Wednesday morning, 22 draft hopefuls got a chance of a lifetime, taking the court at the PNY Center in East Rutherford and hoping they could catch the eye of a NBA executive who would give them their next chance of lifetime, making a tea...
Wednesday morning, 22 draft hopefuls got a chance of a lifetime, taking the court at the PNY Center in East Rutherford and hoping they could catch the eye of a NBA executive who would give them their next chance of lifetime, making a team’s roster. And there were plenty of them there to impress.
All of the players are fringe prospects, second round picks in next month’s draft, if even that. This workout, organized by the Nets, is one of two for such prospects. The other one will take place next week in Minnesota.
The workout was broken down into shooting drills, then a 5-on-5 scrimmage.
First up were the guards shooting —and it wasn’t pretty. The first eight shots were off the front rim and it was clear that some if not all of them were nervous going into this. D.J Stephens was the only effective shooter during the drills, despite having weird form, his legs space out when he is lifting on his jumper. Besides the Memphis product, 5’11" (maybe) Phil Pressey was the next best, but he was erratic throughout the drills.
When the bigs joined in, it was clear that they were the strongest of the 11 prospects in the first group. Christian Watford was playing with the post players, a bit surprising in that he’s been more of a perimeter player. It didn’t stop the 6’9" Watford from getting an array of hook shots to fall during drills. An improved interior game makes Watford much more intriguing because of that strong outside game. The other big man who impressed was Romeo Osby, out of Oklahoma. Osby is NBA-big a 6’8" power forward who weighs in at 238 pounds. Despite his bulk, Osby showed he can hit mid-range shots, something he needs to prove to solidify his draft stock. Right now, none of the mock drafts have him being selected.
After these drills, the most revealing portion of the morning began, the 5-on-5 scrimmages.
Right from the tip, the prospects needed to feel themselves out and get into the flow of the game. Some did that better than others. Pressey forced things early, trying to fit passes into spots too small, coming up with three turnovers in three minutes. Pressey was erratic from the get-go and never really got his legs under him, playing too fast and out of control the entire time.
Watford and Osby played well during the scrimmage, with Watford working the post and Osby hitting several shots out of it, a must for each of the two if they wanted to be selected.
One player who garnered some looks from the assembled scouts and executives was James Ennis, the 6’7" forward from Long Beach State. Ennis hit several mid-range jumpers and had his way with Michael Snaer throughout the scrimmage. Ennis has great size and talent on the ball for the small forward position. Of the 22 players in the gym, he has the highest draft stock, projected as an early second round pick.
The player that stole the show from the first session, though, was Stephens. As noted, Stephens was fine in drills, but took over during the scrimmage. At 6’5", he plays much bigger than he is. He rose up above the rim twice to block shots. He also had one play that got everyone’s attention, when he blocked a layup, saved it before going out of bounds, and then jumped into the stands. I spoke with Stephens at the end of the day and he has, "several workouts coming up." Stephens played the post at Memphis, but he knows he has to, "be a guard with a lot of energy," in the NBA. That transition may be one reason he’s not listed in any of the mock drafts.
Overall, Snaer greatly disappointed in the scrimmage, just as he had in the shooting drills, scoring rarely and not making much of an impact on the floor. He has an awkward, slow release on his shot, made even more noticeable because he wasn’t a consistent scorer.
Pressey, too, also played below his level. It still seems likely that he’ll be picked, specifically on his upside, but he didn’t help his cause with tod