Devin Green, 6-7, Shooting Guard, LA D-Fenders
16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 7/13 FG
Some have criticized the 25 year-old for not taking over games, but he will be a role player type in the NBA rather than a go-to scorer. On a team with 6 former NBA players, Green seems content doing all of the little things for the team, and generally takes most of his shots within the flow of the offense. Defensively, he uses good length and a well built frame to shut down opposing wings.
After considering everything Green can bring to a team, its baffling that no NBA squad has given him a chance this season. Numerous roster spots remain open on NBA teams, and plenty of them could potentially benefit from giving the versatile gluy guy a chance. Boston would be a great fit for Green where he could play minutes next to Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. His versatility would also fit very nicely in Miami next to Dwayne Wade. With everything he displayed in Boise in front of many NBA decision-makers, it appears that his chance will arrive very soon.
Josh McRoberts, 6-11, Power Forward, Idaho Stampede
7 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 2-10 FG, 0-1 3P, 3-4 FT, 30 minutes
Offensively, McRoberts does not seem to have a consistent way of creating points for himself. He looked incredibly soft in the post, fading away from contact, being unable or unwilling to use his body to create space, showing very little in the ways of actual post moves, and settling for bad shots. On the perimeter, McRoberts is making things way too difficult on himself, pulling up off the dribble on more than one occasion for mid-range jumpers (air-balling one of his attempts), and even trying to shoot an NBA 3-pointer.
Defensively, McRoberts could not stay in front of any of the D-League players he tried to guard tonight, and did not really put much effort at all into this part of his game--being outhustled for rebounds as well. Opposing players have been going right at him in both games we saw here, and McRoberts really hasnt responded to the challenge in the least bit.
The sooner McRoberts realizes how far he is right now from being an NBA player, the better off hell be. From what we can tell, the Development League is exactly the place he needs to be at the moment. His lofty recruiting rankings from high school will only take him so far at this point, as he looks pretty close to turning into a cautionary tale if hes not careful.
Randy Livingston, 6-4, Point Guard, Idaho Stampede
12 points, 12 assists, 4/9 FG
Though his shooting form still looks awkward, the guards accuracy from behind the arc is quite impressive this season. Livingstons shooting percentage sits in the high 30s right now on over four attempts from long range on the season. On the drive, Livingston also shoots the mid-range jumper if open and can even occasionally carve out some space posting up with his wide body to create lay-up opportunities.
At the age of 32, Livingston lacks great mobility partially due to a high level of wear and tear on his knees. This can be compensated for offensively with good screens and the way he uses his body, but it does hurt the veteran on the other end of the floor, as well as in terms of conditioning. Still, his experience and leadership could be valuable to a number of NBA teams right now. There are some rumors that he is very close to getting bought out and signing a deal with a team in the Spanish ACB.
Kris Lang, 6-11, Center, Austin Toros
First Game: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 4-8 FG, 3-6 FT
Second Game: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 2 assists, 4 turnovers, 2-9 FG, 5-6 FT
Besides his chiseled frame, Lang also has excellent hands and solid mobility for a player his size. He runs the floor well, and has excellent timing for rebounds and blocks, being somewhat of a force on the glass in many minutes here in Boise. Hes extremely active, boxes out well, plays physical and doesnt shy away from contact.
Offensively, Lang is a fairly limited player, although hes probably slightly better than he was able to show here. He establishes deep position in the paint thanks to his strength and frame, and has some basic back to the basket moves he can utilizemainly a jump-hook and some simple footwork. Hes not explosive finishing at the rim, particularly in traffic, and loses effectiveness significantly the farther out he strays from the basket. He tried some really tough shots here that looked out of his repertoire, hook shots from difficult angles and too far out, and some mid-range jumpers that didnt look particularly good. He doesnt seem to have the best touch around, and has been struggling from the free throw line at times early on in the year so far. He does run the floor extremely well, which can help him get some easy baskets.
Defensively, Lang does a very good job. He likes to throw his body around in the post and is not afraid to make his presence felt. Its tough to post him up because of his size, strength and the effort he puts in here, which makes him a pretty valuable guy to have. Hes constantly talking to his teammates, looking to pick his spots where he can help out with a heady rotation or by sticking his hand in for a steal or block. His feet are a little bit slow out on the perimeter, which hurts him trying to defend pick and roll plays.
All in all, Lang is a useful player who might even have a chance to get called up by some NBA team looking for a backup center who brings defense, rebounding, intelligence, and consistent effort whenever hes called upon. Hes not a super talented player, but there is a lot to be said for the consistency he brings to the table. Some of the biggest teams in Europe are waiting in the background in case he decides to cross back over the Atlantic again.
Nick Fazekas, 6-11, Power Forward, Tulsa 66ers
15 points, 6/10 shooting, 4 rebounds
Offensively, Fazekas failed to establish post position against Justin Cage on the low block. Cage is a swing player who measures 5 inches shorter than the Dallas Maverick, but still managed to shut him down due to his length, size and aggressiveness.
The big man does show good skills facing the basket and good hands inside, but the lack of strength and speed severely limit his NBA upside. If Fazekas had showed up to the Orlando pre-draft camp with a performance like this, he might have fallen all the way off the draft board altogether. Almost every person in attendance here unanimously shook their heads when asked about Fazekas performance at the Showcase. Things arent looking great for him right now, but its still very early in his career and he must take things very seriously if hes going to survive in the NBA long-term.
Keith Langford, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Austin Toros
First Game: 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 3 steals, 6-15 FG, 0-3 3P, 7-8 FT
Second Game: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 10-16 FG, 4-6 3P, 0-0 FT
Standing somewhere between 6-3 and 6-4, Langford is somewhat undersized for the shooting guard position, but has a terrific 6-9 wingspan to make up for that. A left-handed player, Langford is an explosive athlete, blessed with great quickness and terrific body control, which he likes to put to use particularly well in transition.
Offensively, Langford is at his best with the ball in his hands, where he can put his explosiveness and solid ball-handling skills to good use. He has good footwork and strength, being a tenacious player who gets to the rim with impressive spin-moves and is not afraid to draw contact and make his way to the free throw line. Hes a very good finisher at the rim, and if he sees some traffic coming his way, will not hesitate to drop in a pretty left-handed floater. His mid-range game is very solid, as he loves to pull-up off the dribble from 17 feet. Langford used to be known as an extremely weak perimeter shooter, but he put some of those notions to rest here in the second game by knocking down 4 out of 6 of the NBA 3-pointers he attempted. Hes shooting 33% from that range on the season in the D-League, which indicates that he probably still has some work to do in this area. His shot flattens out at times when hes rushed, but his form for the most part isnt bad, so there is certainly room for optimism here. Being more effective playing without the ball (shooting off screens and such) is the next step for him.
Langford was somewhat turnover prone earlier in his career, but he really did a nice job staying under control in the two contests we took in, even shouldering a good amount of ball-handling duties at the point guard position at times. His court vision isnt good enough to be considered a great prospect at the 1-spot (hes a natural 2), but he can certainly bring the ball up the floor and get his team into their offense effectively enough.
Defensively, Langford really gets after it, smothering opposing players with his combination of quickness and length, and being tenacious in the passing lanes. He lacks some size and maybe some awareness at times, but really makes up for it with his effort.
All in all, Langford is a borderline NBA player who could get another call-up this year, as a sparkplug type scorer to bring off the bench. If that plan doesnt work out, hell have many suitors overseas, where his terrific athleticism could really make him a difference maker at a pretty high level.
Ramon Sessions, 6-2, Point Guard, Tulsa 66ers
17 Points, 9 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 6 Turnovers, 6/15 FG
On the plus side, Sessions plays hard on the defensive end and rebounds the ball extremely well for a guard his size. The rookie shows great strength with his upper body and uses this as a defensive asset against bigger guards. To last in the NBA, he needs to again focus on running an offense effectively. At Nevada, he looked to be an above average floor general, and did a much better job of distributing earlier in the D-League season. Improved outside shooting would also increase his chances to someday make an impact in the NBA.
Cory Violette, 6-8, Power Forward, Idaho Stampede
Game One: 6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3-8 FG, 17 minutes
Game Two: 19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 6-9 FG, 1-1 3P, 6-6 FT, 20 minutes
Violette is an undersized power forward with a wide body, great hands, and underwhelming athletic ability. Hes the type of tough, active player who is always around the ball and really knows how to get after offensive rebounds, thanks to his excellent timing and positioning, as well as the tenacity in which he plays with.
Violette is big and strong enough to be a presence in the paint at this level. He doesnt have a great deal of moves, but hes extremely smart and patient with the ball in his hands, making good decisions and not able to get the job done either with simple footwork or a terrific pass out of the post. He has really nice touch, especially on his turn-around jumper, but is limited somewhat by the fact that he plays below the rim, not being a great finisher in traffic. He also sets great screens, and might be able to face the basket a little bit (he hit one nice looking NBA 3-pointer tonight)even if this wasnt a part of his game that he wanted to show too much of.
Defensively, Violette lacks size and has poor lateral quickness (the main reason why hes almost certainly not an NBA player), but he puts a tremendous effort in and gets the job done at this level against the mostly mediocre big men we saw him matched up against.
The best part of Violettes game might be his passing. Hes extremely intelligent in the way he reads the defense, making quick and accurate touch passes on a number of occasions that got his teammates easy baskets, either directly or on the very next pass (the hockey assist). Hes equally effective passing out of the low or high post. Having two experienced and unselfish players like Violette and Randy Livingston (as well as Lance Allred) is probably a good place to start when trying to figure out why Bryan Gates Idaho team has won their last 11 straight games.
Its not quite clear why Violette decided to take a steep pay cut to come play here in Idaho, but hes really doing a nice job. The overseas scouts we talked to were clearly impressed, so maybe hell end up landing himself a much better job next season than the one he had in Italy last year.
Saer Sene, 7-0, Center, Idaho Stampede
14 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 3 blocks, 6 fouls, 6-6 FG, 2-3 FT, 27 minutes
Sene should be grateful to have a playmaker like Randy Livingston running the show here. Livingston really makes an effort to keep Sene involved in the offense, with designated plays that are run just between the two to take advantage of Livingstons court vision and Senes freakish length inside the paint. Livingston dribbles the ball along the 3-point line and waits for Sene to run parallel to him on a sharp cut to the rim, at which point hell whip a perfect pass right into his hands. The result is Sene catching the ball right below the rim with his hands already outstretched, meaning he just has to drop the ball into the basket and run back on defense. This is simple basketball, but so incredibly important for his development as a post player. Its no surprise Sene went 6-6 from the field tonight. Things would be 100% different if we were talking about the NBA, but were seeing progress, which has to be considered encouraging.
Defensively, Sene can block and alter tons of shots around the basket, but he still is light years away from being able to play consistent minutes in the NBA from what we can tell. He looks incredibly lost every time he needs to step away from the paint to defend a pick and roll play for example, not bending his knees in any type of fundamental stance, and looking a step slow in everything that has to do with timing, instead mostly just standing upright with his hands in the air. Hed be chop liver most likely for most any NBA starting big man with a pulse.
Still, you have to like the effort hes putting forth, the fact that hes running the floor hard, being active, and looking like a good teammate invested in his teams success. Its too early to say whether Seattles investment will really pan out (hell almost certainly not live up to his top 10 pick status), but at least there are some encouraging signs to speak of.
Mike Taylor, 6-2, PG/SG, Idaho Stampede
20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 3 steals, 8-14 FG, 4-6 3P
Taylor is a superb athlete, possibly one of the quickest players we saw in our four days in Boise. Hes also an excellent ball-handler, able to change directions quickly and get to the rim in strong fashion, where he can finish in a variety of ways. Taylor can also shoot the ball with NBA range, as he displayed knocking down a barrage of 3-pointers in just a few short minutes to bury Fort Wayne in the 3rd quarter. Hes a streak scorer who can heat up just as fast as he can cool down.
In an off the bench sparkplug role playing in a wide open setting such as this, Taylor is outstanding, but where he might get himself into some trouble is when hes forced to think and make plays in the half-court. Hes quite wild with the ball at times, driving with his head down at full speed into the paint, and jacking up terrible shots off the dribble without even thinking about looking around to see if one of his teammates are open. That doesnt come as that much of a surprise when you consider that Taylor shot 37% from the field last year and averaged just under 5 and a half turnovers per game, playing for one of the worst teams in the Big 12.
No one will deny the talent Taylor has at his disposal, but if hes going to make a career in basketball, hes going to have to first prove that hes put his considerable baggage behind him. Playing here in Idaho is a nice start.
Eddie Gill, 6-0, Point Guard, Colorado 14ers
First Game: 11 points, 8 assists, 7 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 3-11 FG, 1-4 3P, 4-5 FT
Second Game: 14 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 rebound, 3 steals, 3-6 FG, 2-5 3P, 6-6 FT