Wizards Get a Closer Look at Point Guards Curry, Flynn and Jennings
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Three of the top point guards in an NBA draft stocked full of them were in town, and the Washington Wizards wanted to push prospects Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn and Brandon Jennings to the limit as they auditioned for the No. 5 pick during an hour-long workout yesterday.
The workout began with Wizards Coach Flip Saunders asking for the air conditioner to be turned down. Then, the players weren't given any water breaks as the team ran them ragged, concluding the workout with a shooting drill that required the players to sprint to the baseline and back to the foul line, then shoot jumpers at the elbow.
They were able to leave an impression with their varying styles. Curry, the high-scoring junior guard from Davidson, displayed his textbook shooting stroke. Flynn, the undersize sophomore guard from Syracuse, showed off his endless motor and improved jump shot. And Jennings, the wiry guard who would've been a freshman at Arizona had he not bypassed college to play professionally in Italy last season, flashed his quickness, tricky ballhandling skills and considerable confidence.
"I think I'm the best guard in this draft," said Jennings, the 6-foot-2 jitterbug who earned $1.2 million playing for Lottomatica Virtus Roma and already has a shoe deal with Under Armour. "I can't be the number one player, of course, because Blake Griffin, he is the best player in this draft, I'm not going to lie about that. So I'd rather be the number one guard or the number one point guard.
"Besides Ricky Rubio, I have more experience than any other guard in the draft by playing pro basketball," said Jennings, 19, a former McDonald's all-American who averaged 5.5 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 17 minutes in Italy.
Rubio, an 18-year-old from Spain, is expected to be the first point guard chosen, but Jennings called him "all hype" after a workout in Sacramento last week. "I think I went a little overboard calling him all hype. He's a great player," Jennings said. "That was wrong of me. I have much respect for the dude. He has the most experience out of all of us in this draft."
Of the trio, Curry has the most experience, having played three years in college and being the son of former NBA star Dell Curry. "I grew up around basketball, watching my dad play," Curry said. "Nothing will surprise me that I'm going to experience next year. I haven't seen it, but I know how to handle those sort of situations. I always have him in my back pocket."
Curry said he responded to the greatest concern about him at the NBA draft combine when he measured at 6-3, when some estimated that he was about two inches shorter. Although he led the nation in scoring at 28.6 points last season, Curry said there should be no doubts about his natural position.
"I'm a point guard first, but I can spread the floor without the ball," Curry said. "I've developed my game a lot. My game has evolved."
Flynn said afterward that his workout with the Wizards was by far the most demanding that he had experienced, but when asked to compare it to the six-overtime game Syracuse played during the Big East tournament -- when Flynn had 34 points and 11 assists in 67 minutes -- Flynn smiled and said, "This was a walk in the park compared to that."
Flynn was the shortest among the prospects at just 6 feet, but he also registered a 40-inch vertical at the draft combine, the highest of any of the participants. "Being little, you got to do something special," Flynn said, adding that his height can be overlooked because "I have a big heart, and the intangibles I have as a basketball player, that's a deadly combination.
"I'm confident in my ability. I'm confident in the way I play on the court. And I'm confident in my two years at Syracuse and what I have done there."
Flynn was asked which point guard he would choose if he were an NBA general manager. "Besides me?" Flynn asked. "I'd take me."