Thursday, June 2, 2011
Draft Lookahead: Rating the wings
By Chris Sheridan
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks need a 3-point shooter, and they need one who can defend his position.
And what transpired on their practice court Thursday could go a long way toward determining who they will take with the No. 17 pick in the NBA draft.
The NCAA's two leading scorers, Jimmer Fredette and Marshon Brooks, took part in workouts along with another highly rated wing player, Klay Thompson of Washington State, as the Knicks brought in six players for workouts.
Among those watching the workouts -- scrimmages, shooting and agility drills, along with 25 shots apiece from both the college and NBA 3-point lines -- was Carmelo Anthony.
"He was cool. It was kind of surreal at first, He was one of the superstars I first got to know, along with LeBron (Jmes) and Kobe (Bryant). So it was pretty cool to have him out there and he seemed like a nice guy," said Thompson, who went 20-for-25 from NBA 3-point range (18-of-25 from college range) and did his best in the scrimmages to defend Brooks, who averaged 24.6 points per game for Providence last season.
"I think I can slide my feet better than people give me credit for, and stay in front of them on the dribble, and I think I still showed I had the ability to shoot and stretch the floor, which is my most valuable asset," Thompson said.
On defending Brooks: "He's really good. I didn't know he was that good of a ballhandler. He can make you look stupid out there yo-yoing the ball, and he would fit in well in New York City just because he's got that street game. It was a challenge, but I liked being out there competing."
We have already gone over some of the top centers and top point guards who could or should be on the board when the Knicks make their pick, and today we will look at five of the top wing players. We are including Fredette in that mix because he projects to be more of a combo guard than a pure point guard, and the Knicks -- if they picked him -- - would likely use him as a two-guard in their offense to take advantage of his spot-up shooting ability.
Jimmer Fredette, BYU: He made 19 of 25 3-pointers from NBA range Thursday and 20 of 25 from college range, and he said he thought he impressed Knicks brass with his defensive play. The 6-foot-2 guard was in for a workout a year ago but was injured during the drills, then decided to withdraw from the draft when he could not get a guarantee from a team picking in the first round, and ended up leading the NCAA with a 28.5 scoring average. He said he was happiest Thursday with his conditioning, along with the fact that his team won several of the scrimmages, and did a good job defending Darius Morris of Michigan. After working out for the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, Fredette will hold only three more workouts for the Kings, Jazz and Suns. "I liked the Knicks growing up, I really did. I remember Allan Houston playing with Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson and that whole crew, so I was a big Knick fan growing up and loved watching them," he said. "I think they expect me to shoot the ball well, it's just the other end of the floor and some other things that they want to see."
Klay Thompson, Washington State: Thompson came right out and said he hopes he is off the draft board by the time the Knicks pick, which is a distinct possibility (although ESPN colleague Chad Ford has him going No. 18 to Washington in his Mock Draft 3.0 (Insider) ). Thompson's size (6-foot-7) and his ability to play both guard positions works in his favor when comparing him to Fredette, as the two are seen as the top pure shooters in the draft. "That's going to be my most valuable asset in the NBA," he said. "There's so much attention drawn to those superstars (Anthony and Amare Stoudemire) all the time. And I think I would space the floor for them, and you can't really leave me open that much. with all the attention being drawn to them, I think I'd be overlooked a lot and provide a great scoring pounch, off the bench or whether I start. I think teams will overlook me as a third or fourth option." Thompson has one more workout scheduled with the Bobcats, who select at Nos. 9 and 19. He previously worked out for the Wizards.
Marshon Brooks, Providence: To hear Thompson tell it, there was plenty of mustard on this hot dog in the one-on-one and 3-on-3 scrimmages. We would love to confirm that, but the Knicks do not allow reporters to view their workouts. Brooks hit 19 of 25 attempts from 3-point range and -- according to Thompson -- hit a bunch of sick jumpers despite being closely defended. "He hit some tough shots, and that's what he's going to do, he's a real good player. I thought I stayed in front of him pretty well, but I just got to keep on working on contesting those shots, because he hit a few jumpers over me that are tough shots -- but at the next level those are easy shots for a lot of players." He is regarded as one of the best athletes in the draft, whose production was held down last season because he played out of position at Providence. Chad Ford is particularly enamored of him, and he and trainer Tim Grover had a conversation in which the name Kobe Bryant came to mind (Insider).
Chris Singleton, Florida State. One of my tweeps said he ran into Mike D'Antoni at Union College last week and reported back that D'Antoni raved about Singleton, who may be the most versatile defender in the draft (think Ron Artest, but with more size) but who is not widely expected to be of the board by the time the Knicks pick. The 6-foot-9 college junior with a 7-1 wingspan is regarded as a tremendous athlete (37 1/2 inch vertical and a 3.1 second sprint covering three-quarters of the court) good finisher around the basket and a decent mid-range shooter, but what makes him particularly enamoring is his ability to defend -- something Fredette said the Knicks seemed particularly focused on in Thursday's workouts. Colleague Jared Zwerling profiled Singleton a couple weeks ago in this blog.
Alec Burks, Colorado: Great slasher, not a great shooter. That is the book on the Colorado sophomore, who Ford expects to go to the Suns at No. 13 (although I disagree, believing Phoenix will take Josh Selby). He made only 29 percent of his 3-point shots last season after hitting 35 percent his freshman year. The Knicks just went through a season in which they had a shooting guard who couldn't shoot (at least that was the case with Landry Fields after the Carmelo Anthony trade), but Burks is a totally different type of player. Just my opinion, but I'd expect the Knicks to select a knock-down shooter, a studly defensive stopper or a point guard of the future before they'd take a flyer on Burks.