Grading Every NBA Team's Training-Camp Invitees

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIOctober 2, 2012

Grading Every NBA Team's Training-Camp Invitees

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    Maybe it's a first chance for an undrafted free-agent rookie like Maalik Wayns or one last shot for an Andray Blatche, or something in between for a guy like Sundiata Gaines. But for everyone involved, an NBA training camp provides some level of opportunity.

    Show up and show out at training camp and you're that much closer to the security of an NBA paycheck.

    Brad Miller, Udonis Haslem and Bruce Bowen are just a few noteworthy names who worked their way into the NBA after being passed up in the draft. This year's group of free agents might one day add to that list.

    We graded each team's training-camp invitees in order to measure who looks to capitalize the most.

Atlanta Hawks: B

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    Behind Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Kyle Korver and rookie John Jenkins, the Atlanta Hawks invited two players to training camp who do add depth and value at the wing position.

    James Anderson enters his third NBA season after appearing in 51 games last season for the San Antonio Spurs. Damion James, meanwhile, is an effective defender who played in seven NBA games last year for the New Jersey Nets. Both could make this team. 

    Mike Scott, the 6'8" forward selected 47th out of Virginia this past June, is also in camp, along with Keith Benson and Carldell Johnson.

Boston Celtics: B+

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    Kris Joseph, the 51st overall pick, is a long and athletic forward from Syracuse who looked every bit an NBA player in the Vegas Summer League. He headlines a list of training-camp invitees for the Boston Celtics that also includes fourth-year pro Dionte Christmas from Temple.

    Christmas averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists for the Celtics in summer-league action.

    Rob Kurz, who played 40 games for the Golden State Warriors in 2008-09, is also in camp, along with Micah Downs and Jamar Smith. 

Brooklyn Nets: A-

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    Andray Blatche is attempting to extend his once-promising NBA career by earning his way onto the Brooklyn roster. He last played for the Washington Wizards before they used their amnesty clause on him. 

    Blatche recently signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Nets—a low-risk, high-reward gamble for the team. They're hoping he regains the form that helped him average 17 points and eight rebounds in 2010-11.  

    NBA veteran Josh Childress is also in Nets camp, along with James Mays and Carleton Scott.

Charlotte Bobcats: D+

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    I'm not sure any of the Bobcats' invitees—Jeff Adrien, Paris Horne, Josh Owens and DaJuan Summers—will make an NBA team this season.

    Adrien might have the best chance. He appeared in eight games last season with the Houston Rockets and 23 the year before with Golden State. 

    Horne, a 6'3" guard, averaged 5.7 points per game for Charlotte in the Vegas Summer League.  

Chicago Bulls: C

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    Chicago needed to bring in additional help at guard, so they invited Andre Emmett. He's a fringe NBA talent who signed a 10-day contract with the Nets last season.  

Cleveland Cavaliers: B+

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    Kevin Jones from West Virginia could be the best player not drafted this past June. He was invited to camp in Cleveland along with Luke Harangody, who's appeared in 70 NBA games over the last two seasons.

    Both Jones and Harangody stand a good chance of making the opening-day roster in Cleveland.

    Kelenna Azubuike and Jeremy Pargo each have NBA experience as well. Kevin Anderson, Justin Holiday and Michael Eric round out the Cavaliers' list of training-camp invitees.

Dallas Mavericks: C+

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    Despite a remarkable career at Xavier, Tu Holloway went undrafted. But he's a tough player not to like and could earn a spot on this roster.

    Josh Akognon was solid for the Kings in Vegas, and Didier Ilunga-Mbenga has played 234 games in the league over the last seven seasons. 

Denver Nuggets: C

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    The Denver Nuggets roster is essentially filled out. They are, however, apparently pretty high on Julyan Stone, and have invited the 6'6" guard back to camp.

    Stone appeared in 22 games for the Nuggets last season as an undrafted rookie, averaging 8.1 minutes per contest.

Detroit Pistons: B-

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    Terrence Williams and Jonny Flynn were both taken in the first round of the 2009 draft. Combined, the Detroit Pistons are their eighth team in four seasons. 

    Williams has averaged seven points, three rebounds and two assists in 129 NBA games. Flynn has averaged nine points, two rebounds and four assists in 163 games.

    Both certainly have potential, but there's also a reason why they change teams every season.

Golden State Warriors: C-

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    Kent Bazemore did enough in the Vegas Summer League to earn a training-camp invite. Tarence Kinsey once played alongside LeBron James in Cleveland before taking his talents overseas.

    Carlon Brown, Lance Goulbourne and Rick Jackson round out the list of training-camp hopefuls for Golden State.

    There isn't much NBA talent in this group, but then again, there aren't too many spots to fill on the Golden State roster.

Houston Rockets: B+

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    I watched Scott Machado in Vegas Summer League and could not understand why he wasn't drafted.

    The rookie from Iona led the nation in assists last season and appears to have all the tools to be an NBA point guard. 

    NBA veteran Greg Smith was invited to camp as well, along with Kyle Fogg and Demetri McCamey.

Indiana Pacers: A-

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    Sam Young has had his moments in the NBA.

    After averaging seven points his first two seasons with Memphis, Young's numbers did dip last year in Philly. But he's still a solid NBA defender and is expected to make this roster.

    Sundiata Gaines has hit big shots in his 113 games since 2009.

    Those two headline a list of training-camp invitees that also includes Blake Ahearn, Ben Hansbrough and Luke Nevill.

Los Angeles Clippers: B-

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    The Los Angeles Clippers invited Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins back to camp. Both players possess  some upside, but are expected to spend much of this season in the D-League. The Clippers roster is tough to make these days.

Los Angeles Lakers: C

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    Gonzaga's Robert Sacre is this year's last pick of the NBA draft. At 7'0", he's almost the exact opposite of last year's Mr. Irrelevant, Isaiah Thomas.

    He has a shot at making this roster, along with Reeves Nelson from UCLA. Ronnie Aguilar and Greg Somogyi round out the list of training-camp invitees. 

Memphis Grizzlies: C+

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    D.J. Kennedy from St. John's came up for a cup of coffee last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ronald Dupree is in NBA training camp almost every year. 

    They, along with former Knicks big man Jerome Jordan, make up a group of training-camp invitees that also includes Michael Dunigan and Jarrid Famous.

Miami Heat: A-

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    Mickell Gladness and Dexter Pittman could provide depth inside this season for a Miami Heat team that needs help in the paint.

    But Josh Harrellson is a guy who I think actually will provide that depth.

    Harrellson averaged four points and four rebounds in almost 15 minutes per game last season for the Knicks. He also played in four playoff games. He should hustle his way into the bottom end of Miami's big-man rotation.

    Rodney Carney, Terrel Harris, Garrett Temple and Jarvis Varnado round out the list of training-camp invitees. Harris should make the team again this season.

Milwaukee Bucks: C-

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    Milwaukee didn't invite anybody to camp that it didn't have under contract. I suppose the Bucks are satisfied with Larry Sanders and Tobias Harris. 

Minnesota Timberwolves: C-

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    Minnesota invited Will Conroy, Mike Harris, Chris Johnson, Phil Jones, Seth Tarver and Jermaine Taylor to camp. 

    Johnson played some minutes at center last season for New Orleans. Taylor and Conroy bounced around the D-League.

    Johnson probably will make the team. I'm not sure if anyone else does.

New Orleans Hornets: C+

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    Darius Miller is an intriguing rookie. He could have started anywhere in the country last season, but instead came off the bench at Kentucky. 

    Lance Thomas impressed with his defense, rebounding and effort in Vegas this summer and could also make the team.

    Brian Roberts rounds out this group for the Hornets. 

New York Knicks: C+

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    Two long-range shooters, John Shurna and Mychel Thompson, have a chance to fill that role for the Knicks.

    Thompson opened the season last year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Shurna shot 44 percent from three-point range for Northwestern a season ago.

    Oscar Bellfield, Chris Copeland, Henry Simms, James White and Chris Smith, J.R Smith's brother, round out this list for the Knicks.

Oklahoma City Thunder: B

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    The Thunder don't need much help, but Daniel Orton is still an intriguing prospect to have in camp. DeAndre Liggins is, too. 

    Andy Rautins may not have done enough with the NBA opportunities he's already had, but he'll get a long look from Sam Presti and company, along with Hollis Thompson.

Orlando Magic: A

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    E'Twaun Moore never got the chance most people expected he would be given last season in Boston. He will get that chance this year in Orlando.

    I expect Moore to become a rotation player for the Magic.

    Armon Johnson, who played for the Nets last season, joins Moore as a training-camp invitee. So does DeQuan Jones.

Philadelphia 76ers: C+

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    Former Villanova point guard Maalik Wayns averaged 12 points and six assists in the Orlando Summer League. It was enough to earn the undrafted rookie an invite to training camp with the Sixers.

    Dan Gadzuric, Devin Searcy, Xavier Silas and journeyman Damien Wilkins are also invited. 

Phoenix Suns: C-

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    It would seem the Suns need more help than just P.J. Tucker. But I guess the 6'5" forward who played in Germany last season was the only player they had room to invite.

Portland Trail Blazers: A-

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    It will be interesting to see how Adam Morrison progresses through camp with the Trail Blazers.

    Coby Karl is a guy you can't help but root for.

    Dallas Lauderdale, a free-agent rookie from Ohio State, is a guy I could see making an NBA team in a defender/rebounder role.

    Demonte Harper joins all three in Rip City for training camp.

Sacramento Kings: D+

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    I'm not overly impressed with Cyril Awere, Tony Mitchell, Hamady Ndiaye and Willie Reed, Sacramento's list of training-camp invitees. I doubt that any of these guys will make an NBA team this season.

San Antonio Spurs: C

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    Derrick Brown is in camp with the Spurs after leading the Charlotte Bobcats in field-goal percentage last season. I realize they were the worst team ever, but still.

    Tyler Wilkerson and Wesley Witherspoon also hope to catch on with San Antonio this season.

    I'm thinking only Brown does.

Toronto Raptors: B+

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    Chris Wright, the 6'8" forward from Dayton, played in 23 games last season with the Golden State Warriors. He averaged eight minutes per game and showed flashes of NBA-caliber athleticism.

    I think he will make this Raptors team as a training-camp invitee. 

    Jamaal Magloire is a savvy veteran worth having around as well. Alan Anderson and Jerel McNeal also could have a chance to latch onto a team this season.

Utah Jazz: B-

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    Chris Quinn always seems to show up somewhere on an NBA roster. The six-year pro from Notre Dame has played 234 games in the NBA, averaging almost five points and two assists for his career.

    I don't see how a guy like Quinn hurts your team.

    The same goes for Darnell Jackson. D-Block's a tough player who'll do whatever you ask him to do inside.

    Brian Butch and Trey Gilder round out the list of training-camp invitees for the Jazz.

Washington Wizards: C

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    Brian Cook has played nine years in the NBA as a stretch 4, making 686 three-pointers. He's hoping to knock down enough long jumpers in training camp to catch on in Washington for a few more seasons.  

    Shavlik Randolph has shown promise at times, but is not a lock to make this roster. Neither is Earl Barron or Steven Gray. 


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