Devin Green, 6-7, Shooting Guard, LA D-Fenders
24 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 steals, 8-13 FG, 1-3 3P, 7-7 FT
Green spent a season in the NBA already with the Lakers two years back, and there is no doubt that he has NBA caliber tools physically. He has excellent size for the shooting guard position, and outstanding athletic abilityfeaturing terrific quickness, great fluidity, an explosive first step, and a good vertical leap, being extremely quick off his feet.
Offensively, youd be hard pressed to find a more impressive wing player here in Boise. Green creates his own shot incredibly well thanks to his terrific quickness and ball-handling skills, and is very advanced at keeping his defender off balance thanks to a nice array of jab-steps, shot-fakes, hesitation moves and fantastic footwork. He is extremely smooth and effortless with everything he does, almost looking like things come a bit too easy for him at times, which some people might (and do) confuse with a lack of effort. His mid-range game is particularly impressive, being able to stop on a dime and create separation from his defender off the dribble, with a nice high release point and pretty solid mechanics from 16-18 feet.
The knock on Green at times has been his ability to knock down shots consistently from the perimeter, and indeed his mechanics did not look great when he was forced to take a rushed shot. He was able to knock down a wide open NBA 3-pointer, though, and is shooting a respectable 37% from this range on the year, albeit on a limited number of attempts. It seems like hes improved this part of his game, at least to the point that its respectable.
Defensively, Green has great toolsterrific quickness, good size, big hands and solid length. Hes known as one of the better defenders in this league when he fully applies himself, which wasnt always the case here at times. He gambled at times for steals and probably wasnt physical enough denying his man space, but you could certainly see the potential here. On one occasion for example, he made a highlight reel caliber play moving laterally staying in front of his man, and then showing great timing exploding off his feet to block his shot. He definitely applied himself on the boards today, pulling down 10, mostly by putting his physical tools to good use out-quicking and out-jumping other players.
The D-Fenders gave Green a considerable amount of time at the point guard spot today, probably in order to showcase his versatility and improve his chances of seeing a callup. Indeed, Green did a solid job running the team, not looking like a pure point by any stretch, but definitely making some very nice passes that highlighted his solid court vision. He finished with 8 assists on the day, and did a particularly good job in transition.
Green has been known as a player who doesnt always dominate his competition the way he should considering his talent. Its not quite clear how much of a knock that is for the NBA level (where hed be a role player), but he seems to be taking that to heart, and sometimes gets caught in situations where he over-dribbles a bit and forces the issue to a certain extent. From what weve seen in summer league and here, that doesnt seem to be that big of an issue, but the perception is out there, so we thought wed mention that.
All in all, Green looks like the best NBA prospect weve seen here so far in Boise. He reminds a bit of Anthony Parker, minus the same incredible feel for the game, and should definitely be one of the top candidates to see a callup in the coming weeks.
Brian Chase, 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2/10 3pFG
Despite his lack of size, Chase showed great defensive ability today. The undersized guard shows great focus and aggressiveness on the defensive end, and his strength will allow him to be effective in this area against NBA players.
Chase struggled with his long range shooting today, and his shooting form looks to have changed from last season. Last seasons high percentage rainbow jumper has been replaced with a flatter and less accurate shooting stroke. The guard seems to be a less selfish player this season and has really focused on improving his point guard skills. Instead of pounding the ball into the floor, Chase sets up the D-Fender offense quickly and works the ball around the perimeter.
If Chase could bring his shooting to where it was last season, hed be a near lock for a call-up this season. He has focused on improving his point guard skills, and his defense could be very valuable at the NBA level. It is hard to imagine a guy actually improving his shooting at the NBA level, however, so a little hot streak from behind the three point line would go a long way for Chase.
Kaniel Dickens, 6-8, Small Forward, Colorado 14ers
25 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 9-16 FG, 6-10 3P, 1-1 FT
Dickens looks the part of NBA player and then some. He has an NBA body and terrific size for a small forward, and is built incredibly well, with long arms and a great frame. Moreover, hes a phenomenal athlete on top of that, with nice quickness and explosiveness. If this was your first time seeing him, you probably would have immediately marked him down as a high-level candidate to look at regardless of the level of play, as hes simply jumps off the page immediately at you.
Skill-wise, Dickens doesnt make anywhere near as much use of his phenomenal tools as he should. Most of his production comes from the perimeter, where he has a terrific looking stroke with range out to the NBA 3-point line. He gets his shot off virtually whenever he pleases thanks to his height and high release point, and has absolutely no shame at getting his shot off at even the slightest glimmer of daylight. To prove that, he knocked down six 3-pointers on the day today. Dickens showed the ability to get his shot off from mid-range somewhat well here too, mostly off one or two dribbles, but isnt as effective here as he is with his feet set. He excels in transition and can also move off the ball and catch and finish at the rim in the half-court as youd probably expect, but this is basically the extent of his offensive game. Creating off the dribble, posting up, and other skill-oriented things are not really part of his repertoire right now, and probably wont ever be considering that hes been in the minor leagues for years now.
Defensively, Dickens is extremely poor, and this is the main reason why he isnt getting more looks from NBA teams considering the terrific talent he possesses. He shows poor body language and doesnt put great effort in, lacking some physical toughness and suffering from mental lapses quite often. He doesnt appear to be the smartest player in the world either. Hes a clear cut example of a player who physically has all the tools in the world, but mentally is lacking a little something extra to be considered an NBA player at this point in his career. At age 29, that s not likely to change anytime soon, and you have to wonder if hes not wasting his time here rather than making great money overseas.
Sammy Mejia, 66, Shooting Guard, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 turnovers
Sammy struggled in the first quarter, going only 3 of 8. He drove both right and left to the basket, but was either cut off and forced to toss up a bad shot, or got caught in the air and unable to finish. He hit a pull-up jumper from just inside the arc at the end of the first which gave him momentum heading into the second, where he stole the ball off of the block and then trailed in transition for a dunk, and then pulled up just inside the arc in semi-transition for a straightaway long distance 2. He had trouble finishing at the rim in the first half missing an easy floater going right to left and then tossing another floater up wildly in the lane.
The second half was much of the same, going only 3 of 8, with Sammy trying to break the zone on a couple of plays and getting stuck dribbling too much outside of the arc on another. He did a good job defensively in the first half against Los Angeles D-Fenders forward Sean Banks holding him to 1 of 9 shooting, but in the second half Banks began to heat up and drove to the basket at will past Mejia. He rotated well defensively, but when left on an island he had trouble dealing with Banks pump fakes and first step.
Mejia has good footwork and a decent midrange game. Hes an on-court leader making sure players have their defensive assignments during freethrows and his hustle and good positioning allows him to rebound exceptionally well for his height, especially on the offensive end, where hes third in the league at 3.7 per game. Despite his talent, D-Fenders forwards Sean Banks and Devin Green managed to keep their hand in his face and hedge him off of his drives using their length and athleticism to disrupt his game. Mejia is an extremely skilled and versatile player, but lacking elite athleticism and a quick first step is a serious hindrance when it comes to taking his game to the next level.
Sean Banks, 16 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 7/20 FG
Despite remaining one of the top scorers in the league for much of the D-League season, Banks struggled from the field today and did very little else to make up for it. The swing player usually scores the bulk of his points on mid-range shots and drives to the basket, and both weapons were ineffective for much of the day.
Banks shows good quickness of the dribble, and covers a lot of ground with his combination of size and length. At the basket today, he lacked the touch to finish consistently inside, and his shooting stroke appeared to become flatter as the game went on. He did make some very nice reads out of the high post when the D-Fenders stuck to their triangle offense, and the system appears to have helped him grasp a better understanding of the game.
Defensively, Banks must put his length and quickness to better use. He lacks the physicality and focus to be a great defender at this point, though he does have some upside in this area. The swingman is only 22 years-old, and has stayed out of trouble off the court so far this season. If he can continue to stay out of trouble and score the basketball efficiently, its possible that a team would take a chance on him this season.
Elton Brown, 69, Center, Colorado 14ers
19 points, 7 of 12, 18 rebounds (5 offensive)
Elton had a strong first quarter, hitting all 3 of his shots and grabbing 5 boards, but he only took one shot in the second quarter. He did manage to get to the free throw line 6 times in the first half (converting on 5 of them) but consistent aggressive can be a problem for him, especially when teammates arent getting him the ball. He finished with 19 points and grabbed a monstrous 18 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive.
Brown was guarded most of the game by Cory Underwood and Kevin Pittsnogle. Listed only 10lbs apart, Brown is probably closer to 35lbs bigger than Underwood, and used his body to consistently walk him under the rim and easily lay it in over him or, defensively, to push him out of rebounding position allowing him to get to the ball easily. Against Pittsnogle, Brown used his superior foot speed to break him down off the dribble, and in one play drove down the lane splitting defenders and smoothly kissed it off the glass.
Big or small, Elton is one of the best players in the league at using the rim as his ally. He has a variety of step across and crafty reverse layups off the glass that allow him to get his shot off against almost anybody. In the D-League this allows him to score a lot of points, but its questionable whether or not this tactic would be as successful against the bigger and more athletic players in the NBA.
Regardless, his numbers and talent are undeniable, and if he could just shake the knock against his work ethic and conditioning, he might actually receive that elusive call-up.
Andre Barrett, 5-10, Point Guard, Bakersfield Jam
18 points, 7 assists, 4 turnovers, 6 rebounds, 8-14 FG, 1-3 3P, 1-1 FT
Barrett looked much more like the pass-first point guard we remembered from college today, pushing the ball up the floor extremely well and finding all his teammates with crisp passes all over the perimeter, mostly on the drive and dish. Hes a dominant ball-handler for sure, sometimes resorting to over-dribbling, but hes clearly an unselfish guy.
Barrett isnt as freakishly quick as you might hope from a player his size, but hes a phenomenal ball-handler with either hand and has great timing and smarts, which lets him get by players at this level virtually whenever he pleases. He has a nice mid-range game as well, creating separation off the dribble with a pull-up jumper quite often when he couldnt find a teammate to pass to, and hitting most of the shots he took from that range. Like most little guys, hed rather find a shot in the mid-range than take the ball all the way to the basket (he only attempted one free throw), but he does have some ability to finish craftily around the hoop over bigger defenders. He was a little bit hesitant to shoot the NBA 3-pointer early on in the game, but looked more aggressive trying to prove his ability to hit this shot later on in the contest. This isnt a real strong-point of his (it looks a bit flat when rushed), but hes not someone you can leave open, since hes pretty reliable with his feet set.
This was Barretts second and last game at the D-League showcase, and we came away with some mixed feelings about him. He might be the top point guard prospect here, probably by default, but you dont get the feeling when watching him that hes a cant miss NBA talent. His lack of size, perimeter shooting, freakish quickness and just average leadership skills certainly dont make for an ideal package, even though it wouldnt shock anyone here if he got a callup at the end of the day just to find a spot on the bench as a 3rd point guard. Considering the type of overseas offers hes turned down this season already (one for as much as $80,000 a month from Russia reportedly), you have to hope for him that he eventually gets his wish.
Alando Tucker, 26 points, 11/19 FG, 8 rebounds, 3/8 3PFG
Tucker scored a very efficient 27 points today using a broad range of scoring tools. He started the game by moving well off the ball and flashing to the open spot in the middle of the defense. These flash cuts led to a few easy baskets and seemed to make the game easier for the rookie forward. The forward also showed good quickness getting to the basket off the dribble, and the ability to elevate and finish over the defense at the basket.
From behind the three point line, Tuckers accuracy looks a little improved from his days at Wisconsin, but his stroke has a ways to go before he can be called a reliable three point shooter at the NBA level. His shot doesnt have a whole lot of arch on it, but he does get it off very quickly.
The rookie also showed good promise defensively, though a more consistent effort is needed before we can label Tucker as a lockdown defender. He has the lateral quickness and length to shut down opposing players, but at this level he has to focus the majority of his energy on putting the ball in the hoop.
With freakish athleticism, a solid mid-range game and an improving three point jumper, Tucker has the tools to become a good bench scorer at the NBA level. His athleticism will fit in great with Phoenixs up and down transition system, and an improved three point shot could make him a very dangerous weapon for years to come.
Lance Allred, 6-11, Center, Idaho Stampede
24 points, 12 rebounds, 8-10 FG, 6-6 FT
Allred has solid height for a center at 6-11, with an average frame that appears to be well conditioned. He sticks to what he does best offensively, which is catch and finish simple moves around the basket, and knock down mid-range jumpers and free throws effectively with a really nice touch. He has excellent hands and is aided greatly by the fact that he has such great passers around him, in the form of Randy Livingston and fellow big men Cory Violette and Josh McRoberts. Hes actually a pretty unselfish player himself, smart enough to find the open man when the double team comes. Allred is also a fairly active player, stepping in for the occasional charge, running the floor extremely hard, and trying to make his presence felt as much as possible on the offensive glass. Hes actually a solid rebounder, more because of his fundamentals and activity level than his athleticism, which appears to be average. Hes not the most talented guy in the world, but hes able to be effective at this level because of his intelligence, fundamentals and the energy level he plays with.
Average athleticism seems to be the main thing holding Allred back from a hypothetical career in the NBA at this point. His lateral quickness is fairly poor, he isnt very strong, he lacks the explosiveness to be much of a shot-blocking threat, and his general awareness defensively is not very good. NBA big men would probably be able to overwhelm him with their superior strength and quickness, but there have certainly been worse big men to draw an NBA paycheck, thats for sure.
Steven Smith, 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 8/19 FG, 0/3 3PFG
Smith was much less effective and efficient as a scorer compared to what he has done so far in the D-League season. Instead of posting up or driving to the basket today, the combo-forward seemed content taking 20 footers off the dribble with limited accuracy. His post moves were also less effective than usually today, and Anaheim was never in this game from the start.
The second year forward shows good footwork and a wide range of moves both facing the basket and posting up. His back to the basket game allows him to score against small forwards, and he can usually take power forwards to the basket off the dribble. Smiths shows both crafty footwork and uses the pump-fake well to keep opposing defenders on their heels.
Defensively, Smith will have to become more effective guarding the small forward position to make it back to the NBA. He lacks the laterally quickness to be great in this area right now, but could become smarter with his positioning and the way he defends the ball. Smith has the tools to be a bench player at the NBA level, but the lack of a true position hurts him in the mind of the scouts in attendance. He played a bad game today, but has been one of the top scorers in the league this year.
Randy Livingston, 611, Point Guard Idaho Stampede
20 points, 11 assists, 10 of 10 free throws, 6 turnovers
A veteran call-up candidate at this point, Randy showed both his skills as a player and his potential as a future coach in the league. He created regularly for his teammates in the first half, racking up 9 assists, but shooting only 3 shots. In the second half he looked to score more putting up an additional 12 points, but notching only 2 assists. He did a good job at the free throw line, including two clutch free throws to ice the game, shooting 10 for 10 from the stripe tonight.
He out-thought himself on a couple of plays trying to go over the top, but redeemed himself by not only hitting his teammates when they were open, but by making himself available when they were stuck. This is the type of heady play Livingston is known for, and why hes a perpetual call-up candidate in the D-League.
On several plays he was able to change speeds allowing him to get to the rim for running layups or scoops, which is an underrated skill that allows him to continue to score at a high level when needed. At the end of the game he made an ill-advised pass in crowded transition to Brent Petway while up, and with less than a minute to play, but he subsequently came down the floor and got to the rim to get fouled allowing him to hit 2 free throws to effectively end the game.
Theres a reason Randy Livingston remains on the NBA radar. He plays smart, makes good decisions, and can create as a last resort. This makes him the type of player GMs like coming off the bench, and a valuable asset come playoff time. Livingston is having a great season, and is once again on the short list of point guard call-up candidates.
Josh McRoberts, 0 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 0/6 FG
Though he still is shaking off the rust from not playing for a while, McRoberts showed good promise in a number of areas today. The rookie forward loves playing in the high post, where he shows excellent court vision and the ability to hit the cutting man nearly every time. He appears much more comfortable facing the basket on the offensive end, and didnt make his way to the low post at all offensively during the game today. His jumper looks a little flat right now, and he went zero of six from the field throughout the course of the day.
McRoberts did show great promise as a rebounder in the second half, and managed to pull down a key board with a few seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Stampede. He will need to become stronger to rebound this effectively at the NBA level, but his combination of great hands and above average leaping ability leave him with a lot of potential in this area.
As a perimeter oriented Finesse power-forward, McRoberts looks to be a great compliment to Greg Oden in the future. The two are reportedly good friends, and their high post-low post game could be deadly for years to come. To improve, McRoberts must show no fear mixing it up inside, and he needs to play harder when not directly involved in the offensive play call. At the age of 20, the rookie has a lot of upside and will benefit from the playing time in the D-League this season.
Shannon Brown, 6-4, Guard, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Cleveland Cavaliers Asignee
26 points, 7 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 11-28 FG, 2-7 3PT FG, 2-3 FT, 46 minutes
Since Brown was not getting many minutes in Cleveland this year, he asked to play in the D-League to get more time on the floor. For him to be effective when the Cavaliers recall him, he needs to be more consistent offensively and incorporate his team better. The second year guard doesn't have a contract for next season, and was likely showcasing himself for the NBA scouts in attendance.
Ricky Sanchez, 611, Power Forward, Idaho Stampede
5 points, 1 of 4 from three, 1 rebound
Sanchez spends most games floating around the perimeter and shies away from contact. He has a sweet stroke for a guy his size and is a three point specialist, shooting at a 43% clip on the season despite a 1 for 4 outing today. The one real exception to this was a nice play where he faked the three, let the defender fly by, and took two dribbles to the left for a straightaway 20 footer. Its these types of plays that you never see from him, but show you glimpses of the potential that got him drafted in the first place.
Ricky Sanchez is tall and possesses a nice outside shot, but the same issues get raised with him time and again; he refuses to work on an inside game which means not only does he settle for outside shots, but hes also out of position for rebounds and easy buckets from around the basket. A 611 player in the D-League, with his tools, and Randy Livingston as his point guard, should have a field day around the rim, but instead he continues to hover around behind the arc as if he is a one-dimensional spot-up shooter. At only 20 years old there is still plenty of time to improve, and he has the physical gifts to do it, but essentially Ricky Sanchez is the same player he was when he came out of high school just 3 years older.
Jelani McCoy, 6-10, Center, Los Angeles D-Fenders
15 points, 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 6-6 FG, 3-5 FT, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 blocks, 26 minutes
McCoy is a good shot blocker and had two today but needs to be more aggressive on the defensive boards he had only two defensive rebounds. He also needs to be stronger and do a better job of holding his ground.
McCoy is an NBA veteran who already saw some action this season with the Denver Nuggets. Hes a bit undersized, but the lack of size in the D-League and his previous NBA experience makes him a safe call-up candidate for an NBA team. Some NBA teams will refuse to deal with him because of past issues, but he could be a stop-gap for the remaining teams in the NBA.
Billy Thomas, 6-5, Shooting Guard, Colorado 14ers
12 points, 7 rebounds (0 offensive), 5-10 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1-1 FT, 33 minutes
Defensively, Thomas was given the difficult task of guarding Albuquerques Alando Tucker. Though, Tucker had a good game, Thomas forced Tucker into difficult shots and limited opportunities. Thomas was active on the glass grabbing seven defensive rebounds.
At 32 years old, Thomas could see action in the NBA as an experienced roll player. Overseas remains out of the question for him at this point, and he could be a very stable locker-room guy for a young team.
Mouhamed Sene, 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, 6/7 FG
Sene still shows good promise as a prospect, but must show the desire to understand the game. The second year center runs the court like a guard when he plays hard, and has excellent potential as a shot blocker thanks to his length and quick leaping ability. He showed a good second jump today when coming over from the weak-side to block a shot, but he generally seems a step slow on defensive rotations. He finished the game with 4 blocked shots.
Offensively, the centers hands have improved a bit since last season, and scored on six of seven attempts thanks to his ability to catch the ball down low and finish. He even showed a good running hook with his back to the basket today, and but looked to lack great touch on this shot the other time he went to the hook.
With his length and above average athletic ability, Sene has the tools to become a solid NBA player down the road. He must focus on producing a consistent effort, and polishing up his low post game.