Last night I was able to get a private workout with one of the more intriguing prospects in recent memory; Conrad Kaczmarek. Here are some quick observations on his game.
(All measurements taken from Otago Universiy Students Association gym)
Height in shoes: 5'11"3/4
Max vert: 32"
Kaczmarek came into tonight's workout considered to be an elite athlete. A guy who at just a shade under six feet can get up and THROW IT DOWN!!!. Last night led me to question his true athletic ability when Kaczmarek could barely grab the rim with two hands. Perplexed as to what led to the loss of athleticism compared to previous scouting reports, I quizzed Kaczmarek whether the jet lag was the main contributing factor to his lack of hops. To this he replied - "No, I just injured my knee a couple of times so I can't really dunk anymore." Needless to say this caused his stock to drop at an alarming rate.
With his previously thought of elite athleticism now gone, I considered Kaczmarek a lost prospect. Someone who promised so much now had little to offer, especially considering how no one can ever shoot in pickup games. I felt terrible for Kaczmarek who flew all the way across the other side of the world for this workout and now I was ready to write him off as a prospect all together. I had to give him one more chance to impress me in another facet of his game and boy was I happy that I did.
We decided to go with some shooting drills that had Conrad shooting from around 18 feet. At first I looked at his odd shooting form and was ready to end the workout there. It was a little Kevin Martin-esque, however I soldiered on. "It doesn't matter what it looks like, as long as it goes in" I told myself. To my surprise, Kaczmarek really showed a nice mid range jumper, snapping the net on multiple occasions. I would say he made around 60% of these spot up shots. This shows he has a real skill that could translate to the pickup game level if he was able to get himself open.
Defensively, Kaczmarek showed all the physical skills needed to be a good defender at the next (pickup game) level. His leaping ability, although no longer elite due to injuries, was still very good. Kaczmarek also showed an innate ability to realise that pickup players can only dribble with one hand without fumbling it off their foot, a very valuable skill. The one aspect of defense that Kaczmarek did struggle though was knowing when to help. He looked to defend a certain player who can't shoot a lick outside of 10 feet far too aggressively, leaving his teammates out on an island with their assignments. At the pickup level Kaczmarek needs to realise that he wont get opportunities to gel with his teammates as they will almost always be complete strangers.
Kaczmarek also got flat out burned by the certain player on a half spin move, which sent him reeling backward way out of position. This allowed the certain player the space to get off a jumper, which he drained like a cold blooded assassin with perfect form, snapping the net and drawing high fives from his teammates. He needs to learn that biting on fakes like that is what gets remembered from a pickup game, not who rebounds or moves the ball well. Highlight plays are more important than wins at the next level and Kaczmarek needs to keep that in mind if he ever does make the jump.
It was evident from early on that Kaczmarek's teammates didn't trust him, which led to the certain player that was defending him to sag into the paint, daring the other team to pass Kaczmarek the ball. The fact that they never did shows that Kaczmarek is a very flawed prospect and doesn't have the Kobe gene or moxy to lead his team in MRFJ or mid range fadeaway jumpers - the most widely regarded complete metric in pickup basketball. If Kaczmarek ever wants to be considered one of the all time greats at the next level, he needs to demand the ball more and stop going and setting pin down screens. Everyone knows the most efficient way to score in pickup is to pound the rock and shoot contested jumpers.
I would grade out Kaczmarek as a solid prospect. The injuries put up a red flag, but then I remembered that it's one game of basketball that would be played at low intensity maybe once a week, so the injury is of little concern. There are a few things that he could improve on, but already does some things well, and could even earn some praise with some blocked shots - the biggest pickup basketball rep booster.
After the evaluation was complete, I just realised this was a huge waste of time. I remembered that in pickup basketball there is a mandatory game of "rock paper scissors" to decide teams, and no one has any idea of how good anyone is. Thanks a lot Clevy for making me waste my time and write this hunk of crap.