View Full Version : Workout Hype Machine

Chicago JK
06-15-2003, 08:27 AM
I always find it entertaining how players can either hurt or improve their draft stock substantially in these short workouts. I guess you see it in football too at the combines, but I will be very interested to see if this Pavel kid ever turns into a player

'Scouting' needs further evaluation

By Peter May, Globe Staff, 6/15/2003

he ''workout'' lasted around 30 minutes. Here's how it started: 7-foot-4-inch Pavel Podkolzine of Russia dribbled up and down the court. He was accompanied by former Nevada-Las Vegas coach Billy Bayno, who also did some dribbling. They ended the dribbling sessions with layups. Then, the 260-pound (or thereabouts) Podkolzine did some post moves against the much slighter Bayno and a third man helping out, collecting rebounds. Then, there was some shooting from around the perimeter and then some running.

Then, it was over.

Then came the slobbering.

ESPN.com's Chad Ford quoted anonymous general managers comparing Podkolzine to Shaquille O'Neal, Yao Ming, and Arvydas Sabonis. He quoted another, anonymously, as saying Podkolzine was ''one amazing prospect.'' Ford wrote that in the one-on-one sessions, Podkolzine threw Bayno around ''like a rag doll.''

To which Celtics general manager Chris Wallace replied, ''I would hope so. I think I can safely state that Pavel will never be guarded in the NBA by someone the size of Billy Bayno.''

But the word was already out. Podkolzine is now the Siberian Sensation. Words like ''stunning'' and ''sensational'' are used regularly to describe the workout in Chicago during the predraft camp in early June.


Let me see if I have this right. Podkolzine, 18, dribbled a little at a pace that would embarrass Jason Kidd. No one guarded him. Then he took uncontested shots from 15-18 feet and made a few. Then he showed some post moves against a guy half his size. Then he ran at a fast clip.

''He was good,'' reported Magic coach Doc Rivers. ''But at one point, I turned to [GM John Gabriel] and said, `He really destroyed that ghost he played against, didn't he?' And while he did some things well, there were more things that you didn't know.''

At no time did Podkolzine ever have a hand in his face. Teams saw he was big and alive. And now he's Shaq? Or Yao?

''I don't think you put people in the Hall of Fame after one workout,'' Wallace said. ''The trouble is, with a lot of these European prospects, the workout is the most tangible evidence you'll see.''

Such is the Workout World in which we now reside. Halfway through last season, Podkolzine was playing for the junior team of Varese, the Italian club. After getting promoted to the big squad, Podkolzine played 62 minutes in 10 games. But he has everything that NBA people seem to want these days: size, youth, potential, and intrigue. (Plus, his favorite player is Ben Wallace, so how bad can he be?)

Several teams scheduled Podkolzine for individual workouts following the Chicago audition. And some team will draft him very high and then hope ''Podkolzine'' does not translate to ''Frederic Weis'' in Russian. But the team that picks him will go by the Chicago session and its own individual session.

''It's the wave of the future,'' Chris Wallace said. ''In many of these cases, there just isn't a sufficient body of work to judge these guys.''

It's the wave of the present as well. Last year, the Denver Nuggets took Nikoloz Tskitishvili with the fourth pick in the draft. He had played 140 minutes for Benetton Treviso. Nene Hilario had played 450 minutes for his Brazilian team and went seventh.

Among this year's foreignistas, Darko Milicic, the likely No. 2 pick, earned his keep, but Maciej Lampe, projected to be a lottery pick, played mainly for a Division 2 team in Spain, Viktor Khryapa couldn't crack the Russian rotation at the Worlds last fall and Aleksandar Pavlovic, whom the Celtics like, played 20 games for his team.

Now we have Pavel.

''I'll tell you this: If he falls to 15, we'll take him,'' Rivers said. ''But I'd be very nervous if I had one of the top six picks.''

Think about it. Podkolzine played a little more than hour for Varese. He played 30 minutes against his shadow in Chicago.

And he may not have to wait that long on the night of June 26 to hear his name called by NBA commissioner David Stern.

Floyd cost-effective? There is still widespread feeling around the league that Tim Floyd never played with anything close to a full deck in Chicago. There is some truth to that, for there were extenuating circumstances. His roster constantly changed as rebuilding plans were replaced by more rebuilding plans. His tactics didn't work. He upset some of the veterans with his lack of preparation. His record, however, was an unmitigated disaster; at 49-190 over 3 1/2 seasons, he was, statistically, one of the worst coaches in NBA history. Yet he's now back on the job, in New Orleans. What, Bill Hanzlik wasn't available? Rick Carlisle won more games in one year than Floyd did in 3 1/2 -- and Carlisle is looking for work? Greg Anthony joined the Bulls late in the Floyd Era and was not happy with his Chicago experience. ''In fairness to Tim Floyd,'' Anthony said, ''I caught him at the end and all of the losing may have changed him somewhat. It would have to have an impact on any coach. Having said that, it's still somewhat surprising to me, not that he got another opportunity, but that he got an opportunity to coach a team that is that good which just got rid of Paul Silas, one of the most respected names in the business. And you're telling your fans that you are making this move to get to the next level? I don't think you do that by bringing in the losingest coach in the history of the NBA.'' All Silas did was take the team to the playoffs the last four years despite getting injuries to key players and facing several difficult off-the-court situations, from the death of Bobby Phills to the relocation from Charlotte. How do you then turn to a guy like Floyd and say he is the one who will get the team to the next level? Here's one reason: money. Floyd came relatively cheap by NBA coaching standards, which is always welcome news to Hornets owner George Shinn . . . After the dreadful shooting/scoring performances in Games 3 and 4 of the Finals, the question was posed to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich: How come no one can shoot the ball? ''I think in many ways it reflects a lack of skill on the part of players these days,'' Popovich said. ''Fundamentally, they can run and they can jump and they can be athletic, but their skills are wanting. I think that's one of the reasons you see so many foreign players in the game now. I think so many of them come over with more of those kinds of skills than a lot of American kids, and it's shown to you in the draft. They are not drafted because they are amazing rebounders or super defenders. It's for their skills.''

Foreign intrigue Here's another take on the NBA's ongoing infatuation with Europeans, from UCLA sharpshooter Jason Kapono, as told to the Indianapolis Star: ''I should have left UCLA after my freshman year, played in Croatia, grown a beard and changed my name to Vladimir Kaponovich. That would have been perfect'' Sad, but probably true . . . The recent story out of Israel that the Celtics planned on hiring Maccabi Tel-Aviv coach David Platt proved to be baseless. The Celtics have, however, hired three coaches from European teams as part-time scouts, hoping their expertise will lead them to the next great player from across the pond. One of the hires is Fotis Katsikaris, currently the assistant coach for the Greek team AEK and expected to be named the head coach as early as next season . . . Here's yet another European name to keep in mind for the Celtics as the draft approaches: Zarko Cabarkapa. He's a 6-11 small forward who already has worked out for Phoenix and the Lakers. He had to go back to his native Serbia to attend to a family matter but is hoping to come back before the draft to continue his workouts. Cabarkapa was a seldom-used reserve on the gold medal-winning Yugoslavian team at the World Championships last fall in Indianapolis. He played this past year for the Serbian team Buducnost (the same team as Pavlovic) and delivered some of his best games against the best competition in Europe. He turned 22 last month and is seen as one of the better young players in Europe . . . There was a bizarre story out of Utah last week. Rarely used center John Amaechi was quoted in a British newspaper as saying he was told by Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, ''You know what your problem is? You hate white people. You hate Americans and you think you're smarter than everyone else.'' Amaechi quickly told the Associated Press that the words were not spoken by Sloan, but by Jazz assistant coach Mark McKown. The Jazz did not elaborate, but it's safe to assume Amaechi might be elsewhere next season. He has two years left on his contract and his two years with the Jazz have been, to be charitable, underwhelming. ''I'm desperate to play. That's what I came to this country to do,'' said Amaechi, who is from England and went to Penn State. ''I did that at one point. And I thought I had a good opportunity to do so in Utah.'' Hey, maybe Danny Ainge should check this guy out. He absolutely killed the Celtics when he played for Orlando.

Magic disappearance Not long ago, Dee Brown was planning a summer of helping the Magic with potential free agent signings in his role as director of player development. That won't happen. Two weeks ago, Brown crossed over to the dark side and took an executive position at a software company in Orlando. ''Sometimes, you just want to be able to do your job. If you find that you can't do that, it doesn't help anybody,'' Brown said. ''I couldn't do it the way I wanted to do it so it would benefit the players and the organization.'' Asked about a possible conflict with Rivers, Brown said, ''Coaches are protective of their players. They might see every outside force, even if it's within the organization, taking away from what they're trying to do. But I didn't want to overstep my bounds and I don't think I did.'' Rivers said he was responsible for getting Brown a job in the organization and that he thought Brown didn't agree with some of his coaching rules. ''There were things that went through me and I don't think he wanted to hear that,'' Rivers said. ''I think he thought it was the real world. It's not. It's the players' world. I just don't think the situation there was what he was looking for. You have to be patient. You have to wait your time.'' Brown said virtually all of his dealings with the players were for off-the-court issues, from finances to family and everything in between. He said he left the Magic on good terms, still talks with team's executives and players, and hopes one day to get back into the basketball business . . . The Finals have been a boon for Tony Parker on and off the court. The dynamic Spurs point guard already has a deal for sunglasses in France and his agent, Marc Fleisher, reports that a clothing deal is in the works. ''I think Tony is somebody people can relate to because of his size,'' Fleisher said. ''He's not covered with tattoos and recording rap records, but he does have street credibility. In France, he's seen as cutting-edge. He's one of the more popular figures in the country and I expect that will grow.''

06-15-2003, 10:21 AM
''I should have left UCLA after my freshman year, played in Croatia, grown a beard and changed my name to Vladimir Kaponovich. That would have been perfect''

06-15-2003, 11:43 AM
Yao posted up some stiff white guy, made him look stupid and a legend was born. In cnnsi draft board they have pavel going 12th to golden state.