First Team All-NBA Pre-Draft
Ty Lawson, 5-11 ½, Junior, Sophomore, Point Guard, North Carolina
10 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 3 steals, 40% FG, 0-1 3P, 19 minutes
Not usually a strong finisher at the basket, Lawson did an outstanding job of using his body when in the lane to finish. He controlled the tempo of the game to a tee, able to push the ball down the floor as fast as anyone in this camp, and also displaying the maturity to slow things down in a half court setting.
Even though he did not post big assist numbers for the camp, the sophomore did an excellent job of tallying "hockey assists", dishing the ball off to an open man who had an assist opportunity on the next pass. His pure playmaking skills were on center stage all camp long, where he was hands down the top point guard the camp had to offer. It only took a moment of watching him on the court to see just how much better he is than any other point guard in attendance, and the complexion of the entire game changed as soon as he entered the court.
While blessed with great strength and quickness, Lawson is not a very good defender due to his tendency to gamble excessively on the defensive end. His lack of size and length hurts him on this end especially, where he desperately struggles to contest bigger guards' shots.
Outside shooting is another part of Lawson's game that has been a concern over the years and didn't appear to improve much in the drills and games in Orlando. Still shooting more of a set shot, he struggles mightily when shooting the three from NBA three point range, and could still use a lot of improvement from mid-range if he hopes to keep defenders honest at the next level.
Given this draft's lack of depth at the point guard position, Lawson has done everything in his ability to solidify his standing as the third pure point guard selected in this year's draft. Private workouts will be crucial in whether or not he lands in the first round, although there is some talk that a guarantee from Denver may have been what convinced him to withdraw from the draft. Not having officially signed with an agent so far, the option remains open for a return to Chapel Hill for his junior season.
Devon Hardin, 611, Center, Senior, California
10.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.7 turnovers, 44% FG, 67% FT
While Hardins on-court abilities are certainly nowhere near his physical tools, he does bring some intriguing things to the table, and its important to note hes made strides with his game in his four years at Cal, while also missing the better part of his junior season. Hardin showed the good and the bad of his game on the floor here at Orlando, showing some inconsistency and a lack of polish along with flashes of incredible things around the basket.
Hardins post game is lacking polish in terms of his footwork, awareness, and reflexes, while he also doesnt have the most extensive arsenal of moves either. That said, he does show flashes of turnaround jumpers, hook shots, dropsteps, and step throughs, and has started to show a better understanding of countermoves this season. He doesnt have a left hand at all, and looks awkward in general going off his right shoulder, as his turnaround jumper isnt the greatest. His right-handed hook shot and dropstep are his two best moves at this point, and hes capable of executing his dropstep with incredible range and quickness when he gets it off. He shows flashes of great quickness transitioning from move to countermove as well. At this point, though, its hard to see him doing much damage with his back to the basket in the pros, as his balance is lacking and his hands and reflexes are questionable, while his post moves in general are just not consistently effective yet.
What Hardin will be able to do in the pros is finish off pick-and-rolls, off-ball cuts, and by sealing his man on the block, utilizing his size and athletic ability in all three areas to make himself an easy target and a strong finisher. As for the rest of his offensive game, his mid-range jumper is very inconsistent and not very effective, and hes not a great free-throw shooter either, finishing at 64% this season.
Hardins greatest potential comes on the defensive end, where he already does a few things very well, notably hedging and recovering on the pick-and-roll and switching out to defend on the perimeter, where he makes very good use of his terrific lateral quickness. Hes a good defender in the post as well, using his length and aforementioned quickness, though he could do a better job of bodying up more consistently, using his body to force the opposition into tougher shots. Where Hardin lacks the most is on weak-side defense, as hes just not the kind of shot blocker youd expect for his size, not doing a great job on rotations. He did a very good job on the boards in college, but is inconsistent, as evidenced by his poor showing on the glass here in Orlando.
Hardin is somewhat of a project pick, but could definitely sneak into the first round if someone is intrigued with his set of tools. Being just a 21-year-old senior whos shown a decent learning curve, its way too early to close the book on what he could add to his offensive game, and with the raw abilities he has, teams will certainly try. Teams shouldnt be expecting much from him in the early going, though, as his skill set at the moment wont project him to much more than a role playing garbage man type player initially.
Joe Crawford, 64, Shooting Guard, Senior, Kentucky
15.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, 3.0 turnovers, 50% FG, 82% FT, 57% 3PT
Offensively, Crawford has a balanced attack, mixing in perimeter shooting with a dribble-drive game, though not really especially excelling with either. Off the dribble, he can pull up for a jumper or take it to the basket, being able to go left or right, slightly preferring the right. He doesnt have the best first step in pure isolation, but does a good job coming off screens or catching and going on the move with the ball. In the lane, he has a decent repertoire of moves, making use of crossover, jab steps, and spin moves, weaving them together well and pulling off some impressive sequences. Despite his size, he finishes well at the basket as he takes contact well and makes good use of his vertical leap. Crawford is also comfortable shooting off the dribble from mid or long range, and has a right-handed floater in his arsenal, though its inconsistent.
Crawfords spot-up jump shot has very good form, boasting a fairly deliberate release (but not in a bad way), with near textbook mechanics and a high and consistent release point. Its important to note, though, that this is only talking about his spot-up jumper, as his mechanics dont stay quite so great when hes pulling up off the dribble, contested, or coming around a screen. He doesnt do a great job keeping his feet underneath him when coming around a screen or when hes contested, throwing his balance off and resulting in some questionable shots. He also can rush his mechanics at times when contested, and is prone to not holding his follow through in these situations. His shooting percentages fall off considerably when hes contested, though not very much when hes pulling up off the dribble in space.
In terms of the rest of his offense, Crawford does a good job finishing off cuts and in transition using his leaping ability and ability to adjust in traffic. Hes a decent ball-handler and a decent passer, though is by no means a point guard, and its questionable if he stands out enough in any one area to find a niche in the league.
Defensively, Crawford plays a fundamentally sound, focused, and aggressive game, doing a good job with both on and off ball defense. Off the ball, he doesnt give up and always contests shots, though he has some trouble getting around screens, as most college players do. On the ball, he has good lateral quickness and reflexes, while doing a very good job moving his feet and pressuring his man, rarely getting beat off the dribble or giving up an open shot. At 64, he could have some trouble guarding 2s at the next level.
Crawford is someone who could sneak into the second round if a team really likes him, and he should have some chances to go up against more highly touted wings in private workouts. Regardless, hell have an opportunity to make a team in summer league, and would likely be a top call-up candidate if he went the D-League route. At this stage of his development, though, he may not do one thing well enough to find himself a niche in the league, and it may take a few more years development before he does.
Pat Calathes , 6-10, Senior, Small Forward, St. Joes
10 points, 3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1 turnover, 50% FG, 33.3% 3PT, 17 minutes
It is rare that you find a player approaching the seven foot mark that is legitimately a small forward, but Calathes is one of those rarities. He is blessed with an offensive skill set of someone much smaller, looking completely content playing outside on the perimeter facing the basket against much quicker defenders.
Calathes showed off his ability to extend his shooting range to the NBA three point line, both in the drills and in the games themselves. Already a proven shooter from the collegiate arc (40% 3PT as a senior), he appears perfectly comfortable hitting the jumper from the NBA mid-range area.
Not only a shooter, Pat is a surprisingly effective slasher for a player his stature. He goes left and right equally well, using his high basketball IQ to compensate for his lack of verticality. Even more impressive is the senior's passing ability for a small forward, evidenced by his dishing out a team-high 5 assists in day two of the camp. His aforementioned basketball IQ and court vision come into play here, where he shows the ability to refrain from turning the ball over when a playmaker.
Defense is the area of Calathes' game that could stand for most improvement, as he at times lacks the lateral quickness to effectively stay in front of his man. His witty play allows him to compensate for his lack of athleticism only temporarily, before his lack of ability on that end is exposed. Likewise his lack of bounce hurts him on the offensive end, where he gets his shot blocked more than one would like out of a player his size.
Calathes strong play in the two camps so far have virtually made him a lock to get drafted once the time comes in June. Private workouts will ultimately determine exactly how high the small forward lands, but he did virtually all he could to bolster his stock in Orlando.
DeMarcus Nelson, 6-2, Shooting Guard, Senior, Duke
16 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2.3 turnovers, 47% FG, 1-2 3P, 15-17 FT, 19 minutes
Nelson only attempted two 3-pointers in three games, but was solid shooting the ball from inside the arc with his feet set. His shooting mechanics are about as ugly as youll find, but it worked for him in college, so its tough to argue with the results at this point, even if his release is definitely on the slow side. Off the dribble was a different story, though, as he struggles to create separation on his pull-up jumper and therefore gets extremely poor results. He actually shot his free throws better than he typically has over the course of his career (60% this season).
Defensively he was excellent as well, using his terrific length and strength to keep his man in front of him and contesting every possible shot, just like Coach K taught him. Although severely undersized at just 6-2 ¼ in shoes, Nelson sports a ridiculous 6-10 wingspan to help compensate. He did a fantastic job getting in the passing lanes and igniting fast breaks, often being the first one up the court and getting a number of easy baskets in the process.
Although he doesnt look like a sure-fire NBA player on first glance, as it appears that he might have a hard time translating his style of play to a higher level, Nelson is the type of guy you never want to rule out because of how many things he brings to the table. It wouldnt be shocking to see him catch on in a Maurice Evans type role in the pros, knocking down shots from behind the arc and playing great defense. His pedigree will help, although measuring out two inches under what he was listed at in college at just 6-2 really makes things tough on him.