Yesterday was not only the first day of October but also the first day in which it was socially acceptable to discuss the NBA. The NBA's media day was yesterday and the main story lines revolved around new uniforms for some teams and how some of big names in new places looked. For the most part, there were very few (read: none) headlines revolving around former Gonzaga Bulldogs. While there are a respectable seven former Zags participating in training camp this year, it is likely that a little over a half of that will make a roster and each player will have plenty of work to do to assure themselves a spot.
With that said, let's take a quick look at the former Zags vying for a job this year in the NBA
Highly Likely To Make It At Least This Season
Ronny Turiaf, Los Angeles Clippers
Now with an NBA title under his belt, Ronny will be continuing his NBA career that has defied all odds with a new team. All of us here know Ronny's incredible story and how he beat a serious heart condition to create a long-lasting career for himself. I mean, to be honest, if I had open heart surgery right after I was drafted into the NBA, I would still probably be feeling sorry for myself. While he has been a career journeyman (this will be his sixth team in eight years) his reputation in the NBA is fantastic. Known as one of the most energetic and passionate players in the league, Turiaf brings an attitude to the game that many professionals forgot about when they were drafted. He is once again on a very solid team that should compete out West and I'm sure the hope is that he can be a glue guy and provide a solid spark for the Clippers.
Austin Daye, Detroit Pistons
As you have probably gathered from reading this site and from my avatar, I have been a big Austin Daye fan since he arrived at Gonzaga. I'm a fan because of what I thought his recruitment symbolized for the Gonzaga program but also just because he was a blast to watch live when he turned it on. Unfortunately, since joining the Pistons, he has struggled mightily. Last season he played in a career low 41 games, shot 32% from the floor and 20% from three. Many Pistons fans have given up on the former lottery pick and it truly does sound like this season may be his last in Detroit. While I will continue to believe that his skill set will eventually flourish, the progression of his career has been tough to watch.
Work To Do...And He's Baaaaaack
Jeremy Pargo, Cleveland Cavaliers
Pargo finally broke through last offseason and earned himself a job in the NBA. As a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, he averaged about 3 points and a little over an assist per game. He played in 44 contests with Memphis and was traded this offseason to the Cavaliers. In Cleveland, Pargo will be battling for the backup role to last year's rookie of the year, Kyrie Irving. Pargo will be battling with incumbent backup Donald Sloan for that role. Cleveland brought him on primarily for his aggressive style of play and I think that he will fit in nicely with this young roster and could work his way in simply as a leader on this team. Jeremy will have some work to do in camp but I think he'll make a roster...it already looks like he's endearing himself to the Cavs coaching staff.
Adam Morrison, Portland Trail Blazers
After earning himself another shot at the NBA with an incredible summer league showing, Adam Morrison looks like he will have a very good shot to make the Blazers roster this season. He'll be battling primarily with Luke Babbit and Victor Claver as a reserve wing and, well, as a Gonzaga fan I think he is going to outshine those two in camp. Morrison will of course be the focal point of numerous jabs from fans across the country but it does seem like he has turned a corner from a maturity standpoint and that could pay huge dividends on the court. Here's an interview with him from Blazers' media day.
"Tightening up the screws" is a great way to put it. If Morrison has settled down and is focused, that is a huge win. With that said, he can have all the peace of mind in the world but whether or not he makes the roster will come down to one thing: can he make shots.
Likely Headed To A D-League Near You...Or Latvia
Robert Sacre, Los Angeles Lakers
Before people get mad, I will admit that Sacre's situation is probably the most convoluted because much will depend on Dwight Howard's health. If he is ready to go from the first game, Sacre should and likely will be on the D-League roster. With Jordan Hill back for the Lakers and a plethora of other talent on the roster, I think Sacre can learn a lot more in the D-League versus never playing a minute on the active roster. We all know that Rob is going to impress the staff with his work ethic and Turiaf-like attitude but he still has a lot of developing to do on the offensive side of the ball. If he can do that, it is possible that the Lakers would move Jordan Hill and insert him as Howard's primary backup.
It was a minor surprise to many that Micah and Steven were extended training camp offers but it is a testament to what they have done both overseas and during the NBA Summer League. Both are not likely to make a roster this go around but they have been asked to training camp because of their versatility. Both can defend and do a number of things offensively that make them stand out. Micah, in particular, has always struck me as a guy that could one day work his way into the league simply due to how many things he does well on the court. With some more work overseas or in the D-League, each player could wind up like Jeremy Pargo and earn their way onto a roster.