Individual workouts, then the draft camp
As the now 30 teams arrived at the Moody Bible College to see 60 of the better available players, agents were holding workouts for the select few invitees at various gyms across the city.
One such workout was for Brazilian point guard Marcelo Huertas, who was pushed to – and beyond the limit – by famed conditioning guru Tim Grover. Huertas was watched by the Pacers, Spurs, Lakers, Raptors and Clippers. As he went through all the various skill drills, it was obvious that he could shoot the ball, going for nearly 50 percent from beyond the NBA three-point arc. Most left the gym impressed, but looking for game conditions before offering an on-the-record evaluation. The mood was good and the workout pronounced a success.
Next up in the gym was a private workout for Devin Harris before the Los Angeles Clippers. As the media was ushered out of the gym, one couldn't help but wonder why Harris was being worked out by the team with the second pick in the draft unless a deal might be on the table to trade down.
Meanwhile cross-town, Donta Smith worked out before 19 teams who came away excited and impressed.
And then there was the matter of the official camp itself.
Day one is used to prepare the players for the hectic, often grueling events of the following three days. Six teams, with 10 players each are introduced to each other and immediately put into two groups. Coaches then teach plays, evaluate some strengths and weaknesses and begin to run 5x5 scrimmages.
Most of the top players available this year will arrive in Chicago on Friday to make themselves available for the league’s tests. Meanwhile, among those who did arrive to play were 23 from the Portsmouth Camp, eight international candidates, one lone high school player and two college seniors – Andre Emmett and Marcus Moore – who played in last year’s camp, and elected to return to school for their final year of eligibility.
While day one is almost impossible to use as an evaluation tool, some players did stand out during the 5x5’s and practices. Among those making an early mark were Andre Barrett of Seton Hall, who showed the same quickness and floor leadership skills that were on display in Portsmouth, Aerick Sanders from San Diego State – great energy, elevation and ability to be around the ball and make good things happen – and Ales Chan of Seton Hill (previously West Virginia), who demonstrated an outstanding big man’s game.
Gonzaga’s Blake Stepp was the only pre-camp casualty, arriving with an ankle he sprained three weeks ago. Doctors and trainers examined him and he was not cleared to participate in the camp. No replacement has been named as yet.
Ex UCLA, Rhode Island and Georgia head man Jim Harrick was on hand – working for the Denver Nuggets.
New front office Raptors were represented by general manager Rob Babcock and Alex English, director of player development, who is also a camp coach.
Day two offers more drills, but all six teams will play an actual game with referees and stats, while trainers from 5-6 teams are on hand to put the players through individual tests to measure several key skills.
George Rodecker is in his twelfth season of providing expert analysis on the NBA Draft. He has been diligent in pursuing analysis by acquiring the consensus opinions of experts. Rodecker also writes for Basketball Times, Eastern Basketball and College Hoops Insider, as well as consulting privately with several pro teams and leagues around the globe
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