The fourth and final day of the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp was once again a bit of a snoozer this year. During the lunch break, the DraftExpress crew was invited to a workout with the Graham brothers. The Moody Bible gym was quiet, tired and had very little atmosphere today. There was still some talent to be found, though, we just had to look a little harder for it this time. The final two games were televised on ESPNU, and its a bit of a shame for the public to see this with their own eyes when just two and three days ago the gym was packed to capacity and almost beyond. Regardless, there were still some good basketball being played, especially the second game which had a fantastic pace to it.
Team Three 102, Team Two 97
Sharrod Ford, 17 pts, 5/7 shooting, 7/9 fts, 8 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk, 0 TO After a quiet first two games, Ford really broke out in his final game. He was everywhere, showing nice athleticism in the open floor, blocking shots, and converting on post moves. Ford looked significantly more active than he had in previous games. One other thing to mention is that his measurements were disappointing, as he measured just 68.25 in shoes and weighs just 213 pounds. He may have some trouble playing PF in the league at that size.
Tre Simmons, 24 points, 9/17 shooting, 7 reb, 3 ast, 2 TO Simmons had a second straight big game offensively. He hit the 3-pointer, passed the ball well, and generally looked comfortable with the ball in his hands. He isnt a great athlete, though the term smooth can definitely be used to describe him, and he measured in at 65 in shoes. Simmons may end up being able to carve out a spot in the league as a spot up shooter.
Dijon Thompson- 18 points, 8-15 shooting, 3 rebounds - Thompson really showed off his midrange game all throughout camp, knocking down collegiate three pointers as if they were lay-ups. The smooth wing did not really stand out in any other area of the game, but definitely showed the ability to create his own shot and consistently put points on the board at the next level. Its a shame that he wont put the ball on the floor more and take the ball to the basket, or use his height and length to rebound or play defense, because otherwise he would be a lock to make the league next year.
Sean Banks- 13 points, 6-12 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 steals- Banks continued his solid play in the final day of the camp, but today was able to show us that he can take the ball to the basket effectively, something we had not seen earlier. Instead of doing his norm and settling for contested outside jumpers, he drove to the rack nearly every time he had the ball in hands and usually made something good happen when doing so. Sean had possibly the play of the day in which he grabbed a rebound, took the ball the length of the floor, took off from 8-10 feet away from the basket, and dunked the ball with authority over an opposing player. Aside from that dunk, he showed the ability to break down opposing small forwards off the dribble with an impressive first step and decent ball handling skills for a small forward. Banks also played surprisingly good defense, locking whoever he was guarding down and reading the passing lanes well. If he is able to keep this up in his private workouts, teams picking in the bottom of the first round will have to give him some consideration due to his immense talent
Chris Thomas- 6 points, 3-6 shooting, 9 assists, 4 turnovers- Thomas really didnt do anything that really jumped out at you, but used his body really well and found open teammates in scoring positions. When the box score was released, it was really surprising that he finished with 9 assists considering that we probably only noticed two or three of them. There are still many concerns surrounding Thomas and his ability to actually run a team, but this was by far his best game of the camp and if he can keep it up, he has a shot of making a roster come this winter. The hesitation he shows in his decision making is the main thing that will have to improve for him to have any shot at being a successful point guard at any level he plays at.
Graham Brothers Workout
The workout featuring the Graham twins was much more competitive than most of the other workouts we saw over the course of the week. The Grahams started out with some ballhandling drills, and eventually moved into shooting drills. They started out inside the free throw line and gradually worked their way out, shooting both set shots and off the dribble. The shooting made its way out to the three point line, where the results were mixed. Stevie Graham shot 15/35, and while Joey Graham started out on fire, he got a little tired and cooled off toward the end to shoot 20/35. Things got quite a bit more competitive from there. There were several different drills designed to show one-on-one play, one of which involved one player cutting to the wing, catching a pass, and attempting to score on the other. The full blown one-on-one drills were quite physical, with the twins playing to a virtual draw.
The first thing that bystanders noticed walking by the MultiPlex gym in Chicago were two 67 twins built like NFL linebackers, who seemed to be playing the wrong sport. Once you saw them with the ball in their hands, one realized that the brothers were indeed involved in the right sport. In the aforementioned ball handling drills, Joey showed a noticeable improvement in his dribbling ability from when he was at Oklahoma St. While he did not have quite the handle of his brother Stevie, he did a pretty good job in the cone drills in front of NBA scouts from four teams picking in the range in which he is projected on being picked. Graham still possesses the same low release point on his shot with little lift, but he made absolutely everything within 18 feet of the basket. As he stepped out to the collegiate three point line and beyond, he continued to show the ability to knock it down, just not at the amazing clip in which he was netting his midrange jumpers. Joey then had to knock down as many three pointers as he could within a 90 second time frame from the top of the key. He started 15/20, but then seemed to tire and finished 20/33. The reason that Graham was not as prolific as the drill went on was his lack of legs in his jumpshot, which virtually forces him to shoot the ball only with his arms. If he is able to consistently get more lift into his shot, I remain confident that Joey can develop into a threat from beyond the NBA three point line as well this year. Next up was the one on one duel of the brothers, which actually resulted in a draw. Joey showed a really nice first step, ripped the ball through very quickly into his moves, and did an amazing job creating space on his step back jumpshot. It was clear to anyone in the gym that Graham will be able to step in and contribute to a team immediately as a power small forward in the Ron Artest mold with his chiseled physique, great defense, and emerging perimeter game.
With that said, it was actually his brother Stevie who stole the show here. Numerous times we had to make sure that we werent getting the twins confused, because Stevie was actually outplaying his brother for the first 2/3rds of the workout, and it times it wasnt even close. We werent trying to look too hard or anything, but the huge letters in one Eastern Conference Coach's scouting notebook basically told us all we needed to know: STEVIE OR JOEY? referring obviously to the question of which of the two is better. The rumblings coming from other teams in attendance told the same. It wasnt that Joey played badly, it was just that his brother was outstanding, surprising everyone in attendance. He showed a much better perimeter game and showed the ability to create his own shot and pull up from mid-range jumpers with ease. He has a certain smoothness to his game that will probably make his brother Joey an all-star once he acquires some of the same. His physique is extremely impressive and his athleticism more than you can ask for. Even though Stevie didnt shoot the ball great in the 90 second NBA shooting drills, he was excellent in the perimeter shooting department in almost every other part of the drill. After watching him play twice over the past week in workouts, its time to go beyond what everyone else was saying in the gym about how in the world did he not get invited to Chicago and start thinking about the very real possibility of him getting drafted and making a team.
Team One 95 Team Six 72
John Gilchrist, 4 pts, 2/6 shooting, 3 reb, 6 ast, 2 TO It wasnt a big offensive performance for Gilchrist, but he still managed to make a big impact on the game. He was dynamite in the open floor, and created offense for his teammates on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, he could once again be seen arguing with teammate Ellis Myles after he took a quick 3-pointer. The buzz in the gym is still about Gilchrists selfishness, and not his play on the floor.
Brandon Rush, 9 pts, 4/7 shooting, 3 reb, 2 TO Rush has had better statlines at this camp, but he never looked more fluid and confident than he did in this game. Despite being the youngest player at this camp at only 19, he is already infinitely more skilled offensively than almost every shooting guard that can be found here. Rush was feeling it in one particular five minute stretch, scoring baskets on NBA caliber moves after creating his own shot, and came down the floor once and threw one of the nastiest crossovers weve seen all week long before elevating for a shot. He missed, but it was just an example of what an incredible upside kid has when compared with practically anyone else at this camp. Any NBA GM in his right mind would offer him a two year guaranteed contract in the 2nd round to stay in the draft. In two years we are talking about a guy who would probably go in the lottery. It cant be stressed just how impressive it is for a kid this age to come in and outplay players who are 3-4 years older than him at a camp where everyone is fighting for their life.
David Lee, 20 points (8/10 FG), 7 reb, 2 assists The top performance of the day belonged to David Lee without a doubt. Lee showed off his entire arsenal of skills today for every minute that he was on the court, making unbelievable passes (even from half-court into the post), taking the ball strong off the dribble right at the hoop with his quickness, running the floor like a mad man and rebounding in traffic like a pro. He showed great footwork in the paint to back his man down and score with a finesse move and finish, and came up with a number of emphatic dunks after moving off the ball intelligently. Lee then proceeded to tear the scouting report to shreds by nailing a jumper from mid-range and then taking a rebound coast to coast for a one handed slam. Its debatable whether there is anything more that he could have done to impress the scouts in the stands. This is the David Lee that everyone was expecting to see when he accepted his invite to Chicago. He came through in a big way for himself, and probably solidified himself a spot in the first round in the process.
Rawle Marshall- 13 points, 6 of 14 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 1 block- Although his numbers may not jump out at you, Marshalls game resembles that of an NBA player more then anyone in camp. He is long, active, and just has a certain smoothness to his game that words really cannot describe. Rawle continued this smoothness into the final day of camp, scoring on athletic dribble drives to the basket as well outside jump shots off of the dribble. He has all of the tools to be a very solid player in the league, it is just a matter of him convincing a team that he will use them consistently enough to warrant using their draft pick on him.
Steven Smith- 12 points (5/9 FG), 5 rebounds- Another very nice game from Steven Smith, who solidified himself as one of the biggest finds of this camp for those who hadnt seen him before. Smith showed his versatile skills once again on the offensive end, scoring both around the basket and from the perimeter, using his combination of smarts, strength, ball-handling and skills to score, but playing extremely unselfishly and always with the right attitude. After three extremely productive seasons on college, its unclear how much Smith has to prove by coming back for a forth. Breaking his way into the first round this year could be tough, but some NBA team would be very wise to offer him a contract in the beginning of the 2nd round if they are looking for an all around player who has lots of skills and a big upside to improve. Smith plays in Philadelphia in a conference that gets a fair amount of media coverage, so obviously weve been following him all along.
Team Four vs. Team Five
Dwyane Jones- Jones is one of the nicer surprises of this camp, and he once again impressed scouts with his rugged play and excellent athletic ability. What separates Jones from other athletic big men at this camp like Deji Akindele and Pops Mensah-Bonsu is the fact that he sticks to his strengths and does a good job at minimizing mistakes. Jones likes to stick around the paint area and does a good job setting screens and climbing the ladder for athletic offensive rebounds. Defensively, he is a legit shot-blocking threat, but still needs to work on his man to man defense. All in all, Jones seems to be a very similar player to Dan Gadzuric, but would also probably see himself drafted in the 2nd round should he decide to stay in the draft. With another good season, there is no reason to believe that Jones wont be able to legitimately work his way into the first round as long as he continues to work on his skill level.
Mindaugas Katelynas- After two horrendous games earlier in the camp, Katelynas finally woke up and managed to have himself a halfway decent game. His shot was falling for once, and he didnt force the issue too much by jacking up bad shots out of the context of the offense as he had done here in the past. The best thing for Katelynas was the fact that he did a better job showing off his outstanding athletic ability, which is basically the only reason he is really considered a prospect right now. Katelynas went inside the paint and skied for a couple of very nice rebounds, and even managed to play some decent defense on the other end. This camp did not treat Katelynas very well, and he has probably seen his stock fall because of how much farther away from being a legit wing player he appeared to be. With that said, he still has quite a bit of upside and therefore should be considered by teams drafting in the 2nd half of the 2nd round who are looking to draft someone and stash them overseas.
Aaron Miles- Miles continues to run his team with the steadiness of a 10 year veteran, make great decisions, and play with complete disregard for his final statline, which is a rarity at a camp like this. He had another very solid game, not knocking anyones socks off but also not really making too many mistakes. The way he has shot the ball from beyond the arc in drills here should really give people confidence in the fact that his 50% shooting percentage this year from 3 point land was not a fluke. Miles has everything the NBA looks for in an backup PG. The only question now is which team will be smart enough to nab him in the 2nd round.
Robert Whaley- Whaley finished off the camp on a strong note, showing off amazing touch for a player of his size. At 69 and 269 lbs., he possesses absolutely striking athleticism and quickness for a player of his stature. Robert nailed a few turnaround jump shots out of the post and had no problem facing his man up and shooting over him. He also did a great job running the floor, usually being the first player at each end on every possession. Once thought of as the top high school player in the country, one can obviously tell that Whaley has very good talent, but he has had some character problems that have held him back. If a team is sold on those issues being a part of the past and will not reappear (which it does not seem like they will), we might very well hear the name Robert Whaley called on draft night. Based on the numerous conversations we had with him over the course of the camp, he seems to be a fairly intelligent kid who has his head screwed on in the right place.
Sharrod Ford- The Clemson grad finished off his camp strong in his second game of the day, being extremely active on both ends of the floor and rebounding the ball well. Although a bit undersized (68 ¼ with shoes) and skinny (212 lbs.) for a PF, Ford makes up for his lack of size with a nice wingspan (71 ¼) and athleticism. Sharrod really did a little of everything today on the floor, shooting the ball well from outside, blocking shots, passing the ball well, and throwing down one very impressive dunk on a helpless defender. While we do not see him being drafted here at DraftExpress, many of our friends who work with international teams see him being an excellent player overseas. NBA teams will have to keep close tabs on this guy regardless of what happens with him.
Luther Head- This definitely wasnt his best game of the camp, but Head still managed to make his presence felt when his jumper wasnt falling, as he did many times this year playing for one of the best teams in the country in Illinois. Head did another solid job on the defensive end and made a number of very nice passes to his teammates, never forcing the issue and always playing to his strengths. He has everything you look for in an NBA combo guard, including very good athletic ability, strength, an outstanding perimeter shot, the hands and feet to guard both 1s and 2s and the right attitude to move the ball around and find open teammates. In the right system this guy will absolutely flourish, and it wouldnt be a stretch to say that he can even be a PG eventually if his ball-handling improves a bit. He is really lacking experience in this area, but shows enough potential in other skills to make teams forget about that.
DraftExpress All Chicago Team
Point Guard: Travis Diener
Shooting Guard: Luther Head
Small Forward: Brandon Rush
Power Forward: David Lee
Power Forward/Center: Robert Whaley
Point Guard: Will Conroy
Shooting Guard: Tre Simmons
Small Forward: Alan Anderson
Small/Power Forward: Steven Smith
Center: Luke Schenscher
MVP: Luther Head