Southerland's Shooting Gives Him A Shot
The Portland Trail Blazers hosted their ninth pre-draft workout
at the team's practice facility in Tualatin featuring six players, none of whom are expected to be drafted in the first round. Some mock drafts
have two of Monday's participants, North Carolina State point guard Lorenzo Brown and Colorado State center Colton Iverson, projected as second-round picks, though it would not be a surprise if all ended up going undrafted.
But that doesn't necessarily mean none of the players who took part in Monday's workout wouldn't be useful as members of the Trail Blazers. One player in particular, Syracuse forward James Southerland
, possesses a skill highly-coveted in today's NBA: three-point shooting.
Southland improved his 3-point shooting every year at Syracuse, concluding with a senior season in which he shot 40 percent from three
while taking just over six attempts a game. If he is to get a shot on an NBA roster, it will likely be due to the combination of size (at 6-8, he could probably play both forward positions in the NBA) and ability to shoot from long-range (he went 17-for-25 from three during a shooting drill during his workout with the Trail Blazers).
"Definitely stretching the floor, be a great shooter out there, spreading the floor, giving a lot of matchup problems," said Southerland when asked what he would bring to an NBA team. "And also high energy, bringing some energy, showing teams that I'm here to work hard and push for them."
The Trail Blazers, in their first year under head coach Terry Stotts, shattered the franchise record for three-pointers attempted during the 2012-13 season with 1904 (the old record was 1,555 during the 2008-09 season) as the NBA as a whole took a league-record 49,068 threes
. Old notions that the three-point shot should be avoided at all costs have been replaced by the argument that three-point shots, especially those taken from the corners, are some of the most efficient shots in basketball. The mid-range two-pointer has now replaced the three-pointer as the most discouraged shot in basketball, which makes guys like Southerland, a player who took 60 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, more valuable then ever in today's NBA.
It also doesn't hurt guys like Southerland that former fringe NBA players who primary shoot three-pointers are having a moment right now in the NBA Finals.
"A lot of teams what to see guys spread the floor and also create one and two dribble pullups," said Southerland. "You see (Spurs guard) Danny Green, what he's doing, I feel like I could definitely bring that to a team."