Kupchak on Wednesday's Predraft Workouts
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak addressed assembled media members at the team's practice facility after the second session of workouts for prospective draft picks.
Among the players participating in the second group were: Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Doug McDermott (Creighton), James Young (Kentucky), Elfrid Payton (Louisiana Lafayette), Davion Berry (Weber State) and Jerry Evans (Nevada).
Earlier in the day, Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Gary Harris (Michigan State), Zach LaVine (UCLA), Brendan Lane (Pepperdine), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and Noah Vonleh (Indiana) worked out in front of Lakers brass.
Below is a transcription of Kupchak's comments from Wednesday's workouts:
Q: On how the workouts looked from his end:
Kupchak: It was good. We had a couple cancellations unexpectedly. But we got most of the players we wanted to get in. It’s a big workout – 12 players – and we’ll have several more. The process is beginning and we’re getting there.
Q: On if there was anybody or anything that stood out in particular:
Kupchak: We had a couple really, really good showings athletically. There are a lot of components to evaluate in the draft. We do interviews and (tests) for athletic ability, shooting drills, playing. There’s a lot of components to evaluate in a player and then you have to project out how good a player is going to be. Some players have gone to school three or four years and some guys have gone one year. Actually some of the guys have yet to turn 19 years old.
Q: On if he still feels there’s a lot of depth in the draft:
Kupchak: There is. I think the big difference is getting players or a player or two that can help you right away versus maybe having to wait two or three years, which is what you normally have to do with these kids.
Q: On what he takes from a personal workout in person as opposed to watching them play in college:
Kupchak: Most of these guys have been around for one year maybe. A lot of these players are one and done so you get to watch them one year from a distance and you can’t really watch them close up until postseason. Chicago (at the NBA Draft Combine) has really evolved into a venue where it’s a lot of interviews, testing, measurements and very little basketball.
Q: On whether he weighs the interview or performance on the court more when evaluating a player:
Kupchak: It’s all pieces to a puzzle. You’re trying to put the pieces together and to get the best player potentially and also hopefully someone who can help you out.
Q: On whether he believes there will be a good player waiting at No. 7:
Kupchak: I still think we’ll get a good player. I do. Hopefully we pick the right player. But there’s a lot of talent. Some of the talent is young and (takes) a couple years (to develop). Based on the player, yeah, you might wait. If you remember back 18 years ago and we (got) Kobe (Bryant), he played limited minutes his first year. And in fact, he was frustrated his first year. He didn’t play as much as he wanted. Of course, Andrew (Bynum) didn’t play as much his first year. We had to wait on Andrew more than we had to wait on Kobe. That is a concern and something we have to look at when we make our selection.
Q: On how he weighs athletic ability or potential versus a finished product right now:
Kupchak: Personally, all these guys are athletic. Even some of the guys you look at and say: ‘He doesn’t measure up compared to some of the guys.’ Some of them are deceptively good athletes. At this level, they’re all pretty good. But it is a factor. That doesn’t always mean a guy can play basketball, but it’s a factor.
Q: On if he gets any clarity after one workout or is there still some uncertainty surrounding players:
Kupchak: If the draft were today, we’d draft based on what we know as of today. But it’s not. We have another 20 days and we’re allowed to bring players back twice so I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of these guys didn’t come back a second time.
Q: On if there was any strategy as to how he split up the two workout sessions with the players:
Kupchak: Not a whole lot of strategy. The representatives get really involved. They’re looking out for their client’s best interests. You try to make everybody happy but you can’t. We had two cancellations yesterday and those cancellations changed everything.
Q: On what he’s trying to gain most from seeing the prospects today as opposed to seeing them up close during games:
Kupchak: Just up front and close and seeing how much they’ve worked on their game. We get to interview them, we get to administer our testing and we get to know them by talking to them and hanging around them in the locker room. They get to know our trainers and coaches.
Q: On the prospects who filled in for the canceled players and what they can do to catch your eye:
Kupchak: Those guys are the big beneficiaries. They get to work out with some lottery considerations. They’re anxious to be here, they don’t say much, they just work as hard as they can and they benefit. They’re happy to be here. They’re playing against the best in the country and they’re getting in front of a staff that has a good pick in the lottery.
Q: On the challenges heading into this Draft and trying to determine the right player with no coach in place yet:
Kupchak: It’s not that much of a factor. You could argue because we only have four players on the roster, we’re not really limited to looking at one position. We need to look everywhere. We’d be in a position to take the best player at almost any position. Even the position we do have covered, he’s been around 18 years, so we have to look beyond that position, too. That is a good thing. Sometimes you get put in a position where you need a point guard and say: ‘Let’s focus on a point guard.’ And you may overlook a player who may be a (better) player down the road.
Q: On the difference in evaluating guards versus big men:
Kupchak: There is a difference. Age is a difference. Big men typically pick up the game later and they’re slower to develop, so there are subtle differences. It’s not always the same. But you could categorize to some degree. For example, Andrew and Kobe. Kobe was much more advanced from a skill point of view. Still young at 17, and Andrew, his body was just developing and he was learning how to play. He didn’t hit his stride for three to four years, whereas Kobe was ready to play in two years.
Q: On if the number of prospects the team is bringing in to work out has any correlation as to whether the club is still hoping to acquire picks in the upcoming NBA Draft:
Kupchak: No, we’d still like to add to our draft selection. Could we move this pick and get multiple picks? Maybe. Could you buy a pick? Or trade a future pick for a present pick? Yeah, that’s possible. I think picks now are more valuable than they were, so I think it’s not as easy as it used to be, but I think that’s still a possibility.
Q: On how competitive the workouts were today:
Kupchak: The young players, when they’re working out in a venue like this, they know there’s a lot on the line and they compete. They really do. If you look at a couple of the kids that got floor burns, scratches, they were diving all over the floor. They know what’s at stake. They want to put their best foot forward. It’s good for them and it’s good for us.
Q: On how many players the team is bringing in could possibly be available at No. 7:
Kupchak: Right now, you’d like to bring in as many as possible. No. 1, to make sure you have the No. 7 pick covered. And then you don't know what may happen a week or two from now where you get another pick. But you're probably looking at 10-12 guys that will be considered at that position.
Q: On what’s more of a need for the team right now between guard and forward:
Kupchak: Well, we need a little bit of everything right now. We have four players on our roster and we have some restricted free agents, we have some free agents we’d like to sign back and then there’s free agency in general and then we have cap room to take on players or to look to make deals. We’re going to field a team that’s very competitive, but right now, we have four players on our roster under contract for next year.