The Sacramento Kings brought in six players for a pre-draft workout on Friday.
The standout players involved were Duke's Rodney Hood and UCLA's Zach LaVine. Most mock drafts have Hood coming off the board in the 11-14 range and LaVine in the 15-20 range.
Kings assistant general manager Mike Bratz said he liked what he saw in the workout, which also included Arizona guard Nick Johnson; forward Elijah Pittman of the D-League; Cal forward Richard Solomon; and the enormous center (7'5'', 360 pounds) out of New Mexico State, Sim Bhullar.
Bratz said the Kings like several players in the draft this year and that they have been trying to get guys back to Sacramento for second looks, but scheduling has been an issue and agents are trying to "tone it down a little bit."
Below are some comments from Bratz, Hood and LaVine from the workout.
On Hood's defense (a knock on his game): "Rodney's pretty versatile. He'll probably play mainly the three when he starts out, but I think he'll play the two eventually. He's like a lot of college kids, I mean, they're going to have to adjust to the talent level when they get in the NBA. Things are a little harder and the athletes are better, but Rodney is a real good athlete himself, very intelligent player. So he'll figure it out."
On how Hood compares to Jabari Parker: "Jabari is a little bigger, maybe better inside. Rodney maybe has a little bit more range, but they both can make outside shots. But Jabari is a really good player and Rodney is as well. But I think Jabarai's got the versatility inside and outside. Rodney drives the ball really well into the lane and can finish, but Jabari, I think he's a special player."
On LaVine playing as a combo guard: "I think eventually, he's going to be a combo guard. He handles great, he's got good vision. I think he's probably a little more comfortable right now at the two. But his ball handling and passing - I think he can be a good combo eventually."
On LaVine's defense and if he can stay in front of his man in the NBA (a knock on his game): "Oh yeah, his athleticism is off the charts so I mean, he's got things to learn. He just played his freshman year at UCLA. He lack experience, but there is nothing he can't pick up."
On the Kings' recent meeting with Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas: "We did make the trip back there and watched them both work out and those two are probably the best shooters in the draft. Shooting is something that every team needs. It's something that we need more of and those two can really shoot the ball. They are impressive."
On Sim Bhullar: "The guy is huge. To his credit, he's really worked hard these last couple of months. He's in pretty good condition, he's moving much, much better up and down the floor. He's got a chance, you just don't see guys that big ... I have seen him before and all our guys have watched him on tape and we were impressed with his movement on the floor today."
On Nick Johnson: "I like Nick's intelligence and he's a super athlete. The guy is very athletic. I think he can play both guard positions. He's a very smart player, he sees the floor and he's a big-time competitor. He's going to be a real good defender in the league. I think there is going to be a spot for him in the NBA for sure."
On the impact Joel Embiid's surgery will have on the draft: "I think the teams above us are going to have to gauge how much risk they feel there is. I think the farther he drops, the less the risk for the team. But I think if things just fall to order, you know, the top four or five guys are going to go in the same position they were anyway."
His impressions of Sacramento: "It was great, just being here and get familiar with the people on the staff and to meet coach and the general manager. It was just a great visit for me and the workout was great. We had lots of competitive guys in here. Getting towards the end, so guys are a little tired but it was a good workout."
On what stood out: "This is my first time being in California. Being from Mississippi you only hear about California. I mean it's a great city, the people seem nice, everyone around the Kings organization seem nice so it was just a great visit."
What he was trying to showcase: "I just try to showcase what I can do: shoot the ball. I don't go to teams and try to reinvent myself and show what I've been working on, you know, just come and shoot the ball that's why people are really excited about me and that's what I've been doing. I have time throughout the summer to work on my ball handling, I got to continue to work on my body and things like that."
On why he initially rescheduled with the Kings: "I just rescheduled it. I had like four workouts in six days, body was a little tired, so just see if I could reschedule … that was it."
On getting better on defense: "Off the ball is where I need to work. On the ball, I do a good job of staying in front and making people shoot over the top. But just off the ball, just keeping my focus. I need to work on it, it's not a secret, but I'm making strides."
Next stop: Minnesota. Hood said other teams have been calling him for a second workout. Has had nine workouts total.
On his name being mentioned a lot more these days: "There's a lot of doubters out there. I don't like doubters. I try to make doubters eat their words, and I feel like I'm a really hard-working person so, you know, when I hear different things about me I just try to delete those, do the best I can and go out there and show people just who Zach LaVine is."
On if there are things people are noticing other than his vertical leap: "Just recently people started noticing my athleticism. I've been known as a really good ball handler and a great shooter. I'm glad people are noticing my athleticism now ... I feel like I'm an all-around player. I'm trying to work on every aspect of my game."
On if his goal is to be a combo guard at the next level: "I do that now already, so I my ultimate goal is to be the best I can be. Going into the NBA, whatever position coach wants me to play, if that's point or if that's off guard, whatever, I'll go as best I can and just out there and compete with my guys and try to win."
Feedback he got from the Kings staff: "I think they really liked me... these are great guys out here, you know, I enjoy all of them, they're really cool people. You talk to them like they're your close friends so it's definitely a great environment out here."
On improving his defense: "I feel like I have the tools to be a great on-ball defender. Right now, I'm definitely showing people I can play defense whenever I need to … People say in my scouting report, ‘he doesn't play defense very well,' but that's why I don't like doubters, so I go out here and try to prove it. I really don't care what the critics say as long as the teams think I am on the court playing good defense. I'm OK with that and I feel like I've done that so far - I've been playing tough on D."
Compares himself to: Jamal Crawford
What's next: Back to Los Angeles, then to Phoenix, Atlanta and New York. He said he has had 12-13 workouts so far.
The Kings announced another pre-draft workout for Monday that will include Michigan State guard Keith Appling; Nevada guard Deonte Burton; Memphis guard Mike Dixon Jr.; Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane; Utah State forward/center Jarred Shaw; and Texas Southern center Aaric Murray.