Were back for our third straight D-League Showcase, undoubtedly one of our favorite events on the basketball calendar. This is a setting for the hardcore onlyyou better be very serious about basketball if you decided to make it over hereand is always a good place to catch up on the latest in the industry with the numerous scouts, International teams, agents and players that make the trip.
The very poor weatherit was snowing for basically the entire day, caused a lot of flight delays and made it very difficult for many to arrive on time for the first day. The turnout was thus fairly poorcertainly from the NBA side but especially from Europe, so well have to see if that is a trend or just a cause of the location and climate. Again we heard all kinds of grumblings about why they couldnt have picked a warmer D-League citysuch as Austin, Los Angeles or Anaheimand considering the way the gym looked on the first day, it was hard to argue with that.
The first game was delayed by about 40 minutes because of a malfunctioning shot-clock (the announcer was a virtual shot-clock in the first quarter, counting down seconds at the end of possessions). The games were very sluggish to start off, too many whistles, too many bad shots, and a very minor league feel to the overall play. You heard a player yelling out by yourself to a teammate on pretty much every other possession, and most of them dont need to be told twice to go one on one. Still, you learn to make the most of what you have herethere are all kinds of interesting people to talk with, there are certainly some intriguing prospects scattered about the rosters, and it still beats what most people have to do to make a living at the end of the day.
It can actually be quite entertaining if you come here with the right mindseta classic example would be Carl Elliott taking an in-bounds pass and running the wrong way to score on his own basket, before being redirected by his entire team jumping up and down from the bench to make him realize his mistake. He promptly turned around, drove all the way to the other end completely unopposed and scored easilya classic D-League play.
The D-League Showcase or NBA Showcase?
Its not a bad idea if you think about it, considering that every NBA team is represented here in Orem, along with numerous GMs, Presidents, Directors of Scouting and Directors of Player Personnel, among other executives.
The biggest curveball here might be Williams reactionunilaterally deciding that while down in Colorado, he wants to play small forward. This coming from a guy who has been a center his entire life, has virtually no perimeter skills to speak of, and whom his best assets are his shot-blocking and offensive rebounding skillswhich usually entail being as close to the basket as possible. The Nets publicly said sure but that hasnt been exactly the case in the Showcase. No one will ever question Williams talentits his intangibles and on and off the court focus that have always been his worst enemy. We discussed these issues at length before the draft in his DraftExpress profile, for a more recent take, see Hoopsworlds article.
Any way you slice it, though, there is no questioning the fact that Sean Williams is the most naturally talented and physically gifted player at the D-League Showcase. As we all know, though, there is a lot more to being a successful basketball player than just being talented.
In his first game here in Orem, Williams struggled a bit with foul trouble and ended up having just a decent all-around showing considering the level of competition10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 6 fouls and 2 turnovers on 4-7 shooting in 28 minutes. He spent most of his time within 15 feet of the basket, putting his freakish athleticism on display literally from the opening tip, jumping to the sky like a pogo stick to tap the ball to a teammate. He was able to establish himself as a legit shot-blocking presence and also made an impact on the offensive glass, but also showed pretty vividly why he has been unable to crack New Jerseys rotation this season thus far.
His on-ball defense was pretty poorbeing scored on numerous times by both Charles Gaines and Andre Brown, and committing some very silly fouls. His perimeter skills looked very raw (turning the ball over when trying to do anything advanced with the ball, bricking a mid-range jumper badly) and his entire game appears to be strictly off instincts.
At this level that can definitely workand he made some extremely intriguing plays to back that up (some nice turnaround jumpers in the post, getting his hands on all kinds of loose balls), but the poor body language he displayed and the questionable IQ often negated some of those plays. Williams often looked like he was in his own worldnot warming up with his teammates for exampleand generally didnt do a great deal to show that he is worth the hassle considering his off-court issues.
Other NBA Allocations
What better place to get a look at the development of some of the leagues little used rookies and sophomores than the D-League showcase? Sonny Weems, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, Joey Dorsey, Alex Acker, Walter Sharpe and Malik Hairston are the other NBA assigned players well be following over the course of the next few days.
Hairston and Dorsey were in action in day one.
His shot looked good yesterday as well, albeit on not that many attempts, with the majority of his shots coming in the paint. His free throws however and the few mid range shots that he attempted displayed good arc and a soft touch, despite the slight hitch that is in his shot pausing at the top prior to the release. His range extends to about 20 feet and is not comfortable from the 3 point line just yet.
His ball-handling skills seemed a little shaky when he was pressured, picking up his dribble prematurely on several occasions and forcing a few passes in the half-court which led to turnovers. Additionally, his head was down most of the time when he went to the basket, almost making up his mind before the move instead of weighing all of his options. His athleticism is certainly improving as he continues to improve his body, he is a very quick leaper with great hops, which contributes to his adeptness in the lane.
Hairston is in-between being a 2 and 3 right now. He does a lot of things well but doesnt have one particularly great skill that would fill a need for an NBA team at the moment. Saying that however, he is a very good scorer (Almost 20 ppg), a solid athlete, plays with a good spirit and energy, and is a month and a half away from his 22nd birthday. As he continues to polish his all-around game, it would not be surprising to see him develop into a solid rotation player, which is exactly why San Antonio decided to call him up and make sure no one else does that first.
The worst part that he did all this with his general manager Daryl Morey (the man who traded for him on draft night, praised him effusively and gave him a 3-year contract) was sitting in the second rowobviously not happy with what he was seeing. Disappointed was all he was willing to say to us on the record. There really wasnt much more to be said, it was that bad. The big problem is that its exactly these type of issues that teams were worried about during the pre-draft processhis background, character and intangibles, and hes unfortunately not doing much to show that he deserved otherwise. Dorsey needs to realize that his place in the NBA is anything but secured at this point in his careerthere have been plenty of second round picks who didnt last more than half a season in the NBA and never got another shot again. If hes not careful, he could find himself meeting the same fate if he refuses to change his ways.
Other Performances from Day One
The top two players in the first game of the Showcase were Gary Forbes and Will Conroy, both players who are on a number of teams shortlists for call-ups.