Plenty of Scoring Punch in First Pre-Draft Workout

Two weeks before the 2018 NBA Draft, the Pacers hosted their first pre-draft workout at the St. Vincent Center, welcoming six prospects to Indianapolis for drills and testing.

In years past, the team would have already held several workouts by this time, but the pre-draft process has changed somewhat this year, with many agencies holding pro days for players in the weeks following the NBA Draft Combine. For that reason, Pacers scouts and executives spent time traveling around the country to those events before hosting their own pre-draft workouts in Indiana.

As usual, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and his staff conducted Thursday's workout, which featured Wichita State point guard Landry Shamet, UNLV center Brandon McCoy, St. Bonaventure guard Jaylen Adams, Creighton guard Marcus Foster, Middle Tennessee State forward Nick King, and Georgia forward Yante Maten.

Of the six, Shamet is the most likely first-round pick and could be a candidate for the Pacers to take with the 23rd overall selection on June 21. Pacers.com's Mark Montieth wrote on what makes Shamet an intriguing option, but here are some notes on the other five prospects from Thursday's workout.

Brandon McCoy and Yante Maten

Big men Brandon McCoy (left) and Yante Maten (right) hoped to make an impact at Thursday's pre-draft workout.

McCoy, Maten Make Their Case to Add Depth in Post

Both of the two big men in Thursday's workout were invited to the combine last month (as was Shamet), but they've taken very different routes to the pros.

Aside from Shamet, McCoy seems to be the most likely player from Thursday's group to hear his name called early on draft night. On paper, it's easy to see why.

McCoy has the size (he measured at 7 feet and one-half inch in shoes with a 7-2 wingspan at the combine) and the youth (he turns 20 on Monday) to make him an intriguing commodity. He was a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school and did not disappoint in his one year in college, averaging 16.9 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent from the field at UNLV, where he was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year.

For the best evidence of McCoy's potential, look no further than his performance against possible number-one pick DeAndre Ayton and Arizona on Dec. 2. McCoy more than held his own, putting together his best performance of the season on his way to 33 points on 13-of-17 shooting and 10 rebounds in a narrow overtime loss (Ayton finished with 28 points on 12-of-23 shooting and 10 boards).

Though he's still raw in some areas, McCoy felt that he could only hurt his draft stock by spending another year in school, so he opted to declare after just one season with the Runnin' Rebels.

"I want to be in the NBA and I feel like (staying) in college, you're getting further and further away from your dreams," McCoy said. "I think I had a really decent season at UNLV and it was time for me to take the next step."

McCoy believes he has the tools to make an immediate impact as a rebounder and energy player off the bench. He is working on extending his shooting range (he attempted just nine 3-pointers last season at UNLV) to make him a better fit in the modern NBA.

The 7-footer also believes his best attribute is something that will draw scouts' attention in workouts, where players compete in testing, shooting drills, and 3-on-3 scrimmages.

"I love to win," McCoy said. "I've got a drive and I do whatever it takes to win."

Maten, on the other hand, is a more polished product. He was a productive player throughout his four-year career in Georgia (the Detroit native chose the Bulldogs over Indiana and Michigan State) and averaged 19.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as a senior, when he was named SEC Player of the Year by the Associated Press.

The 6-8 forward actually declared for the draft a year ago, but did not hire an agent and decided to return to school at the NCAA's early entry deadline.

"I was able to test the waters, see if I was able to be potentially drafted or not, and get a feel for what a workout is," Maten said. "...That definitely prepared me a lot for this year to get mentally prepared."

While he was a proven scorer in college, the aspect of Maten's game that will most easily translate to the next level is his strength. Weighing in at a robust 246 pounds, Maten outclassed all other players in the bench press at the combine, doing 18 reps at 185 pounds.

While his strength is unquestionable, Maten also believes he has the athleticism necessary to fit in on an NBA roster.

"I think I'd be able to grab rebounds and defend not just my position (power forward) but other positions," Maten said. "I know that's going to be critical. You see in the Finals, everybody's switching everything."

Like McCoy, Maten needs to show that he can be a threat from the perimeter offensively. He attempted just 16 3-pointers in his first two seasons at Georgia, but took 85 shots from beyond the arc as a senior and converted 34.1 percent. He's working on bringing up his percentage and also expanding his range to stretch out to the NBA 3-point line.

Jaylen Adams, Marcus Foster, and Nick King

St. Bonaventure's Jaylen Adams (left), Creighton's Marcus Foster (middle), and Middle Tennessee State's Nick King (right) all demonstrated a knack for scoring the ball in college.

Trio of Scorers Hoping Offense Carries Over to NBA

The last three prospects at Thursday's workout might not be considered first-round talents, but each of them possesses plenty of offensive firepower.

Adams, for instance, averaged 17.9, 20.6, and 19.1 points per game over his final three seasons at St. Bonaventure. He was named co-Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10 as a senior, leading the Bonnies to a second-place finish in the league and an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Adams is one of the best shooters in his draft class, as he proved in college while taking a high volume of shots from beyond the arc. The 6-2 guard posted a .438 3-point percentage as a sophomore, saw that number dip to .356 as a junior, but raised it back up to .436 as a senior. In each of those seasons, Adams attemped more than six threes per game.

While he is known primarily as a scorer, Adams also showed plenty of playmaking ability in college. He averaged at least five assists per game in each of his final three seasons at St. Bonaventure and believes he needs to be comfortable in both a scoring and distributing role to excel as an NBA point guard.

"I think you've got to be able to do both," Adams said. "At this point, you've got to be able to shoot and score the ball at the point guard spot. And passing the ball is something that's expected from the point guard as well."

Adams is a little small at just 6-2 and struggled in the NCAA Tournament against high-major competition (he went 2-for-16 in a First Four win over UCLA, then had four turnovers in a first-round loss to Florida), but has the opportunity in workouts to prove he can hold his own against bigger guards.

Foster looked like he might be on the fast track to the NBA after a standout freshman season at Kansas State, where he averaged 15.5 points per game and shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range. But he struggled as a sophomore, when he admittedly wasn't as committed as he should have been to basketball, and was suspended and then later dismissed from the program.

The 6-3 guard got a second chance at Creighton, where he turned his career back around. After sitting out a season, he averaged 18.2 and 19.8 points over the past two years. He was named to the All-Big East first team in each of his two seasons with the Bluejays and shot 48.3 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from 3-point range as a senior.

"I just really grew up," Foster said of his time at Creighton. "I changed what my priorities were, got my things in order, and just put basketball and school first."

The biggest question for Foster, who played off the ball in college, is if he can make the transition to point guard, something that is probably necessary for him to earn a place on an NBA roster.

"Nobody's ever seen me play point guard except for these last few workouts that I've been in," Foster said. "So I'm excited to show them what I can do at the point guard spot."

Foster's sojourn pales in comparison to King's tumultuous college career. The 6-7 forward transferred not once, but twice in college, dealing with a serious medical issue in the process.

King began his college career at his hometown school, the University of Memphis, but decided to transfer to Alabama after two years coming off the bench. After sitting out the 2015-16 season, King was poised to play a bigger role for the Crimson Tide, but only appeared in seven games before acquiring a lung infection that sidelined him for the rest of his junior season.

He then decided to leave Alabama and enrolled at Middle Tennessee State as a graduate transfer last season.

King finally enjoyed the level of success he had always dreamed of in his lone season in Murfreesboro, averaging 21 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting and 8.4 rebounds to lead the Blue Raiders to the Conference USA regular season title. He was named conference Player of the Year at the end of the season.

He credits his faith and a strong family support system for helping him through hard times.

"It was just amazing how everything fell into place," King said. "I feel like I've been working hard my whole life. I went through adversity at a young age. It hit kind of hard, so you never know what to expect. But I kept God in my life."

King does have at least one member of the Pacers organization in his corner. Starting power forward Thaddeus Young is also a native of Memphis and has taken on a mentoring role with King and other players who have come out of the city in recent years.

"That's my guy, man," King said. "People say we're kind of similar — you know, left-handed, play multiple positions, bring a lot of energy to the floor.

"He has given me advice in the past. A lot of great advice, great tips just to bring a lot of energy, bring a high motor."