Rudy Gobert on Workout, Relationship w Batum
TUALATIN – Paul Allen was back. And that meant today's pre-draft workout was of extra importance.
On Thursday, the Portland Trail Blazers hosted their 11th pre-draft workout in advance of the 2013 NBA Draft, and on so many levels, it might have been the most important one of them all.
Pittsburgh center Steven Adams, French center Rudy Gobert and Providence guard Ricky Ledo were the main attractions along with second round hopefuls in Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi, Delaware forward Jamelle Hagins and Iowa State guard Will Clyburn.
A league source told CSNNW.com that the Trail Blazers have been itching to see Adams go up against Gobert, a matchup of bulk vs length, for some time now. Both prospect including Ledo according to ESPN's Chad Ford, could seriously be considered when Portland is on the clock at No. 10.
Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum was even on hand to support his fellow frenchman Gobert.
This was the third time Adams, 19, and Gobert, 20, have faced one another in a workout. Usually when opponents go at it too often, tempers begin to flare. That hasn't been the case being that they have become friends during this process.”
“We're good,” Gobert said. “We're just trying to play hard. Outside the court, we are friends. We're just competing and making each other better to show teams who's the best.”
“It's cool,” Adams said. “He's a giant. He's freaking huge. He's a large human being.”
Who gets the better of who in these workouts, Steven?
“I don't know. I'm not going to say,” Adams said, then he paused and gave me a smirky smile that garnered laughs from the media.
Who is the best, Rudy?
“I think he is better defensively in the low post because he's stronger,” Gobert responded. “But I think I'm better defensively in a team scheme. I feel I'm the best defender in the draft.”
Both centers are saying all the right things knowing the Trail Blazers seriously lacked a defensive presence last season.
“My defense is the main one, because that's where I think I'm going to get on the court for,” Adam said. “Defense, rebounding, running the lanes, setting screens, blocking shots...That doesn't mean that I'm not showing my offensive game, I still am, but I'm mainly trying focus on the defensive side.”
At 7-2, Gobert has one of the largest wingspans recorded at 7'9. With his hands raised up, he's a shade over 10 feet tall. That should translate to a lot of rejections and a solid first round selection.
“I like to block shots,” he said. “I feel I got good timing for it and my length obviously helps, but I can still get better. That's what teams like and I'm hearing I could go anywhere from 7-21 [in the draft].”
Today's workout was Gobert's final one. Tonight he will spend time at Batum's house watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals before heading to Dallas. Batum spoke briefly, but it was enough time to figure out he was big on his guy.
When asked if Gobert was worthy of being taken with the team's No. 10 pick, Batum replied saying, “He can be, yeah. He can be because we don't have a lot of guys like that in basketball. That tall, that smart and can protect the rim.”
Adams, standing 7-0, has worked out for ten teams and has two to three more left on the dock. Sacramento is one of the stops.
Unlike other centers who have been forced or elected not to work out with teams only to see their stock rise, conversely Adams has been willing to work out wherever needed and his stock has risen due to strong showings.
However, Adams isn't keeping up with mock drafts or listening to hearsay about where he's headed come June 27. He was asked where he thought he may go in the draft and again, he displayed his comedic personality.
“Um, first round,” he answered cleverly. “Honestly I just take it day-by-day. I don't focus on where I'll go in the draft. I'm obviously trying to go as high as I can, but I'm just trying to learn about the game as well.”
The Trail Blazers own picks No. 10, 39, 40 and 45.