A few days ago, Rohan posted our initial roster and accompanying schedule. We're already familiar with Austin Rivers, Darius Miller, Lance Thomas, Brian Roberts, and likely, Pierre Jackson and Jeff Withey, but what about the rest of the roster? As a quick note, Matt Lojeski will unfortunately not be joining the roster as he's decided to remain in Belgium.
1) Jon Brockman - The University of Washington all-time leading rebounder has, to this point, had a very inauspicious NBA career. After being drafted by the Blazers, he spent time with the Kings and Bucks before moving onto the Rockets. Thirty minutes into his very first practice in training camp, a resistance band slipped off his foot, striking him in his right eye and he had to be rushed to the hospital. Brockman couldn't see out of that eye for nearly a month and sadly, was waived off Houston's roster.
Fortunately, he did recover and secured a roster spot last year in Europe playing for Limoges, a French Pro-A team. For the first time in his professional career, Brockman played a full allotment of minutes and averaged 11.1 points (on 48.1 FG% + 66.2 FT%) and 10.7 rebounds (easily tops in the league). Despite the low steal (.7) and block (.4) numbers, he developed a following for his energetic and physical play. However, it cannot be overlooked he stands only 6'7'', and as such, the roster would benefit more from a legitimate center than a bruising power forward.
2) Will Cherry - This Montana Grizzly graduate recently wrapped up his collegiate career, finishing as the school's all-time steals leader, 4th in assists and 7th in scoring. As a junior, he won the Big Sky defensive player of the year award and was invited to the prestigious Deron Williams camp in Las Vegas, where he held his own against the top 16 collegiate guards in the nation.
Coming into his senior season, he had hoped to follow in the footsteps of Damian Lillard, but a broken foot limited him to 22 games, and thus derailed his chances on being a 2013 draft selection. Prior to the injury, he was regarded as a good defender, an adept point guard with excellent court awareness and possessing a strong basketball IQ. The negatives largely revolved around his offense, especially after last season where he posted below average percentages across the board. If his foot has fully healed, he could make for a sneaky sleeper for a team in search of depth.
3) D'or Fischer - This 31-year old veteran has had trouble latching onto an NBA roster. He spent one season in the NBDL (2005-6), but primary, has battled overseas for a host of teams including, but not limited to, stops in Poland, Germany, Israel, and most recently, Ukraine. Fischer has made an All-star game (Germany), won a rebounding title (Belgium) and had several other notable achievements. Yet realistically, he shouldn't be considered much more than Summer League filler as his skill set and athleticism are unremarkable by NBA standards.
4) Tamir Jackson - As a 4-year player for the Rice Owls, Jackson became the first to eclipse the 4,000 minute mark for his school. Not coincidentally, he ranks 6th all time in points and 4th in assists and steals. Yet, he isn't much of a prospect, especially after suffering through a very disappointing junior season. The problem is he simply struggles shooting the ball, from all over the floor. The Pelicans have plenty of guards, ones with much more proficient offensive games -- more Summer League filler.
5) Max Kouguere - The 26 year old is a decent international prospect, having played with several clubs in Europe. He is coming off of his most meaningful season with Le Havre (France) where, in just over 27 minutes a game, he averaged 11.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and .9 steals. Having been known as one of the league's better dunkers, his shooting percentages mildly stand out: 60% 2-point FG% and 36.5 3-point FG%. Working against him, it appears he was quite selective, attempting only 6 shots a game (3 from beyond the arc).
Kouguere offers some deep sleeper potential due to his shiny efficiency, but, for his sake, he'll need to be firing on all cylinders. The Pelicans will likely be committed to giving Darius Miller the lionshare of minutes at the 3.
6) Mindaugas Kupsas - At 22 years of age, standing 7'2'', with a wingspan of 7'3'', Kupsas offers potential. With Lietkablish last season, he averaged roughly 10 points and 5.7 rebounds, in a shade under 22 minutes. The Lithuanian exhibits decent mobility, skill and touch in his variety of post moves and on his jumper. Check out this footage where he goes up against Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas:
Without a doubt, he could stand to gain more weight, and noteably muscle, but evidence of his skills are there. In addition, this past season, he showed significant improvement for the first time in his professional career in blocks. After never averaging more than 1 a game, he jumped to 1.7 in the Baltic League.
If the Pelicans are willing to take on a project, this guy will likely be their best bet. Hey, if the Spurs are interested in this guy, he could very well be worth a shot.
7) Cameron Moore - Originally a walk-on, Moore finished his collegiate career at UAB ranked 2nd all time in blocked shots and double-doubles and 4th in rebounds. At times, he's displayed decent range on his jumpshot and a few post moves, but mainly, his offensive game has lacked polish, and more worrisome, strength. A number of fans noted his penchant for avoiding contact, rarely attempting to throw down dunks in traffic. Moreover, many of his blocks have come from the weak side, rather than like one would prefer from guarding the middle.
Bigs, who stand 6'10'' but try too much to play like smalls, are problematic. They rarely achieve the required proficiency, and instead, fail to develop the necessary skills on the parts of the floor they should be focusing on. Moore's game screams D-League material, but I hope he proves me wrong, just like he did college recruiters, in the coming week.
8) Josh Owens - A little more than a year ago, Owens tantalized scouts with his athleticism at the Brooklyn combine, recording a standing jump of over 40 inches. However, he went undrafted in the 2012 NBA draft, as his rebounding and block numbers at Stanford were well below average.
Last year, the Idaho Stampede of the D-League claimed him and, in 18 minutes a game, he went on to average 5.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and .5 blocks. Disturbingly, he lost his starting role and a fair bit of minutes, just a few months into the season. Since it appears he always be much more of an athlete than a basketball player, I expect even less out of Owens than Moore.
9) Elston Turner Jr. - The son of an 8-year NBA veteran, Turner Jr. emerged as one of the nation's top scorers in his senior season at Texas A&M. The Aggie was third in the SEC in scoring, averaging 17.5 points from a shooting line of 42.6/36.1/84.8 (FG%/3FG%/FT%).
However, despite possessing the prototypical shooting guard build, Turner Jr. is considered to be one dimensional. His handle, defensive skills and getting to the line are all below average. For a 23 year old, one would expect a much more rounded game, proving he could possibly adjust to the NBA level.
Although, the prevailing tone of the article seems apathetic towards the majority of the aforementioned list, it shouldn't necessarily be considered a negative. Rightfully, the Pelicans already have a host of players who should be grabbing our attention - Rivers, Miller, Pierre Jackson and Withey. Also, it should serve as a testament to our roster -- that we don't need to be combing the depths of the basketball world to unearth a much needed gem.
So who is your favorite sleeper? If you don't have one, which player's performance are you most interested in? Do you believe in radical improvement by Austin Rivers? Jeff Withey standing like a man among boys? Darius Miller showing he might contribute meaningful minutes this upcoming season?