Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Everyone looks great in a NBA Draft workout

ESPN Insider's Chad Ford was in Chicago recently at the famous Hoops Gym, watching draft prospects work out with famed trainer Tim Grover. If you remember, this Gym had such infamous pick-up game moments as Roger Mason Jr. separating his shoulder (prompting Jerry Krause to boycott the place), and Ron Artest breaking Jordan's ribs. Eddy Curry was there in recent weeks until committing to "Camp Skiles" at the Berto Center.

Two of the more interesting prospects to Bulls fans were there, Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala. As I wrote earlier, both players (along with Josh Childress) are being considered by GM John Paxson to fill the gaping hole at the wing positions. Here are some juicy scout blurbs on each player:

By now everyone knows Iguodala's strengths. He's one of the two or three most athletic players in the draft. Physically, his body is NBA ready. He has a massive 6-foot-11 wingspan and great lateral quickness, which likely will make him one of the top two on-the-ball defenders available.

Iguodala also has a special skill few players his size possess -- he's a legit playmaker at 6-foot-6. A point guard throughout high school. Iguodala has a real knack for handling and passing. He averaged 4.9 assists at Arizona last season and recorded three triple-doubles. He should be a devastating triple-double threat in the league.
The question, though, has been about Iguodala's ability to score. More specifically, about a jump shot that produced a 31 percent shooting average from 3-point range. As we reported over the past two weeks, Iguodala has been working on his shot and it reportedly showed in workouts in Charlotte and Chicago last week. In Monday's workout, his shot indeed looked very solid.

Deng has kept himself in very good shape since Duke's season ended, which allows Grover to put him through a very rigorous workout the first day. Two things really stand out: First, Deng is very, very long. He stands at least 6-foot-8, but when he raises his arms, he looks like a 7-footer coming at you. Second, and you may need to sit down for this, was his shooting.

Deng's reputation is as a smart player with a good mid-range game who can post up smaller defenders and take bigger guys to the hole. His weakness was supposed to be his 3-point range. Though Deng improved dramatically on his perimeter shooting this season, it still was supposedly a weakness.

What we saw Monday made us do a double-take. Deng didn't shoot the ball well -- he shot it extremely well. He was getting great lift on his jumper, and his mechanics were really sound. He shot effortlessly from just about everywhere on the floor, and in the same drill Grover put Iguodala through, Deng needed only 37 attempts to make 25. And this drill came at the end of the workout, when Deng was exhausted. Earlier in the session, he couldn't miss.

Seems to me that Iguodala is the more explosive talent, but not as big(and long) as Deng. That may translate into Deng being the better defender, although there have been notions that he isn't quick enough to handle opposing SFs in the league. I have no idea how much stock to put into these shooting drills, since even Linton Johnson can hit them when he's wide open. I wish these kind of things could be settled with a good ole' fashioned one-on-one.