Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Goudelock’

Unsigned Summer League Standouts

By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com

There are only 450 roster spots in the NBA each season. Most of them are taken up by veterans with signed contracts, proven free agents who will soon commit and rookies with newly signed deals. For many unsigned players, the Summer League provides the best opportunity to prove their worth to NBA front offices.

There were numerous standouts this summer, but eight players clearly separated themselves from the competition to greatly increase their odds of being offered a regular-season contract.

Malcolm Thomas, Chicago Bulls:

Breakdown: The big man out of San Diego State went undrafted during the 2011 NBA Draft and has played the last two seasons in the NBA Development League, with a quick stint in Israel as well. In Las Vegas he dominated the glass, averaging 15 rebounds a game while chipping in 11 points and 1.7 blocks a game during a three-game run with the Bulls. Thomas is now 24 years old, so his thin frame has matured to the point where it appears he is ready to handle the physical grind of a full NBA season. The Bulls recently let go of his rights for salary cap reasons, but it seems unlikely he will stay unsigned for long.

Best Case Comparison: Amir Johnson

Best Team Fit: The Boston Celtics would be a great place for Thomas to develop as the team rebuilds.

Vander Blue, Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies:

Breakdown: Many people questioned Blue’s decision to leave Marquette University early to enter the NBA Draft. When he went undrafted, those people seemingly were proven correct. But he played played for the Rockets in the Orlando Summer League and the Grizzlies in Las Vegas, averaging 11.5 points per game in Orlando and 11 a game in Las Vegas, including a 24-point outburst in Vegas in one game. He showed explosiveness and playmaking ability rarely seen from undrafted players. Don’t be surprised if some team takes a flyer on a player with so much potential.

Best Case Comparison: Gerald Henderson

Best Team Fit: Staying with the Grizzlies would be a great fit for Blue, who would give the team some needed depth at guard.

Dominique Jones, Milwaukee Bucks:

Breakdown: Jones is a veteran of the Summer League. It showed during his play for the  Bucks. Jones averaged 11 points, two steals and seven free-throw attempts per game to impress the scouts. He seemed stronger than most other players on the court and his ability to finish at the rim looked transferable to regular season gameplay.

Best Case Comparison: A smaller Corey Maggette

Best Team Fit: The  Bucks should not let him walk away, especially as they attempt to replace the playmaking ability of Monta Ellis.

Ian Clark, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors:

Breakdown: The Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP quickly made a name for himself when he made seven 3-point shots and scored 33 points in the championship game. The guard out of Belmont University is known for this ability to shoot, but his limited athleticism and 6-foot-3 frame make him a tough fit at shooting guard. But he can defend, which has reportedly piqued the interest of the Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz.

Best Case Comparison: Anthony Morrow

Best Team Fit: The Jazz would be a nice fit for Clark, who would fit well with rookie Jazz point guard Trey Burke.

Andrew Goudelock, Chicago Bulls:

Breakdown: It’s always surprising when Goudelock continues to appear on lists like this one. The former D-League MVP out of the College of Charleston has done plenty to interest NBA teams. This summer in Las Vegas he continued to impress, averaging 19 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Bulls. Goudelock was selected with the 46th pick of the 2011 Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Last season he received some playing time with the Lakers after Kobe Bryant’s Achilles tendon injury. It would be a shock if Gouedlock is not on an NBA roster this season.

Best Case Comparison: C.J. Watson

Best Team Fit: Goudelock could be used well on the Philadelphia 76ers as they rebuild their roster and attempt to replace Jrue Holiday.

Samardo Samuels, Los Angeles Clippers:

Breakdown: Samuels went undrafted out of the University of Louisville in 2010. He impressed during that offseason’s Summer League and signed a 3-year, $2.3 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He played sporadically for the Cavaliers before they waived him early last season and now he’s back to prove himself again. In Vegas, he averaged 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in only 22 minutes per game. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound center should be able to find a team for whom he could be a third big at the end of the bench.

Best Case Comparison: Carl Landry

Best Team Fit: The  Heat could use Samuels’ physical presence as an insurance policy off the bench.

Stefhon Hannah, NBA D-League Select:

Breakdown:  Hannah has spent the last three seasons bouncing between the NBA Development League and overseas after going undrafted out of the University of Missouri. This summer in Las Vegas he led the D-League Select team to a 4-1 record while averaging 13 points and 2.6 assists a game. He played solid defense throughout the tournament, but his lack of a dominant skill and small size may hurt his chances of making a roster.

Best Case Comparison: Luke Ridnour

Best Team Fit: The Lakers could use Hannah’s youth and energy off the bench and in practice, especially if Kobe Bryant isn’t healthy to start the season.  

Jack Cooley, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets:

Breakdown: The undrafted rookie out of the University of Notre Dame was dominant for the  Grizzlies in Las Vegas as he averaged 15 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game on 52.7 (39-for-74) percent shooting. He displayed an impressive midrange jump shot and an ability to hold his ground in the paint. This combination of skills make him an interesting offensive weapon.

Best Case Comparison: Reggie Evans

Best Team Fit: The Indiana Pacers may be a good place for Coole, who could help replace some of the hustle and offensive skill lost when Tyler Hansbrough signed with the Toronto Raptors.

Las Vegas Summer League: Day 2 Recap

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LAS VEGASJonas Valanciunas looked like a man among boys Saturday night in Las Vegas.

The Raptors’ second-year big man was dominant early on, scoring 20 of his 23 points in the first half and grabbing seven rebounds in Toronto’s 81-72 loss to the Miami Heat in the final game of the day at the Las Vegas Summer League.

summer-league-logoValanciunas, who averaged 8.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his rookie season in Toronto, looked noticeably bigger and showed off a polished interior game, getting to the rim repeatedly for highlight-reel dunks and putbacks. He was energetic, clapping and motivating his teammates, and ran the floor well in 26 minutes of action.

With a season under his belt, it looks like the 21-year-old could be ready to make a major step in his sophomore season.

Non-rookie of the day: Milwaukee sophomore John Henson had a monster game as the Bucks cruised to a win in their first action in Las Vegas. The Bucks’ second-year big man had 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in just 20 minutes of action as the Bucks blew out Denver 88-74.

Other notables: Andrew Goudelock, Bulls. The reigning NBA D-League MVP who filled in for the banged-up Lakers in the playoffs, lit up the scoreboard with 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting, hitting 3-for-5 3-pointers in the Bulls’ 81-67 win over Memphis. Teammate Marquis Teague looked composed running the point, tallying 12 points and seven assists in the victory. Tony Wroten, Grizzlies. The second-year guard out of Washington did a little of everything with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals in Memphis’ 81-67 loss to the Bulls.

Rookie of the day: C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers. The Lehigh product scored 15 of his 22 points in the first half of the Blazers’ 82-69 loss to the Suns in his first action since being taken 10th overall in the 2013 Draft. McCollum also had three rebounds and four assists while going 9-for-19 from the field (2-for-5 on 3s). The 6-foot-3 point guard showed off a quick first step and a killer crossover before stepping back for one of his two 3s on the night.

Other notables: Sacramento rookie Drew Gordon had 17 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes. Gordon, who went undrafted in 2012 out of New Mexico and spent last season with Partizan Belgrade, was 7-for-12 from the floor, missing all three of his 3-point attempts. Also notching a double-double was Butler product Matt Howard, who is getting a shot with the Grizzlies after playing overseas the past two seasons. Howard finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes of action.

Coming up: All 16 teams in action on Sunday have now played one game in Las Vegas. The Knicks and Wizards – and No. 3 overall pick Otto Porter, who had seven points on 3-for-13 shooting in his debut – tip things off at 4 p.m. ET while the Spurs and Raptors close things out at 10:30 ET in the Thomas & Mack Center. All games can be seen on NBA TV or online with Summer League Live.

Lakers Near The End As Spurs Get Started

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LOS ANGELES – It’s still difficult to process the devastation, that these are the Los Angeles Lakers. The 16-time champs. The team that coulda-woulda won 70 this season, yet suffered a third consecutive playoff loss and their worst one ever at home Friday, 120-89, to the San Antonio Spurs.

The classic gold uniforms emblazoned with purple down the sides and LAKERS racing across the front looked the same as playoffs past. But who were those guys wearing them? Even Jack had to raise his shades.

Guys named Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris and Chris Duhon and Earl Clark were forced to play minutes better suited for a Vegas Summer League game. Meanwhile, $34.2 million of Laker payroll — or the club’s top four guards, including a cat named Kobe Bryant — watched from the bench, injured and dejected.

Actually, Black Mamba never even made it courtside. He probably knew what was ahead and knew he couldn’t stomach it, knew he couldn’t contain himself out in the open in front of restless fans, his fans, and grinding his teeth into talcum powder right there on the floor he’s so accustomed to dominating this time of year. Hidden from view, Bryant probably sent himself a thousand tweets.

After the game, being whirred away in a golf cart and wearing a gold Lakers t-shirt and a protective boot rising halfway up his left leg, Kobe was asked if it was hard to watch. “Of course,” he said, turning his palms up as if to say #WTH.

The game was uglier than even expected and the final result fit the description Mike D’Antoni used before the game for his state of mind considering the injuries and the crew he had left for a must-win Game 3: “As a coach you sleep like a baby and every 15 minutes you wake up crying.”

Then asked if his newly-christened backcourt of newbies Goudelock and Morris might actually improve the team’s perimeter defense from that of Steve Nash and Steve Blake, D’Antoni first laughed out loud, then said, “Uh, no.” He kept laughing.

Earlier in the day, the coach and his players tried to paint a scenario of success, talking of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol taking care of the paint and the NBA D-League MVP Goudelock, thrilled for his first NBA start, he said, so his parents back home in Atlanta could watch him on TV, would go off as if Friday night was just another D-League Showcase. At least the kid came strong, and at least the Lakers didn’t allow their first 18-point deficit in the second quarter to wipe them out without a fight. The second one in the third quarter did, and then came the cheap “We Want Phil” chants, first short-lived and then more robust during the Spurs’ runaway fourth.

And with that, this stink-o, injury-ravaged Lakers season is finally in the spin cycle and ready to drain.

The San Antonio Spurs, with five players scoring in double figures and 13 in all scoring, seek to wrap up this fraudulent first-round series Sunday back at Staples. If accomplished it would be the second broom taken to the proud Lakers in three seasons. The unceremonious end will officially begin the unceremonious “Where’s Dwight Going?” reality show. Get your popcorn.

Of course, there’s still basketball to be played in L.A. as soon as Tuesday night when the toast-of-the-town Clippers and the once-upon-a-time-Lakers-bound Chris Paul return home for Game 5 against the Grizzlies. The Spurs, assuming they do close this sack of a series on Sunday, will go home to begin an extended rest awaiting the high-speed winner between Denver and Golden State, two clubs themselves that aren’t whole.

The Warriors’ David Lee (torn hip flexor) and Denver’s Danilo Gallinari (torn ACL), two high-scoring, highly productive forwards instrumental to their teams’ success, are each out for the duration. Oklahoma City now feels their pain. Point guard Russell Westbrook will have surgery, the team announced Friday, to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.

The Thunder and the Spurs, last season’s Western Conference foes, figured to be so again. OKC’s side of the bracket with the Clippers and Grizzlies has sprung wide open. And suddenly it’s the Spurs who look primed to make a real run at a fifth championship in the Gregg Popovich-Tim Duncan era, a number that would tie the 37-year-old wonder in rings with Kobe.

“We’re good. Health is good,” Popovich said prior to Game 3. “The last few weeks haven’t been great health-wise, but we’ve slowly gotten better and better. Considering how many people have problems around the league, and the Lakers having theirs, we’re feeling pretty fortunate in that regard.”

Only a few weeks ago, the Spurs were the walking wounded and now have their Big Three healthy and with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker returning to All-Star form.

Of course health this time of year is fleeting and that fact came crashing home as starting center Tiago Splitter, having his best season in the NBA, hopped off the floor with his left foot dangling in mid-air and left the arena on crutches.

X-rays were negative, but chances are slim that he can play Sunday. It will leave the Spurs a little light in the middle for one last stand from Dwight and Pau, one, if not both of whom might be playing their final game in Laker purple-and-gold.

–Series Hub: Spurs vs. Lakers

Lakers Need Goudelock To Back Up Talk

 

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – As two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash walked away from Friday morning’s shootaround sharing very little confidence of being able to play in tonight’s Game 3 against the San Antonio Spurs, newly crowned D-League MVP Andrew Goudelock strode in high-stepping over his own swagger.

Goudelock said the plan is for him to start tonight at point guard if Nash is unable to go. Nash said he’s feeling better, but is a “long way from being NBA-ready.” With Steve Blake out indefinitely, Jodie Meeks doubtful and Kobe Bryant on crutches, L.A. will likely be without its top four guards. Goudelock and Darius Morris would run the backcourt.

That means the 6-foot-3 Goudelock will draw San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker on the defensive end. How does Goudelocke, with 425 minutes of NBA action under his belt, plan to do that?

“Just stay in front of him,” Goudelock said, matter-of-factly. “He’s a really quick guy, don’t let him get anything in transition, stay up on the pick-and-rolls. He’s got to guard me too, so I’m not really worried about Tony Parker.”

Goudelock averaged 21.4 ppg in the D-League and he has 175 total points in 41 career NBA games, or the amount Parker has scored in his last games — and that was playing through nagging injuries.

“I’ve always been a scorer, put the ball in the basket,” Goudelock said. “I lost a lot of weight so I’m a lot quicker. I just bring a lot of energy. Those guys don’t really know me, so I can bring something unexpected. With my scoring ability I think I can help a lot.”

The Lakers could certainly use it. They’ve scored 79 and 91 points and shot 43.2 percent in falling in a 2-0 hole

As the point guard, Goudelock said he can pass the ball, too, and find Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol for looks inside. He had never played the point until this season, but he says he’s a greatly improved passer. The Lakers players, although they haven’t seen much of him this season, expressed confidence in Goudelock’s game.

Kobe had already nicknamed him “Mini Mamba” for his scoring ability and attack mentality.

“People have to always honor my scoring, so it makes it easier to pass the ball because I get so much attention because they know that I can score and they probably don’t think I’m gonna pass it,” Goudelock said. “I’ve seen scouting reports from other teams that will be like ‘he’s not going to pass it.’ So it makes it that much easier for me to get 10 or 11 assists in the D-League because I’m getting double-teamed, getting so much attention, they know I can score, so it makes it easier for a guy like me, whether if I wasn’t a scorer as much it might be a little bit tougher because guys might be able to sag off me or do some other things.

“But being able to score and add that scoring punch takes a lot of load off my shoulders.”

That will be Parker’s problem, apparently. But one thing Goudelock will have to watch when he’s guarding the shifty Parker is the ticky-tack-type foul that he picked up during his brief appearance in Game 2.

“It’s going to happen. I’m a young guy, they don’t know me, they’re going to call that,” Goudelock said. “I’m ready for it. I’m ready for all of this. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been doing this since I was about 5 years old. It’s no different from if it’s Tony Parker or a guy in the D-League. They’re going to have to guard me, I’m going to have to guard them, it’s all basketball.”

Goudelock certainly talks the talk. The Lakers now need him to walk the walk.

L.A. Pressure Falls On Howard, Gasol

 

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Dwight Howard believes.

No Kobe Bryant. No Steve Blake. Almost assuredly no Jodie Meeks. And most likely no Steve Nash.

No matter. Howard says he still believes.

“We have total confidence that we can come back and win this series, and we believe in each other,” Howard said following Friday’s workout when the Los Angeles Lakers learned of their worsening injury woes. “We worked too hard to get in the playoffs. We had to fight to get in and we’re not going to give up just because we’re down and have a lot of guys that are injured.”

The Lakers’ rickety season is once again on the brink Friday night as their first-round playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs moves to the Staples Center. With the Spurs up 2-0, it’s do-or-die for a limping Lakers team that could be forced to start a backcourt of two third-team, 2011 second-round draft picks in Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.

While Nash told reporters Thursday that his fingers are crossed that two epidural shots to his back will work in time to allow him to play in Game 3 (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), Howard was working overtime with assistant coach Chuck Person with a helping hand from general manager Mitch Kupchak, a pretty good post player in his day with the Showtime Lakers.

It’ll be curtains for these slow-time Lakers unless the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Howard, once upon a time referred to as Superman, and his 7-foot frontcourt mate Pau Gasol, can assert their will on the Spurs and lift their less well-known teammates back into the series.

“Again, it is what it is,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of the bleak injury situation. “It’s not what anybody wishes for, but at the same time we need to dominate inside and that’s Pau and Dwight. So it’s a big load for Pau and Dwight. At the same time, that’s how we’re going to have to do it.”

Howard, praised for his dominant play in the final two games of the regular season after Kobe went down to get the Lakers in the playoffs, has taken critical shots for not getting it done in the opening two games in San Antonio. He’s averaged 18.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg and five fouls per game.

Everybody wants to see Howard rise to the occasion, to be a force that takes games away from the opponent. He took criticism for not being that dominant force in Game 2, scoring 16 points — same as Blake as well as the Spurs’ Kahwi Leonard and Tim Duncan — with nine rebounds, four blocks and five fouls when the Lakers had chances to keep the game close.

For Gasol, just 5-for-14 from the floor in Game 2, these could be his final games as a Laker. Well into the luxury tax next season, the organization will have to decide what to do with the player who is due $19.3 million next season and was all but traded to New Orleans last offseason before the blockbuster deal for Chris Paul was vetoed by commissioner David Stern.

Of course, Howard’s future is just as unsettled, although his future is at least in his own hands. The Lakers are desperate to sign him to a max deal this summer and make him the cornerstone of the franchise upon Bryant’s eventual retirement.

For now, it’s all about Game 3 and if Howard, reduced to 14th in this season’s voting for Defensive Player of the Year, and Gasol can play like the superstars their salaries say they are, and get L.A. a win.

“We just got to play,” Howard said. “We can’t control anybody’s injuries. We can’t control nothing but how hard we go out there and play. Me and Pau are going to do the best we can for this team.”

Limping Nash Tells Lakers’ Youngsters To ‘Let It Rip’

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. –
 With the number of walking wounded around here it was half surprising that the Lakers’ training facility hadn’t been painted green with a giant red cross on the entry doors.

Or that Corporal Klinger wasn’t running Thursday’s light practice for the few Lakers left standing.

Of course Klinger, the old M*A*S*H* character, might still have more name recognition in this town than the two players that very well could make up L.A.’s starting backcourt Friday night in virtual must-win Game 3 against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center.

Get ready for Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.

“Well, yeah,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said, accompanied by a hearty chuckle, when asked if those two 2011 second-round picks will likely be thrust into heavy minutes. “And [Chris] Duhon. Go look at the rest we’ve got there.”

It ain’t much. The Lakers received  more depressing news on Thursday that will make the task of clawing out of a 2-0 hole excruciatingly difficult. Guard Steve Blake, who has played so well since Kobe Bryant went down with an Achilles tear two games before the end of the regular season, got the results of his ultrasound back and he’s out indefinitely with a moderate strain of his right hamstring.

Point guard Steve Nash had two epidural injections in his back Thursday and his chances of playing Friday night have come to this: “I have fingers crossed.”

And not to be forgotten is shooting guard Jodie Meeks. The Lakers’ best long-distance scoring threat is likely out, too, with a sprained ankle. D’Antoni, in fact, considers Meeks to be more doubtful than Nash, who said Thursday that he’s still in quite a bit of discomfort from both tweaking his hip-hamstring injury in the final seconds of the first half of Game 2 as well as “from getting a bunch of darts stuck in me” on Thursday.

He characterized his state of concern for not being ready to play Friday as “very concerned.”

“It’s really frustrating, very, very frustrating, especially because I was at the point where I was actually excited with the way I felt to start the last two games,” Nash said. “Even though I couldn’t sprint completely and I wasn’t moving as well as I’d like, I could still be effective and find a way to help the team and impact the game. And obviously, to tweak it before the half and for it to deteriorate set me back. So it’s another set of highs and lows.”

Metta World Peace, having coming back from knee surgery in record time, amazingly, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol – no strangers to pain this season — are the healthiest key cogs that the Lakers have got.

D’Antoni said his big men will have to get the job done in the post, but that means that Goudelock, named the D-League’s MVP on Thursday, and Morris, who at least started 17 games filling in for the two injured Steves early in the season, will have to get them ball.

Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs’ sensational guards that are just now feeling healthy themselves, and the rest of the Spurs will try to make sure they can’t and put a stranglehold on the series.

After Game 2, D’Antoni sought refuge in that old NBA playoff adage that a series doesn’t really begin until the road team wins. Well, if the Spurs win Game 3, it will all but end this series.

Nash, ever the optimist and always equipped with an encouraging word, had such a message for Goudelock and Morris, who’d be wise to listen to the limping two-time MVP as they approach the toughest spot of their young careers.

“I don’t think those guys should approach it as a tough spot,” Nash said. “I think they should approach it like they’ve got nothing to lose and they should go out there and let it rip. If they have a tough night, what would you expect in their first NBA start out of nowhere? So they should play free and loose and use their youth and energy and the skills that they possess to go out and have fun with it and take a free cut.”

Roaring Out Of The D-League

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HANG TIME, Texas — After attacking the rim and filling up the basket last week in Reno, Damion James became the first player to get a call-up after the NBA D-League Showcase and will join the Nets on Sunday night when they host Indiana.

A 2010 draft pick by Atlanta, the 6-foot-7 James was asked what he could bring back to the NBA.

“Heart,” he said. “You can’t draft that. (I’m) a warrior. A lion.”

Here are two more fistfuls of players that might be ready to roar at the next level. They caught my eye, impressed scouts and execs at the Showcase and could make the jump to the NBA in the coming weeks, along with breakdowns from D-League experts Kevin Scheitrum and Anthony Oliva.

Travis Leslie, G, 6-4, 205 — An athletic specimen even by NBA standards, Leslie’s raw talent has grown more refined in the NBA D-League, with the Georgia grad turning into one of the league’s most efficient scorers and a far above-average rebounder for his position. Fast and explosive, Leslie belongs among the league’s elite. Played just one game at the Showcase and suffered a groin injury.

Chris Wright, G, 6-1, 210 — One of the few true point guards in the NBA D-League, Wright excels in orchestrating an offense and setting up his teammates for easy buckets. The Georgetown product is also a capable scorer who can hit from outside, though he does most of his damage by getting into the lane and finishing or drawing contact.

DaJuan Summers, F, 6-8, 240 — Summers has the size to compete in an NBA lane and the touch to spread out a defense. He does have difficulty creating his own shot, often relying on his teammates to set him up, but the veteran of 81 NBA games has shown a newfound commitment to rebounding in the NBA D-League.

Chris Wright, F, 6-8, 235 — Wright can get it done on both ends of the floor. Though he still needs work from 3-point range, his strength and explosiveness combined with a mid-range game make him a threat from 18 feet and in. A hungry rebounder and a sheriff in the paint, Wright can jump out of the gym.

Courtney Fortson, G, 5-11, 185 — Fortson surprised a lot of people when he left Arkansas early. Then he surprised even more people when, after going in the 4th round of the 2011 NBA D-League Draft, he earned two NBA Call-Ups. Fast as a rumor, he can get into the lane as well as anyone, though he can be prone to forcing shots once he’s there. Undersized at 5-foot-11, Fortson makes up for it with energy and athleticism.

Andrew Goudelock, G, 6-3, 200 — once near the top of the nation in scoring while at the College of Charleston, Goudelock is now one of the best pure scorers in the NBA D-League. Dubbed “Mini Mamba” by Kobe Bryant himself, Goudelock can stretch the defense and also slash and get into the lane.

Jerome Jordan, C, 7-0, 253 — Big and active, the Jamaica-born Jordan finished his career at Tulsa as the C-USA leader in blocked shots. Still in need of polish on the offensive end, despite a high career field goal percentage, the former Knick ranks in the top flight of big men in the NBA D-League.

Tim Ohlbrecht, C, 6-11, 255 — The 24-year-old center from Germany has proven to be tougher on the inside that many had originally thought. With Rio Grande Valley he’s starting to learn how to throw around his 6-foot-11, 255-pound frame and he’s developed into a solid rebounder and efficient scorer from the low block.

Shelvin Mack, G, 6-3, 207 — Back after a call-up to the Wizards — the team that drafted him in 2011 — Mack is back in the NBA D-League as one of its most dangerous point guards. Still evolving as a creator (though he’s made strides), the former 2-guard’s combination of athleticism, power and finishing ability can tie a defense into knots.

Luke Harangody, F, 6-8, 240 — The former Notre Dame star tore up the NBA D-League last year when he was on assignment from the Cavs, going for a double-double nightly. His skill has never been in question. But he’ll need to develop an outside game to make up for a lack of height and raw athleticism.

Rosen’s Report: Lakers at Boston

With a dismal record of 3-9 away from the friendly hullabaloo at the Staples Center, the Lakers are certainly not road warriors.  And since it’s highly unlikely that they’ll have the home court advantage throughout the playoffs, for their own confidence and world-peace of mind they desperately need to beat the Celtics where the leprechauns dwell.

On the opposite side of the equation, the Celtics are beginning to get their collective mojo working.  And Boston’s corps of senior citizens – Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen – will certainly be rejuvenated with the return to action of Rajon Rondo.

HOW THE LAKERS CAN WIN:  The Andrew Bynum-Jermaine O’Neal matchup is a lopsided one, requiring Boston to routinely two-time LAL’s newest All-Star.  Although Bynum doesn’t move his feet well in a crowd, his passing out of the double-team has shown dramatic improvement — especially in finding Pau Gasol.

  • Operating against Boston’s sub par frontline, Bynum and Gasol should tally a stat sheet full of put-backs and offensive rebounds.
  • While Bynum is an excellent shot-blocker, he must also avoid turning his head when playing weak-side defense.
  • Kobe Bryant has lost a half-step but is still a high-volume scorer.  He’s gotten used to being doubled and is willingly (and mostly accurately) making slick attack-passes.
  • Too infrequently, Kobe will pass when under double-pressure, cut through the middle, then use a weak-side screen to come back to the middle to receive the ball.  This kind of movement confuses the defense, creates disadvantageous defensive switches, and/or fatally delays any possible re-doubles.  More of this tactic is needed.
  • When Kobe isos along the baseline, he can usually find an open shot by spinning away from any attempts to double him from the top — particularly early in the shot clock.  The risk, though, is that if he can’t find a good look, his passing options are seriously compromised.
  • For much of the game, Kobe will be defended by Ray Allen, certainly a worthy opponent, yet too old and too slow to do an adequate job.
  • In the second half of LA’s most recent game — a loss in Philadelphia — Gasol had zero touches in the low-post.  Even though KG is a scrappy defender, Gasol must get more opportunities to exercise his considerable pivotal skills.
  • Although Rondo can run rings around Derek Fisher, the Lakers wizened veteran will take advantage of the youngster’s sometimes wild enthusiasm to be in position to receive judicious passes and knock down clutch treys.
  • Because Rondo seems more reluctant than ever to shoot jumpers, he can be defended from a distance to discourage his penetrations into the paint.
  • Metta World Peace has to play exceptional bump-and-slide defense against Pierce.
  • It’s imperative that the Lakers get substantial contributions from their bench players.  Of these, only Andrew Goudelock has a well-developed offensive game.  Too bad the rookie is another example of a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, making the second-unit effectively headless.
  • With Rondo’s swift ambushing of passing lanes, the Lakers have to take better care of the ball than is their wont.
  • To slow down Rondo’s one-man fastbreaks, hustling defensive transitions are a must.

HOW THE CELTICS CAN WIN:  Since Kobe is nearly the entire focus of LAL’s offense, special measures must be taken to control him.  Doubling him whenever possible is the primary anti-Kobe strategy.  And Allen’s slow but pesky defense can be complimented by the more quick-footed and aggressive efforts of Mickael Pietrus. 

  • Moreover, since Kobe has passed his 33rd birthday, he’s driving less and relying more on pull-ups.  Accordingly, defenders should play him chest-to-chest, thereby forcing him to take his dribble into rush-hour traffic — where his shots have become increasingly blockable.
  • PP must abuse MWP with from-the-top isos.
  • Because Gasol is taller and even longer than KG, scoring in the low-post will be difficult.  That’s why the Big Ticket’s mid- and long-range jumpers must be on-target.
  • Rondo’s warp-speed advantage must blister both Fisher and the inexperienced Goudelock.  By repeatedly zipping into the paint, Rondo will draw the undivided attention of LA’s bigs making kick-out and drop-passes extremely successful.
  • Whereas Allen cannot mount as many serious attacks with his dribble as he used to, and his long-distance dialing is much more erratic, he remains a dangerous if streaky shooter.  His perpetual off-the-ball scampering will undoubtedly create open shots, and he must warm up when the game gets hot.
  • Pietrus and Brandon Bass (if he’s healthy) have to overwhelm the shaky defense of LA’s subs.
  • Since the Celts lack any menacing shot-blockers, their defensive rotations have to be swift and precise.  Unfortunately, both Allen and Garnett tend to be head-turners when playing off the ball.  Plus, their rotations often leave the middle open for dive cuts.
  • Too many miles on too many legs often leave corner shooters unguarded when the Celtics defenders have to collapse on ball-penetration.  Fortunately, with only a .294 success rate, the Lakers are the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA.
  • And with MWP being an honorary member of the bricklayers’ union, he simply does not have to be guarded on the perimeter.
  • Bynum scores most of his point on dunk-backs and drop passes from his teammates—so whoever’s defending him must maintain body contact at all times.
  • Bynum’s effectiveness with the ball in the low-post can be nullified by doubling him in anticipation of his habitual reverse-moves.
  • On offense, Boston’s trademark is terrific ball- and player-movement as well as admirable unselfishness.

FIVIE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Halftime is crucial because that’s when coaching staffs make necessary adjustments.  These adjustments (or lack thereof) will be clearly manifest during the initial five minutes of the third quarter.  Which team, then, will dominate that stretch?
  2.  Part of Boston’s halfcourt offense is the effectiveness of their dive cutters.  Will LA’s defenders be able to clog the weak-side to prevent easy receptions and easy scores?
  3. The Celtics have often struggled when operating against zone defenses.  Will the Lakers take advantage of this shortcoming?
  4. Because Boston is the best beyond-the-pale shooting team in the league (.422), their perimeter players will be routinely tagged.  Can the Celtics take advantage of this stretched defense with in-the-post scoring by PP, KG, Bass, or whomever?
  5. The Lakers score only 93.16 points per game (19th in the ranking), with Boston ranking 25th at 90.65 ppg.  This means that defense-generated runouts and early offense will spell the difference.  Who will win the battle of points-off-turnovers?