Thursday, March 31, 2011

Which players lived up to the hype in the 2011 McDonalds All American Game

Austin Rivers, Left, showed off his
long distance shot on Wednesday night.
All of the players in the McDonalds All American game will most likely go on and star in the NCAA next year, but here is a list of the players that stood out to me.

Quinn Cook, PG, Duke- Cook started out the game with a few long range threes.  He showed deep range on his jump shot during the rest of the game.  He showed that he is extremely quick weaving through traffic and he is very fast getting the ball down the court.  He has very good dribbling ability and he uses that to get his opponent off balance which allows him to get to the basket where he knows how to finish.

Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas- By far the fastest player in this game.  He seemed to race up and down the court but he did not lose control while going.  Time after time he penetrated into the lane and either hit the open man or pulled up for a jumper or a floater.

Michael Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky- One of the announcers compared Gilchrist to Scotty Pippen because of his length and defensive ability.  Gilchrist showed how active he can be on the glass, repeatedly grabbing offensive rebounds and finishing at the basket.  He has very good athletic ability and seemed to be one of the harder working players on the court.

Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky- Teague is a long, athletic point guard in the mold of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe.  He is very fast with the basketball and is has a quick first step off the dribble.  With all of the talent on Kentucky's squad next year he will have his pick of who to dish the ball to when he breaks down the defense and gets into the lane.

Austin Rivers, SG, Duke- Rivers took some rushed shots, but its an all-star game so I don't read to much into that.  He showed that he can pull up off the dribble and nail the NBA three already, he also showed the ability to take his defender off the dribble, slash through 3 other defenders, and finish at the rim.  He was pretty impressive overall and definitely looked to be one of the elite players of this class.

McAdoo showed that he can be a threat
inside and outside for North Carolina
Cody Zeller, C, Indiana- Zeller had a few possessions where he received the ball with low position but looked a little overmatched and quickly passed the ball back out the wing.  If he improves his strength and conditioning those plays will soon be in the past.  He made a few strong finishes, showed his ability to knock down face up jumpers and made his presence known on the glass.

P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carlolina- Hairston is offensive dynamite.  He has unlimited range on his jump shot, making 2-3 from the NBA three and also has explosive athletic ability.  It is hard to tell if he needs to work on his defense because very few players actually play defense in this game, but if he becomes a defensive presence for North Carolina he will make a big time splash next season.

Kyle Wiltjer, PF, Kentucky- It looks as though my Ducks have missed another good prospect from Portland to Kentucky.  Wiltjer showed that he is active, and able, on the defensive end and he is fearless on the boards.  He has an old school game and even broke out a sky hook.  He uses a lot of fakes around the basket and can bring defenders out with his jumper.

James McAdoo, PF, North Carolina-McAdoo does not seem to have that elite vertical jumping ability, but he has long arms that make up for it.  He looks like he has spent a lot of time in the weight room and could probably contribute at the NBA level already.  He displayed a good shooting stroke from long distance, and also displayed the ability to score off the dribble or find the open man.  The way he looks on the floor and the way he played reminded me of Derrick Williams.

Khem Birch, C, Pittsburgh- Birch is the top ranked center in this class and he showed the blocking ability which got him that ranking.  He was a force on the offensive and defensive boards and recorded 6 blocks.  Once he grabbed the offensive rebounds he showed the ability to score the ball as he displayed with a few powerful dunks.  His offensive game is very raw, but the defensive ability is very present.

Anthony Davis' constantly improving skill
set will be a huge factor for Kentucky next
Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky- Davis was 6'3 about a year ago, since then he has shot up to almost 6'11.  He has the ball handling skills of a guard and the type of length and athleticism that is garnering him the comparison to Kevin Garnett.  He still looked a little raw to me, which in now way is a negative statement because he played great, it just shows how good this kid can be.  He will be a force for Calipari next season.

Brad Beal, SG, Florida-Beal showed his ability to be a deadly shooter from long distance.  He also showed that he has the fundamentals to succeed at the next level, for example he was one of the few players I saw who actually followed his shot.  Sometimes it is the little things that can help your team win, and Beal shows the willingness to do these.

Marshall Plumlee, PF/C, Duke- Plumlee didn't have a great game, but his athleticism was apparent.  He showed good ability on the offensive boards, but he will have to add some strength to bang with some of the players in the ACC next season.  Like his brothers, he really needs to work on his offensive game.

Branden Dawson, SG/SF, Michigan State- Dawson is a very athletic wing player who showed his rebounding ability.  He brought down 8 boards from the wing position.  He needs to work on his fundamentals and shooting ability, but he should make a big impact for Tom Izzo next year and in years to come. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Oregon Ducks' 2011 Football Recruiting Class

De'Anthony Thomas Leads Oregon's 2011 Recruiting Class

We are just over a month away from the Ducks' spring game, so what can we expect from the incoming freshmen?  The Ducks' 2011 recruiting class is stocked with talent and athleticism, headlined by the recruit from southern California De'Anthony Thomas.  The Ducks also reached all the way out to Florida to grab the speedy WR Tacoi Sumler.  Chip Kelly has a lot of good things to say about this class,   especially about the linebackers and offensive linemen they signed. Overall, this class has been touted by scouts nation wide and will add the necessary depth for the next few years and the star talent for the future of the Ducks football program.  Here is the complete list of 2011 recruits compiled from ESPN's recruiting page and Rivals.

Recruit                      Position    HT    WT      40      Rivals Ranking       ESPN Ranking
                                                                                         Out of 10             Out of 100 

Devon Blackmon       WR         6'0     180      4.4           4-Star- 6.0               4-Star- 83
           - Rivals has Blackmon ranked as a WR and ESPN ranks him as an athlete, either way Blackmon's explosiveness with the ball in his hands gives the Ducks' offense another versatile weapon.  He played quarterback in high school so he will be a work in progress and will most likely redshirt his freshman season.  He will be a perfect fit in Chip's offense using his passing ability for trick plays out of the backfield. 

Tra Carson                RB           6'1     218      4.6           3-Star- 5.6               3-Star- 76
           - Carson will be the power back to complement the lightning backs.  Carson has a lot of size to bang through the offensive line, but he also has the speed to breakaway in the secondary.  He looks similar to Blount in his highlight video, the way he can move his feet for such a big man.  Tra ran for over 2000 yards his senior season and recorded 24 touchdowns.  It will take some time for Carson to see the field with all the depth the Ducks have at running back, but when he does get in the game his size will allow him to make an immediate impact, especially around the goal line.

Rahim Cassell             LB           6'1     215        -            3-Star- 5.6               3-Star- 79
           -Cassell will be a solid player at the outside linebacker position.  He has the speed to get to the quarterback and he can also drop into coverage although this is an area he needs to improve on.  He is very good at sideline to sideline pursuit, and he is solid against the inside run.  In a few years he could be a pass-rushing threat similar to the recently departed Kenny Rowe. 

Tyson Coleman           LB          6'2     220         -            3-Star- 5.7               4-Star- 79
           -Coleman is a fast and an explosive hitter.  He could potentially fill in at strong safety or he could play the outside linebacker position.  He uses a consistently high motor and great pursuit skills to fly towards defenders from sideline to sideline.  His quick first step makes it very hard for blockers to stay in front of him.  It will be interesting to see what role Coleman develops into, but he has a lot of talent and potential to be a big contributor in years to come.

Jared Ebert (JC)         DT          6'5     285      4.8           4-Star- 5.8                    -          
           -Ebert is a JC transfer from Iowa Western C.C., he will most likely fill the huge void made by the departure of Brandon Bair.  The Ducks lost a lot of talent along their front line and they will be counting on the incumbents and Ebert to fill in this season.  Ebert is a very strong interior defender and is very good at clogging up the middle.  He has a big frame and his size could help the Ducks go up against bigger offensive lines in the SEC and other conferences.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu         DB         5'10    180      4.5           4-Star- 5.8               4-Star- 79
           -Ifo is a very physical corner who can help out against the run and also has good ball skills.  He should fill in for Cliff Floyd once he takes his talents to the NFL.  He will most likely red-shirt next year to give him time to develop and improve his ability to get into his breaks on the ball.  He has a fast first step that allowed him to get away with poor technique in High School, but to be a good college player he will have to learn to stay lower on his back peddle so he has more burst into his break while the ball is in the air.   He is a good tackler in the open field and is also solid against the run.

James Euscher             OL         6'7      278       -              3-Star- 5.5               2-Star- 71
           - Euscher is a big body who will hopefully be an impact tackle in the future.  He has a lot of upside but will need a few years to develop.  He needs to work off of his quickness and breaks off the ball to guard against quick defenders.  He shows the work ethic to improve for the Ducks if he has the right coaching.  

Jacob Fisher                 OL         6'7      270      5.2           3-Star- 5.7               3-Star- 77
           -Fisher is a versatile player that really lacks a position right now.  He will most likely round into an offensive linemen because scouts think he has the frame to add a lot of bulk.  His versatility could allow him to possibly slip out on trick plays near the goal line and catch some touchdowns.  He has a lot of work to do if he wants to become a big time player, but he definitely shows the ability to get there.

Christian French        ATH        6'6      229      4.4           4-Star- 5.9               4-Star- 79
           -French will most likely grow into a defensive end but he could play tight end as well.  He is freakishly athletic.  On defense he has shown the ability to get under defenders pads despite his tall frame.  He needs to improve his tackling fundamentals, mostly he tries to hit the offensive player as hard as possible and does not wrap up.  He will have to add a lot of muscle and weight, but he has the frame to support this change.  He could be a NFL DE prospect sooner than later if he spends some time in the weight room.

Carlyle Garrick           LB           6'2      205       -             3-Star- 5.5                3-Star- 75
           -Garrick has a good combination of size and speed, but he is very raw as a line backer and needs a lot of coaching up to meet his potential.  He is a consistent and big hitting tackler and shows the ability to match up against tight ends in coverage.  He has enough speed to play the safety position if he does not add weight.  ESPN marks him as a potential sleeper.  

Rodney Hardrick        LB           6'3      205      4.5           3-Star- 5.6               3-Star- 76
           -Hardrick shows the athleticism necessary to be a productive linebacker in the NCAA.  He has a good nose for the ball and seems to always be around at the end of the play.  Rodney has shown the willingness to mix it up along the front line in running situations.  He needs to add weight and muscle to be a force at the collegiate level, but he shows the fundamentals and potential to be a good defensive player.

Tyler Johnstone          OL           6'6      260        -             4-Star- 5.8                3-Star- 78
           -Johnstone is a very agile offensive lineman who will need to spend some time in the weight room before he spends any on the field.  His long arms and quick feet give him an advantage against defenders but right now he lacks the strength to compete.  He has shown the ability and aggressiveness to get down field to make second tier blocks on running plays which is perfect for the Ducks' running attack.  If he can get stronger to go along with the tenacity he shows as a blocker he will spend a lot of time on the Ducks' offensive line.  

Sam Kamp                   DE           6'5     237        4.9          3-Star- 5.6              3-Star- 75
          -Kamp is listed as a DE on Rivals and a DT on ESPN.  Either way he will help out on the defensive line, he is solid against the run and has learned to keep his pads low against smaller players.  He has trouble getting off blocks once he is engaged, shredding these blocks will be key in his progress.  

B.J. Kelley                    WR          6'2     175         -            3-Star- 5.6               4-Star- 80
         -Kelly gives the Ducks a tall target in the passing game with the speed to be a deep threat and the size to be a possession receiver.  He has long arms and better than average leaping ability, both of which allow him to win 50'50 balls more often than not.  He has soft hands and knows to catch the ball away from his body and is very proficient catching the ball over his shoulder.

Lake Koa-Ka'ai           DE           6'4     235         -             3-Star- 5.6               3-Star- 79
         -Lake is a defender with a lot of upside.  He is good against the run and the pass and has a very large frame.  He is too skinny to play the position at this point of his career and will need to bulk up quite a bit.  He needs to work at being a more consistent tackler and getting out of blocks once engaged.  

Colt Lyerla                  ATH         6'5     225        4.6          4-Star- 6.1               3-Star- 79
         -Lyerla has been compared to Brian Urlacher at the LB position.  He could play multiple positions, DE, TE, or LB.  He also played running back in high school.  I think that he could make a big impact as an inside linebacker or at the tight end position.  He seems to have rare athletic ability and I think it would be a good decision to put him at a impact position.  Getting him the ball as a tight end could be a great option.

Marcus Mariota          QB            6'4     187        4.7          3-Star- 5.7               2-Star- 71
         -Mariota is an athletic quarterback who can be a threat when running the ball or staying in the pocket.  He is tall enough to see over the defense and he has a strong enough arm to push the ball down the field.  His major flaw is consistency, he shows a lot of potential as a pocket passer but he does not always stay with the play or read the defense correctly. He also needs to adds some bulk to absorb some of the hits he will take in Oregon's offense.

Jamal Prater                OL           6'4      290        -              3-Star- 5.6             2-Star- 73
         - The Ducks were criticized for having such a small offensive line last season, Prater does not fit that mold.  He is a huge prospect, size wise, and he will have to develop his footwork and blocking technique.  Prater needs to improve his flexibility and all around strength, but he could be a big time player for the Ducks in a few years.

Tacoi Sumler               WR          5'8      151        4.4           4-Star- 5.8             4-Star- 81
         -Despite Sumler's slight frame he should make a giant impact on the Ducks' offense.  The Ducks stole him away from the SEC and other Florida schools who wanted Sumler because he is one of the fastest prospects in the 2011 class.  He has great hands and has the route running abilities to get free.  He will fit perfectly in Chip's offense, I imagine he will be used a lot in WR screens and they could also bring him in the back field for reverses.  He will be a dynamic weapon if he adds a few pounds of muscle.  

De'Anthony Thomas  ATH         5'9     160        4.4            5-Star- 6'1              4-Star- 84
         -The addition of Thomas is big for a few reasons, the first being the versatility he brings to the field.  It is not certain whether he will be on offense or defense, he is a great running back but the Ducks' back field is already very crowded.  It is likely that he becomes a shut down corner for the Ducks.  The second reason is that the Ducks' stole him away from his hometown team USC.  This shows that the Ducks are becoming a powerful recruiting school (although there are some serious investigations looking into these recruitments).

Rahsaan Vaughn (JC) WR         6'2     190        4.4            4-Star- 5.8                      -           
         -Vaughn is a big time wide receiver with great speed.  His 6'2 frame has room to add muscle, but he should already step in and be a big contributer next season.  He will help ease the loss of Jeff Maehl, but he will have to work hard to learn the ins and outs of the complicated offense.

Anthony Wallace        LB            6'2     220        4.6             4-Star- 5.8             4-Star- 80
         -Wallace is a strong linebacker who can punish either running backs or quarterbacks.  He is not afraid of contact and he likes punishing the opponents.  Wallace shows decent ability in coverage, although he will need to improve in this area.  Wallace will need to add a few pounds and work on his flexibility to be a top performer at the next level.  Anthony shows all the signs of being a huge impact player of the future.

Andre Yruretagoyena OL         6'5      258          -               4-Star- 5.8                4-Star-81
         -Andre is going to be a great addition to Oregon's offensive front.  He needs to add some weight, but he has a big frame already.  He shows a nastiness when run blocking that will be perfect for Chip's scheme.  He has a lot of work to do on basic fundamentals, once these fundamentals are learned then he will be a big time player.   

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

John Henson Is Skying High Over Opponents In The NCAA Tournament

Henson's strong season has scouts believing
his game will continue to grow in the NBA.
A strong campaign in the NCAA tournament will give John Henson's draft stock a huge boost.  

John Henson has been on NBA scout's radar since his freshman year at North Carolina.  He entered his sophomore season with a lot of questions to answer.  One thing that scouts wanted to see was an improved offensive game,  Henson needed to show that he could take over game the way his athleticism suggests he could. He also needed to display his defensive ability on a nightly basis to show consistency.

The Tar Heels got off to a bumpy start at the beginning of the season, but pulled it together at the beginning of ACC play.  Henson has been consistently excellent on the defensive end.  During the entire season Henson averaged 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game.  He showed that he has the IQ, athleticism, and continuity to be a solid defensive contributer every night.

His offensive game, however, still needs some fine tuning.  He averaged 12 points per game, but most of these were off of put backs and dunks.  He did not show the same improvement on the offensive end that he did on the defensive end, and the lack of an offensive repertoire could hurt him on draft night.

Henson has been consistently talked about as a lottery pick, says Chad Ford, because of his motor, rebounding and shot blocking.  He  has been successful in showing all of these skills, and at times he looks like the best player on the floor during tar heel games.  2 games into the tournament it looks like he may have shown the beginning to an offensive game.  In his first game, albeit against Long Island, he scored 28 points off of 10-16 from the field and 8-10 from the line.  He also threw in 11 rebounds and had a whopping 6 blocks.  That is the kind of offensive effort that leads to the scout's impressions of the potential that Henson has.

In his second game against a more athletic Washington team, Henson struggled a bit, but was still able to put up 10 points, grab 10 rebounds, and record 4 blocks.  In this game he showed that he needs to add strength and weight to dominate more athletic opponents.  This has been a consistent knock on Henson, so whichever team drafts him will surely have him meeting with their strength and endurance coaches quite often.

If Henson keeps up this great play throughout the tournament it could push his stock even higher.  Right now I think he could end up in the late lottery to the mid first round, but if he keeps playing at this high level he could crack the top ten.  He is a tweener between small forward and power forward, so he will have to figure out what he is most successful at.  I think his top priority should be adding strength, followed closely by the need to improve his mid range jumper.  If he improves in these areas he reminds me a lot of Tayshaun Prince with better overall athleticism, that would be a scary combination for anyone being defended by him.

Oregon Sports Fans' NFL Draft 4.0, March 22nd

Round 1

1. Carolina-Blaine Gabbart, QB, Missouri

2. Denver-Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

3. Buffalo-Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

4. Cincinnati-Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

5. Arizona-Da'quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

6. Cleveland-A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

7. San Francisco-Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

8. Tennessee-Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

9. Dallas-Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

10. Washington-Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

11. Houston-Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

12. Minnesota-Tyron Smith, OT, USC

13. Detroit-Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

14. St. Louis- Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

15. Miami-Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

16. Jacksonville-Cameron Jordan, DE, Califonia

17. New England-J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

18. San Diego-Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

19. New York Giants-Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

20. Tampa Bay-Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

21. Kansas City-Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

22. Indianapolis-Mike Pouncey, G, Florida

23. Philadelphia-Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

24. New Orleans-Muhammed Wilkerson, DT, Temple

25. Seattle-Jake Locker, QB, Washington

26. Baltimore-Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

27. Atlanta-Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

28. New England-Martez Wilson, OLB, Illinois

29. Chicago-Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

30. New York Jets-Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor

31. Pittsburgh- Danny Watkins, G, Baylor

32. Green Bay-Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

Round 2

33. New England-Mikel Longshore, RB, Illinois

34. Buffalo-Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas

35. Cincinnati-Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova

36. Denver-Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

37. Cleveland-Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

38. Arizona-Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame

39. Tennessee- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

40. Dallas- Rahim Moore, S, UCLA

41. Washington-Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

42. Houston- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

43. Minnesota-Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

44. Detroit-Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

45. San Francisco-Jurrell Casey, DT, USC

46. Denver-Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina

47. St Louis- Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

48. Oakland- Rodney Hudson, G, Florida State

49. Jacksonville-Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

50. San Diego-Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU

51. Tampa Bay- Orlando Franklin, OT, Miami

52. New York Giants- Ryan Williams, RB, Virgina Tech

53. Indianapolis-Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

54. Philadelphia-Clint Boling, OT, Georgia

55. Kansas City- Allen Bailey, DE, Miami

56. New Orleans-Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona

57. Seattle-Stefen Wisniewski, G, Penn State

58. Baltimore-Titus Young, WR, Boise State

59. Atlanta- Sam Acho, DE, Texas

60. New England- Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky

61. San Diego-Quan Sturdivant, ILB, North Carolina

62. Chicago-Christian Ballard, DT, Iowa

63. Pittsburgh-Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh

64. Green Bay-Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada

Round 3

65. Carolina- Jurrell Jernegan, WR, Troy

66. Cincinnati-Drake Nevis, DT, LSU

67. Denver- Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma

68. Buffalo-Brandon Burton, CB, Utah

69. Arizona- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

70. Cleveland-Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma

71. Dallas-DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas

72. New Orleans-Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State

73. Houston- Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

74. New England- DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

75. Detroit-William Rackley, G, LeHigh

76. San Francisco- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

77. Tennessee-Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia

78. St. Louis-D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas

79. Miami-Stephen Schilling, G, Michigan

80. Jacksonville-Ahmad Black, S, Florida

81. Oakland-Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State

82. San Diego- Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

83. New York Giants-Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

84. Tampa Bay- Jordan Toddman, RB, Connecticuit

85. Philadelphia-Davon House, CB, New Mexico State

86. Kansas City- Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State

87. Indianapolis-James Brewer, OT, Indiana

88. New Orleans-Shane Vereen, RB, California

89. San Diego-Jarvis Jenkins, DE, Clemson

90. Baltimore-Kristofer O'Dwod, C, USC

91. Atlanta-Mason Foster, OLB, Washington

92. New England-James Carpenter, OT, Alabama

93. Chicago-Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State

94. New York Jets- Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU

95. Pittsburgh-Jerrell Powe, NT, Ole Miss

96. Green Bay- Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brandon Roy Is Coming On Strong After Injuries

Roy has had a frustrating season full of injuries.
Brandon Roy is on the road to a good recovery from his devastating knee injuries.  

Brandon Roy has had a history of knee problems dating back to his time at Washington.  The Blazers were aware of these concerns when they traded for him in the 2006 draft for the rights to Randy Foye.  They also knew these concerns when they signed him to a maximum deal in 2009.  A lot of teams would have been cautious about signing a player with these ailments, but the Blazers made him the face of the franchise. Up to that date Roy had come back from a knee injury before and did not show signs that these knee problems would slow him down.  Brandon had played his way into the hearts of Blazer fans and the Blazers' front office.  He had become the face of the franchise, an all-star, and was regarded as one of the rising stars in the league.

This shows what is done
during an arthroscopic surgery.
In the 2010'11 season everything changed, as his knee issues came to the forefront and have caused Roy to miss 33 games so far this season.  The doctors say that Roy literally does not have a mcl in either of his knees.  This causes bone on bone friction and will cause a lot of swelling and discomfort when he tries to make cuts, cross overs or explode to the basket. Not only did Roy have surgery on one knee, he had arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees.

In an article on Gossip Sports John Canzano, a Blazer Authority, talked to some surgeons and they said that the outlook was bleak.  "The “consulting surgeon” whispers that he believes the best-case strategy for handling Roy is this: A) Limit Roy’s practice reps to almost nothing; B) Play him off the bench in 65-75 or so games a season, choosing rest in key spots; C) pray. Surgeon suspects the Blazers might get 1-2 years out of Roy employing this strategy."

This is going to be a permanent issue for the rest of his career, but since he came back 13 games ago he has shown signs that he can change his game and continue to have success for the Blazers.  Since he has come back he has been playing limited minutes, around 25 minutes per game, off of the bench.  He immediately showed that he can still make an impact on the game.  He poured in 18 points in his second game back against the Nuggets in 24 minutes and shot 50% from the field.  Since then he has only had 2 twenty point games but has slowly returning to form.  He has begun to regain his quick crossover and has shown the ability to pull up for a jump shot.  He has also showed signs of being able to take his man off the dribble and get to the rim, although he still struggles with finishing.

Roy has shown the ability to knock down
big shots since returning from double knee surgery
Going forward Brandon Roy can still be a very effective player for the Blazers.  He may never return to the form which got him a max contract, but he can be a big offensive force off the bench because of his ability to bring the ball up the court, distribute to teammates, his consistent jump shot from medium and short range, and his ability to take defenders off the dribble.  His combination of talents will allow him to be a good point-forward for the team.  It will remain to be seen if he can stay healthy for a whole season, but a role similar to what he has played since his return could give him enough rest to be ready and able to play every night.

You have to root for a guy such as Roy, who has had devastating knee problems but has continued to work at recovering and fitting into his new role. Hopefully Roy can make an impact for more than the 2 years that these surgeons suggest his productivity will last. If we can take anything positive for Roy from this injury he has shown that he is a hard worker and a good teammate.  He has continued to be a team leader, setting the tone with his work ethic and hard play.  If he continues all of these trends hopefully he will be a great player and success story for years to come.

Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 NBA Draft 4.0 Pre NCAA Tournament

Harrison Barnes has had an up and down freshman season at
North Carolina, but could jump right back into the discussion
for the #1 pick if he leads the Tar Heels deep into the tournament.
The 2011 NBA draft is still a few months away, but it is time for March Madness where the next crop of NBA players will try to shine.  

This is the time of the year where we have the chance to see most of the big name players that have been at the top of everyone's draft boards compete against one another.  Past player's performances in the tournament have catapulted them to the top of the draft, or have shaken scouts to the point where they slip in to the mid to late first round.  This is a chance for these players to make one last statement before the process of draft workouts and interviews begin.

Players like Harrison Barnes, Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette are just a few big names that have a lot to prove.  If these three players have a huge tournament they could all improve their stance in the lottery discussion.  Barnes could jump back into the number one slot, and Kemba could solidify a spot in the mid lottery, and Jimmer could slip into those last few picks of the lottery.

I have formulated this list using to determine these traded picks.  For more mock drafts like this I have assembled a database here

First Round
1. Cleveland- Kyrie Irving, PG, 6'2, 180, Duke- Cleveland picks Irving to be their new face of the franchise.  They are hoping that Baron Davis plays out the rest of the season and impresses some teams so they can trade him for some assets.  This would clear the way for Irving to start day 1 without any competition.  Irving had been compared to both Chris Paul and Mike Conley before he went down with an injury early on this season.

2. Sacramento- Harrison Barnes, SF, 6'7, North Carolina- Barnes has had an up and down season at North Carolina, but he has picked up his play during their ACC schedule.  Over the course of the year his confidence and leadership have improved and this has been observable through his improved stats.  If he has a big tournament he could land in the top three picks overall because of his potential.

3. Washington- Perry Jones, PF, 6'11, 220, Baylor- Perry Jones can play the small or power forward positions.  That versatility fits a need in Washington.  He could start at the small forward, giving Washington a incredibly large starting line up, with Wall being the smallest player at 6'4.  He could also spare Blatche at the four position, and could possibly fill in for McGee for a few minutes per game.  Jones has very good athleticism and offensive ability.  He is active on the boards and is good helping out as a weak side defender.  The knock on Jones is his lack of assertiveness, he seems to defer too much and does not dominate opponents like his level of talent suggests he should.

4. Minnesota- Enes Kanter, C, 6'10, 255, Turkey-  Kanter would be an upgrade over Darko Milicic.  Kanter is a big man who goes after rebounds and can finish around the basket.  Combined with Beasley, Love, Randolph (if he improves), and Milicic the Wolves would have a very deep front line rotation.  Because they already have depth in their front line they could opt to trade this pick for assets to fill the void at their shooting guard position.

Derrick Williams' scoring ability
 could fit in nicely in Utah.
5. Toronto- Terrence Jones, SF, 6'9, 226, Kentucky- Jones is a versatile forward who has been compared to Lamar Odom.  The Raptors have the beginnings to a decent young roster with the emergence of DeRozan and the commendable efforts of Ed Davis.  Jones would add the ability to play the 3 and 4 positions with great passing ability.  He sees the floor very well and has good handles for a player his size.  He has also proved to scouts he is a better defender and rebounder than previously thought.

6. Utah-From New Jersey- Derrick Williams, SF, 6'7, 210, Arizona- Utah builds it's core around Favors, Williams, Harris, and Jefferson.  That is a good young core of players.  Williams can score in a variety of ways including dribbling penetration and spot up threes.  He is considered to be a tweener by scouts, but his tremendous play this season has made him a lock for the top 10 in this draft.

7. Detroit- Jared Sullinger, PF, 6'9, 261, Ohio State- Sullinger has had a great freshman season.  There have been reports that he, along with other top freshmen Barnes and Irving, will return to college next year.  If he comes out this year, however, he will go in the top 10, if he stays who knows what could happen.  I think his tough style of play would fit well in Detroit.  The combination of Monroes passing ability and finesse game paired with the bullish game of Sullinger would be a good pairing.  They would be a great high-low post tandem.

8. Cleveland-From LA Clippers- Jonas Valnciunas, PF, 6'10, 230, Lithuania- Jonas is the top Euro prospect and is playing at a very high level in his Euro league.  He has a very good low post game and knows how to efficiently score the basketball.  He will need to improve his strength to compete against the bigger competition in the NBA.  The combination of Valnciunas and Varejao along with Hickson gives the Cavs a decent front line.

9. Milwaukee-Tristan Thompson, PF, 6'8, 233, Texas- Tristan Thompson has been climbing up scouting boards all season.  He is undersized at the 4 position but has very long arms.  He is adequately athletic and is crafty when it comes to getting his shot up.  He is also a good shot blocker for his position.  If he continues to improve he could be a very good pick for the Bucks.

10. Indiana-Jan Vesely, PF, 6'11, 240 Czech Republic- The Pacers' big man Hibbert is massive in size but can be a little soft at times.  If you put a player like Vesely next to him it would be a great match.  Vesely is a hustling big man who plays with a lot of energy.  The combination of Hansbrough and Vesely would lock up the 4 spot for the Pacers.

11. Charlotte-Jordan Hamilton, SF, 6'7, 215, Texas- The Bobcats need a big time scorer to add to their roster.  Scouts' main problem with Hamilton is that he is a volume shooter with bad shot selection.  Early in the season he seemed to have fixed this problem, but during Texas' skid these problems came back into focus.  If Texas does well in the tournament look for Hamilton to get plenty of attention.

12. Golden State- Kawhi Leonard, SF, 6'7, 225, San Diego State- The Warriors may have found a gem in Dorrel Wright, but they could still use another able body at the 3 position.  Kawhi Leonard reminds me a lot of Gerald Wallace because of the tenacity he plays with on defense as well as the way he rebounds for someone in his position.  He will have to improve his long distance game to be productive in the Warriors' style of play, but I think the intangibles he brings to the table are a good fit for an improving Golden State team.

13. Houston- Donatas Motiejunas, PF, 7'0, 220, Lithuania- Houston wants some size up front and Motiejunas was a prospect that could have gone in the lottery last year.  This 7 foot prospect has been compared to Dirk Nowitzki because of the way he can shoot.  He is a little soft as a defender and a rebounder, but Houston has some players with enough toughness to make up for this.  He may not be a perfect fit, but I am sure Houston would love to bring the 'next Dirk' to Houston to rival the current one in Dallas.

14. Utah- Alec Burks,  SG, 6'6, 185, Colorado- Burks would round out Utah's young roster at the starting 2 position.  He is a great scorer with tons of athleticism, he is a great finisher at the basket.  He is an extremely streaky outside shooter, and really needs to improve in this area.  He is the top shooting guard in the draft, and has snuck into the lottery because of it.

15. Philadelphia- John Henson, PF, 6'10, 200, North Carolina- The addition of Henson may ease the pain if Thaddeus Young signs else where.  Henson is a lot like young in the way he defends and runs the court.  The big difference is that Young is physically built to play in the NBA, Henson needs to add a lot of strength and weight so he is not pushed around.  He has improved a lot in his time at UNC which gives teams hope that he will continue that trend and round into a good offensive player.

16. Houston-From Phoenix- Kemba Walker, PG, 6'1, 172, Connecticut- Lowry has been very good since they traded away Aaron Brooks for Goran Dragic.  Dragic is a restricted free agent this summer and could be stolen away if the price is too high.  Walker could come in and be a good replacement, in the mold of the departed Brooks.  Kemba has proved that he has a ton of talent and the athleticism to compete among bigger players.  He has a ton of heart and has a ton of endurance.  He has a good deep shot already, but it will need to improve if he is going to take his game to the next level.

Fredette would be a perfect fit in D'Antoni's
scheme playing off of Amare and Melo.
17. New York- Jimmer Fredette, PG, 6'2, 195, BYU- I can't think of a better fit for Jimmer than in New York.  He would play great in D'Antoni's run and gun offense and he wouldn't be a defensive liability because D'Antoni's teams don't play defense to begin with.  He would bring the ball up the court, try to initiate the offense (find an open Melo or Amare) and then he could find the open areas along the 3-point line.

18. Minnesota-From Memphis- Marshon Brooks, SG, 6'5, 190, Providence- Marshon Brooks is a big time scorer as he averaged almost 25 points per game.  He also averaged 7 rebounds per game, which is very good for a guard.  He has a solid outside shot and can get to the basket although he lacks elite athleticism.  He could be a great option for the Wolves at the 2 position.

19. Portland- Brandon Knight, PG, 6'4, 183, Kentucky- Andre Miller could be traded because of his expiring contract, which would leave the door open for Patty Mills or Armon Johnson.  Brandon Knight would also be in the equation if he were picked at this position.  Knight is more of a scoring guard at the point guard position, but can get his team mates involved.  He has a good outside shot but it will need to improve enough that he can consistently knock down spot up jumpers.  He would be a great add defensively because of his size and length.

20. Charlotte-From Portland, via New Orleans- Thomas Robinson, PF, 6'9, 230, Kansas- Robinson is a great athlete but is still coming around on offense.  He is a lot like Tyrus Thomas in that he is raw offensively but is an explosive leaper, a tough defender, and a great rebounder.  Charlotte needs help at ever position, so this would be a good pick to upgrade their 4 position in the future.

21. Washington-From Atlanta- Josh Selby, PG, 6'3, 188, Kansas- Washington has the beginnings of a good young roster.  Selby can play the 1 or 2 position and is a very good spot up shooter and defender.  He would add depth behind Wall and could also play with Wall against teams with smaller back courts.  He has struggled a bit this season but he still has a lot of potential.

22. Denver-Mason Plumlee, PF, 6'10, 230, Duke- Kenyon Martin is set to hit the free agent market this off season.  He will probably not be brought back because of consistent injury problems and his age.  Mason Plumlee could fill the void nicely, he does a lot of the same things Martin does although he does not have the same nasty disposition.  He is a great athlete and a good defender and rebounder.  He needs to improve offensively, particularly his mid-range jumper which Martin excelled at.

23. Phoenix- From Orlando- Tobias Harris, SF, 6'8, 210, Tennessee- Harris is a versatile player who can play multiple positions.  He has a good basketball IQ, and his unselfishness would be a good fit with the young Sun's roster.  He is a good defensive player as he averaged almost a steal and a block per game.

24. Oklahoma City- Kenneth Faried, PF, 6'8, 215, Morehead St- The Thunder have a very young and talented roster already and anything extra is icing on the cake.  Faried is a good defender and a prolific rebounder with an improving offensive game.  He adds depth to their front line after Jeff Green was shipped out to Boston.

25. Chicago-From Toronto, via Miami- Tyler Zeller, C, 7'0, 220, North Carolina- Zeller has played his way into the first round with a great 2010'11 season.  He will be another back up in the Bull's front line rotation and will likely replace the aging Kurt Thomas.  Asik, Zeller, Boozer, Gibson, and Noah give the Bulls a huge, tough front line which could stand up to injuries.

26. New Jersey-From LA Lakers- JaJuan Johnson, PF, 6'10, 220, Purdue- Johnson could be a good fit next to Brook Lopez.  Johnson's length and athletic ability allow him to be a very good weak side shot blocker.  He has also improved every facet of his offensive game.  He would give the Nets a good scoring option at the power forward position.

27. Dallas- Jeff Taylor, SF, 6'7, 210, Vanderbilt- With Caron Butler out with an injury and Shawn Marion getting older Dallas needs to add some youth at the small forward position.  Jeff Taylor has a great first step and can explode to the basket.  He needs to work on his shot if he wants to be a permanent fill in for Butler and Marion.

Klay Thompson has had off the
court problems this season, but
 there is no doubting his shooting ability.
28. Chicago-Klay Thompson, SG, 6'6, 187, Washington State- Thompson is one of the best shooters in college basketball.  He recently got in some off the court trouble, but his offensive production is too much to pass up for a Chicago team that could use an improvement at the 2 guard.

29. Boston- C.J. Leslie, PF, 6'9, 205, NC State- Kevin Garnett is getting old, and there has been no indication that Boston will resign Troy Murphy at the end of the year.  C.J. Leslie is very raw, but has tons of potential and could turn into a great power forward.  He could learn a lot from KG in his last few seasons.

30. San Antonio- Nikola Mirotic, SF, 6'10, 226, Serbia- The Spurs go for another international prospect with great fundamentals.  Mirotic is a very good passer and can play the 3 or 4.  He is only 20 and needs to add a lot of strength, right now his craftiness makes up for his lack of athleticism.

Second Round

31. Cleveland-Kyle Singler, SF, 6'9, 235, Duke- Singler would give Irving a familiar face while adding a player that is used to winning.  I think Singler will end up being a slightly better Mike Dunleavy Jr., which would be an upgrade over what they have now.

32. Sacramento- Demetri McCamey, PG, 6'3, 200, Illinois- McCamey could give the Kings the option of moving Evans over to the two guard.  McCamey has had issues with shot selection, but he has good range and he gets his team mates involved.

33. Washington- Scotty Hopson, SF, 6'7, 185, Tennessee- Hopson can play either the 2 or the 3 position.  Hopson is an explosive leaper and has a very long wingspan.  Adding another versatile player to their roster would give the Wizards tons of lineup options.

34. Miami-From Minnesota-Nolan Smith, PG, 6'4, 185, Duke- Nolan Smith is a player of the year candidate, and is finally living up to his potential.  He would fit in well in South Beach because he can either play with the ball in his hands as the point guard, or he can play off the ball as a shooter.  In my opinion he would be a better option off the bench than Mike Bibby.

35. Detroit- From Toronto- Travis Leslie, SG, 6'4, 205, Georgia- Leslie's athleticism could add some excitement off the bench in Detroit.  It is unknown if they will bring back McGrady, and they will try very hard to get rid of Hamilton.  That could leave the door open for Leslie to step in and fill.

36. New Jersey- Khris Middleton, SF, 6'7, 215, Texas A&M- Middleton reminds me of current Net rookie Damien James.  He has a solid midrange game and a good basketball IQ and floor vision.  He would be a good fit as a back up in New Jersey.

37. LA Clippers-From Detroit- Marcus Morris, PF, 6'8, 225, Kansas- Marcus Morris is a very good rebounder and finisher around the basket for a player his size.  He would be and upgrade over Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith.

Nogueira is young and inexperienced as a player,
but his  physical tools and defensive potential
will make him a commodity on draft day.
38. Houston-From LA Clippers- Lucas Nogueira, C, 7'0, 225, Brazil- Houston is desperate for a low post presence, and they go for another international prospect.  Nogueira could easily go in the first round because of his athleticism and defensive ability.  He is still raw on the offensive end and he will be a project with a ton of potential.

39. Milwaukee-Chris Singleton, SF, 6'9, 220, Florida State- Singleton would fill in for Mbah A Moute if he decides to leave in free agency.  Singleton is not nearly the same kind of defender as Mbah A Moute, but he has a very good offensive game to make up for it.

40. Indiana- Darius Morris, PG, 6'4, 200, Michigan- T.J. Ford will likely be gone next year, and A.J. Price is still recovering from a knee injury.  Darius a good young point guard who knows how to distribute the ball.  He is a decent shooter and can be a good defender at the next level.

41. Charlotte- Tyshawn Taylor, PG, 6'3, 180, Kansas- Taylor has had a rocky career at Kansas, but he has definitely shown the scoring ability that keeps scouts interested.  He would most likely back up Augustin, but he is more of an off guard.  He has had maturity issues all through his career at Kansas, but Charlotte is desperate for talent.

42. LA Lakers-From Golden State- Norris Cole, PG, 6'2, 175, Cleveland State- The Lakers need to plan for the future of their pg position.  Derek Fisher's career is coming to an end, and Shannon Brown is a unrestricted free agent this year.  Norris Cole could fill in, he averaged 21 points per game at Cleveland  State.  Scouts say that he is a pure point guard and gets his team mates involved while being a solid shooter and scorer.  He also averaged 6 rebounds per game from the pg position.

43. LA Clippers-From Houston-Patric Young, C, 6'9, 235, Florida-  The Clippers had a lot of success developing DeAndre Jordan as a project pick in the second round.  He is now a restricted free agent and could end up on another team.  Kaman could also be going somewhere in a trade.  Patric Young has a ton of potential on defense, and is a crazy athlete with very long arms.  He has no offensive game at this point of his career, but he is very young and could develop his skills in the D-League.

44. Chicago-From Utah- Tyler Honeycutt- SF, 6'9, 180 UCLA- Chicago is basically adding depth at this point.  Honeycutt brings a lot of athleticism in his skinny frame.  He does a lot of things well but nothing great. His basketball IQ and length would make him a good fit off the bench for Tom Thibodeau's defense.

45. New Orleans- From Philadelphia- Trey Thompkins, PF, 6'9, Georgia- Thompkins could fill in for David West if he goes elsewhere in free agency this off season.  Trey has three point range and a good shooting stroke for a power forward.  He is also skilled around the basket, but he is not a great athlete.

46. Golden State-From Chicago, via Phoenix-Jon Leuer, PF, 6'10, 230, Wisconsin- None of the Warriors' front court players is that skilled offensively.  David Lee is good but struggles with his jump shot.  Leuer could give them a big man who can step away from the basket and consistently make shots. He reminds me a lot of David Anderson.

47. LA Lakers-From New York- Bojan Bogdanovic, SF, 6'7, 200, Serbia- Bojan could add some shooting and scoring from the small forward position.  If Matt Barnes leaves next season Bojan could earn some minutes off the bench because of his offensive game.

48. Memphis- Markieff Morris, PF, 6'9, 232, Kansas- Memphis could add the 2nd Morris twin to try and fill the boots of Zach Randolph if he is not resigned.  He will not be able to replicate the production of Randolph and will come off the bench for sure, but he has an improving offensive game and he is a tough rebounder.

49. Portland- Aaric Murray, C, 6'10, 250, La Salle- Murray has a good shot for a center, but he lacks the IQ or defensive intensity that most big-men need.  He can rebound and block shots, so at least he will add another body in the Blazer's front line rotation.

50. Philadelphia- From New Orleans- Justin Harper, PF, 6'10, 225, Richmond-  Harper is a stretch four with an excellent shot.  He could help out down in the post, but he has the reputation for being a soft player.

51. Atlanta- Charles Jenkins, SG, 6'3, 220, Hofstra- Jenkins is a bit undersized to play the 2 guard, but his scoring ability speaks for itself.  Jamal Crawford might leave via free agency and would leave a hole for a scoring guard off the bench.  Jenkins could fill that position in the same way that Marcus Thornton burst on the scene 2 years ago.

52. Detroit-From Denver- William Buford, SG, 6'5, 190, Ohio State- Buford brings a winning attitude to a Piston team in need of an overhaul in that area.  He is decent at passing and shooting but struggles to create for himself.  He will most likely spend a lot of time in the D-League.

53. Orlando- Festus Ezeli, C, 6'11, 255, Vanderbilt-  Orlando needs a big man and takes a chance on one of the biggest men left.

54. Cleveland-From Oklahoma City- Elias Harris, SF, 6'7, 180, Gonzaga- Elias Harris was once thought to be a first round pick.  He has fallen since then, but still could make an impact coming off the bench for a team.  He is a fundamentally sound player that lacks elite athleticism.

If Tyler can check his ego he could
 have a bright future in LA.
55. LA Lakers-From Miami- Jeremy Tyler, PF, 6'11, 245- The Lakers have 4 second round picks and can afford to use one or two on projects.  Jeremy Tyler tried to go the Brandon Jennings route and go over sea's for his first year after high-school.  He quit half way through, and now scouts question his passion and commitment.  Tyler has all the physical tools needed to be a great player, but his work ethic and maturity are the issues that are holding him back.

56. LA Lakers- Malcolm Lee, PG, 6'5, 180, UCLA- The Lakers take another project in the home town player from UCLA.  Malcolm Lee has great size for a point guard, but has never really produced in college.  He has a lot of athleticism and could become a great defender.  He can play either guard position and he may be able to take his game to another level in an NBA system.

57. Dallas- Andrew Nicholson, PF, 6'9, 220, St. Bonaventure- Has a big time vertical which allows him to finish lobs and block shots.  If Dallas lose Chandler they will need some players with athletic ability and shot blocking skills to help fill the gap in the middle.

58. Sacramento-From Milwaukee, via Chicago- Tony Mitchell, SF, 6'8, 220, Missouri- Sacramento takes a chance on a young player from Missouri.  Mitchell has a ton of potential and athletic ability, he just needs to learn how to use it.  He is a very good defender and can guard many positions.

59. Boston-Jereme Richmond, SF, 6'8, 195, Illinois- Jereme Richmond is a crazy athlete, but he is very raw in other areas of his game.  He can play the 2 or 3 position which would give Boston some versatility if Richmond develops.

60. San Antonio- Keith Benson, C, 6'11, 225, Oakland- San Antonio adds another big man for the post Tim Duncan era.  Benson is a good scorer and rebounder around the hoop, but needs to add some muscle.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2011 Notable NBA Free Agents

Jamal Crawford is one of the best scoring free
agents of 2011 and could fly right out
 of Atlanta this coming summer.
This Year's class of free agents lack the star power of the 2010 class, but there are many players that could change the fortunes of NBA teams.

The restricted free agent list is made up of players who's rights are still owned by their former team.  This means that if an opposing team makes an offer to a restricted free agent then the team who owns the players right has the option of matching and retaining the player.

The unrestricted have the freedom to talk and sign with any team they wish.  Their former team has no baring and cannot simply match other offers to keep the player.

This year there is plenty of talented players on both lists, but with the pending lockout the NBA's free agency is up in the air.  Here are the lists of some prominent NBA players that will be on the market this coming summer.

 ETO = Early Termination Option; P = Player Option; T = Team Option
Point Guards
Aaron Brooks, Phoenix, 6'0, 161- Aaron Brooks is one of the fastest point guards in the league.  He had a break-out year last year but has struggled this year.  He is getting a new start in Phoenix where he could become the next floor general when Nash leaves.  Brooks is more of a score-first point guard, which is very different from what Nash does on the court.  Because they traded specifically for Brooks, I would be surprised if they did not resign him this off-season.

Rodney Stuckey, Detroit, 6'5, 205- Rodney Stuckey is a big and strong score-first point guard.  He reminds me of Tyreke Evans with the way that he plays, getting to the hoop and using his big frame to post up smaller point guards.  Depending on what happens with Kuester and other variables on Detroit's roster he could be up for the taking this off season.

Mario Chalmers, Miami, 6'2, 190- Chalmers has his share of problems through his career, but he has consistently hit threes and played defense.  Since he hit that shot in the NCAA national championship his career has not panned out.  If the Heat do not bring him back he will probably float around the NBA playing in a back up role.

Patrick Mills, Portland, 6'0, 185- Patty Mills has finally been allowed to play this season, and he has had up and downs.  He has great speed and can finish at the hoop or dish the ball to teammates sprinting down the court trying to catch up with him.  He also has a decent shot.  He has the tools to be a good player in the league, and if he continues to improve he could be a steal.

Shooting Guards

Aaron Afflalo, Denver, 6'5, 215- Aaron Afflalo has had a break out year, upping his scoring average 5 points per game from his career average.  Throughout his career he has shown the ability to be a very tough defender, and now his offensive improvement has made him a complete player.  He would continue to be a building block as a glue guy in Denver.

Nick Young, Washington, 6'7, 210- Young has had a great year, coming out of nowhere to take over for the departed Arenas.  He is putting up huge numbers and has made a number of miraculous shots.  He has a lot of athleticism but struggles defensively.  I think the Wizards would be smart to hold on to Nick Young and see how much higher his ceiling can be.

Marcus Thornton, Sacramento, 6'4, 205- Thornton had an impressive rookie campaign but failed to see much playing time during his second stint in New Orleans.  He was traded to Sacramento to try and give a scoring boost to the back court.  He is a high volume shooter who needs the ball in his hands but he can put up a lot of points in a short amount of time.

Small Forwards

Jeff Green, Boston, Boston, 6'9, 238- Jeff Green is a mutli-talented forward.  He played power-forward, while he was on the Thunder, and seemed to be out matched by bigger stronger opponents.  That did not prevent him from having some above average years, averaging 15 points per game for his career.  In Boston they are playing him as a 3 more, backing up Pierce and playing spot time at the power forward. He is such a versatile player that once he gets comfortable in Boston he is sure to help out.  He could be a good building block for the future in Boston but I am sure that there are a number of teams that would be more than happy to give him a shot.

Wilson Chandler, Denver, 6'8, 225- Wilson Chandler was having a very good year in New York before he was traded.  He still does not have the most pure stroke from the 3 point line but he has improved his percentage from back there to 35 percent.  He can score in a variety of ways and has shown some tremendous athleticism this year. He could make an impact for a new team if the Nuggets fail to match his offer sheet.

Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia, 6'8, 220-Young has improved a lot since he came in the league, but he is still raw offensively.  He is ultra athletic and is still super young.  He could become a very talented player in this league if he continues to improve his shooting and dribbling fundamentals.

Power Forwards

Yi Jianlian, Washington, 7'0, 250- Yi showed some signs of coming on this season, then he was hit with the injury bug.  Yi does not do much on the defensive side, and struggles on the offensive side against quicker defenders.  He does have a nice shot and he is still young, only 23, so all hope is not lost.

Brandan Wright, New Jersey, 6'10, 210- We really don't know what Brandan Wright is capable of yet, he rode the bench in Golden State or was injured for his whole career.  He has barely played at all since coming out of North Carolina after his freshman season.  He still has lots of potential, but he still needs to add a lot of strength.


Marc Gasol, Memphis, 7'1, 265- The younger brother of Pau Gasol is making a name for himself.  Unlike his brother he is the opposite of a vanes player.  He is a big, tough defender who is not afraid of contact.  He has a steady mid-range jumper that is good out to about 15 feet.  He is most prolific on the defensive end, where he has the height and strength to compete with just about anyone.  It would be hard to see Memphis let both of the Gasol brothers slip through their hands, but then again there is still another in Europe that they could acquire...

DeAndre Jordan, LA Clippers, 6'11, 265- Jordan has really come on this season once he was placed in the starting line up.  He is really young, only 22 years old, and is very athletic.  He is only averaging 7 points and 7 rebounds, but is tallying nearly 2 blocks per game.  He is a great finisher on lobs or put backs, and if the improvement he has shown this year is just the beginning there should be a lot more to come in his future.

Greg Oden, Portland, 7'0, 285- When Greg Oden is healthy he has proved to be a rebounding and defensive machine.  Before he was injured he needed to improve on his huge amount of fouls which were keeping him off the court.  He was improving his offensive skills before he missed the last year and a half.  The Blazers say they will do their best to bring him back, but we will have to wait and see how it plays out.

Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia, 7'1, 245- Hawes has been a huge disappointment over his short career. He has a lot of talent if he applies himself, but it does not seem as though he has.  Sacramento made a good move in dumping him as quickly as they did.  Sometime desperate for a big man could try and steal him away from the 76ers, and I don't think they would care.

Point Guards

Shannon Brown, LA Lakers, 6'4, 210, (P)- Shannon Brown is more of a shooting guard, but he is listed as a point guard.  He is one of the most athletic and exciting players to watch on the fast break in the league.  He has really worked and improved his shooting percentage over his career and is now a threat from the outside.

Jose Juan Barea, Dallas, 6'0, 175- Jose is a tiny point guard who is listed at 6'0, but that is a terrible exaggeration.   He is very small, however he has shown he has the ability and toughness to play in the league.  He has struggled from beyond the arc so far this season, but he is averaging 10 points and 4 assists per game coming off the bench.  He will never be a starter in the NBA but he will provide his next team with a big spark off the bench.

T.J. Ford, Indiana, 6'0, 165- Ford is a small guard who is absurdly quick.  He is a shoot-first type of guard but he can find the open man.  He is best in the open court where he can use his quickness to get to the basket or dish out to shooters when he penetrates.  He has had a bad year in Indiana while rumors have been swirling around all year about potential trades or buy outs.  Some team that is desperate at the point guard position will take a chance on him in the off season.

Mike Bibby, Miami, 6'2, 185- Mike Bibby has been a great point guard for a long time, but his time is finally running out.  He can still make spot up threes, but he struggles on defense and can no longer get past his defender.

Shooting Guards

Jamal Crawford, Atlanta, 6'5, 200- Jamal Crawford has proved to be a great scorer off the bench for Atlanta.  He is known as a streaky shooter, but he can light it up once he gets his groove going.  He will be entering his 12th season next year but he could prove to be a key member off the bench for a contender.

Ray Allen, Boston, 6'5, 205 (P)- Ray Allen is having a great year this year, but he is in his 15th season and he is 35 years old.  His success is due to the formation of talent around him, he has turned into a catch and shoot player, any other production he gives you is an added bonus.  He would be a great pick up for a team such as the Bulls.

J.R. Smith, Denver, 6'6, 220- Smith is, as George Karl would put it, an enigma.  He has the talent and athleticism to be one of the top guards in the league, but he consistently takes horrible shots that are not in the flow of the offense.  He lacks the mindset to be a good defensive player and is hard to deal with as a coach.  That being said, he has so much talent that a number of NBA teams will line up to try and mold him into their roster.

Jason Richardson, Orlando, 6'6, 225- Richardson still has a lot of athleticism left in his legs.  He can still shoot the three with great accuracy and he can make clutch shots.  He would be a great fit on a contender, I think the Magic would be wise to try and bring him back for a few more years.

Leandro Barbosa, Toronto, 6'3, 202, (P)- Barbosa still has jets.  He is undersized to play the shooting guard position at only 6'3, but because of his quickness he is able to.  Barbosa can still get to the basket because of this quickness and can consistently knock down the three.

Anthony Parker, Cleveland, 6'6, 210- Anthony Parker is a solid player at the 2-guard position.  He is a consistent 3 point shooter and can help on defense.  There were a lot of rumblings of top teams such as the Celtics and the Bulls trying to acquire Parker at the trade deadline but nothing ever materialized.  He could be added to the rotations of one of these teams this off-season.

Tracy McGrady, Detroit, 6'8, 223- It's hard to say that McGrady is back, but he is playing much more consistently this season and injuries have not been a problem so far.  He has even had a few finishes on lobs that remind you of old T-Mac.  The best thing is that he has shown the ability to play the point-forward position.  He could go to Boston, Miami, New York, or possibly back to Orlando and give a contending team a crafty veteran with lots of knowledge of the game who can play a few positions pretty well for 15 or 20 minutes per game.

Mickael Pietrus, Phoenix, 6'6, 215- Pietrus is a very athletic wing who gives opposing players fits on defense.  He is best in a fast paced offense where he has freedom to shoot the three.  He can be great for a contender, like when he played for Orlando.

Michael Redd, Milwaukee, 6'6, 215- Michael Redd is in the same position that Tracy McGrady was in a few years ago.  Fresh off of knee surgery, for the second straight year, he is hoping a team will give him a chance.  He used to be one of the most pure shooters in the league, and played on the olympic team and world championship squad.  His mobility will most likely be limited, but if he has a chance to make a living in the NBA he will have to recapture some of that shooting prowess he used to have.

Small Forwards

Tayshaun Prince, Detroit, 6'9, 215- I think that Prince could be a great player on a contending team, like the Lakers.  Prince would fit right in bringing length, some offensive ability, defensive intensity and championship experience.  The Lakers would have to somehow get rid of Artest, which won't happen.

Caron Butler, Dallas, 6'7, 228- Butler was having a really good year with the Mavs before his knee injury.  He was averaging just under 16 points per game and helping out on the boards.  It is unfortunate timing for Butler to have such a severe injury in the final year of his contract.  I think there are a few teams that could take a chance on Butler, who is only 30 and has at least a few more years in him.

Andrei Kirilenko, Utah, 6'9, 235- Kirilenko may have worn out his time in Utah, but the Russian is still a very productive player.  He adds defense and length to wherever he winds up.  This year he is also shooting 36% from the three and averaging 12 points per game, not bad for a defensive play maker.

Shane Battier, Memphis, 6'8, 220- Battier has been described as cerebral, having a huge basketball IQ.  He knows where to be on defense, and rarely puts his teammates or his self in bad positions on offense.  He has the ability to knock down open threes and is a leader in the locker room.  Any team would be happy to add him to their roster.

Matt Barnes, LA Lakers, 6'7, 226, (P)- Matt Barnes has bounced all over the NBA.  He has the player option to be a free agent again this year.  He brings energy, a mean streak on defense, and a steady shot to who ever he plays for.  Where ever he has gone he has contributed off the bench.

Grant Hill, Phoenix, 6'8, 225- Grant Hill will turn 39 next season, and you have to wonder if he will be able to keep up his level of play.  He has so far, averaging 14 points per game.  He is still a good defender because of his basketball iq, and he is in tremendous shape.  I think he could be picked up by someone in need of a veteran off the bench.

Mike Dunleavy, Indiana, 6'9, 230- Dunleavy never lived up to the expectations people had when he came into the league, but he is a respectable small forward.  He can't play any defense, but he shoots 41% from the 3 point line, and averaged about 11 points per game before his season was ended with a thumb injury.  When he is healthy he can be a good contributor off the bench with his soft stroke.

Earl Clark, Orlando, 6'10, 225- Earl Clark still has tons of potential, and this year he is finally getting a chance to show it.  Since the trade with Phoenix he has been a part of the rotation and has shown some promising signs, but has also displayed why he never made it on the court in Phoenix.  Where ever he lands the team must understand they are undertaking a project that may or may not pay off.

Josh Howard, Washington, 6'7, 210- Howard used to be a great scorer for Dallas, he was then traded to Washington and promptly blew out his knee.  He made his return this year, but is having difficulty finding his touch.  He is averaging almost 9 points per game.  If he gets picked up and starts to return to his prior self he could be a huge addition for not much money.

Power Forwards

Zach Randolph, Memphis, 6'9, 260- Zach Randolph may have the most talent of anyone in this free agent class.  The only problem with Randolph is his reputation for being selfish and uncoachable.  He has also had a fair share of off the court problems.  He has soft hands, a great ability to score around the basket, a great jumper, and he averages 13 rebounds per game.  Memphis will probably not resign him so they can give their money to Gasol, so Randolph well be available.  New Orleans could be an option if they fail to bring back David West, or possibly New Jersey who has a hole in their power forward spot.

Tim Duncan, San Antonio, 7'0, 255, (ETO)- Tim Duncan is getting old and can't do things he once could, but it is very unlikely he ever plays anywhere but San Antonio.  He has an early termination option, but I can't foresee the Spurs using it.  His loyalty will be rewarded by the Spurs.

David West, New Orleans, 6'9, 240- West is a little undersized at the power forward position, but he has a silky smooth jump shot.  He is a very efficient player, shooting over 50% from the field.  He is 30 years old and next year will be 31, so he is getting a little older but his production is getting better and better.

Troy Murphy, Boston, 6'11, 245- Troy Murphy has not played much at all this year, and after sitting on the bench in New Jersey for the first few months of the season he is finally getting a chance in Boston.  It is unclear whether Boston brought him in for the remainder of the season or if they will try and keep him going forward into the future.  Over his career he has shown the ability to be a tough rebounder down low and he has a jumper that extends out past the three point line.

Glen Davis, Boston, 6'9, 289- Glenn Davis is having his most productive season as a pro.  Despite his size, lack of height and a big waist line, he has great instincts around the hoop.  His agility and positioning on rebounds allows him to compete against larger opponents, and he has a knack for getting tough shots off.  I believe they will keep him in Boston, but he could help a number of teams out.

Kris Humphries, New Jersey, 6'9, 235- Humphries has been giving the starting job in New Jersey, and it has paid off as he is having the best season of his career.  He is nearly averaging 10 and 10 and is also getting 1 block per game.

Carl Landry, New Orleans, 6'9, 248- Wherever Landry has gone he has been a beast off the bench.  He gives teams his whole effort and really gets after it on the glass.  He spent a lot of the year in a crowded front court in Sacramento and is now in New Orleans.  He is very talented around the basket, and has a decent jump shot.  His fault is his lack of defense.

Kenyon Martin, Denver, 6'9, 240- Kenyon is getting pretty old, and entering the 2011 season will be his 12th.  He has been consistently injured over his career but he always brings energy and toughness when he is able to compete.  His athleticism has declined as he has aged but he still have a consistent mid range jumper and he bring a veteran presence from a player who has played in the championship to the locker room.

Boris Diaw, Charlotte, 6'8, 235- Diaw had a few good years in Phoenix, but has disappeared since he was acquired by Charlotte.  He is still a very versatile power forward and could potentially round back into form, but I believe that likelihood is very slim.  He could be an option looking for a team looking to add depth to their front line.


Tyson Chandler, Dallas, 7'1, 235- As it stands now Tyson Chander may be the most sought after free agent of the summer.  No other player in this class has had the type of impact that Chandler has had on their current team.  He has transformed the Maverick's lack luster defense into a strength for the club.  He will never give you much offense, but he can make a living off of put backs off of offensive rebounds and he can finish lobs with the best of them.  He is a very smart player who has improved every year of his career.  It would be a big loss to Dallas if they do not find a way to resign him.

Nene Hilario, Denver, 6'11, 250 (ETO)- It seems likely that Nene will stay in Denver.  Both parties have expressed that the would like to make a deal, but nothing has come yet.  Nene will get a lot of attention from teams seeking an inside presence.  When Nene has been healthy he has been a very good player for Denver.  He has a massive frame and is very athletic, which allows him to score in a lot of ways around the hoop and with a medium range jumper.

Joel Pryzbilla, Charlotte, 7'1, 245- Joel Pryzbilla is a noteable free agent because of toughness, rebounding and defense.  I do not expect him to get anything more than the veterans minimum because of reoccurring knee issues that have sidelined him for the majority of the past year.  If he can get strength back in his knee he will help a team off the bench. He could possibly return to Portland next season.

Samuel Dalembert, Sacramento, 6'11, 250- Dalembert is a very good defender and shot blocker.  He does not offer much on the offensive side of the ball, and he is very skinny.  He could be a very good rotation player, but I think his starting days are coming to an end.

Ronny Turiaf, New York, 6'10, 245- Turiaf is a very good low post defender, although he is undersized to play the center position.  He doesn't do much on offense but he can make a face up 10-15 footer.  He is mostly used for energy and rebounds, along with what he gives on defense.

Jeff Foster, Indiana, 6'11, 250- Jeff Foster barely passes the 'eye-test' as an NBA center, but in his 11 year career he has been a great rebounder and defender.  He will be picked up for these to attributes, by a team looking to get one more rotation player for their front court.

Yao Ming, Houston, 7'6, 310- Yao Ming has said that he will probably retire before he leaves to another team.  In his brief appearance in the early stages of the season he was averaging 10 points in about 20 minutes of play per game.  This shows that he can still be effective if he can stay healthy.  There will be some interest in the 7'6 center, but no team will shell out big bucks because of his injury problems.

Shaquille O'Neal, Boston, 7'1, 325- The reign of the Big Shamrock in Boston might be coming to an end.  O'Neal's career may be coming to an end, in that case, as he is now 38 years old and durability issues have brought his playing time to a stand still this season.  He seems to have been injured far more than he has been healthy over the last few years and his production has drastically declined.  It will be interesting to see if he gets another shot, but I suspect this might be the end to a great career.