

5. Damion James

6. Xavier Henry

7. Avery Bradley

8. James Anderson

9. Al-Farouq Aminu

10. Luke Babbitt

11. Eric Bledsoe

12. Elliot Williams

13. Willie Warren

14. Jordan Crawford

15. Quincy Pondexter

-----1st ROUND-----

16. Gordon Hayward

17. Devin Ebanks

18. Lazar Hayward

19. Lance Stephenson

20. Marqus Blakely

21. Mikhail Torrance

22. Manny Harris

23. Jerome Randle
24. Greivis Vasquez

25. Ben Uzoh

26. Terrico White

27. Sylven Landesberg

28. Jon Scheyer

29. Dominique Jones

30. Sherron Collins

31. Marquis Gilstrap

32. Scottie Reynolds

33. Devan Downey

-----2nd ROUND-----