Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NBA Summer League Update: Maryland

For our first basketball post on ATH, I wanted to exclusively cover the tournament, but our non-existent budget doesn't cover a trip to Las Vegas. But, some former Terrapins looking to make it big and impress in the NBA summer league in Sin City. What are their chances of having an impact in on the big stage?

D.J. Strawberry (6'5'' guard, Maryland 2003-07, Phoenix Suns)
D.J. Strawberry was taken with the 59th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Suns. He got out of the Developmental League during the season and joined up with Phoenix to play in 33 games, averaging 2.2 points per contest.

--Summer stats: 30.4 minutes per game, 18.0 ppg (38 FG%), 3.0 apg
The Suns clearly want to see what Strawberry can do; he averages more minutes than anyone else on the Suns summer team. He's trying to adjust to the point as a possible backup to Steve Nash, but is getting more turnovers (3.4 tpg) than assists.

Strawberry is 6'5'', a good size for a guard. He plays solid defense and has good leadership abilities. Passing is also solid.
He isn't the offensive player you'd like him to be. Needs to work on scoring and free throw shooting.

--NBA possibilities?
Strawberry has the talent to be a solid bench player in the NBA, and is in the right place. Three of Phoenix's six guards are over the age of 31, so he has a chance to be an important player especially with a head coaching change this past season. However, when asked to be Maryland's point guard, he struggled, and didn't explode until going back to shooting guard. So, his future in the NBA will depend on his growth. Physically, he has the tools, but he needs to improve.

Nik Caner-Medley (6'8'' forward, Maryland 2002-06, LA Lakers summer squad)
Maine's favorite basketball player went undrafted in 2006, eventually getting cutdue to injury by the Detroit Pistons after signing him. After Caner-Medley spent some time in Spain and the NBA Development League, Caner-Medley continues to try to make it to the NBA floor, this time with the Lakers summer squad.

--Summer stats: 17.4 minutes per game, 8.8 ppg (43.8 FG%), 5.0 rpg
It is hard to scope how much interest the Lakers have in Caner-Medley; 14 players average double-digit minutes. But he has shown decent play, including getting 19 points in a close win against Minnesota. His only start wasn't that spectacular, going 3-9 against Toronto.

Always puts 100% on the court and wants the ball. Decent shooter from the field and the charity stripe.
Not a good height, has to play the 3 despite being used to the 4. Also will make costly decisions on the court.

--NBA possibilities?
Although Caner-Medley is talented, I don't see him on an NBA roster. His height restricts him to the three, and he has played power forward most of his career to this point, and isn't built to play small forward. The Lakers made the NBA Finals last season, so they don't need much help. But, if Caner-Medley can impress enough people, he may get a shot with someone else.

James Gist (6'9'' forward, Maryland 2004-08, San Antonio Spurs [unsigned])
James Gist was the 57th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Spurs, but hasn't signed with the team yet. Since his graduation from Maryland, he competed in some senior games and the dunk contest, and joins the Spurs squad in Las Vegas.

--Summer stats: 22.8 minutes per game, 10.8 ppg (62.1 FG%), 7.3 rpg
Gist has been solid on the court for San Antonio, good considering the Spurs are trying on a number of big men in their games. He's been trying to be more physical and so far it has paid off, leading the squad in points, rebounds and steals (1.0 spg).

Solid shooter down low and from the outside. Also plays good defensively due to his athleticism.
Often not physical enough to grab rebounds from under the basket. Also can be very inconsistent.

--NBA possibilities?
Gist is an athletic forward, which may restrict him to playing the three in the NBA. His athleticism gives him abilities to run up and down the court and play defense. With the aging of the Spurs, Gist is with the right squad to try to get playing time. However, in his senior year with the Terps, Gist came back because he wanted Maryland to be "his team," and he played much lower than expectations when Maryland needed a strong senior leader. Gist needs to be more consistent on the hardwood to get a solid chance with San Antonio.

Ekene Ibekwe (6'9'' forward, Maryland 2003-07, Phoenix Suns summer squad)
Ibekwe looks to impress the NBA scouts as he comes to the Suns summer squad after going undrafted and playing in Israel and France. He is also a former member of the Nigerian national team that finished 14th in the FIBA championship in 2006.

--Summer stats: 9.6 minutes per game, 3.2 ppg (54.5 FG%), 2.2 rpg
Ibekwe isn't seeing much time with the Suns, as most of his time comes from his last game, where he played 23 minutes. In that contest against the Wizards, Ibekew played mainly in the second and third quarters, scoring seven points and four rebounds.

Is a strong team player on the court. Very quick and can accelerate.
Weak shooter from the field and the free throw line. Also injury prone due to lack of muscle.

--NBA possibilities?
Though many at Maryland would like to see him do well, he likely won't become an NBA player. His small frame and very thin legs prevent him from being very physical, and his weak shooting ability won't make him a desirable player to mold into a system. He is good enough to play overseas, but the NBA is likely out of the question.

(Photo credits: NBA (D.J. Strawberry), AP (Nik Caner-Medley), Washington Post (James Gist, Ekene Ibekwe))

1 comment:

Andrew Seid said...

Thanks for the breakdown, now I know what to expect from Gist, if RC and Pop decide to sign him.