NBA Draft Stock Watch

With the NBA Draft order set, mock drafts are now falling into order a lot easier. However, with the order set, that won’t provide answers for some of the most questionable prospects in the draft. When it comes to making it in the NBA, you have to have the size, strenght, IQ, and specific skill set based on position in order to make it in the NBA. While some players come in with all of the above, many lack 1 or 2 and this puts them on the fringe of where in the draft they go or if they even go at all. Lets take a look at some of the more questionable prospects in the draft.

Georgia State Guard, RJ Hunter

RJ Hunter had a decorated career at Georgia State under his dad as head coach. At 6’6, 190 pounds, Hunter definitely has the size and strength to play shooting guard at the next level. After averaging 19.7 points per game, theres no question if RJ can score. What scouts are taking a closer look at is his efficiency. Hunter was underwhelming shooting 39% from the floor and 31% from 3 point range. However, scouts are looking through that noticing he was the face of a team that relied on him to shoot a lot, sometimes contested and off balance jumpers. In the right system and role in the NBA, scouts thing he can 44% field goal and 40% 3 point shooter he was during the 2013-2014 season at Georgia State. Look for Hunter to go late in the 1st round.

Kentucky Guards, Andrew and Aaron Harrison

Both Aaron and Andrew Harrison were big time prospects coming out of high school. After a freshmen year that saw them play well but not spectacular, they decided to stay another year at Kentucky. Still both did not do much to help there cases for the NBA Draft. However, they’re leaving Kentucky for the NBA. At 6’6 about 210 pounds each they make for interesting guards in the NBA. Both can play point but aren’t necessarily great facilitators. Could they have been hurt by playing with so many other great players at Kentucky that their minutes and overall numbers were diluted? Sure, and thats what any NBA team is hoping if they draft them. These guys will look to be picked in the 2nd round or catch on with someone via Summer League play.

Syracuse Power Forward/Center Rakeem Christmas

Rakeem Christmas burst onto the scene this season for the Orange averaging 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. Problem is, this wasn’t your typical 25-7 Syracuse Orange squad. Christmas did if for an 18-13 team, 9-9 in ACC play and missed the Big Dance. Another red flag is senior season point total eclipsed his previous 3 years on campus point total together. Where was this Christmas the previous 3 years? Can he continue to play at this level for years to come? Can his 6’9 225 pound frame hang with the NBA big men? He’s a tough prospect to project but someone should take him in the 2nd round.

Remembering Marbury

Stephon Marbury last played in the NBA during the 2008-2009 NBA season but has put together a nice career for himself in China. He recently won his 3rd Chinese Basketball Association title with the Beijing Ducks and was named finals MVP. There exist a statue of him outside the arena in which he plays his home games. His latest honor you ask? Marbury will be recognized on a stamp. Yes, that’s right, a stamp. Although he wasn’t a fan favorite in the NBA, he has made quite a name for himself in China. Let’s take a look at what was his NBA career.

A high school phenom from Brooklyn, New York, Marbury entered the 1996 NBA Draft following just 1 season at Georgia Tech. Marbury was selected 4th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks but shortly thereafter he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Marbury played well for Minnesota but wanted to be closer to home and forced a trade that sent him to the New Jersey Nets.

Will Selva - Stephon MarburyMarbury played like an All-Star in New Jersey but the team wasn’t winning and he was traded to Phoenix for Jason Kidd. The Nets headed to the NBA Finals and the Suns didn’t. After 3 years in Phoenix, Marbury was on the move again.

Marbury was traded to the New York Knicks during the 2003-2004 season. That summer, Marbury played for the United States in the Olympics and was part of a team that failed to get the gold. It seemed like everywhere he went, losing followed.

Marbury was a part of Knick teams that continually spent big on free agents but put no product on the court. Eventually, Mike D’Antoni became the Knicks coach. D’Antoni thought Chris Duhon was a better fit to run the point in NY and Marbury was inactive on a nightly basis. In a December game, D’Antoni told Marbury he was going to play but Marbury refused. Marbury was then banned from practice and games and was told to stay home. He was eventually waived in February of 2009 and signed with the Boston Celtics. Following that season, he took a year off and eventually signed in China. And the rest is history.

Who is the NBA’s MVP?

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was recently criticized for calling Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook the NBA’s MVP over current teammate LeBron James. Westbrook is currently on a stretch where it seems like every night he takes the floor he’s getting a triple double. Early in the season, the Thunder had both Kevin Durant and Westbrook out and since have been trying to make up ground in the Western Conference to make the playoffs. However, after returning from injury, Kevin Durant is now sidelined again indefinitely and possibly for the season. Russell Westbrook has taken it upon himself to have the Thunder make the playoffs.

Russell Westbrook is averaging 27.5 points, 8.7 assists, and 7.2 rebounds a night. Phenomenal numbers from anyone today and the best of his career. All numbers are well above his career average and at age 26, the best may be yet to come. He currently has the Thunder sitting in the last playoff spot at 41-30, 3 games ahead of the 9th place Phoenix Suns.

Another candidate is Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Curry currently has the Warriors with the best record in the NBA at 58-13 and the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. On the year Curry is averaging 23.4 points, 7.9 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game. While Westbrook’s numbers exceed all of Curry’s, its the way Curry goes about reaching those numbers that separates him from Westbrook. Curry shoots 48%, 42%, and 91% (field, 3pt, free throw) while Westbrook shoots 43%, 31%, and 84%. Curry also averages 1 less turnover a night. Curry is more efficient in the way he goes about hitting his numbers, and he also has his team in first place.

Will Selva - James Harden

James Harden has been phenomenal for the Houston Rockets. Even when star center Dwight Howard has been sidelined, Harden has made sure the Rockets don’t skip a beat. At 47-23, the Rockets trail only the Warriors and Grizzlies in the Western Conference playoff picture. Harden has been incredible, especially of late with a 44 point performance against Indiana and a career high 50 vs Denver. He’s currently averaging 27.2 points, 7.0 assists, and 5.8 rebounds a night.

It’s not an MVP conversation if we don’t mention LeBron James. James again is having a tremendous season averaging 25.9 points, 7.3 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game. However, his points and rebounds are down in comparison to his career numbers. In fact, this seasons points per game output is the 2nd lowest of his career with only his rookie season lower. James has the Cavaliers sitting at 46-26, good for second in the Eastern Conference. However, they are unlikely to catch the first place Atlanta Hawks. Still although this isn’t his best season he does need to be in the discussion for MVP.

Lost Caracter

imgres-6Derrick Caracter grew up in Fanwood, New Jersey and got into basketball at an early age. Born with great size, he knew he could go far with basketball. He was so talented that heading into high school he was regarded as a can’t miss prospect. Caracter could not get comfortable in high school and he was constantly transferring. His freshmen year he attended New Jersey basketball powerhouse St. Patrick High School. He then went to Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School for his sophomore year but then decided to return to St. Patrick High School for his junior year. For his senior year, he transferred to Notre Dame Prep to help get his academics in order.

Regarded as the #25 best prospect in the 2006 high school class according to Rivals.com, Caracter attended the University of Louisville. Although a freshmen, standing at 6’8 275 pounds, Caracter was ready to contribute right away. However, during his time at Louisville, Caracter had trouble controlling his weight, a bad attitude, and was constantly just going through the motions at practice. A player so gifted was beginning to waste away all the potential that once had him as a can’t miss prospect. After two years of ups and downs at Louisville, Caracter entered the NBA Draft. However, once Caracter realized his draft stock was 2nd round to undrafted, Caracter pulled his name out of the draft before the deadline. Caracter was left in a tough spot. Head coach Rick Pitino gave Caracter’s scholarship away to senior guard Will Scott. Caracter was unable to return to Louisville. He found himself in limbo again, just like in high school.

Derrick Caracter found himself at UTEP the next year. Per NCAA rules, Caracter was required to sit out his first season as a transfer. He was eligible in the second half of the 2009-2010 season for UTEP and averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds. He would re-enter his name in the NBA Draft and stay entered. Caracter was selected with the 58th pick, the third to last pick, by the Los Angeles Lakers. After going through injury, stints in the D-League, and times of not seeing the floor with the Lakers, he was waived in 2012. He averaged 5 min in 41 appearances with the Lakers and did not catch on with any other NBA team. He has been playing overseas with various teams located in Lithuania, Brazil, Israel, Puerto Rico, as well as the NBA D-League in the states.

A can’t miss prospect squandered potential and can’t find the NBA floor. It just goes to show you that while talent and size mean a lot, it’s not everything.

Coming Home

imgres-3Two players were traded at last weeks NBA trade deadline. One was a bit of a surprise while another was expecting a buyout or trade to a contender. I’m talking about forward/center Kevin Garnett and forward Tayshaun Prince. The Brooklyn Nets dealt Garnett and his expiring contract to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where his career began, for 26 year old forward Thaddeus Young. Tayshaun Prince, who was already traded once this year from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Boston Celtics was dealt to the Detroit Pistons, where he won a championship in 2004, for forward Jonas Jerebko and guard/forward Luigi Datome.

Kevin Garnett returns to Minnesota where he was the 5th overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. He spent 12 seasons in Minnesota until he was ultimately dealt to the Boston Celtics. He was the 2004 NBA’s Most Valuable Player and a perennial All-Star for much of his time there. As Garnett approaches the age of 39 in May, many expect him to ride off into the sunset for the rest of this season on an expiring contract with the franchise that gave him his start but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Rumors say Garnett is expecting to sign a two year extension with the Timberwolves. He’s obviously not the franchise player that he once was, but how much left does Garnett have left? Garnett has plans in the future to buy the Timberwolves, possibly along with current head coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders. Perhaps is Garnett sticking around due to his love of basketball and the paychecks needed to make such a purchase?

Tayshaun Prince was hoping to work out a buyout with the Boston Celtics and join a contender like the Los Angeles Clippers or Portland Trail Blazers. Instead he was dealt to the Pistons, where he was drafted in 2002 23rd overall. Prince spent just under 11 seasons with the Pistons but they’re currently in 9th place in the weak Eastern Conference playoff picture. With Chris Bosh now out of the season in Miami, there may be room for Detroit to make the playoffs but the bottom of the East playoff picture don’t really stand a legitimate title chance. Prince had really hope to land with a top 4 team in the Western Conference. The Detroit Pistons have made it clear they do not plan to buyout the final year of Prince’s contract.

The State of The Brooklyn Nets

It was not too long ago, that Billy King, General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets was able to pull off the unimaginable. During the their final season in New Jersey, the Nets finished an abysmal 12-70. However, during the 2012 offseason, King was able to lock up his very own “Big 3.” With Brook Lopez still on his rookie deal but playing like an All-Star, King convinced then All-Star point guard Deron Williams to stay and then traded for All-Star Joe Johnson by giving up essentially no big pieces. With Lopez, Williams, and Johnson all on the squad, it looked like Brooklyn was ready to make a run for an NBA title.

imgres-6After an unsuccessful attempt, Brooklyn moved even closer to all in sacrificing many future 1st round picks for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry who while all were close to the end of the line in their career, still had something to offer. During the 2013-2014 season, Terry tried rushing back from injury and ultimately his play suffered. He was shipped to Sacramento and once again the Nets had nothing significant to show for the season losing to the Miami Heat in the 2nd round of the playoffs despite taking care of Miami in the regular season.

Paul Pierce left via free agency and landed with the Washington Wizards and the Nets now find themselves in the 9th spot in the East with a record of 21-31. Even if the Nets end up in the playoff picture, it looks as though they won’t go far having been inconsistent all season long. Point guard Deron Williams has been injured and even when healthy, Williams has not played close to the All Star caliber level he once played at. Joe Johnson has been discouraged by a lack of effort from his teammates and Brook Lopez has been in head coach Lionel Hollins dog house due to his defensive efforts at times. With the trade deadline just days away, all three of these players have been made available. Former All-Star Kevin Garnett has hinted at possibly being bought out to play for a contender but he has since shot those rumors down.

Allen Making His Announcement

imgres-8One of the NBA’s most prolific three point shooters may be making a comeback following the All Star break, and no I’m not talking about Reggie Miller. Ray Allen, who last played for the Miami Heat last season is ready to make a decision following the All Star break. At age 39, Allen has been working out and staying in shape to make another title run in his 19th NBA season should he choose to do so.

Allen, the 5th overall pick in the 1996 draft out of the University of Connecticut averaged 18.9 points per game during his 1,300 career games in the NBA. He has hit 2,973 three pointers at a 40% clip which is good for first all time in three pointers made. Any team would certainly benefit from adding Allen to the mix. While they won’t expect him to play 30 minutes a night. He can certainly help a team and play 15-20 minutes a night while knocking 2 threes down and creating floor spacing for others.

Many teams are interested in Allen’s services. The list includes the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Atlanta Hawks. Allen proved to be effective and had something left in the tank last year with the Miami Heat. He averaged 9.6 points, 2.0 assists, and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 44% from the field and 38% from three point land in 26.5 minutes a night. Allen’s three point shooting is just the surface of his value to teams today. Not only has he already won a championship, he also provides great floor spacing for other players to get open. You can’t provide the type of help defense you’re supposed to when covering Allen. If you sag off of him too much, he’ll find the ball and knock down an open three with ease. Stay tuned for the Ray Allen sweepstakes as I’m sure it will heat up in the final hours.

What You Really Get in Carmelo Anthony

The Knicks, Lakers, Bulls and Rockets are furiously elbowing each other out of the way to get Carmelo Anthony’s signature on a contract. The unflinching and relentless pursuit by these teams for Anthony’s services is mostly warranted. He brings instant name recognition and knows how to fill out the stat sheet as evidenced by his scoring title.

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As pointed out by Elias, the 30 year-old star is averaging 25.3 points per game in his career, the 2nd-highest average in NBA history by a player who has yet to get a whiff of the NBA Finals. You wonder if the teams doggedly chasing Carmelo truly realize the impact his signing will have on overall chemistry.

With the high volume of scoring you get with Melo comes the reluctance on his end to share the ball. He needs touches. Lots and lots of them and it comes at the risk of clogging the offensive flow. He’s not one to distribute the ball like LeBron James does. It’s true that he’s never had the strongest of supporting casts, but if he goes to one of these teams, who’s to say that he’ll be OK playing second banana? Besides, Melo does not elevate the play of other teammates. He doesn’t make them better, a staple of a true superstar. If that was the case, maybe one of his teams would’ve gone further in the playoffs. Asking him to buy in for the greater good of the team seems a bit of a stretch at this point in his career. His defense is practically non-existent. Always has been. Always will be. Just ask his former head coach George Karl. I understand teams going crazy for Melo, but buyer beware.

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