The Maine Red Claws find themselves right in the thick of the playoff race, but are still on the outside looking in. That hasn't stopped a handful of NBA hopefuls from having very good seasons thus far. Here are some scouting reports on those very good examples.
Chris Babb G 6'5" 225 2-14-90 (23) Iowa State
Babb is a shooting guard with a strong, wiry muscular frame. He is a very solid all-around player and described by Coach Mike Taylor as a "coaches dream".
The Iowa State product hit 4-5 three-pointers in eight minutes of play and was one of the last players cut at the end of the pre-season. Babb is a very effective catch and shoot guy; a big portion of his shooting game is beyond the three-point arc; presently shooting 32% from three, but he is probably capable of even greater output on the offensive end. Babb's actions are good and he runs the floor well on both ends; has good quickness getting to the rim and finishing in traffic. Babb is under the radar as a defender; he is physical and not afraid of contact. He does a solid job of keeping the ball in front of him and showing good footwork and later movements. Team concepts, IQ and movements on the floor are all very good.
Babb was a member of the 2013 Phoenix Suns Summer League team in Las Vegas, before joining the Boston Celtics for the 2013 pre-season. He appeared in 33 games for Iowa State in 2012-2013, averaging 9.1 points and 3.4 rebounds, while earning Big 12 All-Defense honors. Babb played two years at Penn State (2008-2010), sat out the 2010-2011 season as a redshirt, and then finishes his career with two seasons at Iowa State.
Babb is someone that does enough things to merit being on the floor a lot. He can shoot and defend; offensive efficiency is good, while his shooting numbers will continue to improve. Babb is someone that can play in the NBA, in this writer's opinion.
Chris Wright F 6'8" 225 9-30-88 (25) Dayton
Wright is a slasher-type with a solid strong frame and a thick, semi-wide lower half; body type resembles Metta World Peace. While he doesn't do anything outstanding, Wright is one of the most consistent players in the D-League. His strength is getting to the rim and finishing with both hands. Wright has fair body control; he's not an explosive player but is able to get to the rim without much in terms of changing directions. Often ends up drifting out of the paint without using change of direction type of moves. Gets to the free throw line quite a bit and shoots a decent clip from the line (72%). Wright is a fair ball handler in the open floor. He lacks physicality to his game and struggled in defending the post; too much flat footed and straight up and down in his stance.
Wright spent the 2013 pre-season with the Toronto Raptors. He was also a member of the Raptors summer league team in Las Vegas and the Indiana Pacers summer league team in Orlando. Wright played with Maine in 41 games in 2012-2013, averaging 18.1 points while shooting .522 from the field, 8.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He was selected to the 2013 D-League all-star game and was named D-League Player of the Week twice during last season. Wright earned a call-up from the Golden State Warriors in 2011 and appeared in 24 games, averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds. Later that season, he played with the Dakota Wizards and appeared in nine regular season games, averaging 18.1 points.
Wright is not much a shooter and has limited range, although he will step away from the basket at times. Wright is one of the most consistent players in the D-League. His skill set (slasher to the rim) is what many feel will hurt his chances of playing at the NBA level. Lack of quickness hurts him in terms of NBA projection, while lack of physicality leads me to believe that he would struggle defending post players in the NBA. It's hard to overlook one of the steadiest performers in the D-League.
Frank Gaines G 6'3" 195 7-7-90 (23) IPFW
Gaines is a combo guard with a lean, muscular build; resembles Jason Terry physically. Maine utilized him as a PG, but he is more of a shooter and scorer. Gaines is left-handed and has both mid-range and three-point range. His strength is coming off screens for mid-range shots; favors right side of floor. Three-point shooting abilities are solid; he is efficient and understands shot selection and fitting in with the flow of the game. Gaines tends to drift on his shot; even without the presence of a defender ... it indicates to this writer that he is lacking pre-shot prep (i.e. getting low, hands ready, not reaching for ball). Gaines moves well without the ball. On-ball defense is decent; not much in terms of hard pressure, although Maine system does not emphasize applying hard ball pressure.
Gaines is the all-time leading scorer in IPFW history with 1,841 points. He appeared in 32 games in 2012-2013, averaging 19.8 points, 4 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He was named to Summit League all-tournament team and All-Summit League first-team.
Ty Walker C 6'11" 230 8-7-89 (24) Wake Forest
Walker is a very raw, defensive oriented center with shot blocking skills. He physically resembles Marcus Camby but is very raw offensively. His "go to" move is a left-handed jump hook, which is still a work in progress; getting more comfortable with it. Walker does a real good job of establishing the ball deep in the paint; just working on what to do when he receives it ... doesn't finish well at this point. Walker's long, lanky frame is physically weak. He is a real aggressive shot blocker with good instincts and positioning. Walker is also a pretty good defensive rebounder; can get better on that end. His understanding of concepts and positioning is raw, including defending screen and roll and limited communication skills. He was slow in trying to bump cutters and allowing offensive players good position (and getting caught on their backs). The 24-year-old Walker, in my opinion, is raw but with upside. He needs a lot more skill development and needs to better understand the game. Walker averages 6.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in 26.5 minutes of action this season. He's worth monitoring his progress though.