On Morris Almond and the Hard Knocks of Scorers on the Fringe
Morris Almond's NBA career to date has lasted but 34 games and less than 300 minutes. He's bounced between the D-League, Spain, Italy and NBA training camps, with gigs of every kind in tow except for the one he's truly chasing.
That's because Almond is—first, foremost and always—a scorer. He eclipsed the D-League's finest to grab scoring titles, dropped 50-point outings just because he could and built more than enough of a statistical résumé to theoretically impress scouts. Yet when those rare NBA opportunities finally did open up, the general managers that be elected to bring back retreads, big men and hustle players—the known, the projects or the low-maintenance.
Almond was never a particularly problematic player, but it seemed as though his incredible scoring marks in the D-League functioned opposite of their intent; rather than impress scouts with his ability to fill it up, skeptical NBA talent evaluators opted time and time again for more limited players with less shot-dependent games.
But finally, Almond is getting another legitimate chance. According to Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside, the Washington Wizards will soon sign Almond for the remainder of the season to replace the recently released Roger Mason Jr., and although a roster spot doesn't guarantee any actual playing time, Almond's first NBA breakthrough since 2009 warrants mention.
One can only hope that this audition comes on different terms and that Almond—despite being a D-League call-up—is allowed to play his game. No fringe NBA player should be gifted shot attempts, but considering that scoring lies at the crux of Almond's performance, his standing shouldn't totally preclude him from attempting to access his most compelling pro-level skill.
After all, although there's an ocean between NBA players and D-Leaguers in terms of pay and reputation, is there really such a profound difference between Almond and a volume-scorer like his soon-to-be teammate Jordan Crawford? The latter may be more talented and have the benefit of a pro reputation, but considering how prolific Almond has consistently been on the minor-league level, is there any specific reason to believe that he would suddenly see his scoring savvy completely neutered in the NBA?
Almond's role wouldn't be the same, and neither would his production. But he deserves a chance to score as he's proven he can: as a shooter, as a creator and as a slasher. General standing simply matters far less than specific skill, even if Almond's career to this point would suggest otherwise. It's been a spell since Almond could legitimately call himself an NBA player, but the lines that separate scorers of his ilk from the inefficient shot-takers that populate big-league rosters is fine indeed.
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