D-League

Three Players to Watch (Brooklyn Nets)

The “Three Players to Watch” series is brought to you by the OuttaTownClowns, covering each of the league’s 30 teams providing you with insight on three guys that should demand your attention next season. As you can always expect at the OTC, not every player noted are a team’s top player, instead it may just be a player’s particular situation that’s worth following if you’re a die-hard NBA fan. Up Next: “Hello Brooklyn, how ya duin” (Lil Wayne Voice)

1. Tyshawn Taylor

The seasoned college prospect fell to the 41st pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and was surprisingly traded by Portland to Brooklyn for cash considerations. Cash considerations? Consider this…Tyshawn Taylor will receive some chances to help the Nets next season. Averaging 15.5 ppg in Orlando Summer League competition Taylor provided leadership, a clear ability to score the basketball at the next level, and most importantly wasn’t afraid to take control of the flow of the game while on the court. Although he only handed out an average of 2.5 assists per game in summer ball, his overall game play can easily make him a reliable option of the bench for Head Coach Avery Johnson if called upon. Don’t be surprised to see Taylor sent to the D-League early on into the year, but come the middle of the season he should rise if given the opportunity.

 

2. Brook Lopez

Go ahead big fella, pick out some new Brooklyn Nets gear that fits. Looks as if you’ll be sticking around after all…

Two words can describe the Nets feeling when it comes to Brook Lopez next season: fingers crossed. After playing in just the first 5 games of the last year’s season, the Nets ultimately decided to shut Lopez down after a severely sprained right ankle. Despite much court time the Nets still elected to re-sign Lopez to a 4 year, $61 million dollar contract extension. Re-signing Brook Lopez and missing the boat on acquiring Dwight Howard the Nets will heavily rely upon Lopez to have a major bounce back year. As the current Nets roster stands, Lopez is arguably their only true center and will obviously need to avoid foul trouble. With the relocation to Brooklyn that included a new logo, new image (Jay-Z convinced the league to allow them to have primary black jerseys), re-signing of Gerald Wallace, and trading to acquire Joe Johnson the Nets have huge expectations this coming season. It’s time that owner Mikhail Prokhorov sees a drastic improvement in team success considering the amount of money he’s been willing and able to fork out over the course of the past two years. Add Lopez to that list and the 24 year-old should definitely feel some pressure to perform.

3. Joe Johnson

NBA fans should be very curious to see how D-Will & “Iso Joe” share the ball next season

It’s safe to say most people like Joe Johnson. He’s not really the type of guy you can really hate on outside of the fact that he’s become famous for delivering clutch, cold-blooded daggers to your team in your own building for years now. But while he executes everything so calmly with ease, it’s hard to understand how on earth “Iso-Joe” is the NBA’s highest paid player. Johnson is an All-Star that got paid Superstar money. In Atlanta, Johnson was an annual All-Star and Brooklyn can expect no different. However, it will be interesting to see how well Johnson’s game can gel in the backcourt with Deron Williams. Both players love and are used to having the ball in their hands. It should be very interesting what transpires at the end of close games and how the Nets offense flows next season. If everything goes as planned, the Nets will somehow sneak their way into the 2013 NBA playoffs. In order for that to even a slight chance of happening, Joe must continue to be Joe while also adjusting to sharing a backcourt with Deron Williams. Easier said then done.

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Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 NBA Rookie Disappointments

PG: N/A

There’s honestly not one point guard that you can fairly say they’ll be a draft disappointment. Considering where each of this year’s point guard prospects were selected, you got to like the potential upside they all offer.

Turner's role with the 76ers will be as awkward as that hat looks atop his head

SG: Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers

A variety of reasons land Turner in this slot: 1) He far from impressed in Orlando Summer League ball 2) While the 76ers have a fresh, new coach in Doug Collins it doesn’t change the fact that Turner will struggle finding his niche role with his team 3) If John Wall can play up to his expectation level and Turner struggles, unfortunately, unfairly he’ll be looked down upon. There’s no doubt Turner becomes a solid player in the NBA, but he’s going to be a young player that will grow with time. So from jump, Turner may be perceived as a draft disappointment.

This may in fact be the only memory of Aminu that I'll still hold at the end of the season

SF: Al-Farouq Aminu, Los Angeles Clippers

If you’re looking for this past year’s draft’s biggest disappointment look no further, Aminu can be added to the list of terrible Clippers’ draft picks. Who knows what the Clippers see in Aminu’s future as an NBA player but I can assure you he’s not worth using your 8th pick on him. His immediate role with the Clippers is limited and very well in question after bringing in Ryan Gomes and resigning Rasual Butler. Both Gomes and Butler will make it extremely difficult for Aminu to find time. Most likely Aminu becomes a guy who never gets his opportunities early on and never recovers from the lack of experience as a rookie. His best bet is to find some time in the D-League and then to go from there because he’s far from NBA ready nor is he ready to be called 8th pick worthy, regardless of draft class.

When you're picked before tons of players you probably shouldn't be, it's common practice to hug the commissioner rather than shake his hand

PF: Ekpe Udoh, Golden State Warriors

With the 6th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select…umm who? Though you all know I cover the NBA draft extensively and clearly know who Udoh is, predictions aside, I’m shocked Warriors went this route. Maybe it makes more than perfect sense to draft Greg Monroe so instead they decided to take the risky pick in Udoh in hopes that he surprises us all. Udoh will be newly signed David Lee’s backup and will continually remain his backup until the Warriors feel he’s ready to play some minutes at center. If and when that time ever becomes a possibility is much like Udoh’s true potential, up in the air. Until Udoh shows us why he’s worthy of consideration as high as pick #6 he’ll remain a big disappointment in my book.

Ewing: "Dude, are you seriously this bad?"

C: Daniel Orton, Orlando Magic

Now I understand why he was the second-to-last pick in the first round, I understand he was given some attention being a member of the Kentucky Wildcats youth, but what I can’t grasp any understanding in deciding to take a gamble with Orton over Hassan Whiteside. Worst-case scenario for Whiteside is best case scenario for Orton, that’s how bad Orton is. I mean come on, the highlight of Orton’s Summer League in Orlando was him getting tossed for fighting with the Pacers’ Josh McRoberts. For Orton’s sake, I hope he can maybe learn a thing or two from fellow teammates Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat, but I also hope he knows how to save his money. Outside of his rookie contract, I see him finding a tough time finding a job in the league.

This is Part 5 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 6 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 Most Underrated Rookie Team

Eric Bledsoe will be the best of the two Clippers' rookies

PG: Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers

Obviously, Bledsoe starts the year off as the primary backup point guard for the LA Clippers. But he’s only just one Baron Davis-injury-away from becoming LA’s starting point guard. While we wish Baron the best for a completely healthy upcoming season, Clippers fans have a lot to look forward to in Bledsoe. At Kentucky, he flew below the radar and was overshadowed by fellow Wildcat John Wall. After Wall was selected first overall in the 2010 draft, Bledsoe was the definite best available point guard in this year’s draft class. He’s got the size, strength, quickness, and a springy step to his compliment his on court play. Often compared to Marcus Banks, I believe NBA scouts set the bar pretty low for Bledsoe as I see him easily being able to surpass Banks’s career.

Pacers coaches will have to keep a close eye on Stephenson

SG: Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers

Despite his demeanor and off the court troubles, Stephenson’s game is very underrated. He proved that this summer in Orlando Summer League as he showed his potential at both the point guard and shooting guard positions. If not for his off-the-court behavior, Stephenson is a definite lock as a first round pick. While he didn’t overly impress anyone at the college level, Stephenson’s style suits the NBA level of play better. Already in legal trouble even before the start of his rookie season, Stephenson’s NBA career remains in question. But one thing’s for certain, behavior aside, Stephenson is absolutely a second round steal that could become a very successful player in this league.

Pondexter's game will definitely be elevated behind the play of CP3

SF: Quincy Pondexter, New Orleans Hornets

To begin the season, Pondexter likely will be buried deep on the Hornets’ depth chart, but by the end of the season watch him find some minutes. With the Hornets’ offseason acquisition of Trevor Ariza, Pondexter’s best bet is to battle for time at the shooting guard position. His competition for backup time is Marco Belinelli, a player who seems he just can’t transition his promising Summer League games to the NBA’s main stage. After getting a good look at Pondexter in Las Vegas, I like the potential I see in him becoming a solid pro.

Caracter is in a great spot with the back-to-back champs

PF: Derrick Caracter, Los Angeles Lakers

Coming off a very impressive and productive Las Vegas Summer League performance, Derrick Caracter’s stock has definitely soared. Moving forward Caracter is in a great position with the LA Lakers. They have no expectations for him next season, no pressure to produce, and he’ll be practicing against some of the best bigs in the business: Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Theo Ratliff, and Pau Gasol. Each of these guys can offer experiences, skills, and a give Caracter a lesson on how he can find his niche in the NBA. More likely than not, Caracter will be that young guy that comes in a blowout and goes to work hard, impressing on National TV coverage. He’ll let the world know who he is and what he has to offer in the near future.

Lean, Mean, Shot Blocking Machine

C: Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings

When it comes to Hassan Whiteside it’s all about the “what could be”. He’s been my favorite prospect in the past draft class and continues to keep me wondering how good he actually may become. Going into his first year he’s got a lot of obstacles and challenges that await. I’ve talked with a variety of sources that have seen Whiteside and the majority of them give me negative feedback. But I remain on the other side of the fence with Whiteside. He’s young, he’s unpolished, and isn’t ready to step out on the court for consistent contributions, but he’s going to impress once he gets his chances. The majority of his first year will be spent in the Developmental League where he has a chance to grow as pro and develop his defensive minded game. If Whiteside can learn how to be an effective rebounder to go along with his incredible shot blocking ability, he’s going to be an impressive defensive gem down the road.

This is Part 4 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 5 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

OTC Spotlight: Trey Johnson

By: Ross Geiger

Here at the OTC, we very much understand what it feels like to be an unfamiliar name to many bloggers and while we continue to work towards making a name for ourselves; it’s always nice to return the favor. The “OTC Spotlight” will be a new addition to our weekly posts in which we here at the OTC pick an unfamiliar athlete that’s caught our attention somehow/someway and show them some love!

Ladies and Gentlemen: It’s an honor to announce our first ever OTC Spotlight goes to Trey Johnson.

It wasn’t until his junior year of high school that Trey Johnson decided to pick up a basketball and take it seriously. But by the time he was his college ball at Jackson State University, Johnson held the second highest points per game average in the nation.

On top of his impressive scoring outputs on the hardwood, Johnson was also a outstanding talent on the baseball field. The Kansas City Royals upon graduating from high school drafted him but after an unfortunate injury, he decided to set his dreams on the basketball court. In high school, Johnson was quite the talent in both sports, but he wasn’t his school’s only impressive athlete. Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard Mo Williams also played both baseball and basketball at Johnson’s high school and they remain close friends to this very day.

Johnson playing with the Hornets

While Mo Williams has clearly found more success in the NBA, Johnson continues to work toward his goal of becoming a legitimate NBA type talent. At the age of 25, Johnson has been fortunate to have received some NBA exposure over the course of the past couple years. In 2007, he played NBA preseason ball as a member of the New Orleans Hornets in which he averaged 4 points and 1.8 assists in just an average of 13.8 minutes per game. Though he didn’t end up making the Hornets’ final roster it landed him the opportunity to play overseas in Serbia with a team named KK Hemofarm.

After a short stint in Serbia, Johnson returned to the states signing a contract with the D-League’s Bakersfield Jam in 2008. In his first full season with the Jam, Johnson put up impressive numbers. He started in all 39 games he played in, putting up averages of 20.7 ppg, 4.5 apg, to go along with 3.8 rpg.

The following year, still as a member of the Bakersfield Jam, Johnson’s game began to become noticed and on February 2, 2009, Johnson would get the NBA call-up he was waiting for. The Cleveland Cavaliers had signed him to a 10-day contract in which he’d be reunited with his former high school teammate and friend Mo Williams. As a member of the Cavaliers, Johnson took a jersey number one higher than that of LeBron James, wearing #24. Nearing the end of his 10-day contract with the Cavs, Johnson scored his first official NBA game points and first as a Cavalier on February 11, 2009. Johnson ended that Febuary 11th game with 4 points logging 9 minutes of floor time.

For the rest of the 2009-2010 season, Johnson continued his professional career with the Jam playing in 13 games. While some of his percentages took a tumble, he’s averages improved to 21.3 ppg, 7.1 apg, and 3.4 rpg.

At 6’5, 218 pounds, Johnson has the unique ability to be an effective combo-guard. What really makes him special is his ability to distribute the basketball on top of carrying the scoring load. After getting my first glimpse of Johnson in NBA Summer League this year in Las Vegas, playing with the Los Angeles Clippers, I was very impressed with his overall game play. Johnson will continue to be a borderline NBA talent and will definitely get another opportunity to show what he can do during the 2010-2011 season. It’s just a matter of time before Johnson is given another 10-day contract to show what he can do to help an NBA franchise. We at the OTC, recognize Johnson’s talents, and wish him the best of luck in all his basketball endeavors!

Trey Johnson is in The OTC Spotlight!

Scottie Reynolds: Rise Like a Phoenix

By: Ross Geiger

Eighteen and a half points per game, forty percent from long range, his team’s go-to player, his school’s second all-time leading scorer, the face of his school’s basketball program, he is Scottie Reynolds. The 6’2, 190 pound point guard had a spectacular college career at Villanova, now Reynolds continues his spectacular story.

It’s starts as birth born in Huntsville, Alabama where his teenage mother gave him up for adoption. Growing up in a warm household, Reynolds was brought up well, and his upbringing carried over to the basketball court. In the state of Virginia, Reynolds is widely regarded as one of the top scorers in basketball history. As a senior at Herndon High School in Herndon, Virginia, Reynolds averaged 28.4 points per outing, dropped 4.5 assists, and was a thief snagging an 4 steals nightly.

Entering his freshmen season with the Villanova Wildcats, it didn’t take Reynolds to long to adjust and went onto to be named the 2006-2007 Big East Rookie of the Year. As just a sophomore, Reynolds led the Wildcats in scoring totaling 15.9 points per game, helping make the push to a Sweet 16 berth. During his first year as an upperclassman, Reynolds took his team to even greater heights come time for the big dance. In the Elite Eight matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers, Reynolds known for his clutch performances drilled a game-winning bucket with 0.5 seconds remaining, which led ‘Nova to the 2009 Final Four in Detroit. As a senior, Reynolds helped his team to a 25-8 overall record, but unfortunately made an early exit as the #2 seed in the tournament. The disappointing loss to St. Mary’s in the second round not only put his dreams of winning an NCAA Championship to rest, but also held him short of becoming the Villanova’s program all-time leading scorer. Reynolds was just 21 points shy of the feat trailing only former NBA guard Kerry Kittles. But make no mistake, Reynolds received the well-deserved recognition he deserved as a senior being named to the 2010 AP All-American 1st team becoming only the fourth player in school history to do so.

After one heck of a career at Villanova, Reynolds was set on entering the 2010 NBA Draft and that’s where his story becomes even more spectacular. Reynolds, an AP All-American, surprisingly went undrafted on draft night. But please, don’t begin to feel sorry for the talented youngster; if anything this is a blessing in disguise. Though Reynolds made many of his accomplishment look easy during his high school and college days, this next step will be a bit more challenging to overcome. He’s an undersized NBA guard who many scouts question whether he’s got the capabilities to be an NBA floor general.

Reynolds entered NBA Las Vegas Summer League camp with a chip on his shoulder, out to prove the critics wrong as a member of the Phoenix Suns. In just three games (due to injury) Reynolds had some highs and some lows, yet showed enough upside that the Suns immediately offered him a training camp invite. His summer league line: 10.3 ppg on 47% field goals, 44% behind the arc, and was a perfect 100% from the charity stripe, to go along with 4.7 assists per game. In each of his three summer league games, Reynolds built upon each performance and by the his third and final game against the D-League Select team he scored 16 points and added 3 assists in limited minutes.

Best Be Sure He's Keepin' His Head High

A variety of NBA teams have extended training camp invites to Reynolds and he’s yet to make his decision. But I’ll be willing to bet, Reynolds’s story as an undrafted NBA rookie hasn’t quite ended yet in the Valley of the Sun. If and when Reynolds accepts the Suns training camp spot, I expect Reynolds to continue to grow as an NBA professional and will rise like a Phoenix as one of the most underrated NBA rookies next season. He’s in a great situation as member of the Phoenix Suns, not only can he learn from one of the best point guards the game has ever seen in Steve Nash, but his offensive game can flourish in the Suns style of play.

With the departure of Taylor Griffin (waived) this past week, I fully expect to see Scottie Reynolds a Phoenix Sun next season. From what I’ve been hearing the Phoenix Suns are very high on him and at this point I see it nearly a no-brainer that he makes the final roster. He’d most likely spend much of the year traveling back and forth between D-League and call-ups, but with Nash’s aching back always in question, you never know when he may be called upon. But if his time comes and his number is called, Scottie Reynolds will be ready to step up to the challenge that awaits as he has all his life. Making transitions look easy is something Scottie Reynolds has done his entire life, so why shall it stop now?

After all, NBA teams allowing him to go undrafted only fuels his fire. If there is one kid, one story to watch this season it may in fact be Scottie Reynolds. If there is to be another Wesley Matthews type scenario be in store this season, look no further.