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NBA merry-go-round, Part 2
Charley Rosen / Special to FOXSports.com
With roughly 10 weeks to go before training camps convene, the merry-go-round is spinning a little faster. Here's the dope on the latest major deals:
Nazr Mohammed — Pistons
Can do: Battle for offensive rebounds. Come from the weak-side to block shots. Occasionally hit right-hand jump hooks and short jumpers. Play hard.
Can't do: Make any kind of shot (even layups) with consistency. Rotate with sufficient alacrity and anticipation on defense. Avoid foul trouble. Pass. Dribble. Hang on to passes, rebounds, and loose balls.
Must do: Undergo a surgical procedure that adds at least two fingers to each hand.
Prognosis: An excellent third-string center whose earnest hustle can make a difference for extremely short periods in dire emergencies. The more he plays, the more his flaws are revealed.
Tyson Chandler — Hornets
Can do: Run, jump, rebound, and block shots. Spin off post-defenders to catch lob passes and then dunk. Shoot a decent percentage on face-up jumpers up to 17-feet. In the low-post, shoot jumpers over either shoulder, but prefers to take left-handed jump hooks from right-box.
Can't do: Pass. Dribble. Avoid being suckered by pump fakes, the result being chronic foul trouble. Hold his own when getting pushed and bullied by every other big man in the league.
Must do: Understand that he'll never be a prime-time scorer. Camp out in the weight-room. Get tougher physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Prognosis: After five years in the league, he's still shy of his 24th birthday and remains a work in progress. Maybe this is the year for Chandler to grow up and become a dependable, defensive-oriented big man. But his lack of inner drive continues to make this a long shot. Still, his size, youth, and lively body add up to a risk worth taking.
P.J. Brown — Bulls
Can do: Play smart, aggressive post defense. Run the floor surprisingly well for a 37-year-old. Knock down mid-range face-up jumpers. Pass.
Can't do: Reverse his penchant for leaning so hard on the post-up player he's defending that he's susceptible to spin moves. Reverse the diminishment of his skills as he ages.
Must do: Be satisfied playing 15-20 useful minutes per game. Become a mentor to the Bulls' young bigs.
Prognosis: A willing sacrificer and teacher, Brown's contributions will be valuable both on and off the court.
Marquis Daniels — Pacers
Can do: Drive, slash, penetrate and pull. Rebound. Post smaller guards. Run and jump. Show active, quick hands on defense.
Can't do: Shoot with any consistency from long range. Pass and handle the ball with care. Play solid, non-gambling defense.
Must do: Slow down and find a comfort zone in half-court sets. Develop more court-awareness. Shoot at least a thousand jumpers every day in the off-season.
Prognosis: If the Pacers are seriously intent on drastically uptempoing their game plan, then Daniels will thrive. However, Daniels is young enough, athletic enough, and long enough to eventually become an excellent player in any system.
Austin Croshere — Mavericks
Can do: Play a strong, solid, hustling game. Bang with the bigs in the battle of the boards. Use head- and pump-fakes in the low post to set up a step-through move. From outside, hit treys. Utilize an excellent jab step and a quick first step to drive the middle. Play defense with enthusiasm.
Can't do: Show quick enough lateral movement to avoid chronic foul trouble. Hit his treys with consistency. Pass. Handle.
Must do: Keep doing what he's always done, but demonstrate more consistency in his long-range dialing.
Prognosis: Can be a key player off the bench. Certainly a major improvement over Keith Van Horn.
Derek Fisher — Jazz
Can do: Hit open jumpers, especially in the clutch. Hit pull-up jumpers, especially in the clutch. Play smart and tough. Make up for lack of foot-speed by playing excellent position defense, with a specialty in drawing charging fouls. Be a supportive and sensible teammate. Be totally coachable.
Can't do: Adequately defend jet-setters. Finish in a crowd. Penetrate. Run.
Must do: Everything that Jerry Sloan tells him — which will be no problem whatsoever.
Prognosis: The perfect point guard for Utah's slow-paced offense, especially with Andre Kirilenko behind him to erase many of his defensive failures.
Devin Brown — Warriors
Can do: Run, penetrate and pull, create his own shots. Show an increasing ability to bury three-balls. Play adequate defense.
Can't do: Pass efficiently. Run a team. Avoid careless turnovers. Must do - Become more of a pass-first point guard.
Prognosis: With the every-man-for-himself Warriors, Brown's lack of court-awareness will hardly be noticed. However, with Baron Davis totally monopolizing the ball, Brown won't get as many touches as he wants, and will yield to the temptation of forcing shots (and passes) whenever the ball does come his way.
Shammond Williams — Lakers
Can do: Bag spot-up shots from mid- and long-range. Hit his money shot — a step-back jumper going left — with regularity. Drive with good quickness both ways.
Can't do: Finish. Pass. Play sound defense.
Must do: Make open shots. Avoid egregious mistakes. Learn the triangle.
Prognosis: An okay back-up point who can do everything better than Smush Parker except make layups in a crowd.
Mike James — T-Wolves
Can do: Bury jumpers from everywhere, particularly from downtown. Drive and dish.
Can't do: Run a team. Play satisfactory defense.
Must do: Stop gambling for steals. Be willing to set up an offense and be open to making more than touchdown passes.
Prognosis: The T-Wolves will be James' sixth team in his six NBA seasons. There's still a lot of "street" in his personality and he consequently doesn't work and play well with others. Will he submit to being a second-option behind Garnett? If James can be domesticated, he could be a major factor in the T-Wolves' resurrection as a playoff team.
Jacque Vaughn — Spurs
Can do: Push the ball, drive and dish. Cross-over right-to-left, get to the hoop, and either finish or draw fouls. Execute an offense. Pressure the ball on defense. Can't do — Hit his jumpers consistently. Show good judgment on his drives (wants to take the ball all the way).
Must do: Run the offense, hit open shots, make good decisions with the ball.
Prognosis: While he's not the scorer that Van Exel was supposed to be (and used to be), Vaughn's talents and proclivities are a perfect fit behind Parker. At the very least, he's certainly miles better than Beno.
Greg Buckner — Mavericks
Can do: Hit perimeter jumpers. Drive hard right — when drives left, will spin back right. Rebound well for a wing-man. Use spin moves when posted on the left block. Play tough, active defense. Always compete.
Can't do: Handle. Pass. Match the foot-speed of the league's quicker wings. Must do - Keep up with the Mavs running game. Make his available shots. Be satisfied with erratic playing time and infrequent touches.
Prognosis: An excellent pickup. Will get Adrian Griffin's time, but is tougher and a half-step quicker. Can be an extremely valuable defensive stopper.
Francisco Elson — Spurs
Can do: Run the floor like a guard. Snatch quick-jumping rebounds. Hit face-up jumpers from up to 18-feet. Uses a right-hand jump hook or a turn-around jumper over his left shoulder when in the low-blocks. Block an occasional lazy shot.
Can't do: Out-muscle his peers. Pass. Handle. Play much straight-up defense.
Must do: Get stronger and tougher. Learn to make the kind of precise passes that the Spurs' offense requires.
Prognosis: A lightweight big man who's most comfortable on the high post. Another second-stringer as the Spurs still search for an ideal front-court mate for TD.
Jackie Butler — Spurs
Can do: Post-up with some success, and score with power moves with his right hand. Rebound adequately. Play hard. Take up space in the paint.
Can't do: Pass. Handle. Move quickly either vertically or horizontally. Defend.
Must do: Avoid making mistakes. Take fullest advantage of his post-up opportunities. Get in shape.
Prognosis: His interior game will be limited when he's paired with Duncan. Otherwise, he gives the Spurs their only other post-up presence. Another back-up big.
Flip Murray — Pistons
Can do: Create his own shots, especially pull-up jumpers going either way (although he prefers left). Play with only an average degree of athleticism. Score, score, and keep scoring.
Can't do: Shoot three-pointers with any degree of consistency. Handle (except to create his own scoring opportunities). Pass. Defend.
Must do: Come off the bench and fill the hoop during the Pistons' increasingly frequent scoring droughts.
Prognosis: A strictly one-dimensional player, who must shoot at (or near) 50 percent to justify his defenseless playing time.
Marcus Banks — Suns
Can do: Run with anybody. Penetrate, pass, hit jumpers (including standstill 3s). Push the ball. Finish on the run. Play super-pressure defense.
Can't do: Get along with his coaches and his teammates. Play with consistency. Play off-the-ball defense with the same intensity as he does on-the-ball.
Must do: Play under control, and forgo his constant seeking to penetrate even in half-court sets. Smile, sacrifice, say "Please" and "Thank you."
Prognosis: This guy is one of the most talented point-guards in the league. He could be an All-Star, or he could destroy the Suns' harmony. A big gamble for Phoenix, but worth the risk.
Darius Songaila — Wizards
Can do: Make open shots (except for three-pointers). Play hard all the time. Defend with energy. Rebound.
Can't do: Play with neither razzle nor dazzle. Make complicated passes. Handle under pressure. Make clutch shots.
Must do: Avoid unnecessary fouls. Make all the little hustle plays that nobody else (except Jeffries) does.
Prognosis: Coaches love coaching Songaila because he makes so few mistakes, and players love playing with him because he doesn't need the ball to play well. With Arenas and Jamison taking all the clutch shots, Songaila will be an extremely productive player.
Othella Harrington — Bobcats
Can do: Shoot jumpers from mid-range. Move without the ball. Rebound. Block shots. Pass out of the low-post — where he'll score with lefty jump hook and turn-around jumpers over his right shoulder, also with pump fakes, and up-and-under moves. Bang and play with energy.
Can't do: Do anything threatening with his right hand. Move quickly.
Must do: Appreciate being an NBA roster at a rapidly aging 32 and in his 12th season. Not make any waves whatsoever in his reduced PT.
Prognosis: A veteran big man willing to throw his body into the action in limited minutes is always a plus for any team.
Kirk Snyder — Rockets
Can do: Score points in bunches. Exhibit NBA-level athleticism.
Can't do: Tell the difference between a good and a bad shot. Play a lick of defense. Play unselfishly. Shoot with any degree of consistency.
Must do: Turn his career, i.e., his attitude, around.
Prognosis: Has the potential to be an excellent sixth man, but he needs a stronger coach than Jeff Van Gundy to facilitate his development. That said, it's doubtful that Snyder will finish the season in Houston.
J. R. Smith — Nuggets
Can do: Be a deadly shooter in spurts. Make stand-still treys. Run, jump, and dunk with outstanding athleticism.
Can't do: Shoot anything but his mouth off with any consistency. Play hard all the time. Pass. Handle under pressure.
Must do: Grow up in a hurry or else wind up on George Karl's spit list — and on the bench.
Prognosis: This precocious almost-21-year-old represents the worst of the NBA. An obnoxious hoopling who hasn't done anything to justify his paycheck, who has an inflated sense of his abilities, and who has minimal respect for anybody who tells him to do anything that he doesn't want to do.