Interview with Portland Trailblazers Scout Michael Born
Portland Trailblazers Director of NBA Scouting Michael Born discusses his thoughts on this years D-League Showcase, including players that have stood out, the talent evaluation process, his background in the minor leagues, and much more.
Reggie Williams Sioux Falls Scoring Machine
Williams has one of the more unique styles of play that youll find at pretty much any level of basketball. Undersized, not overly strong, fast, or explosive, and with a body that looks like it could stand to shed a good 10-15 poundsWilliams surely doesnt look the part of a scoring machine, but thats exactly what he is. He has an amazing knack for finding buckets, be it with his off the ball movement, getting to the rim in transition, pulling up for awkward lefty jumpers in 10-15 feet, or drilling spot-up jumpers with his feet set from beyond the arc.
His coach Tony Fritz is clearly his biggest fan. He amazes me all the time with the way he finds ways to score within the flow of the game. All of a sudden you look up at the scoreboard and see that he has 25 points, and you wonder, how the heck did he manage to do that?
The biggest story to report about Williams development revolves around the improvement of his perimeter shot. Only a 28% 3-point shooter as a college senior, Williams made just 21% of his 3-point attempts as a rookie in France last season playing for Dijon. This year hes upped that to a far more respectable 38%, despite the fact that hes now shooting NBA 3-pointers (more than 3 feet further back). He has a fairly ugly flat-footed stroke, but finds a way to get the job done thanks to his consistent mechanics and excellent touch.
Williams continues to get to the free throw line at a very good rate, something hes done throughout his career. Despite showing an average first step and less than incredible advanced ball-handling skills, Williams relies on his excellent timing and scoring instincts to attack unbalanced defenses and make his way to the rim. He does a great job initiating contact and finishing aggressively despite the fact that hes not the most explosive player around, and is even better at finding spaces in the mid-range area to pull-up off the dribble and make crafty shots with his terrific touch.
Williams biggest weakness as an NBA prospect clearly revolves around his play on the defensive end. He lacks lateral quickness in a major way and struggles badly trying to stay in front of athletic slashers already at the D-League level. While his effort level is usually solid and his wingspan is above average, he cant be described as anything more than a mediocre defender, something that is clearly holding him back.
Williams regardless is a guy that teams need to take a look at, as he has outstanding scoring instincts and is producing in a huge way in a very efficient manner. He might not be the top swingman prospect in the D-League, but he cant be that far off.
Move Out of the Way Al-Farouq
Aminu is intriguing thanks to his terrific size, length, hands and solid athleticism, and obviously has a great deal of upside to continue to tap into as well. With that said, most of the NBA scouts we talked to following this game sounded fairly skeptical about fully jumping on the Aminu bandwagon, citing his lack of productivity on the season (10 points, 5 rebounds per game) thus far. Well have to see if Aminu can manage to quell those doubts tomorrow with another strong showing. Weve yet to see a better long-term NBA prospect in Boise thus far.
No Regrets for Korolev
On the offensive end, Dorsey did most of his damage attacking the glass, finishing open lay-ups, and exploding off pick-and-rolls, but he also showed flashes of post moves, along with good body control and coordination on many of his finishes. Hes still a severely undersized (6-7 in shoes) center with little to no face-up game and major struggles even converting free throws (50%), not doing much to dispel the notion that hes at best a Reggie Evans type player offensively. He ranks 3rd amongst all players in the D-League in turnovers per-40 pace adjusted, as he clearly seems to be trying to do too much at times with the ball in the post.
Dorsey had just as strong an impact on defense, owning the glass and contesting and blocking shots in the lane, using his physical prowess to intimidate the opposition.
As he showed here today, Dorsey is capable of being a dominant player in multiple aspects of the game when he feels like it, and it's clear he has the tools to be a very successful role player in the NBA. The problem with him, as it always has been, is a lack of consistency and focus, which will continue to hold him back if he doesn't bring it night in and night out. The interesting thing about Dorsey is he doesn't seem to have any misconceptions about who he is as a player, as when he is giving it 100% effort, he doesn't drift from his comfort zone inside the paint, sticking to his strengths for the most part and providing significant value for his team.
Gee Making a Move
Gee still isn't the greatest in terms of advanced ball-handling, but he has done a good job figuring out the best ways to utilize his athleticism, relying on subtle changes of direction in combination with his very good body control. At the basket, Gee is capable of finishing over defenders and is extremely aggressive, never shying from contact.
Gee's jump shot is still a work in progress, but it appears to be improved from what we saw at Portsmouth eight months ago, as he looked smooth hitting some mid-range jumpers here, even pulling up on occasion. He lacks range on his shot in a major way, though, which is probably one of the biggest things holding him back from getting called up at this point, as hes made just 2-7 attempts from beyond the arc on the season, and wasnt a very prolific long-range shooter in college either.
On the defensive end, Gee has great physical tools and show flashes of effective defense, doing a good job hustling off the ball, but he's a bit inconsistent here, and his man-to-man stance leaves something to be desired. For him to find a spot in the league and stick, this is probably the biggest area he will need to work on, as it is definitely where most of his untapped potential lies.
If Gee continues the great play he's shown for the first 15 games of the D-League season, it wouldn't be surprising to see him called up by season's end. Hes been one of the first names mentioned in conversations weve had with NBA scouts this weeks.