Oakland Pre-Draft Workout Review

By Josh Greene, Suns.com
Posted: June 5, 2009

Further proving there is no such thing as an offseason in an NBA front office, the Suns’ brass continues its evaluation of the potential talent available in the NBA Draft later this month.

Phoenix is fresh off this week’s group workouts at the Golden State Warriors’ practice facility in Oakland, where they joined 20 other NBA teams to look over 24 draft hopefuls.

Suns Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin talked to Suns.com about his thoughts on some of those players in the two-day, three-on-three environment – an environment that boasted “probably 12 to 14 first-round potentials,” according to Griffin.

Terrence Williams (guard/forward, Louisville): “Terrence showed himself quite well. Athletically, physically dominant…. He’s a tremendous passer. Everyone knew that already, but more so when you see him in that environment playing against players of that caliber.”

Chase Budinger (forward, Arizona): “Chase continues to improve upon every viewing. He is learning how to apply his athleticism to the game. That’s often not easy for guys to do. Having a volleyball background, he’s a two-foot jumper, and he’s learning how to incorporate that into his offense. Defensively, he’s improved quite a bit.”

Austin Daye (forward, Gonzaga): “Austin was in that same group. He shot the ball very well. He obviously struggles with the physical strength of guys like Terrence and Chase and Gani Lawal, but his length and shooting, his ability to handle the ball and get where he wants to go continues to impress us.”

Omri Casspi (forward, Israel): “In the second group on the second day, the biggest surprise in terms of performance and expectations coming in for us was Omri. He’s an interesting kid, because he’s somewhat of a ‘tweener’ between a three and four. He really knows how to play and is a tough kid. Because of the makeup of that workout, he was forced to handle the ball quite a bit more than he envisioned, but he really showed himself well with it. He made good decisions and was a good passer. He’s always been a tough kid. He played at Maccabi Tel Aviv and with the Israeli National Team. I think he surprised some people.”

B.J. Mullens (center, Ohio State): “One team that had not seen B.J. in the draft process told me they were overwhelmed by his size and athleticism. He’s a kid that is legitimately 7-1. He’s 265 lbs. and runs the floor like a small forward. He’s extremely quick off the floor. He shoots the ball very well. People may or may not consider him too raw to take too high, but he’s going to be a bit of an investment in terms of his overall maturity and development, because he’s so young. His talent level is really impressive.”

Darren Collison (guard, UCLA): “Darren was everything you’d expect from a kid who played point guard for Ben Allen for four years. A tremendous defender…. He knows how to play. Being the son of two track stars, it’s not surprising he runs like a track star. He always seems to be leading a break. Intangibly, he has all the things you look for in a point guard. He’s small and very lean, but very impressive – athletically and defensively.”

Patrick Beverley (guard, Ukraine): “Patrick stood out in the most surprising of ways among his group of Jeff Teague, Patrick Mills and Eric Maynor. Beverley is the physically most developed, the strongest of that group.”

Eric Maynor (guard, VCU): “Eric has great length and craftiness. He’s the tallest of that group.

Patrick Mills (guard, St. Mary’s): “Patrick really helped himself. He showed himself to be more of a point guard than most people have seen him be in the past. That’s difficult to do within the confines of a workout, because it doesn’t really lend itself to point guards showing their decision-making. Patrick really found a way to run the pick and roll nicely and pass the ball really well. I think people were very pleased with him.”

Derrick Brown (forward, Xavier): “Derrick worked out very well. He shot the ball at range better than you’d expect. Sometimes he gets caught up in trying to be too much of a wing. He started out as a four at Xavier, and he’s a tremendous athlete, but he doesn’t always play to his length and athleticism enough. He shot the ball well in the workout and would show you flashes of the athleticism from time to time.”

Jeff Teague (guard, Wake Forest): “Jeff may or may not go back to school. He may need the seasoning of playing a full year of playing as a point guard on a team of that caliber. If he does come out, he is probably further out in terms of his point guard development than the rest, but he has perhaps more physical gifts. He’s incredibly quick. He’s very explosive off the floor. He shot at a high percentage, but mechanically is going to need to get his shot off quicker. There’s a little shot put nature to his shot. He probably stands to gain an awful lot to going back and playing full-time point guard, but he showed his explosiveness.”

Sam Young (forward, Pittsburgh): “Sam played incredibly well. Sam helped himself, showing himself more capable of getting to the rim than you might have expected in that setting. And he did it repeatedly. He made jumpshots from every range and moved well laterally. Sam’s a bit older, so he has a maturity level you wouldn’t expect to find in the younger players. In terms of making a statement, Sam did that. He had a severe injury in Toronto during the workout campaign, where he jumped into the Vertec measuring apparatus and got a screw lodged under his bicep. They removed the screw, and we’re not even 10 days past that and he’s dominating the workout. He’s a very tough kid.”

Jeff Pendergraph (forward, Arizona State): “Jeff showed himself very well. He’s a kid who’s just going to work himself into being a player. He has good size, bouncier than people would expect him to be. He’ll most likely work himself into a second-round pick. They are so well-schooled at ASU defensively, you’d expect him to show himself well in that regard, and he did. He was very clever defensively.”

Damion James (forward, Texas): “Damion had sprained his ankle during the workout process, so he probably didn’t have the explosiveness he was looking for. His balance seemed to be a bit off. He’s another kid who could probably benefit from going back to school. He may or may not do that. He’s very athletic and defensive-minded, but also raw. At his size, he needs to become more of a three.”

Marcus Thornton (guard, LSU): “Marcus is just a pure scorer. He is a good example of a kid doing what he does best in a workout. Too many times in a workout, a kid will try and show you what he thinks you want to see. If the knock is ‘I’m too small to play at the two and I’m not a true one,’ they’ll spend the workout trying to distribute and not doing what they are good at. Marcus spent the workout scoring in bunches, and that’s what you want to do. He did a very effective job of that.”