Although the NBA Finals have dominated the headlines for good reason, it's important to remember that the 2013 NBA Draft is now only nine days. For the majority of the league's 30 teams, the draft is still the best way to build a winner, even if the method's success often depends on luck more than anything else. With such little time left to go before teams select players, draft workouts can play a major role in deciding where prospects will end up.
Back in March, around the time of the NCAA Tournament, Kansas Jayhawks freshman shooting guard was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick on the strength of his shooting stroke and scoring skills. A few questionable performances called that rating into question, but McLemore has still appeared to be one of the top two prospects based on his reputation and demonstrable abilities.
However, some lackluster workouts may be adversely affecting his draft position. In his latest mock draft for ESPN.com Insider, Chad Ford has McLemore going fifth to the Phoenix Suns (via EOB). Yet it's the reasons why he's fallen that are most alarming:
McLemore remains in the top 5, but I'm starting to have my doubts. I love the talent. But his lack of preparation for the draft is hurting him. Multiple sources told me that his workout in Phoenix was not impressive; he wasn't in shape, and he struggled to keep up in the workout. I heard similar things in Orlando. McLemore is in a tug-of-war right now between adviser Rodney Blackstock and his agency Rivals. It's kept McLemore out of the gym and for the most part, out of workouts. How much will all of this affect the draft stock? I'm told teams are worried. But how worried? Enough for one of the most talented players in the draft to slide further? If the Suns pass on McLemore, both C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams are possibilities here.
In other words, McLemore might drop to the Suns not because of any questions about his abilities, but because circumstances may have conspired to keep him from preparing for the draft process. While that situation can raise red flags about McLemore's work ethic, it appears to be the case that an offcourt dispute somewhat outside of his control is getting in the way of things. It's possible that, despite what appears to be an accurate depiction of McLemore's workouts, these events are giving teams an incomplete picture of what he can do on the court.
Pre-draft workouts are important tests of a player's range of abilities, but it's also fair to question if they should undo months of scouting based on real game situations. Over his single season at Kansas, McLemore impressed with his scoring abilities and was regularly talked about as the player in this draft with the best chance of making an All-Star Game. Teams that focus on a bad draft workout instead might be guilty of a bias towards recent events, or perhaps exaggerate the extent to which poor preparation for the draft carries over to taking real games seriously. It's almost as if teams get too clever for their own good. A single excellent college season is no stellar indicator of a great NBA career, but neither is a lone workout or interview.
On the other hand, Ford's view is just one perspective on the situation. In his latest mock draft (updated Tuesday morning) Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com has McLemore going to the Orlando Magic at No. 2, which suggests his stock may not be falling much at all. For teams inclined to take a broader view of the draft process, a bad workout is just one data point among dozens. As is usually the case with the draft, anyone who draws too many conclusions from one piece of information is being a little foolish. As ever, everything is just an educated guess.