As part of our draft coverage, we are profiling wings and big men the Celtics might be interested in with the 19th pick. Next up is Damion James, a forward from Texas. We made these profiles using our own personal knowledge of the prospects combined with research from numerous sites, including NBADraft.net and Draft Express.
Draft Express projection: 20th pick NBADraft.net: 27th pick
The Celtics had James in for a workout yesterday, and reportedly really like his versatility. And versatile he is. James is long, athletic, and has a nose for the ball. Despite playing on the perimeter, James averaged 9.3 rpg for his four year college career at Texas (he DID play more power forward as a freshman). As a senior, he averaged 18 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. At 6’7 3/4″, he’s average height for an NBA small forward, but he has a wingspan of 7’3/4″. James uses his wingspan to his advantage: he has a very high release point on his almost unblockable jump shot, and he is very active defensively.
Offensively, James is a jack of all trades, master of none type player. He can shoot with consistency and accuracy… but isn’t a deadeye shooter. He can slash to the hoop with authority… but his somewhat suspect ball-handling keeps him from being an elite penetrator. He isn’t selfish… but doesn’t get very many assists. James’ game is well-rounded, but its hard to point to any part of his game and say “AH! He’ll definitely excel doing that in the NBA!”
Defensively, Draft Express notes, James has been knocked as a bad defender. His lateral quickness isn’t great, making him a sort of ‘tweener on defense. He’s seen as too slow to defend perimeter players and too small to defend post men. That view of James’ defensive game is wrong, says Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony. In Givony’s expert opinion, James is a far better defender than given credit for. Though his lateral quickness isn’t great, he makes up for it with his terrific length, outstanding hustle, and high level of awareness.
There’s little to dislike about James, besides that he played four years of college ball and probably doesn’t have as high a ceiling as a younger player. If that is true, is that such a problem? James is ready to contribute right away, tough as nails, and has a game that’s tailor-made to make him a solid role player in the league. You can doubt his ceiling, but I find it difficult to imagine James being unable to contribute in some fashion when he gets to the NBA. He’s not destined to be a star, but James could settle into a Wilson Chandler-type role in the big league. And back to the reasoning that James doesn’t have a lot of room to grow? His ppg the past four years: 7.6, 13.2, 15.4, 18.0. Still think he isn’t improving?