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


Strengths:
  • 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
Weaknesses:
  • 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.

Overall:
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


Strengths:
  • 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.


Weaknesses:

  • 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.


Overall:

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

Strengths
  • 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.


Weaknesses

  • 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.


Overall

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


Strengths
  • 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.

Weaknesses

  • 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.



Overall

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.