Word on the Street: Private Workouts, Orlando Invites

Word on the Street: Private Workouts, Orlando Invites
May 14, 2006, 02:55 am
Marcus Williams Making his Case

20 or more NBA GM’s have been down to Southern Califonia to watch workouts held by Tim Grgurich and Joe Abunassar this past week. One workout conducted Wednesday that has been heavily discussed consisted of Marcus Williams, Louis Amundson, Leon Powe and an anonymous guard from a local Southern California school.

All the buzz coming out of this workout said that Marcus Williams was "phenomenal." One NBA GM went as far as to say that he "looked like a top 10 pick”. The GM went on to say that he “ran the workout with poise, got to wherever he wanted on the floor, knocked down his perimeter shot at a good clip and generally showed the savvy of an NBA veteran.” Williams is currently ranked as the #1 PG on nearly every NBA team's draft board, with a massive gap between him and the next point guard (which is certainly up for debate). Williams is becoming one of the hottest names in the draft from what we’ve gathered from numerous conversations we’ve had from all different types of sources in the NBA draft business (everyone except for, ironically enough, his agent--who we have not yet spoken with). Another scout in attendance who preferred not to go on the record was equally impressed: “I’m sorry, but there is just not a better point guard in the draft. Everything comes natural to him.”

Stopping for the day at IMG Academy in Clearwater, we got to catch up with his trainer Joe Abunassar to try and confirm what we were hearing. Abunassar likes his work with the players to do the talking for him, but did not deny what we were hearing. He went on to say that Williams has way more NBA upside than people give him credit for considering that his body is nowhere near full potential. He feels that once he has the chance to work with him more on his diet and conditioning level, essentially helping him make the full transition from being a college student to an NBA pro, he’ll test out very well as an athlete. He says that while “he’s not the best shooter we’ve got in the gym right now, I still haven’t seen him lose a shooting competition.”

Many league sources we spoke with this past week feel that the Atlanta Hawks will have to give Marcus Williams a very serious look should they not move up in the lottery on May 23rd, and especially if they move down. What’s interesting for Williams is that all four teams currently slated from 4-8 in this draft (Atlanta, Toronto, Minnesota, Boston) all need a playmaking point guard, meaning his stock would likely rise by default even if he wasn't working out as well as he has lately.

Powe vs. Amundson

In the same Wednesday workout, both Leon Powe and Louis Amundson went up against each other in what more than one person described as a “boxing match.” Powe apparently did not have the type of workout he needed to show that he is a first round caliber player at this point in time. The buzz was that he struggled badly to finish around the rim. One observer mentioned that he'll, in his estimation, measure out at "6-6 1/2 at best."

Amundson reportedly gave him a very hard time defensively with his combination of toughness and tenacity. Powe apparently just "could not score on him". Powe is trying to show that he can play some small forward at the next level, but very obviously looked like an undersized power forward. Scouts do like his length and activity level, and noted that the bounce he had in his step earlier on in his career is clearly coming back to him, but that his skill level was doesn’t measure up well enough to have a chance at being projected as a contributing rotation player in the NBA. Beyond Powe’s offense, on the other end, the two big men mostly neutralized each other. Amundon's offensive skill level is still very far from what you'd hope for from a legitimately draftable power forward, but his defense, rebound and all-around hustle is certainly not. He is expected to be invited to the Orlando pre-draft camp, where he could have a similar showing to a player that he very much resembles, David Lee of Florida and the New York Knicks.

Redick vs. Roy

J.J. Redick also conducted a workout held by Arn Tellem in Southern California, also featuring Brandon Roy. Many NBA personnel made the trek, but almost all unanimously came away disappointed by the outcome. “If I wanted to watch J.J. Redick shoot threes in a gym all day long, I would have stayed home and watched tape of him warming up before games for Duke,” one NBA scout complained. “A humongous waste of time”, said another. “If you don’t want to let your clients beat each other up and hurt each other’s stock, that’s fine, but why call us all in?”

Redick’s workout schedule is an interesting topic these days. Many wonder whether he will take the Gerald Green route of not working out against anyone in a competitive two on two setting.

This Week’s Agenda

If Southern California was the hotspot this past week to watch, Chicago is where the NBA teams will be sending their troops this week. A big workout is scheduled this Thursday at the University of Illinois-Chicago campus. James Augustine, Shannon Brown, Mustafa Shakur, and Justin Williams will be going head to head. 10-12 NBA teams are already booked. The Bucks, Bulls, Pacers, Bobcats, Hawks, Grizzles, Sixers and others will all be present at the workout, which will be conducted by an NBA team.

Orlando Invites Starting to Go Out

DraftExpress was notified this past weekend that informal invites to the Orlando pre-draft camp have started to go out. 7-2 South African big man Frans Steyn is the first player we’ve been told will be in attendance. Steyn played college basketball at Oklahoma State and later transferred to Southwest Baptist University. He was named to the Division II allstar game, and won MVP honors there. From this point on each week, there will be a conference call involving the NBA committee which is responsible for making the rosters to the pre-draft camp. There, the committee will decide on more players who will receive an invite each week. All Orlando Invitees will receive notification of formal invites by May 26th. The camp will be help from June 6th-10th. Read our two-part introduction including DraftExpress' suggested rosters.

Mustafa Shakur on the Verge of Hiring an Agent?

Sources say that Mustafa Shakur is leaning towards hiring an agent and keeping his name in the draft. The agent he will reportedly sign with is Leon Rose, from his hometown of Philadelphia. This has prompted many to openly question exactly what his rush is and where he is getting information on his draft stock at the moment.

Everyone that has seen him work out at Hoops the Gym in Chicago these past few weeks says he is incredibly far from being ready to legitimately think about the NBA from what they've seen, mostly thanks to his poor shooting mechanics. One source mentioned that he "shoots the ball like most kids do, from the side of their head."

Shakur was ranked by most as the #1 PG prospect in the high school class of 2003, which is now beginning to be regarded as one of the worst classes in recent memory. When declaring for the draft, Shakur appeared to imply that Arizona, also known as Point Guard U, didn't allow him to show off all his skills. Many find that laughable since he's started from day one, plays in the super up-tempo and very stat-friendly Pac-10, and has never averaged less than 29 minutes per game in any of his 3 seasons at Arizona so far. It’s hard to imagine what else could have been done to further enhance his college experience and developmental curve at Arizona.

Barring a breakout performance at the Orlando pre-draft camp, Shakur will almost certainly go undrafted. He has a lot of potential and might end up on someone's roster at some point, but he's passing up on returning to a perfect situation next year at Arizona.

Messages on the subject left on Rose's voice mail this week were not returned.

Douby Staying in the Draft

Quincy Douby’s high school coach Jack Ringel informed DraftExpress this weekend that his former player is likely to hire an agent sometime in the near future. Douby has been training in the Northern New Jersey area and will begin working out for NBA teams starting next week. Frustrated by the new NCAA rules regarding underclassmen testing the waters, realistic about the fact that Douby would be a senior had he not gone to prep school, and wondering whether he’ll be able to approach the type of amazing season he had individually last year with the kind of team Rutgers will sport, Douby will now give the NBA draft his best shot. When the decision is formally made and announced, he’ll sign with Keith Glass. It appears unlikely that Douby will attend the Orlando pre-draft camp unless he’s invited for the “physical only” portion of the camp.

The fact that virtually every team in the NBA these days either has a full-time combo guard in their rotation or plays stretches with two point guards on the floor means that Douby's stock is quite a bit safer than what it might have been a few years ago. New rules regarding defending the perimeter and eliminating hand-checking appear to be the main factor. The more combo guards that enter the league each year, the more opposing teams will be searching for players to match up with them on the defensive end, which bodes well for players like Randy Foye, Quincy Douby and Guillermo Diaz.

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