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Workouts for June 3, 2008 - Some Sleeper Shooting Guards

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Jamont Gordon will be looking to bring his aggressive play to this morning's workout...

Jamont Gordon will be looking to bring his aggressive play to this morning's workout...

The workouts get underway this morning with six interesting shooting guards. This sextet won’t be found drafted early in the first when all is said and done, but are six solid prospects nonetheless, each with good college resumes. 


Let’s take a look at each...

WAYNE ELLINGTON
Who is he?
6-5 Sophomore shooting guard from North Carolina.

Last Year: Averaged 16.6 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Tar Heels while shooting nearly 47 per cent from the field, (40 per cent from beyond the arc), and nearly 83 per cent from the free throw line.

What Can He Do? Ellington was one of the smoothest shooters in the country last year for Carolina. He was one of the team’s top scorers and one of the best catch-and-shoot players in all of Division 1. His game is still a little one-dimensional and he’s undersized for the 2 at present, but he’s a scorer in the Cutino Mobley mould and possesses a skill set that should translate at the NBA level.

In fact, while not a slasher, he does have an NBA game and many scouts claimed that Ellington looked like the only definite NBA player at the recent Orlando draft camp. Right now Ellington isn’t even a lock to stay in the draft however. If he gets some first round guarantees, unlikely at this point, he’ll stick around. If not, it’s back to the Heels to join an already formidable returning cast there ready to give Duke problems for yet another season.

The Bottom Line: At present, Ellington’s not likely an option for Toronto at 17, but if he falls into the second round, his scoring ability might make the Raptors look to grab an extra pick in order to snatch him up as a potential D Leaguer.


SHAN FOSTER
Who is he?
6-6 Senior shooting guard from Vanderbilt.

Last Year: Averaged 20.3 points and 4.9 rebounds for the Commodores while shooting 52 per cent from the field, 76 per cent from the line and almost 47 per cent from 3.

What Can He Do? Foster is quite similar to Ellington in many respects as both exhibit smooth strokes and the ability to fill it up from anywhere on the court. Foster however has better size for the shooting guard position, better length, and is an even more deadly shooter with tremendous range. His shooting form and style of play in fact brings to mind Michael Redd from his days at Ohio State. On the flip side though, Shan lacks the scoring instincts of Ellington or Redd and is probably even more one-dimensional as an NBA prospect.

Foster had a spectacular senior season and with the success of skilled shooters like Kyle Korver and the Raptors own Jason Kapono, it looked like Foster could be a late-first round pick. However he struggled at the pre-draft camp in Orlando, failing to display even his one go-to asset, his long distance accuracy.

The Bottom Line: I’ll take a pass on Foster thanks. He’s a great senior from a winning program whose character would fit in seamlessly with the Raps. And I’m sure he’ll find his place in the league. However considering Toronto already has Jason Kapono, Foster would seem to simply be a strategic workout partner for some of the others in attendance instead of a legit option at 17 or even in the second round.

JAMONT GORDON
Who is he?
6-4 Junior guard from Mississippi State.

Last Year: Averaged 17.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Bulldogs.

What Can He Do? Gordon is your classic combo-guard in the Fred Jones/Antonio Daniels/Flip Murray mould. He’s got great scoring instincts and was one of the best at creating his own shot in all of Division 1 last year. He’s not the most incredible athlete, but is definitely above average in this area and incredibly strong with good length, making him an excellent defender.

What seperates Gordon from being a first-round pick like many of his former Oak Hill Academy brethren, is that he’s failed to master many of the skills necessary to become an effective 1 or 2 at the next level. While he’s a great scorer, he’s undersized for the 2 and is as streaky as they come shooting wise. He hit only 41.5 per cent from the field last year (31 per cent from the line), and in terms of playing the point, does not possess the court vision of most NBA back-up point guards, let alone starters.

The Bottom Line: I really like Gordon, and in fact he was one of my favourite players in college to watch with the shot clock winding down; the dude just finds a way to get to the hoop. That’s something the Raptors could use, but not at 17 and there are other prospects I’d rather have in terms of second round flyers. That being said, his competitiveness and defensive abilities should make for a tough workout in regards to the other players participating this morning.

DANNY GREEN
Who is he?
6-5 Junior point guard from North Carolina.

Last Year: Averaged 11.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals last season for the Tar Heels.

What Can He Do? Besides some of the most random dance moves pre-game this side of Jonathan Papelbon, Green was the quintessential sixth man for Carolina last year, and a constant thorn in my side as a Duke fan. Green isn’t one of these players who jumps out at you because of his dunks or blocks, but he’s one of the most well-rounded players in all of college. He can be a lock-down defender in the mode of Shane Battier and while not as athletic, like Battier, has a tremendous basketball IQ.

He’s also improved his shooting and looked fantastic from long-range at the recent pre-draft camp in Orlando according to reports. Green, like Ellington, may still return to school for another year but if he looks good in workouts, could end up being a late first-round pick for a team looking for someone to contribute right away.

The Bottom Line: As much as I dislike Green from my jaded Blue Devils’ perspective, this is a player that would be worth a look at in the second round. I’m positive he would already get more playing time than Joey Graham simply because of his defense and basketball IQ (although I guess that could be seen as a backhanded compliment) and is one of those players who just always seems to be in the right place at the right time on the court. He’s also a player who should look good in workouts and reminds me a lot of Anthony Parker in terms of a well-rounded skill set. He doesn’t have mid-first round talent, but you could do worse if you’re a squad like the Spurs drafting late in round 1.

MALIK HAIRSTON
Who is he?
6-6 Senior shooting guard from Oregon.

Last Year: Averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the Ducks.

What Can He Do? Speaking of players who always seem to be in the right place at the right time we come to Malik Hairston. Hairston is a very strange prospect in many ways as he was one of the top recruits of his class coming out of high school, (in fact he was lauded as Oregon’s biggest basketball recruit of all time) yet never made that "next level" jump many expected.

Hairston can do a bit of everything from inside and out (he shot over 43 per cent from beyond the arc last year) and is a great passer from the post. His game has been compared to Quentin Richardson because he can play that back to the basket power game from the guard spot while still being able to thread the needle facing up.

The knock on Malik though has always been whether or not he has the passion to perform at the next level as at times he tends to disappear. His Ducks never reached the summit many thought they would in the Pac 10, and at times it seemed he deferred to other less talented teammates rather than taking the game over himself. That being said, Hairston was one of the better players at the recent pre-draft camp from all reports and looks to have dedicated himself to improving his ball handling and conditioning so far this off-season. Perhaps he’ll shed that "lack of passion" label yet.

The Bottom Line: Hairston considered coming out last season as well with the departure of Aaron Brooks but decided to try and improve his stock by returning for his senior campaign. The results were mixed but he’s the type of player who may simply be more suited for the NBA than college, where he can better take advantage of his creativity and multi-faceted skill-set. For the Raptors, Hairston makes an interesting sleeper prospect, but definitely not one worthy of a first-round pick. However Hairston could easily become one of those under appreciated second round picks like Leon Powe and Carl Landry who find themselves a nice niche in the league.

COURTNEY LEE
Who is he?
6-5 Senior shooting guard Western Kentucky.

Last Year: Averaged 20.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.8 steals for the Hilltoppers while shooting almost 48 per cent from the field.

What Can He Do? Lee is one of the sleepers of the draft and probably the most legitimate first-round option for the Raptors of this bunch. That’s why Lee’s play against these other four probable four second-rounders should be a good evaluation of his status in the eyes of the Raptors.

Lee lead Western Kentucky to a nice run in last spring’s NCAA tourney and while he didn’t dominate, he still did enough to put his stamp on most scouts’ minds. The knock on Lee is that he lacks consistent aggression even though he does possess the ability to at times dominate games at the D1 level. Playing in the Sun Belt conference isn’t exactly like the Pac10 either, but other recent picks from smaller conferences like Rodney Stuckey and Kevin Martin have shown that that is not always a concern.

The Bottom Line: From all accounts, Lee looks great in private workouts and could really put on a show for the Raps’ brass. He’s not the athlete or finisher that I think some other prospects available to Toronto at 17 are, but he’s a very solid player who should be in the league for years to come. Incidentally this is another player who’s drawn comparisons to Anthony Parker...

Conclusion: I like what the Raptors have done with this first batch of prospects. These players represent really the upper tier of shooting guards who probably won’t hear their names called within the first 20 selections, and who each possess some similar skill sets allowing for a nice evaluation period.

Of this group, Lee is my favourite and there have been rumblings that the Spurs are giving him a very close look at 26. In fact, I think if Lee impresses in this group, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see him invited for another session...perhaps against the likes of Brandon Rush and Chris Douglas-Roberts.

FRANCHISE

Upcoming Workouts

Wednesday: Ryan Anderson, Kostas Koufos, Robin Lopez, Drew Neitzel, Jeremy Pargo, Jason Thompson

Thursday: Alexis Ajinca, Chris Douglas-Roberts, DeVon Hardin, Mykal Riley, Brandon Rush, Bill Walker