06/23/11 9:40 am EST
The Westin Hotel in Times Square was the center of the NBA world Wednesday afternoon. The top 12 draftees were each continuously grilled by give-or-take 100 members of the media, including yours truly. Each prospect was seated at a circular table in the fifth floor conference center of the hotel. It is almost guaranteed that all of these players won’t fall to the 76ers at 16. Guess what though? Andre Iguodala is the most available player on the market, and some team is going to bite for his defense after seeing what Shawn Marion was able to do to LeBron.
That means the Sixers could end up with one of these guys.
After the jump are my personality assessment and some of the quotes I gathered during my first NBA Draft media day.
Brandon Knight – PG / Kentucky
Personality: You can lay the rumor to rest that Brandon Knight is smart; he was perhaps the most intelligent person in the room. He showed some attitude in his answers but he was clearly well coached by his agent on what to do.
On being a combo guard
“I’m not a combo guard. I’m a point guard. My biggest strength in running the team.”
On showing himself during the pre-draft process
“They want to see different things during the pre-draft. They are going to put you through whatever they want to see. Whatever situation they put you in, you are kind of forced to do it.”
On having Coach Calipari on the Green Room
“He’s always been with me, when I was at rock bottom, when I started getting better. He helped with my growth and maturity process throughout the season.”
On the Jazz
“I thought the liked me a lot. I think I’d be a good fit there. They have a great big and Milsap. And I could play alongside Devin Harris.”
On the NBA player he looks up too
“I don’t really say that about any NBA player to be honest with you. I look at a lot of guys and I admire what they do. I admire what Dwayne Wade does because I’m from the area that he plays at. I admire Steve Nash. And I admire Derrick Rose because he can create and for how fast and explosive he is.”
Jimmer Fredette – G / BYU
Personality: He reminds me of a cooler version of Tim Tebow. Lots of people don’t think he’s going to succeed, but he just isn’t going to allow that to happen. He puts up with the media circus too. It seemed like half the room was credentialed from Utah.
On if someday he can score in the NBA like he did in college
“I don’t know. We’ll see. Obviously I don’t know if I’m going to get that kind of green light. BYU needed that for us to be successful. I think I can score the basketball at a high rate in the NBA.”
On going to Utah and the pressure
“I was under just as much pressure this year at BYU. It was a crazy media circus. People were expecting 30, 40, 50 points a night. Going up against defenses that were double and triple teaming me. That’s a lot of pressure to go out and do that.”
On living up to the enthusiasm
“I think the fans that are more basketball knowledgeable will be patient. I might not get to play a whole lot right off the bat.”
On the NBA player he models his game after
“I watch Deron Williams a lot and I think if I could be as good of a player as he is then I’d think I’d be ok. I try to use the crossover like he does as well as the step-back, be able to take it to the basket and shoot threes.
Kyrie Irving – PG / Duke
Personality: Irving seemed exhausted. I feel like fatigue and injuries could be a commonplace during his career.
On Coach K going to the NBA
“I doubt coach K would go to the NBA. He is a Dukie for life. I think he will coach for 5 or 6 more years.”
On being in NBA 2K12
“I will be playing as myself all the time. I’m going to put my stats up to 99 and just cheat (laughs). I grew up playing all those video games.”
On comparing his game to others in the NBA
“I think like a mix of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups. Chauncey can do the half court thing. Chris Paul is more up-tempo.”
Enes Kanter – C / Turkey
Personality: We got along well and laughed, so I am a little bias when I call him one of the confident guy there. He kept indicating he would love to go to Washington DC.
On if he played at Kentucky
“I would have been the number one pick. We would have won the national title. Easily.”
On the best prospect in the draft besides himself
“Probably Kyrie. He can pass and shoot. If I slip to four and play with Kyrie, we can make the playoffs.”
Marieff Morris – F / Kansas
Personality: You can tell he isn’t going to enjoy being hazed by a new coaching staff and veterans. He spoke very softly. Not sure if he’s willing to put in the necessary work.
“They definitely have a good group of guys. I like the staff. I would like to play at home”
On the best prospect in the draft besides himself
“My brother. I agree with his comparison of Carmelo Anthony. He could be a superstar in this league. He’s a scorer who gets better everyday”
On worrying about a reputation of having a big mouth after calling Derrick Williams overrated
“You can say what you want to say. [Marcus and I] talk how we feel. When I said that about D-Will I didn’t mean it like that. I was comparing him to LeBron and Kobe and all those guys. I didn’t mean that he’s not good. I just meant that he’s not those guys.”
Tristan Thompson – F / Texas
Personality: Thompson was the one guy in the room who was candid and kept the laughs flowing among media members. My quotes don’t give him justice. Teammates are going to love this kid.
On when he first fell in love with basketball
“Around 7th or 8th grade. I originally played soccer. Then I got too tall.”
On not being in control [of where he is drafted]
“It’s different. You choose your agent. You choose where you want to work out.”
On the best player in the draft besides himself
“All the other 11 guys here today (laughs). I’m going to change it up. I’ll go Brandon Knight.”
On the Pistons
“The workout in Detroit went okay. There was good competition like Bismack Biymbo. It’s hard to tell at these workouts what they are actually looking at.”
Kawhi Leonard – F / San Diego St
Personality: The California native was awful cold today, not really elaborating much, even when Craig Sager was trying to joke around with him. He’s a quiet guy who will keep to himself in the NBA
On contributing right away on offense
“I think I’m ready. I can pass the ball and get to the post area. I have a lot to work on. I’m just going to come in and fill my role.”
On an NBA player he tries to emulate
“I don’t know. I’m just trying to go in and make a name for myself.”
“He’s a hard worker. I think he’s going to do fine. He competes.”
On being ready to guard a LeBron/Carmelo type of star
“I’m ready. I’m ready to focus and do my job.”
Jan Vesely – F / Czech Republic
Personality: I hope Vesely doesn’t mind if teammates make fun of him constantly. This dude is as boring as they get. I understand he’s learning the language but so is Kanter and all the others. He seriously isn’t ready to embrace any of the attention garnered when becoming a pro athlete in America.
On what team he could go to
“I don’t know.”
On who the other best prospects are
“All of them are good.”
On the types of stats he thinks he can put up
“I really have no idea.”
Derrick Williams – F / Arizona
Personality: He will be a big-time player in this league. He knows his strengths and he wants to be mentioned among the great. Seems to be a student of the game.
On his game
“I can attack, shoot three’s and get to the free throw line. I think I led the nation in attempts. I still have to adjust my game though.”
On doing the things he did in college in the NBA
“You know Kobe has aged and he’s still able to do the same things. I know I’m going to have to add stuff to my arsenal, especially with the bigger, stronger athletes.”
On the international prospects
“There’s a lot and now with the successes of Dirk, I could see a lot more Euros coming over. Lots of people say they are more fundamental than Americans. There are great leagues over there too.”