Brown, Melton, and Smith Headline Clippers' Workout
PLAYA VISTA — Lining the courts at the Clippers’ practice facility were Doc Rivers, Jerry West, Lawrence Frank and Steve Ballmer, along with the entirety of the Clippers’ coaching staff and front office. The Clippers hosted a pre-draft workout, with the goal of evaluating prospects under simulated duress, and the whole contingency was there to watch.
“You try to put them in situations that aren’t necessarily in their comfort levels,” Frank said. “How do they respond to different situations that we aren’t quite sure about, because they weren’t exposed to it as much at the college game.”
NBA job interviews are quite different than those in any other field, and six players participated in this audition: Troy Brown (Oregon), De’Anthony Melton (USC), Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech), Angel Delgado (Seton Hall), Drew Eubanks (Oregon State) and Brandon Sampson (LSU). The players ran through warmups and shooting drills, along with one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three competition.
“I really love this time of year. What you have is these young men competing, and they are competing for their ultimate dream,” Frank said. “What we try to do is mix up the combinations and see how they respond to different teammates, and see how they can play in different situations.”
According to numerous mock drafts, Brown, Melton and Smith are each projected to be selected in the first round, and each highlights certain characteristics that align with the current ethos of the Clippers’ roster composition – players with ability to play and defend at multiple positions.
Standing at 6-foot-7, Brown retains the height, length and quickness to defend smaller guards and even hold larger forwards in check for short spells. Both Melton and Smith reach 6-foot-4, and swing between both guard spots rather seamlessly. In the modern era of basketball, positional flexibility is at a premium, and when asked what position he plays, Brown deflected any labeling.
“Honestly, I’m just a basketball player. I feel like I can do anything on the court, whatever you need me to do to win,” Brown said.
But when probed about what he needs to improve upon, Brown responded with a more direct answer.
“They keep telling me defensively I have to be a lockdown defender,” Brown said. “Especially if I want to keep going with the whole versatility thing.”
Teams across the league are holding workouts for players, all trying to get an inside perspective on players they’ve been scouting from afar. For some players, it means traveling hundreds of miles on back-to-back nights. But for Smith, today’s workout with the Clippers was his first, and it happened on his 19th birthday.
“The workout was great, I learned a lot,” Smith said. “I need to use my legs more when I get tired, when you’re tired you just start getting sloppy. So, I need to continue to fight through my tiredness.”
Smith added he’s been told that shooting and ball handling are potential areas of improvement, but felt like he performed well in both areas during the workout.
As for Melton, this was his sixth workout, and he said the Clippers’ was one of his favorites. When asked how he’s been preparing, Melton said he watches a lot of film and hones in on players with two-way tenacity that are relentless on both offense and defense.
It turns out one of his favorite players to study is Clippers guard Avery Bradley.
“For players to really get it done on both ends and do it well, it’s hard. It’s a lot tougher than people think,” Melton said.
With the NBA Draft set on June 21st and the Clippers holding the 12th and 13th picks, the team is likely to hold one or two more workouts with media access in the upcoming weeks.
“Every workout is unique and distinct,” Frank said. “How do they respond when you’re a little constructive with your criticism? How are they with their teammates? These are things we can maybe see on the sideline, but because we are right there, it’s a different perspective.”