Ha, I thought the Bayless one was pretty funny.
First Impressions: With the NBA Pre-Draft Camp winding down today, and the top picks having been "introduced" to the media, it's time to talk about first impressions. Now basketball expertise aside, yesterday's media availability was the first time most media people got to see these guys, and some handled themselves better than others. Here is how it played:
Derrick Rose: Rose was a pro, he handled the questions well, played coy and clever and was insightful and funny. A little shy and overwhelmed by the process, as most would be, he had some jokes about former teammate Joey Dorsey claiming to have inside information, and was genuinely a humble, nice young man.
Michael Beasley: Beasley had some fun with this process, but along the way came off as a child. He didn't take anyone's questions seriously and had a few gems that will define his campaign to be the top pick. When asked about maturity he says, "I'm 19, how mature do you expect me to be?" – Not exactly the words a GM wants to hear. Beasley was fun and engaging, but the lack of maturity about this process was evident, and clearly contrasted by others who were very dialed in.
Jerryd Bayless: Jerryd has a chip on his shoulder and an edge to him, that was obvious. In joking with another member of the media, the question was asked: "Did one of us run over his dog?" Jerryd was annoyed with repeated questions, and was hard to like. He may be a heck of basketball player, but he has "jerk" written all over him from a first impression stand point.
O.J. Mayo: Mayo was great, he handled the BDA questions tactfully. He was engaging and charismatic and spent a lot of time talking in a very genuine way. Of all of the guys in the room, Mayo was by far the most surprising in his manner and character. He is very easy to like. He is very thoughtful in his responses and really came off as classy and professional.
Kevin Love: Love is by far the best interview in the class. Kevin is funny, he is engaging. He has a great personality and shares that with everyone. He really came across as a class act. He may stink it up on the basketball court, but he is clearly ahead of the curve as a communicator.
D.J Augustin: D.J. was the surprise, for the most part his reputation did NOT proceed him, and he was a welcome surprise. He was thoughtful in his answers, made eye contact, listened as much as he spoke, didn't use clichés, and was a very nice interview. D.J. is working out in Houston with John Lucas and could surprise a lot of people who have him pegged in the middle of the lottery. Character matters in this league and D.J. has a ton of it.
Anthony Randolph: The resemblance to Marcus Camby was striking, both physically and in how he communicates. Anthony was clearly overwhelmed by the process. He is very shy and quiet. He needs to add some bulk to his frame or he's going to get killed at this level. Very nice young man, but you can see he is very raw and there will be a steep learning curve.
Brook Lopez: Brook is almost scary in his size and physical appearance. He is very engaging as a speaker, but still came off rather stiff. It will be interesting to see how good he can be at the NBA level, especially in his first two years. It's easy to see Robert Swift in Brook Lopez. He is big, and very developed so it's easy to see why he is the top big man prospect in the class.
Eric Gordon: Eric was an interesting interview because he really had to answer some tough questions, not only about Kelvin Sampson and Illinois, but also about his moving around from point guard to off guard. Scouts aren't sold on his position in the NBA, and he didn't do a very good job convincing anyone that he had the answer either. Eric is a tweener, and needs to work on his sales pitch.
Came across a little more material this morning
Big guns show up
by Matthew Kamalsky / May 31, 2008
With this year’s edition of the Pre-Draft Camp drawing to a close, executives got the chance to watch the likes of Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley perform in basic drills for the first time this offseason. The day also featured the usual three games and a combine, giving the participants one last chance to show their stuff.
Friday’s activities were highlighted by the presence of this draft’s top 15 prospects. The session consisted of transition shooting drills, and then some position-specific work. While these drills don’t indicate much about a player, it is an easy way to gauge how much work they’ve put in recently, and how they approach practice.
Anyone who watched the Memphis Tigers play this year knows that Derrick Rose is a freak athlete, but nothing makes that more apparent than watching him participate in offensive drills again token defense. He may be the best athlete in basketball, casually attacking the basket at a speed that most players can’t even achieve in game settings. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but made a few NBA threes and showed off his amazing repertoire of crossovers and change of direction moves. The fact that he not only participated, but went hard on every repetition is probably a good sign.
Anthony Randolph, on the other hand, struggled to hit anything, but it is his potential, not his current skill level, that has him slated as a lottery pick by most scouting services. He has ridiculous length and athleticism, and it shows when he attacks the rim, but he’s got a long way to go.
No player struggled as much as JaVale McGee amongst the lottery-bound participants, and while he’s a tremendous athlete, he needs to work on staying confident after he misses from the perimeter. His calling card is his jumper at this point, but he was struggling to hit anything.
Jerryd Bayless was essentially going through the motions, not trying to simulate game situations and looking generally disinterested. He was still hitting his shots consistently, and his ability as a shooter can’t be questioned.
Donte Greene went out of his way to show off his athleticism every chance he got, throwing down a number of impressive tomahawk dunks. His jumper looked decent, but his ballhandling still needs work.
Russell Westbrook is one of the most impressive athletes in the draft, and while he looked good in transition shooting drills, he went from making 1 of 5 shots in his first rep of shooting coming off of cuts to making all 5 on his second rep. He’s obviously got the raw tools to be great, and just needs the right situation to excel.
Darrell Arthur had a very nice showing, looking crisp in the post, and the mid-range, while managing to bank in a couple of three’s from the top of key on consecutive reps. Brook Lopez was the other big man in Arthur’s group, and isn’t the smoothest post player, but is effective nonetheless.
Kevin Love seems to have trimmed down a bit, and looked bouncier in transition drills. He’ll always excel in this setting, given the polish he has on his game. Joe Alexander is in a similar boat, looking effortless in almost everything he does.
DJ Augustin is a heck of an offensive player, knocking down his shots with consistency and showing a very quick first step. He shot the ball well, but not as well as OJ Mayo, who looked simply incredible from the mid-range. DeAndre Jordan is long and athletic, but he’s really raw, and it shows.
Michael Beasley can shoot the NBA three, which should render every team outside of the top-two worried. He looked scary good in drills. Eric Gordon can hit the three effectively, and has tremendous footwork for a player his age.
Though these drills may not mean much, they are a useful point of departure as we move into private workouts. Measurement results from the combine should be available soon, bringing with them even more insight into these players.