Bullock Shows Off Shooting Prowess

Wheat Hotchkiss

June 25, 2013

The Pacers wrapped up their pre-draft workouts on Tuesday, hosting six more prospects in preparation for Thursday night’s NBA Draft. Tuesday’s group featured a diverse group of bigger players.

The players participating in the workout were wings Reggie Bullock (North Carolina) and A.J. Davis (James Madison), along with posts Greg Echenique (Creighton), Julian Gamble (Miami), Joffrey Lauvergne (Serbian club Partizan), and Nick Minnerath (Detroit). The team also had an individual workout with Iowa State guard Chris Babb, who was part of a group workout on June 14.

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Of all the players at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Bullock is the only player projected to go in the first round. He could be a fit for the Pacers with the 23rd pick.

The Pacers are hoping to improve their outside shooting this offseason. Indiana ranked 22nd in the league in team 3-point percentage during the regular season. The team’s 3-point percentage dropped from .347 in the regular season to .327 in the playoffs, and George Hill, Paul George and Lance Stephenson – the team’s highest volume outside shooters – all saw their percentages drop in the postseason.

Shooting is Bullock’s greatest attribute. After playing a lesser role his first two seasons in Chapel Hill, Bullock averaged 13.9 points per game and shot 43.6 percent on 202 from 3-point range this past season as a junior with the Tar Heels. At 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, he possesses good size to play at either the shooting guard or small forward position in the NBA.

“I’m labeled as a shooter and I just try to bring that consistently to every workout,” Bullock said Tuesday.

Despite not having any real primary ball-handlers in the gym, the six players said they played a good amount of 3-on-3 in the workout. The composition of the group forced Bullock to handle the ball more, an area that most scouts say Bullock needs to improve.

While he did have to handle the ball, Bullock said he actually liked working with a bigger group, because it also allowed him to run off screens a lot something he considers one of his biggest strengths.

“I can use screens pretty well and I love actually playing with bigs because they can get you open,” Bullock said. “So that’s less you have to put the ball on the floor and less you have to think.”

As draft night approaches, Bullock said his primary concern is less with when he gets a phone call and more with what team is on the other end.

“I just want to play for a team that’s the best fit for me,” Bullock said. “Whatever team drafts me or lands me is going to be getting a hard worker, a person that can space the floor, is willing to work and learn from the best.”

Well-Traveled Lauvergne Visits Indiana

While it’s fun to imagine a world in which a player named Joffrey Lauvergne stars in the NBA, those days are probably a ways off. But aside from Bullock, Lauvergne may have been the most intriguing prospect at Tuesday’s workout.

The 21-year-old Frenchman is a legitimate 7-footer with a diverse skill set. He has all the appearances of a “draft-and-stash” player, where a team takes a flyer on an international player in the second round and allows them to continue to play overseas in hopes that they develop into an NBA-caliber player a couple years down the road.

“I think I’m able to do a lot of things on the court, but for the moment I don’t do something great,” Lauvergne said Tuesday about his game. “But I’m able to drive, I’m able to shoot, I’m able to play defense, rebound, little bit of everything.”

Lauvergne is coming off a well-traveled season, which saw him play in three different leagues in three different countries. While it was a challenging experience, Lauvergne said it was good for developing different areas of his game, as different countries have “different specificities.”

He started last fall with French club Chalon, where he averaged 5.7 points and 4.1 rebounds in a little over 15 minutes per game.

In November, Lauvergne moved to Spain, where he played Valencia sparingly for Valencia.

After the new year, Lauvergne joined up with Serbian club KK Partizan, and bounced back. In 54 games, he averaged 7.6 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range. In his last 20 games, Lauvergne averaged 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds, while shooting a very impressive 70 percent on 2-point field goals.

While he likely won’t play in America for a couple more years, Lauvergne could be a player the Pacers consider with the 53rd overall pick.