NBA Rookie Report Preview

NBA Rookie Report Preview
Oct 24, 2005, 12:25 am
October signals the beginning of training camp and with it comes another season full of intriguing prospects to watch. Many talented players will emerge from this years draft class, one of the deepest on record. While this deep and talented crop of rookies may be one of the best from a standpoint of pure volume, it is also one of the least predictable.

The battle for position on the depth chart and the subsequent minutes those battles will reward to the victor are what training camp is all about. Here at DraftExpress we intend to follow many of these promising young talents throughout the year to see just how quickly they progress and what opportunities may arise throughout the season.

Every so often DraftExpress will have a feature article on a particular rookie or group of rookies from a given team. We will focus in on their performance on the court as it pertains to the roles and responsibilities the player has in the team’s rotation. Since many of these players will not have the luxury of being primary options on their teams we will analyze the roles they play and attempt to track their progress through the season on criteria other than basic production.

In addition to this coverage, DraftExpress will be interviewing members of this rookie class throughout the year to hear what they have to say about “life in the league” and how they’re adjusting to it all. The majority of attention in terms of the national media will go to the Rookie of the Year race and the handful of candidates involved in it, almost strictly from a statistical point of view, but as you’ve probably figured out by now, that’s not how we do things at DraftExpress. Many of the players in this year’s class will not garner the kind of attention and exposure that they deserve simply because they will not be put into positions where they’re expected to be major statistical contributors. Over the course of time many of these players will be key members of their teams. At DraftExpress we intend to give these young guns a chance to put themselves out there for the public to see before the bandwagons get full.

Hop on board for what promises to be an eventful season…

Draft Express Rookie Radar

The rookie class has been broken down into four categories: First Year/Fast Track, Back-Burner/Bench Warmers, Sneaky Sleepers and Top Secret Big Men. The first group is all players that are expected to contribute rotation minutes this season--roughly 15 minutes and up. In the second group we have some talented players who may not start off with minutes, but who could catch the attention of their team before the year is through. The third group consists of players that may find playing time difficult due to depth chart and personal development issues. The fourth group is simply lesser heralded big men that showed tremendous upside in Summer League or other venues and earned contracts for their efforts. All groups will be well covered this season and their placement on either list can change based of a myriad of circumstances that may vary over the course of this upcoming NBA season. I’ve starred the players I feel will be the ten best overall, though it may take 2 or 3 seasons for some of them to develop.

First year/Fast Track:

Ike Diogu- The Warriors frontcourt rotation is short on depth and experience. Diogu’s toughness on the interior is a solid compliment to Troy Murphy’s outside game and the two could find themselves on the court together if/when coach Mike Montgomery decides to go small. Ike will have to improve defensively, but he’s got a solid interior game, a nice jump shot and he’ll rebound on both sides of the court. Diogu will bang down low and help draw attention away from the Warriors superior perimeter attack. An unfortunate injury early in training camp has set him back somewhat early on, but Ike should bounce back strong enough.

Deron Williams- I’m still not sold on Williams as a top flight point guard. Still, he has the backing of coach Sloan and will have plenty of competent players around him to take the pressure off. I expect Williams to defend well and get the offense set, but I question the rest of his game early on in his NBA career. If the attitude and work ethich is there he should make himself into a decent enough shooter to help space the floor for Boozer, Harpring, and Kirilenko.

Martell Webster- Webster has a chance to get some solid rotation minutes this season due to the Blazer’s youth movement. Great size and top-notch intelligence make him a contender for time in the rotation. There will be a lot of jockeying for position in Portland’s training camp at both the 1 and the 2, but I think Webster will come out with a role on this team, even if only to somewhat justify his lofty spot in the draft. Webster’s probably the only pure shooter the Blazers have besides new signee Steve Blake and the streaky and inconsistent Juan Dixon.

Rashad McCants- I’m only putting him in this position because of his status as a North Carolina lottery pick. McCants will have to be more than just a shooter to get time at the 2 in Minnesota, and that has already been subtly implied by T’Wolves coach Dwayne Casey. McCants can score, but so can Troy Hudson and Wally Szczerbiak, while Trenton Hassel has proven to be a solid defensive presence. With the addition of Marko Jaric, McCants will have to shine early and show solid shot selection or Kevin Garnett will quickly tire of him.

*Chris Paul- My frontrunner for ROY for many reasons. Paul will get plenty of time on a young Hornets team. He’s got great playmaking skills, keeping his head up as he surveys and attacks. Paul can shoot well and is quick and strong with his handle. I had some initial reservations about his pass/shoot decision making, but after watching him in Summer League and getting a chance to speak with him I think he’ll make the right decisions as he seems extremely coachable.

Hakim Warrick- Warrick needs to add weight to his thin frame. Warrick needs to become a better shooter. Warrick needs to work on his ball handling. Forget the limitations; Warrick is going to be a player. I’ll take a kid with his athleticism that has the maturity to stay in school and continue to develop any day. Warrick will never be an alpha player-one who leads his team on or off the court, but his skill set and physical ability should help him step right into the rotation.

*Sean May- I’ve really come around on Sean May since watching him in summer league. May has good range on his jumper and he sees the court very well for a big man. Although he’s a little short for a 4 his size and strength more than make up for it as May can get position well for rebounds and makes quick decisions with good touch around the basket. May’s skills compliment Okafor nicely and the tandem should be formidable in the years to come.

Raymond Felton- He’s fast, I’ll give him that. But, the jury’s still out on whether or not he can make smart decisions with the ball in my opinion. Felton dominated in college because his physical attributes were vastly superior to most of his opponents, that won’t be the case quite as much in the NBA. During summer league Felton looked a bit shaky running the point. Make no mistake, he can pass and score, but it may take a while for him to figure out when to do what. Brevin Knight is a good mentor if Felton chooses to become an apt pupil.

*Marvin Williams- Ok, loved his potential in college because of his blend of size, strength, and skill set. But, Williams was completely lost in summer league and I expected more from a player with a solid body that’s built for an NBA small forward. Williams, and the Hawks, are going to have to determine what position he’s going to play and let him settle into it. It’ll be intriguing to watch his development along side of Josh Smith, since they essentially play the same position. Williams hasn’t really shown a true post game to warrant power forward speculation and his height isn’t significant enough to represent a true defensive presence in the paint while on his man. Marvin seems to have a good head on his shoulders and the team is loaded with young players who should help ease the NBA transition.

*Andrew Bogut- Bogut doesn’t intrigue me to any great degree because I feel I have a good sense for what he’ll bring to the table. I figure the number one pick is good for at least 13 and 8 this season with a solid overall floor game. Bogut balks at the Divac comparisons, but I think that his career will be very similar simply off of their comparable skill sets. Bogut is more athletic and his jumper is better at this stage, but I’m not seeing 20 and 10 anytime soon. Andrew needs to really become a physical specimen if he wants to take his game to the All Star level, the next few seasons should be interesting as he has great complimentary players around him to help ease the transition.

Sarunas Jasikevicius- Although he’s not really a rookie I’m dying to see how his talents translate into the NBA game. Saras’ shooting and playmaking ability will really add to the Pacer’s attack while his fiery attitude should keep Larry Bird grinning from the good seats. The defensive issues have been well noted, but he’s won on every level he’s played and I think his impact will be significant. Jamaal Tinsley is his only real competition for minutes and the point, although the Pacers have been playing him at both guard spots for most of the preseason. Either way, Saras will help this franchise challenge for the top spot in the East and his clutch play may push them back to the finals, and maybe even Saras’ fourth championship in a row.

Joey Graham- Graham has tools to play the NBA game. His strength and potential on the defensive end will enable him to cover multiple positions, even some power forward in a pinch. Graham’s shot is slightly unorthodox, but his delivery is consistent and he’ll hit the 15-18 footer with regularity. Joey’s big hands allow him to control the ball well when he drives to the hoop and his wide shoulders help him bull his way past contact in the lane for the strong finish. Graham’s size and strength should allow the Raptors to put out some interesting lineups with Jalen Rose shifting back to the point or the off guard when Graham is in the game. If Joey works on his left hand and refines his overall game he’ll be a very nice player.

Charlie Villanueva- Villanueva seems to have all the physical tools to be a good combo forward. He may be a bit too big and slow for some of the NBA small forwards, but Graham fills that role nicely. However, Charlie’s not going to be an alpha player even though his physical skills would allow him to be one. Neither he nor Bosh are big enough to play center, but I think they’ll end up starting together a lot unless Araujo really comes around. Overall, I don’t think Villanueva will consistently be a standout player on a nightly basis due to his passive nature and the depth chart issues, although he’ll make the highlight reels with regularity. But, Charlie V should be a very competent starter during the course of his career and his range should really open up things for Bosh down low.

*Ryan Gomes- In my opinion could have been a lottery pick and certainly should have gone in the first round. Tweeners tend to scare people away, but I feel Gomes will transition seamlessly into the small forward role as his jump shot is smooth, consistent, and fundamentally sound out to 18 feet. What makes Gomes a sure fire contributor this season and a potential impact player are his instincts. Ryan isn’t going to wow you with amazing explosiveness, but he continually finds himself in the thick of the action because he just knows where the ball is going to be and what he must do to make it happen. With so many other talented players on the Celtics, Gomes’ game should really take off as he won’t be the primary focus of the opposition as he was in college. The word to describe his game best is “effortless”.

Sneaky Sleepers:

Jose Manuel Calderon- Not your typical rookie at 24 years old, Calderon brings a wealth of experience in the Euroleague and International ball to step right into the Toronto Raptors rotation and provide a steady dose of athleticism, unselfishness, pressure defense and a fine first step on the drive and dish play. Calderon will be fighting with the more experienced Mike James for the starting PG spot, but could also see some minutes at the 2 guard spot where the Raptors are fairly shallow as well. He is an intriguing European prospect in the way that his game might very well be better suited to the NBA than it was for Europe. If he can adapt himself to the NBA three point line and endear himself to his teammates and coach Sam Mitchell with his defense and ability to run the team, Calderon could very well be a sleeper prospect for the Rookie of the Year award, if the NBA will acknowledge him.

Arvydas Macijauskas- Another untypical rookie at age 25, this Lithuanian sharpshooter came from the same team as Jose Manuel Calderon in Spain to find a tougher challenge after winning the European Championships with his native country and helping Tau Vitoria to the Euroleague Finals. He could be used either as a spot up shooting threat off the bench or as a starting cog in an undersized 3 guard lineup alongside Chris Paul and J.R. Smith. Macijuaskas is a gamer but will take time to adapt to the speed of the NBA game and the humility of losing 50+ games with the Hornets.

Jarrett Jack- Despite being drafted into what looks like a tough spot in terms of earning minutes, its hard not like Jack’s demeanor on the floor and basketball instincts. He has the strength and tenacity to play the 1 or 2 and has shown continual improvement in all facets of the game. Jack has good overall ability shooting, passing, or driving for the finish. He’s a bit quicker than Deron Williams which I think gives him an edge on defense. Still, the acquisition of Steve Blake and Juan Dixon is a little confusing considering that this team is in the midst of a full youth movement. While neither of the two are very old, it’s strange that the Blazers would trade for Jack and then sign two players who play his position. I still think Jack will find his way onto the court eventually and he could serve as excellent trade bait for a team in need of a young point guard with excellent upside.

*Nate Robinson- Although Larry Brown has a penchant for not playing rookies I can’t imagine a scenario where this kid doesn’t get into the rotation. Robinson has pure point guard skills that are comparable to any guard drafted this year. Robinson’s role is uncertain, but I can see him getting into the guard rotation as long as he can impress Brown with his understanding of the system. Robinson will be a great point guard in this league before too long and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks look to shop one of their backcourt players in order to open up some time for the youngster. Size be damned, Nate is strong and fast with excellent body control and superior instincts. Robinson is also extremely coachable and should be a “Brown guy” by season’s end.

Channing Frye- While Frye will make a serviceable F/C I don’t think he’ll be able to live up to his high draft position. I don’t buy the “soft” label as Frye was plenty active in the Summer League games and didn’t show much hesitance. What Frye lacks is definition to his game. He’s got good overall skills, but doesn’t do any one thing great. Still, he’s a mature player and he’ll help New York’s frontcourt this season as long as he doesn’t let the pressure of the big city effect his mental approach. Frye should do well replacing Kurt Thomas’ role as mid range shooter and rebounder. He has the tendency to either hesitate excessively or rush things a bit, so he’ll have to show composure to get time on the court. But, he’s smart and has the combination of size, skills and physical tools to do things no one on the Knicks can do so he has a chance to impress Larry Brown if he listens.

Eddie Basden- Eddie Basden might have the best motor of any player in the rookie class. If half of these guys played with Basden’s tenacity they’d be all stars in the making. As it is, Chicago got themselves a steal, one of my personal favorites. Basden can play the point or either of the swing positions defensively. His presence will really push Ben Gordon’s game to another level and if Eddie works on his shot mechanics he’ll turn himself into quite a nice player. Basden is much further along at this stage in his career than Bruce Bowen was and if he keeps working he’ll be a better player overall. He’s strong, quick, has good handles, reads the court well, and never stops moving. Chicago fan favorite by mid season and a total Scott Skiles player.

*Danny Granger- The only thing that might keep Granger from being a real contributor for Indiana this season would be injuries. If Granger is healthy he’ll play 3 positions on the court and can fill up the box score ala Andre Kirilenko. The Pacers are deep, but Granger’s versatility and maturity should help him supplant Bender and Fred Jones early in the season. Until he proves it on the court, both physically and mentally, he’ll remain a competitive sleeper pushing the vets in front of him.

Salim Stoudamire- Stoudamire is a 2 in the body of a 1 until he proves otherwise. Being Damon’s cousin doesn’t qualify as being a point guard. Still, Stoudamire is an unbelievable shooter, reminding a lot of Dan Dickau coming out of school in this aspect. If Salim works on his game he could really help a team as a kick out option. Stoudamire could play SG alongside of Joe Johnson and provide an excellent drive and dish threat while covering the PG spot defensively. The Hawks could go a number of ways with Salim, as both Tyronn Lue and Tony Delk are veteran options at the point. If the Hawks go young he’ll get time.

Linas Kleiza - Watching this kid in Summer League made me a believer. Kleiza has the size and athleticism to play both the 3 and the 4 for the Nuggets. His shot is smooth and fundamentally sound and he can shoot it off the dribble well. Kleiza will get rebounds across the lane and moves well around the court to make things happen. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if Kleiza shifts Anthony to the 2 eventually. For this season Kleiza will have to work hard in practice and give coach Karl a reason to give him some run. But, the Nuggets have a lot of unproven talent at the 2 so if any of the starters go down there’s a chance the deck could be shuffled to allow Kleiza a hand in the game.

*Andray Blatche- The closest comparison I can make with him is Vlad Radmanovic. Blatche likes to face up from the wing or high post and attack. He’s got a pull up jumper, he’s got range out to 3 point land and he can handle with either hand. Blatche doesn’t have one go-to move or favor one side of the court so his future looks bright. Andray must add some strength to his frame, but I think he can challenge Jeffries for playing time right away. The kid is RAW, but just an incredible talent at his size and skill level. With the injury in the offseason and the depth at his projected positions, I think Blatche will be starring in the developmental league to start off. But, once he gets his confidence up down there he’ll be pressing hard to get called up to the big club.

Back-Burner/Bench Warmer:

*Gerald Green- Green is one of the most intriguing prospects from this draft, not just because of his athleticism but because his quick and accurate jumper sets the rest of his game up so well. Green has great height to go along with other worldly physical gifts. Green can literally look into the hoop when he uses his 45 inch vertical leap. While a crazy vertical doesn’t make a great player, Green’s jumper will force players to play up on him and once he learns how to set up his defender he’ll be able to burn his man and take off in full flight before the help defense can close him down. Defensively Green’s showed nothing but the promise of quick hands and feet. The Celtics are stacked at the wing position so I don’t expect Gerald to get much playing time until he shows enough game to force a trade of two. That could take a while to materialize.

Orien Greene- Greene has impressed the Celtics brass early in the season because of his playmaking ability and size. Greene is still a question mark offensively, but he’s got plus defensive skills and has looked strong early in the preseason as a floor leader. Orien seemed destined to start the season in the D-league until he started getting minutes in preseason and looking great in the process running the team, so its hard to tell which way his rookie season will go this early on.

David Lee- If I were the coach of the Knicks I’d make sure that all three of the rookies drafted got playing time. But, Brown will have enough trouble justifying PT for the other two picks and New York is heavy in veteran ¾ tweeners who will probably be hard to beat out. Lee has great rebounding instincts and great timing. Lee can handle the ball well for a player his size and can make plays for others as well. What David lacks is a jump shot. If Lee could get consistent with the 12-15 footer he’d be a fairly complete player. It’s his defensive ability that will be questioned the most, though, especially by his new coach.

Jason Maxiell- Absolute monster body. Maxiell is undersized in height only. His length, bulk and strength will give the more vaunted Detroit frontcourt players fits in practice. Unfortunately, that’s where Maxiell will most likely remain as McDyess and the brothers Wallace will eat up most of the minutes in the frontcourt. But, the more Maxiell plays against these guys the better his game will get. Jason has a nice jumper that helps to set up his offense and I think he’s a better version of Corliss Williamson--a player that also took a little while to translate his game into the NBA.

Alex Acker- Didn’t see much of Acker in college so I can’t tell if his hot shooting in Summer League was a aberration or not. Acker’s game is very similar to Antoine Wright’s, but Acker can actually execute the shots he takes. Acker is smaller than Wright and will most likely be asked to play a combo type role sometime down the road if he can continue to impress the front office. Right now he is focused on trying to make the team rather than make any kind of impact in his rookie season.

Wayne Simien- A great college player who had a solid showing during the summer. Simien has very little chance of getting time on a veteran team looking to add a ring to Shaq’s collection. Simien will most likely go to the Developmental league team which is in close proximity to the parent club, making it easy for the team to keep an eye on him. Wayne doesn’t have the same size as Nick Collison, but his game is comparable and I think he can get minutes in the frontcourt in a couple of years when the team starts to reconfigure it’s roster around Wade.

Travis Diener- Even though Diener has the face and body of a twelve year old his composure and court sense are veteran caliber. Diener is a great shooter and while his forays into the paint are methodical he still seems to be able to get to where he wants to go and makes the play when he gets there. I expect Travis to be a very solid backup point guard for years to come as long as he works on adding a bit of core strength to his flimsy body.

Brandon Bass- Brandon Bass is still my guy, even though he looked awful in summer league, he still has all the physical tools to be a very solid NBA player. Another in the long line of tweener ¾’s from this draft, Bass has the game and intelligence to translate well into the pros. He has a great jump shot and strong back to the basket game. Bass possesses great strength and explosiveness which help him power through contact to finish strong against taller defenders. Still, Bass was bafflingly quiet during the Summer League making me wonder if there was some type of injury or problem that wasn’t being disclosed. But, Bass should get an opportunity to redeem himself in training camp.

Julius Hodge- George Karl is said to be extremely high on this kid and if Julius had any semblance of a jumper I’d agree with him. Hodge is a tenacious player and has point guard skills at 6’6”, which is nice. But, Hodge also has the worst shot I’ve seen in a while for a guard. His elbow flails out and there’s no consistency to his release. Because of this I don’t see how Karl can use him in a rotation that includes a bunch of talented guards and forwards looking to make a run in the playoffs. Hodge is a gamer though and if his pride will allow for a bit of work on his shot mechanics (actually a lot) then Hodge can add a bunch to his team.

*Monta Ellis- I’ve really fallen for this kid over the last few months. When initial reports came out I thought he was a one dimensional player who could score big against high school competition, but didn’t work hard and thought he was better than he really was. While he may think he’s better than he is, whatever he is is pretty good. Ellis is a perfect understudy to Baron Davis. While he doesn’t have Davis’ bulk, the rest of his game is very similar. Ellis has a great jumper and he uses it to set up his effortless drives to the hoop. Monta showed some surprising defensive intensity during Summer League, going for rebounds in traffic and playing heads up defense both on ball and in help. Derek Fischer’s huge contract is the only thing keeping the Warriors from giving this kid a shot at some playing time this season.

Antoine Wright- Wright seemed like a reach of a pick for New Jersey, but he’s got some decent skills. Wright is smooth attacking the basket and makes nice lateral moves when cutting into the lane. While he is a decent shooter with his feet set I’ve seen nothing to show he can pull up with any type of consistency and I don’t see him being as good as Ron Mercer, whom the Nets let go in the offseason. Wright seems like a one dimensional slasher/scorer type player who will run on the break but do little else. Until he shows some defensive tenacity and a passing eye he’ll be buried on a Nets team looking to make noise in the playoffs.

Chris Taft- Taft is a good athlete, but I don’t think his game has much definition to it. He can’t shoot well and his hands are too small to control the ball cleanly around the basket. If Taft is going to be a player he’s going to have to show a much greater sense of urgency than he has to date. I equate his approach to Charlie Villanueva’s, but Taft doesn’t have the same skills so he’s even more of a question mark. As it is I see Chris being a solid rebounder and shot blocker, a more talented version of Adonal Foyle. But, whereas Foyle maximizes his ability once in a while Taft seems to be set on cruise control and from a very young age which is concerning.

Francisco Garcia- Garcia makes my watch list because of how badly he struggled during the Summer League. While his defense was excellent, Garcia came billed as a very good shooter and forced us to wait 6 games to see evidence of that. While Garia was a marksman in college, many players struggle to find that same accuracy in the NBA where defenders give you less space and are better at recovering to challenge the shot. The Kings have players with talent and experience in front of Garcia, so he’ll have to work hard to get into the rotation.

Josh Powell- Powell made the Mavericks squad for all the reasons I like him as a player. Powell is an all out hustler. He gets rebounds coming across the lane as well as position for balls in his area. He has good touch around the basket and goes up with purpose and authority when he attacks. Has got the tools to play good defense at both forward positions and should compliment Josh Howard nicely when the Mavs play small. If he continues to work hard on his jump shot he’ll be a valuable player to this team in the future. For now, Powell will have to continue to impress down in the minors, where I think he’ll shine.

Andrew Bynum- No one has gotten the chance to see the young giant since early this offseason. Bynum’s size, mobility, and age are all intriguing when thinking how he may develop. Still, the kid is a very wet behind the ears and will have to be a very diligent student to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s teaching if he wants to scratch the surface of his potential. It will certainly make watching the D-league more enjoyable for fans of the Lakers who have dreams of future banners dancing in their heads.

Yaroslav Korolev- Korolev is extremely young and I see an NBDL stop in his future. He’s got great size for his age and can handle the ball well, but he’s about 20 pounds short of a finished product physically. The Clippers should send their strength and conditioning coach down to the minors with Korolev and make sure he gets bulked up for next season. A great fundamental release on his jumper and good handles make him an intriguing prospect.

Donell Taylor- This quick and fluid combo guard opened our eyes out in the Vegas Summer League and he’s continued that steller play through training camp. Taylor has good offensive ability and decent size for a guard and can pass well enough to make himself a viable option at the point. While he won’t beat out Chucky Atkins or Antonio Daniels for playing time this season, Taylor should get a chance to do his thing down in the D-league which will force teams to take notice.

Top Secret Big Men:

Antonio Meeking- Meeking came out of nowhere this summer and really impressed. Meeking has the physical stature of Sean May and should benefit from going up against him in practice. While Melvin Ely has the inside track on the fourth frontcourt spot it will help having competition at the spot to make everyone better.

Earl Barron- Another surprising player who came into this pre-season in substantially better shape and has benefited because of it. Barron has great size and solid skills facing the basket which will come in handy when the older Heat frontcourt begin to fade into the sunset. Nothing is etched in stone, but with the ages of Shaq and Mourning as well as the limited ability of Michael Doleac, having a legit 7 footer with 270lbs of beef is a good thing.

Dwayne Jones- Jones has the best chance of getting playing time out of any of these five sleeping giants. Jones has shown enough to get a contract from Minnesota and Garnett can use all the help he can get in the frontcourt. I’d expect Jones to push Olawakandi, who is a complete flop regardless of draft position. Regardless, the weak frontcourt offers Jones an opportunity to get on the court. While Jones offers nothing offensively it’s defensive intensity and rebounding that the team would really like out of the other frontcourt players and Jones excels in that regard.

Robert Whaley- Whaley has been on the DraftExpress radar for some time, so it’s no surprise that Utah gave him a shot. While Whaley will be hard pressed to find any playing time over the veteran group coach Sloan favors, he has a chance to draw some attention. It will be interesting to see how his game translates from small Walsh U. to the big show. Utah has tons of talented frontcourt players, but no one outside Carlos Boozer has separated themselves from the pack.

Lawrence Roberts- Roberts was a monster in college on the glass and he continues that dominance through Summer league. Roberts is big and strong, even though he has limited range away from the basket. Near the hoop Roberts is aggressive and finishes well. He’ll get his position and comes up with the ball using sure hands and footwork to get his numbers. I think he’s got a chance to get some run if the Grizzlies get rid of Lorenzen Wright.

Esteban Batista- Both Golden State and Atlanta vied hard for the services of this FIBA Americas standout. Batista has looked solid in the early going of preseason and would give the Hawks another bruising big man to compliment Zaza Pachulia at the center position. The Jason Collier tragedy has left the Hawks in a situation where they don’t have much choice but to play him.

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