Niels Giffey NBA Update

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Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Niels Giffey turned heads during his second championship performance of the season last month at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, covered here. Giffey continued to play his role in the winning formula, knocking down shots and playing solid defense, causing Tournament MVP Davante’ Gardner (Marquette) to tweet:

Following graduation, Giffey flew to Indianapolis where he worked out at the St. Vincent Sports Performance’s NBA Pre-Draft Training Program. Other participants included Eric Atkin (Notre Dame), Semaj Christon (Xavier), Luke Hancock (Louisville), Gary Harris (Michigan State), Jake Odum (Indiana State), Trevor Releford (Alabama) and Glenn Robinson III (Michigan). According to their website, St. Vincent Sports Performance provides not only skill development but also performance nutrition and performance psychology among others to prepare prospects for the NBA.       

Measurements

Here is Giffey as he compares to other wings in the draft including Deandre Daniels. Melvin Ejim, former Iowa State star familiar to UCONN fans, appears to be Giffey’s main competitor for a late second round selection. Take note that unlike previous charts I have replaced max vertical with standing vertical as Giffey’s max was not available. 

Player Height (shoes) Wingspan Standing Reach Standing Vertical*
Giffey 6-7 1/2 6-10 1/2 8-7 1/2 28.5
Ejim 6-7 6-11 1/4 8-7 1/2 29.5
Robinson III 6-6 3/4 6-10 8-4 1/2 36.5
Daniels 6-8 1/2 7-2 8-10 1/2 26.5

*standing not max vertical

Workout Update

Here is a list of Giffey’s workouts, as well as other notable players invited. 

Utah Jazz, May 20th: Niels Giffey, Melvin Ejim (Iowa State), Scottie Wilbiken (Florida)

Philadelphia 76ers, May 27th: Niels Giffey, James Bell (Villanova), James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina), Melvin Ejim (Iowa State)

New York Knicks, TBD: TBD

Draft Projections

Analysts have Giffey anywhere from late second round to undrafted. As an underexposed role player, workouts will only help Giffey get his name out there. Scouts at the Portsmouth Invitational came away impressed and there is no reason to believe that trend will not continue. Here are some second round opportunities for Giffey:

  • 32nd, 39th, 47th, 52nd or 54th, Philadelphia 76ers: With five second round picks to go along with two lottery picks, the 76ers can address immediate needs and plan for the future.
  • 58th or 60th, San Antonio Spurs: Giffey is the epitome of a role player on a team of role players.  
  • New York Knicks: With no draft picks and change on the horizon, the Knicks could look to make moves. 
  • Germany: Big contract, free apartment, free car, home country and all the schnitzel you can eat = not a bad deal. 

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Deandre Daniels 2014 NBA Draft Combine Recap

nba.com

nba.com

Deandre Daniels entered the 2014 NBA Draft Combine as a question mark to NBA teams. Plagued by inconsistent play throughout his career at UCONN, Daniels comes off a breakout NCAA tournament that saw him average 16 points/7 rebounds as the second scoring option. Highly praised for his length and athleticism, let’s see how Daniels matched up against top small forwards (not named McDermott/Parker/Wiggins) in the draft.

Top Small Forwards: Cleanthony Early (Wichita State), Deandre Daniels (UCONN), Jerami Grant (Syracuse), Rodney Hood (Duke), K.J. McDaniels (Clemson), Glenn Robinson III (Michigan)

Drills

Daniels used the drill section of the combine to show scouts his NCAA tournament shooting performance was not a fluke. The three-point shooting drills were separated into two parts, 25 shots from NBA range (break left, break right, corner left, corner right, top of the key) and 25 shots from NCAA range (same spots). Below I have combined the three-point shooting results of the small forwards prospects into one table:

SF Rank Spot Up 3 Point Shooting Percentage
1 Robinson 62%
2 Hood 60%
3 Daniels 54%
4 McDaniels 50%
5 Early 44%
6 Grant 40%

Daniels 3P% increased dramatically during each of his three seasons at Connecticut, from 24%-31%-42%. Although his form is unique, if Daniels can continue to improve his shot he has the size and length to shoot over NBA small forwards.

The next shooting drill put players on the move with shots off the dribble left, right and at the top of the key to simulate in-game action. Daniels remained in the middle of the pack, demonstrating he is not just a spot up shooter but can create his own shot off the dribble.

SF Rank Non-Stationary Shooting Percentage
1 Hood 78%
2 Robinson 72%
3 Daniels 67%
4 McDaniels 60%
5 Grant 53%
6 Early 51%

Measurements

Arguably the most athletic position in the NBA, scouts are especially concerned with a players height, wingspan, standing reach and max vertical. Essentially, length and athleticism. Here is how Daniels compared to other elite small forwards at the combine. Note: Andrew Wiggins is widely considered the most athletic player in the draft and his numbers are included for comparisons sake, although he was not in attendance.

Player Height (shoes) Wingspan Standing Reach Max Vertical
Daniels 6-8 1/2 7-2 8-10 1/2 32
Early 6-7 1/4 6-10 3/4 8-5 1/2 40
Grant 6-7 3/4 7-2 3/4 8-11 N/A
Hood 6-8 1/2 6-8 1/2 8-7 36
McDaniels 6-6 6-11 3/4 8-6 37
Robinson 6-6 3/4 6-10 8-4 1/2 41.5
Wiggins 6-8 3/4 7-0 8-11 44*

*unofficial

Stock: Up or Down?

Up. A player with as many inconsistencies as Deandre Daniels needed solid measurements to complement his tremendous potential. Aside from Jerami Grant – who will most likely switch to power forward in the NBA- Daniels led small forwards in almost all categories. He tied for the tallest of the group at 6-8 1/2 and at 7-2, his massive wingspan is 2 inches longer than that of Andrew Wiggins. Also, Daniels standing reach was by far the longest of small forwards present at the combine, a whopping 6 inches greater than Glenn Robinson III. One last notable measurement: 9 1/4 inches. This is the length of Daniels’ hand, largest among small forwards and tied for second largest in the entire combine. As you can see from the table above, Deandre is right on par with his peers physically. Strong, aggressive workouts will separate him from the pack and solidify a first round selection.

Draft Projections

Deandre Daniels has the talent to be a late first round draft pick. On the other hand, scouts see him as a second round selection due to his pencil-thin frame and lack of strength. In a draft full of talented small forwards, Daniels’ performance in workouts will ultimately seal his fate. In my opinion, Deandre is one of the most underrated players in the draft and could make an impact for a contender after a season in the D-League. Here are some possible destinations:

  • 25th pick, Houston Rockets: The Rockets have the flexibility to allow Daniels a season in the D-League to bulk up on a NBA strength training regimen.
  • 35th pick, Utah Jazz: Young at every position the Jazz can go after the best player available which at this point in the draft, could be Daniels.
  • 43rd pick, Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks need a perimeter scorer, if they don’t fill this need in the first round look for them to fill it here.

Workout Updates

Miami Heat: May 26th along with PJ Hairston (UNC)/Cleanthony Early (Wichita State)

Boston Celtics: June 3rd along with Kyle Anderson (UCLA)

Atlanta Hawks: TBD along with Johnny O’Bryant (LSU)

Shabazz Napier 2014 NBA Draft Combine Recap

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CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The NBA Draft Combine, a two day event held last week in Chicago, gives top NBA prospects a platform to showcase their skill set for NBA GM’s and scouts through a variety of drills and measurements. Let’s take a look at how Shabazz Napier’s numbers fared against other top point guards prospects.

Top Point Guards: Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Dante Exum (Australia), Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette), Shabazz Napier (UCONN), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)

Drills

On the advice of his agent, Napier opted to skip the basketball drills portion of the combine. In fact, none of the top point guard prospects participated in the drills. While some questioned the decision of Payton who received little national exposure at Louisiana-Lafayette, Napier’s season was well chronicled and his decision received no negative backlash. Other top players who did not participate included Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Michigan State’s Gary Harris.

Measurements

Below I have compiled a comparison of Napier’s top competitors at the combine, as well as Kemba Walker’s measurements from the 2011 NBA Draft Combine. While Napier lacks the height and wingspan coveted by scouts, his 37.5 inch max vertical answered questions of explosiveness and was arguably the most surprising/impressive measurement of the day. If you look closely, Napier’s measurements are nearly identical to those of Walker, the 9th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Player Height (shoes) Weight Wingspan Max Vertical
Napier 6-1 175 6-3 1/4 37.5
Ennis 6-2 1/2 182 6-7 1/4 36
Exum 6-6 196 6-9 1/2 34.5
Payton 6-3 3/4 185 6-8 35.5
Smart 6-3 1/4 227 6-9 1/4 36
Walker (2011) 6-1 184 6-3 1/2 39.5

In the 3/4 court sprint Napier finished second among point guards (3.2 seconds), barely edged out by Exum (3.19).

Stock: Up or Down?

Up. Napier’s small stature has been noted by scouts in the past so his measurements came with little shock. As I mentioned above, the real shocker was Napier’s vertical, an astounding 37.5 inches- the same as former Husky flyer Ben Gordon*. In years past, Napier was knocked for his immaturity and scouts worried about his ability to lead an NBA team. This past season put those doubts at ease after Napier not only elevated his play, but also the play of his supporting cast en route to his second National Championship. Napier is the most NBA-ready point guard prospect in the draft, the type of player who could immediately contribute minutes as a back up. Yes, Napier will be competing against NBA sized guards every night, but, if you take a look at his track record -most recently the Harrison twins/James Young of Kentucky- Napier is a competitor and competitors are not discouraged by a couple of inches. As Napier said of himself, “Certain guys know how to win, certain guys understand what to do at certain times of the game and that’s kind of rare.” In a league where success is defined by championships, Shabazz Napier is a proven winner.

*This number is even more astounding considering Napier did not complete a dunk in his four years at UCONN.

Draft Projections

According to scouts present at the combine, Napier’s performance solidified a first round selection. Here are some possible destinations that stand out:

  • 17th pick, Boston Celtics: Hometown kid on the hometown team is always an inspiring story line.
  • 26th pick, Miami Heat: LeBron tweeted: “No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.” Starting point guard Mario Chalmers is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, if Napier were still available you know who LeBron wants…
  • 28th pick, Los Angeles Clippers: Current backup Darren Collison has a player option for next season. Like Collison, Napier is a pesky defender who would benefit under the tutelage of Chris Paul while he develops.

 

Olliewood Boulevard

According to Yahoo Sports, Kevin Ollie has reached agreement on a $3 million annual contract extension to keep the highly regarded coach in Storrs for years to come. Terms of the deal are not yet available, but it has been rumored to be at least a 5 year deal. Currently, Ollie has 4 years left on a 5 year, $7.5 million contract, a contract that has been under discussion since UCONN’s National Championship victory. Since April, Ollie  has been tied to numerous NBA vacancies – with the Cleveland Cavaliers emerging most recently along with the Lakers/Knicks – keeping UCONN country on edge throughout the process. Ollie’s newly restructured contract, while double his previous deal, is still $10 million less than the $25 million Steve Kerr received from the Golden State Warriors. Many saw Kerr’s deal as a baseline for Ollie – as both he and Kerr are first time head coaches – with Ollie potentially procuring more money due to his recent success. As I said in an earlier post, Ollie was drawn back to Connecticut for incentives other than money, now, we have $10 million reasons as proof. Don’t be surprised if this is his last contract at UCONN, but hey, we’ve got him now and you don’t. Look for Ollie to continue his success at the college level.

The only question that remains, where will they put Olliewood Boulevard?

Bold Predictions: NBA Edition

NBA

 

Andre Drummond will be in the Hall of Fame (barring injury)

LA Clippers win 2014 NBA Title

Kemba Walker voted to first All-Star Game in 2015 

Jeremy Lamb is 2015 Sixth Man of the Year 

Andre Drummond voted to first All-Star game, wins Dunk Contest and MVP

Kevin Ollie wins NBA Title with Shabazz or Kemba as starting PG

 

 

 

 

Former players already on the move…

Just a few days removed from graduation and those leaving the UCONN basketball program are already on the move. Deandre Daniels and Shabazz Napier will represent UCONN as two of sixty players worldwide selected to attend the 2014 NBA Draft Combine. Held in Chicago, the draft combine tests physical ability while also allowing scouts the chance to interview players for the first time. The combine is especially important for players hovering outside the lottery, such as Napier and Daniels. Look for Daniels to impress.

In anderen nachrichten, Niels Giffey will be traveling to Indianapolis Wednesday to resume training for impending NBA workouts and Leon Tolksdorf is officially an American…Eagle.

 

Olliewood or Hollywood?

I first heard rumors of Kevin Ollie to the NBA during a team breakfast at the Big East Tournament in 2011. In only his first year as an assistant coach, it was evident Ollie had the coaching gene and could not be kept a secret much longer. Earlier today, ESPN.com reported the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in Kevin Ollie to fill their newly vacant head coaching job. This poses a haunting question to UCONN fans- Olliewood or Hollywood?

Why do the Los Angeles Lakers want Kevin Ollie?

First, lets take a look at why the Lakers (or any NBA team) want Kevin Ollie:

Reputation

The most attractive quality surrounding Kevin Ollie is not his 2014 National Championship ring, no Ollie was on the NBA radar far before his magical postseason. Kevin Ollie is attractive to NBA teams because of the respect he garners from his peers- peers who just so happen to be 4x NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant and 4x MVP Lebron James. James, alluded to the aforementioned “coaching gene” in an interview after the Huskies win while Durant had this to say in 2013. “Kevin Ollie changed the culture with the Thunder,” Durant commented, “Just like he’s doing now with UConn. He was a big part of what we do, and still is, because of what he instilled in us. He’s always going to be a brother of mine.”Durant continued to say he had no doubt in his mind Ollie could coach at the NBA level.

The Lakers, coming off a 27-55 season that left them with more questions than answers, have one definitive answer. With an aging Kobe Bryant returning from knee surgery, the team will undoubtedly make a push for super-star caliber free agents Lebron (2014) or KD (2016). If the Lakers were to allow James or Durant their choice of coach, Los Angeles becomes a much more attractive destination with Kevin Ollie the main beneficiary.

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According to an ESPN NBA attendance report, the Clippers have drawn more fans than the Lakers for each of the past three seasons. In other words, “Lob City” has replaced “Showtime” in the city of angels. Recent Lakers teams conjure images of aging, injury-prone stars whereas the Clippers are associated with high-flying, energetic excitement (think Pau Gasol hook shot vs Blake Griffin alley-oop). What better way to reverse that perception than to hire a youthful, energetic coach such as Kevin Ollie?

Also, the aftermath of the Donald Sterling saga has forced Clippers sponsors and fans alike to question their loyalties. What better way to attract the in-between/undecided/disgusted than to bring in a coach whose highest values are that of family and brotherhood. As we have seen in Connecticut, Kevin Ollie is not just a basketball coach but a community activist. Given recent events, it is not surprising the Lakers see value in hiring not only a community man, but also a local success story all Angelenos can rally around.

Why he will go

  • Money. The NBA can offer a higher salary, plain and simple. Ollie is slated to make roughly $1.25 million this year at UCONN. Former Lakers coach D’Antoni? $4 million.
  • The Job. UCLA. North Carolina. Duke. Kentucky. Historic jobs that represent the pinnacle of college basketball. Knicks. Lakers. Celtics. Historic jobs that represent the pinnacle of NBA basketball. Two of the three NBA jobs are currently open, who knows when they will be available again (although recent history suggests soon). Does KO find the pull of these historic jobs too hard to resist?
  • Location. Ollie grew up in Los Angeles yet has called Connecticut home since his college days. LA poses a return to childhood stomping grounds while the Knicks job allows him to remain in Connecticut. Hmmmm…
  • The Challenge. Kevin Ollie promised a National Championship and he delivered… in just his second season. How can he possibly top that? An NBA Championship. In his first season.

Why he will stay

  • Money. Unlike many college coaches, Kevin Ollie is coming off a 13 year NBA career that saw him collect roughly $20 million according to basketballreference.com. When you have that much in the piggy bank (probably multiple piggy banks at this point) it becomes less about the money and more about the right fit. UCONN is the right fit.
  • The Job. I mentioned dream jobs such as UNC, Duke and Kentucky above. What’s better than those dream jobs? Leading your alma mater to a National Championship. What’s better than leading your alma mater to a National Championship? Leading your alma mater to multiple National Championships.
  • Location. KO lives with his family in Glastonbury on a hill overlooking the town, a fitting setting for a man charged with overlooking our state’s main interest. Plus, you can’t beat the short 45 minute commute. In other news, UCONN’s new state-of-the-art $35 million practice facility should be ready next year, offering a bit of an upgrade from the dungeon that is Gampel’s basement.
  • The Challenge. Jim Calhoun has three. Kevin Ollie has one. Three more and Jim Calhoun Way becomes Kevin Ollie Boulevard.

The Verdict

Breathe easy Husky fans, Kevin Ollie isn’t going anywhere…yet. While it is certain Ollie will end up on the sidelines of a NBA franchise one day, his mission is not complete. The collegiate level allows for the development of not only basketball skills, but life skills, a part of the process you can tell Ollie takes great pride in. His efforts have been recognized by our incoming recruits- Daniel Hamilton a 6’7 wing from Los Angeles- spoke to the “brotherhood” at UCONN as the deciding factor in his recruitment. Sam Cassell Jr, son of former NBA player Sam Cassell (a longtime friend of Ollie’s), echoed Hamilton’s sentiments and added KO was the type of coach he could play for. Ollie is not the type to lure recruits under the false pretense of “family” just to bolt to greener (literally) pastures. Don’t forget, Kevin Ollie could have remained with the OKC Thunder in a front office position upon retirement. Something drew him back to Connecticut, and that something is more than just a paycheck.

Another point to consider is the relationship between Ollie and Jim Calhoun. Ollie has said in the past Calhoun was a role model/mentor to him and credits the Hall of Fame coach for much of his success. Upon his departure, Calhoun hand-picked Ollie as his successor and gave KO the reigns to a program he started from scratch. I don’t see Ollie leaving UCONN on a whim, especially after all that was entrusted to him by his mentor. Down the road? Absolutely. And you cannot blame him. Ollie is a competitor and to win at the highest level is undeniably a goal he hopes to one day achieve. When KO does leave UCONN, he will leave the program stable and hopefully with a few more pieces of hardware. As for now, it’s Olliewood over Hollywood.