Word on the Street: Private Workouts Fallout

Word on the Street: Private Workouts Fallout
May 20, 2006, 11:16 pm
DraftExpress presents the latest juice from around the NBA draft world.

The Rockets bring in an intriguing group of point guards for a very competitive workout. The top two rebounders in the NCAA go up head to head. James White moving up the charts. Shakur and Boone flop, Shannon Brown impresses.

Check out our newly released private workout section for a list of all published and unpublished private workouts known to us. Email us below to let us know about more.

Intriguing Workout of the Week:

May 24th, Golden State Warriors:

J.J. Redick
Randy Foye
Mike Gansey
Dan Grunfeld

Top Point Guards Work Out for Houston

The Houston Rockets had an interesting point guard only workout on Friday that has been generating plenty of buzz. The four players in attendance were Sophomores Rajon Rondo, Darius Washington and Daniel Gibson and Senior Randy Foye. Houston’s workouts have earned the reputation of being amongst the most grueling and physical in the NBA, and this one was apparently no exception. This was the first workout for all the players here except Randy Foye. Here are some of things we heard about coming out of the workout. All opinions expressed are those of the NBA sources we spoke with and not DraftExpress.

Randy Foye:

The most “polished” of the bunch, Randy Foye probably had the best all-around workout when taking everything into consideration including outside shooting, defense, aggressiveness, physical attributes, ball-handling, rebounding and experience. Foye shot the ball very well, particularly off the dribble, and appears to be enjoying the fact that he is no longer the sole focus of every defense he goes up against like he was at Villanova. He measured out at 6-3 (down from the 6-4 he was listed at) with an NBA ready body. The biggest concern to come out of this workout was the fact that he showed that he is almost exclusively a shooting guard in terms of the skills he possesses, not a combo guard, and certainly not a point guard. This raises legitimate concerns about his potential to be a starter in the NBA, but no one doubts the fact that he will be a terrific rotation player. Teams drafting from 8-19 looking for an immediate scoring impact player will look very hard at Foye.

Daniel Gibson:

There was not a significant gap between the best player in this workout and the 4th best, but Gibson is probably the one who would land in this spot if someone would be forced to rank them. Gibson’s biggest problem was the fact that he was extremely nervous to start things off, and therefore shot the ball poorly by his standards in the shooting drills. Defensively, he struggled a bit guarding the pick and roll, showing his inexperience in this area as well as his lack of defensive technique. Once the two on two matchups kicked off, his nerves began to wore off and he did a better job in the remainder of the workout, particularly on the defensive end. How impressive Gibson will look likely depends on how well he manages to shoot the ball. Indecisiveness has been a problem for him throughout the season, so he must continue to stay aggressive.

Rajon Rondo:

Of the four players in attendance, Rondo showed the most potential of anyone as an NBA point guard. His athleticism measured out off the charts both in the agility testing and in the two on twos, where absolutely no one could stay in front of him defensively. His shooting was “much better than advertised” in the drills, something that comes as a big surprise to his detractors. Once the two on twos kicked off his shot reverted back to “the old Rondo,” and quickly lost confidence when forced to execute his shot off the dribble. The way he penetrated the lane and either finished creatively or found the open man makes up for this, though. Defensively, he was very good as expected. Despite his frail appearance at the moment, he has wiry strength and knows how to use it well. Measuring out at 6-2 was important for him, and his body looks like it will be grown into once he does some work on it and continues to mature physically. All in all he had an impressive workout, especially considering that this was only his first.

Darius Washington

Washington was the biggest revelation of this workout relative to the expectations coming from the players coming in. He is clearly not in very good shape at the moment and needs to lose at least 10 pounds to help him out athletically, but still did a good job showing off his all-around talent. Washington was physical and extremely aggressive, competing very hard and giving everyone he matched up with a hard time. His shooting from the college 3-point line was excellent, and he showed very nice ball-handling skills throughout. He also did a good job getting his own shot in the two on twos, and knocked down almost every look he got. Towards the end of the competitive portion of the workout he injured his calf after landing on Gibson following an impressive dunk. He was not seriously hurt, but did not get to participate in the agility testing at the end. He measured out a bit shorter than expected, only 6-1.

Top Two Rebounders Collide in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Lakers scheduled an interesting workout this past Friday pitting Louisiana Tech Junior Paul Millsap against Hartford fifth-year Senior Kenny Adeleke. Also joining them were Seniors Maurice Ager of Michigan State and Bobby Jones of Washington. What made this workout interesting is the fact that Millsap and Adeleke were neck and neck all season long in the NCAA’s rebounding statistic category, with Millsap edging Adeleke out eventually and winning the rebounding crown for the 3rd straight season.

Adeleke had his revenge on Friday, though. According to multiple sources who were in the gym, he got the better of Millsap by far and left the Lakers wondering which of the two power forwards has better potential at the NBA level both now and down the road. Adeleke measured out an inch taller (6-9 opposed to 6-8) and shot the ball better both from mid-range and the college 3-point line. Millsap did not show up out of shape, but at a whopping 264 pounds on his 6-8 frame, his body has a long ways to go and will probably need to be overhauled completely (ala Udonis Haslem) to reach his full potential as an athlete. He currently struggles to get off the ground on his first and second bounce and noticeably lacks quickness defending in and out of the post, which Adeleke exploited. A series of power and finesse moves were too much for Millsap to handle, particularly when being stretched outside of the paint. The Lakers run a lot of sets that are pulled straight from their Triangle offense to see how players might react. Their full-court ball-handling drills are also more geared towards the full-court rather than the half-court like most teams run.

In terms of the Swingmen, it was Maurice Ager who had the best showing. Ager might be “leading” all draft prospects so far in terms of the amount of workouts he’s scheduled--six--with this being the second time we’ve heard of him playing extremely well. Ager is testing out as both a freak athlete and a killer scoring threat, jumping extremely well and shooting the ball with great confidence from the college and NBA 3-point range. Being away from Michigan State’s rigid offensive system appears to be allowing him more freedom to show off his individual skills. The Lakers oddly tested the players from just a step inside the NBA 3-point line, and Ager hit an impressive 18 of his 20 shots in the drills. He is measuring out a legit 6-5 with good length, which is important for him since some have speculated that he might be shorter. His quick feet and experience under Tom Izzo make him a very capable defender in these type of settings.

His matchup Bobby Jones does not seem to have anywhere near the same polish on the offensive end, particularly in terms of his perimeter shooting and ball-handling ability, but still managed to flash excellent potential as an NBA player. He is measuring out a legit 6-7 with excellent size and good strength, and doing extremely well in the agility testing. Defensively, he is as usual terrific, but he might be even more impressive off the court with his focus and attitude. He did a good job keeping Maurice Ager in front of him for almost the entire workout, but Ager still hit a number of tough, contested jump-shots with a hand in his face.

Flight White Skying up the Charts

If Marcus Williams of UConn was (and still somewhat is) the talk of the town last week, James White is the player who is generating the most amount of discussion these past few days. Most everyone we’ve spoken to--from all different camps and backgrounds—seem to be thinking that his stock is shooting up the charts at the moment, to the point that they could see him end up in the 1st round, if he’s not there already.

Blessed with a fantastic 6-7 frame, super long arms and possibly the most explosive vertical leap in this draft crop, White is a player who was always going to turn some heads once he enters workouts. What’s standing out and surprising everyone who has seen him is how well he is shooting the ball from distance from the perimeter, as well as just how mature he is off the court. White has been dominant everywhere he’s been so far and was invited back to every single NBA team he has worked out for, which is not very common. With the buzz he’s generating he would be able to work out for the next 20 days straight if he pleased, but of course will not so in order to not break down towards the home stretch.

White is currently training for a few days with IMG's Joe Abunassar and Dan Barto at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, where he is again drawing rave reviews for his skills and attitude. What’s scary is that the staff there claims he is nowhere near his full potential in terms of his where his body is at strength-wise, which means he might even test out better once his core strength and lower body are worked on.

Based off the feedback he’s getting, White is considering passing on the Orlando pre-draft camp altogether and focusing on a select number of teams drafting in the 1st round.

Josh Boone, Mustafa Shakur Flop in Private Workout

Representatives from 17 different NBA teams were in attendance on Thursday to watch a series of hour-long workouts at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Most of the buzz coming out was, as usual with NBA types, of the negative variety, although there were a number of positives to take away.

The first workout pitted George Washington Senior Mike Hall against Maryland’s Nik Caner-Medley, along with two other anonymous players. The feedback coming here was mixed, with some saying that Hall’s shot looked impressive, Caner-Medley showed good toughness, and for the most part it came out a draw. Next was Justin Williams of Wyoming against James Augustine of Illinois, along with Michigan State’s Shannon Brown vs. Arizona’s Mustafa Shakur. The big men Williams and Augustine were surprisingly asked to attempt a good number of NBA 3’s, which they shot--according to one source--like “Scud missiles.” Shannon Brown shot the ball extremely well in the drills, while Mustafa Shakur shocked and horrified the crowd with his incredibly awkward looking shooting mechanics.

The guards were put in a better situation to succeed as there was not that much emphasis put on post play, and Shannon Brown took full advantage to show the scouts in attendance just how impressive of a defender and athlete he is. The players were put through a one on one full-court drill where dummy defense is played until the player with the ball reached the half-court line. Brown did a great job here of getting right in Shakur’s grill and using his powerful body and quick feet to impose his will on him for every second the two were on the court. Shakur showed impressive ball-handling skills in fending him off, but not much else, and clearly had a tough time getting his shot off with his flawed shooting mechanics. On the other end, Brown was just too strong for Shakur to handle, and he either pushed him around for easy baskets or got by him for an impressive finish. Most people we spoke to came away saying that Brown was the best player in any of the workouts here, and the one that helped his stock the most. On the negative side, his ball-handling could still use some refinement and there was no way, according to one scout, to tell “whether he’s an undersized 2-guard or a combo guard.”

In terms of the bigs, it was tough to draw too many conclusions due to the nature of the workout. Impartial observers we spoke to who were in attendance thought that Justin Williams was put in a situation to fail due to the fact that the workout was “organized to favor Augustine,” as well as that he’s simply “not skilled enough” to excel in this type of setting. Williams blocked Augustine’s very first shot, but once Augustine adjusted and went to his go-to move, the spinning left-handed jump-hook, he had him beat on numerous occasions. Augustine played very hard throughout, was aggressive and did not back down, which is very important for him.

The next workout featuring Taquan Dean, Will Blalock, Marcellus Sommervile and Denham Brown was more drill oriented and therefore not quite as compelling. The guards Dean and Blalock beat up on each other excessively and for the most part neutralized each other. Amongst the swingmen, Denham Brown showed some skills, but did not stand out in terms of any one thing he did. Most people actually came away the most impressed with Marcellus Sommerville, who according to one scout “could not miss the entire workout.” His body appears to be in fantastic shape and he’s clearly a superior athlete. His ball-handling is still a question mark, but he may have earned himself either another look at the Orlando pre-draft camp or more private workouts with NBA teams.

The last workout was the most disappointing, as Josh Boone decided not to play competitively and instead held a slow and lethargic big man drill oriented showing pitting him against an unguarded rim. According to one observer, Boone “displayed everything he does poorly and should go back to school if the workout is any indication of his ability.” Another was not as kind: “he had a chance to show that he has a heartbeat with a dozen NBA teams in attendance, and failed miserably. No NBA team likes to watch a player shoot jump-hooks by himself in a gym, especially when we’re talking about a guy who may or may not be draftable. We’re not talking about Gerald Green here who can afford to do that.”

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