Pre-Draft Workouts Underway in Waltham
Day One of pre-draft workouts concluded in Waltham on Monday, and the consensus from those in attendance? The Celtics might have the toughest pre-draft workout in the league.
Point guard prospects Randy Foye (Villanova), Mardy Collins (Temple), Curtis Stinson (Iowa St.) and Will Blalock (Iowa St.) ran through a battery of basic drills to measure their quickness and leaping ability before kicking off about an hour or so of game-situation drills at the Sports Authority Training Center in Waltham under the watchful eyes of the Celtics coaching staff and Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge.
Once they'd had a chance to catch their breath, still sporting sweat-soaked Celtics workout gear, all of the players talked about the high intensity of the workouts, which concluded with the infamous "Danny Ainge Run" as Blalock called it. The run is a three-minute court-length back and forth relay that tests players' endurance and desire.
"It's all about your desire and adrenaline, and if you'll quit. Are you going to quit and get tired, or are you going to push through and help your team win?" said Foye, who's projected as a possible top 10 pick and could be the first point guard taken in the 2006 NBA Draft. "I think that's what the three minute drill is, it's who can push who when they're tired. And this goes on on the court in the last few minutes of a real game."
Ainge expects the team to work out about 30 draft-eligible players between now and the draft, but said that the number could change depending on what happens in Tuesday night's draft lottery. In past years, the team has worked out up to 70 prospects.
As for the value of the workouts, Ainge stressed that players typically don't impact their draft status by having a particularly weak or strong workout, but that it could serve as a tie-breaker in cases where the staff is divided on whether or not to draft a particular player. The team has already scouted the players by the time they come in for a workout, so they're already familiar with their overall game, skills and weaknesses.
"We like to see what kind of shape they're in, the work ethic they have, how they're able to pick things up, not so much how well they shoot," Ainge said. "You get a chance to spend some time with them, and more than even the workout, just the time you spend with them, and the research you do into their background and just what kind of people they are, that's a big part of this process also."
After the on-court workout, the players are interviewed by team personnel to get a more in-depth look at their basketball background and experience.
Foye and Collins are both projected to be lottery picks in most mock drafts, while Blalock and Stinson are expected to go in the middle of the second round. Ainge thinks the workouts are beneficially to teams and players alike, regardless of where they may be projected in mock drafts. And while the Celtics have kept draft workouts closed to the press in the past, the team is now allowing media access to the players after the workouts.
"These kids are trying to make a name for themselves and I think it helps them. I think the players like the publicity, so if we can help these guys get some other opportunities, we'll do that," Ainge said.
There's also quite a bit of politics involved in scheduling draft workouts, as players try to protect their draft status and don't want to be outperformed by guys who are projected to be behind them. Since "draft stock" can rise and fall during the months leading up to the draft, agents are especially careful about when and where they'll let their players work out, and with whom they'll work out against.
"Leo [Papile] calls this championship boxing," Ainge said. "Certain players don't want to come in and spar with this guy, or he doesn't need to get high in the draft, or this guy wants to get in against everybody who's above him and wants a shot at the title."
Some players may end up working out more than once with the Celtics before the draft. Ryan Gomes, who was actually on hand after Monday's workouts doing some off-season training of his own, worked out twice for the Celtics last off-season before becoming the C's second round draft pick at #50.