BUILD-A-TEAM 7.0'STORONTO RAPTORSHC: Alvin Gentry
PG: Jeff Teague/Lou Williams/Earl Watson
SG: Joe Johnson/MarShon Brooks/Lou Williams/Marquis Daniels
SF: Wilson Chandler/James Johnson/James Singleton/Marquis Daniels
PF: Antawn Jamison/Marreese Speights/Tiago Splitter/Vernon Macklin
C: Marcin Gortat/Tiago Splitter/Marreese Speights/Dexter PittmanTHE STAFFHEAD COACHALVIN GENTRYThe Coach, Himself
Why He Fits This Roster/This Roster Fits Him
"His people skills are unique," Suns forward Grant Hill said. "He has a great feel. A feel for what this team needs. A feel for what's working. He's got some unique skills on top of his understanding and managing the game, strategy. I think his ability to relate and inspire and empower is great, but also he's firm when necessary."
"He's great to be around," Kerr said. "He's a survivor. He never burns any bridges in this league. He's worked for a lot of people and nobody has a bad word to say about him. ... What I like about him is he's learned from every situation he's been in.
"I think that's where I've been really fortunate," Gentry said. "I had Coach Maravich and Bobby Cremins in college, who was a huge, huge influence on me. Then obviously there was Larry Brown and Doug Collins [in Detroit], Gregg Popovich [in San Antonio]. All of those guys have had huge influences on my coaching career."
Gentry coached the Suns to 10 postseason victories in 2010, tied for the second-most in a single postseason in franchise history, and became just the fifth coach in franchise history to lead his team to a Western Conference Finals berth in his first full season. Five times in seven seasons that Gentry has been with the organization, and two of his three seasons as head coach, the Suns have led the NBA in scoring.
I feel Mr. Gentry is the perfect coach for what this team needs/brings. First of all, as a former point guard and coach of one of the greatest point guards of all time in Steve Nash, Gentry is an ideal mentor for the young, up-and-coming Jeff Teague. Teague plays a style of basketball that fits in very well with the way Gentry coaches, which is up-tempo and high-scoring. In that same vein, Gentry appears to be the perfect coach for this roster. There are scoring options galore, with guys like Teague, Joe Johnson, Wilson Chandler, Antawn Jamison, Lou Williams, and MarShon Brooks all capable of exploding offensively and carrying the offensive load on any given night. All of those players are also more than capable of keeping up in an up-tempo system. That being said, Gentry has had success in the past slowing down his team's pace as well. As long as scoring and defense is the concentration, which has been Gentry's MO in most of his coaching destination's, this particular roster is primed to have a ton of success under the direction of Alvin Gentry.THE STARTERSPOINT GUARDJEFF TEAGUE - 6'2", 181 lbs. Age: 242011-2012 Stats:
66 GP|33.1 MPG|12.6 PPG|4.9 APG|2.4 RPG|1.6 SPG|2.0 TO|.476 FG%|.342 3P%|
Jeff Teague is one of the best up-and-coming point guards in the league. This season, his first season with the starting reigns, Teague showed that he's more than capable of being the lead guard on any NBA team. He is a shoot-first point guard who plays up-tempo ball, is extremely quick and athletic, and plays solid defense. He's also a strong passer and a very smart, coachable player. The best part about Teague, at this point in his career, is that he spent this past season becoming comfortable leading a team, and with his work ethic and receptiveness, he was always learning and constantly fine-tuning his game to be the best point guard he could be. Teague is already one of the best guards in the league at getting to the hoop, and as he continues to work to improve his game, I believe he will begin to utilize his skill to get to the hoop more in order to draw in defenders and kick it out to open shooters, making him a more complete overall point guard.
SHOOTING GUARDJOE JOHNSON - 6'7", 240 lbs. Age: 302011-2012 Stats:
"That guy has a tremendous next gear that I haven't seen in a lot of young guys," Green says as he stirs his coffee with a skinny straw. "It's almost like a car going zero to 60 in a few seconds. Jeff, he's a special talent."
60 GP|35.5 MPG|18.8 PPG|3.9 APG|3.7 RPG|.8 SPG|1.9 TO|.454 FG%|.388 3P%|
Joe Johnson is easily one of the best scoring guards in the league. Though criticized mostly for the amount of money he makes, Johnson has continued to play his game and play it well.
Johnson's best trait is his versatility -- he commands some of the finer skills of a point guard, including good court vision and ballhandling, but he's also 6-8 with solid strength and athleticism, to go along with a nice shooting stroke. He can knock down threes and midrange jumpers in both catch-and-shoot situations and off the dribble, and can shoot over smaller guards in the post. Defensively, Johnson is very good because he can match up with a variety of player types on the perimeter, although the Hawks don't ask him to man up on the opponent's best scorer very often.
The biggest knock on Johnson's game is that he doesn't penetrate well. Luckily, with players like Jeff Teague/Lou Williams running the point and Wilson Chandler on the wing, Johnson doesn't have to focus on penetration as a major part of his game. Furthermore, for those who say that Johnson isn't enough of a complete player to be the main guy on a team, I believe this roster has the perfect mix of players that focus on the intangibles he lacks so that Joe can concentrate on what he does best, which is scoring. I believe, with the roster I've assembled, this team is primed to get the most a team can get out of a dynamic offensive player like Joe Johnson. SMALL FORWARDWILSON CHANDLER - 6'8", 225 lbs. Age: 252010-2011 Stats:
72 GP|33.3 MPG|15.3 PPG|5.7 RPG|1.7 APG|.7 SPG|1.3 BPG|.450 FG%|.350 3P%|2011-2012 Stats:
8 GP|26.9 MPG|9.4 PPG|5.1 RPG|2.1 APG|.8 SPG|.8 BPG|.392 FG%|.250 3P%|
Anyone who watched Wilson Chandler through his Knicks career or in his first season with Denver knows exactly what kind of player Wilson Chandler is capable of being. He has all the physical tools. He's a player that can play the 3 or the 4 and guard either position with ease. Chandler has a knack for getting to the hoop, an innate ability to finish around the hoop, and a great jump shot that extends to three-point range. His mid-range jump shot is particularly smooth. He's also has nice burst, especially in the open court, and is extremely athletic, making him best suited in an up-tempo system. On top of that, he is an excellent rebounder and solid weak-side shot-blocker who plays good perimeter defense to boot. He just needs to work on his ball-handling and focus throughout an entire game, and he has the ability to put up fringe-All-Star-worthy numbers throughout his career.POWER FORWARDANTAWN JAMISON - 6'9", 235 lbs. Age: 362011-2012 Stats:
65 GP|33.1 MPG|17.2 PPG|6.3 RPG|2.0 APG|.8 SPG|.7 BPG|.403 FG%|.341 3P%|
Despite his aging, Antawn Jamison continues to be one of the most productive forwards, offensively, in the league. Known for being one of the most creative finishers around the basket, he uses a wide array of techniques including some short flips & hooks, floaters, runners off the dribble, finger rolls, and more. On top of that, he has a very good jumper with a quick release and long-range ability. He also plays considerably well from the post and is a noticeably smart player when moving without the ball. Jamison is an extremely versatile forward, capable of doing a lot of different things that typical 3s and 4s can't do and therefore creating some great mismatches. He also typically has one of the best turnover rates for forwards, with a distinct ability to put up points while maintaining key possessions. Furthermore, he is a great teammate and finisher who is extremely efficient with his movement and action when catching the ball on the move.
Defensively, Jamison does a good job against face-up power forwards which are becoming increasingly present in the NBA, but struggles gaining position and contesting shots against typical post-up forwards. He also has a bit of trouble guarding typical small forwards who hang out on the perimeter, though he is better against hybrid forwards and uses his size and athleticism to his advantage. Jamison is also a great rebounder on the defensive end.
Furthermore, Jamison is a great guy who is well-respected across the league, has a good work ethic, and is at the point of his career in which he will do whatever it takes for a championship. Here's a guy that's been the best player on some of the worst teams for years, and would welcome finally being on a real contender once again (his one other similar experience being with the Mavs) with open arms. His professional personality will blend in well with Alvin Gentry's style and the rest of the vets and he will be a great example for the young guys on the team. I believe he'll work very well with the rest of the team, opening up the court for Johnson and giving the post defense headaches with his unorthodox play down low, which should free up Gortat a great deal.CENTERMARCIN GORTAT - 6'11", 240 lbs. Age: 282011-2012 Stats:
66 GP|32.0 MPG|15.4 PPG|10.0 RPG|.9 APG|.7 SPG|1.5 BPG|.555 FG%|.000 3P%|
Marcin Gortat is easily one of the most underrated players of the entire 2011-2012 NBA season. Quietly, the man averaged a double-double (15.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG) and also averaged 1.5 blocks while shooting 55.5% from the paint (5th-highest in the NBA). His 15.4 PPG were 4th-highest among centers and his 10.0 RPG were 3rd highest among centers (8th-highest overall). Gortat is also in the top-ten in BPG among centers averaging over 25 MPG (1.5) and tied for 3rd among centers with most double-doubles (31). Considering there were 66 games this season, 31 double-doubles is pretty impressive for a center. Offensively, he can play with his back-to-the-basket and he can also hit the jump shot (63% of his attempts were jump-shots). No matter how, he consistently finds ways to score without slowing the offense down.
On this team, Gortat's most important attribute will be his rebounding prowess:
"If you want rebounds, you're going to get them," Gortat said. "It's coming out of your heart. I feel that now. If you put your heart into chasing balls, put yourself in the right situations, get the right timing and read the right trajectory of the ball, you should get rebounds."
"It doesn't matter how bad or how good my offense goes, the only thing I can't forget is how to rebound the ball because that's how you can actually win games," Gortat said. "You look at Marcus Camby. He takes one or two shots a game and finishes game with zero points but on the other side he's got 20 boards. That's extremely helpful. There were so many games where I didn't play well or shoot well and everything would start with just getting putbacks."
That's just the type of player this roster needs. A selfless, hardworking big man who is physical and attacks the glass when the shot goes up. In short, a man whose nickname is "The Polish Hammer."THE SIXTH MANPOINT GUARD/SHOOTING GUARDLOU WILLIAMS - 6'1", 175 lbs. Age: 252011-2012 Stats:
64 GP|26.3 MPG|14.9 PPG|3.5 APG|2.4 RPG|.8 SPG|1.1 TO|.407 FG%|.362 3P%|
Lou Williams has added a new dimension to his game every single season. Coming into the NBA as a raw high-schooler, he has worked hard to improve his game every year, and has now developed into a perennial contender for Sixth Man of the Year and become a bona fide scorer in the NBA.
Williams led the Sixers in scoring while coming off the bench with 15 points per game. He shot only 41 percent from the floor, down from his career-best 47 percent three years ago. However, he did shoot better than 36 percent from three-point range, which was the highest in his seven years.
On top of that, Williams is an excellent ball-handler who can get to the hoop and the free throw line at will. He also has a surprisingly great post-up game and is a very quick, athletic player who is excellent in transition. On this team, when Williams comes in to give Teague a breath, the offense will not miss a beat. Both have similar attributes offensively, with Williams just needing to step his perimeter defending up a bit to pick up the slack. As a scoring surge off the bench at either the 1 or the 2, Lou Williams is an excellent cog on this roster.THE BENCHSHOOTING GUARD/SMALL FORWARDMARSHON BROOKS - 6'5", 200 lbs. Age: 232011-2012 Stats:
56 GP|29.4 MPG|12.6 PPG|3.6 RPG|2.3 APG|.9 SPG|.3 BPG|.428 FG%|.313 3P%|
MarShon Brooks had a fantastic rookie season, all things considered. Despite his monster numbers in college, there were a number of questions about how Brooks' game would transition into the NBA. One thing is for sure,
...he proved that, like in his senior season in college, he was capable of scoring on just about anyone, and in many different ways. Brooks finished the season averaging 12.6 points, third among rookies, in 29.4 minutes per game, which was fourth among rookies, and he finished the season 40th in the entire league in isolation situations, according to mysynergysports.com, a very impressive mark for such a young player.
The bold part of that quote is important in why I believe he is the ideal backup for Joe Johnson, who, himself is known as an isolation player. Though this team will work best with fluid ball movement and allows Joe Johnson the freedom to be more of a catch-and-shoot player, he always has the ability to go isolation and will certainly do that when he believes the time calls for it. Having a backup who has the same kind of abilities makes it that much tougher on the defense, who really can't give an inch to any of the guards in the rotation between Teague & Williams' ability to explode to the hoop and Johnson & Brooks' ability to score from outside while working from isolation sets when necessary. He can also play some minutes at the three, which opens up the versatility of the rotations in a big way. Brooks is the perfect dash of offensive ability on this roster who will only improve now with a year under his belt.SMALL FORWARDJAMES JOHNSON - 6'9", 248 lbs. Age: 252011-2012 Stats:
62 GP|25.2 MPG|9.1 PPG|4.7 RPG|2.0 APG|1.2 SPG|1.4 BPG|.450 FG%|.317 3P%|
James Johnson is another player that I think has become quite undervalued due to the team he plays for. To me, he is one of the most effective intangible guys in the entire league. This season he started 40 of the 62 games he played in. He is known for his grittiness on defense and overall tenacity when fully locked-in. He logs a ton of steals, blocks, and tips throughout the course of a game, as he seems to have a knack for being around the ball. He is also a big, physical body with explosion, making him a dangerous offensive rebounder. To that end, he is also a very solid defensive rebounder who consistently gets good position on his man down low. Furthermore, he is an underrated passer with good court vision and an ability to drive. He needs to add some consistency to his offensive game and become a better jump shooter. Besides that, he is a player that brings a lot to a team that doesn't need as much offense and he is a player who can be an important part of any NBA team's rotation.POWER FORWARD/CENTERMARREESE SPEIGHTS - 6'10", 255 lbs. Age: 242011-2012 Stats:
60 GP|22.4 MPG|8.8 PPG|6.2 RPG|.8 APG|.4 SPG|.5 BPG|.453 FG%|.000 3P%|
Marreese Speights has come a long way in his career. After finding himself in the doghouse in Philadelphia, Speights was traded to Memphis and instantly became a key player for the Grizzlies throughout the regular season and the playoffs. Filling in for the injured Zach Randolph in the middle of the season, he proved to be an exceptional offensive player who is a very good rebounder as well. But the Grizzlies soon found that his real versatility comes from his size and defensive ability, which allows him to fill in at the 5 when needed.
He's a little bit more of a shot-blocker and defensive presence at the rim than Zach Randolph but obviously nowhere near as good a player.
The biggest tangible difference between the two — beyond Randolph's relentlessness — is where their offense comes from. Though it's a strength for both players, Speights is a somewhat better mid-range shooter than Randolph (making 43% to Randolph's 39% last season), but is more dependent on it for his offense, taking 43% of his attempts from mid-range compared to 24% for Randolph.
A big body who can play defense and knock down the jumper is a rare commodity in the league, and if Speights can continue to develop the way he has throughout this previous season, he will be an exceptional big-man in this league. With the skillset he possesses right now, he fits in very nicely with this Raptors roster.CENTER/POWER FORWARDTIAGO SPLITTER - 6'11", 240 lbs. Age: 272011-2012 Stats:
59 GP|19.0 MPG|9.3 PPG|5.2 RPG|1.1 APG|.4 SPG|.8 BPG|.618 FG%|.000 3P%|
Tiago Splitter is another player who is quickly becoming one of the best intangible guys in the NBA. He does a wide array of things well, and he does it all uniquely. Here are a few quotes that personify what he brings to the table very well:
This season, Splitter has been great on the low block on offense. His unorthodox play has definitely produced points and trips to the free throw line. He's big and strong enough to back down his defender and shoot the most awkward running hook shot in the world.
...While his funky post game has proven effective, Splitter's best attribute is rolling to the basket coming off setting a screen. According to Synergy Sports, Splitter is shooting 71 percent and scoring 1.35 points per possession in pick-and-roll situations. That's good enough to rank third in the league.
On defense, Splitter ranks in the top ten in the league in defending spot up and isolation plays. Do not try to score on Tiago if your back isn't to the basket. He will put you in an uncomfortable position or force you to take a shot you don't really want to take. Once you get him on the block he's easier to score on, but he also defended the post fewer times than Matt Bonner. He's a very good defensive rebounder, but is pretty ineffective on the offensive glass (so the opposite of DeJaun Blair).
By far his best attribute on the offensive end(at least from my point of view) is his passing. He shows a remarkable ability to get the ball to his teammates, especially when doubled in the post. Although there is the occasional mistake (he's human) he does a wonderful job of making the right pass. This may not always be the pass that leads to the assist but his ability to pass the ball is definitely something you would notice if you saw him play.
Splitter's strength is in his defense. This is where he will make his money. He has excellent awareness and shows great fundamentals on the defensive end, something the Spurs will welcome.
...He has great discipline on defense. Doesn't bite on shot fakes and pass fakes. he knows how to defend without fouling as he goes strait up to contest shots rather that trying to get the block every time.
...He contests just about every shot that he can, unless his man is shooting a jumper that he can't make or he is beaten to the basket by a quick guard.
...His defensive footwork is really good for a player his size and this allows him to defend quicker bigs as well as defend the pick and roll well. He has the ability to hedge on screens and still get back to his man in time.
...He boxes out very well on defense. In fact, one of the reason his rebounding numbers are lower than people might like is because of the focus he puts on just boxing out. When a shot goes up the first thing he does is find his man and box him out, he doesn't care if he actually gets the board, long as the other team doesn't.
...The best part of watching Tiago Splitter play defense is his ability to make the proper rotations. He seems to always rotate to the right area while not jeopardizing his defense of his individual assignment. His teammates help with defending but he often has to make up for their defensive mistakes. Anyone who is a fan of defense will absolutely love seeing him play.
On top of all that, he has good energy, he hustles, and shows a deep desire to win. As a former top-5 player in Europe, I expect him to only get better and better in the NBA as his minutes increase and he becomes more comfortable with the style of play in the NBA. I think he fits perfectly with this Raptors team and is a quintessential player-type on a championship contender.POINT GUARDEARL WATSON - 6'1", 199 lbs. Age: 332011-2012 Stats:
50 GP|20.7 MPG|3.0 PPG|4.3 APG|2.4 RPG|1.1 SPG|1.7 TO|.338 FG%|.192 3P%|
Earl Watson is easily one of the better backup point guards in the NBA. He is a pass-first point guard who has only looked for his shot less and coincidentally become a better passer as his career has gone on. Averaging 4.3 assists in 20.7 minutes-per-game, it's clear how effective Watson can be when on the floor. He has a distinct ability to drive to the hoop and dish, using his speed and craftiness, and he also continues to be an excellent offensive-rebounding guard. He's always had a very secure handle on the ball and is a true definition of a point guard. He is a perfect backup for this team, as both PGs ahead of him on the depth chart are shoot-first, allowing Watson to fill his role perfectly when given minutes. There are so many great shooters on this team, that Watson will have more than enough options to choose from when setting up the offense.
Watson is also a very tough player who can still play great defense in spurts. As long as he can get his offensive game back on track, Watson will be a very important part of this rotation and can be an extremely useful backup to any championship-contending team.SMALL FORWARDJAMES SINGLETON - 6'8", 230 lbs. Age: 302011-2012 Stats:
12 GP|21.8 MPG|8.2 PPG|6.8 RPG|1.3 APG|.8 SPG|.7 BPG|.547 FG%|.222 3P%|
James Singleton is another completely underrated and seemingly forgotten player in the NBA. And once again, I believe he is another great intangibles guy in the league. (As you can see, especially with this roster, I like my bench players to have some nice intangibles to fill in any gaps created by any of the starters' deficiencies). Picking Singleton up in free agency, I was excited to see that the other GMs obviously either didn't watch his return to the NBA last season or didn't think enough of it. To me, it was an extremely impressive showing and one that showed me that Singleton can be a highly effective player in any NBA rotation for a number of seasons. While in Washington a year ago, he embodied the style of players that
"...endeared themselves to Wizards fans as hard workers who were willing to dive on the floor, put in the extra practice and push the starters to work harder."
Yet for some reason, the Wizards decided not to bring him back, and he instead signed with a Chinese team over the offseason. After his season abroad ended in April, he re-signed with the Wizards for the remainder of the season.
"Following Singleton's return, he picked up right where he left off with the Wizards by providing a spark off the bench and demonstrated a scoring ability which had previously been absent."
...Singleton averaged 8.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and shot 54.7 percent from the field. And, after relying mostly on hustle and energy, Singleton also showed an ability to step out and shoot. Before the season finale, Andray Blatche joked with Singleton about the newest addition to his game.
“He went all the way to China and came back with a jumper,” Blatche said. “You can buy anything in China.”
Singleton laughed, because the 30-year-old heard similar comments from his younger teammates.
“They teased me sometimes but everyone knows that I’m not the kind of guys that’s going to decline, you know. Every year I get better,” Singleton said. “I just worked on my game. I spent more than an hour, an hour and a half a day working on my jump shot with the coach that was over there, just working of different parts of my game because China is different than the NBA. Over there, it’s a lot more physical, a lot more dirty play, and they pack the lane over there. I used to be a slasher, so I had to develop a jump shot to be able to do more things. Once that opened up for me, everything just became easy. Right now the NBA is easy to me.”
With that added dimension to his game combined with his exuberant work ethic and serious-minded, professional demeanor, he is a great veteran player for any team to have.SHOOTING GUARD/SMALL FORWARDMARQUIS DANIELS - 6'6", 200 lbs. Age: 312011-2012 Stats:
38 GP|12.7 MPG|3.2 PPG|1.7 RPG|1.2 APG|.6 SPG|.2 BPG|.364 FG%|.000 3P%|
After coming off surgery for a bad spinal injury he suffered during the 2010-2011 season, it's difficult to judge just where Marquis Daniels is at this point in his career. Nonetheless, he clearly made a huge comeback this season from the injury, visibly playing extremely hard whenever called on and showing a willingness to do whatever the coach asked him to do. There's no denying Daniels' abilities: he is an athletic player with a solid jump shot and nice physical tools that allow him to guard a multitude of positions. He is also a solid rebounder with good ball-handling ability. In short, he is a very versatile player when healthy.
CENTERDEXTER PITTMAN - 6'11", 285 lbs. Age: 242011-2012 Stats:
Rivers played a hunch in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, giving Daniels 17 minutes of floor time in a must-win situation, and he responded with nine points (on 4-of-6 shooting) and five rebounds (then landed at the postgame podium to explain a big night that aided a 101-91 triumph). If Daniels could consistently provide that sort of spark, he'd be a rotation player on any team in the league given his size and defensive abilities.
35 GP|8.6 MPG|3.0 PPG|2.0 RPG|.3 APG|.2 SPG|.2 BPG|.468 FG%|.000 3P%|
Dexter Pittman is a young, up-and-coming big man who is still quite raw and under development.
Definitely the most dominant physical player we saw at the Showcase, Dexter Pittman is quite clearly in the best shape of his career, now having some noticeable definition to his build. Despite losing an enormous amount of weight over the past few years, Pittman appears to have lost none of his brute strength, he looks excellent moving around the floor, and it appears he still may have another 10-15 pounds to lose or at least convert to more muscle down the road.
This is an important quote for me to point out, as physically Pittman is still in the midst of a serious body transformation which could render him a valuable NBA body in the next couple of years.
On the offensive end, Pittman has a simple but highly effective game, as he establishes dominant post position frequently, showing excellent understanding of leverage and no problem throwing his body around in the lane. He backs his man down consistently and finishes with simple lay-ups and hook shots around the basket, showing good touch and getting more than enough separation to get his shots off cleanly. He'll occasionally mix in some fakes and countermoves but never has to get too creative, though this could change if he starts seeing minutes at the next level.
When catching passes around the rim, Pittman goes up strong and assertively, usually finishing with a quick and powerful dunk, something the Miami Heat scouts in attendance had to love seeing considering the opportunities he'd have to score in a similar fashion with their roster's current makeup. Pittman's incredibly long arms obviously help a great deal, as do his huge and exceptionally soft hands, and he'd be far more effective converting simple catch and finish opportunities for Miami than Joel Anthony would for example.
Clearly, as an offensive big-man, Pittman's game is pretty sound. The areas he really needs work on are his mid-range jumper and his defense. While he is a solid man-defender in the post, where he's physical and has good fundamentals, he needs work on his weak-side shotblocking, positioning, and footwork. That being said, he made some nice strides overall this season, aided by a stint to the D-League:
Pittman appeared in eight games (all starts) and averaged 16.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.63 blocks and 30.6 minutes while shooting 60.2 percent from the field. He recorded four double-doubles after posting 18 points and a team-high 10 rebounds at Iowa on December 1, 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds vs. Iowa on December 3, 15 points and a team-high 10 rebounds vs. Austin on December 7 and then a game-high 27 points and a game-high 10 rebounds vs. Utah on December 17.
Pittman, the 32nd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, blocked a Sioux Falls season-high six shots vs. Utah on December 17, his third multi-block game. Additionally, he led the team in points three times, rebounds six times and in blocks on three occasions.
On top of eventually starting in 6 games for the Heat and scoring a career-high 16 points in one game, Pittman was named to the D-League All-Star game.POWER FORWARD/CENTERVERNON MACKLIN - 6'10", 227 lbs. Age: 252011-2012 Stats:
23 GP|5.9 MPG|2.0 PPG|1.5 RPG|.2 APG|.2 SPG|.2 BPG|.543 FG%|.000 3P%|
I have very high hopes for Vernon Macklin. Not just because of his physical tools. Not just because of his abilities (he has a nice offensive game, with post-up ability, a nice hook-shot working from his back to the basket, an instinctive ability to finish, and explosion going to the hoop, as well as a solid defensive base, with a distinct ability to alter shots and guard his man one-on-one in the post). And not just because of the way he DOMINATED the D-League. No. I have high hopes for Macklin because of the player and style of play he has begun to successfully model his game after within one shortened season in the NBA.
“I had one of my cousins call me and ask, ‘Did you learn that since you got to the NBA or did you have that?’ ” Macklin said this week, talking about the eye-popping numbers he put up in the D-League: 14.5 points, 14.3 rebounds in 10 games.
“I was like, ‘Honestly, I don’t know. I just know it was one day I saw a lot of the things Ben Wallace was doing. When the shots went up, he’d either hit you or get to the ball quicker than you.’ He’s got the mentality that when the shot goes up, now it’s you vs. me. I’d never had that mentality.”
And now he does. There’s no more concise way to describe how Macklin went from a so-so college rebounder – he averaged 5.4 a game as a Florida senior – to a dominant one in the D-League in a category that scouts say, along with blocked shots, most reliably translates from one level to the next.
As a McDonald’s All-American and high-profile recruit who first went to Georgetown and then played for two years at Florida in the wake of its consecutive national titles, Macklin had always believed – and had always been told – that a player was defined by his scoring ability.
After a year in the NBA, spent under the guiding aura of the Ben Wallace who remains an icon in and around Portsmouth, he came to know better.
“I told me best friend, ‘Man, I figured it out. Everybody telling me, shoot the jump shot. Learn to shoot that jump shot, because you’ve got to score in the post to make it to the NBA.’ Naw. I’m going to be a hustle guy.”
So that’s his summer mission. Macklin came out of Florida listed at 227 pounds. He’s now a solid 250, noticeably thicker and more defined in the chest and arms, and he’s going to spend most of his summer working under Arnie Kander at the team’s practice facility with the intent of making a push for a spot in Lawrence Frank’s frontcourt rotation next season.
High hopes for Macklin, indeed, but for now, all he needs to do on this roster is hang out, stay ready, and continue to develop.THE SALARIES
As you can see, our salary situation puts us a mere $5,758,743 over the salary cap, and in very good position moving forward. The only real long term contracts we currently have going are Joe Johnson's and Wilson Chandler's, who are both integral parts of this team's identity moving forward. Other than that, Gortat makes around $7 mil a year over the next three years, which is right around where he should be paid (if maybe even a little more), MarShon Brooks is locked into a rookie-scale contract for a while, Tiago Splitter is signed to a lengthy contract he will certainly outplay, and Jeff Teague is signed to a more than reasonable deal through 2014. Jamison is a free agent and will play with some motivation because of it, and he's also old enough to accept a much more reasonable deal once it's time to renegotiate. With Lou Williams' ability to opt-out, we have money to resign him and the depth to move on if he gets a better deal or doesn't seem necessary moving forward (Brooks can fill his role nicely as Watson steps up to the backup 1 or a signing for a backup 1 is made).
We are firmly under the cap next year and all years moving forward, allowing us to keep this foundation strong for a few more years while also building through the draft and small signings. Overall, we're very comfortable with where we are financially and feel we have the perfect amount of room to grow if this foundation doesn't produce results within the first 2-3 years of its conception.
Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy analysis. I hope I've proved to you why I feel the Toronto Raptors should win RealGM's Build-A-Team 7.0 competition.