Once again the day kicked off with drills for all the prospects and a game in the morning. Team 2 and Team 3 went at it again for a poor shooting, low scoring affair without any one player really standing out. The gym was as empty as I'd seen it so far, with maybe 1/4 of the amount of people as there was in day 1. (picture of empty bleachers)
Brandon Bass was probably the most interesting player on the floor as he had a solid game for the second day in a row. He made some great moves from the perimeter, using his superb athleticism and above average ball-handling skills to finish with a game high 14 points on 5/8 shooting and 4/4 from the line to go along with his 8 rebounds. Despite measuring out at 6-7 1/2 he has an amazing wingspan (7-2 1/2) and a fantastic basketball body to go along with it. Judging by the various opinions in the gym regarding whether or not he will stay in the draft it seems like he has a tough decision ahead of him. It's quite possible that he could be picked amongst the top 10 players in the 2nd round, with possibly a promised guaranteed first round contract and roster spot to go along with that. I personally think he could easily be a 1st rounder if he goes back to school and has another good season for LSU, but his situation is more complicated then that from what I understand.
Andre Emmett had yet another solid game with 12 points (5/9 shooting) and 6 rebounds. He's helped his stock as much as anyone here, shooting a solid 56% from the floor (which is amazing here in Chicago) and leading the camp in scoring. Lawrence Roberts looked good again, but not spectacular. He's still on the bubble for the first round and also has a tough decision to make next week. He's averaged 20 and 10 for pretty much his entire career so far and I'm not sure if another 20 and 10 year is going to change things all that much for him next season. It's hard to see him hurting his stock that much either, though. Arthur Johnson improved for the 2nd day in a row after the terrible first game he had. He'll most likely be drafted but the rest is up to him from that point. Chris Duhon was once again invisible, going 1/6 from 3 point range and only had 2 assists to pair with 3 turnovers. His reputation will only get him so far I'm afraid. The camp is finally over for Ivan Koljevic, and he has to be thanking the stars. It's going to take a long time to repair what he did to his stock here in Chicago. 19 and 20 year old Europeans are going to look at guys like him and Marko Tomas as examples of why staying a mystery is sometimes the best thing they can do. Tim Pickett went 1/10 this game (0/8 from outside). This camp did nothing but hurt him, he went from a solid 2nd rounder to a bubble pick.
Lunch time has been the most fun and interesting part of my day all week so far, and today was nothing new. I was invited to attend a workout with the 6-11 Brazilian Power Forward Tiago Splitter at Hoops the gym, and I swear there were twice as many people in that tiny gym as there were in all of Moody Bible. He was matched up with Brandon Bender as the other big man and Jitim Young (from the infamous Devin Harris workout) and Greg Davis from Troy State as the guards.
Most people I talked to afterwards felt that Splitter made a huge mistake by coming over and really damaged his reputation in the States by doing so, but my gut feeling coming out of there was the exact opposite. He clearly isn't polished enough to be a lottery pick this year (which means that he will have to wait till next year because of his excessive buyout) but I saw a super talented player with a great head in front of me that is just oozing with potential to became an extremely solid big man if he can work on his very correctable weaknesses.
To start with, he is a pretty mobile big man that gets up and down the floor with good quickness and possesses a nice vertical leap. He has an excellent frame that is just begging for some more bulk to help him battle with other NBA PF's, but once he gets that and learns to bang a little more I think he will be just fine. He has great fundamentals, including beautiful foot work in the paint. He's obviously been coached by some of the best people in Europe these past few years. He is a very heady player who knows how to move efficiently and understands what he is and isn't capable of doing.
The reason many people came away less then impressed was the fact that his outside shot was not falling for him today. This was his first and last workout in the States and he was put into an almost impossible situation, expecting him to have a knockout workout right off the plane in front of 150+ scouts. He is better facing the basket at this point, but it's my belief that the people that think he will eventually become a SF in the NBA need to have their head checked. He's a PF all the way, with the potential to play some Center if needed as well. He's a bit soft at this point, and looks somewhat passive with a little too nice of an attitude that you often see from European players (I'm aware that he's Brazilian).
Hopefully he can get some playing time next year in Spain, I don't think I can name on one hand five Power Forwards in this draft that I think will end up being better then him.
Jitim Young, one of the guards from that workout is someone I think should have at least been invited to Portsmouth. He was one of the top defenders in the NCAA, has great strength and lead his Big 10 team in basically every category. The European scouts around me were clearly intrigued by him.
Raptors and Jazz workout
From there I went back to the Multiplex by Moody Bible for an exclusive private workout held by the Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz with Kirk Snyder, Marquinhos, Uros Slokar and Cletion Sebastiao. Andris Biedrins and Marcelo Huertas were originally both supposed to be there, but pulled out for unknown reasons. It was a bit ironic that Snyder was working out right in front of me for the Utah Jazz, considering that people still tend to think that he has a guarantee from someone solely based on the fact that an earlier workout that was scheduled with them was cancelled.
I was really happy to get the chance to see Marcus Vinicius Vieira De Souza ("Marquinhos") play right before my eyes, I had heard so much about him from Brazilians and Americans that my expectations were sky high. For the most part I was extremely disappointed by his performance. He got injured about a week and a half ago in Utah and he seemed to be playing in 3rd gear the entire time. In conversations I've had over the past few months, people have gone on and on about his unbelievable explosiveness and athleticism, but he really didn't show much of that at all. He seems pretty average in that aspect on the NBA level. Defensively he has very little lateral quickness and was killed physically by the smaller but much bulkier Kirk Snyder. His shoot is very smooth and shows a lot of potential, but was very inconsistent in this particular workout, especially off the dribble. His has a nice frame, great length and good height for the SF position, but he'll have to put on some pounds to deal with the rigors of the NBA before he declares again next season. You can tell that he has a lot of talent, especially when he is dribbling the ball (excellent ball-handler), but he is pretty raw and doesn't have that much to get you too excited off of. He got injured once again after about 35 minutes and sat out the rest of the workout.
It's quite possible that he looked so average partially because of the injury he sustained back in Utah, but it was probably more because of the guy he was going up against, Kirk Snyder.
Snyder absolutely dominated the workout from the second he stepped on to the court. The scout sitting next to me had a tough time hiding how impressed he was by his explosive first step and the way he gets up in the air. He was measured out here in Chicago at 6-7 Â¼, more then an inch taller then what he was listed at in Nevada, which gives him the opportunity to legitimately play (and especially guard) the 3 spot as well if his team needs him to. His shooting was off and on throughout the workout from static positions, but he seemed to improve in the drills where he was asked to shoot off the dribble going left and right, as well as when stepping up and back., which impressed me a lot more then seeing a player hit 8 standstill NBA threes in a row while playing by himself in a gym. He can clearly get his shot off in many different ways and situations, an absolutely must for an NBA shooting guard.
The 2 on 2 drills was when he really shined in my opinion, especially when he got to show off his nifty playmaking skills while handling the ball. He used his strength and athleticism to get to the hoop whenever he pleased, and finished well at the basket or found the open man when needed. Defensively he is just terrific. He plays with an enormous amount of intensity, again using his strength and great lateral quickness to always stay in front of his man, and not being embarrassed at all to dish out a hard foul on the massive Cleiton Sebastiao to prevent an easy basket. I don't think Marquinhos was really prepared to take that kind of beating either. This workout was by far the most physical one I've seen so far, I've heard similar things from other Snyder workouts he's participated in. Utah doesn't think he will be around at 14 but they would take him in a heartbeat if he was, 8-13 seems to be the range I was hearing throughout the week inside Moody Bible about him.
Cleiton Sebastiao, the 6-11 300 pound Brazilian Center, did not impress me one bit. His body is great, but he has very little in terms of actual basketball skills. For starters he is not mobile at all and can barely get off the floor to contest shots. He can't shoot a lick outside of five feet, and other then his strength he doesn't have much to offer to an NBA team. Once the 2 on 2 workouts started he was exposed for what he really is. It's very hard for me to see him on an NBA roster next year; at the age of 25 he doesn't really have to potential to improve either. He decided to take his shirt off in the middle of the workout to show how ripped he is I suppose.
Uros Slokar was not too impressive either, but not as bad as Sebastiao. The workout was clearly planned for Biedrins to go up against Sebastiao, with most of the drills emphasizing back to the basket skills in which Slokar does not excel at all. He had trouble finishing at the basket with contact, and will really need to work on bulking up next year to use his size better in the paint, especially defensively. He is a great shooter, maybe the best of the 4 players there, and his ball-handling looked excellent when he got the rare opportunity to display it. I would have liked to see a lot more of his face-up game, but I guess the Raptors (who orchestrated the workout) are looking for a big man to play next to Bosh who is a true Power Forward as well. It appears that Slokar will pull his name out of the draft and try again next year. Getting some playing time next year in Treviso for Benneton is a must for him.
Team 1 vs. Team 6
From there it was back to Moody Bible to watch the last two games of the camp. The gym was even emptier after lunch, with many of the scouts now being Europeans looking for NCAA players who slip through the cracks for their teams next season. Beno Udrih got injured in the morning (right hip contusion) which was unfortunate because a lot of people were looking forward to seeing him again. He told me that he has 7 workouts lined up in a span of 9 days starting next week. Everyone is really intrigued by how well this kid handled himself in Chicago, so that doesn't really surprise me at all.
Desmon Farmer had another good game for third time in a row, doing everything on the court in a very energetic way. His outside shooting isn't quite there yet, but measuring in at 6-6 (inch taller then what he was listed at) along with his performances at Chicago and Portsmouth make him a virtual lock to get drafted. I decided to do some investigating myself to see what people are talking about regarding his supposed inflated ego and I'm starting to think that the concerns around him are being greatly exaggerated. I talked to him for over a half an hour about a variety of subjects and I came away pretty convinced that he's a good kid that has been labeled unfairly because of the way he plays on the court. On the floor he definitely IS crazy, but it's the kind of positive energy that you want on your team. It would be a shame for him to change that.
Tony Allen woke up for spurts in this game and played decently, he didn't want to be here in Chicago anyway from what I was toldâhe thinks he's a lock for the first roundâand you could see that he had a scowl on his face for almost the entire week. He most definitely did not play like a first rounder here, but he's going to be a very good pro I'm sure.
Jamie Lloreda and Jackson Vroman deserve to be mentioned together for the unselfish work they did at the 4-5 spots in this game. In the first two games they had very little chemistry between them, but this time around it was just wonderful to see them operate. They both had some great assists to each other and their teammates as well, a couple of them being spectacular passes, and they rotated beautifully on offense and defense to maximize their time on the floor. Lloreda once again showed off his newly found perimeter skills; especially his excellent ball-handling, smooth looking mid-range shot and efficient passing. It wasn't the best camp for him statistically, but the scouts should know from the regular season what he brings to the floor in terms of rebounding and inside scoring.
Jackie Butler had another double double (12 points, 10 rebounds) and a lot of people (including myself) think he's the real deal; he should be a mid 2nd rounder.
Team 4 vs. Team 5
The third and last game was probably the worst quality basketball we've seen all week. Damien Wilkens looked good again carrying the scoring load, but needed a lot of shots to accomplish that. He will be in the NBA next year, I am almost certain of that. The 7-2 Czech Ales Chan finally woke up and had a halfway decent game. Nate Robinson looked OK, but not great handling the point. On the other team Ricky Minard struggled today after having two fantastic first games, but was still one of the top players at the camp in my opinion. Delonte West showed a lot of heart by coming back after the ankle injury he suffered and had a pretty nice, but not spectacular game, with 11 points and 3 assists in 22 minutes.
DraftExpress' All-Chicago Team
PG: Beno Udrih
SG: Andre Emmett
SF: Damien Wilkens
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Jackson Vroman
PG: Nate Robinson
SG: Ricky Minard
SF: Desmon Farmer
PF: Jackie Butler
C: Chris Garnett
The measurement list handed out today at the media day was pretty shocking to me. Check out some of these numbers on 's Measurements Section HERE.
I want to note that Kris Humprhies measuring in at close to 6-10 is shocking considering that he was listed at 6-8 all year and people were speculating that he is even shorter then that. He says that he has grown this year and may even still be growing. His stock just went through the roof considering that his only real knock was the fact that he's undersized and will be forced to play the 3.