Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Antonio Wertz- This 6'7 senior forward was the heart and soul of his New Orleans squad a year ago. He is super aggressive on both ends of the floor, regularly giving up his body to take charges. Wertz plays a stifling brand of defense, which is less effective when he is giving up a couple of inches. However, it appears as if he could make the transition to a combo forward slot if he were to continue to improve moving forward. If he hopes to accomplish this, though, he must improve on his paltry long range shooting. Last year he shot a subpar 30.0% from beyond the arc on 30 attempts. He must learn to extend his range and hone this facet of the game, as it will open up his ability to slash to the rim. In terms of his faceup post game, Wertz has a nice array of moves that get his man off balance and allow him to score amongst the trees. He employs a believable ball fake when attacking the basket. He must continue to improve his drop step moves down low if he hopes to function in this role at the next level. Additionally, he was very efficient from the field last season- shooting 53.1%- largely due to his ability to clean up on the glass and secure easy shot attempts. Wertz is very scrappy fighting for loose balls, and this enabled him to grab 7.0 rebounds per contest, most of which were on the defensive end. On the defensive end, Wertz is very aggressive and has the footspeed to stay in front of most players. He drew several impressive charges, one on the top of the key and one on the interior in one contest I watched. Further, Wertz has quick hands and is athletic enough to prevent scoring opportunities. He averaged just under 1 block per game and 1.33 steals per contest. Overall, Wertz is a scrappy combo forward with a developing skillset who might be able to continue his playing career if he is able to define his position on the court.
Brandon Knight- New Orleans' other senior was one of the best decision makers at any level of play. Knight did an excellent job at distributing the ball despite not having an incredibly quick first step. More often than not, he made the right pass to his teammates, whether it was near the basketball or swinging the ball on the perimeter. For that reason, he averaged 4.69 assists per contest and posted an exceptional 3.33 to 1 Assist to Turnover Ratio. Offensively, Knight has decent enough quickness to get by his initial man, but struggles creating for himself against zone defenses. He does not get to the rim often due to his dimunitive size at 6'0, and usually settles for jump shots. When he did get there, he was rather inefficient. His overall field goal percentage was just 40.6% and this declined to 35.3% from beyond the arc. Further, he struggles with his jumper because he has a bit of a hitch in his shot. This allows him to adjust against taller defenses and shoot over the top of players. However, it is not a hallmark of consistency when he elevates and shoots from the field. He does do a good job of squaring his body, giving his shot a chance on most possessions. Still, it is clear that Knight has practiced considerably with this form, as he shot an impressive 84.5% from the line last year. In terms of his ability on the defensive end, Knight struggles against bigger players. He has decent lateral quickness, but has difficulty preventing players from getting to the basket and scoring over the top of him. Players are also able to shoot over him from beyond the arc. Overall, Knight is a steady point guard with some limitations, but the smarts to succeed in the minor leagues if he decides to continue with basketball.
Generra Varmall- Varmall is no longer with the Privateers, but he was impactful a year ago before being let go from the team. The 6'0 guard did a nice job of getting in the lane and drawing fouls. He got to the line over three times per contest last season. When he got there, though, he capitalized on only 73.1% of his attempts. Varmall has the quickness to get into gaps and can finish at the rim. However, Varmall must work on his efficiency. He shot a paltry 37.2% from the floor and 24.3% from beyond the arc. He must continue to improve his jump shot and look to take less contested attempts. Further, Varmall is not a true point guard at this stage and averaged just under 2 assists per contest with a Assist to Turnover Ratio under 1 to 1. Varmall must improve in this capacity if he hopes to obtain a pivotal role on another high level collegiate squad. With that said, Varmall was effective on the defensive end. He has good hands and is able to pick pockets, averaging 2.05 steals per game. He is also effective at shadowing his man and understanding helpside situations. Varmall might be a nice transfer at the D2 level, where he can really make his impact felt.
These three players will not be available next season, and it is increasingly likely that New Orleans will have to rely on recruiting non-scholarship players to fill roster spots. The loss of Wertz, in particular might really hurt New Orleans' chances to remain respectable against Division I opponents.
Nonetheless, they return three key players from a season ago.
Lovell Cook was his team's leading scorer last season, and he will really need to step up his production again to fill the void left by Wertz. Cook is a strong combo forward with a post game and an ability to step out and hit perimeter jumpers. In the contests that I witnessed, he spent the vast majority of his time attacking in the paint, utilizing pump and head fakes to get his man in the air, and then finishing over bigger players. Cook does a nice job of scoring in the paint and has a reliable jump shot when he decides to implement his face up game. Cook shot an efficient 51.0% from the field, and was able to connect on 75.7% of his attempts at the line. He also led the team in free throws attempted with 115. This figure must improve if New Orleans hopes to remain competitive. They need more free attempts to really bolster their offense, because otherwise, teams will overplay them and this will cause them all kinds of problems. Cook must extend his range, as he very rarely attempted a three point shot and failed to connect on any of his attempts. He did attack the glass, but must progress on this front to help New Orleans remain competitive. More specifically, with the loss of Wertz, he must improve on his 5.1 boards per game. And, because Cook is taking on a larger burden with Wertz gone, he must improve his decision making as well. Last season, he oftentimes got too caught up dribbling around looking for his shot, and was thus fairly turnover prone. His assist to turnover ratio was an abysmal 0.467 to 1. He must keep his head up and look to create more opportunities for his teammates.
Point guards Rarlensee Nelson and Darrell Williams are also worth mentioning. Nelson is one of the few players on his team who has a quick enough first step to create his own shot off the dribble. He must take on a larger role in his team's offense and look to create for his teammates. He posted a positive assist to turnover ratio despite receiving limited time at the point guard position last season. Nelson has a quick enough first step to get to the basket as well. But, he must learn to finish at the rim, as his 31.7% field goal percentage is not going to cut it. He was better from beyond the arc, though, hitting 36.0% of his attempts. Nelson must continue to limit the number of long range bombs he attempts and look for more of his teammates after the graduation of Knight. Defensively, Nelson is quick enough to stay with his man, but struggles- at times- due to his lack of height.
Darrell Williams is in a similar position to Nelson. He also must take on the brunt of the point guard responsibilities for his team. His 1.76 to 1 Assist to Turnover is a positive indication that he can fill the void left by Knight. However, Williams is also a very good rhythm shooter and would benefit greatly if he were able to come off the ball with Nelson on the floor. He shot a mediocre 33.6% from beyond the arc last year, but this was largely due to the fact that he rarely saw an open attempt. Williams also did not have much better luck inside the line, connecting on a similarly bad 34.1% of his field goal attempts. However, Williams does have a good form on his shot, as evinced by his 83.3% free throw percentage and his streaky shooting at times. Williams will always have his limitations defensively due to his size at 5'9, but he is a smart enough player to look for ways to compensate. Look for him to take on a much larger role next year.
Overall, New Orleans will have a very similar team to the one they played with a season ago. With a dearth of true big men up front, New Orleans' newcomers will prove critical to their success. Further, New Orleans is missing a true wing player or someone with height who can stretch team defenses. If they are able to bring this type of a player in, this would bolster the team's overall shooting and create many more easy shot attempts.
Monday, August 20, 2012
As a result, I have decided to exercise this newfound ability. This article delineates my noteable basketball-related predictions over the past year. An assigned value (on a 10 point rating scale) will be ascribed to each prediction and each will be itemized under the following headings: "The Good", "The Bad", "The Mixed Bag", and "Yet to Be Fulfilled". Feel free to provide any constructive criticism, as any feedback is much appreciated.
On Kyle O'Quinn: 9/10
-I identified him as an NBA draft prospect well before any other draft outlets even had them on their radar. For instance, I tweeted Draftexpress in very early September asking them to add the following players to their top senior board, which was a ranking of the top 70 or so senior draft prospects in the country:
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) September 13, 2011
@draftexpress For senior list: missing Dee Bost, Ken Horton, Wendell McKines, Ramone Moore, Cameron Moore, Reggie Hamilton, Justin Greene...
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) September 13, 2011
@draftexpress Rob Jones, Darrion Pellum, Kyle O'Quinn, Chris Allen, Steven Idlet, Herb Pope, Ricardo Ratliff, Dorenzo Hudson, & Faisel Aiden
The vast majority of those other names mentioned were invited and many participated in the Portsmouth Invitational. The others received workout opportunities.
Further, Kyle O'Quinn was on my radar all season long. The following tweets were made prior to O'Quinn's breakout performance in the NCAA tournament:
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 22, 2011
@biahtroymachir NBA prospect Kyle O Quinn with a double double matching up against Crowder. (also with double double)
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) January 31, 2012
@draftexpress Any high-scoring mid major seniors that you have an your radar? Kyle O'Quinn ?
As a reference, Kyle O'Quinn was one of the biggest late season climbers in the NBA draft. He was the Portsmouth Invitational's MVP, as his team won the championship there. Further, the Magic selected him with the 49th pick in the draft and it appears as though he played well enough in summer league to earn a roster spot. He was inked by the Magic to a 3-year, $2.5 million contract. (Source http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2012/08/orlando-magic-sign-kyle-oquinn-to-3-year-2-5-million-deal/)
On Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: 4/10
I do not put so much weight on this accomplishment, as some of my statements did not turn out to be entirely true. However, I have long been an advocate of MKG, and I believed that he would help lead Kentucky to a National Championship.
Can't wait for college basketball to start!— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) September 18, 2011
@mikegillie14 will be the most valuable player in the NCAA next year. Consummate winner
Well, MKG was not the most valuable player on Kentucky last year. However, he was an extremely significant contributor to their title run. As such, the value of my prediction here is limited. Still, most believed before the season started that Jones would be a more important contributor than Kidd-Gilchrist, and MKG's draft stock was pegged as late lottery. I have always held that he was a top 5 pick. (see http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1122771&start=90)
I really think that Gilchrist has a good shot at outplaying Barnes today.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 3, 2011
Like I have said all along, Gilchrist is strictly a winner. Scouts need to stop trying to define him.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 3, 2011
On Gorgui Dieng: 8/10
While he was not on my radar during his freshman season, I was extremely impressed with Dieng during his matchup with Bellarmine University in the preseason. I explained further:
In other news, watched up until halftime of the Louisville exhibition and really like Dieng. Reminds me of Serge Ibaka at the college level.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 1, 2011
After watching him further, I identified the fact that he is a serious NBA draft prospect due to his impressive defensive game. I stand by my prediction that he will likely be drafted in the lottery after next season mostly because of his impact blocking and altering shots, coupled with his ability to control the glass. While this last tweet has yet to come to fruition, he was not even mentioned as a draft prospect by major outlets until part way into conference play.
Dieng is too much inside. The guy is an NBA prospect. Hopefully, scouts have picked up on this by now.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 17, 2011
I'm surprised how few are talking about Gorgui Dieng. I think he's a lottery pick, if not now but in the future.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 21, 2011
On LaMarshall Corbett: 3/10
After his arrest on January 12, 2011, LaMarshall Corbett was promptly kicked off his Angelo St. squad. At that point in time, he was one of the best Division II players in the country. I issued this tweet recognizing his talent:
Someone needs to give former Angelo St. guard another shot. Corbett is extremely talented.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 4, 2011
Since that time, Corbett was added to Siarka Jezioro over in Poland. He averaged 16.1 points per contest, shooting 51.9% from 2 and 46.0% from 3 point range. He has since signed in the French B League with Nantes. He is a player to keep an eye on a few years from now if he continues to work on his game.
On Low Seeds: 2/10
While I did not assert that these teams would win outright, I noted that they would present challenges to the teams they faced. Lehigh and Norfolk St. upset Duke and Missouri respectively.
Having watched these teams extensively, the only low seeds (15/16) that will be competitive are Detroit, Lamar, and Norfolk St.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) March 11, 2012
Every other one with the exception of maybe Lehigh and LIU Brooklyn should be 20+— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) March 11, 2012
On Derrick Nix: 2/10
I identified that Nix's body and overall game had improved significantly. Later on, I mention how he competed with Sullinger during conference play.
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 12, 2011
@eamonnbrennan And Derrick Nix this year looks a lot better than last year's version.
On Iowa St.'s Success: 7/10
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 8, 2011
@danhanner I think Hoilberg is going to really surprise with this team tho. Still, no way any statistics would point in that direction.
On Lamar Winning the Southland: 8/10
I thoroughly expect Lamar to get blown out by Louisville, but they are my pick for the Southland and I think they will be dangerous in March— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 13, 2011
On Oregon St. finishing in the middle of the Pac-12: 2/10
Another team that may surprise is Oregon St., who should finish towards the middle of the Pac standings— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 3, 2011
On LaRon Dendy: 6/10
I identified Dendy as a prospect well before most analysts had him on their radar. With team success, I thought that he had a chance to go drafted. And, he did receive his looks.
Have a feeling that Middle Tennessee St. senior LaRon Dendy is going to get some looks after the way his team is playing.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 20, 2011
On Mississippi St.: 5/10
I recognized that Mississippi St. was a pretender and that the important big for MSU was not Renardo Sydney, but rather Arnette Moultrie. See Preseason Rankings as well.
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) October 25, 2011
@bullet4bullet Cant rank MSU until they prove something. I'm not convinced Sidney is a different player yet.
On Georgetown NBA Prospects: 6/10
I noticed Henry Sims' improvements and indicated that this made him a potential NBA prospect after three mediocre seasons.
Henry Sims appears to be much improved.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 23, 2011
Watched reshowing of Gtown IUPUI. Like what I saw out of Alex Young and Henry Sims for this year's draft. Otto Porter is a future 1st.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 29, 2011
I also identified Otto Porter early on as a player that draft experts should keep an eye on. He is now considered a future lottery selection by most outlets.
On Missouri: 8/10
I identified Missouri as an elite team even after it became clear that Bowers was going to redshirt.
Pretty clear Missouri is an elite college team, particularly on the defensive end. Will contend for the Big 12 title even without Bowers— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 22, 2011
On Temple and Wichita St.: 9/10
I ranked both teams in my preseason top 25. Below, I noted that they were being severely underrated by most basketball analysts:
Two very good teams in Wichita St. and Temple. The Owls are not where they were late last season, so I expect them to improve.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 20, 2011
On Dion Waiters: 9/10
I noted early on in the season that Waiters was Syracuse's best guard, despite coming off the bench. I also felt that he was a very good NBA prospect early on in the season.
Dion Waiters is going to have a very big year.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 19, 2011
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 19, 2011
@roclifemedia Watching them blow out Colgate...announcers said he was thinking of transferring. He's going to be the best guard on syracuse
Dion Waiters is having a breakout year. NBA prospect no doubt.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 26, 2011
On Bernard James: 4/10
I noted that James could easily be considered a second round selection in the last draft despite his advanced age.
Bernard James really had an excellent game tonight. The more I think about it, the more I think he can be a 2nd round pick despite his age— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) January 11, 2012
On Iona Mid-Game Against BYU: 4/10
I never believed that they would lose, but I did throw out the Purdue contest as an example of a game where Iona collapsed after obtaining a lead. It just so happened that BYU was able to mount a historical comeback against them following this comment:
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) March 14, 2012
@draftexpress Yes. Those who have seen Iona know that this team can beat you down on the fast break, but it doesn't always last. See Purdue
There were many other "Good" calls that I had on twitter, but I have limited it to a few.
On Wisconsin and Missouri:
I noted that Missouri and Wisconsin should be considered top 10 teams. Missouri finished with a #11 ranking in the USA Today poll, and Wisconsin was ranked #12 by season's end.
Missouri has to be a top 10 team now. Wisconsin as well.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 23, 2011
On Wendell McKines:
Wendell McKines is the most underrated player in the country entering this season. Book it.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 2, 2011
While Wendell McKines was incredibly underrated going into the season on a national level, there were other more impactful underrated players. So, there is no doubt that McKines was underrated, after leading his team to a tournament appearance and averaging a double double for much of the season. However, no one could have anticipated Anthony Davis's impact.
On the Big East:
I firmly believed that the Big East was the best conference in basketball at the beginning of the year. And, while they did once again bring a near record number of teams to the NCAA tournament, the Big Ten was better from top to bottom.
The Big East is the best conference in basketball. Games in November don't make or break conferences.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 25, 2011
On the Pac-12:
It was worth mentioning that I felt the Pac-12 would have a horrible year based on the early season. However, I was wrong in that Arizona was also overrated.
Is it just me, or is the Pac-12 really overrated with the exception of Arizona?— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 23, 2011
The worst team in Lunardi's rankings imo is NC St. The ACC is so weak this year besides the very top.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) March 11, 2012
NC St. played very well and made the Sweet Sixteen.
Impressed by play of NC Central. Dominique Sutton will get looks at Portsmouth. Anyaorah having a big game in absence of team's best shooter— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 11, 2011
Sutton did not receive an invite to the Portsmouth Invitational, but was well represented in NBA predraft workouts.
South Florida missing a point guard, but they have some talent. Should be towards bottom of the Big East, but injuries have hurt early.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 11, 2011
Few could have foreseen the play of South Florida down the stretch. The emergence of freshman point guard Anthony Collins had a lot to do with their success.
CJ McCollum with a chokejob. Muscala will probably beat him out for POY imo. Bucknell is a better team.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 10, 2011
CJ McCollum was one of the top breakout players in the country this past season. His team advanced to the NCAA tournament and upset Duke in the first round. He is now routinely talked about as a first round and potential lottery selection. I jumped the gun with that one.
A team that no one is talking about is Washington St. They should be one of the biggest surprise teams in the country in my estimation.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 3, 2011
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 3, 2011
#washingtonstbasketball should be back with Moore regaining health, and Brock and Faisel growing as players. Should finish top 3 in Pac.
While they did suffer through injuries, Washington St. played far worse than I had originally conceived. Faisel Aiden's injury really hurt them. However, they played well towards the end of the year and were still able to make it to the finals of the CBI, where they lost to Pitt.
Also, caught a glimpse of this year's Pitt team and they are going to be extremely tough. Very deep squad. Lamar Patterson and Dante Taylor— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 1, 2011
both should have breakout years imo. Woodall is also a lot better than last year. Birch could be a one and done as well. Elite athlete.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) November 1, 2011
Speaking of Pitt, they had a very mediocre season in 2011-2012. They won the CBI though, and are hoping to rebound this year.
Yet to be Fulfilled
The most underrated player in the country so far- Youngstown St.'s Kendrick Perry. Big time game today with 18 points 10 assists 4 steals— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 11, 2011
While he was not the most underrated player in the country, Kendrick Perry has yet to receive the national attention that he deserves.
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 4, 2011
@megamegajon I see where you are coming from, but Gilchrist - like Pippen -will probably develop his wing game in the NBA.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be a top 3 player from this draft. If he is able to develop his perimeter skills and perfects his jumper, he could eventually become the top player from this draft class. The talent and work ethic are there, but it will be difficult to surpass Anthony Davis, as it appears that he could be a once in a generation big man.
This guy on TAMCC- Nate Maxey- is someone to look out for in the future. Decently coordinated 6'11 guy with a 7'9 inch wingspan.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 17, 2011
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) December 17, 2011
@davetelep Conference realignment is a joke. Short run business move imo. Hard to build conference brands if teams keep shifting like this.
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) May 31, 2012
@roclifemedia I would bet that Ross will not be a bust at the next level. I think he is going to contribute and also would be a good pick.
What ??? Shocked b/c it doesn't match most people's orders, but Ross is an outstanding pick. Going to be a top player from this draft class.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) June 29, 2012
Harrison Barnes will have a good chance to be better than projected in Golden St. High octane offense made KlayThompson look good. SO can he— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) June 29, 2012
It's about time people start talking about AJ Matthews. This guy has been under the radar all year. D3 big man is a gem.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) February 24, 2012
— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) June 29, 2012
@duffelupagus Lamb is the best shooter in the draft. Will come in and immediately be a rotation player imo.
Doron Lamb is the best value in the 2nd round so far. Best stroke in the draft.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) June 29, 2012
Tyshawn Taylor to the Nets is an awesome pick.— Jordan Tyler (@JTMBasketball) June 29, 2012
On other outlets, I identified Taylor as a top 10 player from this draft class.
That is all for now. My next related segment will track my 'Breakthrough Players' and how they performed last season. Any questions or comments on this will be greatly appreciated.