Hood, LaVine Pre-Draft Workout Wrap
With less than one week until the 2014 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings hosted their fourth pre-Draft workout at the team’s practice facility on Friday afternoon. Six prospects attended the session and Kings.com caught up with Duke forward Rodney Hood, UCLA guard Zach LaVine, Arizona guard Nick Johnson, New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar and Kings Assistant GM Mike Bratz to gain insight about the workout and more.
What position do you see yourself playing at the NBA level?
“My ultimate goal is to just to be the best player that I can be. Going to the NBA, whatever position that Coach wants me to play – at point or at off-guard – I will go at it the best I can – just go out there with my guys, compete and try to win.”
Is there an aspect of your game that has gone unnoticed?
“Just recently people have noticed my athleticism. I have been known as a good ball-handler and a great shooter. But I am glad people are noticing my athleticism and this year in college, people probably noticed the dunks and the flashy [plays], but I feel like I am an all-around player and I am trying to work on every aspect of my game. I am only nineteen, so I want to get better at everything.”
What did you think of the Kings coaching staff?
“Hopefully they really liked me. I had a great workout and these are great guys out here. I enjoy all of them and they are really cool people. You can talk to all of them like they’re your close friends.”
What did you think of the workout?
“To get here and get familiar with the staff, meet Coach and the general manager, it was a great visit for me. We had a lot of competitive guys in here. Getting towards the end guys were getting a little tired, but it was a good workout.”
Have you ever been to Sacramento before?
“This is my first time being in California. Being from Mississippi, you only hear about California, but [Sacramento] is a great city, the people seem nice and everyone around the Kings organization seem nice, so it was just a great visit.”
What current Kings player do you know best?
“Travis [Outlaw] was around my brother’s age and they played against each other – they were rivals. He was a pretty good player in high school.”
How has playing at Duke prepared you for the NBA?
“For me personally, it was just the things off the court that prepared me. Of course I worked hard. Coach K and Coach Wojciechowski and those guys kept me in the gym. Just off the court – for rookies most of the time they don’t usually play and I sat out a year – but I stayed in the gym and got a lot better. So from that prospective, I understand the [nuances of] being in the NBA. Just on the court, I got a lot better, a lot stronger [and I] filled out. Fans and people around the program were great to me and I learned a lot. So I think I got a head start on some guys.”
How was the workout?
“It was good. There were a lot of competitive sections, so it was good to come out here and compete. I’ve been with a few of them – Rodney and Zach – a few times, so it was good to compete with them [again].”
Do you see yourself playing both the point guard and shooting guard position in the NBA?
“When I [originally] made my decision, that was a weakness people were looking at – is he a one, is he a two, what can he do? In my workouts – and this is my fourteenth one – I have expressed that is a plus for me. I can play the one or the two. I have confidence in myself that I can come in and defend the one and the two. So I think that’s one thing that stands out about my game.”
What intangibles can you bring to the table?
“I think I was born a leader. Whatever situation I am put in, I am going to lead. It doesn’t always have to be as a vocal leader. As a rookie coming in, [you want to] come in, get your shots up and show the guys you’re going to play hard and work. I think slowly but surely, you’ll start gaining that respect.”
Were you familiar with current Kings forward Derrick Williams at Arizona?
“Derrick was at every one of my recruiting visits. He left the year that I came in. They were just [coming] off the Elite 8, but D-Will was cool. He started the whole Sean Miller era off right. I kind of took it from there and where we were last year.”
What aspect of your game did you try to show today?
“I can step out – that’s a big thing I have been working on. [I’ve] definitely worked on my offense and being able to knock down the open jump-shot.”
What kind of feedback did the coaching staff give you?
“Coach told me I have a good frame to work with, good skill-level, I can really shoot the ball and that I’ve got good hands. It’s just the cardio that I have to work on – get my body in shape and I’ll be a [solid] player.”
Is there a player you model your game after?
“I really can’t say that anyone in the NBA plays like me. I really have my own unique style. I really [don’t] see anyone in the NBA [that has] my body-type and my skill level.”
What skills can you bring to the Kings?
“I can definitely protect the rim – that’s the biggest thing I can bring to any team, just clog the paint. [I can] make it hard for guys to score around the basket, I can rebound and just be a big guy on the court who can impose his will on guys.”
Where does the organization stand with the eighth pick in the Draft?
“Who we select depends a lot on what happens above us. We like several players in this Draft and the player that we ultimately take, we’re going to be happy with. I like several players and we’re going to decide which one we like best and hopefully that’s the guy who will be available.”
What did you like most about Zach LaVine?
“[LaVine’s] athleticism is off the charts. He’s got [some] things to learn – he just played his freshman year at UCLA, so he lacks some experience, but there’s nothing he can’t pick up.”
What does the rest of the schedule look like heading into the Draft?
“We’re going to have a couple more [pre-Draft workouts] next week.”
What did you like best about Nick Johnson?
“I like Nick’s intelligence and he’s a super athlete. I mean, the guy is very athletic and I think he can play both guard positions. He’s a very smart player, he sees the floor and he’s a big-time competitor. He’s going to be a real good defender in the league and there’s going to be a spot for him in the NBA for sure.”