June 14, 2007
Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers and the rest of the Celtics' talent-evaluation crew will be in Washington tomorrow scouting Jeff Green as a possibility for the fifth pick in the NBA draft.
They'll watch the explosive Georgetown forward - who projects as a ``power 3'' player, a load for other small forwards to handle - shoot jumpers, run endurance tests, and step on a scale.
They'll be able to measure everything except how Green looks when knocked around by another player.
Welcome to the high lottery, in which players who consent to work out against other potential draftees are a minority. Green, like Brandan Wright and Yi Jianlian before him, only will give the Celtics a selective look.
Green and Wright will be judged on their respective bodies of work. Jianlian, who has been competing in China in a league Ainge grades as slightly better than college basketball, is more of a risk. Nobody knows how the mobile but thin Jianlian will perform when broadsided by someone with an NBA body.
That's why Ainge looks like he just swallowed something sour when discussing the limited benefits of these staged auditions.
``It only seems like this is happening more now because we haven't had a pick this high in a while,'' the Celts director of basketball operations said. ``But it's tough to determine how good a workout is when you don't have people going against people.''
On Monday, Ainge watched Florida's Joakim Noah work out against potential second-rounder Courtney Sims of Michigan while Wright worked out by himself.
``That's (Wright's) and his agent's strategy,'' Ainge said. ``Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.''
As evidenced by Gerald Green's plunge down the draft board two years ago, the decision not to work out against an opponent can cost a rookie significant money. Green ended up firing his first agent, Andrew Vai, following that advice. Ainge has seen Jianlian in competition enough to build an adequate case file, but he is missing an important piece that he can only gain during a thorough workout.
``It's the chance for me to talk with him,'' Ainge said. ``That's more important for me than watching him do drills. Everything is important. The player's skill level is important, their intensity. It all figures in.
``But when you come down to it, not even a 2-on-2 workout is going to give us sufficient time to make some judgments. They may look good handling the ball, spinning and winning the beauty pageant, but that doesn't get it done.''
Even Wright, as he makes his way across the country in these closely managed auditions, can admit that much.
``These workouts are kind of over-hyped sometimes,'' he said. ``I just try not to put too much pressure on myself in these situations.''
He doesn't have to.
``You definitely can't make a choice based on workouts,'' Rivers said. ``If you did, the best drill guy would get drafted every time.''