McLemore, Oladipo among those working out for Suns
Some of the biggest names in this year's NBA draft - including guards Ben McLemore of Kansas and Victor Oladipo of Indiana - headed a group of prospects who worked out for the new regime of the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
Small forward Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA, forward-center Cody Zeller of Indiana and 7-foot-2 Frenchman Rudy Gobert also were on hand.
McLemore worked out privately for new general manager Ryan McDonough and new coach Jeff Hornacek. The other six - including Wisconsin center Jared Berggren and Oregon small forward E.J. Singler - worked out in a group setting.
Maryland center Alex Len also was on hand but did not work out because he is recovering from ankle surgery.
The Suns have the fifth overall pick, as well as the 30th - and final pick - in the June 27 draft.
It's entirely possible that five, maybe six, of those in attendance could go in the top 10.
''This was a really talented group,'' McDonough said. ''We had a bunch of guys in the gym who I think will end up in the lottery.''
McLemore is the least likely of the group to be available when Phoenix makes its pick. He said the only other workout he has scheduled thus far is with the Orlando Magic, who have the second overall selection.
''I think I can bring a lot to the table with a lot of teams,'' McLemore said. ''Right now I'm just working on my game, getting prepared for the next level.''
Hornacek wants an up-tempo team, and McLemore said that would fit him perfectly.
''It would be great getting up and down the court, to have a great point guard who can see the open floor, see the wings open and stuff like that. I can get my shot off and it would create stuff for me and a lot of things. It would be great.''
McLemore and his agent want only individual workouts, which makes it difficult to assess all aspects of a player's game.
''It is a little more difficult to evaluate him,'' McDonough said. ''We feel like it's better than nothing, having him in the gym, getting to know him. I took Ben to dinner last night. We'd like it to be competitive but at the same time I guess I understand, his agent, and not just Ben specifically but other players in that situation who feel like they probably will go ahead of us, their agents have in their best interest to try to protect the player.''
Both McDonough and Hornacek praised the pure shooting ability of McLemore.
''Not only was his stroke nice, his foot preparation was good,'' Hornacek said. ''A lot of guys like to take that little extra hop in their shots. I try to tell them if you take that extra hop, that's the difference between taking an open shot and one with a guy right in your face.''
Oladipo - perhaps a better bet to still be there at No. 5 - is ahead defensively.
''I think I can fit in real well,'' Oladipo said of the possibility of joining the Suns, who are coming off the second-worst season in franchise history. ''It's an up-tempo program. They like to get up and down the floor, they like to get a lot of points on the board and play defense at a high level.''
Oladipo said it's his second stop. He worked out with Orlando and plans sessions with Cleveland and Minnesota.
''I kind of came out of nowhere,'' he said. ''The reason I got here was with a high work ethic. ... If I stop working, I'll lose everything I have.''
McDonough said he was impressed with the overall ability of Muhammad, saying he had no concerns about the ex-UCLA player's attitude.
''I think a lot of the perception of Shabazz is unfair,'' McDonough said, ''from what I've gathered, from what we've gathered.''
Zeller showed a good shooting range all the way to the 3-point line, McDonough said.
''I think I was surprised by as well as he shot the ball from the outside,'' Hornacek said. ''I anticipated maybe the 15-, 18-foot range he'd be pretty decent, which he was, but farther out his shot didn't change. It was the same stroke. It didn't look like he was forcing to get it up there. A lot of big guys who don't shoot that shot a lot, it looks like a real strain, and he didn't. He just shot it normally.''
Still, the best shooter on the court was Hornacek.
''I think that's going to be the case for all of our workouts,'' McDonough joked.
Wednesday's gathering was the second group to come to Phoenix. Sessions with other players are scheduled over the next three days.
The names of those taking part aren't announced until shortly before each workout.