Phoenix Stan got a few minutes with David Thorpe, ESPN analyst and executive director of the Pro Training Center at IMG Academies in Florida. The Pro Training Center provides basketball training for pros and collegiate athletes in the off-season and leading up to the draft. Among his pupils there was the Suns' own Earl Clark. Here are some of Thorpe's thoughts on Clark, Goran Dragic, Robin Lopez and surprising assessment of Zabian Dowdell.
On Earl Clark:
"The guy's a top five talent... if he locks in on a daily effort in practice, there's no way that guy's not gonna play a decent amount and have an impact on that team."
He's very high on Clark. He addressed Clark's work ethic (great in camp, if perhaps his conditioning wasn't) and the emphasis in his training on being a "grinder" and not simply coasting on his natural ability. He envisions Clark as a power forward even though he's underweight. He emphasized Clark's versatility, noting he's got the skills shift to the 2 and 3 if necessary, noting in addition to his ball-handling skills, on defense he was able to lock up opposing guards on switches. He also noted that in training, the big surprise was Clark's "killer" instinct. High praise all around.
On Goran Dragic:
Goran can obviously get better and ultimately find himself a career. It just hasn't happened yet.
Thorpe's view on Dragic mirror our own. He thinks Goran's got some apparent athleticism, ability to see the court and gives good effort. However, he's not seeing those skill translate into on-court success, which is particularly discouraging in Summer League, since the talent level does not approach what he will face during the season. On the bright side, he pointed out the George Hill of the Spurs had a terrible summer session last year and turned in a good regular season and has looked fantastic during the 2009 Summer League.
On Robin Lopez:
What you see is what you get with him... he does have an upside you hope he realizes... he's still got some work to do.
Thorpe's note for Lopez: Catch the damn ball. He said that several times yesterday, Robin mishandled or was unable to catch passes from Earl Clark. He thinks that if Robin works on his ball-catching abilities, it'll help both his scoring numbers and his rebounding numbers.
Phx Stan - I think this comment could be a little harsh. I think Robin has good hands but likely wasn't used to Clark's winging him the ball from that position.
On Zabian Dowdell:
He's making NBA level plays out here when most of these guys are making rookie Summer League plays. Zabian is clearly at another level.
Zabian Dowdell's play has not exactly jumped out at Phoenix Stan nor me. So, you can imagine our surprise when Thorpe opined that perhaps Dowdell was the best point guard here at the Summer League (outside of a couple of other "impressive rookies." He's been impressed with Dowdell's ability to see the game, his brilliance on ball screens, and his general offensive proficiency. He thinks the Suns need to act quickly before Dowdell gets an offer to go back to Europe that he can't refuse.
Full audio interview: