Last week, the basketball world came together for the 2016 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. From executives and scouts, different representatives from nearly all NBA teams, to D-League executives/coaches, agents, international executives, media, and countless others, everyone kept their eyes peeled for some potential diamonds in the rough.
Following the conclusion of the collegiate season, the PIT presents all with a very competitive five-on-five environment to have yet another look at these promising young guns before it comes time for NBA Draft workouts, the combine, and the draft itself. Though some of the more known prospects are already set for lottery selection and/or later in the first round, the players at PIT have the opportunity to up their stock despite previously flying under the radar. A strong performance could very well elevate them to not only getting drafted period, but perhaps even earlier in the second round as well. Many scouts there said that one player in particular (Arizona's Ryan Anderson) may have very well catapulted himself into late first round consideration with some rather stellar play during his time in Virginia last week. Nevertheless, last year alone, five PIT participants were drafted. The stage for exposure was set.
But in regards to potential D-League talent, this is an arguably even bigger opportunity. The odds of garnering draft consideration through PIT are not exactly in the favor of the masses, though it is still possible. That said, prospects who capture the intrigue of an NBA executive or two may be worthy of a big league training camp invite, with the intention of the NBA club getting an extended look at such players via their D-League affiliate soon after. As many have proven, this also isn't a bad path to take. In recent years, the likes of Tim Frazier and Langston Galloway have gotten exposure at PIT, only to venture off to the minor league and subsequently earn NBA call-ups. The journey begins in Portsmouth.
With that in mind, here's a look at some players, who, while still showing some prromise at PIT, could undoubtedly benefit (and perhaps excel, all the while) from playing in the D-League next season.
Ryan Anderson, Arizona
As mentioned, Anderson was tremendous. Whereas a good handful of players looked to be a step behind, Anderson was a man amongst boys. At 6'9" and 230 pounds, Anderson not only boasts an NBA ready body, but knows how to use it as well. He has a good post up game, can draw fouls, and cash in at the charity stripe accordingly. A rather physical player, confidence is not something Anderson seems to lack. As a potential second-rounder, he could make an NBA team but still utilize assignment time.
Gabe York, Arizona
York wasn't necessarily someone that a lot of decision-makers were looking at, but they should have been. York was one of the purest shooters in the entire tournament. He spreads the floor and keeps defenses on their toes with an almost automatic release from long range. His form is a thing of beauty. A 40% collegiate shooter in four seasons, York averaged over 15 points as a senior. He even displayed a good handle and and some fancy footwork. He may need to work a bit harder to balance his overall game out, but York's shooting prowess was second to none.
Maodo Lo, Columbia
Originally born in Germany, Lo is said to be thinking about cashing in on a deal overseas over a potential D-League gig. But gosh, would the NBA's minor league be lucky to have him. Much like York, Lo displayed a very sound understanding of what his role should be. Lo had quickness, agility, great instincts, and a fantastic handle on the ball. He could constantly be found guiding his teammates on both ends on the floor, calling out plays, etc. Lo is a very smart player, and it showed. His basketball IQ is sky high.
Gavin Ware, Mississippi State
One of Lo's teammates during the tournament, Ware undoubtedly benefited from Lo's terrific vision. At 6'9" and 260 pounds, Ware was one of the bigger bodies at PIT. A fierce competitor, opposing defenders seemed to shy away when Ware attacked the basket. An intelligent youngster, Ware constantly had a good read of how Lo was running the offense, and could always be found around the basket ready to cash in on high percentage buckets. Skillful big men are scare in the D-League, so it'd be nice to see what Ware could do.
Roosevelt Jones, Butler
Without a doubt, Jones was the tougher competitor in the entire tournament. Quite the pesky sucker, Jones' physicality helped him pester opposing scorers to no end. He covered all ground, constantly applying pressure and leaving little room for his man to do much of anything on the offensive end. Obviously an intense player, Jones was running up and down, applying a full court press on his man relatively often. At 6'4" and 230 pounds, he proved capable of defending multiple positions. He was a valuable player to have on the floor.
James Farr, Xavier
One of the rare bigger bodies at Portsmouth, the 6'10, 250 Farr attempted to use his physicality to have his way inside. His instincts and awareness may need some work, but perhaps that will come as he flourishes into a professional athlete. A solid offensive rebounder, Farr was not only aggressive on the boards, but knew when to follow through with shots underneath the basket. He cashed in at the charity stripe at an efficient and impressive clip for a big man.
Isaiah Cousins, Oklahoma
Cousins is a really intriguing prospect because he displays skills for a player at either guard position. The key for him will be utilizing such talents together to become stronger at one position in particular, once he figures out what his respective niche is. A quick guard with a very good handle, Cousins can beat defenders off the dribble and penetrate to the basket. It'd be nice to see him penetrate more often as a means of opening up opportunities for his teammates, as opposed to simply attacking the basket to score himself. He needs to use the weapons around him.
Other standouts: AJ English (Iona), Ryan Spangler (Oklahoma), Kyle Collinsworth (Brigham Young), and Juan'ya Green (Hofstra).