Friday, December 11, 2009

In the Spotlight: Patrick Patterson

Patrick Patterson

Position: Power Forward
Ht: 6-8, Wt: 235
Hometown: Huntington, WV
Class: Junior
College: Kentucky
DOB: 3-14-89

  • Works very hard to seal his defender and establish low position on the block… Shoots a high % from the field - Close to the basket, finishing off penetration, or when he’s given room from the outside.
  • Very strong – impressive physical stature
  • Tremendous wingspan - 7’2 -– helps to offset his height, which is smaller than a prototype 4.
  • Very good athlete with great bounce off the floor
  • Soft hands
  • Shoots a high percentage from the free throw line for a big – good form.
  • Plays Hard, Good motor – very aggressive / active on the court
  • Highly proficient with his right jump hook (his go-to move), which utilizes his soft touch around the rim and quick bounce off his feet.
  • Quick to the ball – shows good reaction time.
  • Vastly improving his jump shot – his form is much improved from a year ago – looks much more confident and his range has expanded to the 3 pt line. (he must continue to improve)
  • Great outlet passer – After securing rebounds does a great job getting the ball up court and starting a transition opportunity.
  • Physical style on both sides of the ball – willing to give up his body and take contact – Does a lot of the the dirty work in the paint.
  • Sets solid on the ball screens – Becoming more adept at playing pick and pop.
  • Sprints up and down the court.
  • Good timing on the defensive end – blocks / alters quite a few shots
  • Possess the physical components to defend at the next level (length, athleticism, mobility, strength)...aside from height.

  • Undersized 4 for the NBA level
  • Needs to further develop his offensive repertoire in the post and become more proficient with his back to the basket…He won’t be able to rely so much on establishing very low position, as his game advances to the next level… Right now, he’s very limited with his moves when he gets the ball down low.
  • Rarely utilizes his Left Hand around the rim – In the post, he’s much more effective when he turns to his left shoulder and shoots right, as he’s not comfortable turning right and finishing with his left hand.
  • Has a tendency to play behind the defense in the offensive sets, when he wants to get very low position, making it tough to feed him the ball… lets the opposition front him, making for a tough entry pass.
  • Lacks the versatility to play the 3 – he’s most comfortable in the paint
  • Needs to do a better job hedging out defensively, to prevent penetration and allow teammates to recover after being screened.
  • Only true position he can defend is the 4, as he lacks the height to guard the 5 and the foot speed to defend the 3.


Early in the season, it looks as if Patrick Patterson made a very wise decision returning to college for his Junior year. Offensively, the big question mark that surrounded Patterson coming into this season, was his ability to knock down a mid-range jumper with consistency. Thus far he’s done a great job showing that he’s become a more consistent mid-range shooter, even displaying range that extends out to the 3 point line.

Patterson’s current style of play – relying on establishing extremely low position and using his impressive body to pick up easy buckets, won’t translate at the next level. Especially as an undersized 4, which is why adding a nice shooting touch, to compliment his ability to finish around the rim, makes him a much better prospect for the NBA game.

There’s also a lot to really like about Patterson’s game, but one of the most telling signs of Patterson’s development has been the way he’s blended in with the Kentucky freshman class. Despite the buzz surrounding the freshman, it’s been Patterson who’s done the things that get you W’s (rebounding, taking charges, helping defensively when guards are beat on penetration, shooting a high fg % from the floor, scrapping for loose balls, etc). His maturity and the way he now plays within the flow of the offense are telling indicators about far he’s come as a player.

Patterson will be an undersized 4 at the next level, but his athleticism, strength and aggressive style of play, help to partially offset some of this deficiency.

One area I’d like to see Patterson continue to improve is his defensive awareness. There were times when he failed to hedge out on pick and rolls, and also lost his man in the paint. He’s done a good job helping to protect the rim, I’d just like to see him become more complete defensively.

My Take
Patrick Patterson has the ability to be productive at the next level.   His style of play will fit in very nicely, as a compliment to playmakers in the NBA. Someone willing to do the dirty work, use his body to set solid on the ball screens, play physical / be aggressive, and also possess the athleticism to finish around the rim.

Patterson will never be a guy the offense runs through at the next level, so hitting a jumper with consistency, will force defenses to account for him. He’s displayed a much improved shooting stroke this season and thus his confidence has soared, but he’ll have to demonstrate he can get the job done in this area throughout the season.

With that said, Patterson might not have the ceiling of other players in the upcoming 2010 draft – doesn’t have all-star potential / won’t be a 1st or 2nd option offensively – but his style of play has winning potential at the next level. For that reason, I would look start to look closely at Patterson, with picks #12 - #15.

*Resembles Udonis Haslem, with more athleticism. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In the Spotlight: DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins
Position: Center
Ht: 6-11, Wt: 260
Hometown: Mobile, AL
Class: Freshman
College: Kentucky
DOB: 8-13-89

  • Great size and length – Wide, strong, well built – NBA ready body
  • Extremely advanced skill set for a 6’11 Center – impressive
  • Great hands
  • Able to use his body / wide frame to establish low position. Gets his defender sealed down low, which makes him very difficult to stop.
  • Has the ability to step outside and shoot, and can even extend out to the 3 point line (on rare occasions)
  • Handles the ball very well for his size - after securing rebounds, he can comfortably take a few dribbles to get in better position, or even start to lead the break.
  • Impressive dexterity / agility
  • Possesses all of the components to be an effective rebounder
  • Does a very good job blocking shots - using his length and displaying great timing
  • Upside – Size / Skill package that is very rare – has the potential.


  • Needs to better utilize his physical gifts and not avoid contact. He plays too finesse for someone with his physical tools.
  • Effort Level on a nightly basis is not where it needs to be.
  • Has a lackadaisical attitude – His head doesn’t always stay into the game and I question if he’s willing to put in the hard work necessary to reach his potential.
  • Conditioning – Tires quickly and will often times be seen gasping for air. Getting in better shape, which would allow him to play hard for longer stretches, is huge for his development.
  • Has a tendency to rely on his perimeter skills, rather than mixing it up inside.
  • Coach Cal seems to have a very short fuse with Cousins and gets down on him quickly, which raises question marks
  • Defensively, he needs to get more committed and do a better job moving his feet. He tends to struggle against smaller, quicker bigs.
  • Foul Prone – needs to do a better job avoiding picking up stupid fouls. Most fouls he commits are with his body, which he follows up with a look of disbelief, when it’s clear he committed the foul.


Let me start by saying that I think Cousins made the wrong decision on which college to attend, based on what I’ve seen thus far this season. First, Kentucky’s style of play is not conducive to allowing Cousins strengths to shine. Kentucky likes to play an up and down transition game and Cousins doesn’t run the floor very well, in the current shape he’s in. Additionally, Kentucky likes to spread the court and go one and one, rather than running any sets that focus on getting the ball into the post. They also don’t do a great job spacing the court, so that when Cousins does get the ball, he’s not given enough room to operate.

Secondly, John Calipari is a coach who doesn’t allow you to play through mistakes. Therefore, the moment Cousins makes a mistake, Calipari pulls him immediately. Instantly, Cousins loses focus, begins to pout and his body language becomes sluggish. He can even be seen arguing on the sidelines with Calipari – anything but staying focused in the game. Cousins appears to be very sensitive and someone that needs nurturing to help build his confidence which is clearly not Calipari’s style.

I’m not suggesting that Kentucky’s offense needs to transform (given the backcourt they have – they should push the pace), or Calipari isn’t making the right decisions, I’m just saying that there’s some contrast in style / personalities between Calipari and Cousins.

With all of that being said, Cousins is still extremely inconsistent. Depending on what night you watch him play, DeMarcus Cousins can either leave you very impressed, or wondering if he’ll be another player unable to tap into his potential.

The positive is that Cousins has a rare package of a phenomenal skill set, combined with his tremendous physical gifts. He is extremely talented, possesses outstanding hands, very agile and even has perimeter skills which are rarely seen in someone 6’11. His upside is huge.

On the flip side, Cousins is not in very good shape and thus his play appears lethargic. He isn’t making quick moves, he’s picking up stupid fouls, and he’s not dominating big men that he should have no problem manhandling. Getting in better shape to play hard for 30+ minutes a night, should be Cousins primary goal.

Additionally, he has a tendency to shy away from contact when he’s in the paint. He’s plays a very finesse style and sometimes falls in love with his perimeter skills. He needs to show toughness and prove that he can handle the physical demands of the NBA.

My Take:

Based on purely talent and upside, Cousins is one of the best players in the upcoming draft (should he choose to enter). Unfortunately, his inability to stay focused and his inconsistent play have also stood out. I don’t question Cousins desire because I truly think that he wants to be great, I’m just not sold on him putting in the work necessary. I also can’t comprehend how he’s not in better shape at this point in the season, having been at Kentucky for at least 5 months already.

However, Cousins is someone that I think is worth the risk/reward, because of his rare skill set / physical package combination. At this point, in the middle portion of the first round, I would highly consider Cousins. He has the ability to move higher on my draft board (TOP FIVE), but he needs to prove it with improved play on a consistent basis, before I would move him up.

Update: 2 /22:
In the two months since completing our scouting report on DeMarcus Cousins, his game has skyrocketed. There hasn’t been a player in college basketball that has had success guarding Cousins and he’s been a central figure in Kentucky’s 24 - 1 record. Equally impressive is that he seems to have improved his on-court relationship with Coach Calipari which has led to Cousins playing for longer stretches without having to look over his shoulder when he makes a mistake.

Cousins emergence has been primarily because he’s been playing to his strengths. Rather than hanging out on the perimeter, Cousins has been camped in the paint, using his size, frame and power to solidify low position. He’s done a great job sealing his defenders, which has led to his 55% field goal percentage. His skill level was never an issue and now that he’s developing a better understanding of how to utilize his physical gifts, he’s emerged as the best big man in college basketball.

There’s no question he still shows signs of immaturity and he raises a lot of red flags for his overall demeanor, but he’s also proved that he’s a Top 3 talent, when he enters this year’s NBA draft.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In the Spotlight: Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson
Position: Shooting Guard
Ht: 6-5, Wt: 220
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Class: Freshman
College: Cincinnati
DOB: 9/5/90

  • At 6’5, 220lbs, Lance is physically advanced with an NBA ready body (it’s actually too much muscle).
  • 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.
  • Extremely versatile on the offensive end. Lance possesses the handle which allows him to play the point, the shooting touch to play the wing, and the strength to finish inside.
  • Fierce Competitor with a drive to be the best.
  • When Lance gets into the paint, he's very adept at using his body to fend off his defender.
  • Sees the floor well – displays solid court vision and is getting more comfortable setting up his teammates, as his trust level increases
  • Very confident player – Has a real swagger to his game.
  • Relishes big games / moments - he’s played with pressure since a young age, so the spotlight is nothing new for Lance. Seems to flourish when playing against other elite players and never shies away from guarding the opposition’s best player.

  • 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.
  • Added muscle mass / bulk inhibits his agility and mobility on the court. This is a concern as Lance now lacks the foot speed necessary for the next level, on both ends of the court. Would benefit losing a few lbs which would help his explosiveness.
  • Has a tendency to over dribble and get caught up in a one-on-one battle… Needs to stay within the offensive flow, and when he’s attacking the basket just make a move and explode.
  • Moving Without the Ball - Must improve playing without the ball in his hands and remain effective.
  • Lance has to work on getting himself into position so that he can knock down the jumper on a catch and shoot. He’s much more comfortable shooting off the dribble, than spotting up. He needs to work on reading the defense and using screens to get free.
  • Has to improve his foot speed defensively. His lateral mobility isn’t where it needs to be, to guard much quicker 1’s and 2’s.
  • Needs to become more active on the defensive end – rotate from the weak side, helping out off the ball, creating deflections, etc. He tends to leak out to half-court looking to start the break.
  • Defensively, he’s always looking to switch and rarely is able to fight thru screens.
  • Transition Defense – Needs to get 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.
  • Lance is not an extremely high flier.
  • 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 gifted an offensive player he is. At times, he can completely dominate the game, with his ability to create his own offense and score. He can take you off the dribble, shoot from deep, slash to the hoop, get out in transition, etc. It doesn’t take much for Lance to get going and he’s capable of putting up big scoring numbers on any given night.

One challenge for Lance is that over the past few years, Lance has not gotten any taller, but he’s continued to get stronger. Typically, filling out would be ok, as his body would be more ready for the contact of the Big East and ultimately the NBA – but for Lance it’s a problem. This added weight that Lance has put on, is limiting his quickness and explosiveness on the court. It makes Lance look much less athletic and someone lacking the burst to explode to the hoop. It’s great to have an NBA body, but not at such a high cost. Finding the right balance is crucial to his development.

Secondly, the thing about Lance that’s been well publicized is his immaturity. He has a tendency to let his frustration show with his terrible body language when a teammate fails to catch a pass, convert on an easy assist opportunity, when a call doesn’t go his way, or just mixing it up with an opposing player – there always seems to be something. Lance seems to be handling himself much better at the college level and he’s showing a willingness to be part of a team, which is very encouraging.

The emotion that Lance shows on the court, should also be looked at as a positive. If he’s able to channel this “fire” in the right way, you have as competitive a player as you’ll find. His drive, desire, and hunger to be the best are evident – it just needs to be applied appropriately.

My Take: It’s a wait and see approach with Lance, because at this point he does not have the lateral quickness to defend at the next level, or the explosiveness to be as effective in the NBA. If he’s able to find a comfortable playing weight that helps him get back some of the burst he once displayed, he would significantly improve his ability to produce at the next level. He has the offensive tools, but he needs to show improved elusiveness and better on the ball defensive skills before I would give Lance consideration in the top 25 picks of the 1st round.

Lance is someone worth closely monitoring throughout the season – both his body language and his progress…Because of his talent and his ability to score, he has the opportunity to greatly improve his draft status, which for me right now is as an early 2nd round selection.

* Lance reminds me a lot of Tyreke Evans in that neither player is ultra quick, or super athletic, but both know how to get to the basket and score. Lance is also a flexible guard that can play multiple positions, similar to the way Tyreke started his college career as a 2 guard and later transitioned to the point.

Friday, November 20, 2009

In the Spotlight: Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson
Position: Small Forward
Ht: 6-7, Wt: 205
Hometown: Corsicana, TX
College: Syracuse
Class: Junior
DOB: 7/11/87


  • Extremely long arms which he uses effectively on both ends of the court
  • Very athletic / terrific hop / quick bounce off his feet
  • A natural scorer that has the potential to put up big scoring outbursts on any given night.
  • Plays well in transition, does a great job getting out and filling the wing and uses his athleticism to finish.
  • Good shooter with deep range – more comfortable on a catch and shoot… Doesn’t need much room, as he’s able to hit while being contested. (Needs to continue improving from the outside, as he’s done - primarily off the bounce.)
  • Crashes the glass on both ends – despite his skinny stature, he’s able to use his length and hops to secure rebounds.
  • Defensively, his length causes problems as he does a great job closing out on shooters, creates deflections, and blocks a lot shots - showing great timing.


  • Very thin frame
  • Not very physical – tends to avoid contact
  • Must improve his ability to breakdown the defense off the dribble – doesn’t look to penetrate to the basket
  • Ball handling has to improve (struggles going left) – which will allow him to penetrate with more consistency.
  • Needs to stay active and keep running off screens / slashing to the basket – at times, he finds a spot and waits for the ball to rotate over
  • When establishing position in the post, he needs to fight harder and do a better job sealing his defender.
  • Court Vision - Doesn’t create many scoring opportunities for others – he’s a scorer that looks for his own offense.


Having sat out last season, transferring from Iowa State (22 yr old, Jr.), Wesley Johnson is making up for lost time in his first few games with the Orangemen.

Despite his slender build, Johnson has an enormous wingspan which he takes full advantage of. Combined with his super athleticism and Johnson creates a tough match-up for anyone at the college level. Offensively, he’s able to just elevate and shoot over the defense, or come off a screen and hit on a catch and shoot. In transition, Johnson looks as if he’s gliding at times and he’s a solid finisher on the break.

However, when isolated one-on-one, Johnson hasn’t shown the ability to break down the defense and get to the rim, or the propensity to create offense for others. Adding this component would make Johnson much less predictable and really help him create more space, by forcing the defense to play off him a bit.

Additionally, adding another 15 – 20lbs of muscle mass would also help play a huge role in Johnson’s development. He’s naturally lean and will always have a thin stature, but putting on more weight will give Johnson confidence to mix it up inside… mainly finishing after contact, fighting for rebounds, solidifying position on the block and sealing his defender, etc…

Overall, Johnson has a lot of upside and there’s something to be said of a tremendous athlete that can stroke the ball from deep. As he continues to improve his consistency from the outside, he’ll only get tougher to guard. He’s definitely a 1st round talent and with a big year, should move higher up the draft boards.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In the Spotlight: Ty Lawson

Ty Lawson
Position: Point Guard
Ht: 5-11, Wt: 195
Hometown: Clinton, Md.
College: UNC
Class: Junior
DOB: 11/3/87

  • Great Floor General – Pass first point guard that shows good leadership skills.
  • Winner… He’s consistently won in both HS and College (Granted he’s had superb talent around him.)
  • Unselfish, keeps everyone involved in the offense.
  • Pushes the tempo… Excels in transition playing a fast paced, open court game.
  • Good court vision – sees the floor well
  • With his combination of speed and ball-handling, he makes it very tough for opposing teams to apply full-court pressure.
  • Extremely fast end to end
  • Solid upper body strength
  • Pesky on the ball defender that does a good job pressuring the opposing point guard the full length of the court.
  • Quick hands that enable him to create turnovers – averaging 2.3 SPG
  • Size - Listed at 5’11, his lack of height and wingspan will create a challenge for Lawson at the next level.
  • Doesn’t have a true mid-range game -- Relies heavily on getting to the basket in transition, or taking 3’s.
  • Lawson gets limited elevation on his jump shot.
  • Not a great shooter (although much improved) – he lacks consistency from the perimeter to keep the defense honest. For his size, Lawson needs to be a terrific shooter and he isn’t.
  • Needs to become more effective playing in the half-court set.
  • Defensively, he struggles fighting over screens and he has a tendency to just go under picks, giving the opposition too much separation.
  • Lawson needs to increase his level of effort defensively.
  • Gambles too much on the defensive end.

Ty Lawson is a great college point guard on a great college team. Not to take away from Lawson’s abilities, but it’s much easier to look good when you’re surrounded by tremendous talent and you’re blowing out your opponents. With that said, you have to like that he’s consistently produced winning results throughout his entire career.

Lawson’s speed in the open court and his ability to create transition opportunities for his team are outstanding. He sees the floor well, plays an unselfish style and he gets his teammates the ball in position to score.

Lawson is a pretty good athlete that’s capable of elevating, but he shoots more of a set shot and doesn’t take advantage of his ability to get up. At 5’11 and with a low release point, Lawson is going to face challenges getting his shot off at the next level.

With that said, I’m not as worried about Lawson’s mechanics as I am with his consistency. He’s shown terrific improvement over the past 2 seasons, which his %’s clearly reflect, but he’s still not at the level he needs to be, as a shooter. Until he becomes a more potent outside shooter, defenses in the NBA will be able to sag back and go under screens, which will take away Lawson’s effectiveness.

Defensively, Lawson is at a disadvantage with his height and length, right off the bat. He needs to exert more energy on the defensive end and do a better job of shutting down penetration. In addition, learning to fight over screens will be crucial to his development, because if he allows the opposition to get that much space in the NBA, opposing guards will destroy him from the outside.
At the next level, Lawson has the ability to become a serviceable backup point guard and a guy that brings energy off the bench.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the Spotlight: Cole Aldrich

Cole Aldrich
Position: Center
Ht: 6-11, Wt: 245
Hometown: Bloomington, MN
College: Kansas
Class: Sophomore
DOB: 10/31/88

  • Exerts tremendous effort
  • Has really improved his footwork in the low post.
  • He’s begun to develop a low post game, especially a turn around jump hook, which is his go-to move.
  • Well Schooled Player – Understands where he needs to be, in order to be effective on both ends of the court.
  • Tremendous shot blocker – Comes over from the weak side to contest – shows great timing.
  • Great rebounder – Consistently boxes his man out and uses his long arms to extend for the ball.
  • After securing rebounds, Aldrich demonstrates good footwork pivoting and throwing crisp outlet pass.
  • Runs hard on both ends of the floor.


  • Physically weak; lacks toughness – He’s pushed around too easily in the paint.
  • Must become more assertive on the floor… Aldrich needs to fight harder to establish position in the low post and develop an ‘attack’ mentality.
  • Offensively, his game isn’t fluid – his low post moves need to become 2nd nature.
  • Very unconventional, slow developing shot… His release point is above the back side of his head …He has to work on refining his form and becoming a more consistent mid-range shooter.
  • Not very explosive off the floor
  • Very limited lateral quickness – He has a tough time guarding quicker players that can take him off the dribble.
  • Slow foot speed which makes it very difficult to come out to contest shots away from the basket. He’s going to really struggle guarding 4 and 5’s that can hit the mid range jump shot.


Cole Aldrich is not a player that is going to get anyone out of their seats with his ferocious style of play or explosiveness off the ground. Rather he’s a productive player that has shown a great propensity to improve in all aspects of his game and will play hard on both ends of the floor.

Right now, Aldrich’s two greatest strengths are his rebounding prowess and excellent timing blocking shots. He has a great understanding of how to rebound, as he gets his body in position to use his tremendous length to extend for the ball.

Offensively, he’s really improved his footwork on the block and his ability to score around the basket. He will never become a focal point at the next level, but he definitely needs to be accounted for.

Defensively is where I see Aldrich encountering his biggest challenge in the NBA. With limited foot speed and lateral quickness, defending much more athletic 4’s is going to be very difficult. Aldrich also struggles to contest jump shots, when he’s forced to come out of his comfort zone, which is within 10 feet of the basket.

The other big hurdle that Aldrich will have to overcome is his physical toughness. Adding more muscle has definitely helped in this area, but it’s more his mentality that’s the problem. His natural demeanor is way too timid on the court.

The bottom line is that Aldrich’s limited athleticism and toughness will present a major problem, as he transitions to the next level. For that reason, if he enters this year’s draft, I would wait until the 15th pick of the 1st round before I consider selecting Cole Aldrich.

In the Spotlight: Scottie Reynolds

Scottie Reynolds
Position: Point Guard
Ht: 6’2 Wt: 190
Hometown: Herndon, Va.
College: Villanova
Class: Junior
DOB: 10/10/1987

  • Capable of putting up big scoring numbers.
  • Demonstrates range on his jump shot that extends out to the NBA 3 point line.
  • Understands how to read the defense and use screens to get separation… He comes tight off screens with his body in position to shoot.
  • Crafty offensive player that utilizes his body effectively in the paint and finds ways to get his shot off.
  • Does a good job pushing the ball and leading the break
  • Great free throw shooter
  • Battle tested in college – He’s gotten it done since his freshman year, logging big minutes and putting up solid numbers.


  • Naturally looks for his own offense, rather than creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.
  • Doesn’t possess NBA level quickness or speed
  • Not a gifted athlete… Doesn’t have the explosiveness or leaping ability to finish at the rim.
  • Doesn’t see the floor particularly well for a point guard
  • Has limited elevation on his jumper…Shoots more of a set shot
  • Lateral quickness, foot speed is in issue when defending on the ball.


Scottie Reynolds is a very good college point guard. He’s consistently produced since his freshman season, putting up big numbers in an offense that’s built for him to score. He can shoot from deep, he’s crafty at finding ways to get his shots off and he’s able to go off for big scoring outbursts on any given night.

Now although he’s been able to get it done in college, it’s a much different scenario at the next level. As a point guard, with a scoring mentality and without real court vision, the challenge becomes even greater.

Reynolds doesn’t have the athleticism, explosiveness off his feet, speed in the open court, and leaping ability around the rim or on his jump shot. He also lacks the quickness and foot speed to play man-to-man defense against NBA 1’s.

The bottom line is that Reynolds doesn’t have the physical tools or natural skills necessary to transition to become an NBA point guard. Whether he enters the draft this year, or next, I wouldn’t select Reynolds.

In the Spotlight: Gerald Henderson

Gerald Henderson
Position: Shooting Guard
Ht: 6-4, Wt: 215
Hometown: Merion, Pa
College: Duke
Class: Junior
DOB: 12/9/87

  • Superb athlete with exceptional leaping ability.
  • Moves well off the ball – slashes hard to the basket and he’s able to pick up buckets cutting to the hoop.
  • Very aggressive... he gets after it on both ends of the floor.
  • Shows toughness and a competitive spirit.
  • Plays well in an up-tempo environment – gets out in transition, fills the lane and can finish on the break.
  • Good rebounder for a guard– primarily because of his athleticism, but he’s willing to mix it up and use his strength to bang with the bigs.
  • Great defensive instincts – he reacts quickly, anticipates passes, and generates turnovers by getting his hands in the passing lanes.
  • Terrific on the ball defender… With quickness, lateral mobility, and strength.
  • Good help defender who has a knack for blocking shots, created from coming over from the weakside.
  • Hustles back on D in transition and often times will be seen using his speed to track someone down.


  • Really has to work on improving his ball handling… especially his left.
    Doesn’t excel at creating his own offense… his 1-on-1 moves can use improving
  • Shooting - Has shown great improvement as a spot up shooter – but still has a long way to go.
  • Not as comfortable when shooting off the dribble…it’s going to require a lot of hardwork to get were he needs to be.
  • At 6’4 his size for an NBA 2 guard is a concern…but it’s somewhat neutralized by his strength and athleticism.


There are some things that can’t be taught and freakish athleticism is one of those things. Henderson has that athletic ability and he’s naturally gifted in many areas… He’s strong, fast in the open court, explosive around the rim and he can absolutely jump out of the gym.

With that said, Henderson has to really work on his offensive game because he isn’t a natural scorer. Henderson’s jumper is much improved this season, but it’s still not where it needs to be, especially off the dribble. He needs to continue improving his consistency from the outside, including a quicker release in a more fluid motion.

The other aspect of his game that Henderson needs to get better is his ball handling, primarily his left. If he’s able to develop his handle and begin to create his own offense, he’ll be a much tougher player to defend and it will allow him to use his athleticism more effectively.

Defensively, Henderson has a very complete skill set. His on the ball defense is very strong (excellent lateral quickness), he’s able to get in the passing lanes with great anticipation / instincts, and he is a terrific weak side defender who gets up to contest / block shots. He also hustles back in transition to prevent fast break opportunities.

Overall, Henderson is a good kid that shows tremendous effort and plays hard on both ends of the floor. He’s only a Junior, but if he decides to enter the upcoming draft, he deserves consideration towards the end of the lottery, middle of the first round.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

In the Spotlight: Dante Cunningham

Dante Cunningham
Position: Power Forward
Ht: 6-8, Wt: 230
Hometown: Silver Springs, MD
College: Villanova
Class: Senior
Age: 04/22/87

  • Very muscular physical stature – no body fat.
  • Fundamentally sound, well schooled player.
  • Great rebounder – Always boxes his man out, seals off his opponent and gets himself in position to secure the rebound… Relentless attitude on the glass.
  • Cuts hard to the basket
  • Sets solid on the ball screens
  • Plays pick and pop basketball - Adept at getting himself in open position.
  • Well conditioned – runs hard on both ends of the floor and rarely shows fatigue
  • Demonstrates range on his jump shot that extends out to 15 feet
  • Terrific help defender – Understands how to defend within the team concept / Very physical, gets his body in position to stop penetration / take the contact (draw charge)


  • Listed at 6’8 (very generous) which is a huge concern – He would be an undersized 4 at the next level.
  • Although he has a well defined physique, he needs to fill out and put on 10 - 15 more lbs.
  • Very robotic – Not a lot of fluidity to his game
  • Lacks efficiency when he’s forced to create his own offense … Doesn’t have a true low post or face up game. Lacks the back to the basket skills or the ability to take his man off the dribble.
  • Needs to become more consistent with his mid-range jump shot… (He has to become a great shooter)


Dante Cunningham is a player that maximizes his talent. He gets the most out of his skills and thus he’s evolved into a very productive college player.

In watching Cunningham, he comes from the same mold of a player like Charles Oakley. He understands his role on the team, he’s a relentless rebounder, plays with a lot of toughness, and he excels on the defensive side of the ball. The offense will never run through him, but he can get scrappy buckets around the rim.

It’s critical that Cunningham continues to improve his consistency from the outside. Right now, he’s a good shooter, but he needs to be lights out. If he can manage to develop a more consistent mid range jumper, the way Oakley did over his career that would greatly improve his chances of finding a home in the NBA.

The other thing that scares me about Cunningham is his size. He’s listed at 6’8, but when watching him on the court, he appears shorter than that. He also needs to continue filling out his frame, with more muscle mass, so that he can fight to prevent opposing 4’s from establishing position on the block. He’s going to need all the height and power he can get – otherwise his strength (defending) will be negated at the next level.

Overall, Cunningham is going to have a tough time sticking on an NBA roster. However, he’s worth a look late in the 2nd round, with the slim chance of earning a spot on an offensive oriented team that could use his defensive toughness and rebounding prowess.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

In the Spotlight: Earl Clark

Earl Clark
Position: Small Forward
Ht: 6-9, Wt: 220
Hometown: Plainfield, N.J.
College: Louisville
Class: Junior
Age: 1/17/88

  • NBA ready body with tremendous length… muscular 6’9, 220lbs
  • Match-up nightmare for opposing teams… Inside / Outside player - Very versatile with the ability to step out past the three point line, or post up smaller defenders.
  • Gifted athlete – good vertical, long strides when he runs, gets out in transition.
  • Solid rebounder - With a combination of knowing how to establish position, size, athleticism, and length.
  • He’s able to play a point forward role in the half-court set– Using his size and length to see over the defense and set the offense at the top of the key.
  • Capable ball handler that’s able to grab a rebound and start the break.
  • Demonstrates great body control when he penetrates to the basket.
  • Very fundamental passer - throws crisp passes.
  • Soft hands
  • Uses his incredible length to block shots, create deflections


  • Too reliant on his shot – Rather than settling from the outside, he needs to post up, or take the ball to the basket with more regularity.
  • Has to develop more consistency with his jump shot… A minor mechanical adjustment might be required, as his release point is slightly to the right side with too much of his left hand, creating sidespin.
  • Needs to improve his ability to shoot off the dribble… Being able to create off the bounce and knock down a jump shot will make Clark a much tougher player to defend.
  • At times he has a very nonchalant demeanor… He needs to show the killer instinct and play with greater intensity.
  • Inconsistency – Clark has stretches, even games, in which he’s not very involved offensively.
  • Lacks Physical Toughness - Despite having a very muscular build, Clark gets pushed around too much. He needs to get tougher and utilize his body more effectively.
  • Needs to learn to play to his strengths
  • Defensively he has a tendency to defend standing straight up and not get in stance… He needs to keep his feet moving and stay focused, if he’s going to defend the 3 at the next level. He has room to improve his foot speed as well.


Earl Clark is extremely talented and posses a wide array of skills. He has an NBA ready body, with unbelievable length and versatility. He’s a match-up terror for opposing teams with his ability to post up, step outside, or penetrate to the basket. He can rebound the ball and he has extremely long strides when he gets out in transition filling the break.

The major issue that I have with Clark is his desire to be the best. There are some players that have the killer instinct, and with Clark I’m just not sure that he does. Similar to Tim Thomas, there isn’t much Clark can’t do on the court, but if you don’t have the toughness and aspiration to be the best, you won’t come close to tapping into your potential (like Thomas). Clark’s so gifted and if he’s able to develop the desire to match his skill set, it can propel him to great things.

Clark also needs to work on not only improving his consistency from the outside, but not relying so much on his jump shot. As he continues to improve his footwork on the block and develop low post moves, I think we’ll see him posting up with more frequency.

Overall, Clark has the skill set of a lottery selection, but he doesn’t produce like one. This season, with higher expectations and a much larger role, Clark hasn’t stepped up and shown the ability to rise to the occasion. If he elects to enter the draft this year, which seems extremely likely, I’d be very hesitant to select Clark with a lottery pick…to me he’s a good pick between (#15 - #24)

In the Spotlight: Hasheem Thabeet

Hasheem Thabeet
Position: Center
Ht: 7-3, Wt: 263
Hometown: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
College: UConn
Class: Junior
Age: 02/16/87

  • Incredible size and presence on the court – A rare package of coordination and athleticism for a 7’3 frame.
  • Tremendous shot blocker… Does a great job rotating off his man, protecting the basket and contesting shots.
  • Has shown unbelievable improvement in all facets of his game since entering college.
  • Offensive skills are evolving… Has started to demonstrate a jump hook which he uses effectively against shorter defenders.
  • Good form at the free throw line
  • Sufficient hands
  • Explosive leaper – quick off his feet

  • Still very raw / unpolished – learning the game… He’s only been playing basketball for the past few years
  • Needs to add some low post moves to his offensive arsenal… He’s developing a jump hook, but right now, he gets his baskets through dunks thanks to guard penetration and offensive rebound putbacks.
  • Must improve his ability to establish position on the block – Thabeet needs to work on sealing his defender on his back and holding position…creating easier entry pass opportunities.
  • His feet drag while running up court.
  • Needs to improve his upper body strength which will help him fend off contact when attacking the basket… He must take the ball up stronger.
  • Has to improve passing out of the post, especially when he sees double teams.
  • Struggles moving his feet defensively and guarding on the perimeter… Thabeet is exploited when guarding players that play facing the basket, as he lacks the lateral mobility to keep his man in front of him. It’s also an issue when defending the pick and roll.
  • Defensively, Thabeet has a tendency to rely too much on his incredible athleticism… He has to fight defensively to prevent the man he’s guarding from establishing low position.


It’s very rare to find a player with Hasheem Thabeet’s physical stature and athleticism. He’s improved his skill set immensely, both offensively and defensively, since entering UConn 3 years ago and he has a lot of growth left in his game.

Defensively, while Thabeet is a game changer because of his ability to contest everything around the hoop, I have serious concerns over his on the ball defense.  As good as he is coming over from the weakside (timing and elevation are outstanding), he needs to get much stronger and build up his leg strength to defend bigger 5's at the next level.  

Offensively, his skills are way behind.  He needs to improve his footwork and add moves to his offensive arsenal. It’s a work in progress, as he’s started to develop a jump hook around the basket and become more adept at finishing with his left hand. At this point, Thabeet is able to get his buckets by finishing off of penetration, and put backs on offense rebounds.

Thabeet still relies heavily on his athleticism, which for his size is incredible, but there are things that work in college that wont work in the NBA. For example, allowing the player he’s guarding to establish low position, because he’s confident that he’ll block their shot. Or not sealing his man and boxing out, knowing that he’ll grab the rebound because of his length and vertical leap. These are habits that will need to be broken.

Overall, Thabeet is a top 10 pick, on potential, but I would really focus on individual workouts, before pulling the trigger and being convinced of Thabeets impact at the pro level.  The talent is definitely there.   As his skills continue to evolve, Thabeet can become a player that can control the paint defensively and be an option on the offensive end (not the focal point) at the next level.