Monday, June 11, 2012
Kevin Durant's pre-draft flop
By Kevin Arnovitz
As NBA executives and scouts continue to size up draft prospects with the discerning eyes of seasoned art dealers, let's hop into the time machine and look back five years ago this week.
With most of the NBA universe projecting Kevin Durant to be chosen by the Seattle SuperSonics at No. 2 behind Greg Oden, the Seattle Times got hold of a confidential report enumerating many of Durant's shortcomings the University of Texas forward displayed at a pre-draft camp:
Durant, who will likely be chosen No. 2 in the June 28 draft by the Sonics, was the only player who could not bench press 185 pounds at least once. His overall performance ranked 78th out of 80 prospects, and his lackluster workout appears to have widened the gap between him and Ohio State center Greg Oden, who had an impressive combine.
Durant measured 6 feet 9 without shoes and 6-10 ¼ with shoes. He weighed 215 pounds and had a 7-4 ¾ wingspan, second widest among prospects and a half-inch wider than Oden's. Durant, however, fell short in nearly every other statistical category to the 7-foot center, who is expected to be chosen No. 1 by Portland.
Buried beneath the Durant intel is an amusing detail that came out of the Seattle front office as to why they weren't worried about Durant's perceived weaknesses:
The Sonics, however, are not dissuaded by Durant's workout. According to one front-office official, center Robert Swift also struggled with the bench-press test before the draft, and three years later he's the strongest player on the team.
Texas coach Rick Barnes had this rebuttal (per Chad Ford via the Dallas Morning News):
"If people question his strength, they're stupid," Texas' Rick Barnes said Tuesday, according to The Dallas Morning News. "If they are looking for weight lifters to come out of Texas, that's not what we're producing. There are a lot of guys who can bench press 300 pounds in the NBA who couldn't play dead in a cowboy movie. Kevin's the best player in the draft -- period, at any position."
College coaches can be notorious homers for their alums. They can also be dead right.