Tagged: NBA draft

Thunder Rumblings: Stephen Curry High on List

Mitch Lawrence is reporting that the Knicks aren’t the only team hot for Stephen Curry. Apparently the Thunder like what he brings to the table, though they would use him at the two, where he would be undersized and underweight, and where some of his abilities as a passer would be deemphasized…

Oklahoma City has a Stephen Curry fixation. The Thunder attended all of Curry’s home games at Davidson this past season and is looking at him as a potential shooting guard. But they’ll almost certainly move down from the No. 3 pick if they decide to take him. Scouts are not only high on Curry’s shooting, but also think he can make players better around him. “When you look at that Davidson team, they barely had any other Division I players,” said one scout.

Donnie Darko? (Or Darko Miliknick?)

We previously told you to be on the look-out for the possibility that the Knicks could be chasing Darko. Darko has an expiring deal and would thus provide low-risk shotblocking (John Hollinger points out that he has the ninth best shotblocking rate amongst centers, though is below average in almost every other way), some rebounding, and size.

Darko’s time in the league is just about up unless he can somehow revive his career. Darko could be a good fit in this system since his Euro game makes him a decent passer and a solid shooter as well.

Mike D’Antoni’s offense seems like the ideal fit. Remember, Boris Diaw looked like a stiff until D’Antoni showed everyone how to use him. Now he’s a solid contributor. He fills a need up front too. It just makes some sense.

Now word is that Donnie offered Q for Darko. We’re not surprised…in fact, we called it. Even though the deal was rejected, I do expect Darko to be a Knick next year.

(Note, Donnie also offered the Grizzlies $3 million for the 27th pick…I wonder who Donnie has eyes for down there).

Interesting Milicic quote:

“I will find the referees, murder them and then [expletive] their daughters”.

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.

No. 8 Just Too High for Ty Lawson

Look, I have nothing against the guy and I think it’s undeniable that he had a stellar junior year at UNC, but I think that those who would consider Ty Lawson a viable option for the Knicks at 8 are seriously overrating his ability. When I watch Lawson play, I see a PG very well suited to Roy Williams’ system at UNC, but I don’t see a lottery pick.

Lawson has some terrific attributes that will probably help him carve out a nice NBA career, particularly his speed with the ball and his ability to distribute in transition. But he’s also undersized, injury prone and limited in half-court sets. In the past I’ve compared Lawson to Jacques Vaughn–and I only think that’s a little unfair (Lawson is a more talented scorer. But think about Jacques Vaughn when he played for Roy Williams at Kansas and you get the idea.). Consequently, tonight’s report from DraftExpress that Lawson seems to be sliding a bit comes as no surprise in these quarters. Here’s what Jonathan Givony is hearing:

One player who really doesn’t seem to have very much positive buzz these days is Ty Lawson. “Injury prone” one assistant GM calls him. “A backup point guard…he’s 100% behind Jonny Flynn” another NBA representative says. “He’s a product of North Carolina’s system” a third told us. Lawson seems to be outside of the lottery at the moment, but still has a good chance to be picked by two teams looking for point guards in the late teens, Philadelphia (#17) and Atlanta (#19). He’ll have to keep Eric Maynor at bay, though.

To me, that sounds about right and, in fact, we projected Lawson to be selected by the 76ers in our first mock that we posted after the lottery. I know Lawson has a workout scheduled with the Knicks, but unless Donnie Walsh trades down from the 8th spot, he’s not going to be the pick.

On a related note, DraftExpress also had this to say about the Stephen Curry, Larry Brown, the Charlotte Bobcats and the Knicks:

Larry Brown is reportedly extremely high on Stephen Curry, and may be willing to trade up in order to get him. Apparently he views him as being able to play either guard position, even alongside Charlotte’s current group of point guards, Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin.

Curry is getting love from teams as high up as Washington and also has a chance to be drafted 6th (Minnesota) or 7th (Golden State). While the Knicks clearly like him, he isn’t the only player they will consider—the other top candidates on their board currently appear to be Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday.

Chad Ford: More Love For Stephen Curry

In today’s chat on ESPN, Chad Ford calls Curry’s jumper “a thing of beauty”, says he’s “so clever with the ball”, and shoots down the notion that Curry is too small for his position. He also continues to compare him favorably to Nash:

Nick (NJ): I hope the Knicks do not select steph curry. Regardless of the system, hes an undersized 2 who wont be able to defend anyone or create his own shot. hes got a quick release but i dont think hes worthy of the 8 pick in an average draft year. (and this is well below average). What are the chances the Knicks take Jonny Flynn? Some guys just know how to play in the garden and thats half the battle. And this kid can do it.

SportsNation Chad Ford: I like Jonny Flynn and he could be a good player for the Knicks, but I think you’re wrong about Curry. I got to see him workout today and I think he’s bigger and better than you think he is. He’ll figure out how to run the point and when he does, I think he can be special. His jump shot is a thing of beauty and he’s so clever with the ball. I still think Steve Nash isn’t a crazy comparison.

Can people please STOP calling Curry an undersized 2? He’s a tall 1, okay? He played a full season in Division 1 as a point guard, and averaged 5.6 assists on a team of nobodies. Besides Ford, many other astute scouts have acknowledged Curry’s ball skills, and Bobby Knight calls him one of the best passers to ever play college ball.

Don’t call him Knick Calathes

Nobody was projecting Florida point guard Nick Calathes to be a lottery pick, but he could definitely have been a sleeper in this year’s draft. He did it all for Florida this past year, shooting, passing, and boarding with his good size. He has very good court vision and a high basketball IQ. The main knock on him is that his feet are too slow to defend well at the next level.

Calathes might stay in the draft but he’ll spend at least the next season playing in Greece for Panathinaikos, according to the Orlando Sentinal. That’s sure to hurt his stock if he stays in the draft.

The Knicks only have one pick in this draft, though there has been speculation that they want a second. If Calathes stays in the draft this move will drop him down to the very bottom of the first round.

But should Calathes even be a target at this point? Should the Knicks be looking to develop their talent ASAP? Or if the opportunity presents itself later in the draft, should the Knicks nab Calathes and wait?

Draft News: John Wall won’t be a Knick…

Top point guard prospect and part time burglar John Wall has committed to Kentucky to play for John Calipari. I’m guessing he’ll be in the draft next year, so unless the Knicks finagle a lottery pick for next year’s draft he won’t be a Knick. Even if John Wall stays in school for the next four years, you’d hope that this is the Knicks’ last visit to the lottery for a generation…

On Workouts…

Work-outs serve a purpose. But for the most part, I think if you wait until work-outs to narrow the field for you, you’re probably making a mistake.

Chad Ford was down on Thabeet all year, questioning his athleticism and strength. He watches him in one work-out and says that with some practice, all of a sudden he can be the next Mutombo.

Incidentally, Chad also was huge on Darko, raving about how the kid could shoot left handed threes without jumping during workouts.

A lot was also made about how Kwame Brown dominated Tyson Chandler in work-outs.

I just don’t get how a scout’s opinion on a player can vacillate so greatly based on work-outs. Darko could hit those off-hand 3s, but when have you ever seen him do that in a game? Never. And no, and Darko didn’t play in too many games in Europe before he was drafted. He had a reputation for dominating practice and then he had great work-outs. (Red Flag for those who love Jennings.)

The point I’m getting at is that for most prospects, like Thabeet for example, there is at least a full season of game action to use in evaluations. I have a feeling that Donnie Walsh, who scouted Steph Curry extensively, watches actual games in deciding which players he likes. I doubt he’s ever flustered by a work-out.

By the time work-outs happen, a saavy GM probably already knows that he likes the guy he’s invited to the gym. The work-out is like a getting-to-know-you session. Are you a sociopath? A nice guy? Smart? Obstinate? Sociable? As into us as we’re into you? Oh, and lets see that jumper we know so well from watching you play in games for over a year.

That’s why I don’t totally discount the Steph Curry promise even though people have called it ludicrous to suggest the Knicks made a promise before workouts. In Chad’s article, he completely changes his tune about Thabeet because he canned a few jumpers in a workout. What about the entire season of games Thabeet played. Doesn’t that tell you more about the kid than one work-out session?

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.

Steph Curry’s Effusive Praise for D’Antoni, and More

Hahn transcribed some of Jared Rothstein’s interview with Steph Curry, who really seems like he’s looking forward to playing for coach D’Antoni:

The most interesting tidbit from the interview was that Stephen said he was currently reading Jack McCallum’s book, :07 Seconds or Less, which is about Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns and his offensive system.

“It sounds like one of the funnest systems to play in and it’s proven to work,” Curry said. “And when you get the right talent in there, the right personnel who can do it, and use the system to their advantage, I think it makes D’Antoni look really good as a coach.”

“If that was the system I would play under, it would be something I would look forward to every day, just to get in there and run up and down the court and get the shots up and also play a little defense,” he added.

When asked by Rothstein if this was the most ideal system for a player like him, Curry replied, “I think so, because I like the open court and being able to make plays, using ball screens and getting up and down the floor running.”

I wonder where he wants to play…

…when asked about possibly playing for the Knicks, Curry gushed: “That would be a dream come true. One is to have an NBA jersey, two to play at Madison Square Garden and thee to play in front of some of the greatest fans, I think that would be something I would look forward to.”

Also from Hahn’s post:

Oh and did we mention he’s tight with this dude named LeBron?

“We’re pretty good friends right now,” Curry said.

And for what it’s worth, JR asked Stephen to find a comparable NBA player to his skill set. Curry’s reply?

Steve Nash.

See Tommy Dee’s scouting report, comparing Curry to Nash.

And about that promise rumor:

“I haven’t heard that with my own ears,” he told Rothstein. “I keep up with the media and the press and things like that, so I’ve heard about it [Bloghost note: He must be a Fixer by now..welcome Steph]. But until Donnie Walsh calls me on my phone and tell me, then I’m going to have to say it’s not true right now.”

Bloghost note: Maybe Curry’s a Fixer because he heard about the promise rumor, though it should be noted that The Knicks Fix was about the 14th source reporting it, after, inter alia, NBAdraft.net, HoopsHype, HoopsWorld, The Knicks Blog, RealGM, and The Knicks FanBlog.