All-Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, First-Team

All-Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, First-Team
Apr 12, 2011, 03:57 pm
Highlighting the five players who stood out the most at the PIT, including Jimmy Butler, Malcolm Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Andrew Goudelock and Vernon Macklin.

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Jimmy Butler, 6'7, Forward, Marquette
18.7 Points, 4.7 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 62.1% FG, 18/18 FT

Matt Williams

Capping off a brilliant series of performances at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Jimmy Butler scored 19 points in the championship game to help his team cruise to an easy victory, and win MVP honors in the process. The most consistent player throughout the course of the week, few players did as much for their stock as Butler was able to.

The Texas native is not a freak athlete, or the type of player you'll see on an ESPN highlight reel any time soon. He does not have the pedigree of a future NBA All-Star. His physical tools are fairly average, and he still needs to develop certain parts of his skill set, namely his shooting consistency from the beyond the arc, to maximize his value. However, when evaluating a player like Butler, who simply plays winning basketball, has terrific intangibles, and does all of the little things the help his team, it is important to look at what he can do before condemning him for he can't be.

Butler is a heady player who plays within a team concept. He defends, he makes the extra pass, he crashes the glass, he has a terrific basketball IQ, and his attitude is a coach's dream. A product of tireless reps in the gym and a detail oriented system, the senior has a very solid floor game, makes good decision with the ball, scraps on both ends, and maximizes the physical tools he does have.

Throughout the week, Butler flashed an improved midrange game, looking far more comfortable knocking down pull-up jumpers than he did last season. If that development is indicative of what we can expect his spot-up jump shot to look like by the end of the spring, Butler could emerge as a coveted role-player by the time the draft rolls around.

His athleticism won't allow him to create consistently one-on-one at the next level, but he's a functional ball-handler who can take what defenders give him. If he develops the ability to stretch the floor, there's no question that he'll be a nice addition to a team with a bench full of athletic scorers.

Butler may struggle with the athleticism of elite wings at the NBA level, but much like Lazar Hayward and Wesley Matthews before him, he's well versed in compensating for his limitations and takes pride in his play defensively.

Buzz Williams was in attendance at Portsmouth this week, and his mark on Butler's game is clear. Spending minutes in the post early in his career, Butler showed that he's comfortable out on the perimeter in the limited sample of games we were able to take in here. If his work ethic plays into his shooting ability from beyond the arc and it shows in workouts, Butler has the makings of a terrific rotation player. Take into account the fact that he is just 21 years old, and it is easy to see why he's caught the interest of NBA executives looking to help their team win more games.

Malcolm Thomas, 6'8, Power Forward, San Diego State
11.0 Points, 7.7 Rebounds, 3.3 Assists, 1.3 Steals, 3.0 Blocks, 58.3% FG

Matt Williams

Apart from his role in San Diego's State's tremendous 2011 season, Malcolm Thomas had little buzz to his name heading into the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. By no means has he solidified himself as a surefire draft pick, but he was probably the most pleasant surprise amongst all players in attendance.

Physically, Thomas has intriguing tools that mesh well with what he brought to the table on the college level. He's a bit undersized for a NBA power forward at just 6'8, but his 7'2 wingspan made him a menacing shot blocker at SDSU and allows him to play a bit taller than he's listed. While his 220 pound frame could still use additional muscle, Thomas is a good all-around athlete, running the floor well and looking exceptionally quick off his feet when pursuing rebounds.

Throughout the course of the week, Thomas showed that he could put those tools to use as a finisher around the rim on the offensive end. When he wasn't simply converting the plays his teammates created for him, he threw some terrific passes, was able to beat slower defenders to the rim on a few occasions, earned some easy opportunities by crashing the glass, and showed a solid hook shot with his right hand. Though Thomas's post repertoire is not very diverse, he saw 32.6% of his touches on the block last season according to Synergy Sports Technology.

The biggest question marks about Thomas revolve around his jump shot. Through Synergy data indicates that Thomas made just 6 of the 25 jumpers he attempted last season, Thomas has promising form that with continued polish and repetition could open up a number of facets of his game. He didn't attempt too many jumpers here, but if he wants to improve his NBA stock, he'd be well served to diversify the roles he can play by honing his midrange game.

Defensively, Thomas had extended stretches of promise. He had a number of big time blocked shots at the rim over the course of the week, and while he wasn't pursuing every shot he likely could have, he showed terrific timing. When he was playing on the weakside he showed a nose for the ball and a willingness to box out when pursuing rebounds. Couple that with the lateral quickness he showed defending the perimeter and it was tough not to come away impressed his defensive versatility.

Heading towards the draft, Thomas is a player to keep an eye on. He was a big reason his team made it to the championship game, and much like Jimmy Butler, he's a tool or two away from being an intriguing NBA role-player.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning, 6-9, PF/C, Senior, Washington
15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.1 steals, 1.6 turnovers, 55% FG, 62% FT

Joseph Treutlein

One of the most productive players at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament this weekend and likewise one of the most intriguing prospects from an NBA perspective, Matthew Bryan-Amaning had an excellent week for himself on multiple levels. Aside from having arguably the most impressive measurements of anyone in attendance, Bryan-Amaning played with a nonstop motor on both ends of the court and made it very clear he was trying to take advantage of an opportunity to stand out.

Looking at Bryan-Amaning's game, there is a stark contrast in the style of offensive play he employed in college compared to what he'd have a chance at doing in the NBA initially. Bryan-Amaning relies heavily on a somewhat unrefined back-to-the-basket game at the moment, one he's not terribly efficient with but shows some nice flashes. He is extremely quick for a player his size and is capable of beating many players laterally in the low and mid post, while his length and creativity allow him to finish from multiple angles around the rim. Still, ultimately this area of his game is still unpolished and not yet consistent.

While Bryan-Amaning's post game is somewhat interesting in the long term and is a nice luxury to have, he scored just 0.79 points per shot on back-to-the-basket shots this season according to Synergy, and that is the primary reason his field goal percentage wasn't much higher. In contrast, Bryan-Amaning scored an outstanding 1.34 points per shot on non-post-up shots around the basket in the half court, largely due to his excellent combination of length, athleticism, functional strength, and soft hands.

Looking to the NBA, what Bryan-Amaning is best equipped to contribute offensively is finishing on cuts, pick-and-rolls, offensive rebounds, and getting out in transition, where he can use his athletic tools and coordination to create high percentage shots at the basket. Combined with his high motor on this end of the floor, this creates a good groundwork for a useful skill set.

The biggest area offensively that Bryan-Amaning could help himself is developing a more reliable perimeter jump shot. He was intent on showing he could hit 15-20 footers here at Portsmouth, but his shot selection wasn't the greatest and the results were inconsistent. A very aggressive player, Bryan-Amaning has no problem throwing up running shots on the move, where he should be more focused on developing his set shot first, as evidenced by his poor free-throw percentage. This should be the biggest emphasis for Bryan-Amaning in the pre-draft process, and going into workouts drilling mid-range jumpers could definitely help his stock.

Apart from developing his jumper, the next biggest thing Bryan-Amaning could do for his stock is improving his defense, an area where he has a ton of potential with his physical tools. Already a dangerous threat making plays off the ball, Bryan-Amaning lacks much in terms of fundamentals, specifically defending the post. The effort level is usually there, and he has great lateral speed and change of direction ability to recover from mistakes, but he shows very poor concept of leverage and how to use his hands and forearm in defending, while he's also heavily prone to biting for pump fakes.

Bryan-Amaning's effort level on defense and the boards was superb at Portsmouth, and continuing to show that kind of tenacity throughout the pre-draft process is a good idea.

Looking forward, Bryan-Amaning clearly has some long-term upside from an NBA perspective, but is still likely a ways away from making on-court contributions. He certainly helped himself this weekend at Portsmouth in a variety of ways, namely by measuring out extremely well, playing with an incredibly high motor, showing off some of his skills, and just showing up to the event in general and competing. He's not a lock to get drafted, but he's a player who can impress in private workouts and convince a team to take a flyer on him in the 2nd round, especially if he puts in work on his jumper between now and then.

If Bryan-Amaning isn't drafted, he'll certainly have abundant opportunities in summer league and as a potential D-League call-up next season should he choose to go that route, but because he has an English passport, he will likely be able to make good money in Europe as a rookie, something he will surely consider.

Andrew Goudelock, 6'2, Point Guard, Charleston
20.7 Points, 2.7 Rebounds, 3.0 Assists, 1.0 Steals, 13/22 3P

Matt Williams

Amongst the most intriguing prospects slated to compete in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Andrew Goudelock made a strong impression on one end of the floor, but struggled for stretches on the other. He's still one of the most interesting small-school prospects in the draft, and did little to turn scouts off to his ability to space the floor.

Finishing second in scoring over the course of the tournament, Goudelock made 13 of the 22 three point shots he attempted. Capable of getting hot from beyond the arc and hitting shots both off the catch and off the dribble from well beyond the arc, the Charleston product carried his team with his shooting for stretches at the PIT, much like he did during the 2011 season. He shot 43% in catch and shoot situations and off the dribble this season according to Synergy Sports Technology, and only reinforced what we already knew about his perimeter scoring ability.

Despite his scoring prowess, Goudelock started each game in Portsmouth looking to get his teammates involved. While most of his value resides in his ability to make shots, he looked solid at the point guard position when he was looking to defer. He's a sound passer, but doesn't have the terrific footspeed that would allow him to turn the corner regularly enough to draw additional defenders. Though he may be able to handle some minutes at the position down the road, he's going to spend most possessions spotting-up outside the arc.

Though Goudelock's lack of great quickness limits his impact around the basket when he can't find a clear path, it is a substantially bigger issue defensively. The Georgia native had an extremely difficult time fighting through screens at the PIT and was not playing with great intensity. His lateral quickness is not ideal to begin with, meaning he's a bit of a liability when he isn't dialed in—something that seemed to be the case more often than not.

Goudelock has some extremely intriguing characteristics that could allow him to carve out a career in the NBA – ala C.J. Watson. If he can give teams enough reason to believe that he can defend his position effectively, like Watson eventually did, he has a good chance of getting drafted or signed as a free agent.

Vernon Macklin, 6'9, Power Forward/Center, Florida
19.0 Points, 8.0 Rebounds, 1.3 Assists, 52.2% FG

Matt Williams

Enjoying a homecoming of sorts in his hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia, Vernon Macklin was one of the most productive players we saw at the PIT, and also one of the most physically impressive.

Macklin used a steady stream of post feeds and an occasional highlight reel dunk to do most of his damage offensively. While he relied on his right handed hook shot to score with his back to the basket, he flashed some potential with his left hand too. He struggled to convert when he couldn't get ideal position, but managed to get going in the second half of every game we watched and finished the PIT ranked third in points per-game.

Lacking much in the way of a jump shot as evidenced by the 4 total jump shots he took over the course of the 2011 season according to Synergy Sports Technology, Macklin is not a factor away from the rim, meaning his ability to develop counter moves and make plays on the offensive glass factor heavily into what he can bring to the table on the offensive end down the road. The former Gator is a terrific finisher, and is a nice target around the rim, but he would be well served to diversify the spaces he can occupy on the floor to help him on the next level.

On the defensive end, Macklin had some impressive moments using his near 7'4 wingspan to adjust shots around the basket, though he didn't come up with blocks. He's very good when he's dialed in, especially when defending the post one-on-one, but it would be nice to see him show more intensity on the defensive glass. Macklin averaged a respectable 8.0 rebounds over the week here, but seemed capable of more after looking terrific cleaning the boards in the first game. Mostly an area rebounder at this juncture, it would be nice to see Macklin show the aggressiveness on the glass that he showed on the offensive end this week.

Though Macklin's weaknesses are clearly defined, it was nice to see him try to assert himself offensively. The results were mixed early in games, but he was an impact player in this setting once he got going. If he fills in some of the gaps in his game, he could be well positioned for the future, but at 24 years old, he'll need to make those changes quickly to improve his short-term NBA prospects.

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