Very interesting pick-up. I wondered what had happened t this guy. A few years ago, he led UNC to a number one ranking right before the NCAA tournament. But then he broke a wrist, either in the last game of the year or in the first round of the tournament and the Tarheels flamed out in his absence a few games later. he was considered the best PG in the country and I think still holds the assists record in the ACC -- over 10 a game, I think.
An odd player in some ways. He plays an "old man's" game at PG. He's neither a high-flyer nor a speed-demon. But he has uncanny instincts and feel for the game. Someone compared him to Steve Blake with slightly better passing ability? No way. This guy can make passes Steve Blake wouldn't even attempt. Steve is an okay passer, bu this guy has much better court vision, IMO. Blake also is an average ballhandler. This guy is much better, IMO. He does take more risks with the ball, so he needs to keep that under control because the last thing this team needs is more TOs. I think he's more like Ricky Rubio in terms of court vision, and passing ability.
He didn't really shoot very much at UNC so it was hard to get a good read on his long ball. He seems to have improved a lot since then, judging by his D-league stats. He will get a lot of open looks until he proves to teams that he can shoot the jumper consistently, so hopefully he keeps trending upward. He does have good enough size to look over the top of most PGs. His handles are excellent with either hand (and is especially good passing with either hand off the dribble). He's one of those guys that look kind of slow and herky-jerky and then he flips his wrist and the ball suddenly materializes in a teammate's hands under the basket for an assist. He relies on his size, craftiness and change of speed and direction rather than blow-by burst to get separation. He's rangier than he looks because his build is more along the lines of a Marc Jackson (now a coach of GS) and Andre Miller. But he's a better pure distributor than either ever were. He just doesn't look like a prototypical, lanky baller. His game is ground-based, pretty fundamental, and he uses the entire court well. Very good anticipation.
His biggest problem will be in defense. He lacks the lateral quicks to stay in front of the speed demons in the West. Maybe he's worked on that. His size helps a little because he's long enough to recover, but he'll need some solid tutoring to learn better angles to play against the smaller guys. These days, few guards can cover the truly athletic PGs, so maybe the differential between him and any other non-super-athlete at PG isn't that great.
IMO, in order for him to stick he needs to become deadly from long-range. That will open up his dribble drive attack, and create better passing angles when the defense collapses. He'll find you if he's open.
It's on defense that he's going to sink or swim if given the minutes. But just remember that Steve Nash carved a great career despite being a huge liability on defense. A coaching staff can scheme around his issues to a certain extent, but only so much. Nash made his living by simply being able to be the pilot for an offensive barrage. Yeah, he was at his best when he led an attack that simply outscored tyhe opponent.
This guy deserves a chance. I don't know what happened to him in Phoenix. But some guys simply need more time to develop. he came out of UNC after his sophomore year. He was the leader of tat club and they seemed poise to win another 'ship at UNC. I like the signing and hope MDA gives him minutes.
This guy might surprise.