Metro New York Workouts: Day 1 (Demetris Nichols, Jared Jordan, more)

Metro New York Workouts: Day 1 (Demetris Nichols, Jared Jordan, more)
May 26, 2007, 01:31 am
On the first day of our swing through the New York metropolitan area, we checked in with trainer Jerry Powell of Basketball Results, where he’s been working with Jared Jordan (Marist) and D.J. Strawberry (Maryland) for over a month now. Demtris Nichols (Syracuse) has also been training with him for the past few weeks, while DraftExpress got to take in the very first day of Curtis Sumpter’s (Villanova) training with Powell.

Powell, the founder of Basketball Results, has worked with such NBA players as Ben Gordon, Jermaine O’Neal, Andrew Bynum, and Mike James, to name a few. He’s currently working with Boston Celtics Allan Ray and Rajon Rondo, both of whom stopped in for the last part of the morning’s workout for a competitive three-on-three with the four potential draft prospects, prior to their own private workout with Powell.

Powell keeps his workouts pretty fast-paced, quickly segmenting from one drill to the next and keeping the intensity up, especially on the shooting drills, trying to simulate some semblance of real-game conditions. After warming up with some jogging and stretching, the players all participated in various shooting and dribbling drills, including some multi-function, multi-basketball drills. After that, the players participated in about 20 minutes of competitive 3-on-3.

Demetris Nichols, 6’8, SF, Senior, Syracuse

Demetris Nichols looks to be making good use of his time in preparing for the draft, working on his ball-handling skills to complement his outstanding outside shooting stroke, which will hopefully help him develop into a more versatile scorer. At Powell’s workouts, the big men all participate in the same drills that the guards do, and this is noticeable with Nichols, who looks a bit more comfortable putting the ball on the floor here than he did at Syracuse. In drills, Nichols looked fluid pulling up from both his left and right dribble for pull-up jumpers. Nichols also looked comfortable with some more advanced dribbling moves in the dribbling drills conducted here, but it may not immediately translate to game situations. Still, it’s great to see he’s working to develop more ways to get off his shot, which he already does a great job of finding by spotting up or coming off screens.

Nichols did struggle a bit in one drill, where the players would jab step before going into a pull-up three-point shots. Nichols was able to convert on the shots consistently, but his jab step wasn’t very convincing, and he wasn’t very quick with the motions.

In the 3-on-3, Nichols was very effective scoring the ball, getting to the basket as well as hitting his usual outside shots. He did a good job putting the ball on the floor for one or two dribbles on drives to the basket, doing so with both hands, and also finishing with both hands at the rim. He also pulled up on some of his drives, hitting contested fade-aways from eight feet and 18 feet out on separate occasions. He tried making a crossover drive into a fadeaway from about 10 feet out on one possession, but missed the shot. Nichols hit just one of his three three-point attempts, all of the spot-up variety. Defensively, Nichols was matched up with combo-guard D.J. Strawberry at times, and his lateral quickness wasn’t really exploited, as he did a good job playing fundamental defense and staying in front of him.

Nichols will be playing at the Orlando pre-draft camp next week, where he will have a chance to improve his stock by showing off the impressive scoring ability he showed this season at Syracuse, possibly with a bit of his better comfort handling the ball sprinkled in.

Jared Jordan, 6’2, PG, Senior, Marist

Jared Jordan had a solid overall workout here, but we didn’t learn anything new about his game, and this isn’t really the best setting to learn much about a pass-first point guard who definitely looks his best when he’s making other players better. Still, there were some things to be encouraged by here. Unsurprisingly, Jordan was the most composed and consistent player in the gym today when it came to handling the ball, going through all the dribbling drills without a hitch, doing series upon series of crossovers, behind-the-backs, and spin moves without missing a beat. He possesses excellent ball control in real games, so it’s not surprising he does the same in practice.

The one area many people have concerns with Jordan is his outside shooting, as he shot just 30% from behind the three-point arc this season, while not possessing a very quick first step or much of a slashing game. Here in the workout, though, Jordan shot the ball well, showing solid, consistent shooting mechanics, and hitting well over 50% of his three-point shots (all from college range, not NBA range, though), hitting 11 in a row at one point during a jab-step, pull-up drill.

Jordan struggled with his shot in the 3-on-3’s, though, missing on all three of his attempts. He played well otherwise, though, making a nice alley-oop assist on one occasion, a backdoor bounce assist on another, and a drive-and-dish assist on another. He mostly played within himself and drove through openings to the basket when they were there, mostly when he got separation from his man. He finished most of his shots at the rim, but on both occasions when he drove left, he put the ball up with his right hand.

Jordan will be playing at the Orlando pre-draft camp next week, where he will have the opportunity to show that he can be just as effective a point guard against stronger competition. He would do himself well to have a strong shooting performance from the outside, while also maintaining the excellent assist:turnover ratio he put up this season.

D.J. Strawberry, 6’5, PG/SG, Senior, Maryland

D.J. Strawberry’s been working hard for the past month or so with Powell, working on his ball-handling and shooting especially, two areas that could improve his stock both as a point guard and shooting guard, two positions he has the potential to play at the next level. Strawberry played a bit of both at Maryland, but is a bit undersized for a shooting guard, and isn’t really a pure point guard. Still, Strawberry possesses excellent athletic ability and scores the ball well in transition, so with some improvement in these other areas, he could become a solid contributor in the NBA in time.

Strawberry’s outside shot looks to be improving a bit, as he was hitting his shots pretty consistently here at the workout, even though he doesn’t always hold his follow through. In the dribbling drills, Strawberry showed off a strong left hand, and he’s working hard to become a better ball-handler.

Strawberry’s skill development definitely seemed to translate in the 3-on-3, where he was probably the most effective player, scoring in a variety of ways by making full use of his skills and natural abilities. He missed on a few outside shots of the pull-up variety, something he was forcing a bit at times, but he also hit two three-pointers, one pulling up coming around a screen, and another on a smooth spot-up shot. He did most of his damage by taking the ball to the rim, though, driving to his right and finishing off the glass, taking contact with his very strong frame when necessary.

Unfortunately for Strawberry, due to the depth of this year’s draft class, he hasn’t yet received an invitation to Orlando, and he previously pulled out of Portsmouth, where he was initially on the roster of attendees. There will likely be some pull-outs at the event, and Strawberry has a chance of being chosen as an alternate, but there are other players also waiting for an invitation, and he may have to make his impressions on teams in workouts, which will also be at low supply due to the smaller window teams have to bring players in.

Curtis Sumpter, 6’7, SF/PF, Senior, Villanova

This was Curtis Sumpter’s first day working with Jerry Powell, which I hadn’t been told until midway through the workout, though Sumpter didn’t have much trouble fitting in, even during the ball-handling skills, which were heavily geared towards the guards. He was picking things up very quickly in both the shooting and dribbling drills, and he looked fluid pulling up off both his left and right hands, albeit in simulated drills with no one guarding him. In the shooting drills, Sumpter was the closest to automatic of the players here, hitting especially well from the 10-18 foot range, on both straight and bank shots. From behind the arc, Sumpter maintained his good form with his upper body strength, and was smoothly sinking most of his long-range shots as well.

In the 3-on-3’s, when Sumpter got a hand in his face, he didn’t fare as well with the pull-up or fade-away jumpers he was hitting so consistently in the drills. He hit just two outside shots during the scrimmage, and scored his only other baskets on cuts to the rim, not doing much with the ball in his hands. Sumpter is a bit of a tweener, stuck between the SF and PF positions, though players in that mold seem to be sticking on much more frequently these days in the NBA. Sumpter will be playing in Orlando next week, where he will have the opportunity to show off his skills, though not being a dominant rebounder and not being an excellent athlete, he’ll have an uphill struggle to make it as a combo-forward in the NBA.

A Few Questions With Demetris Nichols

DraftExpress: What’s the biggest thing you’re working on in preparing for the draft?

Demetris Nichols: Well, right now, my conditioning and ball-handling; stuff like that, just to make sure that I am prepared for everything that comes to me.

DraftExpress: Is there anything you’re looking to show scouts at Orlando or private workouts that you weren’t able to show at Syracuse?

Demetris Nichols: Well, they have watched me for four years, but I feel that I am a great defender; I am going to show them that I can play defense and knock down shots; that’s what I do. I take pride in my defense, so that’s what I’m going to try to display down there.

DraftExpress: Do you feel you’re at a disadvantage at all because Syracuse played so much zone? Maybe they didn’t really get to see how good you were as a man-to-man defender?

Demetris Nichols: Yeah, probably. At times, when we did play man, I thought I played great; I went up against the best of them out there, and I felt that I proved myself in my four years here, but I always have something to prove, so that’s what I’m going to go down there to try and do.

DraftExpress: Most people projected you as a 3 at the next level. Is that the position you’re most comfortable defending?

Demetris Nichols: Yeah, but I feel I can defend the 1 through 4. I take pride in my defense; I don’t think people know that yet, so that’s what I’m going to try to do and prove them wrong.

DraftExpress: You had a breakout season your senior year with your points and your shooting percentages going up across the boards. Is there anything you credit that to specifically?

Demetris Nichols: Just hard work. My first two years, it was a struggle, but that showed how mentally tough I am. I feel that I earned everything that I got.

DraftExpress: Do you think you’ll be as dynamic a scorer at the next level as you were in college?

Demetris Nichols: I think so. I think there’s a little more space in the league, so I know that I’m going to get wide open shots, and I rarely miss, so that’s how I feel about it.

DraftExpress: Where do you think you’ll be drafted?

Demetris Nichols: Well, that’s not up to me, so I can’t say a number, but I think I’m definitely one of the top prospects. I just have to showcase that. I feel that I’m in the top-20, but that’s up to the GM’s. So hopefully I do what I’m supposed to d and they make that decision for me.

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