The march toward the 2009 NBA Draft started in earnest today with six players put through the motions at the Trail Blazers practice facility. It was the first of a two-day series of workouts that will conclude tomorrow. The workouts kick into overdrive toward the end of May after the Chicago pre-draft combine, but for one reason or another, the Blazers decided to get 12 guys in early.
According to Chad Buchanan, Portland's Director of College Scouting and the coordinator of today's workouts, none of the six guys brought in today are first round prospects, at least not yet, but their books are hardly written at this point in the process.
"We’ll look at some of them primarily as summer league guys," said Buchanan. "Tomorrow’s group is kind of similar status as far as where their draft stock is at as of today. Some of these guys could really help themselves over the next month or so. If they get in their with a workout against, for example, if a Garrett Temple gets into a workout with Ricky Rubio or somebody like that, plays well, then his stock goes up and maybe he gets himself into a lock for being drafted. But it’s too early to tell on a lot of these guys."
Which is why these workouts are conducted in the first place.
It's rather difficult to recap these kind of exercises in any sort of meaningful way, so I'll let Buchanan's thoughts on the performances of each player speak for themselves.
Cedric Jackson, Cleveland State
"Cedric today, I thought he really competed defensively. I haven’t seen him live during the year. We’d seen him in the NCAA Tournament, liked him. Obviously coming from a smaller program, he wasn’t as exposed as some of the higher-tier talent that you saw today. I thought he competed defensively. He’s got a ways to go with his skill work and his decision making, I think. Thought he competed today."
Wes Mathews, Marquette
"Wes is a great catch and shoot guy. Very smart, intelligent, tough kid. Went through the rigors of the Big East for four years. He’s got to get a little quicker, a little more athletic, but I think he knows how to play. He’s been well coached."
Garrett Temple, LSU
"Garrett, we’ve liked him for quite a while. Always been steady, played for a great programs, comes from a great family. Just a basketball kind of environment he was brought up in. Athletic and he’s long, one of those guys who knows how to play. Thought he played well today."
Demarre Carroll, Missouri
"Demarre has always been an energy guy. We’re talking to Demarre after the workout. I think he’s going to be a guy who’s got to find a niche of being that energizer type, a motor who comes on the court and gives you a little spark with his effort."
A.D. Vassallo, Virginia Tech
"A.D was similar to Wes. Great catch and shoot guy. He’s probably got to trim down a little bit, get a little more quicker with his feet. But good kid. His coach is a very good coach. All of these guys come from great programs and great coaches."
Joe Krabbenhoft, Wisconsin
"I saw Joe a lot in high school and always appreciated his effort. Tough kid. He’s not going to wow you with anything he does but he knows how to play, knows what he is as a player. Had a great career at Wisconsin playing for an unbelievable defensive coach. You can see that today. He knows how to defend, he’s going to dive for loose balls, he’s going to try to take a charge, he’s going to do the little things to help you win but he’s not going to be anything that’s going to catch your eye as the normal basketball fan."
It was interesting to hear that, in some respects, these initial workouts are used by the team as a way to get back into the groove of the pre-draft grind. The Trail Blazers will bring in somewhere around 50 players over the next month, so it's important to have a rhythm down so you're not wasting valuable time.
"We bring in a lot of guys," said Buchanan, "probably more than most teams do, and we want to make sure we’re efficient with our time that we get with these guys. A lot of these guys we’ll only get to see one time so we want to make sure we’re seeing everything we need to see. It’s not a trial run for us but it kind of gets our feet back wet just like it does for these kids."
The workouts continue tomorrow, with the likes of Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo and UConn's Jeff Adrien taking to the court.