NBA Scouting Reports, Southwestern Division (Part One)

NBA Scouting Reports, Southwestern Division (Part One)
May 15, 2008, 08:00 pm
Continuing our series of articles filling out our database with scouting reports of every single NBA player, we look at the first three teams in the Southwestern division, the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies. As a reminder, we are not currently profiling rookies or sophomores, but you should be able to find in-depth scouting reports on every player of note by clicking their profiles or using our search engine above.

Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit
Milwaukee and Indiana
Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami
Orlando and Washington

Dallas Mavericks

Malik Allen

Overview: A pure role playing power forward. Has a fairly strong frame, but doesn’t use it much on the offensive end. A below average athlete in every regard by NBA standards. Has made a career with his spot-up jump shot from inside the arc. Doesn’t stand out in any other area. Understands his role and rarely strays from his comfort zone.

Offense: The vast majority of his offense comes from spot-up jumpers in the 12-20 foot range. Conversion rate on mid-range jumper is among the best in the league, but because almost all of his offense comes from there, his overall scoring efficiency is below average. Is very good when wide open, but effectiveness falls off some when shooting off the dribble or when contested. Does a good job drifting to open space without the ball and makes good reads to get in his teammate’s vision on the pick-and-pop. Range extends to just inside the three-point line. Will rarely venture into the post, but has a solid turnaround jumper from 5-10 feet when he does. Doesn’t exhibit any other post moves. Will almost only put the ball on the floor off a shot fake, and doesn’t convert much when he does, relying mostly on a hybrid runner/floater that isn’t very effective. Doesn’t do much off ball cutting to the basket, and while strong, is not a very good finisher. Doesn’t get to the free throw line very much at all. Not a huge transition threat, but is good as a trailer to hit his spot-up jumper. Doesn’t make many turnovers because he usually just catches and shoots. Also doesn’t make many assists.

Defense: A solid post defender who uses his frame along with good fundamental defense. Plays tough and tries to contest shots. Can be shot over by bigger opponents at times. Foot speed is not very good on the perimeter, and is a threat to be taken off the dribble. Sometimes has trouble getting out to contest perimeter shots. Shows good awareness and plays solid team defense. Effort level is very good on defensive end in general. Not much of a shot blocking threat. Not a very good rebounder on either end of the floor.

Jose Juan Barea

Brandon Bass

Overview: Young power forward who has some intriguing physical assets, and is starting to come into his own. Not very tall at 6-8, but is extremely strong and athletic. Loves to get physical around the rim. Was an impact player from day one at LSU, but entered the draft too early and fell into the second round. Still loaded with potential. Began to blossom under fellow Louisiana native Avery Johnson. Plays very assertively for a player his age. Comes off the bench ready to score.

Offense: More of an opportunistic scorer at this point in his career. Makes the most of his touches, and is only going to get better offensively considering his experience level. Gets most of his offense from post ups and isolations. Uses his quickness to blow by his man when facing up. Has great explosiveness at the rim, and uses his strength to create space. Puts the ball on the floor well for a power forward, and gets to the free throw line at a solid rate, where he shoots a very good percentage. Has a fluid shooting stroke, but is still working to develop consistency. Can knock it down out to about sixteen feet. Good catch and shoot player statistically. Can shoot of the dribble, and likes to when driving left. Does a great job timing up his duck ins around the rim. Gets good position underneath. Grabs his fair share of offensive boards. Likes to turn over his left shoulder, but isn’t predictable due to the fakes and pivots that he uses to get his man off balance. Doesn’t have a go to move just yet. Spins well in the paint, and can find the open man if the defense rotates. Can be turnover prone in traffic. Not a great passer. Doesn’t always have the size to get his shot off.

Defense: Solid defender due to his strength and athleticism, but is severely undersized, and lives a little bit too much off his instincts at times. Can use his strength to front the post and his speed to cover players on the perimeter. Not easy to back down for most players. Great lateral quickness for his size. Shows some susceptibility to bigger players when he gets switched onto some certain centers. Halfway decent shot blocker due to his athleticism, but doesn’t have the length to get after everything around the rim. More of a one-on-one defender than a team defender, but has shown that he knows where to rotate when he has to. Not as foul prone as some players his age, but makes some mistakes. Good area rebounder, and will go after just out of his proximity at times as well. Not the smartest player in the world, but plays hard.

Erick Dampier

Overview: A veteran center who has underachieved relative to his mammoth contract in Dallas. Has prototypical size for a center, and has a strong body to match. Shows surprising mobility for a player of his size, but isn’t overly explosive. An excellent offensive rebounder. Is asked to be efficient, and do the little things in Dallas. Possesses a great deal of self-confidence and won’t shy away from a challenge underneath. Doesn’t always play hard now that he’s locked into a long-term contract, and his consistency wavers unpredictably.

Offense: Extremely efficient in Dallas’ system. Rarely gets plays called for him and has to get his opportunities from cuts and offensive boards. Uses his size and mobility to get very easy baskets around the rim. Sets very good screens and is always around the offensive boards. No longer demands the ball. Could very well lead the League in FG%, but probably won’t qualify. Doesn’t shoot jumpers anymore. Has become the prototypical offensive role player for a team with numerous weapons. Does a great job of finishing at the rim. Doesn’t have to square to the rim to be productive. Can absorb contact and get to the line. Shoots a mediocre percentage from the stripe. Makes good decisions with the ball and isn’t afraid to pull it out to get a better look. Becoming very unselfish.

Defense: Essentially a specialist who is asked to be as dynamic as possible when in the game. Gives his best effort sometimes to neutralize an opponent’s best back to the basket threat. Great length makes him a good shot blocker in close. Quick enough to keep up with most centers, but can be beaten off the dribble by more explosive posts. Does a good job grabbing loose balls when they come his way. Sheer size and excellent hands makes him a great rebounder. Tends to commit quite a few fouls at the rim, but that’s really part of his job description. Fits what Avery Johnson wants out of his centers, especially on the defensive end.

Devean George

Overview: A veteran wing who has Championship experience. Has above average physical attributes across the board. Pretty tall for a small forward. Has the distinction of being one of the only Division III players to make into the League in recent memory. Won three titles with Lakers as a complimentary forward in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Has seen his effectiveness drop dramatically over the past few years. In the league solely for his defense and experience at this point. Can take himself out of games offensively with early misses. Not efficient offensively. Gained some notoriety around the trade deadline by using an obscure clause to nix the Jason Kidd trade, which eventually went through without him.

Offense: A streak shooter who can make an impact if he knocks down his first attempt from the perimeter. Decent perimeter shooter when he gets hot, which rarely happens anymore. FG% consistently amongst the worst in the league. Actually much more efficient from three point range than from the inside. Gets nearly half of his touches as a spot up jump shooter. Gets another two tenths from floating out beyond the arc in transition and running off screens for open jumpers. Will find some open looks around the rim by grabbing offensive rebounds and being active. Hasn’t shown almost any in between game recently. Doesn’t like to drive left. Average ball handler at best. Doesn’t get to the free throw line. Mediocre all-around offensive player, but doesn’t turn the ball over.

Defense: Can guard face-up 4’s or bigger 3’s. No longer athletic enough to keep up with some of the players he is asked to guard. Lack of elite foot speed hurts him against more athletic players. Gets beat off the dribble and doesn’t have the lateral quickness to stay in front when closing out. Strength helps him against players with similar physical gifts. Knows his rotations well. Smart defender, and shows good anticipation and timing when reaching. Will come up with a steal every now and then. Usually just commits a foul when he gets beat, which is a testament to his veteran savvy. Solid rebounder.

Josh Howard

Overview: An emerging swingman who is going to be a borderline All-Star for the foreseeable future. Has good athleticism and extremely long arms. Didn’t get a lot of hype after leaving Wake Forest as the reigning ACC POY in 2003. Played in his first All-Star game in 2007. Plays as hard as anyone on the Dallas roster, and is not bashful in the least bit about hoisting up shots. Skill development over the last few seasons makes him a player to watch out for. Comments about offseason marijuana smoking came back to haunt him in the 2008 playoffs.

Offense: A versatile offense weapon who improved dramatically from his college days. Gets a quarter of his touches from spot up opportunities, with another half coming from a rather equal distribution of isolations, fast breaks, and pick and rolls. Has all the tool of a very good offensive player. Shoots the ball well from mid-range. Great from the line. Not a great 3-point shooter--still working on his range. Takes a lot of shots for his position, but isn’t inefficient. Displays very good footwork. Can create space and pull up from anywhere inside the arc. Great body control from the midrange. Good ball handler. Able to drive equally well with both hands and take what the defense gives him. Likes to simply get in the lane and then slow down until he finds a chance to pull. Pretty athletic finisher. Good with both hands when laying it up. Not a great passer, but doesn’t turn the ball over very much at all for how much he handles it. Goes to the line at a good clip. Pretty good offensive rebounder for his position.

Defense: Draws the toughest perimeter matchup on the floor and brings a very solid effort to the defensive end. Defends taller small forwards better than he defends shorter and more explosive shooting guards. Has good lateral quickness, but gets stuck covering some elite athletes that he can’t always keep out of the lane. Shows good footwork defending the perimeter, and considering his offensive abilities, it is hard to say anything negative about his defense. Very active player who doesn’t take possessions off. Capable of darting into passing lanes for steals and surprising people with his length for blocks. Is more of a position defender than a risk taker. Great rebounder for his position.

Juwan Howard

Overview: An aging power forward who is just about reaching the end of his career. Strong and surprisingly fluid for a power forward, but nowhere near as explosive as he once was. A member of Michigan’s Fab Five. Was an All-Star for one season during his career. Has bounced around the League since. Plays with intensity, and is still a competitor. Experienced.

Offense: Will always be known for his ridiculously high release. Shoots the ball with almost full extension in both arms. Just flicks his wrist, but it is hard argue with the results. Gets half of his shots off of cuts and spot ups with fifth coming in transition. Nowhere near the offensive factor he once was. Still runs the floor pretty well. Good finisher. Capable with both hands. Won’t take a lot of covered shots from the paint. Won’t put the ball on the floor. Lets his teammates create offense for him. Average offensive rebounder. Plays very smart. Solid passer. Won’t assert himself anymore. Classic role player in that sense. Has shown a willingness to do what is asked of him and nothing more. Lacks great athleticism.

Defense: Staunch defender despite the athleticism he lost as his career went on. Very strong on the block. Good at denying entry passes when he wants to. Has a hard time matching up with much taller players. Doesn’t have the quickness to defend players off the dribble, so he gives them space when they face up. Better shooting big men tend to take advantage of that. Knows when to go for the strip and when to reach. Great at boxing out, but won’t rebound out of his area. Commits veteran fouls and knows when he’s beat. Capable defender when matched up against backup power forwards, but his shelf life is expiring quickly.

Eddie Jones

Overview: A veteran shooting guard who is a role player at this point in his career. Has clearly lost a step athletically, and has become mostly a spot-up shooter. Played in two All-Star games during his illustrious career. Was once one of the best defensive swingmen in the League. Can still be effective due to his smarts and effort level. Doesn’t get phased by anything on the floor. Is a leader off the floor, and leads by example on it. High character player with a great work ethic, but has always been criticized for his inability to step up his game in the clutch.

Offense: A team oriented offensive player who won’t go into attack mode unless he’s given space. Once known as one of the league’s best shooters, but has lost some touch as his legs have worn down. Most of his shots are 3-pointers anyway. Still runs the floor well. Shows a decent jumper, but doesn’t try to take tough shots. Moves off the ball to get open looks. Lets the defense collapse and gives his teammates and outlet when they drive. Good finisher when he gets the ball going towards the rim. Doesn’t do much off the dribble anymore, but can use it to get out of trouble. Almost never gets to the free throw line at this point. Doesn’t turn the ball over very often. Tends to want to get back on defense rather than crash the glass. A former offensive star who has transitioned into a role player. Has always been a great passer. Assist to turnover ratio has always been excellent.

Defense: Tremendously sound defensive shooting guard that doesn’t have the athleticism to be the elite lock down guy that he used to be. Good enough foot quickness to still be very effective against some backups. Solid on ball defender. Stays very low and forces his man to give the ball up. Keeps his hands active. Will come up with some steals and we’ll even get a hand on a shot from time to time. Won’t ever over rotate in help side. Decent rebounder, but tends to spend so much time contesting outside shots that he doesn’t have much of a chance to grab rebounds inside. Will be effective until there is no gas left in the tank due to his fundamentals and basketball IQ.

Jason Kidd

Overview:One of the best point guards in NBA history, a sure-fire hall of famer. 9-time All-Star. Named rookie of the year in 1995. 6-time first or second All-NBA team. 9-time all-defensive team. Has phenomenal size for the point guard position, to go along with an incredible basketball IQ. A triple-double waiting to happen. Drafted 2nd overall by Dallas in 1994, returned there 14 years later, likely to close out his career.

Offense: A floor general in every sense. Pass-first point guard who does an outstanding job of controlling the tempo of the game. Plays the game at his own pace, and makes everyone around him better. Vision, creativity are extraordinary. Excellent decision maker with tremendous poise and intelligence. Terrific in transition, and a master of the pick and roll. Sees over the top of defense and possesses incredible passing ability. A very good ball-handler with either hand, excellent at incorporating hesitation moves to keep defenders off-balance. Does not get to the free throw line at a high rate at this point in his career, and is a fairly poor finisher around the rim. Has clearly lost some of his explosiveness in recent years. Has never been known as an incredible scorer, much more comfortable as a passer. Has shot around 40% from the field for much of his career. A decent 3-point shooter, particularly with his feet set. Struggles knocking down shots off the dribble. Doesn’t get much elevation on his jumper. Doesn’t take all that many shots considering how many minutes he plays.

Defense: Considered one of the top defenders in the NBA for much of the past decade. Lateral quickness not what it used to be, but his combination of size, strength, timing, fundamentals and smarts still make him formidable in that regard. Defends multiple positions, 2’s and sometimes even 3’s, and is often more effective there at this point his career. Struggles staying in front of quicker, slashing guards. Has great hands and is excellent at getting in the passing lanes. One of the top rebounding point guards in NBA history.

Tyronn Lue

Overview: A small, but quick point guard who has a solid offensive repertoire. Very short by NBA standards. Makes an impact by doing some of the things that you would expect from a shooting guard. Has tremendous quickness, but doesn’t have good vertical explosiveness, which makes his lack of height even more pronounced. Had a very impressive final two seasons at Nebraska. Has bounced around the League, but is the type of player that can be an offensive weapon in almost any setting. Won an NBA Championship with the Lakers in 2001. Lacks the physical skills to take over a game. Can be counted on for consistent contributions off the bench, and always posts a solid assist to turnover ratio.

Offense: Doesn’t have ideal measurable traits, but has an advanced offensive game that isn’t limited by his size. Gets most of his points as a jump shooter off of pick and roll and spot up opportunities, both of which let him utilize his most effective weapon: his mid-range jump shot. Forces his defender to respect his speed and give him a cushion with his first step. Often utilizes his quickness as an opportunity to create space for his jumper off the dribble. Lack of size makes it hard for him to finish at the rim when defenders collapse around him. Looks to find some kind of peripheral contact when driving in an attempt to get to the line where he shoots an extremely high percentage. Does a solid job of getting by his man, but shoots from the outside nearly three times more than he shoots around the rim. Has NBA three-point range. Isn’t as efficient from the outside as he is from the midrange. Displays the decision-making that is expected from a seasoned veteran. Doesn’t do a spectacular job of getting his teammates involved. Makes smart passes within the flow of his team’s half-court offense.

Defense: Lack of size hurts his ability to contest the shots of taller players. Quickness allows him to relentlessly hawk the ball. Doesn’t have a great wingspan, which makes it hard for him to get into passing lanes. Doesn’t create turnovers on the whole. Below average size makes it hard for him to defend anything other than point guards. Can’t contest shots when recovering. Keeps everything in front of him, which is a good strategy for a player of his speed. Isn’t an impact defensive player, but doesn’t give up anything easy.

Jamaal Magloire

Former all-star and NBA player of the month who is virtually out of the NBA before hitting the age of 30. Has great size, long arms, a huge frame and terrific strength, but has seen his game disintegrate in recent years. Speed of the new NBA game may have passed him by. Has almost no athleticism to speak of. Living solely off his reputation and rebounding ability--bounced around from team to team in recent years and may not be anything more than a 3rd string center at this point.

Offense: Almost strictly an inside player, who relies heavily on his huge frame to establish position in the paint and back players down. Doesn’t have any real moves to speak of. Can’t create a shot for himself, but stubbornly tries regardless. Struggles to use his left hand around the hoop. Hands are suspect trying to make tough catches. A black hole inside—sports an extremely poor assist to turnover ratio. Jump-shot doesn’t look half bad, but he rarely uses it. Gets to the free throw line at a decent rate on a per minute basis, but his percentages have dropped off dramatically from year to year—a telling sign. Plodders up and down the court, and lacks any real lift around the basket. A solid offensive rebounder in his area.

Defense: Too big and strong to back down around the basket. Solid in man to man against fellow plodding centers, but struggles going up against players with any real mobility to their game. Lacks the lateral quickness to step out onto the perimeter and recover, making him a liability on the pick and roll. Jump-shooters have a field day against him. Was once a shot-blocking threat, but doesn’t have the lift to contest anything around the basket at this point. Has been a solid rebounder throughout his career, and remains one.

Dirk Nowitzki

Overview: The most successful International player in NBA history. Has ridiculous size for his skill set, and solid athleticism to match. The native German is as versatile a player as there is in the game today. Has played in six All-Star games. Won the NBA MVP in 2007. Has improved in little ways throughout the latter part of his career. Doesn’t always play with the same intensity, and lacks of a bit of a killer instinct, but his focus has improved during each of his seasons in the League.

Offense: Gets about a quarter of his offensive possessions as a spot up shooter, with another fifth coming from post ups. Another quarter comes from pick and rolls and isolations. Gets most of his shots as a jump shooter. Has a great stroke that is impossible for most players to block due to his size and high release point. Can knock down the three at a good clip (although his percentages are down this season) and hit fade-aways from almost any distance. Great ball handler for his size. Can bring the ball up the floor from time to time. Capable of driving off the dribble with either hand. Can take the ball all the way to the rim or dominate the midrange game. Good in the post as well. Uses a nice array of fakes to get open look underneath. Likes to turn over his right shoulder and then fade away. Can finish consistently with both hands at the rim. Draws contact well. Gets to the line at a phenomenal clip, and shoots a great percentage once there. A poor offensive rebounder for his size. Tremendous passer for his height. Can really do it all offensively. Real team player. Hard to defend as an individual. It usual takes a team effort to shut him down. Seems to get somewhat passive at the end of games.

Defense: Average defensively, but Avery Johnson has pushed him to be slightly better. Has a tough time matching up with stronger players who can score with their back to the basket. Capable of stepping out and guarding players the face up. Can step out into passing lanes when he anticipates a pass. Doesn’t take as many risks as he used to. Tries to go straight up when covering post shots, but will commit a foul from time to time. Will block shots solely based on his size. Length helps his aggressiveness rebounding the ball, where he is very solid on the defensive end. Hips are somewhat stiff, which makes it difficult to move tremendously well laterally. Mostly focused on the offensive end.

Jerry Stackhouse

Overview: A veteran shooting guard who is still a tremendous scorer on a per-minute basis. Has had a long and productive NBA career. Averaged 30 points per game in 2001/2002. Has maintained enough of his athleticism to be a very dangerous offensive player. Doesn’t possess the same explosiveness, but is still quick, strong, and can get up on occasion. Was one of the best players in college basketball as a sophomore at North Carolina in 1995. Two time All-Star. Much more team oriented now than he was early in his career. Has a sizeable contract, but isn’t an average NBA veteran.

Offense: A role player who excels as a slasher. Has a good looking stroke, but isn’t much of a 3-point shooter—even if he’s relying more and more on this part of his game as his career progresses. Good ball handler with an aggressive scoring mentality. Very good midrange game. Likes to pull up off the dribble when driving left. Relatively effective whenever he takes the ball off the dribble. Runs the floor very hard. Isn’t the explosive finisher he used to be, but can still get up occasionally. Used to get to the free throw line at a very good rate, where he now shoots an excellent percentage. Shows some decent post moves. Tough to defend due to his versatility. Still has a scorers mentality, although he’s never been terribly efficient. You always know what to expect from him. A very good passer as well.

Defense: A solid defender who turns his effort level up when it matters. Gets in a low stance, but tends to like to use his hands at times. Has the strength and quickness to keep most small forwards out of the lane, but has problems with smaller shooting guards from time to time. Doesn’t take risks like he used to, but still comes up with steals by staying in position. Boxes out well, but doesn’t get after rebounds very often. Solid defender across the board, but not dynamic.

Jason Terry

Overview: Exceptionally talented offensive player who can play multiple positions. Has very good athleticism and size for a point guard, and is even able to slide over and play some shooting guard. Is still on the skinny side, but it hasn’t hindered him from becoming a very effective combo guard. A great talent on the perimeter. Has a natural feel for the game. The all-time leader in steals for the Arizona Wildcats. Won an NCAA Championship with Arizona in 1997. Probably won’t get a whole lot better than he is right now skill wise, but could put up big numbers on a less talented team.

Offense: Very aggressive guard who can really light it up when given the green light. Has a sweet stroke, and can knock down shots from anywhere. Always looks smooth when shooting. Doesn’t take long to set his feet and pull the trigger. Lights out when left open. Pretty good with a hand in his face as well. Good ball handler. Likes to pull up for jumpers when attacking right. Takes the ball to the rim when driving left. Prefers going right. Displays a very good crossover when the defense recovers. Doesn’t go to the line very often. Seldom turns the ball over, but has seen his ball-handling role decrease year by year. Solid passer. Doesn’t do anything fancy, but sets up his teammates well within the offense. Very efficient scoring guard. Not afraid to take responsibilities.

Defense: A very talented defensive guard. Has the size, length, and lateral quickness combination necessary to guard both point guards and shooting guards effectively. This allows him to stay on the floor with most anyone next to him. Very good at moving his feet to deny penetration. Will jump into passing lanes and take bad passes the other way for easy transition baskets. Sneaks down into the paint to grab rebounds so he can push the break from time to time. Can get beaten by players who are considerably bigger and strong on the perimeter. Gives a good effort for a player that is so offensive minded.

Antoine Wright

A good but not great athlete at the wing, with nice size and length at 6’7. Is very smooth with nice shiftiness and good quickness. Has really struggled since making it to the NBA. Has not lived up to expectations, mostly because he’s shot terribly in his first three seasons (42% from the field, 62% from the line, 28% from three). Has struggled to consistently contribute on the offensive end. Has played solid minutes in his three seasons. Fourth year option on rookie contract was not picked up.

Offense: Wright gets over half of his shots as a jump shooter, despite being well below average by NBA standards as a shooter. His form is not bad, and he’s actually a decent shooter when unguarded, but things get messy when he’s shooting on the move or with a hand in his face, in the form of a lot of bad misses. He doesn’t always hold his follow through or keep his legs underneath him. As a slasher, Wright’s ball-handling is sub-par, not being very low to the ground and not being very tight. With his athletic abilities, he is able to penetrate to the basket at times, where he shows nice body control and creativity with the ball, using his body to protect the ball and finish with reverses around the basket. He’s not always under control, though, and his basket awareness isn’t always good. He does a good job getting out in transition, but he rushes shots at times, and despite good tools, isn’t the best finisher there either.

Defense: Has good physical tools on the defensive end in terms of size and quickness. Plays aggressive on and off the ball. Does a good job running out to contest shots. On-ball defense is very good at times. Is prone to overplaying the ball, though, biting for fakes and getting his feet out of position, leading to blow-bys. Doesn’t always move feet well. Reflexes seem questionable at times. Does a good job using his length when forced into the post.

Houston Rockets

Rafer Alston

Overview: A playground legend who is a solid fit for Rick Adelman’s offense when his shot is falling. Handles the ball as well as any person on the planet. Possesses average size for a pure point guard. Has great quickness, but is more fluid than explosive. Didn’t have the easiest time getting to where he is now. Spent time at two different Community Colleges before spending his senior season at Fresno State. Managed to get drafted, but still had to pay his dues in the CBA and NBADL before finding a niche in the League. Used his time in the minors to get used to playing in a structured offense. Ironed out many of his playground skills and developed a solid jump shot as well. Has always been a tremendous distributor. An important part of Houston’s system—fought off heavy competition to again average a great deal of playing time.

Offense: A talented offensive player who isn’t a very efficient scorer, but is great at setting the table. Get one third of his offense from spot ups with another third coming from pick and rolls. Very apt at dribbling off screens to create a passing angles to the roll man. Extremely creative passer and ball handler. Always find a way to deliver the ball. Will turn the ball over due to his style of play. Hard to stop in transition. Makes defenders commit before giving up the ball. A solid, but unspectacular scorer. Has a repertoire of floaters, but has a tough time producing consistently from the outside. Puts great touch on his lay ups and midrange shots. Can beat his man off the dribble due to his handle, but doesn’t do it enough. Likes to drive left and look to score at the rim. Not much of a free throw shooter or offensive rebounder. Can make a killing as a jump shooter in Houston’s offense when he’s hitting shots—the problem is he takes too many outside shots.

Defense: A very good defensive player who has the quickness to hang with most point guards. Puts in a great effort. Maintains a low stance. Has a hard time defending taller players who can shoot over him. Quick hands. Will pick his man’s pocket from time to time. Good defensive rebounder for his position. Likes to box out, read the situation, and then get into position to receive the outlet pass.

Shane Battier

Overview: The ultimate role player who is capable of doing a little bit of everything. Plays the 3 and the 4 effectively. Has good size and strength, but lacks ideal quickness and explosiveness. Arguably the most fundamentally sound player in the League. Can score in a variety of ways, but functions primarily as a jump shooter. Isn’t a one-on-one player and tries to score by playing his role in an offense rather than asserting himself unnecessarily. Might be the best defensive forward in the NBA. Does the little things. Extremely high basketball IQ. A coach’s dream. Has been a winner since his youth, garnering the Naismith award as a senior at Detroit Country Day high school and the Wooden Award as a senior at Duke. Possesses great leadership skills. Comes through when it counts. Becomes an extremely valuable asset to the Rockets when he is knocking down his perimeter shots. Plays a ton of minutes.

Offense: Extremely sound and efficiency offensive player. Gets more than half of his offense as a spot up shooter. Very good in that role. Will hit shots from three point range with very good consistency—most of his shots come from behind the arc. Never takes a shot without his feet set. Very selective. Very predictable off the dribble. Tends to go to the rim when he drives right and pull up when he drives left. Won’t assert himself off the dribble very often. Great finisher at the rim despite his lack of athleticism. Knows how to use fakes and protect the ball with his body to finisher with contact. Could should a better percentage from the foul line, although he rarely gets there. Passable ball handler. Good offensive rebounder. Great passer. Not turnover prone. The ideal system role player. Scores all his points in the flow of the offense. Doesn’t do anything outside of himself.

Defense: Probably the most fundamentally sound defender in the game. Won’t reach unless he knows he’ll get enough of the ball to keep the play in front of him. Not afraid to get on the floor to grab loose balls. Gets in a good stance and moves his feet. Will block shots just by maintaining good position. Always gets his hands up on shooters. Understands the nuances of contesting shots. Great help side defender. Always knows his rotations and will slide over to protect the basket when his teammates get beat off the dribble. Loves to try and take charges. Calls don’t always go his way. Will commit smart fouls at the rim when he knows a player isn’t good from the line. Great defensive intangibles. Amazing awareness.

Aaron Brooks

Steve Francis

Overview: A veteran combo guard who is light years away at this point from being a “franchise” player. Was once an imposing athlete, but a series of injuries have relegated him to minor roles on the teams he’s played for recently. Pretty tall and very strong for a point guard. Used to have an extremely quick first step and first-class leaping ability. Had the ability to score at will off the dribble. Seems to have lost much of his explosiveness. Has never played a full season, but has missed more games than usual in recent years. Possesses the versatility to still be a nice role player as he uses the season to get back into shape. Has proven capable of putting up great numbers. Had a nice college career despite spending time at two community colleges and a single season at Maryland. Won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2000. Three time All-Star. May not have the mindset to function as merely a role player. Needs to show that he can play within a team concept and defer to teammates in order to receive a chance to return to form.

Offense: A once dynamic offensive player who has seen his role limited in recent seasons. Gets a quarter of his offense from pick and rolls with another quarter coming from spot up situations. Sees another third of his touches on fast breaks and in one-on-one isolations. Good ball handler and passer, but is incredibly turnover prone. Doesn’t always make the best decisions with the ball. Was never a great shooter, but isn’t as good now as he used to be, partially due to knee and quad injuries. Isn’t much of a factor from three point range. Will knock down midrange shots with solid consistency though. Much more effective off the dribble. Can create separation without a lot of trouble. Doesn’t finish as well as he used to, but can still get to the rim for easy baskets. Used to get to the free throw line at a great rate. Used to be more efficient across the board. It will be interesting to see how he plays once he rebounds from his recent injury problems.

Defense: Very capable and very aggressive defender in spurts. Has the athleticism to really be a nuisance, but injuries have decreased his ability to deny penetration to an extent. Can defend the shooting guard spot defending on the match up. Doesn’t make a lot of plays off the ball. Won’t always stay in good position when his man makes a move. Will create turnovers with his quick hands and ability to jump into passing lanes. Very good shot blocker for a point guard due to his leaping ability. Rebounds well for the same reason. Shows good intensity when it counts, but doesn’t always play up to his potential.

Michael Harris

Chuck Hayes

Overview: An undersized power forward who knows how to throw his weight around and make an impact despite his size. Has a 6-10 wingspan, but is severely undersized at 6-7. Possesses more than adequate strength and displays great toughness and durability. Uses leverage extremely well to fight for position in the paint. Shows an unorthodox jumper, and thankfully doesn’t use it often. Has one of the league’s most awkward looking strokes from the free throw line, complete with an awful hitch, and sub-50% averages to boot. Primarily a hustle guy offensively and defensively. Gets by on his basketball IQ and rebounding ability. Could put some points on the board with his back to the basket during his career at Kentucky. Plays an efficient offensive game and defensive game. Won’t go off on any given night, but doesn’t take plays off either. Doesn’t make mistakes, and is a solid passer. Understands his role. Brings some nice things to the table for the Rockets considering his contract. Offensive role decreased considerably in 07/08.

Offense: Doesn’t take many shots. Gets more than half of his offense by being active off the ball for cuts to the basket. Gets another fifth from offensive rebounds. Really doesn’t get any touches in the normal flow of the offense. Doesn’t take almost any jumpers. Has an awkward looking stroke that he shoots on a line drive on the way down. Pretty poor from the line. Not much of a ball handler either. Will only dribble if he has a wide open lane to the rim. Great at getting position for offensive rebounds. Always moving. Doesn’t turn the ball over often. Sets great screens with a very wide base. Purely a complimentary offensive player. Isn’t asked to do anything else.

Defense: A great hustle defender who manages to be effective despite his size. Has a very hard time covering taller players in the post. Will give everything he’s got to deny entry passes, and is terrific at coming up with steals. Uses leverage and great overall strength to push his man off the block. Goes straight up when his man goes to make a move. Will commit some fouls when rotating over in help side and when he’s beat. Won’t block many shots from the weakside. Gets most of his rejections by keeping his hands up and maintaining good position. Stays on his feet when his man tries to fake him into the air. Great at boxing out. Has excellent timing and smarts. Won’t get outrebounded despite his size. Provides great energy, but isn’t able to push his man around for the duration of a game.

Luther Head

Overview: An undersized shooting guard who needs to improve his consistency and efficiency to take his game to the next level. Displays good quickness and speed. Doesn’t have great strength for a guard, which makes him a liability defensively against taller opponents. Could really stand to develop his point guard skills, but Houston already has plenty of players at that position. Has put up solid scoring numbers, but has seen his minutes decrease in 07/08. Didn’t have to play point guard at Illinois with Dee Brown and Deron Williams handling all of the minutes there.

Offense: A solid shooter who gets about half of his attempts from behind the arc. Perimeter jumper has been his staple since college. Hasn’t had much of a problem expanding his range to the NBA 3-point line. Great catch and shoot player. Average ball handler. Likes to take the ball to the rim since he doesn’t have the explosiveness to get separation in the midrange. Not great at running the pick and roll. Can turn the corner, but is usually forced to give up the ball. Not a great distributor. Won’t make bad passes or turn the ball open often, nor will he set up teammates. Doesn’t go to the line at a high rate, but shoots a very good percentage from the stripe. Won’t crash the offensive glass. Needs to work on his point guard skills. Has found himself as a shooter, but would be a better fit if he could see some minutes at the point.

Defense: A solid defender who shows a good work ethic to compliment his above average athleticism. Has a tough time when asked to guard taller perimeter players, which makes it difficult for him to play the 2-guard spot at times. Can’t contest their shots due to his lack of ideal size. Capable of defending the point guard spot better. Good lateral quickness, but isn’t always be able to stay in front of smaller guards. Shows consistent effort. Won’t take a lot of risks, and for that reason he won’t make many mistakes. A nice option who brings energy, but doesn’t have the physical traits to be a dynamic defender.

Bobby Jackson

Overview: One of the league’s original combo guards. A bit of a trail blazer in that sense. A 6-1 shooting guard in a point guard’s body, but extremely effective over the course of his career nonetheless. Brings fantastic scoring instincts off the bench, and can change the complexion of a game with his pull-up jumper. Not bashful at all about making his presence felt, takes a lot of shots, and is not the most efficient player around. Made a name for himself on a great Sacramento Kings team under Rick Adelman. High character guy who has been somewhat injury prone year in and year out. Still extremely effective at age 35, but not might have all that much left in the tank when his contract expires in 2009.

Offense: Takes a lot of 3-pointers, and is a very good shooter. A master at hitting tough shots off the dribble. Better shot selection would have even made him a great shooter. Doesn’t get to the free throw line as much as he used to. Doesn’t turn the ball over that much either—has become more prudent picking his spots later on in his career. Isn’t quite as cat-quick as he used to be, but is very crafty and still plays the game with a tremendous swagger. Excellent ball-handler, goes left or right equally well. First step is average at this point, doesn’t get to the basket at a high rate. Likes to finish with a pretty floater around the rim when he does. Mostly looks to create for himself, but has the court vision to create for others as well. Has a tendency to over-dribble at times.

Defense: Competes defensively, but his physical tools limit him to a certain extent. Still very crafty about contesting shots. Fundamental, intense and really understands angles. Not afraid to stick nose in to take a charge. Will get in the passing lanes at times and come up with a steal. Also a solid rebounder for his position. Needs to guard point guards, but isn’t always able to do so because of his offensive tendencies. Severely undersized at the SG position, which makes it very easy for players to shoot over him.

Carl Landry

Tracy McGrady

Overview: An extremely gifted All-Star small forward who has had a hard time finding playoff success despite his surreal offensive skills. Has prototypical size for the small forward position. Filled out his once skinny frame pretty quickly. Jumps out of the gym. Possesses a great first step, a nasty crossover, and tremendous lift on his jump shot. Injuries have limited his once excellent athleticism, though. Developed his perimeter game early in his career. Won the Most Improved Player Award in 2001. Can get really hot from outside. Stuffs the stat sheet. Showed the potential be a dynamic player at Mount Zion Christian Academy HS, but needed some time to become the player he is. Forms a nice combo with Yao Ming, but misses a lot of games due to injuries. Durability is the only negative about him at this point. Seven time All-Star. Still waiting to make a deep playoff run. Cousin of fellow NBA star Vince Carter. Health will be something to monitor over the next few years. His star has dimmed a bit as of late.

Offense: Simply dominant when healthy, but not particularly efficient. The type of player that can put up big numbers even when his man is playing outstanding defense. Gets a third of his offense from pick and roll situations where he can simply dribble off and pull up, with another quarter coming from isolations. Impressive jump shot, but his shot-selection hurts his percentages. Gets incredible elevation and can shoot off balance with little trouble, particularly from mid-range range. Not very effective from beyond the arc, but still attempts quite a few shots from there. Operates as a bit of a point forward for Houston. Great one-on-one skills. Excellent hesitation moves and use of ball fakes. Plays the game at many different speeds. Effective crossover. Hard to stop off the dribble. Outstanding ball-handler at his size. Prefers to go left and go to the rim where he can finish explosively with either hand. Can get by his man when he faces up in the post. Great catch and shoot player. Doesn’t get a lot of transition opportunities. Gets to the line at a good rate, but needs to improve his consistency. Has gotten worse there every single year of his career, which is a pretty amazing feat. Great passer. Does a great job creating shots for others. Has become more unselfish later on in his career. Will turn the ball over periodically.

Defense: A superstar who brings intensity to the defensive end only when he needs to. Makes a decent effort on the boards, but could pull down many more rebounds if he wanted to. Doesn’t have to cover an opposing teams best player which masks his inconsistent efforts. Will take bad passes coast to coast occasionally. Will box out when his man is around the basket. Has a tough time guarding bigger forwards. Not an ideal post defender. Will cut his man off when he wants to. Won’t attempt to challenge too many shots, despite possessing impressive length. His stance is indicative of his effort level. Becomes a good defender when it counts.

Dikembe Mutombo

Overview: An aging center who will probably always be good for a few blocked shots each game. Still a useful player, even at age 42. Very efficient, and an excellent rebounder. Born in the Republic of Congo. Extremely tall and relatively skinny. Owner of a huge wingspan. Doesn’t run the floor or get off the ground as well as he once did. Can’t score as well as he used to because of lost athleticism. Functions as a defensive specialist at this point. Has been a great shot blocker since his first season playing at Georgetown. Sits second all-time on the career blocks list. Used to change shots with regularity. Four time Defensive Player of the Year Award winner. Six time NBA All-Defensive team selection. Eight time All-Star. Can still block shots when given playing time. Has done a lot of good things off the court, especially in his home country. An inspiration to all African players.

Offense: Had his best scoring season as a rookie. Was never quite coordinated enough to be dominant on that end. Gets almost all of his offense off of offensive rebounds and cuts. Doesn’t have plays called for him in Houston. Displays essentially no jumper anymore. Can finish at the rim at a decent rate. Will dunk when he can. Can’t put the ball on the floor. Isn’t a very good passer. Has become less turnover prone as time has gone on. Used to be effective when playing next to good point guards. Mookie Blaylock helped him immensely. Was never known for his offense despite the fact that he put up pretty solid numbers early in his career. Highly efficient these days regardless.

Defense: One of the best defensive players of all time. Doesn’t have the same athleticism these days that made him a force. Will still block shots solely based on his wingspan. Grabs rebounds at a high rate for the same reason. Still foul prone, but it comes with the territory. Doesn’t play enough minutes to be an impact guy. Provides a nice option off the bench as a back up in terms of defense. Can be pushed around by more compact post players. Always brings energy, but doesn’t have the athleticism to turn that into production like he used to.

Steve Novak

Luis Scola

Loren Woods

Yao Ming

Overview: A once in a generation center who has the game to match his unique physical assets. One of the biggest players in the League, but has a relatively short wingspan. Developed his frame to the point that he doesn’t get pushed around as much as he used to. Has good footwork and overall mobility for his size in the half-court, but doesn’t run the floor terribly well. Not in the best shape, and probably shouldn’t play many more minutes than he already does in the regular season. Surprisingly coordinated for a player of his size. Has a great offensive repertoire. Incredibly smart, and a fantastic teammate. Superbly versatile—does many different things on the floor. The greatest Chinese basketball player ever. Five time All-Star. Has been indispensible in popularizing NBA basketball in Asia. Personality and background has made him a marketing juggernaut. An incredible asset to the NBA. Injuries have been a major problem for him and his team, and are a huge concern moving forward.

Offense: Gets over two third of his offensive possessions in the post. Requires a double team due to his size and skill. Great post repertoire. Displays great touch with both hands. Displays an almost unstoppable hook shot and turnaround jumper. No player his size shoots from the inside with comparable finesse. Prefers to set up on the left block, but is actually more efficient from the right. Tends to turn over his left shoulder, right into his hook. Decent passer. Really needs to cut down on his turnovers. Doesn’t always see the defense coming. Draws a lot of contact. Goes to the line at a high rate. Shoots a tremendous percentage from the line. Capable midrange shooter. Has become the assertive force that many expected him to be. Great passer with a superb feel for the game. A good offensive rebounder.

Defense: A good defender due to his ability to change shots. Does a solid job protecting the rim. Commits a lot of fouls due to his lack of overall quickness. Isn’t able to step out and cover the pick and roll like more athletic centers. Can be a liability against teams that get out in transition frequently. Great in half court settings. Good rebounder and outlet passer. Has become more aggressive on the defensive end since entering the League. Not the best defensive player skill wise, but his size makes him formidable.

Memphis Grizzlies

Andre Brown

Kwame Brown

Overview: Brown’s career has been a well-documented disappointment to date, making him the poster boy for the argument in favor of the NBA draft age limit. His steady development over his first three years was overshadowed by the pressure he was under to perform as Michael Jordan’s hand-picked franchise future, first overall in the draft. Brown has a decent skill-set and great physical size and athleticism. He lacks the hand size necessary to play effectively with his back to the basket and hasn’t really developed his face-up game. Overall, it seems Brown’s development has been hindered by expectations and the mental strain of trying to live up to them. He is still young enough to carve himself out a solid career as a Dale Davis type if he puts the work in and stops feeling sorry for himself.

Offense: Brown spends most of his time in the post or on basket cuts. He is not a good finisher near the basket however, often losing control of the ball on the release when encountering contact. Brown’s overall shooting percentage from the field is respectable, but when you factor in how close to the basket most of his attempts are, it is clear he needs to work on this aspect of his game. Brown looks like he could develop a decent set shot out to 15-17 feet, but has never shown any consistent dedication to developing it-like most aspects of his game. He does get to the free throw line at a solid rate, but shoots an incredibly poor percentage there. His FT% steadily and shockingly dropped from 71% as a rookie to 41% in 07-08. He’s not a bad passer, but he turns the ball over far too much to earn too many points here.

Defense: This aspect of Brown’s game has slipped a bit since he returned from injury and got traded to the Grizzlies. When he was a part of the Lakers big man rotation, Brown showed some promise on the defensive end. Brown has a great combination of size and speed and at his best he can be a tough man defender. Brown isn’t much of a shot-blocker, but he’ll body up and challenge shots effectively when motivated. His team defense is hit-or-miss depending on the evening. He has the ability to help and recover, but doesn’t always bring the energy and focus he needs to make all his rotations. He’s also a decent rebounder, although not quite as good as you might hope considering his tools.

Brian Cardinal

Overview: Cardinal’s game has suffered since his big free agent contract. A series of knee injuries has limited Cardinal to less than half a season of play for 3 consecutive seasons, making his contract amongst one of the league’s worst compared to his production over that time. Cardinal was known as a multi-positional two-way hustle player during his time with Golden State. His perimeter shooting is probably his strongest asset on offense. Defensively, he is aggravating as a situational matchup against both forward positions. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in effort and intelligence, although at this point in his career that’s not really enough to get him any real minutes, even on the dismal Grizzlies. The worst part is that his albatross contract doesn’t end until 2010.

Offense: Cardinal is used almost exclusively as a spot-up shooter, although he had his worst season ever in this area, which killed any chance he had of playing. His career marks from beyond 3-point range are solid, but fell to just 31% in 07-08. He’s an intelligent player in pick-and-roll, cuts, offensive rebounds, and transition situations. Overall, Cardinal functions well as a complimentary offensive role player and is capable of some surprising scoring bursts when he’s healthy and getting good playing time, which hasn’t been the case for about three years now. He won’t do much in the post or in ISO situations, but off-ball he makes things happen. He shot a dismal 34% from the field in 07-08, and attempted well over 50% of his shots from behind the arc. He will have to revert back to being the fantastic shooter he once was if he’s ever to return to Memphis’ rotation.

Defense: Cardinal puts a lot of effort into his defense, but doesn’t always get great results at this point in his career, being too small to guard most power forwards, and too slow to guard any small forwards. He has trouble against dribble penetration and on the post when matched up with prime time scoring options and left in single coverage, but is a capable help defender. Man defense is solid when matched up with opponents who have holes in their game. Despite his lack of lateral quickness, he’ll press up on shooters and force them toward help or give space and funnel drivers toward interior defense. On the block, Cardinal is physical and liberal with his fouls when given the opportunity to play. He knows his role and tries to maximize his time on the floor, although his extremely poor rebounding numbers are a pretty tough pill to swallow considering how little he brings to the table elsewhere.

Jason Collins

Overview: Collins has established himself in the league on the strength of his positional defense and overall understanding of team defensive schemes. Collins has never been much of a threat on the offensive end (to say the least), but moves well through the sets. Collins best utility is his size and ability to provide 6 fouls and consistent interior defense against opposing centers. He would probably have a better chance to play if he were at least an average rebounder, which he’s not.

Offense: Collins has a very marginal offensive repertoire, working best in pick-and-roll situations, offensive rebounds, and cuts to the basket. Collins has never developed any sort of face-up game to speak of, as you can probably guess by his mediocre percentages from the free throw line. He’s an unreliable spot-up shooter, fairly turnover prone relative to his limited touches, and doesn’t have the ball handling skills to create any kind of offense for himself. Overall, extremely limited on this end. He actually had the distinction of ranking statistically as the second worst per-minute scorer in the NBA, behind only Eric Snow.

Defense: This is the side of the ball where Collins has made his career mark. Collins isn’t very fleet of foot, but he uses great technique to challenge his opponents. Collins has great fundamental footwork and keeps excellent spacing between his man and the ball-handler when defending off-ball. Collins is very smart when defending on-ball. Against back to the basket opponents he uses his wide body and a low base to keep from being backed down in the post. Collins typically knows his assignments well enough to know how much space to give them on face-up shots. He won’t over-crowd a quicker opponent or give shooters shots in his comfort zone. Collins also uses his fouls intelligently. He is a mediocre rebounder, though, which makes it very difficult for him to get on the floor considering how little he brings to the table offensively already.

Mike Conley

Javaris Crittenton

Rudy Gay:

Casey Jacobsen

Overview: Jacobsen is a journeyman type swing player, capable of providing some quick scoring off the bench when his outside shot is falling, which it did not in 07/08. He is mostly a perimeter shooting specialist, lacking the ball-handling skills and ability to separate from his defender to do more than the occasional one or two dribble jumper off the shot-fake. Jacobsen is passable defensively at the wings, being more effective at shooting guard where he can use his size more advantageously.

Offense: Jacobsen is a 3-point specialist, who couldn’t buy a 3-point bucket this past season. He’s an intelligent player who is able to move the ball around and make smart decisions most of the time, but tends to take the open jumper whenever it presents itself. He can get hot from the perimeter and give his team a scoring boost and is a capable transition player, but doesn’t do much if he’s not scoring the ball, being a pretty average passer. Despite taking 63% of his shots from behind the arc, Jacobsen hit just 22% of his 3-pointers, and 33% of his overall attempts from the field, making him one of the worst offensive players in the NBA in 07/08.

Defense: Jacobsen has good size for a shooting guard and is pretty physical against smaller players, which helps him to limit quality looks. He is much better suited for defending slashing wings than quality shooters. Gets caught on screens and can’t play tight defense on ball without compromising his ability to recover on the drive without fouling. Plays with energy when on the court and is smart, but his lack of lateral quickness makes him a defensive liability.

Kyle Lowry:

Darko Milicic

Overview: Milicic has been very inconsistent during his time in the NBA, struggling to live up to his billing as the #2 overall pick behind LeBron James, in a stellar 2003 draft. Offensively, Milicic has good footwork and mobility, but lacks finishing polish on his moves around the basket. As a jump shooter, Milicic also shows promise at times, but no consistency. Defensively Milicic has shown himself to be an adept shot-blocker at times, good on weak-side and on-ball challenges. His rebounding and team defense is off and on. Milicic has an average basketball IQ and does not make up for it with the intangibles he brings to his team, lacking focus, drive and mental toughness in particular. There is very little doubt at this point that he came to the NBA far too early for his own good, and in turn missed out on the type of playing time that is so incredibly important to a player so young. Younger than some NCAA seniors, though, there is still plenty of time for him to turn his career around, although it’s hard to call his NBA tenure thus far as anything less than a huge disappointment.

Offense: Milicic has the size and athleticism to be an offensive weapon, but is severely lacking polish on his array of moves, shooting a mediocre 44% from the field in 07/08. He spends most of his time in the post, preferring to go to a rolling hook in the lane on the right block or a turn-around baseline hook on the left. Milicic’s action is smooth on the moves, but he lacks touch on the finish. Seeing him in action, one gets the impression that more practice repetitions would lead to better results. Milicic also displays promise with his face up jumper, showing range out to 18 feet. This shot, again, is inconsistent and needs work. He rarely gets to the free throw line, and shoots a poor percentage from there too. Not a great passer, Milicic needs to work on taking care of the ball better.

Defense: Milicic is as unpolished in this area as he is in most others, but may have the most promise at this end. He has superb timing and instincts when it comes to shot-blocking, but lacks good technique in his man and help defense. Milicic doesn’t do a good job with using his body and moving his feet. He tends to give ground easily, likely in an attempt to keep his balance and set up for the shot block attempt. Milicic tends to be foul prone when aggressive, using his hands and body to push opponents. Though he’s very mobile, Milicic doesn’t make great reads when moving in the team defense and is late on his rotations frequently.

Mike Miller

Overview: Miller has quietly developed into one of the most versatile and efficient offensive threats in the game. Miller is a multi-faceted offense threat, good with the shot, the drive, and the pass. He often plays more than one position during the course of a game, including a point-forward type role in some stretches. Miller is best suited to be a team’s 3rd option, where his overall floor game can benefit the team greatest. He is capable of explosive scoring games, but not consistently enough to be a first or second option.

Offense: Miller is one of the best shooters off the dribble in the NBA. His ability to shoot off the bounce extends out the 3-point range as well, thanks to his picture perfect mechanics, quick release and very high arc. Unlike most perimeter players, Miller utilizes the pull-up game to great effect, in addition to being outstanding coming off screens. He has plus size and length to go along with excellent ball-handling skills for the wing. Miller is not great at getting to the free throw line, but maximizes his possessions with excellent efficiency and strong playmaking, although he’s just a little bit turnover prone. His basketball IQ is superb and he’s extremely unselfish, allowing him to make quick decisions with the ball and find the open man with no hesitation. Nearly half of his shots come from behind the arc, but he hits them at such a high rate that it’s extremely hard to argue with. He gets to the basket at a decent rate, thanks to his solid first step, and is a very good finisher once there, more-so due to his superb skill-level and smarts than any incredible explosiveness at the rim. He is much better going right than left, though, something that smart teams like to take advantage of.

Defense: Miller is a non-descript defender at the wing. He’s often criticized for being soft, but he’s more average than anything else. Miller gives up an above average amount of points at the wing, but opponents don’t shoot extremely high percentages against him. Miller’s biggest weakness on defense is his lack of physicality. His foot speed is better than advertised, but he isn’t fast enough to simply play off his man and try and react to his initial move. Miller attempts to use his size and length to disrupt his opponent’s shots, giving space to drive and reacting to his moves. He is better guarding small forwards than 2-guards, although offensively he is mostly used as a guard.

Juan Carlos Navarro

Hakim Warrick

Overview: Warrick has steadily developed his game since coming into the league. Warrick has played multiple positions for Memphis, as his length and athleticism make him a versatile defender. Warrick’s offensive game has really started to progress as well. He is hitting his jump shots and handling the ball at a decent clip now, which is opening up his ability to score the ball. Warrick’s rebounding has really begun to be an asset, especially when playing close to the basket. He will likely always be considered a tweener, though, which might limit his ability to play big minutes on most teams, unless he continues to make substantial progress on his shooting and ball-handling skills.

Offense: Warrick’s offensive game really begun to blossom in his third season, catching up to a certain extent to his superb athleticism. His catch-and-shoot jumper is still a work in progress, but it’s consistent enough to be used as set-up weapon for his drives, even if he has a tendency to fade away unnecessarily on his shot. Teams tend to back off him at times still, so continuing to improve this part of his game will be key. Warrick handles the ball low to the ground and uses shot fakes to take a dribble or two before taking off for the basket, clearly preferring to go left. Better control and rhythm off the dribble will be needed to improve his pull-up jumper, which is still very weak. Despite his lack of upper-body strength, Warrick is a great finisher at the basket thanks to his high-flying leaping ability, and is learning to draw fouls as well. He is pretty effective at facing up from the high post and using his quickness to get to the basket, having recently cut down on his turnovers substantially, which is a huge development as far as his game is concerned. He also has a limited, but somewhat effective post game, using unorthodox moves and athletic ability to free himself up for shots near the basket. His lack of strength and wiry frame makes it tough for him to make much headway though against stronger forwards. Warrick is not a very good passer, particularly out of double teams.

Defense: Warrick isn’t much of a shot-blocker or ball-thief considering his physical gifts. But he challenges shots well when on ball and can be a pesky man defender when guarding on the perimeter. He is limited in effectiveness when playing power forwards due to his inability to deny post position or effectively use his body to knock larger opponents off-balance. Warrick shows potential at the 3 defensively, where his length becomes an asset. But Warrick needs to make a full commitment on the defensive end. He’s not very aggressive with his perimeter pressure and gets caught standing upright too often, which slows down his closing speed on shooters. A wider base when in his defensive stance would help him to contain drivers with more effectiveness.

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