· There seems to be quite a buzz surrounding Yi Jianlian and it’s not necessarily because he has done anything good. In the sparse video footage of him, he’s basically dunking on high schoolers, his only workouts are individual and yet some teams are enamored with him. This well-done San Francisco Chronicle piece by Janny Hu doesn’t answer too many questions about his game, but it does provide a look at who the hell this kid is and the state of basketball in China. One thing is for sure though, if Yi gets drafted in the top five and struggles like Darko Milicic and Nikoloz Tskitishvilli, it might be the last time a foreign prospect can pull the whole “mystery” thing with the draft. On second thought, some of these NBA GMs would draft a 7-foot Romanian monk who averaged 12 points in a monastery league if he had a long wingspan and was mobile.
· Speaking of overhyped international players, Chad Ford checks in with his Eurocamp wrap-up (Insiders only). Seems like the better players at the camp won’t be in the draft until 2008. Also, these international players must have learned something from the stateside draftees in Orlando because most of the best prospects didn’t show. Tiago Splitter of Brazil, Kyrylo Fessenko of the Ukraine and Petteri Koponen of Finland, probably the three top international prospects besides Yi, all declined to play. Marco Belinelli of Italy and Ali Traore of France are the only two participants with a first-round shot this year. Oh and one day, Kansas State’s Bill Walker showed up with Team Reebok, which included some high-profile high schoolers, to challenge some of the Europeans (UCLA-committed guard Malcolm Lee was apparently the best player in the whole camp). Seems like some sort of international basketball version of Bring It On, but I’m sure it was entertaining nonetheless. Walker is apparently very fat right now, sorry K-State fans. NBADraft.net and DraftExpress have daily recaps available if you’re into that sort of thing.
· Joakim Noah continues his attempts to take over this draft. After attacking bloggers, mock drafts, Yi Jianlian and, albeit nonverbally, hairstylists everywhere, he’s now saying he’s going through workouts at 75 percent because of a shoulder injury. He said it also affected him during the season. Andy Katz has the story. Apparently this time Noah is speaking the truth because NBA teams have seen an MRI that shows a slight tear in his rotator cuff. Either way it’s pretty clear Noah doesn’t feel to secure about his draft position right now. So the strategy has become to use his two most valuable assets, his motor and his mouth, to boost his stock. What has resulted is an arrogance and obnoxiousness that most people are supposed to hate, but in a strange way has made Noah likable in this process. He is complaining about all the things that fans have complained about for years. Mock drafts are stupid, players that refuse to work out against other top prospects are cowards (he made an indirect jab at Brandan Wright as well), and injuries aren’t an excuse to not go all out for every team. Even though his words and actions may be a veiled attempt to restore his draft hype, Noah’s certainly accomplishing something important in the NBA Draft: getting noticed.
· The Bulls held a pretty giant workout Monday that included the Sigfried and Roy of the 2007 NBA Draft, Corey Brewer and Al Thornton. It’s the third straight workout they have done together. Joakim Noah loudly approves. Josh McRoberts and Jason Smith were also there. Smith is becoming one of those overhyped underrated guys in the draft. Both the Chicago Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune did the whole “this mid-major kid is so unheralded!” story. The hype is real for Smith, he has supposedly been dominating workouts and recorded a 37-inch vertical leap, the best among big men. He hasn’t hired an agent but he’s probably a lock for the top 20, maybe even the lottery. In other Bulls news, after all that, Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times doesn’t think the No. 9 pick is going to help the Bulls at all.
· Other workout news:
· The Sixers have been terrifying me with all of the local scrubs they are working out. Their latest workout included Will Sheridan who had been interning on Wall Street when he got the workout request. Maybe Sixers GM Billy King wanted to know if Sheridan’s firm was hiring. Jared Dudley, Nick Fazekas and DeVon Hardin were also there.
· At the Noah workout (he went up against Courtney Sims, by the way), which was for the Celtics, Brandan Wright did an individual workout on the other end of the court. He did not go up against the chair from Yi Jianlian’s individual workout because rumors are the chair received a late first-round promise and won’t work out for other teams.
· The Bucks are tight-lipped about their workouts but Brandan Wright will allegedly have an individual workout with them Friday. Mike Conley and Thaddeus Young should be there next week and Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Carl Landry are rumored to work out for the Bucks June 19th.
· Derrick Byars has worked out for the Sixers, Knicks, Nets and Wizards. He continues to fly under the radar but it’s rumored that if the Knicks keep the No. 23 pick and Byars is available, they promised to take him.
· Former Wisconsin Badgers Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor have been making the rounds. Tucker has 11 workouts total, Taylor probably won’t get drafted but worked out with Minnesota and is scheduled for Portland. Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal can’t believe Tucker would get picked behind Daequan Cook. He also can’t believe Eric Crouch isn’t a starting NFL quarterback.
· The deadline for prospects to withdraw from the draft is Monday and Joseph Jones is going back to Texas A & M.
· Jaycee Carroll is 24 but appears to be headed back to Utah State.
· To no surprise, Josh McRoberts signed with an agent and is staying in the draft.