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News » Not much to watch as hopefuls run drills

Not much to watch as hopefuls run drills

Not much to watch as hopefuls run drills
Jrue Holiday spent Thursday, the first day of on-court activities at the inaugural NBA draft combine, displaying his cat-quick first step and his improving jump shot.

When the ESPNU cameras panned toward a group of NBA decision-makers, however, few were watching the UCLA guard. Or any of the other prospects, for that matter.

The five-day combine, which started with player interviews Wednesday and ends Sunday, is an important component in the draft evaluation process as evidenced by front-office personnel from all 30 teams showing up. Few, though, appeared satisfied with the most drastic change in the event - conveyed by cameras often catching NBA brass chatting instead of watching the drills.

The "combine" used to be known as a "pre-draft camp" and included the all-important 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 scrimmages. The new version includes only a series of light drills run by NBA assistant coaches, strength and agility testing and physicals.

"The new format makes it so challenging to evaluate these players," said Steve Lavin, ESPN analyst and former UCLA coach. "There can be a big difference between practice players and players who can perform in games when the lights are on."

The league made the decision to scrap the pre-draft camps because, increasingly, top prospects cited risk of injuries as reasons to be no-shows. The league offered this memo to general managers in November:

"Teams have expressed dissatisfaction with the caliber of players participating in the 5-on-5 games at the camp, the absence of players who refused to play in games ... in addition, the cost of the 5-on-5 portion of the camp didn't seem to be justified by its benefits to the teams."

Problem is, the problem hasn't been solved. None of the consensus top-five picks Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden or Jordan Hill participated in on-court drills this year, either.

NBA teams have already spent countless hours watching video of the prospects playing games and having already accrued miles upon miles of airline freebies on their paths to get first-hand looks at prospects in games. Little can be gained from watching fastbreak or shooting drills against assistant coaches, and, obviously, even less can be gleaned about the guys who refuse to participate.

That's one of the reasons the Warriors will host a two-day, multi-team workout for the second consecutive year. On Monday and Tuesday, two dozen prospects will converge on Oakland to run through drills and play in 3-on-3 and 2-on-2 scenarios.

"We like to see what they can do in game situations," Warriors general manager Larry Riley said last week. "We've gotten really positive responses about our workouts."

About two-thirds of the NBA's 30 teams will have representatives in Oakland on Monday.

Workout Warriors The Warriors will host a two-day, multi-team workout for draft prospects at the team's Oakland facility Monday and Tuesday. Representatives from approximately two-thirds of the NBA's 30 teams are expected to attend and evaluate these players in drills and scrimmages:

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: May 29, 2009


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