Front and center for the first three days of this year’s Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, I watched the event’s entire 64-man roster play in two games. By the time I weaved onto I-95 South headed back to Raleigh my brain had locked in on the five guys at the event most likely to make an NBA roster for next year. You may not find some of these names on the all tournament team, but they showed me enough to give them the nod.
1. JaMychal Green, 6’9”, PF, University of Alabama
It’s easy to dismiss a guy whose collegiate track record includes three suspensions, the latest of which was handed down for the vaunted “violation of team rules” just as the conference season was kicking into high gear. But when a player has the upside of JaMychal Green, due diligence for NBA scouts and executives in Portsmouth last week included taking a long look at what he was able to piece together on the court vs. a collection of BCS-level talent in a tempo that usually goes the way of the guards.
The 6’7.5” PF averaged a near double-double for the event, posting 19.3 ppg (tied for 2nd at the event) and 9.7 rebounds per contest (t-5th) over the span of three games. Of note were Green’s 12 offensive boards (29 total), his .639 FG% on 23-36 shooting, and 12-15 outing at the stripe. What can be taken from these numbers are that Green was disciplined in his shot selection, played volleyball on the glass on both ends, and converted from the line when given the chance (improving upon his 69% FT shooting during his senior campaign). Green also valued the basketball in Portsmouth more than he did this past year for the Crimson Tide, committing only 4 TOs in 3 games (down from 3/gm as a senior).
With the ability to step away from the basket and consistently knock down the 15-18 foot jumper (which he showed off pick-and-pops throughout the event), a motivated Green offers a club a guy who will clear off defensive possessions and keep possessions alive on the other end with his active motor. If he can continue to knock down FTs at a rate closer to .80 than .70 (averaged right at 5 FTA/g as a senior) and take care of the ball, the Montgomery product could warrant a spot on an NBA bench somewhere in the near future. Also an underappreciated distributor from the post (nearly 2 a game last year).
2. Mitchell Watt, 6’9”, F, University of Buffalo
Watt is a guy who does a little bit of everything, not necessarily wowing you with any one facet of his game. With adequate athleticism, Watt’s timing is impeccable when sizing up blocks (PIT-leading 4.33/game) and his knack for keeping the ball in play after a swat – often tipping it to a teammate – is an intangible in his game that needs to be seen to be properly valued. Putting up 12.7 points and 9 rebs. a game to along with his gaudy blocked shot numbers, Watt was passed over for the All-Tournament team in what I view to be a snub.
The Buffalo big man’s willingness to talk on defense and get on the floor for loose balls in a showcase setting like the PIT are worth mention because they mesh perfectly with what many teams are looking for in a fringe 2nd-round prospect – a team-first guy who is low maintenance and can do one thing at an NBA level. Although Watt did foul out of a contest at the PIT, a couple of the whistles against him came after teammates had been blown by and he was protecting the rim. Rolled hard to the rim off of ballscreens and repositioned himself accordingly after ball reversals – even re-screening on side PNR’s. Prototypical teammate type of player, which isn’t surprising considering the medical issues that befell him early in his college career.
Not the most talented guy at the P.I.T., Watt seems to understand who he is as a player and perfectly fine with doing the dirty work that some star players may not want to. If he can headhunt screens, maintain proper spacing off the PNR and make good decisions when the ball comes his way, the under the radar lefty MAC Player of the Year may surprise some NBA folks in individual workouts. Especially is he can hold defensive position down low against wide-bodied opponents and not get posted too deep, Watt will undoubtedly flash his quick off the floor leaping ability and substantial length to block some shots.
3. Kevin Murphy, 6’7”, SG, Tennessee Tech
Instant offense is something any NBA team will take a gander at and is why Tennessee Tech’s Kevin Murphy will undoubtedly be flown around the country to work out for teams in the upcoming weeks. Going 18-32 from the field for the event for a .563 shooting percentage, the lanky marksman cleared up any concerns over whether his production in the OVC would translate over vs. high-major competition. Murphy worked harder off the ball than any other player in Portsmouth (honorable mention to Kim English) and consistently outworked defenders in the half court in order to get looks.
Perhaps playing second fiddle to Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan in his own conference, the two-time OVC 1st-teamer (who led the league at 20.6 points/game) played with a chip on his shoulder when it mattered most. He proved he’s not a one trick pony by unselfishly dishing out 2.67 assists/gm at the PIT. He also rebounded well for the position, averaging 5 rebounds a night from the guard position (right at his 5.2 avg. as a senior).
Murphy’s relentless motor puts pressure on a defense by design. By pulling his weight on the other end through rebounding and actively contesting, Murphy could be a nice +/- guy for a team in doses with his ability to fill it up in an instant. A three point mercenary with the size to get his shot off in the league and a motor to compete at the other end, Murphy could be a guy a team takes a flyer on in the late 2nd or as a free agent.
4. Terrance Henry, 6’9”, F, University of Mississippi
The lefty wing-forward impressed in Portsmouth with his cartoonish length and ability to gain separation/body control on looks around 15’ out. His most impressive offensive move came Friday on a pump fake/two hard dribbles into the lane for a lefty runner in which he ate up ~ 20 feet of real estate on two strides. His overmatched defender was forced to go across Henry’s body to contest the shot and ended up fouling the Monroe, LA product. Measuring 6’8.5” barefoot, Henry logged an 83.50 (6’11.5”) wingspan, which makes his body reminiscent of former UNC Charlotte star Rodney White minus a few pounds.
Has that extra bit of athleticism that sets him apart from the pack and allows him to get over the top of similarly sized defenders. Also can become a menace on the defensive end with the ability to guard two positions depending on his dedication in the weight room.
5. Chace Stanback, 6’8”, G, UNLV
Smoothest operator at the PIT this year and it wasn’t close. Stanback makes the game look criminally simple at times by knocking down jumpers effortlessly. His numbers outside of the scoring aren’t out of this world, but the combination of his .464 3FG% as a senior on nearly 200 attempts and his 6’8” size is.
A capable rebounder at his position, Stanback posted nearly 6 boards/game during both his sophomore and junior campaigns (5.0 per contest at the PIT). The prevailing knock on the pure shooter is that he tends to disappear. After watching the silky smooth assassin work in Virginia for a few days, though, I feel like he may be good enough to make the league regardless. A motivated and focused Chace Stanback is an NBA player.