Tagged: Eric Maynor

Draft Buzz: Curry, Flynn, Holiday, Maynor Rising. Rubio Falling. Trades?

Since I can’t live vicariously through myself (like the most interesting man in the world), I have to do it through Chad Ford, who attended the Chicago Draft Combine, spoke with many GMs and coaches, and came away with some solid information.

Notably, four point guards are rising…I’m not surprised that they are Stephen Curry, Johnny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, and Maynor. Three out of these four are on my wish list. The two ishiest guys on my ish list didn’t even show up for workouts.

On Holiday:

…UCLA’s Jrue Holiday garner[ed] the most attention. He was the biggest point guard of the top group and seemed to tower over several of the smaller guys on the floor.

During one 3-on-2 full-court drill, Holiday looked like a power forward running on the wing. And while his size was impressive, so was his game. He was hitting his jump shot, finishing with both hands and showing versatility and an excellent handle.

On Flynn:

Flynn continues to generate buzz with his combination of speed and power — even if he was the shortest guy on the floor. Every GM I spoke with now sees him as a lottery pick, with many projecting him in the Top 10.

On Curry:

Curry put on a shooting show — no surprise there — but many GMs commented that he really looked like he belonged when he participated in a number of ballhandling and full-court drills. If Curry can prove to teams that he can play point guard, he’ll go somewhere between No. 5 and 13. If he can’t, he could slip out of the lottery. The results of the first day of camp had to be encouraging.

On Maynor:

Maynor also generated some significant buzz with his decision-making and shooting.

“He looked like he was totally in control out there. There’s a smoothness to his game that I really like,” an NBA head coach said.

I’d be happy with any of these guys. I don’t think Maynor will be a lottery pick. If he is one it will be late in the lottery and if the Knicks wind up with him it will be because they traded down.

Holiday is taking a rocket ship out of the Knicks stratosphere. I’d be happy if he fell though.

I like Flynn’s toughness, and power and speed go a long way in the NBA. He’ll be a capable starter.

And can we finally put to rest the notion that Curry is an undersized 2 who can’t play 1? Isola has been insisting that Curry is unproven, but I think he proved a lot last year and will continue to prove himself in workouts and as a rookie. Now it seems like there are teams ahead of and behind the Knicks who want the kid. If he really wants to be here (and he can’t seem to hide his desire to be on the big stage), he won’t work out for anybody except the Knicks.

Also, according to Ford (link requires ESPN Insider), Rubio is slipping, with teams questioning his touch and his propensity to turn the ball over:

Speaking of Rubio, I encountered a number of NBA GMs and scouts this week who were pretty skeptical about Rubio’s NBA future. They see him as an average athlete who can’t shoot well and who is turnover prone, and wonder aloud why he’s ranked so high.

A few GMs said Rubio isn’t in their top five. While I’ve heard doubts expressed before, the skepticism was expressed much more strongly this week by more execs. I’m going to keep digging. Maybe Henry Abbott struck a chord with his TrueHoop post on Rubio.

In any case, if Memphis and Oklahoma City decide against Rubio and don’t trade either of their picks to a team that wants to move up to get him, it’s hard to see the Sacramento Kings passing on Rubio at No. 4.

Ford also reports that there are lots of potential trades being discussed at the top of the draft. Things are very fluid. I don’t know about you, but I love draft time.

Knicks FanBlog Sweet 16

We won’t be doing any mock drafts in this space until Tuesday evening following the results of the lottery but, in the meantime, here’s our ranking of the top 16 prospects that are eligible for this year’s draft. This list is simply based on our own impressions and opinions of these players (although names are linked to their profiles at DraftExpress.com). We’re not trying to present some sort of consensus of how these prospects are viewed by the draft experts. Without further ado:

  1. Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
  2. Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut
  3. James Harden, SG, Arizona State
  4. Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
  5. Stephen Curry, G, Davidson
  6. DuJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh
  7. Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
  8. Jrue Holiday, G, UCLA
  9. Earl Clark, F, Louisville
  10. Demar DeRozan, G/F, USC
  11. Terence Williams, G/F. Louisville
  12. Brandon Jennings, PG, Virtus Roma
  13. Nick Calathes, G, Florida
  14. Eric Maynor, PG, VCU
  15. Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
  16. Jonny Flynn PG, Syracuse
  • We imagine the first two aren’t very controversial but it did take us a few minutes to decide between Rubio and Griffin for the top spot. In the end, after some discussion, we decided that a big man with Griffin’s athleticism and ability is just too valuable a commodity to pass on in that first spot. But we’re both big believers in Rubio and Griffin has some limitations that make him less than a cornerstone player (you can read about that here).
  • We also struggled with where to slot Thabeet. A player with his size and athleticism has a pretty big built-in upside but he has big-time bust potential as well. In the end, though, we think his ceiling is probably something like Sam Dalembert or Joel Pryzbilla and just couldn’t justify putting him any higher than 7th.
  • You’ll notice how guard heavy this list is. This draft is almost completely devoid of capable big men. A good argument could be made for James Johnson of Wake Forest as a top 16 prospect (he was one of the last cuts), but we like the guards better.
  • And, considering how guard heavy the list is, we know that some will think we’re crazy for leaving Tyreke Evans off our list. But we are not Evans supporters at this blog. Evans is the type of player who would have thrived with Isiah’s no accountability, chuck-and-duck version of the Knicks. Yes, we know he won a whole bunch of games in a row with Memphis in Conference USA. He’ll be a fine pick for the Warriors or any other team that values guards who pound the ball into the ground for 20 seconds and then force up contested shots.
  • It should also be noted that Dan has serious reservations about Brandon Jennings and, if this wasn’t a collaboration, he might not even have him in his Top 16. In the end, though, he was sort of persuaded (but not really) that at 12, his upside justified the risk.
  • Originally the list was going to be a “fine 15″, but we couldn’t decide between Lawson or Flynn so we just expanded it to 16 players. Those two, while very different types of PGs, were difficult to distinguish between for the purpose of this list.

Of course, we welcome debate.

Epilogue: UCLA 65, VCU 64

Just as we’d hoped, this turned out to be an exciting game right down to the closing seconds and each of our featured guards, VCU’s Eric Maynor and UCLA’s Darren Collison and Jrue Holiday, had a chance to shine. I’m glad not to have steered you wrong as this game did in fact prove a good opportunity to scout three very talented guards all of whom could end up on the Knicks radar in June.

Maynor was particularly brilliant in carrying his team, along with the sometimes very impressive 6’10 PF Larry Sanders (love the name!), to the precipice of victory against one of the premier programs in the country. He showed off his entire arsenal: creative decision-making, crisp passing, clutch shooting and a nifty floater he uses effectively to finish off dribble penetration, while keeping the turnovers to a minimum. Another Maynor hallmark that was evident last night was his propensity to shine in big moments. During the regular season, Maynor always appeared to have a knack for taking his game up a notch in the closing 6 minutes to put an opponent away. He showed that extra gear once again in the second half of last night’s game (on a much bigger stage) and very nearly knocked off a goliath. Maynor’s flaws were also on display. He’s a smart player but he’s not supremely athletic and his on-the-ball defense needs improvement. He also needs to get much stronger. Maynor was great last night but, in the closing seconds, he was ultimately unable to get enough separation to get his jumper off over Darren Collison.

Collison also showed what he is capable of, despite playing most of the game in foul trouble. He’s an intelligent and competent distributor who knows how to run a team and he’s an aggressive defender. If the Knicks go big in the lottery, Collison would be a solid addition to the backcourt later in the draft should the Knicks manage to acquire a second pick.

Fortuitously (for us), Collison’s foul trouble also gave us the chance to get a closer look at Jrue Holiday running point for the Bruins and he did not disappoint. Although just a freshman, Holiday showed a nice combination of savvy and natural ability filling in for Collison. It’s pretty clear that he’s a good athlete, strong ball-handler and solid decision maker (particularly for a player so young). Right now, Holiday seems more comfortable as a complimentary piece (though, when called upon, he did make some big plays last night), but then so did Russell Westbrook at this time last year, so it’s certainly possible he could grow into more of a lead dog. Even if he doesn’t, he looks like he’s going to be a fine NBA player.

NCAA First Round Games to Watch

Here’s a primer for the first round of the NCAA tournament. These aren’t necessarily the games I’d watch if I was just trying to enjoy the tournament, but these are the most interesting games from the standpoint of getting a chance to see college prospects that might interest the Knicks in the upcoming draft in June:

UCLA v. Virginia Commonwealth: This is, in my opinion, by far the most intriguing first round game in the entire tournament. Aside from the fact that it should be an exciting game (VCU could very well take down the Bruins), the game also offers us a chance to see Eric Maynor, a player some consider the best PG in the country, go up against Darren Collison, UCLA’s fine senior PG and Jrue Holiday, a freshman combo G who is the future of UCLA’s program (unless he decides to go pro).

Maynor is a guy the Knicks should definitely have their eye on as he’s a pure point who can score, sees the floor well, and makes great decisions with the basketball. He’s also shown that he plays big on the biggest stages (witness this two minute stretch in the finals of the Colonial league’s 2007 conference tourney and this stirring upset of Duke in the 2007 NCAAs). Opinions really run the gamut on Maynor. As I said earlier, some see him as the best PG in the college game while others see him as a somewhat limited prospect due to his slight frame and just average athleticism. The tournament will likely help to shape a consensus and a good showing against UCLA could give his draft stock a big boost.

Collison is an NBA-ready backup PG. He has a slight frame, he’s not flashy and he doesn’t have the great floor vision to be an elite PG but Collison is a great on-the-ball defender and he knows how to run a team. In this game look for him to put a ton of on-the-ball pressure on Maynor and make him work hard for everything he gets. Holiday has a much bigger upside but has largely tended to defer to his more experienced teammates this season. He’s a great athlete with a refined skill-set but we really won’t get a chance to see what he’s capable of until next season when (and if) he takes over the PG reins. If Holiday has a big tournament it’s possible he could declare but if he goes back to school and has a big year running the show he could work his way into the top 5-10 picks of the 2010 draft.

Arizona St. at Temple: I’d especially urge you to check this game out if you haven’t seen James Harden play yet. Harden is a virtual lock for the top 5 in this year’s draft. It’s his basketball IQ that makes him so fun to watch. He simply refuses to force the issue. If the defense he’s facing is set up to deny him good looks, Harden patiently makes plays for his teammates. If the defense changes up to offer some opportunities, he immediately recognizes and starts looking for his offense. His ability to think the game has led to a lot of Brandon Roy comparisons. He loves to set up on the wing and then attack towards the elbow looking to either get to the rim or create an easy bucket for a teammate. If the defense gives him space, he’s a very capable shooter with NBA 3 point range. Harden’s not a great defender but, as with everything else, he’s very smart at that end of the court. And ASU plays a lot of zone.

Temple sports Dionte Christmas, a senior wing who is, right now, a solid second round prospect. Christmas is a primarily a perimeter shooter in the Michael Redd mold but, like Redd, he can score in a multitude of ways when the 3-ball isn’t falling. He’s is a good athlete and a decent defender. With a good tournament he could catapult himself up into the back end first round. In D’Antoni’s system the Knicks will always need players that can stroke it and if DW can acquire an extra pick in the late first/early second round area, Christmas could make some sense for the Knicks as a guard off the bench who can help space the floor.

Also, keep an eye on ASU’s Jeff Pendergraph. He’s a smart, reasonably athletic big that should find a home in the NBA.