Suns Retorter: Time For NBA's Speed Dating Season

NBA Pre-Draft Workouts Have Begun
Suns.com Columnist

The NBA’s version of The Bachelor has begun. It’s pre-draft workouts, a type of speed dating that allows teams to get to know potential draft picks via workouts and interviews. It’s roughly a five-week exercise that provides teams with enough additional insight into a prospect to decide who will get the basketball version of a final rose: a contract.

Due to NBA rules, front offices are only allowed to watch a player from afar during their college career. Teams are left to sit in the stands scouting them and imagine what the future could bring the way a shy high schooler pines for a classmate they can’t muster up the courage to speak with. It isn’t until just weeks before the draft that a basketball operations staff truly gets to meet and know a player they may be tying the knot with in late June.

“This is obviously a process of elimination for us,” General Manager Ryan McDonough explained after the first workouts. “In some ways it’s the best against the best.

“Most importantly for us it is to get to know them a little bit more. It’s a chance to spend some time with them and see where they are as players.”

It’s not just the fact that the draft is in less than a month that expedites the getting to know you stage of the relationship. The NBA only allows prospects to workout and visit a team twice during the workout time period. That, along with jam-packed schedules, make things interesting.

“There’s a limited time we have to get these guys in,” McDonough said. “The draft is in less than a month. There are 29 other teams trying to do the same thing we are.”

That’s why the Suns get creative. Rather than relying on one interview or a specific time, the front office trusts their entire staff to offer perspective on the potential newest members of the franchise.

“We kind of split our staff up, have some of our assistant coaches do it, have some of our scouts do it,” General Manager Ryan McDonough told the media after the first workouts. “We have the strength and conditioning team spend some time with them as they’re going through those tests. Then we obviously have guys taking them to and from the hotel.”

While who they are is important, like any relationship, it comes down if their skill set is compatible with what the team is looking for.

“For me as a coach, I’m just zeroing in on ‘do they have a good understanding on the game?,” Coach Jeff Hornacek told the media. “If they have a good understanding of the game you can drill them with ball handling and shooting, that kind of the stuff. But if they don’t understand the game I don’t know if they get that.”

The entire process will come to an end just four weeks from Thursday in Brooklyn and the Suns will have a choice to make. Which player they met with and scouted will they choose? With any luck, when Commissioner Silver steps to the podium and announces the pick, he’ll be presiding over a lifelong union.