NBA Draft: Michael Gbinije tries to answer the questions he faces coming out of Syracuse

first_imgMichael Gbinije had prepared for the moment. He’d heard the whispers from other guys who had already been through Boston. He’d run more than normal on the treadmill. He knew the Boston Celtics worked their prospects hard before making them compete in one final conditioning drill.In the afternoon on May 21, the former Syracuse point guard felt good when he found himself at the end line of the Celtics practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, ready to run as many sprints as he could in three minutes.“It’s competitive,” Gbinije said. “You’ve got the front office people watching, the coaches watching. Regardless of how you played in (the scrimmages) before, you have one last chance. … I wanted nothing left in the tank leaving the workout.”Twenty-seven times he made it up and down the court. There were a handful of prospects there and Gbinije said he was bested only by former Louisville guard Damion Lee, who managed 29.Gbinije eventually completed the same drill for the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers. By the time the NBA Draft starts on Thursday at 8 p.m., Gbinije will have worked out for 15 teams. Those teams combine to hold every pick from No. 27 to No. 47, among others. That range corresponds with most mock drafts, which project him in the late-first or mid-second round.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textKiran Ramsey | Web DesignerBy then, he’ll have finished all his preparation: Studying an NBA superstar, working out with a famous trainer and answering all the questions front offices have for a fifth-year senior who took longer than most to figure out his best position on the floor. And the school at which he could play it. And at a program with an unusual brand of defense.“The first question every team asks is, ‘Can he guard man-to-man?’” said Frank Gbinije, Michael’s father. “And obviously he’s showed that he can, in AAU, at Duke and on the Nigeria national team. … Quite frankly, he would prefer man-to-man (to zone) because he wants to chase the ball.”That’s a question that’s stalked many Syracuse players after leaving the Orange’s signature 2-3 zone. But what that man-to-man question really means, multiple people said, is: Does he have enough speed for NBA point guards? The size for small forwards?There are more questions surrounding Gbinije because of his lack of stability. He started at Duke, then transferred to Syracuse and sat out a season. He didn’t get much playing time his first year in orange then found some consistency as a forward — only to shift from the wing and reinvent himself as a point guard for his last season.All that change leaves most scouting reports with the basic information spun different ways: He recently turned 24. It’s too late to develop him. Or, he’s primed to be a low-maintenance contributor on a win-now team.He is 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds. That’s too small for forward or too slow for guard. Or, his frame and skillset fit perfectly into an NBA trending toward smaller lineups when he could handle the ball at forward. He is ‘fundamentally sound,’ in many reports. He has a low ceiling because he is decent everywhere but excels nowhere. Or, that shows intelligence, versatility and potential upside when given a role.Gbinije’s assets are known. What he’ll do with them is not.MORE COVERAGE:NBA Draft: The case for picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case against picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case for picking Malachi RichardsonNBA Draft: The case against picking Malachi RichardsonOn the beat: NBA Draft preview and a look ahead to the 2016-17 Syracuse basketball season Related Stories On the beat: NBA Draft preview and a look ahead to the 2016-17 Syracuse basketball seasonNBA Draft: The case against picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case for picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case against picking Malachi RichardsonNBA Draft: The case for picking Malachi Richardson Published on June 21, 2016 at 11:53 am Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TR The search for answers started immediately. After a two-week break following the Final Four to finish school, he flew from Syracuse to Los Angeles. There, he worked out with NBA trainer Rob McClanaghan, a former SU basketball walk-on who has worked with stars Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony.They worked on shooting, another question from NBA teams. Gbinije shot 46.1 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from 3-point range in the last two seasons, but teams want to know if he’s a good enough pure shooter for that to translate.McClanaghan emphasized to Gbinije over six weeks the ability to adapt to the NBA game. When he wasn’t jetting around the country to team workouts, Gbinije spent about five days per week in high-intensity, 75-minute workouts: Shooting more from the new 3-point line off the catch and dribble, changing pace while handling the ball and maneuvering in the post.“I knew he was a good athlete, but he’s a sneaky athlete,” McClanaghan said. “He’ll creep up and dunk on you. I didn’t know he had that in him, but he definitely does. He’s very consistent. (NBA teams) will know what they’re getting.”“An attractive second-round gamble,” wrote Jonathan Wasserman on Bleacher Report.“He’ll be in the league a long time,” McClanaghan said.“There’s certainly a future for him overseas,” wrote Tajh Jenkins on NBADraft.net.“I’m a competitive, learning basketball player,” Gbinije said.He said he pitches himself to teams as someone who can make adjustments quickly, like that point guard switch. NBA teams have tried him out on and off the ball. Once he has a team, then Gbinije said he’ll adapt to the position they want him in.Daily Orange File PhotoHe likes learning, even from afar by watching, like he did with Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant.On May 6, the Thunder lost a late lead at home to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite playing nearly 42 minutes and the game ending around 11 p.m. local time, Durant arrived at Mahogany Steakhouse downtown not long after with his teammate Nazr Mohammed.Durant and Gbinije share the same agent at Roc Nation and said hello, but not much more. The Thunder superstar and Mohammed talked about the loss most of the night.“I was observing, seeing how he interacts with people, watching how he plays the game,” Gbinije said. “(Durant) doesn’t get tired. I came in on a flight, went to the game and then we were at (the steakhouse) until 2 a.m. Me and my agent were tired and this guy just played a full-out game, and he just had energy. That stood out to me.”He soaked up information from others, working out with and against projected lottery picks like Marquette’s Henry Ellenson and NBA players Jerami Grant and Ray McCallum. Gbinije played “very solid” against that level of competition, according to McClanaghan.After weeks of interviews and workouts, and years of playing in high-profile college games, Gbinije is ready to stop telling teams what he can do and start showing them.“Whatever (teams) don’t know about me,” Gbinije said. “They’re going to find out.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 18-7 loss to Johns Hopkins

first_imgNo. 6 Syracuse lost to No. 17 Johns Hopkins 18-7 at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. A week after defeating then-No. 4 Virginia by one goal, SU’s offense faltered, firing just 25 shots to JHU’s 46.Here are three takeaways from the game.Problems at the XAfter one of Danny Varello’s best performances of the season, the sophomore couldn’t get anything going from the faceoff X, losing 13 of his 22 attempts. Against Virginia, SU’s top faceoff option won 16-26 of his opportunities, edging the Cavaliers’ Justin Schwenk in the battle, who going into the game was seventh in the nation in faceoff percentage. But Varello couldn’t ride that momentum into the game against the Blue Jays as he appeared constantly frustrated, wondering if the ball would eventually bounce in his favor.At one point Varello sidestepped and burst off the field. It had been a rough going but he had his fourth faceoff win of the game. As he turned his back an SU player had the ball and he had done his job. When he checked back at the action, the ball was on the ground with a Johns Hopkins player scooping it up, starting a break that ended in a score.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textVarello turned back around, away from the celebrating Blue Jays players, held his stick on top of his helmet and pulled it down in frustration. Even when he did right, things still continued to go horribly wrong.Trouble keeping upSyracuse was dominated on the offensive end on Saturday. The Blue Jays fired 46 shots to the Orange’s 25 and SU couldn’t score more than two goals in a row without being interrupted by a Johns Hopkins goal. Dom Madonna faced heavy pressure the entire game, with many of the goals he allowed as a result of being trapped alone with a JHU player directly in front of the goal.Voigt comes up emptyBradley Voigt, who replaced the suspended Nate Solomon in the starting lineup, didn’t provide anything for Syracuse. All season long, Solomon had served as a reliable scoring option for the Orange, netting five goals on the year and taking the fourth-most shots on the team. But, Voigt couldn’t provide that same firepower for Syracuse as the Junior fired one shot, while recording an assist for the silent Orange offense. Comments Published on March 10, 2018 at 3:19 pm Contact Michael: mmcclear@syr.edu | @MikeJMcCleary Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more