After spending recent days traveling around the country to attend agent-organized pre-draft workouts, the Sixers did some hosting themselves Monday, welcoming prospects to the team’s training complex in Camden for the first time this spring.
Derrick White, the Pac-12’s third-leading scorer last season, headlined the group, which also featured accomplished guards Isaiah Briscoe, from Kentucky, and Melo Trimble, who spent the last three years at Maryland. George Washington’s Tyler Cavanaugh, Tennessee State’s Tahjere McCall, and Middle Tennessee State’s Reggie Upshaw rounded out the rest of the sextet.
From his two-plus decades in the NBA, Bryan Colangelo has learned that workouts such as the one the Sixers conducted Monday offer additional opportunities to gather valuable intelligence leading up to the draft.
“We’ve done a lot of scouting over the last few weeks, following up and confirming some of the thoughts and impressions we’ve had over a much bigger body of work,” said Colangelo, now entering his second year as the Sixers’ President of Basketball Operations. “This is the chance to bring guys in, and talk to them for the first time, in some cases.”
The face time can be particularly beneficial for the likes of Brett Brown, his assistants, and the Sixers’ development coaches. More often than not during the season, this contingent hears about prospects second-hand from counterparts in the team’s personnel department.
“It’s a first impression for them,” Colangelo said. “It’s an opportunity for them to see who we’ve been talking about.”
As familiar as he and his scouts usually are with players prior to them coming in for auditions, Colangelo has found that every now and then, surprises surface.
“I’ve got several cases in history where I’ve gone from really liking a player to absolutely being assured that that’s the guy I wanted to pick,” said Colangelo, citing as examples Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire.
During his stint with the Phoenix Suns, Colangelo chose Marion ninth overall in 1999, and Stoudemire ninth in 2002. Both went on to become All-Stars.
“Sometimes you see something different,” he said. “It might just be something that clicks at one of these group workouts that you might not have seen before. There are some things that do come to light at these workouts.”
Based on projections from current mock drafts, none of Monday’s invitees are considered candidates for the lottery phase of this year’s draft, where the Sixers hold the number three selection. As Colangelo pointed out, these workouts will also serve the purpose of shaping the club’s decision-making in the second round. The Sixers own picks nos. 36, 39, 46, and 50.
White, slated to go either in the back-end of the first-round or early in the second round, was the highest-rated prospect on the floor Monday.
In terms of what the Sixers intend to do with the third pick, Colangelo indicated Monday that a list of potential targets is presently in place. Still, he’s keeping his ears to the ground, and mind open.
“I think there’s a number of things that we’ve listened to and heard in terms of interest about our pick,” Colangelo said Monday. “It’s the time of year that you have to explore everything – we’re going to look at all options. It doesn’t mean we’re going to do something with the pick, but I have to listen, and also seek out what kind of value number three has.”
Colangelo estimated that, with less than three weeks to remaining before the June 22nd draft, the Sixers have identified “six or seven names…who we would really be happy with” at number three.
“That sounds like a lot right now,” said Colangelo, “but [picks] one and two are going to go off that list, and now you’re down to a more finite number. We’ve got to be ready for any scenario. In a couple of the trade scenarios, maybe it’s moving up, maybe it’s moving down. I can’t assure or promise you that’s going to happen, but we need to be prepared for those situations.”
During treks to agency-run pro days and private workouts in New York, Washington, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, Colangelo and the Sixers were able to get up-close looks at and interact with some of the top-tier members of this year’s draft class. The days ahead figure to be filled with even more fact-finding, now just a little bit closer to home.
“This next couple of weeks will be a deep dive into the individual and group workouts here,” said Colangelo. “This is the fun time of year, this is when things really get to pick up steam as it relates to that team-building process.”
Check back later for additional updates to today’s Notebook.