Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday's Workout - A Love Affair

Today's workout had a lot of big men with big names but it was obvious very early that there was only one player worthy of the Grizzlies first draft pick this year.

Kevin Love matched up with DeAndre Jordan, Javale McGee and Joey Dorsey with Jeremy Pargo and Kyle Weaver around to make the drills play like game situations. All of the big men had moments of excellence. DeAndre Jordan looked like a promising player with trememdous talent. His skills weren't off the chart but his raw ability would immediately put him ahead of any true center the Grizzlies have ever suited up. Of course when that list includes such non-luminaries as Darko Milicic, Lorenzen Wright and Jake Tsakalidis that isn't saying a lot. DeAndre Jordan fans are probably going to be disappointed on draft night. He has a big hitch in his shot, was easily pushed around in the paint by Love and really didn't appear to have a good feel for the game.

Javale McGee showed his speed and surprising strength at times but he didn't seem to have the same athleticism nor skills that the other players showed. If I was going to rank the players strictly on what we saw today he would have finished fourth among the big men. Joey Dorsey gave the most shocking performance of the day. Despite looking barely as tall as Kyle Weaver, Joey hit 8 consecutive free throws and that was broken up over 4 different exercises. Everyone was flabbergasted watching Joey hit one after another. He also showed his strength and defensive ability but in the end he just looked too short to be anything more than a bench player in the NBA and while he shot the ball well Memphis knows he is not a threat at all on the offensive end of the court.

Then there was Love. Love showed his skills by draining 7 of 10 three point shots, hit a high percentage of his free throw attempts, made some incredibly nice passes and even showed some better than expected defensive ability. His basketball IQ seemed very sharp as well as he consistently caught on to what the drills called for and what he needed to do to impress. On one timed drill however the athleticism question mark raised its head. The players had 60 seconds to run back and forth to hit shots from the free throw elbow. Hitting 7 of 9 shots was impressive (and the most that any of the big men hit). However he took one fewer attempt than DeAndre Jordan got off and a lot fewer than Jeremy Pargo. The full court drills gave Love the opportunity to show his intelligence making great passes but he usually trailed the plays and never beat anyone down the court.

I came away from the workout with the impression that Love was the best player at the workout by a wide margin but I question his value at #5. Will he be fast enough to play an uptempo style of game? Love made an interesting comment that confirmed that feeling to me. He said "I would love to play here in Memphis and my ability to make the outlet pass should give me a lot of opportunities to watch Rudy Gay finish with a dunk." Watch was the key word for me. He is going to watch those from the other end of the court because I honestly doubt if he will pass the halfcourt line in time.

So from what I have seen Love is an incredible talent and in the right situation will be a very solid player at the worst but in the wrong situation may struggle to keep pace. Assuming that Rose, Beasley, Mayo and Bayless are off the board when the 5th pick comes up I would have no problem taking Kevin Love 5th but I think it would be disappointing for those expecting a major impact player from that pick.

Love mentioned that he worked out yesterday for Miami in case the Heat trade down in the draft. If the rumor about Miami trading their pick is true I hope Memphis steps up to grab it. Love will be a very solid player but I doubt he will be a the type who can really change the fortune of this franchise.

I recommend our readers check out Beyond the Arc, Chris Herrington's excellent blog today to see his comments as well.

BallHype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

I would be extremely disappointed if we drafted Kevin Love. We need to do whatever we can to get O.J. Mayo, even if we have to trade up to 3 to get him.

nbaroundtable said...

Interesting read. I'm a big admirer of Love's talent and think he'd be a great fit in Memphis. Very good player.

the serbian swatter said...

Am I the only one who thinks that Mayo is more a product of media hype than actual ability? Even if he turns out to be good, shoot-first PGs are always a detriment to success. Besides, the last thing the Grizz need is another PG. Conley and Lowry are still green and full of potential. Why draft another young PG who is far from meeting the "sure thing" condition apparently mandatory of a 5th pick?

The Grizz have a glaring deficiency at PF, and Love fills the gap perfectly. Every commentator seems to begrudgingly admit that Love is a deadly offensive weapon, can rebound at high rate, possesses rare offensive awareness, and is strong and long enough to play adequate defense. The criticism that he will trail fast breaks seems vacuous since his primary value is as an initiator. Additionally, criticism of his size seems equally weak given his documented success at the collegiate level and his workouts thus far against NBA-level competition. From what I can gather, it appears that Love’s only failing is being stereotyped as a "white stiff." And that is sad.