Flip Saunders on Pre-Draft Workouts, Getting More Picks and the “7” Drill
While Ted Leonsis was getting all the attention today, and deservedly so, there’s also a team being built. Flip Saunders usually isn’t made available to the media before or after pre-draft workouts, so today’s press conference was a good chance to catch up with Saunders and get his thoughts on the process leading up to June 24th.
I asked Flip, with John Wall reportedly set to workout for the Wizards on June 17th, if they’ve scheduled Evan Turner or any other top prospect. So far, the Wizards have hosted more on-the-cusp players who might be available at 30 and 35 or go undrafted.
Saunders deferred to Milt Newton, vice president of player personnel, but later indicated that the Wizards have talked to Turner’s people. The coach also said the Wizards would probably have seven more days of pre-draft workouts with five or six guys each day.
On the process of trying to get players to come workout, Saunders said:
“Some of it’s not of our choosing. Players don’t have to come in if they don’t want to. Some players, either through word of mouth or their agent, don’t think they’re going to have an opportunity. And I’m not talking about the No. 1 pick, we’ve had guys who we’d like to look at, at maybe No. 30, that we can’t get in because they don’t think they’re going to be there.
“So that’s why we’ve gone out and that’s why we’ve seen a lot of players in the combines. That’s why our scouts have done a lot during the season. You really try to make most of your basis on who to draft by what happens more on your evaluation during the season, not just your evaluation when you work a guy out for one hour. If you make your decision based on one hour, you can get tricked a few times.
The Wizards didn’t workout JaVale McGee prior to selecting him with the 18th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
As has been expressed before by both Leonsis and Saunders before, the Wizards would like to get more picks in this draft. Today Saunders reiterated that goal.
“I think we’d like to get more. This is a very deep draft because of what’s happened from the standpoint of not knowing what’s going to happen with the Collective Bargaining Agreement next year. So many players came out this year, and because of that, there’s going to be good players who normally would get drafted in the middle to high second round who won’t get drafted this year.
But on the other hand, Saunders said:
“Just because you want to do something … there’s limits to what we have the ability to do. You have to understand, we’ve only go six players under contract so we can’t trade any of those other guys. I think the players that we have right now are guys that we’re not really looking to move. From that standpoint, it’s pretty hard to do that [acquire picks]. We’re going to have to wait and see.
The “7” Drill
The player starts with a count of seven. Made shots count down and misses count up. The player alternates between each elbow on shots and must run to the adjacent baseline in between. After missed jumpers, the player must make a layup. The drill ends when the count is zero. This is the “7” Drill. Flip Saunders likes to run it at the end of workouts. It tests players’ mentality and toughness, especially when you’re a college kid trying to impress an NBA team with the media observing.
I asked Saunders about this drill:
“That’s a gauge … it doesn’t look like it’s a tough drill, but once you get into it, you do it at the end, it’s a test. It’s a test of heart, it’s a test as far as being able to fight through. You miss a couple shots, can you fight back?
“There’s the pressure of having a lot of coaches staring at you, having a lot of media staring at you. So it’s a good test. I usually do that, not only with those guys, but with our own players during the season.
“In the summer time when we have drills, that’s how we end our workouts. It’s as much of a mental test as anything else.