Individual workouts key cog in draft process

BY foxsports • May 31, 2011


When it comes to the NBA draft, it's time to get serious. Or if you're an NBA general manager, at least try.

The draft will be held June 23. That gives teams about three weeks to finalize their draft boards, ranking prospects in order of ability and team need. Perhaps the biggest part of this process comes during individual workouts, when teams bring in players for a considerably closer look.

For instance, the Cleveland Cavaliers have certainly heard a lot about and even seen footage of Turkish center Enes Kanter, who missed his only season at Kentucky because of eligibility issues. But the Cavs won't really get to know Kanter until they bring him in to work out June 7.

Kanter will partake in drills, interviews and other aptitude tests, most of which are specific to the Cavs. He is also slated to visit Utah, Minnesota and Toronto. Each team is likely to conduct its workout a little (if not a lot) differently.

"Part of what makes the NBA a great league is that all 30 teams are working to create consistently competitive organizations but are doing so under different circumstances, cycles and conditions," Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti told FOX Sports. "This really helps influence each team's individual approach to the business. They are all unique. This concept trickles down into many facets of the organization, including draft workouts."

Presti should know. His Thunder reached the Western Conference finals despite being a relatively young team. It's also a team that was built mostly through the draft. Names like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were selected by Presti with lottery picks.

He also landed Jeff Green early, and although Green is no longer with the Thunder, Presti turned him into center Kendrick Perkins via a trade with Boston.

Anyway, the point to all this is Presti clearly has a pre-draft system in place that enables him to discover who will be a good fit in Oklahoma City. Other teams aim to do the same, and a lot of who they pick comes down to who fares well in individual workouts.

"When you consider teams have years and years of draft workout information that's accumulated over time, you can understand how individual approach plays a role," Presti said. "Some teams place a lot of focus on the on-court performance in the workout, based on their team's draft history and the indicators that their specific workouts have produced."

But again, there is more to it than watching a prospect shoot jumpers or run through a layup line.

"Other teams will use the time for more personal interaction and interviewing," Presti said. "Medical and physical testing are also conducted and this can also hold a lot of value to a team's overall evaluation of a player."

In other words, Kanter and other prospects need to be prepared to face different styles in different cities.

"It becomes very organization-specific once inside the walls of the organization, but no one way is better than another," Presti said. "It is just about what makes sense for each individual team and their dynamics. It is not necessarily a year-to-year proposition, but it can be the work that has been done in the past that influences an organization's approach (in) the present."

So by the time the draft arrives, everyone is well-prepared to select a player who will alter the course of their franchise forever. Right?

Well, maybe not.

"At the end of the day, we are all just trying to shift the odds for our respective organizations," Presti said, before pointing out a hard truth every GM, coach and fan must admit. "We can also call this ‘guessing.' "

Random dribbles

• JaJuan Johnson is beginning to increase his stock, in the eyes of NBA types. The 6-foot-10 forward from Purdue improved greatly in each of his four college seasons and possesses a 7-2 wingspan. Scouts also like the fact Johnson hit 80 percent of his free throws last season. It's always nice to have someone near the basket, drawing fouls and then knocking down freebies from the line.

• Dallas guard Jason Kidd is the oldest guard to start in the Finals. Kidd is 38. Retired center Robert Parish was the oldest player ever to win a championship ring. The year was 1997, the team was Chicago, and Parish was 43.

• No, Golden State still has not hired a coach. It's starting to appear that the Warriors will wait until after the draft. Top candidates are said to be former New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank, former Minnesota coach Dwane Casey and LA Lakers assistant Brian Shaw. New Orleans assistant Mike Malone and former Houston (and Golden State) coach Rick Adelman are supposedly in the mix. No matter who the Warriors choose, you can bet new advisor Jerry West is likely to play a role.

• If Malone doesn't get the Warriors job, he very well could join Mike Brown with the Lakers. Malone assisted Brown in Cleveland. Brown reportedly will also turn to former Cavs assistant John Kuester, once Detroit finally cuts Kuester loose.

• Look for former Atlanta coach Mike Woodson to emerge as a top candidate to replace Kuester with the Pistons.

• Offseason coaching changes and no mention of Larry Brown? How was that guy wrong about the world ending a few weeks ago?

• Matt Howard (Butler) and Jon Leuer (Wisconsin) will work out for Boston this week. Marshon Brooks (Providence), Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Darius Miles (Michigan), Klay Thompson (Washington State) and Tobias Harris (Tennessee) will work out for New York.

Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO


share story