Wolves Pre-Draft Group Workouts Blog - Day 1

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The Timberwolves hosted the first day of their annual group Pre-Draft workouts on Target Center’s main floor on Tuesday, facilitating an evaluation of 12 total hopefuls for the June 27 Draft that project in or around the second round. Hosted exclusively by the Wolves, this event opens the door to all teams around the league who wish to send executives while also putting the Wolves’ coaching staff on full display. More than 70 coaches, executives and scouts evaluated while Wolves assistants Terry Porter, Jack Sikma, T.R. Dunn and Bill Bayno teamed with player development coaches David Adelman and Shawn Respert to lead the drills throughout the event.

Below is a running blog from the two Tuesday groups. Most of these guys are trying to solidify a spot in the Draft, while others are trying to potentially move up into the late first round if possible. From the Wolves’ perspective, they have the 26th pick as well as the 52nd and 59th picks in second round, so they are looking for players who could move their stock just enough to slip into their range. Obviously the Wolves are heavily represented here, led by President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders, coach Rick Adelman, R.J. Adelman and Rob Babcock in the stands.

Group 1

Essentially the workouts are slotted to an hour and a half timeframe, with six players working out in each group—two bigs and four guards. This opens up possibilities of 3-on-3 workouts, both in the half court and baseline to baseline, and it also allows the workout to showcase pick-and-roll action in real time. In the beginning, they break up into bigs on one end working out with Sikma and Respert, while Dunn, Porter and David Adelman take the guards.

In this first group, we’ve got guards Kenny Boynton, Jr. (Florida), Chris Babb (Iowa State), Anthony Marshall (UNLV) and Carrick Felix (Arizona State) along with center Mouhammadou Jaiteh and forward DeWayne Dedmon.

The group opened up with side-to-side jumpers from the baseline and the elbow, then moved to baseline-to-baseline jumpers with a quick move to simulate created separation under the basket. Bigs moved on to rebound and put-back drills, while guards took shots from the elbow. We then moved into full-court 3-on-3 and some half-court learning sessions in which the players executed 3-man pick-and-roll action.

After the pick-and-roll groups, they shifted into 3-on-3 half-court sets before getting into isolated mid-range and pull-up shooting drills from the wing, around-the-horn 3-point shots from the baseline, wing and top of the key, and some 3-on-3 full court to wrap things up.

A few observations about the players in Group 1:

DeWayne Dedmon was a beast down low in the first session. As a guy who played in the Pac-12 at USC and had significant experience at the collegiate level, he was really able to assert himself with his quickness and agility. At 7-foot, he was able to put together some blocks, but he also got to spots easily and went blow for blow with Mouhammadou Jaiteh of France. Jaiteh is a guy who had collegiate offers to play in the U.S., but instead played two years in the French Pro B league before coming into this Draft class. He showed he has a ton of potential, but he also has to add a little more aggressiveness to his game. Dedmon was able to get to the rim pretty well up front, and he also had a couple nice blocks defensively that stood out.

Dedmon said there’s a lot of hype and intensity because you’re playing for a job. He said he won’t have any issue with the effort aspect, because he’s going to bring everything he has every single day.

“If someone gives me that opportunity, I’m going to show them what I can do,” he said.

Dedmon said with his 7-foot-4 wingspan, he does feel like he can be a shot-blocker for a team in this league, and Minnesota has expressed interest in finding someone with that capability.

On the perimeter, Chris Babb from Iowa State said his Cyclones coach, Fred Hoiberg, gave him advice to just be calm and play his game while being aggressive. He seemed to follow suit with that advice. He was assertive, he shot the ball well in his drills and he was able to be aggressive and physical when needed around the paint. He and Anthony Marshall each showcased some nice shooting during the 3-point drills midway through the workout. Babb also had an instance or two in which he had a nice pull-up jumper during the 3-on-3 game.

Babb said he received a little advice from Fred Hoiberg, his coach at Iowa State, before coming here to Minnesota. He said stay patient, don’t try to do too much and be aggressive at eth same time.

“He always taught me to play care-free,” Babb said. “Play with a chip on your shoulder, go out and go show everyone what you can do.”

Boynton said he’s adjusting to playing the point after being a combo guard in college. He said at this level he’s convinced teams think he can play point guard—at Florida, he said his team needed him to score.

He’s confident he’ll make the adjustments necessary at the next level.

“The more workouts I have, the more I impress teams,” he said. “I do a great job of knocking down shots. After watching film, I start to read screens better and find open guys.”

Group 2

The second group on Tuesday was awfully Big Ten heavy. Wisconsin’s Jered Berggren, Illinois’ Brandon Paul and Michigan State’s Derrick Nix were all on hand, as were Will Clyburn (Iowa State), Solomon Hill (Arizona) and Michael Snaer (Florida State). And the Big Ten guys sure got to know one another once again—just like they did during their days in the conference that ended just three months ago. Nix and Berggren were the two bigs going head to head with one another, while Berggren teamed with Paul and Hill in the 3-on-3 drills and scrimmages.

Nix is a character. He showcased that throughout the event by being vocally animated. One funny moment was Nix yelling “He scared!” as Berggren attempted an uncontested layup during the 3-on-3 scrimmage—possibly aiding in the missed layup. He also was vocal during most of the post-up battles he had.

He said he was a little nervous being it was his first workout, but he said he got the hang of it quickly.

“I don’t know what will happen,” Nix said. “I just try to come in and show what I can do and whatever the scouts need to see, I try to show it. Kind of like a Draymond Green player who played with me at Michigan State last season. He had a great season. You don’t see that usually with a second rounder, but that’s a prime example.”

Berggren, a Princeton native, said he felt comfortable being back at home in Target Center. He said this was a business trip and that he hadn’t really met up with family and friends yet. Workouts like this could ensure he would come through town in future seasons, or possibly get a chance to play here full time.

“It would be a dream come true, to make it in the NBA on any team would be a dream come true,” he said. “I have been dreaming since I was a little kid. Now for it to be a possibility, especially, if I could make it on the home team, it would be a dream come true.”

Berggren said he met with fellow former Badgers bigman, Greg Stiemsma, a couple hours before the workout and got a little advice about staying focused. One thing Berggren hopes to bring with him to the NBA is the defensive mindset he learned under Bo Ryan at Wisconsin. He certainly showcased he is a hard worker, and he very well could grind it out for a roster spot because of that.

Then there was Brandon Paul.

Paul is probably best known by Minnesota fans for hitting the buzzer-beater against the Gophers in this year’s Big Ten tournament. He’s a scorer—no question about it—and he showed that at times during the workout. He’s a guy who dropped 43 on Ohio State during his college career, and on Tuesday he connected in his mid-range and 3-point game as well as near the rim. Defense is going to be his key, and he said focusing on showing teams he can play on the defensive end is a trait he’s trying to convey during his workouts. In the 3-on-3 drills tailored toward the shot clock expiring, Paul hit a nice 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Solomon Hill hails from Arizona and, interestingly enough, said he roomed with Derrick Williams in college. Obviously D-Will and Chase Budinger are proud former Wildcats, and so Hill was able to get a little advice from former Arizona standouts on how to make an impression in the workouts.

Will Clyburn and Michael Snaer rounded out the workouts. Both showed they have athleticism getting to the rim—sometimes very aggressively. Clyburn had a monster dunk in the 1-on-0 dribbling drills, and Snaer had a beauty of a contested jam earlier on.

Snaer, who was known for his clutch shooting in college, had a funny moment when he challenged Respert to a 1-on-1 matchup right before the next round of drills began.

“It’s been a fun process—I’ve really enjoyed it,” Clyburn said. “Blessed to be here and trying to have fun.”

That’s it from today’s workouts. Two more coming up tomorrow morning. Look for more coverage on Timberwolves.com, including 1-on-1 videos from today’s workouts and more from Wednesday’s sessions.

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.