The Vertical recently had access to CAA’s pro-day workout in Los Angeles that was attended by representatives from all 30 teams. Pro days provide an opportunity for agents to put their clients in the best possible light and get lesser-known prospects NBA exposure.
Over 100 NBA executives, including Bryan Colangelo, Marc Eversley and Brett Brown (76ers), Rich Cho and Chad Buchanan (Hornets), R.C. Buford and Brian Pauga (Spurs), Vlade Divac and Ken Catanella (Kings), Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden (Timberwolves), Tommy Sheppard (Wizards), Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson (Nets), Dave Wohl and Gary Sacks (Clippers), Dell Demps (Pelicans), Pat Connelly and Bubba Burrage (Suns), John Hammond (Bucks), Jerry West, Travis Schlenk and Kirk Lacob (Warriors), Matt Lloyd (Magic), John Paxson and Gar Forman (Bulls), Pat Riley, Chet Kammerer and Adam Simon (Heat), Mike Zarren and David Lewin (Celtics), and Mitch Kupchak, Glenn Carraro, Jesse Buss and Ryan West (Lakers).
What did the players do?
• Pull-up jumpers from the top of the key and wings.
• Spot-up jumpers.
• Dribble-handoff drill with the big man and guard both eventually getting a jumper.
• One-on-one competition: Towns vs. Poeltl from the elbow and Dunn vs. Payton vs. Johnson, starting from half court.
• Two-on-two out of pick-and-roll situations.
• Pick-and-roll game – guards hit the roll man and pop for a jumper.
• Superman drill – players sprint from under the rim to the low block extended, cut hard to the rim for a dunk and then sprint to the other low block extended, cut hard to the rim for another dunk (three times each side).
• Two-on-two with the defense guarding the pick-and-roll differently every time (spot up 3s for the players not participating).
• Three-on-three (spot up 3s for the players not participating).
Group 1: Due to the nature of the workout, with non-draft eligible players mixing with draft-eligibles, NBA teams were not allowed to observe because of league rules. Still, there's little question that Dunn and Poeltl are benefiting from the opportunity to test themselves against NBA starters, which should help make their transition to the NBA game easier.
Dunn, at 6-foot-4, showed he can step into an NBA game and have a positive impact on the defensive end. He’s likely the best on-the-ball defender in this draft and can check both guard spots. He played with a mean streak in one-on-one and two-on-two competition and proved that he’s not a non-shooter. Payton matched his intensity and didn't give Dunn an inch on either end of the floor, which made for an extremely competitive workout. Payton's body and shooting stroke look to be making strides, and at 22 years old his future with the Magic is still promising.
Poeltl’s fluidity and agility were on display going through drills next to one of the most nimble big men in the league in Towns. Standing next to Towns, it was easy to see Poeltl’s natural size. Towns did an excellent job taking Poeltl under his wing and showing him some of the skills he developed during his Rookie of the Year campaign. Poeltl showed impressive footwork defensively and a knack for moving off the ball and finishing around the basket as the screener in the competitive pick-and-roll action.
While most agencies traditionally shy away from putting their draftable players in live competitive action, instead preferring to rely on solo one-on-zero settings or drills, it was interesting to see Ulis, Jones, Yabusele and others elect to play two-on-two and three-on-three.
From an upside standpoint no player stood out more than Jones. At 6-11½ and 244 pounds with a 7-4 wingspan and elite leaping ability in space, Jones looked like a plug-and-play NBA big man. His head was at the rim on every dunk attempt, and he continued to rise after he had already dunked. Jones also shot well in drills and proved to be one of the most intriguing long-term prospects in attendance.
While Jones' production this season didn't always match his talent, he did a great job of reminding NBA executives how physically gifted he is. Considering he's only 20 and was a late bloomer in high school, it's not a stretch to say he has one of the highest ceilings of any big man in the draft.
After a somewhat up and down Nike Hoop Summit, Cordinier, a 19-year-old, 6-5 French guard, impressed as he made athletic plays, shot well from the perimeter and showed court vision in live competition.
Yabusele, who some scouts may not have seen live since the 2015 adidas Eurocamp, put his improved shooting touch on display while competing and covering ground well for his size. He’s long and one of the stronger big men in the draft, especially considering his 6-8 stature. It was a great opportunity for him to show how he looks alongside NCAA players, and he certainly helped himself in the process.
Yusta didn’t participate in live competition because he had just arrived in the U.S. the day before and was still getting his feet underneath him, but scouts got a look at his physical profile and watched him shoot well from the perimeter. Yusta just turned 19 and is coming off of a very productive season in Spain. He flew somewhat below the radar this year because few expected him to be a part of this draft class, but he certainly opened some eyes in Los Angeles.
Ulis and Baker were the same intelligent, ultra-competitive and fundamentally sound players we've gotten to know over the past few years at the college level. They were able to find success showing what they can do in competition. Poythress looked athletic and showed impressive versatility defensively.