Orlando Recap: First Team All-NBA Pre-Draft

Orlando Recap: First Team All-NBA Pre-Draft
Jun 02, 2008, 11:39 pm
Gary Forbes, Mike Taylor, Malik Hairston, Othello Hunter and Brian Roberts highlight our First Team All-NBA Pre-Draft Camp as we recap the week and it's significance on the draft stock of various players.

Gary Forbes, 6-7, SG/SF, Senior, UMass
21.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2 turnovers, 46% FG, 3-5 3P, 27-33 FT, 23 minutes

Matt Williams

No player has done more for their stock in the pre-draft camps than Gary Forbes. The physically imposing swingman rode on the momentum he picked up from the Portsmouth Invitational to an MVP performance at this year’s Orlando Pre-Draft Camp. While he stood out amongst his peers at both venues, he was one of the few players here that showed an ability to carry his team when it mattered. That won’t be a skill that necessarily will need to translate to the NBA for him, but there is something to be said for stepping up and being a leader in a setting like this one where everyone is trying to earn a job.

There is very little that Gary Forbes didn’t do offensively in Orlando, and he provided one of the most impressive scoring performances in the Camp’s history—averaging nearly a point for every minute he played (21.3 in 23 minutes). In his second game, Forbes put up an incredible 30 in 25 minutes. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Forbes’s performance was the sheer volume of free throws that he accumulated throughout the course of the game, and that Camp for that matter (11 attempts per game). Of the 30 points he scored, 15 came at the line in only 16 tries. He has a knack for attacking angles and getting his man on his shoulder to draw fouls or finish with contact.

Forbes may not be known for his jump shot, but the rotation he puts on the ball is immaculate, and if he can learn to shoot the ball with the same touch from the perimeter as he does from the line, he’ll be a tremendous offensive role player. He only hit 29% of his 3-pointers at UMass, but has definitely shown much more potential in that area at Portsmouth and Orlando. Forbes has already proven himself to be a capable slasher, and while he lacks elite athleticism, he’s got tremendous court savvy and is a very solid ball handler for his size. His instincts are really what separates him from the pack, as he has terrific timing and footwork knowing when and how to attack his matchup, which is how he was able to make a living at the free throw line the way he did in Orlando.

On the other end of the floor, things weren’t quite as pretty for Forbes. His lateral quickness is already underwhelming, and he didn’t do himself many favors with lack of intensity he showed on this end, giving his man too much space and not really getting into any kind of low defensive stance at times. For someone who projects as more of an off the bench type in the NBA, this is something he’ll have to shore up if he wants to get minutes in the league.

Though he’s a year older than many of his counterparts in this year’s draft at 23, Forbes has solidified himself as an early second-round selection, and if he continues to improve his defense and perimeter shooting, may surprise a lot of people with his ability to contribute at the NBA level.

Mike Taylor, 6-2, PG/SG, 1986, Idaho Stampede
14 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3.3 turnovers, 50% FG, 3-11 3P, 11-13 FT, 21 minutes

Mike Schmidt

After being kicked out of the Iowa State basketball program for academic reasons, Mike Taylor opted to play last season for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA's D-League. He showed off his intriguing, yet inconsistent basketball skills throughout the course of the season, and was able to make a pretty nice splash throughout the week in Orlando. Few players helped their stock as much as Mike Taylor did with his week at pre-draft camp, going from being a player very few people had seen or even heard of, to someone that could very well get drafted when it’s all said and done.

Offensively, Taylor excels in transition, where he is always looking to push the ball, and was the quickest player up and down the floor throughout the course of the week. In the half-court, he displayed an incredibly quick first step and an explosive vertical leap that will allow him to finish effectively at the rim against bigger players in the NBA, despite his lack of bulk. His jumper falls quite effectively at times, and he shows range out to beyond the NBA three point line. He remains streaky in this area, as he showed throughout the D-League season (34% 3P, 71% FT), and his shot selection from deep could also stand to improve. Taylor also shows a nice mid-range game, with a very nice 10foot floater driving to the basket.

Taylor’s biggest drawback as a prospect at the moment is that he’s undersized for an NBA two-guard, but lacks the true point guard skills to handle the one full time. He did show good vision on the pick and roll a couple times during the week, and can find the open man on the dribble drive as well. At times he might get a little individualistic, though. He tends to force the ball into the paint occasionally, and leaves his feet with no place to go with the ball, which leads to very high turnover numbers (3.4 in 28 minutes in the D-League).

Defensively, Taylor also has a great deal of work to do. He has the lateral quickness and wingspan to become an effective defender, but loses focus easily when it comes to man to man defense. As a help defender, he tends to try and gamble in the passing lanes for steals, which leaves his team at a disadvantage. Taylor has the explosive scoring ability and athleticism to make an impact at the NBA level, but he must overcome his mental lapses on the court over the next few seasons.

His aggressive nature on the offensive end allowed him to stand out throughout the week in Orlando, and he moved himself solidly into second round conversations with the way he played. NBA teams have been moving more and more in the direction of combo guards like Mike Taylor over the past few years, and they could view him as a Louis Williams/Jannero Pargo type sparkplug to bring off the bench. He surely has the athleticism and offensive instincts to warrant that, even if he’s not a very polished player at this point.

Teams will do the research they need into his background to see if there are any additional red-flags after he was arrested twice last year and booted off the team, but his head coach Bryan Gates speaks very highly of his character and recommends him strongly. There is an argument to be made that he played against stronger competition in the D-League this year than almost any NCAA player, and has a championship on his resume (scoring 27 points in 28 minutes to go along with 7 turnovers in the championship game). It doesn’t look like he’s a finished product right now either.

Malik Hairston, 6-6 , SF, Senior, Oregon
13.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 22 minutes, 59% FG, 60% FT

Jonathan Givony

A player no one fathomed would step foot on this setting (besides possibly to conduct a physical) when he entered the NCAA four years ago as a top-10 player in an incredible class, Malik Hairston did a pretty good job reminding people in Orlando why he was so highly regarded to begin with.

Smart, efficient, unselfish, skilled and sporting much sleeker physique (credit Joe Abunassar for helping him lose 20 pounds) than he did two months ago, Malik Hairston quietly, but effectively showed that he has every right to be considered one of the top players at the pre-draft camp. His court vision and all-around feel for the game was the most noticeable thing here comparing him with other players, as he repeatedly found his teammates with beautiful bounce passes off the dribble in every game he played in (even if for some reason he wasn’t credited with at least a half-dozen assists in the box-score).

His ball-handling skills look better than we remembered, as he’s extremely effective picking his spots and blowing past his man with his surprising first step, even if he tends to struggle a bit with his left hand and some of his advanced moves. His excellent strength helps him out considerably in this area, and he was getting much better lift elevating around the basket than we recalled. He rarely turns the ball over, which is a big plus considering what his role will be in the NBA.

Hairston is a good shooter, as evidenced by the 53% he shot from the field and 43% from behind the arc at Oregon, even if he didn’t really make it a focal point to show off NBA range here. He does a good job moving without the ball and is capable of coming off short screens and getting his shot off. He’s extremely dangerous with his feet set, but is just average at best shooting off the dribble. To his credit, though, he knows how to pick his spots and rarely will take bad shots. He will have to improve his mid-range game considerably if he intends on becoming a legit offensive option for his team in the NBA.

Defensively, Hairston has good length and knows how to play solid on-ball defense when he puts his mind to it. He has excellent timing and strength, but is slightly undersized to play the small forward position, and doesn’t bring fantastic lateral quickness to the table to compensate. He is also not the most aggressive or aware player you’ll find in terms of his team defense.

Hairston probably didn’t blow anyone away with what he showed at the pre-draft camp, and thus is still most likely a second round pick at this point, but he did show that he clearly has what it takes to make it in the NBA, particularly in terms of his aggressiveness, which has always been a question mark. Teams aren’t going to have to teach him how to play basketball, and he still has room to continue to improve on his all-around skill-level, as he’s a very young senior at just age 21. He’ll never be the star he was once billed as, but he definitely has a chance to be a very good role player.

Othello Hunter, 6-9, PF, Senior, Ohio State
11.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 60% FG, 50% FT, 25 minutes

Joseph Treutlein

Othello Hunter has done everything he can to help his stock in this draft process, consistently playing well in all the games at both Portsmouth and Orlando. In addition to showing the things he’d already shown at the college level, he’s also displayed an improved mid-range jumper and looked a little better with his back to the basket. He hasn’t hurt himself in the measurements either, (6’8 ½ in shoes at Portsmouth with a 7’2 ¾ wingspan) while also looking to be amongst the best here in Orlando in the vertical leap department by our naked eye.

Hunter showed a consistent motor and ability to impact the games with his length and athleticism. The first thing that stands out is his mid-range jumper, which actually improved for him as the season went on at Ohio State. Looking at video from the first few games of the year and the last few games of the year, some noticeable changes occurred with his shooting form. The most obvious change is more deliberate mechanics in general and more consistency holding his follow through. He also altered his mechanics themselves slightly, bringing the ball up over his forehead before the release. He doesn’t get much elevation off the ground, but his length compensates for that as release point is high. These changes have increased his effectiveness significantly on spot-up jumpers from the mid-range, which he’s shown at both camps and towards the end of the college season. He’s done a good job knocking down 15 footers when getting open off pick-and-pops or drive-and-dishes, while even showing flashes of college three-point range in the NIT Tournament Finals. His skill-level isn’t anything to write home about at this point, but it may give NBA teams some room for optimism regarding the future.

Hunter also has looked better in the post, showing slightly crisper execution and footwork along with better accuracy on his hook shot and turnaround jumper. He also seems more comfortable in the post in general, not really rushing much, and making better use of countermoves. A lack of strength and balance, along with still undeveloped footwork, definitely gives him problems at times, especially when establishing position, but he’s making improvements.

On the defensive end, Hunter benefited here by not being matched up with many powerful post players that could take advantage of his slight frame, something that has hurt him in the past. He also only blocked two shots on the week, but contested quite a few more. Hunter did really well on the boards, though, and actually was the 10th ranked offensive rebounder per 40 minutes pace adjusted in our database on the season.

Hunter’s performance here, along with his physical tools and the learning curve he’s shown over the past two years, has made a decent case for him as a late second round pick in the draft, despite his less than ideal size for a power forward. The fact that he’s only played competitive basketball for six years definitely helps his case, as does the way he came out here and distinguished himself from other players with similar stocks heading in, while also showing strides in some of his weaker areas. He still has to add a significant amount of weight to his frame to compete effectively in the NBA. While not a lock at all, Hunter should get some consideration late in the draft.

Brian Roberts, 6-2, Senior, Point Guard, Dayton
13.7 points, 5 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 24 minutes, 58% FG, 57% 3P, 100% FT

Jonathan Givony

Knowing how to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you is what professional basketball is all about, and Brian Roberts did exactly that this week in Orlando. With his teammate Ty Lawson deciding to shut it down after just one game, Roberts stepped up to the plate and delivered in a big way, showing more versatility as a player than he may have been able to at Dayton.

Roberts is a slender point guard whose main calling card has always been his perimeter shot. He has beautiful mechanics and range that extends well beyond the 3-point line, allowing him to shoot a stellar 45.5% from that range in college on six and a half attempts per game. He looked excellent in the drills and hit a high percentage of the shots he took in the actual games, particularly with his picture perfect pull-up jumper from mid-range.

He was able to show off ball-skills in Orlando too, though, displaying a good feel for the game and a knack for pushing the ball up the floor and playing at different speeds. He is excellent on the pick and roll and makes good decisions with the ball in his hands, even if he clearly isn’t what you would call a pure point guard. He executes well offensively and is clearly not a selfish player, but doesn’t have incredible vision or playmaking instincts. He played very aggressive basketball, though, not hesitating in anything he did and showing a great deal of confidence in his offensive abilities, which helped make a lot of good things happen for his team. At times he lacked the strength or explosiveness to get all the way to the rim or finish strong in traffic, but he seemed to know his limitations and did not turn the ball over at all, posting a solid 15/5 assist to turnover ratio in the three games.

Watching his film from college, it’s hard not to be shocked at how heavily his team relied on him to handle the ball and create offense for them virtually all game long. Roberts seemed to enjoy the freedom he had here, which partially explains why he was so effective.

Defensively, Roberts is just average at best, as he often lacks the strength to fight through screens defending the pick and roll. This clearly wasn’t something he was asked to do a great deal of in college, but it will be very important for him at the next level.

Roberts is drawing a lot of Daniel Gibson comparisons these days, as both are slender, smooth 6-2 combo guards with great intangibles and phenomenal perimeter shooting skills. Roberts is a better ball-handler than Gibson, but is not quite as good a defender, though. Like Gibson, he will have to find the absolute ideal situation (likely playing next to a big point guard) to make and stick in the NBA. If he doesn’t find that, he will have a great career in Europe, where he can play a Louis Bullock-type role at a very high level as he continues to develop.

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