stats

Three Players to Watch (Atlanta Hawks)

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 first, the Atlanta Hawks featuring the Three J’s: Jeff, John, and Josh…

1. Jeff Teague

Image

Teague’s future in Atlanta after next season is definitely up in the air

A quick glance at Teague’s year-by-year regular season statistics shows steady improvement each year. Naturally his overall statistics also have to do with receiving increased playing time that hit an all-time high this past season as Teague started in all of the Hawks 66 games last season averaging 33 minutes per outing. However it’s likely Teague won’t be seeing yet another improvement in his performances next season due to the Hawks offseason moves. This summer the Hawks’ two biggest additions came at the guard positions adding Devin Harris via the Joe Johnson trade with Brooklyn and signing free agent guard Louis Williams. It’s unclear as to whether or not the Hawks organization are left unconvinced Teague’s their point guard going forward in the future; but this upcoming season surely is a make or break season for Teague that should determine whether he’ll be considered starter quality or one of the NBA’s best backup point guards come next offseason. Unfortunately Teague may be facing a challenge too tough to overcome, as it’s likely his minutes of opportunity will be decreased with both Harris and Williams on board. In order to prove his worth as a starter Teague must continue to improve his three-point shooting percentage (34% last season) and most importantly his distribution rate as he averaged just below 5 assists per game last season. It’ll be tough and interesting task to watch Teague try to improve yet again next season.

2. John Jenkins

ImageUndoubtedly one of the more NBA-ready rookies in this year’s draft class Jenkins will get a chance to shine in the Hawks rotation next season. Reviewing the Hawks depth chart that includes Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson, there’s a decent chance you may even see Jenkins starting in the shooting guard slot if Head Coach Larry Drew decides to go against the idea of a Teague/Harris backcourt that would lack the 3-point shooting threat that Jenkins certainly provides. Just recently, Jenkins received 48.6% of his peers votes as best shooter in a rookie poll that was released by NBA.com. Jenkins led the nation in three-pointers made per game last season connecting on nearly 4 treys a game. If Jenkins can quickly transition his consistent long range shooting ability to the NBA, he’ll earn a spot on one of the NBA All-Rookie teams.

3. Josh Smith

Last year he was an All-Star game snub, this year he enters a contract year. Watch out folks, Josh Smith is on a mission to get paid! Fantasy basketball players should jump on the opportunity of drafting this guy early into the first round. Last year J-Smoov nearly averaged a double-double putting up 18.8 ppg and collecting 9.6 boards a game, not to mention also averaging 1.4 spg and 1.7 bpg respectively. With the departure of Joe Johnson, Smith will average 20 points and 10 rebounds a game with ease next year. Rest assured he’ll also continue to hold down a 1.5 steals per game average and don’t be a bit surprised to see him get raise his blocks average to 2 per game. With that here’s the first bold statistical prediction for next season: 22.5 ppg, 11 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 2.1 bpg= Josh Smith.                                                       

                   Image

J-Smoov will produce eye-popping numbers this season

2010 F1 Grand Prix of Singapore

The 2010 F1 Grand Prix of Singapore

2010 F1 Grand Prix of Singapore – 61 Laps

By: Nick Koglin

Even as it is Formula 1’s lone night race, this was by no means a sleeper. There was plenty of pre-race drama and a healthy dose during the race as well.

The Storyline

With 5 races remaining, Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber came into this race in the midst of a considerable performance plateau albeit still leading the championship due to consistency. The remainder of the championship contenders include teammate Sebastian Vettel, McLaren’s 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and the fastest driver at the previous race in Italy and two-time World Champion, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. In fifth, last year’s champion and F1 pretty boy, Jenson Button of McLaren is trying to regain some of last years’ fortune.

As far as the Constructors Championship is concerned, the battle is between Red-Bull and McLaren with Ferrari lingering somewhere in the distance. The graphical breakdown of the pre-race standings looks like this:

Pos Driver Points Pos Constructor Points
1 Mark Webber 187 1 Red Bull-Renault 350
2 Lewis Hamilton 182 2 McLaren-Mercedes 347
3 Fernando Alonso 166 3 Ferrari 290
4 Jenson Button 165 4 Mercedes 158
5 Sebastian Vettel 163 5 Renault 127

Also, Singapore marks the return of Nick Heidfeld and Christian Klien to Formula One racing. Heidfeld replaces Pedro de la Rosa at BMW-Sauber and Klien jumps in the HRT chassis formerly occupied by Sakon Yamamoto.

Qualifying

Sebastian Vettel

All though Sebastian Vettel absolutely crushed the field in practice, it was Fernando Alonso who once again stole the pole. There was really nothing exceptional to note in qualifying aside from Rubens Barrichello taking his Williams-Cosworth to an exceptional 6th position. For an independent team, each race Williams has seemed to make considerable strides towards attacking the factory-backed teams.

The other notable event qualifying was the failure of Felipe Massa’s Ferrari. Several things to note here: One, Singapore has never been kind to Massa, as it likely cost him the 2008 World Championship, a result of the Crashgate Scandal involving Renault. Secondly, team orders and poor luck have resulted in a pretty difficult year for the Brazilian and on top of it all are the rumors of Massa getting replaced at the end of the year, so pressure for him is pretty high.

Massa would start from the back of the grid after replacing his engine for the 9th time this season. (If a driver chooses to replace more then 8 engines in a year, a 10-place grid penalty is instilled on said driver. However, Massa began the race from the back anyways.)

The Race

At the start, Alonso took the race straight to Vettel driving him towards the wall. From there, all bets were off as Vettel and Alonso took a dominant lead over Lewis Hamilton and the rest of the field. The start was unusually clean, but Singapore, as with many city circuits, is extremely tight and subsequently it makes passing quite difficult.  Needless to say, the safety car wound up its odometer a lot during this race, particularly in the opening stages.

The McLaren team, desperate to gain points in both championships, really looked off pace early on today. Boasting a revised aero package, one rooting for the British team would hope that the supposed increase in downforce would help out in the tight corners of Singapore. Unfortunately for McLaren, the aerodynamicists at Ferrari and Red Bull also brought out the big guns and it showed today.

In the opening laps, Webber pitted as part of a risky strategy. Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld’s return to F1 was short exchanged blows with Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi eventually leading to a retirement. Timo Glock of crazy Richard Branson’s Virgin Racing team made a valiant effort to hold off the much faster Niko Hulkenburg, Adrian Sutil, and Felipe Massa but their far superior machinery eventually overran the garage project that is Timo Glock’s car.  (Think Monte Blanc vs. Crayola)

Lewis Hamilton

Random Notes mid-race:15 laps into the race it became clear that Jenson Button just did not possess the same outright speed that teammate Lewis Hamilton had this weekend.  On lap 21, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi took the fight to 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher’s defunct Mercedes; for me the jury is still out regarding Grandpa Schumacher’s return to F1.

Around lap 30 the top ten cars came in for their scheduled pit stops. The biggest loser here was Lewis Hamilton whose McLaren just could not keep the desired pace prior to the pit stop and upon his pit exit, he dropped from 3rd to 8th.

Around this time, the wheels began to come off for the independent teams (literally) as they racked up a good majority of the race’s crashes. However, it was the crash between Webber and Hamilton that certainly became the most significant incidence of the race.

Hamilton escaped uninjured, but his championship position did not fare so well. Webber somehow took no damage miraculously and continued to make the best of his risky early pitstop. At this point, 37 laps in, the race was mostly all decided. In the closing stages, Renault’s Robert Kubica took on fresh tires and made a mad dash  from 12th to 7th. Elsewhere on the track, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel kept the final moments of the race tense with a fierce exchange of fastest laps.

In the end though, it was Alonso who secured the Grand Slam (win, pole, fastest lap, most laps led) and due to the retirement of Hamilton on lap 37, moved up considerably in the Championship standings. See table:

Pos Driver Points Pos Constructor Points
1 Mark Webber 202 1 Red Bull-Renault 383
2 Fernando Alonso 191 2 McLaren-Mercedes 359
3 Lewis Hamilton 182 3 Ferrari 316
4 Sebastian Vettel 181 4 Mercedes 168
5 Jenson Button 177 5 Renault 133

Fernando Alonso

Overall, Singapore was an excellent race, providing some enticing storylines, the Hamilton crash in particular.  Alonso’s win gave the Spaniard a big boost in the championship standings but it ain’t over yet. Massa’s excellent points finish also helped give Ferrari a boost in the Manufacturer’s Championship, though it is still Red Bull’s to lose. While Hamilton’s crash may have damned his chances of winning the Driver’s Title, with 4 races remaining, nothing is out of the picture. The next race is in Japan at Suzuka, so stay tuned…

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 Don’t Overlook the Small Names Team

The Buzzer Beatin' Follow Through by Lester Hudson

Lester Hudson, NBA Free Agent

After having a very impressive Las Vegas Summer League showing as a member of the Washington Wizards, Lester Hudson is on the verge of making another NBA roster this season. Averaging 11.2 points,  2.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per contest, Hudson made sure John Wall wasn’t the only impressive Wizards point guard. In fact, Hudson played a key role during the last stretches of close games. Wizards’ Summer League Head Coach Sam Cassell turned to both Wall and Hudson as the primary ball handlers with the game on the line. In the Wizards last summer league game, Hudson took over as the Wizards elected to sit out Wall. Hudson dropped 19 points to go along with 9 assists, and delivered the dagger from  connecting on a game winning, step-back buzzer beater. That’s not a bad way to finish off a successful summer league appearance and it definitely left a lasting impression on the entire league.

SG: Dominique Jones, Dallas Mavericks

Jones has a lot to offer at the NBA level

This year’s 25th overall pick by the Mavericks showed plenty of good signs during his inaugural summer league performances. Dominique Jones went onto to average 16.6 points per game with 3.4 assists and 3.8 boards. Not only did Jones lead his team in scoring throughout their five matchups, but Jones absorbed much of the hype that was supposed to surround Mavs second-year man, Rodrigue Beaubois. By the end of summer league, the word around the press row was looking forward to watching Jones, not particularly just Beaubois as expected. Jones must improve upon his consistency from the floor, but can indeed help next year’s Mavericks team if called upon.

Rolle was on a roll producing during his time on the floor in Orlando Summer League

SF: Magnum Rolle, Indiana Pacers

While I decided to transform him into a small forward for the sake of showing love for the hungry Pacers rookie. Magnum Rolle made the best of each and every opportunity he got to show the Pacers what he has to offer and it paid off. Rolle is a guy, you’ll be hearing about for years to come. He won’t blow you away with his skill but he’ll instead do it with his hustle and energy. At 6’10 with a very long wingspan, Rolle is very versatile and can guard multiple positions. In Orlando Summer League, Rolle averaged 13.4 points, 7 boards, and 2 blocks a game. Having not played basketball until his freshman year of high school, I’d say Rolle still has a lot of room to grow as a player, especially if he continues to work as hard as he has thus far in the league.

Brackins should become CP3's new best friend on the perimeter

PF: Craig Brackins, New Orleans Hornets

Ok, so maybe Brackins isn’t really a “small name” having been a highly touted recruit coming out of Brewster Academy, but entering the league I’d say many still aren’t buying in. While I doubt Brackins ever becomes a borderline star in the NBA, I do think he’ll be a very solid, respected NBA pro in the near future. It all starts with his size and his ability to stretch the defense with his touch. Brackins is a tremendous shooter with range often times compared to LaMarcus Aldridge, but I’d argue there’s a bit of a “in his prime version of Brian Cook”. He definitely showed me a lot in his summer league games averaging 10 points and 4 rebounds. Not to mention he shot 47% from the three-point line connecting on 10-21 total attempts. While he won’t provide much in other categories his shooting consistency will find him minutes. With Chris Paul leading the charge in New Orleans, Brackins will be a perfect complimentary piece. He doesn’t clog up the lane, prefers to float around the perimeter, and can step into a shot from anywhere on the offensive end. Watch out NBA fantasy basketball, this could be your new favorite three-point specialist since you’ll be able to place him in your power forward slot.

Lawal could end up being "The Steal" of the 2010 NBA Draft Class

C: Gani Lawal, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns getting some love? You better believe it, they got an absolute steal in this year’s draft, grabbing Gani Lawal with the 46th overall pick. Although they didn’t even have a first round pick this year, the Phoenix Suns came out of the 2010 draft as one of draft night’s winners. Much like how Eric Bledsoe played in the shadow of John Wall at Kentucky, Lawal did the same at Georgia Tech as the focus and media attention was on Derrick Favors. If one were to ask me how good Lawal could end up being? I’d surprise many with this: at the end of the day, Gani Lawal may very well be just as good, if not a better pro than Derrick Favors. Bold statement? Yes, very much so, but entirely out of the question? Absolutely not. In Las Vegas Summer League, I was not at all surprised at Lawal’s attention grabbing stat lines throughout the Suns’ five games. Lawal completed summer league averaging 15.4 points, 7.4 boards, with 1 block a game. It’s nearly impossible to predict how the Phoenix Suns handle Lawal’s rookie year and whether or not he ever gets a real chance to shine. But one thing’s for certain if Lawal continues to develop his game on the practice floor and can show the Suns coaching staff he can rebound, he’ll play. Both Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick are terrible rebounders, plus it’s also clear at this point that hustle-man and fan favorite Lou Amundson isn’t returning. Knock, Knock…Who’s there? Gani Lawal.

Last But Not Least, I Bring You The Most Exciting NBA Summer League Finish I Was In Attendance For, Which Includes 2 of the 5 Players That Made This List: Lester Hudson & Craig Brackins. Take a Look:

This is the last and final part of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Thank you for following the series and we hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 All-Rookie First Team

Wall will be well rounded on the nightly stat sheet

PG: John Wall, Washington Wizards

Believe it or not, as good as John Wall is, his numbers will suffer much like the “Miami Heat syndrome”. With both Kirk Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas on board, his numbers across the board may suffer but that’s perfectly okay. Having two solid, veteran guards around the top pick will help develop his overall game and they should help relieve some of the pressure.

’10-’11 Projections: 17.5 ppg, 5 apg, 4 rpg

Could earn a opening night starting nod

SG: Paul George, Indiana Pacers

After watching the Pacers play in Orlando Summer League, I got to say I thought Lance Stephenson would start, but since then a variety of different things took place. The Pacers acquired Darren Collision, Brandon Rush was suspended 5 games, and the biggest issue was of course Stephenson getting in trouble with the law. After digesting all that took place in the course of just one month, it looks as though Paul George will have a nice opportunity to earn the starting shooting guard spot to start off the season. If George does in fact beat out Dahntay Jones for the starting role, expect to see George put up a fairly decent line. The biggest concern with George is retaining some consistency game-to-game he struggled to keep his shooting touch throughout Summer League, but that’s common among many rookies. If he does in fact earn a 1st Team honor at the end of the season, his numbers won’t overly impress you but his value to his team’s success could play a big factor if the Pacers make noise next season.

’10-’11 Projections: 9.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 1.5 apg

Wolves must make room for Johnson to join the starting lineup

SF: Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves

Even with the offseason addition of Martell Webster and Michael Beasley, the Wolves will find time for their top pick in Wesley Johnson. Say so long and farewall to former Wolves lotto-pick Corey Brewer, he’ll remain on the trading block until someone bites. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if David Kahn ends up packaging Kevin Love along with Brewer. Earlier this summer Love told the media he didn’t feel appreciated in Minnesota and he may continue to feel that way if Beasley turns his career around with the Timberwolves. Look for Kurt Rambis to move Beasley to the power forward position, allowing Johnson to operate in the starting small forward role.

’10-’11 Projections: 11.5 pgg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg

Monroe will shine in Detroit, could be the overall team difference maker

PF: Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

Quite possibly my pick for the 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year, Why? There’s no doubt Greg Monroe will be in the Pistons’ starting five next season. Preferably at the power forward spot, but with Charlie Villanueva on board, it may force Monroe to move to the center. But nonetheless, Monroe was very impressive in Las Vegas Summer League and looks to be a NBA-ready force that can make big contributions during his rookie season. If Monroe can live up to my words, the Pistons might not be so bad after all.

’10-’11 Projections: 14.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 4.5 apg

Cousins will answer all questions on the floor, no need to ask him any

C: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

Although the Kings frontcourt is filled with talent, DeMarcus Cousins is the cream of the crop. His size, strength, talent, and potential are unmatched in the post. Much like Tyreke Evans, Cousins should find success as the newest member of the Sacramento Kings. Definitely will be in the Rookie of the Year discussion at the end of the season.

’10-’11 Projections: 16 ppg, 6 rpg, 1 apg

This is Part 3 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 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

Play Like There’s No ToMORROW

By: Ross Geiger

Morrow's the best signing the Nets made all summer

Each NBA offseason, signings and minor trades happen that quite frankly go unacknowledged and rightfully so. This year was no different with many deals reached based solely on the decision to save money during tough times or to save up for future free agents. But one trade in particular that can be labeled as “minor” demands some note righty involves a team which struck out this summer.

The New Jersey Nets swapped a future second-round draft pick on July 13th and return received Anthony Morrow from the Golden State Warriors. Morrow, a former undrafted NBA prospect has quickly become one of the league’s bright young sharp shooters. A career 47% shooter from long range, Morrow has packed his bags taking his game to a Nets team that was begging for the services he offers nightly.

To top it all off, the departure of Courtney Lee is simple reflection Terrence Williams’s impressive summer improvements and of course the addition of Morrow into their rotation. While Williams is the front-runner for starting shooting guard spot on opening night, there very well could be a change of plans as early as within the first handful of games. As mentioned in a recent post, Williams is an ultimate sixth man off any bench in the league with his ability to play multiple positions. One important ability that Williams lacks is an outside spot-up shot.

Morrow is a volume, shot friendly shooter that stretches the opposing defenses as well as help star guard Devin Harris and even Williams tally up the assists. Nets fans will soon realize and strangely appreciate two things about Morrow brings to the table no matter the opponent. He’s never seen a shot he didn’t like and he plays at such a high level as if there virtually was no tomorrow.

The 24 year-old nicknamed “A-Mo” is a hungry player with a huge chip that continues to rest on his shoulder; even more so then ever after proving himself as a member of the Warriors and being flipped for something as small as future second rounder. The move to New Jersey can be seen as trade that benefits both worlds as both the Nets and Morrow have a land of opportunity to grow together.

Morrow must've majored in "Opportunity" at Georgia Tech

Attending Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Morrow has mastered the gift of opportunities. His first start with the Warriors went from a Don Nelson experiment to memorable night in the NBA World on July 25, 2008. Morrow torched the Los Angeles Clippers that night with a video game type box score, dropping 37 points connecting on an unbelievable 15-20 attempts. It’s impressive enough that Morrow set an NBA record putting up the most points ever scored in a game by an undrafted player in his rookie, but as the cherry on top he also grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with the 37 points.

From that point forward, there was no looking back for Morrow going onto to finish the 2008-2009 season as the first rookie and first Warrior ever to lead the league in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 86 of just 184 attempts.

Heading into next season, the Nets hope and expect much of the same from their newest acquisition. The expectations and production have changed in the matter of just one quick year in the league for Morrow. But one thing has yet to change, he’ll continue to do what he does best. Prove the doubters wrong shot after shot, opportunity after opportunity, and do so playing like there’s no tomorrow.

Morrow lives on in New Jersey next season

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 A Trade-Away From Being A Good Player Team

Find him consistent minutes & he too will become consistent

PG: Jerryd Bayless, Portland Trail Blazers

If there’s one player in the league that I know best regarding game play and ablities (outside of the Milwaukee Bucks players) it’s Jerryd Bayless. He’s one of the hardest working players in the NBA and staying committed to improving upon his game has been a habit since childhood. Having grown up in Arizona playing against Bayless and seeing his progression into an NBA lottery pick, it’s very hard to watch him getting limited minutes in Portland. Not only has Bayless never really fit into Portland’s plans but with the recent draft selections in Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson, it looks as though there’s no hope in seeing Bayless get significant floor time. A good NBA comparison to Bayless would be Golden State’s Monta Ellis, Bayless is great off the dribble, has tremendous lift of his pull-up, and can get to the basket. Reasons he doesn’t see the floor include not finishing when he gets to the basket, not a true point guard and he’s an undersized combo-guard. Systems that’d Bayless could really be beneficiary in include teams such as the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns. Any team that has any interest in going up-tempo should consider trying to deal for Bayless, let him for once show you what he can do. That opportunity in finding consistent minutes night in and night out has never been awarded to him.

Gilbert Arenas + John Wall = Not a Good Fit nor Opportunity for Hinrich

SG: Kirk Hinrich, Washington Wizards

So you may be thinking, didn’t Hinrich just get traded? Well yes, but no. Hinrich once again is in a situation where he’ll be forced to play tandem guard off the bench with John Wall and Gilbert Arenas. While Hinrich has no problems defending most shooting guards in the league, it kills his potential playing a swingman position on the offensive end of the floor. Hinrich must find a situation where he can once again become a starting point guard. A few teams that stand out as good fits for both Hinrich and the team would be the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and if they weren’t so caught up in bad point guard contracts, I’d also include the Toronto Raptors.

Potentially "The Next Rashard Lewis"

SF: Earl Clark, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns organizations have struggled in the player development department ever since the signing of Mike D’Antoni. When the Suns hired Alvin Gentry to takeover as head coach, player development improved slightly but they still struggle to find their young talent some minutes in the rotation. While I understand with the emergence of Jared Dudley’s play off the bench backing aging veteran Grant Hill made it difficult to find the rookie forward out of Louisville some time, he wasn’t given enough time to even be fully evaluated in NBA game situations. For the sake of the Suns future, I’d encourage them to give a better effort in finding time for Clark as they did with Goran Dragic. Slowly it looks as though the Dragic experiment is about to pay huge dividends as a young guard they can lean on moving forward into the coming years and truthfully Clark, if given the right opportunity, could give them the same type of feeling. Not only is Clark a perfect small forward in the Suns system, but he’s got the perfect size, strength, and abilities to become the next Rashard Lewis. Both Clark and Lewis stand at an even 6-10 with Clark just 5 pound lighter than the proven, veteran sharp shooter. Due to lack of minutes and a small window of opportunity, Clark happened to be of quietest lottery pick rookies last season.

"Play Me or Trade Me"

PF: Brandon Bass, Orlando Magic

One of the more shocking developments of the 2009-2010 NBA regular season was the lack of playing time Brandon Bass received as a first-year member of the Orlando Magic. After signing a 4 year, $18 million dollar contract with Orlando, it was assumed he be a prime time factor off their bench, but Bass never seemed to be even close to part of Stan Van Gundy’s game plans. I can’t help but think of Bass’s few years with Dallas leading up to his signing with the Magic and how big of a role he played in games off the Mavericks bench. I can only scratch my head and wonder why on earth he wasn’t given a chance. Bass’s game is one that team’s interested must proceed with caution due to his playing ability and it looks as though Orlando doesn’t see him being a piece to the puzzle. Despite his considerably large contract for his type of talent, Bass potentially is a diamond-in-the-rough trading piece for other team’s should consider dealing for.

DeAndre Jordan Can Do Move of This

C: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Jordan is the only player that’s included in both Part 1 and Part 2 of my 7-Part Blog Series and that’s something worth noting. Considering the idea of him being traded to another franchise scares me because he has the size and the raw talent to be on the absolute verge of breaking out. Best fits for Jordan must be teams that already have an established big man or superstar type talent that he can compliment nicely. Teams he could become a border-line All-Star with include the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, and probably the scariest destination would be the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This is Part 2 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 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean timefollow 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.

Sean Williams Deserves a Second Look, a Second Chance

By: Ross Geiger

Area 51

He surely has tons of work cut out for him with hopes in making a finalized NBA roster next season, but Sean Williams definitely deserves some serious consideration from teams. Many NBA fans may label the 17th overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft a bust, but they do so for all the wrong reasons. Can you argue he’s a bust? Sure…But Williams is far from the typical “bust” because it’s not his production on-the-court that’s held him back, it’s his off-the-court struggles.

As an NBA player, Williams has done a fairly good job proving he’s worthy of the 17th pick regardless to what year you’d would like to turn the clocks back too. At 6’10, 235 pounds, Williams is a lean, mean defensive stopper who can offer much more than blocked shots in the years to come.

Finishing up his 2010 NBA Summer League campaign in Las Vegas this past week, Williams showed many signs and bright spots that all NBA teams looking for an athletic big man need to consider. Finding a guy whose as long, lean, and athletic as Williams isn’t something you typically find unsigned heading into the upcoming season.

He’s a post presence that runs the floor extremely well and is a well above average shot blocker. Williams’ value skyrockets when considering his timing and quick hands. As I mentioned in my Bucks Summer League Game 1 write-up, Williams has a great sense of when and when not to attempt to block a shot, he stays grounded at the right time and tends to pick the correct situations to challenge a shot attempt. Having that attribute is something even some of the league’s top shot blockers don’t possess. Throughout summer league, Williams also showed his willingness to sacrifice his body by stepping over in a help side position, squaring up, and taking the hit to the chest drawing an offensive foul on opponents.

Williams seems to have improved from the charity stripe

Offensively, Williams isn’t as bad as many may project, he has a variety of different weapons that helps state his case for being an offensive player that can do more than just clean up around the basket. His array of moves include a nice jump hook, a turnaround jumper on the block, and he even can step out to hit the occasional 15-footer. He also brings offensive value by improving and becoming a very respectable shooter from the foul line. While he’s only a career 60.3% shooter from the line, he seems to have improved to his free throw shooting as he went 10-14 (71.4%) from the line in Vegas this year.

Williams finished Las Vegas Summer League with averages of 7.2 point per game on 54% shooting, 4.4 rebounds per game averaging 2.4 offensive rebounds, and did so averaging 15.2 minutes per outing. Those numbers won’t blow any NBA GM or Scout away but there were a handful of in-game situations where Williams proved he still has much to offer in the league.

I’m not suggesting or predicting that Sean Williams will ever again earn a starting role in the NBA but he’s definitely got enough tools and talent to be on an NBA roster. Much like his note righty as a shot blocker, Williams must use the same instincts he holds as a shot blocker as a professional off the hardwood. He must prove he can stay grounded and show to an NBA organization that he’s no longer a public relations worst nightmare. But he can only prove this with a second chance in the NBA. From his play in the CBA last year to his summer league performances, Williams has made a strong case at earning a second chance. Don’t be surprised to see “Area 51” get that second chance in the upcoming 2010-2011 NBA season.

Sean Williams Top 10 Plays in the 2008-2009 NBA Season:

Milwaukee Bucks Summer League Game 1 Points of Emphasis

By: Ross Geiger

Game 1: Dallas Mavericks: 73 Milwaukee Bucks: 72 OT

After watching the Milwaukee Bucks lose a tough one in a very exciting battle with the Dallas Mavericks in their Summer League opener, I came away with five players that are worthy of some points of emphasis.

Jackson could earn a jersey with the Bucks this season, but he won't be wearing #00, that belongs to Drew Gooden

1. Darnell Jackson: Leading all scorers with 17 points in the contest, Jackson’s NBA experience really paid dividends. Going 8-15 from the field while collecting 7 boards all came under composure. Many of the young players came into the game with debut butterflies but it was evident that Jackson’s adapted to the summer league experiences. He led by example in 25 minutes of play and played under control the entire time, only committing 2 fouls as well. It’s still very early in a long process but his Game 1 play definitely helps his case in grabbing one of the last few spots on the Bucks roster this season.

2.  Larry Sanders: Despite what many take from Sanders’ pro debut, I actually feel I saw more positives than negatives today. Yes he struggled offensively but we knew that was his biggest weakness coming in. Having only connected on 4 of his 15 shot attempts Sanders must improve upon finishing at the basket while absorbing contact, along with better shot selection. As far as the shot selection goes, that can easily improve as the games move on, he was trying to impress as any brand new top pick would in their debut. But as I mentioned there were tons of positives from this year’s 15th overall selection. Sanders is very active on both ends of the floor, alert at all times, and always attacking the glass. Those intangibles are things that will most definitely find him earning some floor time under Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles this year. Though it’s only one game and my first look at the Bucks rookie if I were to give you an outlook on Sanders’s first year with the Bucks here’s my evaluation: He’ll play spot minutes, be a spark plug used at the end of quarters giving guys quick breathers, instant energy. A very realistic first year comparison in terms of production and play I’d say he’ll be a lot like Suns forward Lou Amundson. With that being said, he obviously carries way more potential and talent moving forward with a bright future in this league. Just be patient and give him some time to transition and adjust to the NBA level of play.

An NBA Type Talent With Off-the-Court Question Marks

3. Sean Williams: Being a guy always high on the potential of Area 51, I definitely won’t count him out on making an NBA roster this season. If he can prove (and keep) his head on straight (which is a big if) there’s no question he’s an NBA type talent. He’s long, runs the floor like gazelle, can clean up around the rim, and of course he lives up to his nickname “Area 51” protecting the paint by swatting away shots. What I liked in his first game with the Bucks was his patience, his control, and his willingness to move the ball. On top of that he impressed me with his 15 foot look that he drilled and also threw his body around a bit and took two charges. Williams has a great sense of when and when not to attempt to block a shot, he stays grounded at the right time and tends to pick the correct times to challenge a shot attempt. That feature of knowing when to block a shot could really benefit Bucks draftee Larry Sanders who doesn’t have the slightest clue when there’s a time and a place to leave his feet. Bucks fans, it’s a long shot, but don’t count out Williams on maybe earning that last roster spot. I wouldn’t bet on it, but his talent is intriguing and if there’s any organization that can help Williams change his off court habits it’s in Milwaukee. There’s no doubt the Bucks are great situation for Sean Williams future, the question is whether or not Williams is worth risking the team’s locker room atmosphere. If Xavier Henry or Paul George would have fallen to the Bucks at 15, I think Sean Williams maybe makes the team. But with Sanders on board, along with Tiny Gallon whose close with Brandon Jennings, I see Williams unfortunately not getting his second chance with the Bucks.

4. Deron Washington: A second round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons in last year’s draft, Washington’s got an idea of what summer league’s all about this year. That showed in today’s game as Washington went 4-8 from the field, hitting 1 of 2 attempts from downtown, and 2-2 from the charity stripe. His contributions helped keep the Bucks in the ballgame and he hit some big shots. Washington finished with a solid 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, to go along with 2 steals. With continued play like this, Washington should find himself a nice look overseas next season.

The Former Marquette Standout

5.  Dominic James: The former standout point guard from Marquette is entering his redemption year after suffering a summer league ending injury just a day or two before he was set to participate in summer league last year with the Bucks. James didn’t have a pretty game by any means but his hard nosed, full court pressure defense and his efforts in getting good looks for those around him gives him my nod for my 5th and final spot. His highlighted plays include a buzzer beating high fade away jumper to end the first quarter of play, a nice no look dish hitting Darnell Jackson after drawing too, and his hustle play in which he sprinted all the way down on the defensive end, ultimately sacrificing his body leaping over the media table on the baseline. James isn’t quite a NBA level talent, but this type of play will definitely help his chances overseas, giving him more better opportunites in the future. I’m sure we’ll see Mr. James on an NBA Summer League roster next year as well. In the end, it’s great to see the Milwaukee Bucks giving exposure to Wisconsin area players: Dominic James, Jerry Smith, and Franklin.

The Bucks look to bounce back from their overtime loss against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow against the Memphis Grizzlies. Game time is set from 8 ET and will be televised on NBATV.

Follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: (@RossGeiger)