Michael Grange, the Globe and Mail’s Raptors beat writer has a good piece on Jamario Moon in today’s G&M.
In case you aren’t a basketball fan and have never heard of Jamario, he’s a 27 year old rookie for the Raptors who has snuck into the starting line up and has given the Raps athleticism and defence at the 3 that they desperately needed. Before this summer he had never made an NBA training camp. He was a high school star and never played NCAA because he couldn’t get himself academically qualified. Anyway, he played for 18 teams in 8 different leagues, including a 7 game stint in the ABA before he left because his team wasn’t paying him, and a 200 game stint with the Harlem Globetrotters.
So why is this relevant to the Rainmen? There’s two reasons:
- He is one of the biggest human interest stories in the NBA this season which means he’s an exception to the rule. Minor players don’t make the NBA except in extreme circumstances. Most players jump around from team to team and league to league in the minor leagues until they eventually get 9-5 jobs. This isn’t like basebal, and when a players does make it from the minors to the NBA it is a huge deal and we hear about it constantly.
- Grange explains to us why it is that players that never played in college programs don’t even get taken seriously at NBA try outs. The first reason is that they get labeled as Minor League Guys and teams don’t look at them, the other reason is more important for guys like Devino Williams and Derico Wiggington to keep in mind:
A summer league tryout with the Milwaukee Bucks went nowhere, so he started his minor-league professional career in Mobile, Ala., making $600 a week playing in the NBA Development League, a kid from the sticks playing with men for money.
It didn’t go particularly well.
“He didn’t know the most basic things, stuff like hedging screens or what to do in a 4-on-4 shell drill that most basketball players know, he didn’t know,” says Dell Demps, as assistant coach in Mobile and now the director of professional personnel for the San Antonio Spurs. “He wasn’t taught that. He wasn’t in a college environment. He just didn’t know.”
Williams has said that he thinks that this is a stepping stone to the NBA, and Wiggington-Downey has been clear that he wants to go farther in basketball and use the ABA as a start. But does anyone actually believe that those guys are learning enough from Rick Lewis to get taken seriously if they get a D-League tryout? He is a high school coach who got lucky, and that is not exactly going to help these young guys. When it comes to development, either one of them would be better off at a program like St. FX or Carlton in the CIS with a good coach who can teach them how to play. This is even more true of Wiggington-Downey who isn’t getting off the bench for the Rainmen. Obviously the NCAA (Div. I or II) would be ideal, but they both forfeited eligibility by turning “pro.”