For the last 35 years, Marty Blake has been identifying top college and international talent as the NBA’s Director of Scouting. A former general manager of the St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks in the 1950s and ’60s, Marty will be sharing thoughts and observations from the road as he crisscrosses the country identifying top collegiate talent throughout the season leading up to the 2007 NBA Draft in June.

Pre Draft Camp 2007

Chicago Pre-Draft Camp Coverage
Take a closer look at the NBA predraft camp that featured 64 players hoping to improve their draft position.

The National Basketball Association’s annual Pre-Draft Camp opened Tuesday night, with a drill session returning to the Milk House Gym at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

This will be the 26th annual Pre-Draft Camp and the second time the event will be held at the Disney Sports Complex which houses a number of events covering national and international events each year.

For 24 years, the camp was held at various locations in Chicago starting in 1982. A number of NBA officials who were involved in the organization of the first camp are still a part of this project. A total of 62 to 64 players – both from the college ranks and from international teams – have accepted invitations to participate this year. In the past some of the eventual stars of the NBA got their first taste of NBA basketball at these camps. They include both Scottie Pippen and John Stockton, both of whom went on to outstanding NBA careers, eventually earning them selection as two of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

I’ve been asked many times by players, agents, college coaches and media the same question – Will it help a player to participate in this event? I always give the same answer: If you are a basketball player, this is the greatest showcase for your talent. Maybe their agents don’t agree with me, but then agents often do not want their players to play in any post-season event. Why risk the possibility that their faults or lack of expertise would lower their draft status?

Here are some viable reasons for playing at the Pre-Draft Camp:

  1. Many of the NBA decision makers, be they head coaches or other top executives of teams, have not had the opportunity of seeing top players against top competition.
  2. If you are confident in your game, why not play against the best?
  3. A collegian, be he a senior or an early entry-type, may have played out of position at the college level. For example, most college centers are better attuned to play at a higher level at the four spot and a lot of threes will need to adjust to the big guard role. Here’s a medium that will help a player adjust to his eventual position. In judging young players, we have numerous questions regarding their ability to step right into the NBA game. In drafting younger talent who pass on the Pre-Draft Camp, you cannot properly assess nuances that can only be tested in drill-type sessions.
  4. Veteran NBA assistant coaches and veteran NBA players comprise the faculty here and specialists are also on hand to teach attendees a specific phase of a total game.
  5. Physicality is a feature of this camp and many a future NBA player has earned either a draft spot or a summer position with a team by their strident efforts here.
  6. In recent years, it is rare that a player who has accepted an invite to the camp fails to show up in top physical condition. In the past, some would even attempt to hide an injury rather than not be able to attend.

Taking every factor into consideration, there is always an element of chance in making a selection of a player who does not want to show his stuff (so to speak) here or, as sometimes happens, who passes on a workout with NBA teams or refuses to work out with teams that have late first or even mid-second round picks. Last year, Paul Millsap, who led the nation in rebounds for three straight years, played well enough in Orlando so that Utah wisely took him in the second round as the 55th pick. Why did 54 teams pass on him? He and Daniel Gibson are the only rookies playing appreciable minutes in the current playoffs. Both were second rounders who are playing like first rounders.

Are there any potential first rounders who will suit up in Orlando this year? You betcha. But I am not going to storyboard them at this time. Twenty-three of the players who also played at the 55th Portsmouth Invitational Tourney also received an invite to the Pre-Draft Camp. A number of others from the PIT are expected to get nods from NBA clubs who will field summer league teams at various venues, especially the Las Vegas Showcase.

This could be the best draft in recent years, triggered by the expected superstars who already have made a definite impact in two Far West cities, Portland and Seattle, both of whom have shown terrific responses ticket-wise. Don’t expect miracles right away and keep your eyes on the bigs – Detroit, San Antonio, Chicago, Dallas, and Utah. This is a draft that could benefit them too. And expect a flurry of trades which I did not predict correctly last year.

Hello Mickey…Hello Minnie.