Jae Crowder stated quite clearly today that he is a small forward, not a power forward, and expects to play that in the pros. That and more from today's draft workouts.
Today at the Target Center Lifetime Fitness, two sets of draft workouts were held by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The coaching staff, led by Jack Sikma and Shawn Respect, along with Nick Van Exel, worked the prospects through drills and some 3-on-3 games.
Representatives from every NBA team were in attendance, including notable names like Larry Bird, Kevin Pritchard, Danny Ainge, Masai Ujiri, Mitch Kupchak, Dwane Casey and Geoff Petrie, among others.
The first group was made up of J'Covan Brown of Texas, John Shurna of Northwestern, Miles Plumlee of Duke, Drew Gordon of New Mexico and Scoop Jardine of Syracuse. Tomas Satoransky from Spain had to cancel and was not at the workout.
The second group was made up of Casper Ware of Long Beach State, Scott Machado of Iona, Kevin Murphy of Tennessee Tech and Quincy Acy of Baylor. Jae Crowder was in attendance, but sat out the workout due to an ankle injury.
Media members were only allowed in for the last 5 minutes of each workout group. We were then allowed to interview individual prospects. David Kahn also talked to the media at the end of the second session.
Some of my own observations?
- Drew Gordon is a very physical player who likes to bang down low. I'm not sure where he'd go in the draft, but he's the opposite of Derrick Williams in terms of aversion to contact. Gordon, on his right arm, also has a tattoo of a topless woman with her right hand cut off, and her left hand holding up an hourglass. It's not quite a warrior standing on top of a pile of skulls, but it was still pretty interesting.
- John Shurna may be the nicest guy in the NBA once he's drafted. He was bubbly, he answered questions enthusiastically - even when reporters asked him the same ones - and he just seemed like a genuinely good guy. And yes, he has a great smile.
- Miles Plumlee is optimistic about his draft prospects and thinks he could fit in on a team with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic.
- Casper Ware turned the ball over at least 5 times during his 3-on-3 game, and remember, I could only watch him for the last 5 minutes.
- Scott Machado, a senior out of Iona, is very confident about his ability to contribute in the NBA right away. He said that, in the workouts, "these guys aren't used to a point guard who can get them the ball in such great spots. I'm someone guys love to play with." He also praised Ricky Rubio as someone whose game he really loves watching.
- Jae Crowder said that he's definitely a small forward, not a power forward. He hasn't been training as a power forward and he doesn't see himself playing that spot. Crowder said that his ankle is nothing serious, but he wanted to rest it in order to play at another workout in Chicago in early June.
- Quincy Acy threw down some powerful dunks and was probably the most impressive player of the day on the court. Zach Harper of ESPN remarked to me that he was like Reggie Evans, if Reggie Evans had any skills with the ball.
- Scoop Jardine said that he, and his Syracuse teammates Fab Melo and Dion Waiters, are all excited about helping an NBA team next year. Of course, he is a point guard from Syracuse...
Here is the transcript from the interview with David Kahn:
How'd things go with this first day of having everyone in here?
David Kahn: Two good workouts.
Anybody stand out in particular for you?
Kahn: If there was, I wouldn't say.
How does the process work for organizing these workouts, not necessarily for this one, but going forward? How do you determine who comes in? Who runs the workouts?
Kahn: The coaches will, just as they did today, be the people on the floor and will be running the workouts. We don't have too many names [of other draft prospects] yet confirmed, but we're in the process of doing so. We're kind of in the middle of the 1st round, so its an unusual spot - well, its not unusual but - a lot of the players still all believe they're in the lottery, so we got about 35 players who all think they'll be in the lottery, and they're a little reluctant to come work out at 18. But those things sort themselves out and they will as always. I think that after [the big workout in Chicago later this month] is over, we'll have a more defined schedule.
Do you have any idea how many total you'd like to bring it?
Kahn: I think it'll end up being about 6 to 8.
Not being in the lottery, but in the middle of the 1st round, any change in the process of how you evaluate things?
Kahn: No, it's just like any other year. You put the team as the template over it and make decisions based on what you already have and what you may have coming up in the future.
Do workouts like these give you a chance to talk shop with all of the GMs who are around for events like these?
Kahn: Sure, it's always easier when you see people in person for people to pull people aside. It happened to me a couple of times today, where people pulled me aside, and sort of dropped a hint or were even more forceful than that. So yeah, its helpful. But in today's world, it's not the only way. Last night's lottery sort of started everything in that respect. I think everybody waits to see what the order is. Now that we know the order, we can start to mix and match up teams and players. I think it'll start to pick up some speed. But we're still 4 weeks from today. We're still a long, long time away.
Is this draft deep enough to get an effective and quality player at 18?
Kahn: Absolutely. Yep.
Are you and Rob Babcock and R.J. Adelman determining which prospects to get in here?
Kahn: Well, I've put R.J. in charge of dealing with the agents and working out the scheduling in terms of when they can come in. Rob, as he's done in the past, was the point person for this two-day period. He's done it before and he's done it well. I think he's doing it well again. This is a gargantuan effort. Thankfully, I'm not involved in it. I just get to watch. As we come to more of the individual workouts, we'll meet more often. We met yesterday, I'm involved - I wouldn't say minute to minute - but certainly day to day. But I'm letting R.J. call the agents.
Do you anticipate getting some calls from other teams about the #18 pick?
Kahn: It's early still, but I've already gotten a couple, and not just today. I think every draft, it may not happen before the draft, but we'll get calls even that night. It always happens that way.
Given the youth on this team, how interested are you to trade the pick for a proven player?
Kahn: That has to be factored into it. It has to be part of the thinking as we determine what to do. But I wouldn't say its one way or the other. It's reality.
Do you have a plan for possible free agents and possible trades, or do you stay open to everything?
Kahn: I think we all have to stay open to everything. As much as we all hope we can dictate what can happen, there's 29 other teams who are similarly looking out for themselves and have an assortment of cap room and assets and things that they want to do. It's very rare that you feel you can start something and not have at least a plan B, C, D and so on. That's always been the case and will continue to be the case this season as well.
Is your gut feeling that the roster you had last year will stay basically the same with the addition of a draft pick or two, or do you feel there will be some significant movement?
Kahn: Well, I think it will largely remain the same, when you think about some of the key players here, as I said at the end of the season. I mean, you know for example, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love will be back. That's a given. And there's probably, without naming names, I could name 5 or 6 names that I'm pretty certain will be back. And that's not to say that everybody else will be gone, but I do think there will be some turnover. I think the guts of the team will, in some respects, remain the same. But we need to get better. And we will get better.
Kahn: I think in any league its helpful. I wouldn't just restrict that to the NBA. I think its been helpful when that's occurred in the NFL and Major League Baseball. I think its good for our league as well.
Any updates on Ricky Rubio or Nikola Pekovic?
Kahn: I saw Pek yesterday before he left and went back to New York today for a check-up. The check-up went well. He now heads back to Montenegro. He'll be back in the states in early-to-mid July. He'll be able to take the court and start his court work then.
Ricky I saw a couple days ago. He's in amazingly good spirits, considering he hasn't been able to play basketball for a long time. He's starting to look - I don't want to use the word normal - but there's no crutches, there's no heavy limp, he kind of just looks the same now. It's nice to see. His next check-up in Vail is the 3rd week of June. I was at his first check-up and will be at his second check-up as well.
Will Rubio be going back to Spain this summer?
Kahn: It's the doctors who will determine that. Not myself, not the organization, not Ricky. The doctors will. The way the doctors presented it to him last time is that we will discuss it at the next visit, depending on how that one goes. You should assume that until early-to-mid July, he has to be stateside, due to his rehab. If he does go back to Spain, he will be accompanied by someone from this organization to do his rehab every single day. It's just too important. I'm sure there's qualified people to do it over there, but we'll send somebody over with him if he's allowed to go by the doctors.
Is there a date when you expect he can start going things on the court?
Kahn: It's only been, what, 10 weeks [since his surgery]? All these timetables are really not necessary at this time. The main thing is for him to just heal and get better as quickly as possible, but without putting any undue pressure on him. So, it's only - what's today, May 31 - we have June, July, August, September, October - there's so much time still to go. I'm not focused at all, and I know he isn't either, on milestones at this point. It's just a matter of getting healthy.