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Hello Goodbye (Pro Update 4-4)

Posted by Josh on April 4, 2007

It’s been over two weeks since my last update. Between NIT mania, my birthday, the SOB Awards and my trip to NYC last weekend, I haven’t had a solid block of time to put together an update with all the information that you, our loyal readers, so desperately crave. But now I do! We’ll start with the newest addition to our updates:

Jeremy McNeil is back in the D-League!

Correction: McNeil was back in the D-League. He signed with the Fort Worth Flyers back on March 6. I didn’t discover this information until March 25 — and he was promptly released on March 29. You can see both transactions in the list here (scroll down and look for “Player Movement” which lists the transactions not involving NBA teams). He didn’t do much: his best game was 5 points and 4 rebounds during a blowout loss on March 21. Here are his complete stats for the nine games he was in. At least this was a better stint than his week with Long Beach in March ’06. (Spooky: last year he was cut on March 30. Beware the end of March, Jeremy!) I do not have any information to indicate that he has since signed with another team but will keep a close eye on it, now that I know he is still actively trying to play ball for a living.

So, on to the players who are still playing (and there is a lot to tell!):

NBA

All four NBA Orangemen have, over the past 16 days, enjoyed some legitimate success, particularly in the last week or so. Carmelo Anthony’s Nuggets have gone 4-5 in their nine games since the last update. Melo had a couple stinkers in the middle of that stretch: 10 points on 3-15 shooting vs. Toronto and 13 points on 6-19 vs. Detroit. Both games were losses (the Detroit game was the Rasheed Wallace half-court miracle game). But he also outplayed his pal LeBron James on national TV, outscoring him 27-18 in a win, and he has topped 30 points in each of his last three games, including a double-double of 23 and 10 vs the Suns (Denver lost that one, but won the next two). His scoring average has dipped below 30 and he now trails Kobe for the scoring crown, thanks to Kobe’s ridiculous streak of 50-point games. But, Denver defeated Kobe’s Lakers in their most recent game (last night) and is now just 1.5 games behind LA for the 6 seed (also known as the “not playing Dallas or Phoenix in the first round” seed). Denver plays Sacramento tonight.

Hot on the Nugs’ trail is the other LA team, the Clippers of Jason Hart. They are one game behind Denver, and 1.5 up on the 9th-place Warriors. Since the last Update, the Clips have gone 6-1 (5-0 on the road) and Hart is a big reason why. During this stretch he has averaged 11.2 points and 4.3 assists vs. 1.8 turnovers. In fact he has only 4 turnovers total in the last five games. His three most recent games have been his best: 16 pts, 5 ast, and 6 reb vs Houston; 14 pt, 5 ast, and 8(!) reb vs. Portland; and 16 pt, 7 ast and 6 reb vs. the Sacramento Hart-Benchers, a game where he also defended the pants off Mike Bibby, who shot 5-19 (including 1-10 on threes). LA’s Corey Maggette (also pictured) wants Jason to be brought back next year, and it might make sense for them with the uncertainty surrounding Shaun Livingston’s status. The Clippers “host” the Lakers tonight. Meanwhile, a familiar name popped up in this Harticle from the Sacramento Bee about the Kings-Clips game: turns out Jason’s agent is Bill Neff, who (you may recall) also represents Gerry McNamara.

Also in the Western Conference, but nowhere near the playoffs, are Hakim Warrick and the Memphis Grizzlies, who have the worst record in the league and are now jockeying for position in the Oden-Durant Ping-Pong-Ball Sweepstakes. Hak is doing his best to make sure they don’t draft either of those guys. In the first week after the last update he didn’t score a whole lot (around 9ppg) but was hitting the boards, grabbing 8 or 9 rebounds in three consecutive games. Then after a subpar showing in a win over the Lakers, Hak has exploded in the past four games. Check these numbers: 18 & 10 vs. Portland (including the Grizz’ last four points in a four-point win); 26 & 11 vs. the Sonics; 19 & 9 vs. Golden State; and 22 & 16 Monday night vs. the Suns, a game where he should have had more except he did not get the foul called against Amare Stoudemire when he drove for a layup that would have cut the Phoenix lead to 1 with 20 seconds left. Hak has become one of Memphis’ go-to scorers at the end of games. His ability to create a shot for himself on offense has reached pro-level, and his improved rebounding means more minutes on the court. He’s definitely headed in the right direction.

Over on the East Coast the saga of Etan Thomas continues. He has played much better (and more) in the past 10 days or so. With the exception of the Toronto game last Friday, he’s played at least 20 minutes in each game going back to March 24. And his production has been solid: in four of those five games he has grabbed 8 rebounds or more (he had 6 in the other game). As a result of this improvement, on April 1 (his 29th birthday) he was reinserted into the starting lineup in place of the struggling Brendan Haywood, and in the next game on April 3 he had perhaps his best game of the year: 17 points and 14 rebounds in only 25 minutes vs. the Hornets. (The Wizards got smacked in that game, though.) It looks like Etan might start for the rest of the year, if he can keep his production at least at the level of “solid contributor”. Though without Caron Butler it is unlikely the Wiz will make it past the first round of the playoffs in any case. Washington plays Charlotte this evening.

**Pro Update update: **

I just finished watching the first half of the Washington-Charlotte game and Etan Thomas leads all scorers with 17 points (on 8-10 shooting), equalling his season high for a full game that he set last night… against Charlotte. You go my man.

D-League

The breeze caused by McNeil’s whooshing through the D-League has not been felt by the other Orangemen. Gerry McNamara missed one game due to his ankle issues, but returned on March 24 scoring 10 points. Hie next two games were not very good, scoring 5 & 6 respectively with 1 assist total. But he bounced back with 11 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds in their most recent game. There are three games left on Bakersfield’s schedule, after which I expect Gerry will spend a little time healing up and then try to join an NBA summer camp, which might be his last best chance to make it to the Association.

Damone Brown, meanwhile, has had five solid games since the last update. He’s been in double figures every night, with a high of 20 (twice) while averaging nearly 6 rebounds a game over that span. The SkyForce have four games left, but unlike the Jam, they will probably be in the NBDL playoffs. Based on his play so far, Damone is also likely headed to summer camp.

Europe

Speaking of playoffs, Preston Shumpert’s team was eliminated from the Euroleague playoffs a couple weeks ago in a heartbreaking overtime loss to Dynamo Moscow (featuring Taquan Dean from Louisville). Preston had 9 points and 4 rebounds, missing all three of his 3-point attempts. He did force a turnover with 7 seconds left and his team down one, but Moscow stole the inbounds from one of his teammates and hit their foul shots to send Benetton back to Italy. In his three Italian League games since then, he’s scored 13, 7, and 9 points, with a high of 8 rebounds. Benetton is 16-10 on the year, in fifth place in the league with 8 games remaining.

Otis Hill continues to fare well in the Polish League. His team has gone 3-0 since we last checked in; Otis had 21 & 8 in the first game, 19 & 3 in the second, and 8 & 3 (limited by foul trouble) in the third. His team is playing their next game tomorrow night — the Game of the Week on Polish TV, vs. the #1 team in the standings (Otis and Anwil are in 5th place).

Elvir Ovcina is slacking. He had only 5 points and 3 rebounds two weekends ago, and 8 points and 3 rebounds last weekend. He missed 5 3-pointers in the two games combined. He and his mates are tied for second with three other teams with 6 games left. Ethan Cole had 9 points in each of the last two games, with 9 rebounds in one and 7 in the other.

Japan

Ryan Blackwell was back on the court two weekends ago after missing seven games (and most of an 8th) with a high ankle sprain. It took him a little while to get back into game shape — he scored only 12 & 15 points that weekend, though averaging 8 rebounds in the two games. The final weekend of the season he poured in 17 in the first game and then capped his season with 28 points and 13 rebounds. The 89ers missed the playoffs, finishing in 5th place, 3 games out of the final spot. Ryan’s final stats for the year: 31 games, 19.8ppg, 9.5rpg, 3.7apg. He shot 50% from 2-pt range, 40% from 3-pt range and 80% from the foul line. If he wants to come back next year I’m sure the 89ers would welcome him back, but he may seek his fortunes elsewhere. We will, of course, keep you Updated.

New Zealand

Josh Pace has played three games in the past two weeks. His team went 2-1. Josh had 14 & 11 in the first game (the loss), 25 & 11 in the second game (both totals were game-high on both teams), and 19 & 15 in the third game. He is fourth in the league in points per game, third in rebounds per game, fifth in assists per game and #1 in overall productivity (most overseas leagues have a formula that calculates a player’s value based on his stats). Here is a PDF of the complete league stats through Week Four.

ABA

The ABA is in flux, to say the least.

First, the SU player news. Kueth Duany’s Buffalo Silverbacks lost in the quarterfinals to Beijing, a game played on Beijing’s home court (in L.A.) but there are no stories about the game online (except perhaps in China). Z Sims’ Rochester Razorsharks had hoped to repeat as ABA champs but they ended up not playing a single playoff game, instead withdrawing from the league after the ABA jerked them around with regards to playoff scheduling. Although, it was probably just the last straw for a successful minor league team in a league run by a CEO with no real business plan and a total disregard for owners’ concerns. (Check this link for a little insight.) A total of six playoff teams withdrew from the ABA after the playoffs were announced — that’s 25% of the playoff field, and included some of the most successful teams (business-wise). Rochester expects to join a newly forming league for next fall, and ABA fans are wondering which teams will stay and which will bolt for the new Premiere Basketball League. The ABA owners’ meetings are in a week and something may come out of that. It is likely that Moten’s former Maryland team will be among those in the new league, as they were one of those that quit the ABA earlier. Having just paid a significant franchise fee to the ABA, it is unlikely that the Syracuse Bullies will be one of the PBL teams, but not having Rochester as a league rival will probably put a dent in their expected revenue. Speaking of the Bullies, it looks like we all just missed their first open tryouts, held last weekend. I didn’t see anything in the Post-Standard about it… did you?

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4 Responses to “Hello Goodbye (Pro Update 4-4)”

  1. Orangefan said

    Nice update. Thanks for keeping track of all this.

  2. voteprime said

    It’s so good to see Jason Hart finally having some success in the NBA. Definitely one of my favorite Orangemen.

  3. syracusan said

    J Hart had a game winning last second basket for the Clips at some point since your last update. Not sure which game it was, but I remember seeing highlights on SportsCenter or reading about it online or something. I was going to mention it at the time but I didn’t want to step on your toes. 😉 Also, it was NIT mania time…

  4. emoboy said

    Cheers, Look at the photos of my new emo hairstyle
    in http://tinyurl.com/59ps64

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