ORLANDO – Here are the prospects who helped and hurt their draft stock at the NBA pre-draft camp on Thursday.
Gary Forbes. Forbes had the camp's most dominant performance so far, finishing with 30 points on only 16 shot attempts. He showed the full repertoire offensively, slashing to the rim, posting up smaller defenders and even hitting an NBA three-pointer. Even more impressive was his ability to get to the line 16 times within the flow of the offense. The UMass senior was easily the player of the day on Thursday and continued to make a case why he should be selected in the second round.
Mike Taylor. D-League champion Mike Taylor put all of the professional experience he garnered this season to great use, looking more explosive than anyone else on the floor. He blew by defenders as if they weren't there, shot the ball well from the perimeter and even showed some decent court vision in finding the open man in the half court. Taylor has been one of the camp's most impressive players and has helped his NBA stock considerably. The Louis Williams clone will have a lot of buzz going into the final day.
DeVon Hardin. Hardin played very well Thursday, showing a consistent fire many have been waiting to see for four years now. While he only had 11 points, the way he scored them was impressive. The 6-foot-11 senior from Cal showed flashes of post moves, executing them with exceptional quickness and range – skills rarely seen from a player his size. His intensity carried over to the defensive end, where he blocked two shots and altered a few more. On the downside, his hands and reflexes didn't look great on some entry passes, and while he does show nice potential with the rare post moves he executes, one should not be expecting or wanting him to try them in the NBA for at least a few years, given his lack of awareness and understanding.
Josh Duncan. He played extremely well and showed off his full slate of skills. He banged in the post, hit a shot just inside the NBA three-point line, rebounded hard, got to the free-throw line and showed some mini face-up game. He scored 20 points, getting to the line 10 times and making nine free throws. There are still questions about what position he can or will defend, and his offensive game lacks some consistency. But he's playing well and definitely helping himself.
Jeremy Pargo. Played much better than he did Wednesday in showing off some of his great potential. He had five assists to go with 11 points and six rebounds and played strong defense with his nice length and athleticism. He pulled off some nice drive-and-dishes and showed outstanding craftiness in the lane, using his quick crossover and making great use of jump stops. In an impressive display of balance and explosiveness, Pargo also powered off one leg in awkward positions to score on tough floaters and up-and-under moves around defenders. His tendency to over-penetrate and get tunnel vision was still apparent, though. Most believe he'd be best served returning to Gonzaga to work on his weaknesses, which also include his outside jumper and shot selection.
Othello Hunter. He continued to do what he does best: rebounding, contesting shots and finishing open dunks around the rim. But he also showed his expanding post game, hitting on one impressive turnaround scoot shot in the lane that he also followed on. On defense, he used his length well, crashing passing lanes and patrolling the lane, and he made his presence felt, especially on one block from behind on Richard Hendrix.
DeMarcus Nelson. Played with his typical outstanding intensity on both ends of the court. He brought the ball up and even ran the point at times, initiating the offense but not doing much shot creating for teammates. Where Nelson really excelled was getting out in transition and slashing to the basket. He did a much better job finishing at the rim than he did Wednesday. Nelson's defense wasn't as good as it usually is in his matchup with the incredibly quick Mike Taylor, who gave him some problems on dribble drives. Nelson's limitations with size and ball handling, along with his average athleticism, still make the NBA an uphill climb, but continuing to play with this kind of fire is definitely helping his cause.
Malik Hairston. An injury to Tywon Lawson forced Hairston to play point guard, something he was clearly uncomfortable doing as evidenced by his four turnovers. The Detroit native did, however, make a number of heady cuts to the basket and knocked down a few jumpers, including a clutch shot late in the game to hold off the opposing team.
Brian Roberts. He led his team to victory with a game-high 17 points. Roberts did an excellent job getting to the line and played much stronger than his 6-2 frame indicates. The senior did finish without a single assist. Still, he helped himself with his performance Thursday.
Wayne Ellington. Ellington bounced back from an awful first day by moving off the ball beautifully and doing a great job knocking down shots from 17 to 20 feet by either spotting up, coming off a screen or pulling up off the dribble. Considering how one-dimensional he's been at the camp, Ellington obviously needs to be stroking the ball well from outside if he is to make any type of impression. His defense, ball handling and finishing at the rim didn't do him many favors.
Lester Hudson. He didn't have the best game (yet again), but he showed some very impressive things by playing extremely tough defense, getting up very close with a good stance and using his hands to steal four passes. Offensively, Hudson showed great ability with his pull-up jumper in scoring 13 points. On the downside, his ball handling didn't look great while running the point, and his separation ability doesn't stand out either.
Tywon Lawson. After proving to be the top player in Orlando on Wednesday, Lawson suffered a minor injury and was kept out of action on Thursday. The sophomore playmaker is expected to return to action for Friday's final day of camp.
Keith Brumbaugh. The lone junior college player in attendance had an awful game. He didn't make a single field goal and was abused on the defensive end. He had literally no positive impact on the game whatsoever and his heralded raw talents have yet to be seen here. For a guy who has had so many well-chronicled off-the-court issues – and is not going to impress anyone here with his wingspan or athleticism – that is really bad news.
Davon Jefferson. Jefferson has yet to show the type of effort or fire you would expect to see from a player who is currently fighting for his professional future after having prematurely hired an agent despite an average freshman season at USC. His conditioning looks poor, he's dribbling the ball excessively and he has yet to make use of the terrific athletic ability that made him a prospect in the first place.
Trent Plaisted. Another underclassman who may have hastily decided to forfeit his college eligibility, Plaisted has struggled to make an impact consistently. He's just floating up and down aimlessly at times and not using his athleticism to finish strong around the basket. You can't ignore his physical tools, but at the same time, you'd like to see him make more use of them on the glass or defensively.