Former Virginia Tech star Malcolm Delaney performed below his standards at the Portsmouth Invitational, an April tournament featuring college seniors looking to make an impression on NBA scouts. Then, when he took the floor for his first pre-draft workout with the Miami Heat last month, Delaney said it was “horrible” since it involved a lot of conditioning.
But as the Baltimore native came off the Verizon Center practice floor following a pre-draft workout with the Wizards on Thursday, all of that seemed to be in the past. Delaney performed well in front of all of the Wizards brass (Coach Flip Saunders, General Manager Ernie Grunfeld and even owner Ted Leonsis), but more importantly he now has a better grasp of what exactly it will take for him to get a shot at the professional level.
“After Portsmouth people were saying, ‘He didn’t play good,’ but that’s because all the scouts were looking for me to score,” Delaney said Thursday. He averaged 11.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds in three games at Portsmouth. “I was confused about, I was getting two different words, and it was just different teams want me to do different things. So instead of going into Portsmouth and playing my game, I tried to run the team.
“Most teams tell me they want me to score. That’s what they started recruiting me as — a scorer. I kind of went into the [college] season trying to be a point guard, and at Portsmouth I tried to be a point guard, but teams was like, ‘I’m not a point guard.’ I’m gonna play the point, but I’m a scorer, so I just got to be efficient at what I do best.”
Delaney specifically mentioned Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry and Atlanta Hawks guard Jamal Crawford as players he’d ultimately like to model his professional game after.
But whether he’ll get a legitimate shot at making an NBA roster next year remains to be seen. Delaney is expected to go undrafted according to most mock drafts, and his chances of making a team out of training camp will be dependant on the labor-related lockout many NBA experts expect this offseason (It’s already forced the NBA to cancel its summer league, which Delaney would have likely participated in).
“I’m not on draft boards or anything like that. I’m just trying to get there,” Delaney said. “I have a lot to prove, so I’m just going my hardest and make the best out of the opportunity.”
So far, Delaney has been a part of five pre-draft workouts, which includes sessions with Miami, Dallas, Milwaukee, Detroit and Washington. He expects to have more in the two weeks that remain until the NBA draft on June 23.
On Thursday, he played with Duke rival Kyle Singler, Kansas forward Markieff Morris, Georgia’s Trey Thompkins Ohio’s DeVaughn Washington and Indiana State’s Jake Kelly. None of the Wizards personnel were made available to reporters following the workout, but Milwaukee Bucks director of scouting Billy McKinney gave an interesting critique last week that provides a glimpse into the conflicting opinions Delaney must sort through during this ongoing draft process.
“Last year there were some people in the NBA who thought if Malcolm had entered the draft he would have been a first-round pick,” McKinney told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “He had a good year this year, probably not as good as his previous year. A lot of teams are probably looking at him as a combo guard but I think he’s going to have to make an adjustment and play a little more point guard in the NBA.”
But regardless of what happens in the coming days, Delaney seems content with what he’s shown NBA scouts. He said Thursday that declaring for the draft without an agent last year has given him a new perspective as he tries to impress teams this time around.
“When I worked out for Portland last year they kind of lectured me on exactly what the coaches look for,” Delaney said. “Not just what your abilities [are], but talking, going hard in every drill, making sure you dive on the floor, do everything you can. Just the whole mentality coming in, I’m kind of aware of everything they’re looking for.
“I’m just coming in and doing what I do best — score the ball and make other players better.”