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Zags In The NBA: Sacre Turning Heads

With several former Zags all battling for roster spots in the NBA, a few are turning heads while some are barely able to see time on the court.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

With about twelve days until the start of the NBA regular season, rosters and rotations for teams across the league are starting to be formed. Heading into the preseason, we knew that none of the former Bulldogs currently in the NBA are likely to steal the show for their respective teams. With that being said, there has definitely been a good amount of pleasant surprises in the preseason and there has also been some disappointments. At this point, it does seem like at least three former Zags have a very good shot at making the day one roster. Here is how I would classify things at this point:

Likely To Make Day One Roster:

Ronny Turiaf (LA Clippers)
Austin Daye (Detroit Pistons)
Robert Sacre (LA Lakers)

While this group all appears to have an inside track on a roster spot, there are varying levels of career trajectories present here. Starting with the good news first, it has to be Robert Sacre. The last pick of this past NBA Draft has gotten some luck as injuries around him have allowed him to play major minutes but he has made the most of them. He has started all four preseason games due mainly to injuries to Dwight Howard & Jordan Hill and is sixth on the team in points per game with seven. He's also leading the Lakers in rebounds with a little under five per game. His efforts have likely landed him a roster spot and even though he will see very little minutes this season, it is a great feat for him to make such a talented roster. Here is a great preview of the center position for this year's Lakers from Silver Screen And Roll. It goes without saying that Rob is having fun and making a great impression on his teammates:

As for Ronny and Austin, they are likely to make the opening day roster but don't expect much production out of either unless something dramatic happens with the Clippers or Pistons. Ronny has played in three of four preseason games and has played about 18 MPG. He's averaging a couple points and rebounds per contest and will battle with Ryan Hollins for playing time this season in the post. As we've documented, it is likely that Austin Daye's time in Detroit will end following this season, if not sooner. Sources in Detroit have said there is little chance he receives an extension from Detroit as he has simply been unable to ever perform for the Pistons. This preseason, he's played in two of four games and has averaged three points and five boards. As he has done over the past few years, he's not shooting the ball efficiently this preseason and is likely going to register numerous DNPs for Detroit this year. What we hope at this point is that Austin can catch on with another team and hopefully that change of scenery will pay dividends as it is tough to see such a talented player unable to produce.

One last word on Ronny this preseason...yikes:

Work To Do:

Adam Morrison (Portland Trail Blazers)
Jeremy Pargo (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Morrison's return to the NBA has been well documented. In fact, reading our great Blazers blog "Blazers Edge", it seems like they are a bit sick of that story. Regardless, Morrison hasn't exactly blown up like he did in the summer league so far in preseason. He has played in each of the four games so far but has only averaged about 10 minutes per game. He's scored three points per game but has struggled to fit into the system so far in Portland. Here is a snippet from last night's game recap over at Blazers Edge:

Looking less so (like he belongs on the court) is Adam Morrison. He hit a bail-out three-pointer but that was his only marked contribution on the night. Ammo started out the pre-season looking like the only guy at the far end of the bench who knew how to play. Those days seem long ago now.

Morrison has said he would likely retire if he didn't make the roster and it appears he needs to make up some ground to ensure that he sticks. Jeremy Pargo is in a similar place as Adam. He's battling to make a new team in a backup role and is having mixed results. He's played in three of the six preseason games for Cleveland and has averaged 19 minutes in those games. He's averaged three points and five assists per game which is solid but has also turned the ball over three times per game. Scanning some of the Cleveland media, it is clear that Jeremy is squarely on the bubble as he battles with Donald Sloan for a role with the Cavs.

On The Outside Looking In:

Micah Downs (Boston Celtics)
Steven Gray (Washington Wizards)

Micah and Steven were longshots heading into the preseason and it was awesome that they were invited to training camp. Along with Rob Sacre, I would say that Micah has generated some great positive buzz this preseason. He has played in all but one of the Celtics' preseason contests and, although he has only played eight minutes per game, people have taken notice. From ESPN Boston:

That's business as usual for Rondo and Sullinger, but Downs' inclusion on that list was a bit more surprising. He's billed as a pure shooter, with his jumper serving as the most lethal part of his game. But the 26-year-old Downs knows his preseason minutes, like his looks on offense, could be limited, so he branched out on Saturday, going after the ball whenever the Knicks missed a shot. Playing a preseason high 14 minutes, the 6-foot-8 Downs, who's more athletic than people probably realize, hauled in rebound after rebound, helping to secure possessions for the C's.

He has impressed the Celtics management and he now has some great tape from the NBA. Even though it doesn't seem likely he'll make the roster, especially with the Celtics recently signing Leandro Barbosa, Downs will assuredly get looks as the season goes on if a team is looking for a skilled wing. Unfortunately for Steven Gray, it doesn't even appear that he has gotten off the bench of the Wizards this preseason. He'll likely head back to Europe and continue his career over there for at least another year.

As always, we'll keep you posted on how each former Zag progresses during the preseason.