The Orlando Pre-Draft camp kicked off today with two hours of drills and informal five on five games intended to instill some basic offensive sets for each of the six teams. Many of the players looked very nervous to start off the drills as you might expect, and there were plenty of bobbled passes, forced shots, unforced errors, etc, making some of the action a bit tough to watch at times. The fact that the players were forced to execute strictly according to the very rigid confines of the one specific set-play they were running in each specific drill didnt help loosen them up much either.
[c]Chad Buchanan, Michael Born, Kevin Pritchard
, (new assistant GM) Tom Penn, and Jason Filippi...Portland's Front Office Basks in Reflected Glory[/c]
Regardless, there are some excellent college players here in attendance, plenty of athleticism to go around, and for once, a lot of very solid playmakers at the point guard spots. From a scouting perspective, the biggest challenge is to not try and watch all 62 players go at it at once, but rather focus on one of the three courts at a time and let players stand out with the good and the bad plays they make instead of trying to ingest everything at once.
The following are some of the players that stood out more than others in day one of action: DaShaun Wood, 6-0, Senior, Point Guard, Wright State
The MVP of Portsmouth started right where he left off at the NBA pre-draft camp as well, making some phenomenal plays immediately as competitive action kicked off. Wood ran the show with utmost confidence, finding players unselfishly, making great reads, handling the ball on a string, and getting into the paint at will with his combination of quickness and smarts. He hit some extremely difficult shots on the run today, at one point knocking down a 10 foot running floater with Jamal Tatum wrapping him up, and then on another stepping in one off foot from 14 foot and kissing a tough look off the glass.
Regardless of his scoring, the best part of having a player like Wood at the camp is the fact that he almost exclusively looks to make everyone around him better. He was excellent in transition today, making great reads, and showing excellent court vision.
Renaldas Seibutis, 6-5, 1985 International, Shooting Guard, Maroussi
Seibutis stuck out right off the bat with the attitude he showed around his teammates, constantly cheering them on from the sidelines and always looking to congratulate with a high-five after one of them made a big play. It doesnt appear to be an act, though, as he looks like a pretty fiery kid with the way he plays as well. He made some smart plays moving off the ball and finding the open man, and hit an extremely difficult fade-away 3-pointer at one point plus a foul as he was knocked to the ground. Even though the reports from the other two courts werent as encouraging, you have to give a European kid like this credit for having the guts to show up in such a challenging setting considering the learning curve involved. He did not seem to look out of place in day one.
James Hughes, 6-11, Senior, Center, Northern Illinois
Hughes showed some great flashes playing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in early April, and seems to have come out on the right foot here at the Pre-Draft camp as well. He crashed the glass extremely hard showing off his outstanding length and excellent athletic ability in traffic. He also displayed some sparks of raw offense here and there, knocking down a simple baseline floater from right outside the paint, finishing with some authority and not looking completely lost on this end when forced to alter his shot or take contact. His physical attributes and the assertiveness hes showing makes him possibly one of the more intriguing guys at this camp.
Taurean Green, 6-1, Junior, Point Guard, Florida
There is a definite case to be made for Taurean Green
to be considered the top point guard here in day one (along with DaShaun Wood
) from the action seen here early on. Green showed none of the nerves that plagued many of the other players here, looking as if hes played on some much bigger stages in his career before. He had a couple of very nice pull-up jumpers, included one under duress right as the figurative shot clock was about to expire. He also put plenty of pressure on the defense with his dribble-drives, getting into the paint and drawing quite a bit of contact going up and finishing at the rim. Even when his shots werent falling for him, Green continued to show the utmost confidence in himself, which is essentially half the battle at a camp like this.
Reyshawn Terry, 6-8, Small Forward, Senior, North Carolina
One player to pass the look test over the course of the first evening was the recent Tar Heel graduate. Terry showed up to camp looking more toned than ever, and sporting increased polish on his jumper. Throughout the first workout session, he might not have missed a single outside shot. Terry certainly has all the physical tools to play the SF spot in the NBA, and if he can follow through on tonights hot start with a couple of good shooting exhibitions, the first round isnt out of the question.
Dominic McGuire, 6-8, Small Forward, Junior, Fresno State
It is way too early to be drawing conclusions, but there may not be a better prospect in Orlando in terms of raw physical tools. McGuire was a man on a mission throughout the first session, looking to attack the basket off the dribble and blowing by his man fairly easily. McGuire dazzled all in attendance with a stunning put back dunk, and looks to be on the verge of a huge camp. Now McGuire must answer questions about his jump shot, which may be easier said than done at this point. The answers will start in the drills tomorrow
Craig Bradshaw, 6-11, Power Forward, Senior, Winthrop
While Bradshaw generated some significant buzz last summer playing for the New Zealand national team, a sub-par Portsmouth camp and a discouraging start to Orlando may be putting a halt to any immediate NBA plans. Bradshaw is a player known for being able to step outside, and simply hasnt come close to knocking down anything here in Orlando. He is missing shots, and missing them badly. There is plenty of time for him to turn things around, but Bradshaw appears to be pressing at the moment. He needs to find a way to help himself out in other areas of the game, like defensively or on the glass.
Trey Johnson, 6-5, Senior, Shooting Guard, Jackson State
Trey Johnson had one of the more noteworthy performances of the first day, showing off his scoring and passing skills, doing a really good job making use of the opportunities that came to him and not forcing the issue with the ball. Johnson was hitting from mid-range consistently, especially on his pretty stepback jumper, which he does an excellent job getting separation on. He also hit from behind the arc at least once during the scrimmages, and did a good job making the extra pass when his shot wasnt there for him. Defensively, he showed a pretty solid fundamental base, and was putting in the effort, though his lateral quickness looked suspect at times.
Jared Jordan, 6-2, Senior, Point Guard, Marist
One of the more intriguing prospects from day one, Jordan really stood out in the scrimmage portion of todays session. He displayed the ability to find the open man from anywhere on the floor, both in transition and in the half court offense, thanks to his fantastic court vision. He threw a great alleyoop lob to Stephane Lasme
on one occasion, and did a solid job throughout on the pick and roll. The limitations of his game were just as apparent, however. Jordan will need to prove he can come over his disadvantages physically to really impress NBA scouts. At times he looked a step slow, needing a high ball screen at the top of the key to get the offense in motion.
Daequan Cook, 6-5, Freshman, Shooting Guard, Ohio State
seemed apprehensive throughout the drills today, and struggled to get anything working in his favor. Offensively, he struggled to create separation away from opposing defenders who were stronger and more experienced, showing some fairly poor ball-handling skills and a distinct lack of concentration. Cook is the youngest player here at this camp, and hes played like it so far. He does have the potential to have an explosive scoring outburst at the camp, but he will need to become much more aggressive moving forward.
Aaron Gray, 7-1, Senior, Center, Pitt
The first thing that stands out about Gray is his improved physique. Gray is much closer to obtaining his ideal playing shape, a testament to the work hes been putting into his draft preparation.
Unfortunately for Gray, the pre-draft camp doesnt cater to his strengths as a half-court player who is best when being fed in the post. The first day of scrimmages proved this point out as Gray didnt act as much more than an observer. Hell have to be more vocal if he wants to command the attention of his teammates to the point of having an impact.
Jared Dudley, 6-7, Senior, Small Forward, Boston College
Dudley once again showed those who were in attendance why he was such a celebrated player in the ACC. Nothing Dudley did was spectacular, but he was able to read the court and create plays for himself and teammates.
Dudley scored the ball on a couple of plays from his preferred elbow position and fed the ball around the perimeter, even lobbing a nice entry pass on occasion into a cutting teammate for the easy bucket.
Jamaal Tatum, 6-2, Senior, Point Guard, Southern Illinois
Tatum is looking to capitalize on his strong PIT showing with another presentation of his solid two-way skills. Tatum was known as a pure scoring guard at Southern Illinois, but he opened some eyes in Portsmouth with his high assist and low turnover totals.
Tatum revisited his feature matchup against DaShaun Wood
, from the championship game at PIT. After starting off slowly, Tatum used his solid ball-handling and strong change of direction to set Wood up on a number of possessions. Defensively, after going through an initial adjustment period, Tatum recovered to use excellent foot and handwork to harass Wood and contain his dribble penetration, especially on the final court.
Chris Richard, 6-8, Senior, Power Forward, Florida
Richard had a nice showing in his first bit of work at the Orlando camp. Somewhat of a bull in a china shop type, Richard used his chiseled body and added quickness to power up against other bigs on defensive end. Hell need to play with that type of tenacity if he hopes to make an NBA roster.
Offensively, Richard was able to finish a number of contested baskets on beautiful feeds from teammates. Richard took the contact and powered through for the soft finish on at least three occasions. He struggled a bit when trying to create more complicated offense for himself inside the post, though, forcing the issue somewhat with his underdeveloped footwork.
Quinton Hosley had a few nice plays, taking the ball hard to the basket and also hitting on his jump shot from mid-range. Defensively he had some struggles staying in front of wings on the perimeter.
James Mays made his presence felt in his normal way, making hustle plays and using his excellent athleticism to impact the game. He deflected and picked off passes, ran the length of the court to block a shot, rebounded, finished in transition, and was always one of the first guys out on the break. He wasnt able to convert on his mid-range jump shot from what we saw, but it may come around as the week goes on.
Sammy Mejia had a surprisingly nice showing, getting into the paint effectively, showing solid decision making skills, and knocking down his shots at a good rate.
Ekene Ibekwe had a couple of monster blocks on two international prospectsBrad Newley and Marko Lekicand also hit an incredibly ugly pull-up jumper from mid-range. He ran the floor hard and used his athleticism well, which is about all you can hope for out of him.
Demetris Nichols didnt show much at all. He needs plays ran for him and teammates working to get him the ball in a place where he can get his shot off, and without those two things, hes not all that much to look at.
Zabian Dowdell did a very solid job running his team day, playing calmly and under control, and not looking to make any mistakes in the way he executed the half-court plays. He threaded the needle on one occasion for a beautiful pass to split apart the entire defense and get his teammate a wide open layup. A tad bit more aggressiveness on the scoring end could go a long ways for him.
Rashaun Freeman didnt look nervous at all, using his body well inside the paint to release his jump-hook, jumping out hard on screens, and being extremely demonstrative and vocal around his teammates.
Mustafa Shakur had an up-and-down showing, taking it strong to the hole but not always staying under control, forcing the issue at times and making some questionable decisions. He did make some impressive drives as well, though, including one very nice hesitation dribble into a finger roll.
Russell Carter struggled scoring the basketball, badly missing a few outside shot attempts and not converting at the rim, though he was drawing a lot of contact in a scrimmage where fouls werent called.
Ramon Sessions played a good floor game, making good decisions on drive-and-dish opportunities and converting on running floaters in the lane, though he struggled when he tried taking the ball all the way to the rim, not finishing well.