Word on the Street: the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp

Word on the Street: the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp
May 27, 2005, 01:30 am
The Chicago Pre-Draft Camp at Moody Bible:

This annual camp will be held from the 7th of June to the 10th in Chicago and has once again been confirmed to be in attendance this year.

We will be headed out a bit early this year (on the weekend before) to watch some private workouts that will be held around the city. A number of workouts with top lottery prospects are already scheduled, but we are open for invites to more if anyone is interested in having us.

In addition to the ones scheduled for Chicago, we are booked to attend other workouts with many potential first rounders and lottery picks in different cities around the country over the next month. Merely another way we can provide you with the most comprehensive coverage humanly possible with the resources available to us. All 100% free of course, the way it's supposed to be.

This year's Chicago pre-draft camp will have an interesting twist to it. This is all done in an effort to make Moody Bible the first and last stop on the scouting trail again, and ensuring that NBA GM's and executives will have very little reason to leave the gym. For the first time, there will most likely be lottery prospects working out in Moody Bible as well. This is the first year that this new system will implemented, and it will be fascinating to see how this plays out.

In years past, there used to be first round picks galore present at the Chicago pre-draft camp, ensuring that the eyes of NBA decision makers were never far away and that the cream of the crop of every draft class would eventually rise to the top through highly competitive matchups featuring the best prospects that the NCAA and International leagues have to offer.

The Chicago pre-draft camp, much like the Portsmouth Invitational tournament which is for seniors only, has taken more and more of a beating as the years have dragged on. We are at the point where only three players from last year's camp ended up being picked in the first round (Delonte West at 24, Tony Allen at 25, and Beno Udrih at 28).

As the camp wore on last year, many scouts and GM's apparently began to feel that they had enough of the supposed "mediocrity". They got edgy because they felt that they were wasting their time sitting there while sexier prospects were working out in different parts of Chicago. The picture below was taken by me inside the gym on the last day of the camp, and although there are other places that people were watching the action from, it accurately represents the mood and gives you a feel for the amount of people in the gym compared with its capacity.


Where did everyone go? If you read our reports from last year, you may have figured out that some of the best action seen during the day happened between the morning and evening sessions, where a four hour lunch break allowed NBA teams to travel to various gyms around the city to check out top flight prospects in private workouts conducted by teams or the players' agents. We can only guess how many other workouts were held while the actual camp was going on, but we attended quite a few ourselves.

This year it looks like the NBA has decided to take a proactive approach and fight back.

Instead of losing a large portion of the crowd every time a major workout was conducted, and in turn losing part of the relevance of the camp itself, a new strategy will apparently be implemented.

According to one of the main organizers of the camp, Matt Winick, who is the Vice President of Scheduling and Game Operations for the NBA: The agents of several prospects have been contacted to discuss the possibility of conducting workouts at Moody Bible during the Chicago pre-draft camp, in between sessions during the afternoon. Although there is no schedule in place at this point, these will obviously be top prospects only that would have otherwise held these workouts in other gyms in Chicago.

What does this mean?

According to our interpretation, the league will invite select prospects for workouts at Moody Bible, in between sessions, for everyone in the gym to observe and analyze. We are obviously talking about the cream of the crop of this draft class, players who historically would have otherwise never thought about stepping foot in that gym. They will not allow a situation where a player who was expected to attend Moody Bible will turn down the invite thinking he will be able to come instead for a private workout in front of 30 NBA GM's in between sessions.

According to sources, names that have been rumored to be close to deciding on attending one of these workouts include major prospects such as Martynas Andriuskevicius, Gerald Green and Chris Taft.

How does this help? This will ensure that GMs, executives, and scouts will not have to pack into their cars in between sessions and gun their way from workout to workout, all the while fighting through downtown traffic, in order to watch lottery talent and other obscure prospects that many of them have never seen with their own eyes. It doesn't help that the workouts are often scattered throughout the city. This is obviously a logistical nightmare, and it benefits no one, especially not the NBA. The catch is (as we understand it at least, details are still very sketchy) that the only ones invited will truly be players who are considered sure-fire lottery talent.

This should help improve the quality of the camp tremendously, since players who may think they are first rounders right now, but are anything but guaranteed (especially in such a deep and crazy draft), will now know for sure that they will be scouted seriously by the true decision makers of the league. They will be assured that they will have the opportunity to get the attention of, and a fair shot at impressing, the people who need to be convinced that they are solid first round talent (or maybe even lottery worthy).

One of the biggest problems with camps like Chicago or Portsmouth is that no one wants to be the odd man out should they decide to attend. One NCAA power forward (which is by far the deepest position in this draft) whose stock is wavering around the bottom of the first round or top of the second right now described it best: If all the other guys at my position who aren't projected as lottery picks will be there, then of course I'll go to Chicago. I just don't want to accept and then find out that I'll be playing with a bunch of undrafted guys and 2nd rounders. That in itself lowers my stock, because it puts me in the same boat as them.

Well, now there are no excuses. Everyone will be in the gym, for every hour of the camp if things go according to plan. Because of the nature of this draft, with there being maybe 15 (or so) real locks for the first round at this point, nothing is set in stone. Players who try to hide out and think that their NCAA career or supposed upside will speak for itself could put themselves in a real bind come draft day, because they will give other prospects the opportunity to surpass them on teams' draft boards through a solid showing in Chicago.

And with all due respect to NBA workouts, nothing stands out more than a player who actually produces in a five on five setting against excellent competition.

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