Powell, Smith Stand Out at Friday's Workout

Zac Walberer/SUNS.com
by Matt Petersen

The first week of pre-draft workouts concluded with a familiar flavor of experience.

The latest group of six 2014 NBA Draft hopefuls were all seniors, and all of them hailed from Division I programs. De’Mon Brooks (Davidson forward), Andrew Dawkins (Duke guard), Lamar Patterson (Pittsburgh wing), Dwight Powell (Stanford big man), Russ Smith (Louisville point guard) and Kendall Williams (New Mexico point guard) made up the six-man group.

Their respective scouting reports, however, may have been revised after going from big-time, structured college hoops to a show-everything-you’ve-got workout environment.

“Some of them maybe get a chance to expand their roles out here and you get to see a few things that they didn’t necessarily get to do on their college teams,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “I think that’s one of the revealing points of the process.”

That point was especially applicable for athletes like Andre Dawkins. The 6-5 guard shot over 42 percent from three-point range last season, but didn’t take a lot of attempts due to a loaded talent pool at Duke.

“When you see a guy handle the ball if he didn’t get to do that in college or get some shots up if he didn’t get to shoot a lot in college, sometimes they surprise you and guys stand out,” McDonough said.

Mismatches Provide Further Evaluation

Until Friday, the Suns had lucked into even matchups in every workout group. The end of the week, however, saw a shortage of big men, which led to 6-foot-11 Dwight Powell guarding and being guarded by 6-foot-7 De’Mon Brooks.

For Phoenix’s staff, it was an opportunity to see how each of them would try to take advantage in a very game-like situation.

“[It works] both ways,” Hornacek said. “If you get a small guy on you, but if you’re a small guy, how do you fight a bigger guy? We like to try to match them up [equally], but when that happens, that’s fine. We’re going to have matchups with bigger point guards and littler point guards. That happens all the time.”

Powell (14.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.1 apg) showed much the versatility he exhibited in college, with an added ball-handling bonus thrown into the mix.

“He’s skilled at his size,” McDonough said. “He can put the ball on the floor and make a play. I think there’s obviously a value of being able to spot up and space the floor and knock down shots, but if your bigs can…make a dribble or two and hit a guy on the next pass to make a play, I think there is value to that. I think his versatility stands out.”

Smith Shines in Open Floor

The engine behind Louisville’s 2013 national championship was at its humming best on Friday. Russ Smith (18.2 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 spg) left the Suns’ staff impressed with his speed and – more importantly – his ability to use it at the right moments.

“I think Russ’ quickness and anticipation really stand out,” McDonough said. “He’s got a good feel for the game. He’s a guy that’s really hard to stay in front of, defensively. When he’s playing defense, he’s got good anticipation and quickness and a good knack for when to get the ball. He gets a lot of steals. He’s a guy that stood out, especially when the workout was going up and down in the full court.”

Phoenix marked Smith’s fifth stop on the pre-draft workout trail, and his calendar looks just as crowded looking ahead.

“I have a few more scheduled and a lot more we’re trying to schedule,” Smith said. “I’m packed in.”