The NBA workouts that Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker sweat through aren’t only about proving they are NBA worthy in a general sense.
The sessions in front of executives and coaches are also about proving they are more worthy than specific opponents. Part of the job of an agent is to get their client on the court with an opponent for comparison’s sake. Or, in the case of some, avoid those comparisons.
VanVleet, for example, has worked out with Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell and Oakland guard Kay Felder. Those are two players with whom it would help VanVleet to do well against in the drills and scrimmages performed for NBA teams.
Felder, in particular, is moving up as a second-round pick in mock drafts. The more VanVleet can measure up, the better he looks. You can bet VanVleet’s agent is doing what he can to get him matched up with these type of players. Ferrell is a player VanVleet has a history with. In their high school days, VanVleet helped built his reputation with AAU performances against Ferrell. In 2015, VanVleet’s Wichita State team defeated Ferrell in the NCAA Tournament.
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Baker, earlier this week, worked out for the Utah Jazz along with Malachi Richardson, who is seen by some as a rising first-round pick, and Michael Gbinije, a possible second-round pick. Both are wings from Syracuse and both are players Baker can draw a comparison with.
The workouts usually follow two paths. Teams will invite six players — two bigs, two wings and two guards for the purpose of 3-on-3 games and comparison in game situations. In Philadelphia, VanVleet teamed with Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame and San Diego State’s Winston Shepard against Columbia guard Maodo Lo, Saint Joseph’s forward Isaiah Miles and Baylor wing Taurean Prince.
Other teams will bring in several guards to work out together, such as when Golden State brought in VanVleet, Wyoming’s Josh Adams, Kansas’ Brannen Greene, Northeastern’s David Walker, Oakland’s Max Hooper and Long Beach State’s Nick Faust.
The draft is June 23 and you will likely see agents increasing their efforts to get their players in good situations, either by matching them against athletes to jump or avoiding workouts that may not look favorable. For Baker, I will be watching to see if he joins players such as Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, Kansas’ Wayne Selden or Oregon State’s Gary Payton II.
▪ Baker will work out for the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Hawks own two second-round picks.
Perhaps he’ll bump into Kyle Korver.