Name: Damion James
Weight: 220 lbs
Birth Date: October 7, 1987 (age 23)
Birth Place: Hobbs, NM
Drafted: 24th Pick of the First Round in 2010 by the Atlanta Hawks (traded to the Nets)
Damion James is both athletic and long, standing at 6’7” but with a wingspan of over 7-feet. In college, at the University of Texas, James was praised for his ability to get to the free throw line (6.8 attempts per game last year), drawing fould on 10.8 percent of his shots, according to Draft Express. He’s also very aggresive around the rim, averaging about three offensive rebounds per game last year and a little more than two possessions per games on cuts around the basket. He’s not the greatest jumper, but his combination of size and strength get the job done. However, where his offensive game fails is his one-on-one playmaking ability. His ball handling skills are reportedly average at best, and he shot 42.9 percent on unguarded jumpers last year, according to Draft Express. He has a decent mid-range jumper, but he settled for too many jumpers last season, according to NBA Draft.net.
James has earned praise for his coachability and defensive instincts, which should make him a good fit as a role player in Avery Johnson’s system. Again, because of his length and athleticism, in college, he was able to make up for some defensive shortcomings. He averaged more than a block and a steal in his senior season. His lateral movement has earned him criticism from some scouts. The fear here is defensively, James could be a “tweener,” too slow to guard NBA threes, but not strong enough to take on many PFs. A scouting report from Draft Express did praise James for his excellent pick and roll and perimeter defense, two areas that have consistently killed the Nets for years. He’s a tenacious rebounder and has a great set of hands. He became the Big 12s all time leading rebounder last year.
James had a chip on his shoulder when he fell down to the 24th pick this year: “I’ve got something to prove here. I was disappointed where I was drafted. I’m better than 24th. I should have been higher,” he said during the NBA Summer League. “That’s not something you forget easily.”
While some critics of the draft day deal that landed James in New Jersey thought he was a “safe” pick, it’s clear that James has the physical tools to be NBA ready from the onset. He may not be a star, but he has potential to be a solid role player who could occasionally go off for a big game or two, as he did during the Summer League this past year.
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