Selecting a player in the NBA draft can be seen as putting together a puzzle. A player’s actual performance in games, whether it be college, junior college or international competition, is one piece. How well a player performs in an individual workout for a team can be seen as another. The personality and background of a player and whether or not a player will fit into the team’s concept is one more.
This week, team presidents, GMs and other executives will be looking to put one of the final pieces to the NBA draft puzzle together, as they will descend on Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL for the NBA Pre-Draft Camp. The Nets will be represented at the camp by President Rod Thorn, General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe, Head Coach Lawrence Frank, assistant coach Pat Sullivan and scouts Gregg Polinsky, Jordan Cohn and Maury Hanks.
Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe feels that one of the most positive things about the camp is that it gives teams a chance to look at players in an NBA setting for the first time.
“The pre-draft camp is great because it gives you a chance to see a lot of good players playing good competition,” Vandeweghe said. “They are running NBA offenses and are coached by NBA coaches, so it’s a good place to look at them in the right kind of environment that is reflective of an NBA game.”
The Nets brain trust will have the chance to look at over 60 players who will be eligible for the 2008 NBA Draft. These players, who are expected to go in the late first round or second round, will receive physicals, go through daily drills and then break off into six teams for a series of games over the four day camp (Nets assistant coach Pat Sullivan will be coaching one of the six squad’s).
The Nets could very well select a player with either the 21st or 40th selection that they own in the 2008 NBA Draft from this group of 60-plus players. When evaluating this group, most of the team executives aren’t looking for stars, but rather players who can fill a specific role on a team.
“When we look at these players we are looking for an NBA quality that stands out amongst these guys,” Vandeweghe said. “Is there an NBA shooter, rebounder or athlete out there? You aren’t going to see complete players, NBA superstar-type players, but you will see players who can be effective in an NBA game.”
On the last day of the camp each team will get a chance to see potential superstars, as seventeen to 20 other players, who will likely be selected in the first half of the first round and could include the Nets selection with the 10th pick, are also invited for measurements, a full physical, media availability and some basic drills.
Although these players are set to go through numerous drills and physicals, Vandeweghe feels that it is more important to see the whole player puzzle rather than putting too much emphasis on drills. An example of this would be the current NBA Rookie of the Year, Kevin Durant, scored so poorly in the drills at last year’s camp, but went on to average over 20 points a contest this season.
“How well a player performs in games is obviously more relevant than how much they can bench press,” Vandeweghe said. “There are certain things that are more relevant than others, such as height, weight and wingspan. Height you can’t change, but bench press is something you can improve on.”
Even though team executives get a look at each and every player at the pre-draft camp they are only allowed to observe the players, and do not communicate with the players at the camp. Many team executives do take the opportunity to speak with each other, however, about potential trades and free agent prospects that will be sorted out over the coming months.
“Anytime NBA management and coaches get together you will generally have an open discussion, maybe not necessarily with trades, but about things that will influence trades later including free agency,” Vandeweghe said. “It is a great gathering place to get good information quickly.”
So whether they are getting one of their final looks at prospective draft picks, or gathering information on free agency and trade possibilities from other team executives, this week at the pre-draft camp the Nets basketball brain trust will be looking to add another piece to the championship puzzle.
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