Bulls Show up Late; But Finally Clip Pacers in the End

ACC Well Represented in NBA Draft Again

duke_unc_art_257_20080207125640

By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

Jeff Teague

As usual, the ACC will be represented with numerous prospects in this year’s NBA Draft. Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague emerged as a legitimate NBA caliber player thanks to the Demon Deacons winning their first sixteen games of ’08-’09 and garnering national attention.  Teague is a shoot-first point guard which isn’t a discouraging trait considering his percentages this past season (49% FG, 44% 3-pt FG, 82% FT.)  Some reports have the Bucks interested in him with the tenth pick, but Teague more than likely falls into the late teens/early twenties. At the Draft combine, Teague discussed what he needs to work on the most to improve his NBA stock. “Being a pure point guard, I’m a scoring point guard right now, just  show them I can really run a team and get everybody involved,” he said.

Miami Wake Forest Basketball

James Johnson

At the Combine, Teague’s BFF, roommate and college teammate James Johnson’s measurements stood out.  It wasn’t so much his height of 6’8”, but more his 257 pound frame.  That type of strength combined with his impressive athleticism is what allowed Johnson to be successful at Wake Forest.  He was able to muscle weaker defenders down low while also using his ability to drive and finish.  Johnson’s range from deep leaves plenty of room for improvement, but he did develop a more consistent mid-range game as a sophomore. “I can create my own jumper and I’m an inside/outside guy,” Johnson told me when I asked him about his best selling points. 

If Johnson can become a bigger threat from downtown, he could play the three at the next level and be a difficult match-up for opposing defenders.  As it stands now, his game is better suited to power forward, despite his lack of height.  He’s one of this draft’s many wild cards- he could go as high as #11 to the Nets, but could also easily slip down to the early twenties.

On a side note, Johnson inadvertently validated my theory that every team’s public relations department distributes a set of talking points and canned responses to each player, and trains them to recite these platitudes as responses to media queries.

I asked him if he and Teague “compare notes” at the end of the day meeting the media. “You know how we had a tumble at the end of the season, after starting off great, so sometimes we get asked the same question. We compare, we talk a little bit, it’s funny cuz they ask us the same questions, we laugh it off, because I tell him one thing, he tells them the same thing and we didn’t even talk about it,” Johnson said.

james_johnson_21

Gerald Henderson

Like many Dukies, Gerald Henderson arrived in Durham with a lot of hype.  But during his first two years as a Blue Devil, Henderson was known more for being the player who bloodied Tyler Hansbrough’s nose in Chapel Hill than for his performance on the court.  That all changed this past season when Henderson stepped his game up and emerged as a legitimate NBA prospect.  So what kind of team might be a good fit for Henderson? “I like fast pace, transition like the Phoenix Suns. I like their style of play, the way they get up and down the court,” Henderson said at the NBA Draft Combine.hansbroughground
 
His athleticism is ideal for an NBA-two guard.  He is very aggressive when attacking the basket and is a great finisher around the rim.  What allowed Henderson to become a more valuable player his junior season was his mid-range game.  He plays well off the ball, using screens well, but can also create space with an effective pull-up jumper.  From three-point range, Henderson still has issues with his consistency, hitting just 34% of his attempts this past season.  Henderson also talked about who he looks up to in the Association. “A guy I like to watch a lot is Brandon Roy. With his athleticism, his strength, his ability to get to the basket, maybe him the most,” He said.

The other areas of his game help his value as he is a strong rebounder, good passer, and plays hard on the defensive end.  Henderson could hear his name called as high as number nine to the Raptors on draft day and likely doesn’t fall below #16 to Chicago.

In yet another example of a public figure describing a coincidental circumstance, and mislabeling it ironic, Henderson spoke about his BFF Wayne Ellington. “Wayne’s my best friend, I played with him in high school together, he had a great career at Carolina and it’s just ironic that we came out of high school the same year and we’re going on to the next level the same year.”

(Note: I want to congratulate ESPN’s Steve Berthiaume who stated on the June 21st episode of Baseball Tonight: “In a manner of coincidence and not irony, Justin Verlander had the same home plate umpire in both of his career starts against the Brewers.”

UNC Quartet helped NBA Draft Stock by returning to School

tylerhansbrough

By Paul M. Banks

In 2006, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Corey Brewer all decided to return to Florida in hopes of winning back-to-back national titles, a feat that came to fruition.

Last summer, North Carolina faced a similar situation.  The Tar Heels saw sophomores Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, and junior Danny Green declare for the NBA Draft, but later pull their names out in hopes of bringing a championship to Chapel Hill.  Also returning to UNC was National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough.  With all that experience returning, the Heels did what they set out to do, breezing through the NCAA Tournament and defeating Michigan State in the championship game.  Now the four Tar Heels will try to follow in the footsteps of the Gators, when Horford, Brewer, and Noah were three of the top nine picks in the 2007 NBA Draft.

“We all accomplished something very special and now we’re here this year trying to take that next step,” Wayne Ellington said at the NBA Draft Combine before discussing how playing another year in college and winning a title helped their stock. “We definitely didn’t hurt ourselves at all, we all got better individually and as a team and we did it on the biggest stage, and that definitely helps your resume.”

Tyler Hans….must I actually type out his name?
Off the four Heels that will be drafted, Hansbrough is obviously the most heralded (and over exposed).  But despite all the accolades (and the ridiculous amount of coverage) this polarizing player received during his collegiate career, scouts question how his game will translate into the NBA.  We all became nauseuous from incessantly hearing about his hustle, heart, determination, blah, blah, blah and how his fearless attitude on the court earned him the nickname “Psycho T.”  But those attributes will only take you so far in the pro game as raw talent tends to take over.  Duke N Carolina Basketball

“I’m not going to work out for a lot of teams, probably about 8, I’ve played for four years, these guys have seen me play, and I don’t think they’re going to judge me by one workout,” Hansbrough said at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Everyone’s favorite player to hate will certainly be a first round pick, likely going as high as 16th overall to the Bulls and dropping as low as the mid-20’s, but his outlook at the next level is more of a role player, an energy guy who can come off the bench, grab rebounds, and do everybody’s favorite cliché, “the little things that don’t show up in the box score.” Hansbrough gave a mind-numbing cliché when asked about where he might end up. “I’ll work out with these eight teams that I think I fit in best with and we’ll go from there,” Hansbrough said.


Ty Lawson

Lawson is a tough prospect to figure out.  Because the point guard class is so deep this year, it is hard to tell where teams will rank him compared to others.  I would not be surprised if Lawson went as high at number ten to the Bucks, but also wouldn’t be shocked if he fell into the early 20’s. “I’d love to play there,” Lawson said about Milwaukee, “I talked to the coaches yesterday, and their ones play up and down, that’s my type of game. They have a lot of weapons, Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Andrew Bogut, so there are a lot of options and I wouldn’t mind going there,” the student of the game said.

Whoever drafts Lawson will get a proven floor leader and someone who understands how to run an offense.  He is lightning quick with the basketball and a great distributor.  The biggest concern regarding Lawson last year was his inconsistent outside shooting, but he increased his three-point percentage from 36% to 47% during his junior campaign, proving he can knock down big shots when needed. Lawson himself is pretty confident in his J. When I asked him what are the best things he brings to the NBA table Lawson responded, “probably my speed, leadership, I think I can shoot with the best of them, me and Steph Curry are probably the best shooters out of the group, and I can take care out of the ball, so I think that separates me from the rest of the group.”

Wayne Ellington

Ellington is a pure shooter who had one of the prettiest strokes in college basketball.  He has a great mid-range game, knows to move without the ball, but is too often streaky from downtown.  His athleticism isn’t ideal for most NBA two-guards and hasn’t shown a tenacity to attack the basket.  More than likely, Ellington will be a solid role player at the next level because of his ability to shoot the rock, but it is doubtful that he will ever become a go-to player.  He could realistically go as high as #12 to Charlotte, but more than likely falls into the late-teen’s/early-twenties. Ellington was asked where he might fit in within the big picture, “Right now all you can do is work, I’ve been working hard and getting ready and preparing myself,” he responded.


Danny Green
unchate

Partially due to the ridiculous amount of unnecessary hype surrounding Hansbrough, perhaps no player in college basketball did more for his team and received less attention for it than Green.  He isn’t going to blow you away with any particular part of his game, but does a little bit of everything truly earning the title “glue guy.”  Green validated this concept when I asked him what his most saleable skill is. “I don’t like to categorize myself in one area or be put in one category, I’m a basketball player. Whatever a team needs me to do, I’ll do. Whether it’s box out, grab rebounds, play defense, get steals, block shots, spot up shooting, whatever it is, I’m going to try and do,” Green said.

Offensively, he is a solid shooter, decent ball-handler, and can post up small defenders on the block.  His defense is what will likely allow him to stick on an NBA team because he can guard on both the perimeter and the post.  If he lands in the right situation, he could be an invaluable bench player and a steal of a second round pick. I asked Green who people compare his game to. “My younger brother likes to compare me to Brandon Roy and hopefully, I can do some of the things that he can do because we’re the same height, same build,” Green responded.