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Thursday, June 10, 2004
Telfair is glaring omission
By Chad Ford
# Chad Ford's mock draft: Standard version | Slideshow version
CHICAGO -- NBA Draft forecasters will consult anything -- the stars, chicken bones, changes in barometric pressure -- in an effort to gauge where a guy will go in the draft.
Historically, one of the most interesting and accurate gauges of a player's draft stock is the NBA's confidential "physical only" list.
By now you know that most of the top players in the draft do not play at the pre-draft camp. Every year, the NBA flies in 15 to 20 of the top prospects not playing in the camp to give them physicals and run them through the combine.
The biggest importance of getting an invite is that every team doctor in the league gets to poke and prod you. Without a league certified physical, agents must obtain one on their own and often have to submit their clients to numerous medical tests as the go from city to city. Here in Chicago, it's one-stop shopping. Getting official heights, weights, vertical jumps and strength testing are also important.
The league consults a committee made of GMs and scouts to produce the list. Getting on the workout only list is a pretty sure sign that your draft stock is high. Getting left off the list can be the first sign that things are going terribly wrong.
You can't read everything into a list like this, but it's a pretty decent rule of thumb. Insider exclusively obtained a copy of the secret list on Wednesday. While the names on the list are interesting, it's the names that aren't on the list that are raising a few eyebrows around the league.
Who's on it?
Andris Biedrins, PF, Latvia
Josh Childress, SF, Stanford
Luol Deng, SF, Duke
Ben Gordon, PG, UConn
Devin Harris, PG, Wisconsin
Dwight Howard, PF, Southwest Christian Academy
Kris Humprhies, PF, Minnesota
Andre Iguodala, SG, Arizona
Luke Jackson, SG/SF, Oregona
Al Jefferson, PF, Prentiss (MS)
Shaun Livingston, PG, Peoria (IL)
Jameer Nelson, PG, St. Joseph's
Emeka Okafor, PF, UConn
Peter John Ramos, C, Puerto Rico
J.R. Smith, SG, New Jersey
Josh Smith, SF, Oak Hill Academy (VA)
Kirk Snyder, SG, Nevada
Tiago Splitter, PF, Brazil
The two big surprises on the list were Splitter and Ramos. Splitter's stock has been all over the board this year. He's in Chicago for a workout on Friday, which may explain why he got on the invite list, but other top international prospects are here too and they didn't get invited.
Ramos' stock has been on the rise all spring and this may be an indication that the NBA believes he will go fairly high in the draft.
No physical for you
Here's a look at a few notable names that were left off the list:
Rafael Araujo, C, BYU
David Harrison, C, Colorado
Pavel Podkolzine, C, Siberia
Peja Samardziski, C, Serbia
Donta Smith, SF, Juco
Robert Swift, C, Bakersfield (CA)
Sebastian Telfair, PG, Brooklyn
Dorell Wright, SG, South Kent Prep (CT)
# There were a number of surprises here. Telfair's name stands out because he's the most prominent name and it may corroborate reports that his stock is sinking like a rock in workouts. However, a few other names are even more puzzling.
Araujo is widely considered a top 12-20 prospect in the draft. Why isn't he here? One league source claimed that he was left off the list because he agreed to play in the pre-draft camp and then pulled out. There are some politics involved with the list and Araujo wouldn't be the first guy who didn't get an invite because he upset someone.
Podkolzine didn't get an invite, according to his agent, because the league told him that the physical he took last year at the camp would suffice. Given Podkolzine's medical history and recent bone break, that's mind-boggling. Podkolzine was willing to come to the combine, but wasn't invited.
Samardziski and Swift are both considered locks for the first round and both players will likely be off the board before the 20th pick. Again, this may be more politics than draft stock at this point.
# High school point guard Shaun Livingston had a big workout in the morning for the Bobcats. The Bobcats are absolutely the best fit for Livingston, but several NBA sources are claiming that they are still leaning heavily toward Stanford's Josh Childress right now. Livingston shot the ball much better for the Bobcats, but it still sounds like they're afraid of the risk. I think Childress is going to be a good to very good player in the league, but in two or three years the Bobcats will be wishing they took Livingston.
# Wisconsin point guard Devin Harris struggled in his workout against Northwestern's Tim Young on Wednesday for the Warriors. Harris didn't shoot the ball as well as he normally does and struggled against Young's physical defense.
# Russian forward Viktor Khryapa has been in town and, according to several reports, he's been very good in workouts the past several days.
# SFX held a big group workout for every NBA team on Wednesday featuring Sasha Vujacic, Roko Leni Ukic, Ha Seung Jin and Erazem Lorbek. Over a 100 people from the NBA attended the workout.
# The big story there was Vujacic. He has gained a significant amount of muscle since we saw him last year in Chicago. The extra 15 pounds of weight made him look much sturdier. Last year some teams were worried that his slight frame would be a problem in the pros.
Vujacic, a 6-foot-7 point guard from Slovenia, shot the lights out in the workout. He also showed a nice handle and got up and down the floor very well. Last year he was a bubble first-round guy. This year Vujacic should be firmly planted in the first round. He's already worked out for the Lakers (they almost gave him a late first-round promise last season) and has a number of workouts scheduled in the coming days. I think he's a very good prospect who could go as high as 17 to Atlanta but likely won't slip past the Lakers at No. 27.
Wednesday's workout cemented Sasha Vujacic's place in the mid first round.
Ukic also looked very good in the workout, though scouts who saw him in Treviso at the Eurocamp got a much better handle on what he can and can't do. At this workout he showed his quickness and actually shot the ball pretty well. Still, it's a crime he's not playing in the pre-draft camp. After watching the point guards on the floor on Wednesday, I think he probably would've been the best prospect there. He'll likely pull out of the draft and try again next year.
Ha and Lorbek beat each other up down at the other end of the gym. Lorbek was very good at the Eurocamp in Trevisio. Scouts claim he's not athletic enough to play in the pros but I'm not so sure. He'll never be a star, but I saw enough athleticism to make him, at the very least, a decent rotation player in the league. Lorbek is another guy who will probably return to Europe.
Ha is tougher to figure out. The size and strength are there. He showed some real basketball skills and decent agility for a kid his size. But until someone rolls out the basketball and he starts playing 5-on-5, how can anyone be sure?
# The other big workout of the day was Western Carolina's Kevin Martin, a 6-foot-7 two guard who ranked second nationally in scoring at 24.9 ppg last season. Martin is tall, athletic and has good, but not great jump shot. We walked in a few minutes late for the workout, but for the 30 minutes we saw him, he didn't shoot the ball particularly well.
Martin's decision to pull out of the Chicago pre-draft camp made waves here. I'm not sure it was a smart decision. Martin's the type of guy who would excel in the pre-draft camp. He's quick, knows how to create his own shot and, most importantly, he's always looking for his shot. There aren't that many guys in Chicago who fit that description.
Watching Martin go one-on-one with Purdue's Kenneth Lowe (a two-time Big 10 defensive player of the year) gave you some idea of what he could do, but honestly it's very tough to gauge players in that environment.
Three teams -- Miami, Denver and Boston -- like Martin. I'm not sure Boston or Miami like him as a first-round pick. Boston might. The Celtics are looking for a taller, athletic wing and Martin fits the description. He may be in the running for one of Boston's last picks of the first round along with Dorell Wright.
Chances are Martin will stay in the draft. There's talk that he has a promise in the 30s and, given that he can't play any better than he's played at Western Carolina, that may be enough to keep him in the draft.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Sato, West don't measure up
By Chad Ford
# Chad Ford's mock draft: Standard version | Slideshow version
CHICAGO -- The two most important things for every NBA prospect to do at the Chicago pre-draft camp? Play well and think tall.
The first day of games got underway in Chicago, but the real intrigue went down at around 5:45 p.m. when the league released the heights, weights and wingspans of everyone in the camp.
Despite the spirited play taking place on the court, a quick scan through the gym saw just about everyone's head down trying to find out the real story about who measured up.
There's an unhealthy obsession in the NBA with height and unspoken rules about minimum sizes for each position. You'd think, with the seriousness that folks comb over these things, that they were strapping each pick in a roller coaster. It's only a matter of time before some guy holding a stick with a red line painted on it starts turning away draft prospects at the door.
Exceed the average heights and your stock rises. Go below the minimum ones and it plummets. I asked around the gym a little bit on Wednesday and here's the general rule of thumb.
Point Guard: Average height: 6-2 Minimum height: 6-0
Shooting Guard: Avg height: 6-6 Minimum height: 6-4
Small Forward: Avg height: 6-8 Minimum height: 6-6
Power Forward: Avg height: 6-10 Minimum height: 6-8
Center: Avg height 7-0 Minimum height: 6-10
Notice that what we're really playing with is a two-inch cushion. But it can get even narrower than that. A 6-foot-8 power forward is OK. A 6-foot-7 one is undersized. What's silly about the whole obsession is that other things figure into the mix. A shorter player plays taller if he has a long wingspan. That's why Dwyane Wade, despite standing at just 6-foot-3, was tall enough to play the two. Vertical jumping ability and quickness also factor in.
As for the shoes-without shoes debate . . . NBA players are listed with shoes for their official NBA heights. The without-shoes measurement is only useful to determine whether a prospect is wearing lifts.
Still, we hear the same refrain every year. The list comes out and many guys hear their stock crashing to the floor. . .
Here's a look at the guys the janitors had to mop up off the floor at around 5:50 p.m.
Romain Sato | SG | 6' 2" w/o shoes | 6' 3.25" w/ shoes | 6' 11" wingspan
Sato is way undersized to play his only real position in the league -- shooting guard. Some of that's going to be mitigated by an enormous wingspan a la Dwyane Wade. Still, for a guy like Sato, the revelation he was only 6-foot-2 was a huge blow.
Delonte West | SG | 6' 1.5" w/o shoes | 6' 2.75" w/ shoes | 6' 6" wingspan
West is another guy who saw his stock crash quite a bit with the revelation about his size. That's why he's in camp trying to prove to scouts that he's a point guard, not a shooting guard. Will it work? He had five assists on Wednesday.
Brandon Bass | PF | 6' 6.25" w/o shoes | 6' 7.25" w/ shoes | 7' 2.5" wingspan
Bass missed the coveted 6-foot-8 designation by a mere .75 inches. However, the fact that he has that enormous wingspan will help him with NBA teams. Elton Brand recorded the exact same measurement here and no one calls him undersized anymore.
Ryan Gomes | PF | 6' 6.5" w/o shoes | 6' 7.75" w/shoes | 7' 2" wingspan
Gomes may be a guy who was actually helped by this measurement. Some scouts thought he might be as short as 6-foot-6 with shoes. That he almost cleared 6-foot-8 and the fact that he's got that freaky wingspan probably means that he'll be OK at the four in the league.
Rickey Paulding | SG | 6' 2.75" w/o shoes | 6' 4" w/ shoes | 6' 9.5" wingspan
Paulding just snuck over the 6-foot-4 inch hurdle. That's significant because he was listed two inches taller in college. His wingspan helps him make up for some of the size he's lost.
Everyone else at the camp pretty much measured in the right range for his position. Bernard Robinson is the shortest guy in the camp standing 5' 7.75" without shoes and 5' 9" with shoes. He looks like Gary Coleman out there, but he's measuring taller than most people expected him to.
The only guy in the camp to measure over 7-feet is Seton Hall's Ales Chan. Charlotte's Martin Iti had an amazing 7-foot-5 inch wingspan despite standing just 6' 8.5" without shoes.
Meanwhile, back on the court, the first round of games got under way on Wednesday. While there was no one who really dominated, here's a look at who's hot and who's not at the first day of Chicago.
Beno Udrih | PG | 6-4 | Slovenia
Udrih was the one real buzz guy after the first day. First of all, he measured at a very respectable 6' 3.75" with shoes. That's above average for a point guard. His play was also above average. Playing against Georgia's Rashad Wright, Udrih ended with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, handed out a day-high six assists and played with a poise that every GM is looking for in his point guard.
Udrih is 22-years-old and has a lot more European experience than most players in the draft. Several teams liked him before the camp, and the feedback from scouts on Wednesday was that just about everyone liked after watching him in drills and the first game. While he's still firmly planted in the second round, one team, the Pacers, likes him a lot and could consider him with the last pick in the first round.
Andre Emmett | SG | 6-4 | Texas Tech
Emmett has been helping himself in NBA workouts and now in Chicago. Maybe the fact that he played here last year gave him an edge; he scored 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting. He also had a camp-high four steals and played stifling defense on Romain Sato for much of the game. I also saw him lock down J.R. Smith earlier in the month.
His ability to score is unquestioned at the college level. Combine the defense, NBA body and the decent shooting he's shown and he could be a nice second-round pick for someone.
Nate Robinson | SG | 5-9 | Washington
Robinson is the little engine that could. He willed his team to victory in the first game, scoring a camp-high 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting. Many of those points came in the fourth quarter. He also grabbed four boards and handed out four assists and was just a spark plug up and down the court. I can't imagine any scenario where he's a first-rounder, but enough teams appear to like him that he might get a look in the second if he stays in the draft.
Jackson Vroman | C | 6-11 | Iowa State
The big guy was decent in Portsmouth and in several NBA workouts, and was very active on Wednesday, scoring 17 points and grabbing six offensive boards. Vroman got to the free-throw line an impressive 17 times and was just active all game. That's the type of thing that helps big guys at these camps.
Jackie Butler | PF | 6-10 | Prep School
The only high school kid in the group played like he belonged here, scoring 13 points and grabbing a Wednesday-high 10 rebounds. Nine of those boards were on the offensive end as Butler used his weight (a robust 263 pounds) to bang and jockey for position. He's not bad.
Andre Brown | PF | 6-10 | DePaul
Brown's superior athleticism is showing here again. He was very good in Portsmouth and did a nice job around the basket, scoring 10 points and grabbing four boards. He's one of the guys who's been working out with Tim Grover at Hoops Gym the past few months and it really shows. His body looks great. Brown isn't the most polished player here, but when you look at how he plays, he's just looks like a guy who will make a roster somewhere.
Desmond Farmer | SG | 6-6 | USC
He's got an infectious energy to his game that draws everyone in. I'm not sure what kind of NBA player he'll be, but he's the Mark Madsen of shooting guards. He's a guy who will work and play so hard, one team is bound to fall in love with him. He had 14 points and six boards on Wednesday.
Chris Duhon | PG | 6-1 | Duke
Maybe the journeyman comment by Bernie Bickerstaff has some truth to it. Duhon was basically non-existent on Wednesday, scoring just two points and handing out one assist in 19 minutes. Blah.
Romain Sato | SG | 6-3 | Xavier
Was shut down by Texas Tech's Andre Emmett. Went 3-for-10 from the field and grabbed just one rebound in 19 frustrating minutes.
Drago Pasalic | PF | 6-10| Croatia
Pasalic showed a nice shooting touch in the Eurocamp, but over here he's overwhelmed physically. He went just 1-for-8 from the field and was a defensive liability for the most part.
Rich Melzer | SF | 6-9 | Wisconsin River Falls
A terrible shooting night (3-for-12) wrecked his stock.
Tony Allen | SG | 6-4 | Oklahoma
Word leaked that Allen didn't want to come to the camp and had to be rousted by his agent just to get in the gym. That didn't play well with scouts. Neither did his six-point, four-turnover performance against less-talented competition.
Gonzaga's Blake Stepp, Rutgers' Herve Lamizana and the Ukraine's Sergei Lishouk were all injured on Wednesday and won't participate for the rest of the camp.
I'm off the Sato bandwagon. We've already got a guy that's too small, but I think Fred can turn into a combo guard.
Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
And life itself, rushing over me
Life itself, the wind in black elms,
Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you