It’s only fitting the NBA Finals wind down alongside the 2017 NBA draft process.
While LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fight for survival against the Golden State Warriors in a familiar 3-1 situation, NBA draft prospects continue to go through the paces with teams perhaps interested in calling their names at the podium on June 22.
The Finals rightfully command more attention right about now. Not only is there a championship at stake, the prospect workouts themselves don’t usually change much unless something wildly negative occurs.
By now, NBA front offices have worked for years on this class and have droves of film from maybe before high school on, not to mention the combine and plenty of background work.
Those details aside, it doesn’t make the final stretch of the process any less interesting. Below, let’s take a look at a mock draft and zoom in on some of the interesting recent workouts.
2017 NBA Mock Draft
Notable Recent Workouts
UCLA’s TJ Leaf is one of the more interesting prospects in the draft this year.
Far from the biggest name on the Bruins one season ago, Leaf quietly posted a season NBA teams loved because he’s the embodiment of where the league’s headed when it comes to forwards who can shoot from range.
Leaf is easily one of the better stretch 4 prospects in the draft. Coming in at 6’10” and 222 pounds, he shot 61.7 percent from the floor last season and 46.6 percent from deep. He clearly needs to work on other areas of his game, but the size-shooting combo doesn’t come around often and is quite the baseline NBA teams can start with when it comes to developing him.
Unfortunately for Leaf, he recently worked out with the Utah Jazz, and Walt Perrin, the team’s vice president of player personnel, told Andy Larsen of KSL.com the following: “His Jazz 100 was good, but not great. He shot it pretty well when he was spotting up but struggled a little bit on the move.”
Look, Leaf’s struggles outside of shooting don’t exactly come as a surprise. He’s light for a forward and needs to add strength, which in turn doesn’t help him fight through screens or bang down low on the defensive end of the court when asked.
Still, the above mock doesn’t slam Leaf’s stock too much by having him come off the board at No. 21 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Considering the team needs to get back to its floor-spacing ways via shooting, Leaf is a nice rotational piece to groom for the future while he soaks up minutes off the bench.
While the above comments about workouts hold true, they can be quite important for a prospect like Duke’s Luke Kennard.
Kennard is all of 6’6″ and 196 pounds and seems stuck in a rut known as the shooter-only prospect. He didn’t do himself any favors digging out of the reputation when handed a shovel known as the draft combine, as he declined to do athletic testing.
If all a team wants is shooting, great. Last year, Kennard shot 48.9 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from deep on the way to averaging 19.5 points per game.
Teams clearly want to know more, though, which is why the Detroit Pistons recently had him in for a workout. There, the former Duke standout brought up quite the interesting name while talking about his game.
“I’m a student of the game,” Kennard said, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. “I love to study film and watch, not only myself, but other players. (San Antonio Spurs star Manu) Ginobili is really creative. I just love his competitiveness.”
One look at Detroit’s depth chart shows why the Pistons would have an interest in a 2 with elite shooting skills given the need of scoring in the lineup next to Reggie Jackson. In the mock above, though, all the factors combine to have Kennard dip to No. 30 with the Utah Jazz, where he’ll space the floor for Gordon Hayward or everyone else if the team’s star player leaves in free agency.
Unless Kennard is stunning teams with new developments not seen on film, his stock seems rather steady at this point.
The headline act for this year’s draft, of course, is Lonzo Ball.
Ball has himself to blame. While some might point a finger or two at the antics of his father, LaVar, it’s been no secret for a long time the California kid had his sights set on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now? He just so happened to enter the draft as the Lakers pick No. 2 while led by a guy who knows a thing or two about court generals, Magic Johnson.
Ball just had his workout with the Lakers, and the rumblings have been all over the place.
Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding noted Ball performed as most would’ve predicted: “Ball didn’t separate himself clearly from the pack. The thing is, he never was going to do that in a one-on-none workout format that gave him no one to find with a dynamic hit-ahead pass in transition or a perfectly timed bounce pass for a basket cutter.”
Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times caught a similar feeling:
Despite standing at 6’5″ and 195 pounds, Ball certainly isn’t known for his athleticism. He isn’t flashy, either, but he is the best passing guard in the class who has incredible vision, poise and a solid ability to defend either spot in the backcourt.
Where Ball falls behind during the eye test is when comparing him to hyper-athletic points in the class such as Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr.—all names who could join Ball in the top 10.
But the Lakers don’t need Ball to be flashy—they need him to come in and run the offense while letting fellow young prospects such as D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle grow alongside him.
As such, the Lakers still make him the choice in the mock above. It’s funny the prospect making the most noise this year had a predictable, almost boring workout with his team of choice, but fans of the rebuilding Lakers and NBA fans wanting an interesting show that history will remember no matter how it unfolds can’t complain.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com
from Bleacher Report – NBA http://ift.tt/2rosAwV