The Spanish playoffs brings us two potential top 10 picks going up against each other head to head in a five game series starting tomorrow. There really isn't a whole lot more you could ask for to really help decide which one of the two should get drafted first, unless you put them up head to head in a private workout of course. But how much fun would that be for us?
In terms of having two of the most skilled big men outside the NBA going at it on a huge stage, the Luis Scola vs. Jorge Garbajosa matchup is probably more intriguing, but for NBA scouts (over 20 have already been confirmed) and draft fans, it doesn't get much better than this. We'll keep you posted throughout the series. Both Splitter and Vazquez have been in excellent form lately. Tiago is averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes per game in the playoffs so far, while Fran is coming off a double double (his third straight) with 18 points and 11 rebounds last game to average 12.6 points and 8 rebounds in 31 minutes per game. Check back for updates throughout the week to find out how this fascinating matchup is shaping up.
Antoine Wright living up to the hype
No one has ranked and spoke as highly of Antoine Wright as has throughout the season, but it looks like he is beginning to show NBA teams that that wasn't coming out of thin air. A couple of excellent workouts, especially the one a few days ago in Orlando, have given his stock a huge boost, to the point that a spot in the mid-late lottery is now his to lose. One very impressed NBA executive posed a very interested question: what makes Gerald Green THAT much more attractive right now as a prospect that really separates them that much? They are both terrific athletes and they can both shoot the shit out of the ball. Wright is only two years older than him at the end of the day, and you already know what his floor is because he's that damn good already. If I'm a GM picking Gerald Green in the top five, I'll really be hoping that he turns out to be as good as Wright is right now in two years time
Petro and Fernandez are on their way
Both Johan Petro and Rudy Fernandez's teams have been eliminated from their domestic leagues playoff series, which means that the NBA draft is now theirs to pursue and conquer.
Fernandez put in his best effort in quite some time in possibly the last game of his career in Spain, scoring 16 points on 4/5 shooting from the field and 8/9 from the line in 28 minutes of action. Those were the most minutes he has played since injuring himself almost four months ago. This was also only the second double digit scoring game he's had in eleven games he's played in since coming back.
Petro on the other hand went out on somewhat of a sour note, languishing on the bench once again in what has become almost too familiar of a site for him as his team was pounded by Strasbourg to finish off their season. Petro played only 6 minutes in his final game in France, and scored 3 points on one shot in the process. The assumption here on Pau Orthez's part appeared to be that it's better to hide their NBA prospect from the scouts in the stands rather than advance another stage in the playoffs.
Regardless, Petro will be coming over during the second week of June for private workouts, and has every intention on staying in the draft according to his agent Sam Goldfeder. His buyout is extremely reasonable and will not be a factor in his draft stock.
Wayne Simien flying up draft boards
For a few weeks now we've been hearing about the excellent workouts that Wayne Simien has been having in every city he's worked out in. That really didn't come as a huge surprise, as Simien is clearly one of the most skilled players to be found in this draft, at any position. What did surprise, though, were the rumblings coming out regarding his measurements. Apparently he is indeed measuring out at at least a legit 6-9, and according to one team even taller than that. We've a hard time believing it ourselves, but this is coming from a number of places so there must be something to it. Perhaps NBA teams want to see it with their own eyes, because he was one of the first players invited for the physicals only portion of Chicago, meaning he will not be attending the draft camp.
Simien is ranked amongst the top 20 prospects, sometimes with plenty of room to spare, on basically every NBA team's draft board we've spoken to. The key here will be the red flags (or hopefully, lack thereof) that will be put on him during the physicals in Chicago. He is not testing out as the greatest athlete ever in private workouts so far, so this is something that is going to be huge for him. Another shocker from the alleged measurements department is Ike Diogu's wingspan, which has been sized up from anywhere from 7-3 to 7-5 depending on who you talk to (somehow every team manages to measure them differently, and this really does happen). David Lee at 6-9 Â¾ is another surprising measurement that has popped up in many conversations as well, as the buzz on him has been quite strong as of late.
Bynum working out for/in front of NBA teams
recently had a chance to catch up with Larry Marshall, Andrew Bynum's AAU coach and draft advisor. The 7'0 high school senior has been training in New Jersey with a personal trainer for approximately five hours a day in preparation for the draft and still does not plan on hiring an agent. The plan for Bynum is still the same in that he will stay in the draft only if they are comfortable that he will be a lottery pick. If the Bynum camp does not have that necessary comfort in regards to his draft stock, they made it clear that he will go to Connecticut and play for arguably the best team in the country.
Marshall confirmed that Bynum will still be having his scheduled June 4th workout at Barouch College in New York City along with 6'9 Wake Forest junior Eric Williams (who also has not signed with an agent), 6'10 Illinois senior Jack Ingram, and 6'8 Louisville senior Otis George. There has been no shortage of NBA interest in this workout apparently, with Marshall stating that approximately 23 teams have confirmed their attendance at this event.
Following his private workout on the 4th, Andrew will be heading to Chicago, but only to partake in the physical examination and combine testing. We will be going to Chicago, but Andrew will not be playing or conducting any workouts there, Marshall told . He then went on to tell us that Bynum is still planning on doing his scheduled workout on June 18th, and also has private workouts lined up with Atlanta, Portland, New Orleans, and New York.
Chris Taft continues to drop like a rock
After reportedly stinking up the entire city of New York with the workouts he held over the past two weeks, Chris Taft has decided to take his show on the road. The latest stop was at Golden State yesterday, for an intimate meeting with Ike Diogu. The results, according to a person that was in the gym, were not pretty to watch. Basically Diogu scored on Taft repeatedly...again and again and again, until things started to get embarrassing. On the opposite side of the ball, Diogu stopped Taft in his tracks repeatedly and thoroughly handed it to him. Things got so bad and Taft got so down on himself (again, in the opinion of this eye witness) that people thought he would just quit the workout. That never happened, but it was supposedly close.
Toronto's general manager Rob Babcock, who got an up close and personal look at Taft, suggested earlier in the week that he would certainly be better served by going back to school. Unfortunately that's just not really an option for Taft at this point, as he's already hired an agent, New York City based Billy Ceisler, and forfeited any college eligibility he had remaining. If he had another season playing the way he did this past year, he probably would have zero shot at going in the first round anyway, so as sad as it sounds he appears to have made the right choice.
Missing in action
There are a couple of names who have been conspicuously absent from reports we have received so far from participating players and NBA teams in private workouts so far. Channing Frye, Martell Webster and Sean May are three players who NBA teams still haven't been able to track down for private workouts. All are clients with the same SFX agency.
According to reports, Frye was working out in Chicago at Tim Grover's gym and would not play in the many 5 on 5 pickup games that are organized there a couple of times a week. While I still haven't managed to track down one person who doesn't believe that he has a guarantee in the top 10, I would still be absolutely shocked if that ended up happening on draft night. Ignoring the obvious fact that these rumors are thrown out every single year (Kirk Snyder to Utah at 14, Sergei Monya to Utah at 14, Martynas Andriuskevicius to Phoenix at 7, half the draft with their mothers included to Boston just to name a few from last year) and almost never turn out to be true, promises like that are rarely handed out this early on (this has been out there even before the lottery was conducted), especially not to NCAA seniors.
Just to make sure that I am not missing the boat on anything here, I went back to watch four tapes I have here of Channing Frye from the regular season. Those games were: against Utah, @ Washington, @ Arizona State, and against Washington in the Pac-10 finals. There were many others on television this year as well. Nothing in those games indicated to me that Frye even deserves consideration in the top 20. He looked to be extremely frail and narrow, and without too much potential to add weight. Not even one player I've spoken with who has gone up against him in the past (he was amongst many potential first rounders at the Nike Camp last summer) will question the fact that is incredibly soft, too prone to drift outside of the paint in key stretches of the game and often looks as if he is allergic to any rebound that won't fall directly into his hands. The biggest problem with Frye is that he is nowhere close to being a difference maker for his team at the college level, despite his size. Too often he gets caught into 8-10 minutes where he just goes through the motions and appears to be in the game in spirit only, only being recognizable because of the fact that he is basically three inches taller than anyone else in his conference.
Someone could probably draft him high enough because he is almost 7 feet tall, but to waste such a high pick on a player who has shown the potential throughout his college career to be nothing more than a nice backup tweener big man to add to your rotation seems like a huge reach. Probably even more of a reach than Araujo last year. The fact remains that the only thing that has changed between him being a borderline first rounder two months ago and a supposed top ten pick right now is him hiring Kobe Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, to represent him.
Stock also on the rise:
Julius Hodge- If the NBA kept stats on who has worked out for the most teams, Hodge would be leading the pack by a huge margin so far. Everyday you hear about a new workout he was at, and almost every prospect seems to have matched up with him already. Hodge apparently has been looking good so far, showing off his excellent ball-handling and dominating workouts thanks to his competitiveness and the way he carries himself on the court. His jumpshot and extremely narrow frame are turnoffs, but many teams appear to have him ranked in the top 25 on their board regardless.
Joey Graham- Keep your eyes open for an article that was written following a private workout that attended a few days ago.
Orien Greene- Ditto.
Luther Head- Shooting the lights out and reminding people just how excellent of an athlete he is. A strong camp in Chicago, with point guard skills included, could conceivably push his stock into the late 1st, early 2nd round.
Will Conroy- He's been getting quite a few workouts apparently and has been surprising people with his athleticism and a better than advertised outside stroke. Conroy can also really help himself in Chicago with a strong camp.
Nate Robinson- If there is an NBA scout or executive out there who thinks that Robinson won't be in the league next year, I have yet to meet him. This guy won't back down from anybody.
Matt Walsh- You either love him or you hate him, and Walsh appears to be traveling strictly to the places that love him, as that's been the only feedback so far. The lack of pure shooting guards with his size (6-6) could really help him on draft night. Don't be shocked to even see someone reach for him to make sure that he doesn't get snatched up before they can get their hands on him.
Jason Maxiell- Could possibly be the toughest player in this draft. Everyone loves his athletic ability and the fact that he appears to have a pretty nice stroke from mid-range. Another guy who will surely be in the league for a while, with the only question being how early he will be off the board. Chicago could treat him well if he has a PG like he had in Portsmouth (Will Conroy) next to him.
Stock not on the rise:
Ronny Turiaf- He most certainly isn't a workout type player, as his skill level just isn't that high enough to stand out in any particular area against the extremely deep power forward class in this year's draft. Right now he is losing a lot of ground because of average workouts, but he could bounce back with an excellent showing in Chicago.
Eddie Basden- Another example of a player who just isn't cut out for these type of workouts, as his poor shooting and ball-handling leave him very limited options to put the ball in the basket in one on one and two and two settings. Luckily for him, the NBA doesn't draft solely off workouts.
Kennedy Winston- Winston actually has all the tools needed in the world to look fantastic in workouts, but he just can't seem to put things together. Refuses to put the ball on the basket and finish strong at the hoop, settling for fadeaway jumpers once again as he showed a tendency to do during the season. The word soft almost seems to come up with him.