Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Grizzlies Workouts (The Final Opinions)

Here is one final post about the players I have seen before the 2010 NBA Draft.  This is for the world to see and be able to reference forever.  I might regret this.  In fact, there is really no possible way that I will not regret this...

Let the record show that this year the guys that I saw workout for the Grizzlies were candidates for the 12th pick, the 25th pick, and the 28th pick.

I went back through previous NBA Drafts (starting in 2000) to find guys that were taken 12 or below that became All-Stars.  Here is what I found.  I am just using guys that have been drafted in the first round.
12 Guys drafted in the first round 12 or below since 2000 have been in at least 1 All-Star game

6- Seniors (Maglore,West, Howard, Nelson, Granger, Lee)
2- Juniors (Jefferson, Martin)
1- Sophomore (Rondo)
1- International (Parker)
1- Freshman (Randolph)
1- High Schooler (G. Wallace)

It is interesting to me that Seniors have by far the best trend of this group. I understand that there can be players that you would consider better than some of these that have not made all-star teams, but I drew the line at one appearance in the game.
I know what comes up next... what about the guys that were drafted in the second round that became all-stars?  I counted 5.
2 Juniors (Redd, Boozer)
1 Sophomore (Arenas)
2 International (Ginobili, Okur)

This makes me feel much better about my affection for Damion James.  I will ride with him and you can call me out on it forever.  I am more confident in James than I am in the other guys that I have seen at the workouts.  If you made me choose from the players that I saw, I'd take James.  I don't give a crap about "it is too high" to take a guy.  He is the guy I like the most (again, of the ones I have seen in person) and I couldn't care less about where some mock(ery) draft has him slotted.

What I found during the research was that if you get a really good, long-term rotation guy 12 or below in the draft- you have done well.  People don't always see it this way, but it is the truth.  The majority of guys drafted 12 and below never play a significant role on a team that does anything meaningful.

Here are the guys that I would bank on -  These are the guys you are allowed to call me out on forever.  I'm riding with...
Damion James
Patrick Patterson
Quincy Pondexter

Everybody is always looking for the guy that everybody passed on that turns out to be a fantastic player.  I did not get to see Eric Bledsoe (decline), Elliot Williams (decline), Avery Bradley (hurt)-  so if they end up being great, don't blame me.  Here are the guys (again, that I saw) that if they wind up being much better than projected, I might be a little surprised, but certainly not stunned.  Potential steals...
Lance Stephenson
Jordan Crawford
Devin Ebanks
Greivis Vasquez

Guys I do not think will live up to what people think they will be- going under assumption that people think they are gonna be better than a role guy (here is what I could regret)
Xavier Henry
Paul George
Luke Babbitt

My favorite guy I saw that will be drafted in the second round (or go undrafted)
Jerome Randle

The Grizzlies Workouts (Paul George and Damion James)

Paul George has gotten a ton of hype.  He is gonna be the steal of the draft!  He could be the best player in the draft!  He is the guy that is flying under the radar!  I have heard it all about Paul George, so I had to go see him in his workout with the Grizzlies on Tuesday.  Going into the workout I must say that I was again hoping to see the guy that the Grizzlies had to take at 12 if he is available.  I just don't think it is there with the kid, and to be honest, if it was he would be going top 5.  There is a possibility that I could have this kid pegged wrong but I cannot stand guys that "motor" is a problem with.  They disgust me.  I think you lose with guys like Paul George because when push comes to shove, they will cave.  I don't wanna worry about a guy giving max effort.  Everybody can wait for the light to come on, I'll pass.  I detest the fact that he was on a losing team (which should be virtually impossible in a crap conference if you are a lottery guy), and the fact that he was not first team all-conference in the WAC, get real.  I would bank on that potential everybody loves going unfulfilled.  I have no time for lazy.

Damion James is the other player I saw in a workout this week.  He is the anti-Paul George.  He competes.  Played in college for 4 years and was crazy productive, yet playing in college for a long time is held against him.  I love guys like James.  Tough, rugged, athletic, and he cares about winning.  He wants to win every drill, he wants to win every race, he cares.  It is amazing to me what a rare trait this has become.  Maybe the fact that these guys play 5 trillion games over the course of their careers by the time they get to this point dulls their competitive edge, so if you still have it then it really says something about you.  He also fits my elite HS player theory (they pan out waaaaay more often than not).  I would want this kid on my team.  He probably will not be a star, but you win in the NBA with guys like Damion James.  I get so tired of seeing all these guys that are too cool to give maximum effort and bust people in the mouth.  This kid is gonna be a good NBA player for a long time, and he is what I want my role guys to look like.  I am in on Damion James.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Josh Pastner on the Bluff City, the team, the draft, etc. (The Audio)

Josh Pastner on The Chris Vernon Show (6-21-10) part 1

Josh Pastner on The Chris Vernon Show (6-21-10) part 2

The Grizzlies Workouts (part 2)

The Grizzlies have had more workouts over the course of the last week and the only one that I missed through the whole process was the one that Larry Sanders from VCU was supposed to be at.  He cancelled, and so did I.  Here are some more thoughts on the players I have seen...

Jeremy Lin - from Harvard.  Smart (haha).  Not an option for the Grizz but surprised me with 2 dunks in the workout.  Probably Europe.

Sheron Collins- poor Sheron.  Earlier in the draft process I was talking to a player about Collins and asked him what he thought about him - here is the quote- "I've been knowin Sheron for a long time.  Sheron... Sheron got a weight problem."  The player was unfortunately a prophet.  I heard he got injured early in the process and ballooned, but it was still surprising to see in person.  He probably weighed 240 at the workout.  I don't know if he will get drafted.

Jeremy Wise- former standout for Southern Miss that played in the D League last year.  Seems to be good enough to be a really nice player in the D League, but I would be surprised if he is a rotation player in the NBA.

Jordan Crawford- I was a big fan of Crawford going into this workout and came out not as big a fan.  I wanted him to be great.  I wanted him to standout amongst the crowd.  I wanted him to be the clear best player on the court.  He was not.  This is not to say I still don't like him, because I do.  He is a scorer and he did not shoot well, which makes for a tough workout.  His first step and ability to get off the deck are really good.  Something that bothered me is that he always looked tired (part of that is bad posture).  It seemed like he was leaning over and grabbing his hips and shorts quite a bit.  If Crawford turned out to be a really good player that could score in bunches I would not be surprised, but he did not in the workout.  I wanted this kid to be the diamond in the rough, and I guess it is possible, but I would be scared to say that after seeing the workout.

Greivis Vasquez- I had made fun of Grizzlies front office people that would bring up liking Vasquez to me, but after seeing the kid in person, I won't anymore.  Vazquez can play.  He has one great trait - his court vision is elite and he constantly gets guys better shots.  He is not a good athlete, but he might be able to get by because he has some tricky moves that create space and is so good a getting the ball to guys and creating points for his team.  He can knock down shots if you back off of him.  I like him much more after seeing him in person.  Vasquez will get assists when he is in a game, there is just no way he will not be able to do that.  He has that one identifiable great trait.  In addition to that, he plays with a confidence and swagger that I like in guys.  I liked this kid.  Surprise workout for me.

Patrick Patterson- no player has been endorsed on the show like Patterson.  David Thorpe of ESPN.COM came on the show and said that Patterson would be perfect for the Grizzlies and is the player they should select if he is available.  Thorpe compared him to Udonis Haslem- which was interesting to me because people have this idea that they want a star with the 12th pick, but chances of that are slim at best.  So what about the guy that you know is going to be solid?  You know he is not gonna be a superstar, but you also know there is no way he will not be able to contribute and be in your rotation.  These are the things that intrigue me about Patterson.  Once upon a time I endorsed taking Joakim Noah with the 4th pick instead of Mike Conley, and I used the same reasoning.  I knew what Noah was gonna be.  There are times that you can play it safe and make the better pick, and there are times where you passed on a star because you played it safe.  In a draft that is incredibly difficult to predict who will end up being the steals, the safe route may be the best.  Patterson is a really good player.  He can really shoot in pick and pop situations, he can rebound, and he is willing to defend.  I liked Patterson.

Devin Ebanks- looks quite a bit like Ariza when you see him.  Ebanks has the requisite athleticism to be a fantastic player, but it seems to be what is going on between his ears that has him projected at the bottom of the first round.  He is really long, looks to be in good shape, can shoot pretty well.  Hard to judge on college performance because he played on one of the slowest teams in the country.  Ebanks was a great high school player and I get the sense that he could really be helped by the more open, up-and-down game in the NBA.  If he matures a little more mentally and physically, I could see him being really good.  He has the size, length, and athleticism.  I just don't know if he has the fire and desire.  Hard to bank on a guy that you are not sure is all there upstairs, but might be worth the risk.

Darrington Hobson- saw his name in the first round in some mocks at the beginning of the process.  I seriously didn't know he was one of the players at the workout until about halfway through.  I thought he was one of the fill-ins to even out the workout.  It would be unfair to peg the guy one way or another because I really was not paying much attention to him.  It will be my luck the guy turns out to be awesome (haha).  I will just plead ignorance.  I figure if he did anything that stood out in the least I would have noticed him before the workout was halfway done.

Terrico White- Memphis kid, played at Ole Miss.  Had about 20 family members at the workout to see him.  This was a tough one because he is 6'5" and I really wish Willie Warren would have been there (he was supposed to be) because it would have put another guard on the court at his workout.  At his height, he was the smallest guy on the court by a good margin.  He falls into the combo-guard discussion (does it not seem that is what everybody is this year?) but I am not sure you are gonna see him with the ball much.  He is an undersized scorer and is not totally unlike Lester Hudson, who was on the Grizzlies last year.  Again, he was playing with much bigger guys in these drills so it was tough to evaluate for me, but I think he may drop to the second round.  He was just ok.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sonny Vaccaro (The Audio)

Sonny joined us for his weekly segment to talk about the Finals, free agency, the draft, etc.  He tells us he is convinced about where Amare Stoudemire will go.

Sonny Vaccaro on The Chris Vernon Show (6-17-10) part 1

Sonny Vaccaro on The Chris Vernon Show (6-17-10) part 2

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Grizzlies Workouts

The Grizzlies draft workouts have been going on at FedEx Forum.  I have been to all of the workouts so far.  Here is a rundown of every player I have seen so far (this is through Sun., rest up later this week)...

Jerome Randle - I liked this guy.  He is small, but he can get his own shot, get in the lane, and is an elite level shooter.  I have felt like guys being small has been blown out of proportion in recent years.  Much like in football with wide receivers (where you used to want them to be big and strong), guards like this kid that you cannot put your hands on have a real advantage.  It did not used to be that way, but it is now.

Armon Johnson- has gotten some love over the course of the last few weeks.  I didn't see it.  Big and strong but his lack of a shot really hurts him.  Not crazy quick, and is not gonna stretch a defense.

Ish Smith- crazy fast, pretty good handles.  Cannot shoot to save his life.  If this kid could shoot he would be dangerous.  It is like a Greek tragedy.  Even his FT numbers from college are really poor.

Luke Harangody- not nearly as big as I thought he was.  Has to be able to hit NBA 3's and not convinced he can do that.  Hard worker, but not athletic or long enough for the position he would play.

Ryan Richards- kid from England that made a big splash in Chicago.  He is a project who will be making a enormous leap in level of competition.  Possible he could become good, but he is years from that.

Raymar Morgan- impressed me.  You can tell this guy has been very well coached.  Tough and plays smart.  Would not be surprised if he gets picked in second round and makes a team.

Lazar Hayward- not unlike Morgan.  Knows what he is doing on the court.  He should probably get picked in the second rd. and make a roster.

Dominque Jones- really good athlete that should be able to get his own shot.  Reminded me of Jack McClinton from Miami , who I saw last year.  McClinton got drafted by Spurs and I don't think he was on a roster last year.  I could see this kid being a bench scorer.

Xavier Henry- He falls into my "dog theory".  There are guys in the league that make up for talent they lack by having the "dog" in them (Battier, Lowry, Glen Davis), and then there are guys that are have supreme talent and that makes up for not having the "dog" in them (Pau, Rudy, Joe Johnson).  The guys that have the "dog" and the talent are typically your bonafide superstars.  The guys that don't have either the supreme talent or the "dog"?  They are just guys.  Henry is just a guy.  He is a jump shooter.  He is a good shooter, but he is not the kind of guy you would want to go to war with.  I sense that he developed much earlier than his peers and that gave him a great advantage.  I don't see it with him.  If you think he is gonna be a star in the league, you are wrong.  I have been to workouts for 9 years, I know what the stars look like.  He is by no means a diamond in the rough.

James Anderson- was hurt so I am not gonna hold that against him.  He played through it during the workout.  Always has struck me as a poor-mans James Harden, still does.

Stanley Robinson- certainly looks the part.  He is big, athletic, long, and fast.  Looks tremendous running up and down the court.  The problem is when you involve a basketball.  He will play in the NBA as an energy guy that will probably grab some rebounds and create some havoc, but that is about it.

Quincy Pondexter- I really liked Pondexter.  The kind of guy you want to go to war with, and a much better shooter than I thought he was.  Long, athletic, strong.  I liked this guy and I think he will be better than a bunch of guys drafted ahead of him.  He should have a good career.

Lance Stephenson- Born Ready!  Lance is really interesting because he did not have a great year at Cincy, but was an elite level high school player.  He is big, really big.  He has a bunch of moves that get him to the rim but his jumper is just decent and his shot selection is not great.  That being said, he has a big upside but could be risky.  I don't know if Stephenson will ever be in a starting 5 of a really good team and playing within a team concept, but I could see him as a really nice piece to come off the bench and get buckets (like the role JR Smith plays).  The kid is strong as a bull and tough as nails.  I liked him in the workout.  Ceiling is much higher than other guys, but chance of failure might be too.  Boom or bust.

Luke Babbitt- could do nothing against Pondexter.  He is being helped quite a bit amongst fans because of youtube videos and good college numbers.  After seeing him up-close I am surprised that people are so high on him.  He measured well, but plays slower than those measurements.  He can shoot pretty well, but he is absolutely not a diamond in the rough.  He is just a guy.  Not impressed.

Jeremy Evans- played at Western Kentucky and had never heard of him before I saw him.  He is long, athletic, and not afraid of contact.  I would invite this kid to play on the Summer League team for sure.  He held his own against guys that will get drafted in the first round.

Andy Rautins- he is a good shooter.  Poor guy had to play against Stephenson and it was man vs. boy.  He will play in Europe.

Craig Brackins- Brackins can shoot it.  Really good range.  Pick-and-pop 4 man.  Not really rugged enough to get in the mix with the 4's in the league, but he is skilled for his height and can stretch the floor out fairly far.  He was pretty good.  NBA role player.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Michael Davies on The World Cup (The Audio)

Michael Davies is a Brittish TV producer who covers the World Cup for ESPN's Off the Ball blog.  I heard him on the BS Report w/ Bill Simmons last week and was totally captivated.  We were able to get in touch with him and get him on the show and he was tremendous.  One of our favorite guests in a long time.  Even if you do not care about soccer, you will love this guy.  He is on twitter (@embassydavies).

Michael Davies on The Chris Vernon Show (6-11-10)  part 1

Michael Davies on The Chris Vernon Show (6-11-10)  part 2

Sonny Vaccaro on NCAA, John Wall, etc.

Sonny joined us for his weekly segment on Thurs. and talked about the NCAA and the sanctions on USC, the John Wall shoe deal with Reebok, the NBA Draft, etc.  He also throws out his idea of who will coach Michigan St. if Izzo leaves.

Sonny Vaccaro on The Chris Vernon Show (6-10-10) part 1

Sonny Vaccaro on The Chris Vernon Show (6-10-10) part 2

Friday, June 04, 2010

Tons of NBA Draft talk from the show (The Audio)

Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace on The Chris Vernon Show (6-2-10) part 1
talks about the Euro trip that he is going on, needs and draft talk
Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace on The Chris Vernon Show (6-2-10) part 2
draft talk and takes calls

Sonny Vaccaro on The Chris Vernon Show (6-3-10) part 1
Sonny talks about Bledsoe, and different draft prospects that he has talked about with agents and GM's
Sonny Vaccaro on The Chris Vernon Show (6-3-10) part 2

David Thorpe (from ESPN.COM) on The Chris Vernon Show (6-4-10)
talks about the top of the draft, the guys the Grizzlies will be looking at with 12th pick, and who he thinks is the best fit for the team (he has one guy in mind perfect for them)