Sunday, June 29, 2008

Not so fast: Foster still faces uphill climb

Shan Foster came one step closer to fulfilling his dream when he was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft (No. 51 overall) by the Dallas Mavericks last Thursday. Still, the 2008 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer knows there is more work to be done.

Just ask Derrick Byars, the 2007 SEC Player of the Year who went No. 42 overall in last year's draft. Byars was drafted by Portland and immediately traded to Philadelphia before being waived in late October. He ended up playing overseas in Germany and then in France for defending French League champion Chorale-Roanne.

For every second-round success story (think Gilbert Arenas, Manu Ginoboli or Carlos Boozer), there are countless more like Byars. Put simply, the odds of making an NBA roster for a second-round pick are not good. The last four players drafted 51st overall are JameSon Curry, Chiekh Samb, Robert Whaley and Vassilis Spanoulis. Who? Exactly.

However, the 51st pick in the 2003 NBA Draft? None other than sweet-shooting Kyle Korver, a senior from Creighton, which brings us back to Foster. What exactly are his chances of sticking in the NBA?

First, here's what Dallas' owner, president of team operations, head coach and fans had to say about Foster.

The Mavs were very pleased that Foster fell to them at No. 51 as they look for shooters to play alongside point guard Jason Kidd.

"Coach Carlisle felt like shooting was the hole in this team and wanted to get a shooter to put around Jason," Mavericks president of team operations Donnie Nelson said. "We feel very fortunate Shan fell to us this late in the draft." [Dallas Morning News]

“He could earn some time because you’re always looking for shooting,” Nelson said. “That’s usually something that transfers from college.” []

Owner Mark Cuban said the Mavs turned down $500,000 for their pick because "we really, really like Shan."

"All you have to do is look at his YouTube tape where he had nine 3s against Mississippi State. It's incredible the range he has. [ESPN analyst] Jay Bilas said Shan couldn't hit the NBA 3, but he never even takes a college 3. I think we got a steal, but we'll see. Everybody's a hero on draft day." [DMN]

Coach Rich Carlisle is also a fan.

“We’re very happy with the guy we got. We had a list of ‘A’ candidates, ‘Bs’ and ‘Cs’ and Shan Foster was the last ‘A’ on our list.” []

Carlisle said the Mavs need someone with Foster's perimeter shooting ability. He also likes the fact that Foster was a four-year college player and praised his maturity and basketball IQ.

"He'll have a chance," Carlisle said. "He'll have to earn it, but there's opportunity here." [Mavs Blog DMN]

Finally, Dallas fans seem to be pleased with pick, judging from their comments on a Mavs blog post. A few examples:

Rodney in Atlanta:
"I'm just glad that Avery's not here anymore because this poor guy would get buried by the edge of the bench and we'd never get to see what his potential is. Like I said before. I watched this guy play many times and he has intangibles that you just can't teach. He's a very good shooter and a great feel for the game. If brought along properly, he will contribute to this team."

"And one more thing. The guy's a good player and he's smart. Vanderbilt is not for dummys. He doesn't sing half bad either."

"foster is fantastic, that was a great great pick at 51!! real good point by G, hopefully its just like Josh (Howard) where he is a conference player of the year, 4 year senior, and slips...right to the Mavs to scoop him up. the SEC Player of the year at 51, 2nd team all-american, 47% from 3 as a senior, filling a position of need for the Mavs is a tremendous pickup."

Now, let's take a look at who Foster will be competing against to make the squad:

The Mavs' 2007 second-round picks, Reyshawn Terry (6'8 SF, UNC) and Renaldas Seibutis (6'6 SG, Lithuania), played in Europe last season and Nelson said they will have a chance to make the team next season.

Joining Foster, Terry and Seibutis on the summer league team are: Keith McLeod, Aaron Miles, Derrick Low, Reggie Williams, Richie Frahm, JaJuan Smith, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Yaroslav Korolev, Charles Rhodes, James Singleton and Pape Sow.

McLeod, Miles and Smith play point guard, while Low, at just 6'2, will probably have to as well. Frahm is a journeyman SG, while Mensah-Bonsu, Korolev, Sow and Mississippi State's Charles Rhodes are forwards. However, Foster could be competing against Williams, a 6'5 SG/SF from VMI and the nation's No. 1 scorer, and Singleton, a 6'8 forward who has played for the Clippers.

And we haven't even taken a look at the Mavs' current roster, which includes:

Point guard
Jason Kidd
Tyronn Lue
Jose Barea

Shooting guard
Jason Terry


Josh Howard
Jerry Stackhouse
Devean George
Eddie Jones
Antoine Wright

UPDATE: The Mavs signed G/F Gerald Green to a one-year deal.
Dirk Nowitzki
Malik Allen
Brandon Bass
Juwan Howard


Erick Dampier
Jamaal Magloire

It's important to note that Allen, Barea, George, Juwan Howard, Lue, Magloire and Wright are all free agents. DMN's Eddie Sefko expects either Barea or Lue and Wright to return, while adding that Jones could retire if the Mavs buy out the remaining year on his contract. Dallas could also sign a couple of free agents.

Therefore, Foster will be looking for playing time at the SG and SF positions behind Terry, Howard, Stackhouse and Wright, a former first-round pick out of Texas A&M who played two and a half seasons with New Jersey before coming over to Dallas in the Jason Kidd trade last year. Wright, a 6'7 SG, is a career 42 percent shooter, including 28 percent from 3-point range.


On the positive side, the Mavs genuinely seem to like Foster, who fills a need for them. They are desperately looking for shooters, which is Foster's strength. If he shoots well this summer, it will be hard for Dallas not to keep him. None of the Mavs' current players or summer league players like Terry, Seibutis, Williams and Singleton compare to Foster as a perimeter shooter.

On the negative side, Foster is pretty one-dimensional. Terry and Seibutis have had a year to develop their skills and to get faster and stronger, which means they may have a leg up on Foster this summer. If Foster struggles to catch fire from the outside, the Mavs will have a hard time finding a spot for him on the roster.

There's going to be a lot of pressure on Foster to perform this summer, but then again, no one said making it to the NBA would be easy.

Photo: []

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