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Adams on Board…and Look Who’s Going to Vegas…

Yes Ernest, Joey Graham will be joining you at Summer Camp this year in Vegas...

Yes Ernest, Joey Graham will be joining you at Summer Camp this year in Vegas...

Hard to believe but it’s been almost three weeks since the 2008 draft.

Am I still bitter about the whole CDR thing?

Short answer yes.

(But after picking up the new GQ with Giselle on the cover, not as much as before.)

Knowing that I’m going to have to watch CDR at least four times a year when the Nets play the Raptors doesn’t bode well for my long-term sanity I confess. Nevertheless, I’m trying to move on here and have already updated our top five prospects for 2009 on the site’s home page.

So am I hoping that Douglas-Roberts pulls a Joey Graham and becomes a 10th man? Not really…but I’d prefer if he sort of chugged along unnoticed only for New Jersey to drop him to make room for the great Lebron race of 2010. Then maybe Toronto scoops CDR up and he busts loose providing a spark off the bench for years to come.

Hey! Like Hassan Adams right?

So what about Mr. Adams, the latest "we better hope this keeps us under the luxury tax" signing for Bryan Colangelo? We missed getting a chance to interview him at the Free Agent Camp but Adams was on our "hot list" as one of the few standouts in attendance.

He’s a feisty defender who makes up for his lack of height (he’s listed at 6-4) with excellent length and superior athleticism. At a lean 220 he’s no doubt a physical specimen and could provide a nice spark off the bench for the Dinos.

A lot has already been written about Adams already by the local media but here’s a few things I bet most people didn’t know.

1) His nickname is Hot Sauce, something he got during his days as a Wildcat.

2) Adams actually played a great deal of power forward and small forward at Arizona because of his strength and athleticism and despite being under 6-5, averaged almost six rebounds a game for his college career.

3) The reason Adams’ stock may have slipped in the 2006 draft was because he was unable to continue workouts after he suffered a foot injury during a pre-draft workout. The foot injury came at the hands of…none other than eventual Raptors’ second-round pick PJ Tucker! (Somewhere I can hear Alanis Morissette singing about rain on a wedding day…)

Right Franchise, all those little tidbits are fascinating, but can he play?

I think he can and in fact I think he may even become the guy who gets the call off the bench behind Bargs, Moon and whoever the back-up point guard will be. He just seems to be more of a Sam Mitchell type already than Joey Graham.

And speaking of Joey…if you never saw either of them, couldn’t the descriptions of Graham and Adams be almost interchangeable? Both are athletic, undersized wings who played mostly power and small forward in college and who have suspect jump shots to go with underdeveloped ball handling skills. To top it off, both are going to be on this year’s summer league team!

Yes that’s right, Joey’s making like Ernest, and going to summer camp.

Along with Graham and Adams, Toronto’s team will feature:

Deji Akindele C 6-10 240 Chicago State

Sean Banks F 6-8 210 Memphis

Rod Benson C 6-10 235 California

Joel Bosh F 6-7 185 Alabama State

Coleman Collins F 6-9 236 Virginia Tech

Daniel Ewing G 6-3 185 Duke

Thomas Gardner F 6-5 213 Missouri

C.J. Giles C 6-11 240 Oregon State

John Lucas G 5-11 165 Oklahoma State

And second round pick Nathan Jawai should be joining in the fun as well as soon as he’s signed later this week.

A few names jump out from this list immediately such as Joel Bosh, Chris’ younger brother, as well as John Lucas and Rod Benson, both recent Raptors’ free-agent camp standouts. The Benson appearance is especially interesting as we had originally believed that Rod would be unavailable for Toronto’s camp, because of prior commitments to Phoenix this summer. However that was an oversight on my part, forgetting that besides the league in Vegas, teams submit entries to leagues in other places such as Denver and Orlando, and therefore one player can end up playing with more than one NBA Summer League squad each off-season.

Rod recently discussed his Free-Agent camp experience on his Yahoo blog, and we'll be posting the chat we had with him over the next few days.

Tomorrow though we’ll be taking a closer look at the names on the Vegas roster and speculate on who might be of assistance to Toronto in terms of final roster spots. What I think may be most intriguing though concerning the announced roster is that Joey Graham is on the list, and Jamario Moon is not.

Does this indicate the level of confidence Toronto has in Moon as opposed to Graham? Perhaps slightly, however I concur with something that Doug Smith stated in his blog yesterday; that Joey is in Vegas because he really just needs to get out and play. Perhaps a dominant summer league will give way to a strong training camp and thus finally a breakthrough NBA season…

…or perhaps BC is putting Graham on the Vegas league roster to simply up the ante in what could be his final shot at sticking in the league.

In any event, it will be worth watching Toronto’s games to see how Joey plays and even in this less structured environment, whether he outshines a similar player in Adams. While Graham was seen as better prospect in college, it’s Adams who most now feel will get the bulk of ninth or tenth man minutes next year for the Raptors.

And taking things one step further, it’s not even Graham that Adams really needs to worry about replacing statistically. No, it could be Carlos Delfino depending on where Adams falls in the rotation. Upon doing some statistical comparison between the two, remarkably Delfino actually had a worse player efficiency rating (PER) than Adams did in his rookie year, and Delfino played almost twice as many minutes as Adams (15.3 versus 8.3.) Delfino had a putrid PER of 8.65 in his rookie campaign while Adams had a very respectable 12.77.

In fact, Adams’ rookie mark of 12.77 isn’t even too far off from Delfino’s PER last season with the Raptors!

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be of greater or equal value to Toronto than Carlos, but there are evidently enough people out there who strongly feel that Adams could make his mark yet in the league. PER guru John Hollinger even wrote an incensed piece when the Nets decided to waive Adams a few years ago to make room for the lumbering Canadian Giant, Jamaal Magloire:

"To cut Adams in order to pull this move off seems shortsighted at best. I don't want to overstate things here — he wasn't going to be the next Dr.J or anything. But he was primed to be a very effective energy guy off the bench, essentially a 6-foot-4-inch version of the Knicks' Renaldo Balkman. In his rookie year after he was New Jersey's second-round choice in 2006, Adams shot 55.6% from the field and averaged an impressive-for-a-guard 6.1 rebounds per 40 minutes. He can't shoot from outside, but his running and energy were effective enough that he still averaged a point every three minutes, which is decent production for a reserve.

All told, his Player Efficiency Rating (PER, my per-minute rating of a player's statistical effectiveness) of 12.8 was solid for a reserve, especially one in his rookie season — and especially one competing with the likes of Antoine Wright (8.2) and Bernard Robinson (7.8) for playing time."

And in this year’s statistical analysis leading up to the draft, which examined college players’ PER’s, Hollinger’s historical rankings had Adams ranked seventh from the 2006 draft. That put him behind the likes of Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Roy and Jordan Farmar. Not bad company. His PER of 13.79 was also miles ahead of Joey’s from the 2005 draft, and put him amongst prospects like Ben Gordon, Josh Childress, Kirk Hinrich, and Caron Butler from past draft classes.

Now am I expecting Adams to be the next Josh Howard (another player with a similar college PER?) Of course not. But I do think if given the minutes, he will be able to step in and help Toronto.

This kid in many ways is like Jamario Moon, a player who just hasn’t perhaps gotten the chance to show enough of what he can do. From the brief glimpses we saw of him at camp here in Toronto prior to the draft, Adams just looked like an NBA player, as opposed to a player trying to catch on in the NBA.

Hopefully Raptors fans will get their first taste of this in Vegas.