Now that the Melo-saga is over for now, the Nets can start looking at ways to improve the team. What better way than to try out guys for a mere 10 days?
Sean Williams, 6-10, PF/C, Texas Legends
15.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 61 FG%, 69 FT%
Former first round draft pickSean Williamshad a solid week on the floor, but the feedback we heard about him off it may have caught our attention most. On the court, Williams remains the same highly athletic defensive presence that he was in the college game, but word is that Williams has been a model citizen off the court for the Texas Legends. Becoming a first-to-arrive, last-to-leave type, Williams seems to have matured past the issues he had off the floor in the past to focus on his basketball career.
An effective complementary scorer thanks to his length and athleticism, Williams still hasn't developed a terribly polished post repertoire. However, he has shown that he hasn't lost a step as a rebounder and shot blocker. Whether he's rotating over from the weakside, defending the midrange, or crashing the boards, Williams makes an impact with his physical tools and energy. A top-call up candidate due to his terrific combination of size, athleticism, length and shot-blocking ability, Williams will earn himself a roster spot in the NBA sooner rather than later if he can continue to make good decisions off the floor.
Joe Alexander, 6-8, Power Forward, Texas Legends
20.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 1.6 blocks, 50% FG, 37% 3P, 78% FT
One of the top call-up candidates in the NBADL at this juncture, former top-10 draft selectionJoe Alexanderis off to a strong start in his first campaign with the Texas Legends. Struggling to make a transition to the small forward position on the NBA level, Alexander has added a significant amount of weight to his upper body and has been converted back to the power forward spot, a position he's clearly far better suited for skill-wise. He scored effectively from the four spot during the two games he played at the 2011 Showcase, even if he showed some limitations as well.
Still the same tremendously gifted run-jump athlete we saw in workouts years ago, Alexander has an outstanding frame, but still isn't a very fluid player. He is very rigid in his movements and has difficulties getting down in a low stance, something that was a major issue when trying to play on the perimeter full time, particularly on the defensive end.
Over the course of the week here, and looking back at Alexander's body of work this season, it is clear that Alexander has found a comfort level offensively from the mid-post and left baseline. Setting up shop 10 to 12 feet away from the rim, when Alexander gets the ball he looks to either face up and take a quick jump shot if he's on the right block or settle for a turnaround jumper on the left side of the floor. Very rarely putting the ball on the floor with his back to the basket, Alexander has little trouble elevating over defenders to get his shot off, but needs to become more consistent if he's going to rely solely on those two moves to score.
When Alexander received the ball out on the perimeter and put it on the deck, the results were usually positive, which has been the case for most of the season. He's prone to forcing some drives and passes through contact, but his quick first step allows him to get to the basket, draw additional defenders, and create some easy scoring opportunities for himself and others. An efficient finisher, Alexander's mechanical shooting form has rendered him a less than efficient catch and shoot player, making his tendency to settle from the midrange a bit of a concern.
Defensively, Alexander was something of a mixed bag. He was slow to get back on defense on a number of occasions and didn't seem as dialed in as he usually is, but tallied 8 blocks in the two games we took in at the showcase and completely locked down theDar Tuckerone-on-one late in Texas's first game on one memorable occasion. Doing a nice job making his presence felt stepping in from the weak side and getting his hand on the ball, Alexander is a solid defender at this level, even when he isn't giving anOthyus Jeffers-type effort. A bit stuck in between positions defensively on the NBA level, it will be important for Alexander to hone his game on this end of the floor. The fact that he's leading the league in rebounding has to be viewed as a huge plus, though.
On the whole, Alexander's time with the Texas Legends has been a positive one. Lacking experience playing at a high level due to his late start in basketball and struggles in the NBA, Alexander has benefitted from seeing extended playing time at his natural position, something he's sorely lacked over the last few years. He still needs to continue polishing his offensive repertoire to maximize his efficiency, but the fact that he's averaging 20 and 10 and has as much upside as any player in the NBADL makes him a call up candidate and his situation one worth keeping an eye on.
Two former first round picks, both showing some promise now that they've had some time to slow down and gain more experience.
Marcus Cousin, 6-11, Center, Austin Toros
14.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 1 block, 54% FG, 83% FT
A late-blooming center in his second year of professional basketball,Marcus Cousinhas been one of the nicest surprises of this D-League season thus far.
6-11, with long arms, an excellent frame and a fairly intriguing skill-set, Cousin has been putting up solid numbers for San Antonio Spurs affiliate the Austin Toros, scoring nearly 20 points per-40, and ranking as one of the league'sbest rebounders.
Offensively, he is capable of scoring both inside and out, showing a decent post game which he augments with a fairly consistent mid-range jumper. He can establish deep position in the paint with his excellent frame, mostly to turn into a right-handed jump hook or attempt to draw a foul. From the perimeter, he's a solid pick and pop option with nice mechanics and the ability to get his shot off in a variety of ways, also converting 83% of his free throws on the season
Not exceptionally athletic, Cousin is just an average runner and isn't one to finish above the rim in highlight reel fashion. Possessing just an average feel for the game, Cousin is not a very prolific passer and still has work to do in terms of gaining experience and figuring out his optimal role at the pro level.
Defensively, Cousin's size, frame and long arms are major assets at any level of basketball, and already help him out significantly inside the paint. While not much of a shot-blocking threat, Cousin puts the work in early by bodying up his man aggressively, and is able to make a nice impact against most of the traditional big men he faces in the D-League.
Where he runs into trouble is when matched up with undersized, but athletic big men who can take him off the dribble and bait him into biting on pump-fakes. His lateral quickness is not the best and he has a tendency to leave his feet too easily at times, while his motor occasionally leaves something to be desired.
The fact that he's such a prolific rebounder on both ends of the floor helps his cause quite a bit, though, as there's always a demand for big-bodied players who can clean up the glass in the NBA.
After transferring between Seton Hall and Houston in college and then going through a pretty tumultuous rookie season as a pro, bouncing around between Turkey and Israel, never really finding his rhythm, Cousin is getting big minutes at the D-League level, and is likely opening up some NBA eyes along the way. Its probably only a matter of time until someone gives him a call-up to see what he can offer.
Jeff Adrien, 6-6, Power Forward, Rio Grande Valley
20 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 63% FG, 65% FT
Jeff Adrienmade the Golden State Warriors opening day roster and even lasted for 15 games, seeing a good amount of playing time and rebounding prolifically, but was eventually released when the team decided to sign guardAcie Law.
Adrien has since been taking his frustrations out on every team in the D-League, establishing himself as arguably the most productive player in the league since being traded to Rio Grande Valley. He ranks asthe best rebounder in the leagueand one ofthe top-10 scorers, doing so extremely efficiently and in turnleading the league in PER.
Adrien has expanded his game quite a bit since college, noticeably improving his basketball IQ and becoming a much more polished player. It's clear that the lone year he spent playing in Spain helped a great deal, as he seeing the floor better and forcing the issue less than he did in the past. He's become a much better passer and ball-handler, has improved his free throw shooting, and looks significantly more aggressive offensively than he was at UConn.
Mostly a post player in the past, Adrien is doing a very good job facing the basket, utilizing his strong first step from the high post to make his way to the basket and score around the rim. While not overly consistent with his jumper, he looks to be working on this part of his game quite a bit, something that could reap benefits down the road. Very athletic and aggressive around the basket, Adrien doesn't waste the scoring opportunities he's presented with in the paint, usually finishing in emphatic fashion.
The bread and butter of Adrien's game, and his main virtue as an NBA prospect remains his rebounding ability. Although undersized at 6-5 ¼ without shoes, he possesses a mammoth 7-2 wingspan which helps him out tremendously, especially when you consider his He-Man like frame. He's constantly lurking trying to make things happen on the offensive glass, and plays with an excellent intensity level that is surely winning him fans at the NBA level.
Defensively, Adrien lacks height but doesn't save any effort, bringing the same hard-nosed mentality he does on the glass when being posted up inside. Somewhat limited trying to stay in front of aggressive ball-handling power forwards on the perimeter, Adrien must improve his lateral quickness and feel for the game on this end of the floor if he wants to stick on an NBA roster.
Adrien did not look out of place in the 15 games he played with the Warriors in the NBA to start this season, something that definitely bodes well for him looking forward. He saw some solid rotation minutes in competitive situations and emerged as one of the best rebounders in the league in the admittedly small sample size. With the way undersized, high-energy power forwards are performing these days in the NBA, teams won't be as hesitant to give him a call-up as they might have been in the past.
Considering the way he's producing, it's likely only a matter of time until Adrien is signed by someone. If given an opportunity to play, there's a pretty good chance he will stick around based on what we've seen and heard.
Two rebounding specialists, both of whom could be an impact guy in the mold of Reggie Evans and others.
The one thing to remember is, 10-day contracts aren't at their most valuable at filling in holes. Who cares if they're a point guard or a power forward? It's about discovery. You find that guy that can succeed in the NBA, and all of the sudden you've come in to a commodity from nothing. Look at the Spurs and Gary Neal. The Warriors and Reggie Williams. You're making something out of nothing here. Forget about position, forget about rotation minutes. Find a gem, then worry about everything else later.