One moment you’ll hear that NBA team pre-draft workouts don’t mean much, they can be just one of many contact points a franchise has with a player, much less game film scouting. The next moment it’s considered a “telling sign” when a player doesn’t workout for a certain team. Sign of what? Who knows. Are players disinterested? Trying to rig their draft stock? Are teams disinterested? Throwing others off the scent of their desire? Oh the game that’s played — what do all the conflicting reports mean Enes Kanter?
Both sides can use the perception of workouts to their advantage. And the media to a certain extent as well, I suppose. If you feed the monster pixels, we all whore for hits. Kemba Walker cancels his workout against Jimmer Ferdette for the Sacramento Kings … speculate amongst yourselves, Internets. Other players, less secure in their draft status, are just jumping into another window of opportunity, perhaps building a resume toward overseas interest. These workouts, just as anything, are all part of the process. Whatever that means.
Last Thursday, June 2, the Wizards worked out six players: Talor Battle (Penn State), Mike Davis (Illinois), Papa Dia (SMU), Austin Freeman (Georgetown), Justin Hurtt (Tulsa), and Ravern Johnson (Mississippi State).
Toward the latter third of the hour and a half session, the media is let in to watch, joining the already studying eyes of team executives overlooking the Verizon Center practice court while Flip Saunders and the coaching staff put the players through drills.
The players are already tired, Saunders is known to put them through the ringer during these workouts (even though they don’t mean much). Two are bent over, hands resting on their knees (you think coaches don’t notice?), and a third is clearly trying to leverage the conservation of energy with hands on hips.
“This drill is called ‘show me what you got’,” says Saunders. It’s pretty simple. In fact, it’s just a dunk-layup line. Each of the six players line up on the right side of the court, and they have to show Flip their best dunk. Then they have to go to the left side, do it again. And then one more cycle. In total, each draft hopeful gets four dunk attempts to do as the NBA head coach says, show him what they’ve got. Except, of course, after they’ve already been working out for over 75 minutes straight.
The YouTube below shows each player’s four attempts in sequential order, preceded by name and their Chicago Pre-Draft Camp height measurement without shoes (via Draft Express); you can vote on who does best after the video. Tired legs don’t always tell the whole story, but they help paint the picture. Lo and behold, when the workout was all said and done, Saunders told the players that the one thing they need to keep in mind as they go through the pre-draft workout process is conditioning.