Photo Courtesy New Orleans Hornets.
The New Orleans Hornets have signed former NBA Development League players D.J. Strawberry and Darryl Watkins for training camp according to a press release from the team. This signing, along with the recent invite of Mustafa Shakur, puts the Hornets training camp roster currently at fourteen players.
Strawberry was the 59th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns after being to the ACC All-Defensive team at Maryland, but he lasted just one season - 33 games played - in the NBA. Since then, he's played in Italy and the D-League while putting up middling numbers.
Strawberry has primarily been known to be a defensive presence, but he showcased a few new skills in the D-League this past season which leads me to believe that the NBA could be in his future again. He didn't light the world on fire this past season after joining the Bighorns in January, but he did look alright as a point guard - something that I didn't originally expect him to showcase - and averaged 5.5 assists as the backup off the bench. He also put up the best field goal percentage of his career, a scorching 52%, but the 34% three-point percentage shows that his range still isn't really there - he's just better at getting to the bucket.
This summer, Strawberry played for the Los Angeles Lakers in Vegas, averaging 13 points in just over 26 minutes of action - though if he'd been able to hit a few more of his jump shots (44% FG, 14% 3-pt) his scoring average could have been significantly higher.
Watkins, on the other hand, hasn't been quite as busy as Strawberry. A perennial training camp invite (2007 in Sacramento, 2008 with the Los Angeles Clippers and 2009 with the Cleveland Cavaliers) since coming out of Syracuse, the 6-foot-11 center has yet to really show what he can do when given playing time.
He began his rookie season by appearing in nine games with the Kings before being released and entering the NBA Development League for some seasoning. His D-League debut was less than stellar, split between the Los Angeles D-Fenders and Iowa Energy where he totaled 6.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in right around 20 minutes of action. The following season, he put up some tremendous numbers in China (like every other American in China) which earned him a training camp invite with the Cavaliers.
After being cut by the Cavaliers prior to the season beginning, Watkins had planned to re-join the D-League and hope for a call-up. Unfortunately, he discovered he had staph infection according to an interview he did with Adam Zagoria. This led Watkins to missing the entire season while healing, though he was able to make a cameo this summer with the Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks AND San Antonio Spurs.
Watkins most impressive performance came with the Spurs as he averaged 5.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.6 fouls in just under 23 minutes of action per game. Well, I guess those numbers aren't that impressive... but you can't teach height.