Wolves Pre-Draft Group Workouts Blog - Day 2
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Editor’s Note: Timberwolves.com was at Target Center on Tuesday and Wednesday as the Wolves hosted their annual Pre-Draft workouts for prospects projected for the second round. All teams across the NBA were invited, and an estimated 70-80 scouts and executives were on hand throughout the two-day event. CLICK HERE for full coverage of Day 1, plus insights into how the group workouts are run.
Gophers forward Rodney Williams worked out as part of the six-man group in Wednesday’s early session, attempting to showcase the athletic ability that made him a standout high school prospect. After four years with the University of Minnesota, Williams is trying to solidify a spot in the second round of the NBA Draft.
And if it worked out, he said he’d love to stay right here in the Twin Cities and play for the Wolves. On the court, he said he’d like to provide a little “Showtime” for Timberwolves fans, while off the court he said he’d love to stay close to his family and raise his 2-year-old daughter in Minnesota. But the NBA is his dream, and he’ll go wherever is necessary to make that dream a reality.
"I feel confident that out here I had a pretty decent showing, and in New Jersey,” Williams said. “There are a couple of workouts coming up here; hopefully someone likes me and I get a spot somewhere."
On Wednesday, Williams did showcase the athleticism he’s been known for since projecting as a potential lottery pick as a freshman. He and Memphis’ athletic guard D.J. Stephens traded dunk for dunk during the opening warm-up drills—both showcasing they were likely the two most athletic jumpers on the court during a workout that also included St. Mary’s guard Matt Dellavadova, Iowa State guard Tyrus McGee, BYU forward Brandon Davies and Illinois State forward Jackie Carmichael.
Williams said he’s confident he’ll land on a team and that in these workouts he’s shot the ball well. That’s the part of his game he’s trying to showcase more than anything while going through these camps because he said it’s something he didn’t do with the Gophers.
Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders said Williams is going through the process right now on moving from a standout athlete to a basketball player conducive to the NBA game. The challenge he faces right now is showing he can compete against other players in this Draft process and set himself apart.
“He's an athlete. There's players in our league that are athletic,” Saunders said. “Your other skills have to develop, where he is now, he's got to make that transition the next three weeks and tickle someone's fancy on how he plays."
In the shooting drills, Williams did well throughout the first half of the workout—often connecting on several shots in a row on the baseline or elbow and from mid-range and 3-point land.
But Williams wasn’t the top performer of the first group. That likely belonged to St. Mary’s guard Matthew Delladova.
Dellavedova is an Australia native who owns essentially all offensive statistical records at St. Mary’s including points assists and 3-pointers made. He showcased all of that on Wednesday at Target Center.
Dellavedova smoothly navigated the floor throughout the day, showing bursts of quickness when he had an open lane to the hoop while also embracing contact in the paint and producing slick fadeaways when necessary. He also surveyed the floor well, finding Davies wide-open in the lane during one 3-on-3 offensive set midway through the workout.
Dellavedova played for the Australian National Team and went to the Olympics in 2012, and he said playing with the national squad did a lot for him in regards to learning the physicality of the game while playing against men much older than him.
He also has the benefit of talking with players like Andrew Bogut about the NBA Draft process. He said fellow Aussies have said to get in as good a shape as you can so you are as effective at the end of workouts as you are at the beginning. He showed little signs of fatigue during Wednesday’s event.
Speaking of Davies, the BYU standout who averaged 17.7 points per game last year also had a nice workout session. He showed some agility around the basket, including a little baby hook and kiss off the glass during a half-court 3-on-3 set. He was known for his rebounding and scoring at BYU, and although he’s 6-foot-9 he showcased the technical aspects of his game that will help him gain some notoriety in those areas at Draft workouts.
Other notes from the first workout session include the amazing hops from Stephens. He’s the one who had a 46-inch vertical last week in New Jersey, and while he didn’t do any fancy dunks at this workout he made all the vanilla ones look flashy. His goal is to show he is a well-rounded player, like Williams is trying to do. But he’s also not shying away from letting the scouts and executives see his athletic potential.
Tyrus McGee filled in admirably for Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, who was a scratch prior to Wednesday’s workout. He was the third Iowa State player to be invited to the two-day camp, and Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael did a nice job around the basket and showed why he is third in his school’s history on the rebounding charts.
Elston Turner, Jr. is making a name for himself on his own. He was a standout scorer at Texas A&M during his two years in College Station, earning a spot on the All-SEC First Team roster this season. He averaged 17.5 points per game as a senior and really blossomed with the Aggies after transferring from Washington after his sophomore season.
But as he makes a name for himself on his own, he’s entering a league where his full name is already well established in the coaching ranks. And he ran into that today. Turner’s dad, Elston Turner, Sr., was a fellow assistant coach under Rick Adelman in Sacramento and Houston, and he’s worked closely not only with Adelman but Terry Porter, Jack Sikma, T.R. Dunn and Shawn Respert—all of whom were part of the crew leading the workouts here at Target Center.
He’s known all those coaches for years, and he said it was a little weird at first before he settled in.
“It’s crazy because I know a lot of the coaching staff here, and my dad worked with them for so many years,” he said.
“They’ve been together so long, I’ve known Rick since I was in the fifth or sixth grade.”
One thing his dad tried to do prior to his Draft workouts was let his son know conditioning is extremely important. He said to make sure he stays in shape and gets a lot of shots up prior to coming in while also eating right and getting a good amount of sleep.
On the court, Turner did show that scoring potential he displayed in college over the past two years. He has some good moves in near the basket that he displayed during his workout, and he’s prepared to try and secure a spot in this draft before working his way into a spot on a team’s roster.
He said it’s all a matter of timing.
“Some of the greatest players didn’t even get drafted,” he said. “It’s all just where you’re at in a particular moment.”
Turner was one of two guards who stood out in what was more of a forward/center-based group. Arkansas’ B.J. Young also had a nice workout, showcasing his quickness to the basket and that explosiveness that helped him become a dynamic, impressive freshman two years ago.
He’s coming out after his sophomore year, and since he was invited to the Draft Combine in Chicago he’s likely a guy who is on teams’ radars as a guy who will be drafted. He’s been staying active in this Draft season going to different workouts, and he understands it’s about being comfortable out there and playing his game.
He said he’s simply trying to show teams he’s a humble guy who can make a contribution to a team.
Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi, Syracuse forward James Southerland and Oklahoma forward Romero Osby rounded out the fourth and final group.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.