Damion James (Texas)
6'8, SF, 225 lbs.
James is one of the few Seniors in the draft that will get drafted in the first round. He went into Texas as a heralded freshman due to his versatility to play both forward positions and lived up to the expectations. He has played with a couple of first rounders in Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustine as a complimentary player and flourished as the go-to-guy this year.
On offense, James plays well in all facets of the game, but isn't dominant in any one particular category. He shot well from outside (38%) and inside (54%). He scores using a combination of spot up shooting, face up shooting, driving the lane, and scoring off of offensive rebound opportunities. He even used a post game, flashing a turn around jumper occasionally.
However, James played against opposing power forwards at the college level and will transition to SF at the next level. While not bad, he lacks the ball handling to take NBA caliber SFs off the dribble. Even though his shot improved, he still looked uncomfortable overall as a shooter evidenced by his mid 60% free throw shooting. Adjusting to a longer three point range in the NBA, he me struggle to extend his range. James will likely never be an offensive star and will have to adjust again to being a complimentary piece at the next level.
James would benefit by developing a consistent NBA caliber three point shot. If he could tighten his handles and develop a pull up mid-range jumper, he could be a real effective player at the next level.
Defensively, James provides versatility at the next level. He is well suited to guard opposing small forwards with solid lateral quickness, solid wingspan, good defensive techniques, and a strong body. Small forwards should not be able to post up James, and he has enough quickness to prevent easy dribble penetration. He lack the height to guard post up power forwards, but he can guard the trending stretch or face-up power forward.
James rebounding strength should translate to the next level. In college, he grabbed an astounding number of rebounds, almost 11 per game. He can get after it on both ends and sets up fast breaks with good outlet passes. He has great athletic ability to block shots at the small forward spot, and has great recovery speed on pick-and-rolls when guarding swing fours.
How does his game translate to the NBA?
Right now, James should be a solid role player at the next level at the small-forward spot. He could be a great bench player or glue guy for a team needing some toughness. If he develops a consistent three point shot, the sky is the limit. Right now, he is projected to go anywhere from mid-first to early second round. I could see him sliding however, due to his lack of specialization and tweener status.
Without an outside shot, he reminds me of a Joey Graham/Sam Young type player with better defense and slightly more versatility due to his height. He could flourish on a team that is fast-pace and using as a swing four.
How does he fit in with the Bulls?
With Luol Deng and James Johnson on the squad, Damion James would be a bit redundant. Even though he would provide some toughness, he does not provide enough of a specialized skill for me to draft him over guys like Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Luke Babbitt, or Kevin Seraphin. Despite that, due to his overall talent, if the Bulls were to select James, I would not be disappointed