Sunday, December 21, 2008

In the Spotlight: Jonny Flynn

Jonny Flynn
Position: Point Guard
Ht: 6’0 Wt: 180
Hometown: Niagara Falls, NY
College: Syracuse
Class: Sophomore
Age: 10/28/89


  • Great combination of speed and bounce
  • Terrific with the ball in his hands… Once he gets the outlet pass, he’s off... Excels leading the break.
  • Extremely fast end to end – Does a great job changing speeds and turning it into high gear.
  • Composed floor general - Very poised demeanor
  • Good court vision; sees the floor well.
  • Despite being small in stature, he has good strength to fend off contact and finish in traffic
  • Has a toughness and swagger to his game… He really believes in himself
  • Above average 3-point shooter… Great elevation on his jump shot.
  • Plays major minutes and rarely appears tired throughout (*Syracuse plays zone D)
  • Active hands defensively


  • Relies heavily on taking 3’s and really favors straightaway… Needs to develop a mid-range game and expand his shot selection.
  • Listed at 6’0 – probably closer to 5’10
  • In some situations, he’d be better off passing the ball upcourt to create a transition opportunity…At times, he overdribbles, which prevents a fast break chance.
  • Can become more effective in the pick and roll by attacking the basket with greater consistency – as opposed to using the screen and settling for a jump shot.
  • Takes some tough, contested, low-percentage shots.


Jonny Flynn is a confident point guard that does a great job changing speeds and getting into the open court. He knows how to control the tempo of the game and he has NBA range on his jump shot. He’s also the leader of the Syracuse team, as you see his teammates rely on him to set the offense, as a true point guard should.

Now although he’s shown the ability to break down the defense, he relies too much on the deep 3 (straightaway). He’s also listed at 6’0 (translation 5’10), which will present challenges at the next level shooting over taller defenders and finishing around the rim. Luckily for Flynn, he can jump out of the gym, which helps to offset his small stature.

Defensively, Syracuse primarily plays in a zone, so it’s tough to gauge his on the ball defensive abilities. Flynn is very active in the zone and does a good job keeping his feet / hands moving and creating turnovers. He also has the foot speed and quickness to make you believe he can become an NBA level defensive player, but it’s still to be determined.

Overall, Flynn is an intriguing prospect with a lot of upside. He’s a tremendous athlete that should be able to step in and give a team productive minutes right away. At this point, I’d look real close at Flynn in the middle of the 1st round. With his much improved play thus far this season, he has a great opportunity to move up the draft boards.

In the Spotlight: Paul Harris

Paul Harris
Position: Small Forward

Ht: 6-5, Wt: 230
Hometown: Niagara Falls, NY
College: Syracuse
Class: Junior
Age: 10/15/86


  • Strong build… Well defined, very muscular physique
  • Impressive athlete with good combination of power, length and explosion.
  • Great rebounder for his size – attacks the glass. Paul doesn’t wait for the ball to come down, he goes and gets it. He gets himself in good position and explodes to the highest point.
  • Tenacious man to man defender. He plays very physical, in your face, on the ball defense. He has good lateral quickness and moves his feet well.
  • Superb team defender – Rotates well and gets his body in position to help stop penetration. He gives up his body and will take the contact.
  • Plays with high energy – A competitor who wants to win and gives maximum effort every night.
  • Very active on both ends of the court. Offensively, he’s a slasher that will get scrappy buckets – (put backs off glass, cuts in offense)… Moves well off the ball. Defensively, he’s always moving, talking, banging.
  • Plays well when he gets out in transition, filling the wing and finishing on the break.


  • Offensively, Paul’s game is 12 feet and in.
  • Needs to improve his jump shot. He has a high release point, doesn’t get enough ark and the bottom line is that he can’t consistently hit a jump shot.
  • He’s 6’5 but his skills are of someone 6’9, which will limit him at the next level.
  • Struggles creating off the dribble – Needs to expand his game to include beating his man off the dribble and creating scoring opportunities for himself and teammates.


If there’s a loose ball and 10 guys go after it and Paul Harris is one of those 10, he’s coming out with the ball. That epitomizes his game. He’s tenacious, he’s aggressive, he’s a competitor, and he’s willing to give himself up to get the ‘W’.

His greatest strength is his ability to defend. Although Syracuse primarily plays zone, when they do go man, Harris takes on the challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best player. He’s able to use his quickness, length and strength to keep his man in front of him. He also has great defensive instincts and understands how to play team defense. He has all the physical attributes to play defense at the NBA level.

Offensively, is where Harris is limited. At 6’5, he plays like a power forward, and lacks the skills of a shooting guard / small forward, which he’ll need at the NBA level. The primary issue is his inability to shoot with consistency. His jumper has been a work in progress since Paul entered college 3 years ago and it still is nowhere near an NBA level.

Overall, Paul does so many things on the court that make him valuable and make him a winner. The problem is that at 6’5 he is going to need to play the 2 in the NBA and with some major holes in his offensive repertoire, he’s not going to be able to stick on a roster. He’s worth a look in the late 2nd round, with hope that he could develop into a lock down defender (ala Bruce Bowen), but unless he can hit the jumper, there wont be an NBA future for him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In the Spotlight: Tyreke Evans (updated)

Tyreke Evans
Position: Point Guard / 2 Guard
Ht: 6-4, Wt: 195
Hometown: Aston, PA
College: Memphis
Class: Freshman
Age: 10/19/89


  • Possesses incredible ball handling skills… Great cross over dribble which he’s equally comfortable going left or right with.
  • Has the ability to freeze his defender with a hard dribble, that he uses to get space for a pull up jumper (if the D sags back) or blow past the defense (if they tighten up).
  • Demonstrates good body control when he gets into the lane.
  • Plays with an attacking style, consistently penetrating to the basket and putting pressure on the opposition.
  • Has a scorer’s mentality, always looking to keep pouring it on. He’s capable of going off for big scoring numbers.
  • Excels when he’s in transition, primarily leading the break, but he’s effective filling the wing as well.
  • Very long arms, active hands defensively.


  • Lacks the athletic ability to get above the rim, or elevate on his jump shot. Tyreke does not have the leaping ability which he’ll need as his game looks to advance to higher levels.
  • Needs to repair his shooting form. It’s ugly, inconsistent and he has a slow release. Tyreke also tends to drift back rather than rising straight up on his jumper.
  • Has to improve playing off the ball. Tyreke is at his best when he is isolated one-on-one, but he really struggles moving without the ball and finding other ways to score / be effective.
  • Laid back demeanor – not the assertive type: i.e. get after the loose balls, give your buddy up to take the charge, etc.
  • Has a tendency to over-dribble when he wants to get to the basket.
  • Needs to get better defensively. He has to get more committed on the defensive side of the ball and improve his foot speed. His on the ball defense is sub par right now.
  • Shot selection is questionable – as he continues to mature he’ll improve the balance between when to create for others vs. when to look for his own shot.


Tyreke is blessed with a ton of skills. He is very advanced with the ball in his hands, he has a wide array of moves, tremendous penetration ability and he knows how to get to the bucket. He’s a natural scorer with a mentality to keep pouring it on, with the capability to go off for big scoring numbers.

With all of his talent and skills, I’d like to see Tyreke be more active on the court… crashing the glass, locking up his defender, pursuing loose balls etc.

Tyreke is also not extremely athletic. He can get to the basket, but he doesn’t elevate at an NBA level. He can use his long arms to get in the passing lanes, but he lacks the lateral quickness to keep his man in front of him. He can get past his defender with his dribbling abilities / moves, but he won’t be blazing past any defenders with his speed.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In the Spotlight: Robert Vaden

Robert Vaden
Position: 2-Guard / Small Forward
Ht: 6-5, Wt: 210
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
College: UAB
Class: Senior
Age: 3/3/85


  • Very complete, poised player who does a little bit of everything.
  • Heady player who can fill many roles on the offensive end – play 1, 2, 3
  • Great range on his jump shot
  • Does a great job using screens to get free… can knock it down on a catch-and-shoot, or off the bounce.
  • Crafty player with good court vision… Has the ability to get into the paint and find the open man.
  • Strong build – can hold his own physically
  • Understands how to play team defense - Not the best on the ball defender, but does a great job rotating from the weakside to help out defensively


  • Settles for 3’s way too much rather than taking the ball to the bucket.
  • Not very athletic… Lacks NBA level leaping ability / explosiveness
  • Limited quickness – going to struggle taking his man off the dribble at the next level
  • More of a streak shooter, that could improve his consistency from 3 point range… Robert would benefit from taking some mid-range jumpers to keep the defense honest.
  • Heavily favors dribbling with his right hand… needs to improve his ball handling with his left.
  • Doesn’t have the hang-time to finish consistently in traffic.
  • He’s already 23, so there isn’t going to be much growth in his game (sat out 1 yr to transfer).


Robert is a very complete player, who does everything well, but nothing spectacular. He won’t blow you away with his speed, quickness, or athletic ability, but he has a ton of skills that make him a very efficient player. He has good range, court vision, he hits the glass inside and he has the ability to get hot in a hurry.

On the defensive side of the ball, because Robert has limited lateral quickness, he’s not a terrific on the ball defender. He does however, do a nice job rotating over from the weakside, to play solid team defense.

Robert’s really at his best with the ball in his hands, playing a point forward role, which allows him to make the decisions and control the offensive flow. He’s used to being the best player on whatever team he’s played, which clearly won’t be the case as his game matures to the next level.

In order for Robert to find a niche in the NBA, I’d like to see him become a more consistent jump shooter (right now he’s more of a streak shooter), improve his penetration abilities (work on his left hand dribble), and even improve his on the ball defense.

Right now, Robert’s worth a look in the mid 2nd round, but I think he’ll have trouble sticking, unless a team lacks depth at the 2/3 position.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Elite 24: 2008

I ventured up to Harlem last week to check out the Elite 24. The Elite 24 takes place at Rucker Park and it's the only high school game that features the top 24 ball players, regardless of class. As is the case with every All-Star game, there isn't much defense being played and the ball doesn't exactly move on the offensive end.

With that being said, alot of talent made it's way to Harlem and I kept my eye on a a few guys that are expecting to make it to the NBA in a few years... Lance Stephenson (updated) and John Wall - Spotlights below:

In the Spotlight: Lance Stephenson (updated)

Lance Stephenson
Position: Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Ht: 6-6
Wt: 220
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Class: Senior
College Options: Memphis, Texas, Kansas, USC, St. John’s
Age: 9/05/90


  • At 6’6, 220lbs, Lance is physically advanced with a very muscular build.
  • Extremely versatile on both ends of the court. Lance posses the handle which allows him to play the point, the shooting touch to play the wing, and the strength to finish inside. Defensively, he has the flexibility to guard the 1 – 3 depending on match ups.
  • Scorer - Has the ability to completely dominate on the offensive end.
  • Great one-on-one skills, with an array of moves to take his man off the dribble… Exceptional cross-over (both left to right and right to left), hesitation move, and right in-and-out dribble.
  • Lance really knows how to finish around the rim, as he's able to use both his left and right hand to finish.
  • Fierce Competitor with a drive to be the best. Lance really flourishes when he's playing against other elite players. He always rises to the challenge and never shies away from guarding the opposition’s best player.
  • When Lance gets into the paint, he has a tendency to spin, as he's very adept at using his body to fend off his defender.
  • Very Pure Shooter with great form – He has the range to hit from deep 3, but also the mid range game to hit from foul line and in.
  • Further along in his development when shooting off the bounce.
  • Sees the floor well – As he begins to play with players closer to his skill level, his passing abilities will hopefully be showcased with more frequency.
  • Very confident player – Has a real swagger to his game. Lance can hold his own athletically, with the power to compliment.


  • Body language and maturity are real concerns - When things aren’t going well his immaturity shows as he pouts and point’s fingers… show’s disgust.
  • Needs to be careful that as he adds more muscle mass, it doesn’t inhibit his agility or mobility on the court.
  • Has a tendency to over dribble when he wants to break down his man, play to the crowd and make a statement… Needs to make a move and explode.
  • Lance has to work on getting himself into position so that he can knock down the jumper off the pass. He’s more comfortable shooting off the dribble, than spotting up.
  • He has to work on getting back on defense after he misses a shot, or turns the ball over. He has a tendency to compound a missed shot, by taking a few swipes for the ball to try and regain possession, rather than sprinting back.
  • Needs to get more committed on the defensive end. Lance tends to leak out to half-court looking to start the break. He also has to work on keeping his feet moving defensively and not just focus on the man he’s guarding, but also helping out on the weak side.
  • Lance can get up, but he’s not an extremely high riser.
  • Lance isn’t the most well spoken, polished kid off the court.


Lance is an extremely talented ball player and watching him play you can see how easily the game comes to him. Offensively, he has the ability to completely dominate the game, with his ability to score. He can take you off the dribble, shoot from deep, slash to the hoop, get out in transition, etc. Defensively, he needs to get better, but much of the improvement is about commitment and understanding, which will be demanded of him at the college level.

In the past year, Lance has bulked up and already has an NBA body. One thing he needs to be cautious of is that as he adds more muscle to his frame, it doesn’t affect his quickness, or explosiveness on the court. Finding the right balance will be crucial to his development.

The thing about Lance that’s been well publicized is his immaturity. He needs to become a player that teammates want to play with. He’s so much more advanced than his teammates at the HS level that he tends to show them up, when they fail to catch a pass, or convert on an easy assist opportunity. He needs to grow up on and off the court and act mature enough to handle becoming a future star.

This emotion that Lance plays with isn’t entirely a bad thing. If he’s able to channel this ‘fire’ the right way, it can be converted into a positive. With the right coaching, mentoring, and direction, Lance has a chance to be special. But it will depend on his willingness to be coached and his ability to change, that will determine his fate. Lance has to stay focused, keep practicing and not get complacent beating up on inferior competition.

The great thing about Lance is that he wants it. He has the drive, desire, and hunger to be the best.

In terms of NBA potential, there is no question it’s there. Plan to keep a close eye on Lance at the college level, where he should make a major impact.

In the Spotlight: John Wall

John Wall
Position: Point Guard
Ht: 6-3
Wt: 175
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Class: Senior
College Options: Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, NC State, etc

  • Extremely fast with the ball in his hands… Gets up and down the court in a hurry, leading the fast break.
  • Does a great job changing directions, keeping his defender off balance and on his heels.
  • ATHLETE – He can flat out fly and he finishes well with both hands around the rim. He can really elevate and flush it down.
  • Has a real knack for getting into the paint and penetrating past his defender.
  • Great cross over dribble (both left to right and right to left)
  • Shows a real burst when he accelerates; he’s able to turn it into another gear and leave his defender behind.
  • Very solid left hesitation move that he uses to freeze his defender before he explodes left.
  • At his best in the open court, but showed signs that he’s able to orchestrate and run the half-court offense as well
  • Great court vision.
  • Super quick with nimble feet
  • Long Arms


  • Very flat jump shot that needs improving - His form needs some work… He has to be able to hit the mid range jumper and step out passed the three point line…Neither of which, John can do with consistency right now.
  • Needs to be more assertive and go to the ball, not wait for his teammates to bring it to him.
  • Played zero defense and didn’t work hard on the defensive end of the court. (it was an all-star game)
  • John will definitely benefit from a year in college because he needs to add muscle. His natural build is of a thin frame; however John needs to add muscle to his upper body.

Player Comparison: Reminds me of Jamal Crawford…both his handle and frame; however John is a much more natural point guard.


There isn’t a doubt in my mind that John Wall has what it takes to be a solid NBA player. He can fly up the court with the ball in his hands and he’s phenomenal leading the break. He has great court vision and he doesn’t mind giving up the rock, or he can emphatically throw it down with either hand. His speed and quickness are evident, and he does a great job changing speeds and getting to the bucket.

It is imperative that John becomes a more consistent outside shooter. He needs to be able to knock down the jumper off the bounce and off the pass, which he’s unable to do right now. He also needs to improve his range, which will force the defense to play up on him, not sag back, making it easier for him to penetrate to the bucket. John also needs to commit himself to the defensive end and take pride in shutting down the opposition. He has great foot speed, but there were plenty of times that his feet were glued to the ground and thus he was beaten off the dribble.

The bottom line is that John has all the physical tools, talent and athleticism that will translate as his game progresses to the collegiate level and ultimately the pros. Look for him to be a one-and-done college player before entering the draft.

*Based off seeing John play at Elite 24 -8/22

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In the Spotlight: Derrick Rose

Position: Point Guard
Ht: 6-4, Wt: 200
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Class: Freshman
College: Memphis
Age: October 4th, 1988

  • Great size, strength and build for the pg position
  • Outstanding in the open court – Rose is about as fast as you can get end-to-end with the ball in your hands.
  • Explosive leaper who can throw down highlight dunks.
  • Combine his leaping ability with his uncanny hang time and Rose is exceptional finishing around the rim and in traffic.
  • Superb quickness
  • Great foot speed, solid on the ball defender… He has all the tools to be a phenomenal defensive player.
  • Excellent rebounder for a pg, which enables Rose to turn and start the fast break – He’s always looking to run.
  • Very strong handle – comfortable going left and right – with a particularly strong in and out move with the left hand.
  • Unselfish – always looks to give up the ball
  • Team player – despite receiving all the hype coming into college, Rose really showed that he just wanted to be another member of the team.


  • Doesn’t have the “I want to be the man” mentality – thus shying away down the stretch
  • Needs to work on being more effective playing in a half-court game
  • Shot needs refinement – slight mechanical adjustments might be needed, but definitely has the ability to develop into a consistent outside threat.
  • Despite having all of the tools to be a phenomenal defensive player, Rose needs to exert more energy on the defensive side of the ball – not have lapses where he lets his man penetrate past him.
  • Needs polishing off the court

Rose is the complete package. He has an NBA body, speed, quickness, athletic ability and he plays point guard the right way. Like Jason Kidd, the moment Rose gets the ball in his hands, he is looking to create a fast break opportunity even if it doesn’t seem like one is available. He is very unselfish and teammates love playing with him because of his style of play and unselfishness.

Rose prefers to blend in with the guys like another member of the team, rather than being ‘the man,’ which is both a good thing and a bad thing. He needs to develop that killer instinct at the end of games, where he realizes ‘I am the guy and it’s time to take over on certain occasions,’ but it may just not be in him.

To this point in his career, Rose has been able to dominate on his athleticism alone, but as he transitions to the pro-level; Rose will need to further advance his half-court game. He needs to be able to knock down the jumper on a more consistent basis, both spot shooting and pull up jumpers off the bounce. He also has to get more effective at running the pick and roll in a half court set and avoid picking up his dribble and getting trapped away from the basket.

With that being said, Rose has star potential at the next level.