This past weekend was a big one in terms of NBA draft workouts, with Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, and Andrew Wiggins all performing in front of select members of the media and NBA executives. Chad Ford gave a very interesting recap [ESPN Insider] of his impressions from these workouts.
There are two very important things to remember about this time of year: First, everybody lies. Everybody. Second, that chair hasn't stopped anybody in the history of draft workouts.
That doesn't mean that there aren't some legitimate pieces of information from each of these prospects that you can gather. There are. How does Joel Embiid's back seem? How fit does Jabari Parker look? Are there any improvements in Andrew Wiggins's form or consistency on his jump shot? These are all useful pieces of information that you can get from attending a workout.
That being said, even those need to be taken with a grain of salt. Much more useful information will come when the Sixers doctors get the ability to look Embiid over and give their opinion on his long term prognosis. And there have been enough prospects over the years who have gotten themselves into good shape at this time of their career because they had to but who have reverted later on. If you had concerns about Jabari Parker staying in shape, then him getting in shape right before the draft doesn't really quell those concerns long term.
Still, Chad Ford is as connected as anybody with regards to the draft process, so when he comes away with thoughts about what is going on in the minds of front offices, we listen. And Chad had quite a lot to say today, including some news that tugs at the hearts of many Sixers fans.
Joel Embiid's health
The big news from last Friday was that JoJo, who we really haven't seen do much of basketball wise since he last played on March 1st, is working out. And looking good doing it. Again, the standing reach of the chair left a little bit to be desired, but Embiid himself looked big, fluid, and wonderful.
Ford says that Embiid claims that the back has been 100% since March, and quotes a source that says Embiid could have played had Kansas advanced to the next round of the NCAA tournament, but that Embiid's camp was overly cautious with him in an effort to make sure that the problem would go away.
2014 NBA Draft
2014 NBA Draft
Jabari Parker's fitness level
There were rumors floating around before the workouts that Parker had gained weight. A source in Parker's camp admitted that, while the reports that he was 20 pounds overweight weren't true, that he wasn't in great shape earlier in the offseason. He said that Parker took some time off after the college season to let his body rest, but that he's in good shape now, at least as good as he was in Duke, if not better.
I would say that he looked better, body wise, than he did at Duke. Again, getting into shape at this time of the players career doesn't prove or disprove the long term legitimacy of the concerns, but it's a positive development.
Ford also said, that in his opinion, Parker was the most impressive of the 3 in his workout. That's not all that surprising considering that Parker is far and away the most offensively polished of the three, and that most of what he struggles with aren't on display in an event like this.
Wiggins has killer instinct now?
Ford also goes on to discuss how Andrew Wiggins has been working out with trainer Drew Hanlen, along with the guys over at P3, famous for releasing Wiggins' incredible
jump launch last week.
Of the things Hanlen has been working with Wiggins on are his shooting (Ford said he hit 14 of 16 corner three's that he saw while there), ball handling, and on a few moves, such as improving his step back.
Hanlen went on to say that, as Wiggins' skill improves, he's seeing him display more of a killer instinct. It's something Rich and I have been arguing for quite some time, that people frequently conflate lacking skills with lacking a killer mentality. If you make an incorrect assessment of a players skill level, and believe that he is not consistently doing something that he is currently capable of, then the only logical conclusion is that something is mentally holding him back. In my opinion, the thing that held Wiggins back from "taking over" games more consistently at Kansas is that he didn't have the ball handling to do so, not a problem with his mentality. For the trainer to say that he's seeing a "killer instinct" as Wiggins gets more comfortable with his handles isn't much of a surprise.
(Note: dribbling around cones has a way to inspire confidence in your handles, so, again, take all of this with a grain of salt.)
Ford also mentioned that Wiggins was in the best shape of the 3, which, again, isn't all that surprising, especially with Joel Embiid having been out of basketball activity for as long as he was.
The camps for Embiid, Parker, and Wiggins also released measurement data from their private measurements. All 3 had skipped the NBA Combine two weeks ago.
Wiggins: 6'8.75" in shoes, 7' foot wingspan, 8'11" standing reach
Parker: 6'9" in shoes, 6'11.5" wingpsan, 8'11.5" standing reach
Embiid: 7'1" in shoes, 7'5.75" wingspan, 9'5.5" standing reach
According to these numbers, Wiggins has grown 0.75" from what he measured in at the Nike Hoop Summit last year, although his wingspan is identical. We did not have standing reach measured at any of the previous camps, so that is new information.
Parker comes in 0.5" taller than at the Kevin Durant camp and a full inch taller than at the Nike Hoop Summit, both last year, with the same wingspan as at KD's camp, but 3" more of standing reach than at the Hoop Summit last year. Standing reach wasn't measured at the Kevin Durant Camp.
Embiid measured an inch taller than at last years Hoop Summit, with 0.75" more of wingspan, and the standing reach is new information.
Click on the name of the prospect above to go to their DraftExpress profile, where you can see all previous measurements.
A word of caution: as you can see from these measurements, there's frequently more variation than you would expect, and these numbers are all being released by agents. So, be careful. Jabari Parker gaining 3" of standing reach despite no gain in wingspan and only a 0.5" gain in height sounds incredibly unlikely. I'm not saying that his agents are falsifying information, or even that he doesn't have an 8'11.5" standing reach, as the Hoop Summit could have been (woefully) wrong last year. But somebody looks to have been off.
Also of note, Ford says that Embiid has gained roughly 20 pounds in the last 2 months, although that's only 15 pounds up from his playing weight, as he lost some weight while he was rehabbing. Ford says that most of the weight has gone to his lower body, which would be viewed as a positive development and allow Embiid to better battle down low.
Wiggins available at #3? Sixers have him at the top of their board?
Finally, Ford mentions a couple if interesting tidbits on how the Cavs, Bucks, and Sixers have their big boards currently constructed.
Ford says that a source close to the Cavs has told him that Wiggins isn't even in the discussion for Cleveland with the top pick, that they have narrowed it down to Embiid or Parker (with Embiid being the preferred pick if this was in a vacuum, but that Dan Gilbert wants to win now). He also says that Wiggins isn't in the top 2 of the Bucks current big board. Finally, he reiterates that the Sixers have had Wiggins as their top target all season.
Now, the "everybody is lying at this time of year" bit needs to be reiterated. Especially with the Sixers, who are as tight lipped as any management team that I've ever covered. Still, many Sixers fans have coveted Wiggins for a very long time, and the more information that comes out that paints a legitimate scenario where Wiggins falls, the more excited we'll get.
This is going to be one intense month.