On Sunday, I went to the Kings practice facility to check out the second big point guard workout of the month for the Kings as they figure out which direction to go with the 4th, 23rd, and 31st picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
This workout consisted of Tyreke Evans of Memphis (Top 10 projection), Stephen Curry of Davidson (Top 10 projection), Jonny Flynn of Syracuse (Lottery projection), Nick Calathes of Florida (First round projection), Patrick Mills of St. Mary’s (First round projection), and Toney Douglas of Florida State (Late first round, early second round projection).
From the 20 minutes of action that the media was allowed to see, I took something away with each of the six players. All of them stood out at different times. Jonny Flynn’s quickness with the ball is something that YouTube videos, ESPN broadcasts, and the written (typed) word cannot properly describe or show. It’s something you have to see in person. Tyreke Evans was easily the biggest player on the court and when he wanted to, he was the most imposing figure. Toney Douglas’ confidence was definitely displayed and he never seemed intimidated to go against much bigger names than his. Patrick Mills could probably wake up out of a coma and knock down his first three-point attempt. Nick Calathes is much more athletic than I assumed and could definitely be a Steve Blake type of player with a better outside shot. And Stephen Curry seems to be better than advertised with his defense and ball-handling ability.
Coming away from this workout and judging the Kings’ situation by this display of six guards, I’d say that their best bet in the draft if Ricky Rubio can’t be had is probably Stephen Curry or Jonny Flynn.
Here are two videos with a lot of what I saw from the workouts followed by my observations of each of the six players:
- I don’t think you can draft Tyreke Evans if you’re the Kings because he doesn’t seem like the type of point guard that could feed off of Kevin Martin. Evans seems like someone who has to dominate the ball and live with some bad shots as he finds a rhythm. That doesn’t mean that he will be a bad player by any means but his skill set and talents would be wasted on the Kings and Paul Westphal’s philosophy.
- Jonny Flynn’s defense was average and his ball-handling was superb. He never tried to do too much on the floor, which showed me a lot in the fact that he still played the game the right way with the pressure of a higher draft position and millions of dollars potentially on the line in this workout. It’s an attitude on the court that could go a long way in giving the Kings confidence in a decision of grabbing him with the fourth pick when most draft boards slot him a few picks lower. But that’s the same type of situation that happened with Jason Thompson last year. Everyone on draft night thought Petrie had lost his mind. Those same people claim to have always loved that pick after they watched JT with the Kings this year.
- As for Stephen Curry, he’s a lot better point guard than I ever thought I’d give him credit for. Before this workout, I thought he was a glorified, better version of Eddie House. But after watching him in person Sunday, going against other top point guard talent in this draft, I’ve done a complete 180 on him (or a 360 as Jason Kidd once described it). He’s not just competent in dribbling the ball, he very efficient and effective with his movements. He can get by defenders and create space for his jumper. His defense was also very noticeable and not in the Mike Bibby way. He was adequate guarding the much bigger Evans at times and held his own against Flynn as well. His jumper is so effortless that it makes you hate him for it. I could definitely see the Kings grabbing him with the fourth pick or trading down to still select him if someone like Minnesota wants to move up to grab Evans.
- As for Patty Mills, he’s extremely quick and another effortless shooter that incites envy. His defense was good enough but you’ll never expect him to stop somebody consistently in the NBA. He’s probably no more than a backup point guard or a starter on a bad team but he could definitely be a valuable piece in this league. He’s somewhere between D.J. Augustin and Daniel Gibson. He isn’t as physical as Augustin in driving to the basket but he’s a much better basketball player than Gibson with pretty much the same outside shooting ability.
- Nick Calathes is someone who could be a steal on draft night. He probably isn’t going in the Top 20 and may even be selected towards the end of the first round because of his deal to play overseas. But anyone who retains his draft rights on Thursday will get a really solid point guard. He can see over his defender because of his height and he doesn’t make many mistakes with the ball while dribbling. He makes some rushed passes but that can be eradicated with some more seasoning (like overseas seasoning). He’s a good shooter from outside but a weak finisher inside. I don’t think it would be out of the question for the Kings to take him and stash him in Europe with the 23rd pick if they don’t want to add all three of their picks this summer to next year’s payroll.
- As for Toney Douglas, I’m really impressed with him and think he’ll be a steal at the end of the first round. If he drops into the second round, then he’s this year’s Mario Chalmers in terms of second round gems. He’s a competent shooter and a staunch defender. He can stay in front of his man and create space on his jumper. He’s athletic enough to make up for his lack of ideal height. He can probably defend a fair number of shooting guards and give point guards fits. If he’s available at 31, the Kings need to select him. He’s the type of role player that teams will crave.