CHICAGO — It was not a make or break situation, but when you walked into the gym for the NBA pre-draft camp on Chicago’s west side - filled with scouts, general managers, coaches, media and everyone in between – you could feel the intensity in the air.
The past few days represented the transition from college to the professional ranks for the young men on the court and in the interview rooms.
Consider this: For most of these kids, it was likely their first real job interview.
Did your first job interview include spectators in a gym, cameras, strength and agility tests and shooting drills?
“I’m having fun,” exclaimed Steven Adams, one of the biggest revelations of the camp. “I think that’s the biggest part of this process is to have fun, so that’s what I’m doing with it.”
Adams showed a gentle touch on the court, combined with a very solid and efficient looking jump shot that he’s comfortable shooting in the mid-range.
How has he developed this jumper?
“Kenny McFadden,” Adams said of the NBA guru down in New Zealand. “We did guard drills. We’d put up 1,000 shots a day. When I go back to New Zealand it’s just two-a-day training with jump shots as well as a lot of skill work. He wants me to be versatile so that whatever the coach asks for I’m already a step closer than anyone else.”
That practice and confidence, combined with a league that increasingly values big men who can bang on the interior and step out to the perimeter offensively in recent years, bodes well for Adams and should likely boost him into the Lottery, if not into the top 10.
Without a doubt, every player handled these past few days differently. The camp meant more to some than it did to others but at the end of the day, competition ruled. After all, most of these potential future professional hoopers got to this point by treating the game as if it were a job.
A few quick highlights from the event:
The 20-year old Frenchman, Rudy Gobert, measured in at 7-feet, 2 inches tall with shoes on and his wingspan was 7-feet, 8.5 inches long, which officially made him the longest measured player in NBA draft combine history.
Former Indiana Hoosier Victor Oladipo and Kansas Jayhawk Ben McLemore, who are at the top of the each leapt 42 inches off the ground on their maximum vertical jump…
But Shane Larkin officially stole the show in the measurements portion of the event with the second best maximum vertical ever, with a 44 inch behemoth of a jump while also running a 3.08 three quarter court sprint. Larkin’s numbers and strong play could help him turn out to be a solid pick in the middle to late first round.
Now, it’s time for some standout quotes: