Nets impressed after dual workouts
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- While Derrick Favors showed the New Jersey Nets he's able to jump 11 feet, nine inches from a standstill, DeMarcus Cousins displayed something he never really showed off at Kentucky: An outside shot.
With the Nets holding the third pick in Thursday night's NBA draft, those two top prospects held simultaneous workouts Monday at the team's practice facility as the franchise's brain trust wrestled with one central question: Do we go for athleticism over size, or vice versa?
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And if size is the choice, is Cousins a player capable of moving over to power forward to play alongside Brook Lopez for the foreseeable future?
"The workout gave us an opportunity to see the full menu of what both guys could do, what they did when they were fresh, what they did when they were a little bit exhausted, so not only seeing what they can do from a skills standpoint but also mentally, when they got a little bit worn down, how both guys responded," said Gregg Polinsky, the Nets' scouting director.
The Nets worked out Syracuse small forward Wes Johnson last week, but new majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov has said acquiring a power forward to complement Lopez is the team's No. 1 player personnel priority in the offseason.
Favors has pretty much been a consensus No. 3 pick in draft previews, but stocks have historically tended to rise and fall dramatically in the final 72 hours before the draft.
And while Favors, the 6-foot-10, 18-year-old Georgia Tech freshman, clearly is the more athletic player, Cousins, a 6-foot-11 freshman, was the superior perimeter player, Polinsky said.
"You got a chance to see Cousins step out and shoot the ball, because during the year -- like he should have been -- he was mostly on the block," Polinsky said. "He shoots it comfortably I think to 20 feet. I don't think that's a struggle for him whatsoever, and he'll probably be able to stretch that as he does it more and gets more repetition. Favors is a guy who's still a work in progress in terms of shooting the ball with that type of range, but probably 15-16 feet he looks pretty comfortable."
Washington is expected to select Kentucky point guard John Wall with the first overall pick, and Nets president Rod Thorn told the Star-Ledger of Newark he is convinced Philadelphia will choose Ohio State wing Evan Turner with the No. 2 overall pick. Turner has refused to work out for New Jersey.
So the mystery could begin at No. 3, especially if Cousins convinced new Nets coach Avery Johnson and Thorn that he could be one of the centerpieces of a dual big man unit, with size, bulk and versatility that would be similar, in theory, to what the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers have going with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
"Look, Coach Johnson wants someone who can come in here and play. I think he's got to look at it from what he wants to do, what he wants to run," Polinsky said. "How quickly a guy can fit in will be important, but also you never want to leave a guy on the board who you think down the road can be a really terrific player.
Reporters were not allowed to watch the workout, but the Nets did disclose that Cousins weighed 289 pounds; Favors 246, and Favors reached 11'9" with his fingertips from a standstill and 12 feet with a one-step approach.
"What you get with Cousins is a little more power, what you get with Favors is a little more pop [jumping ability]," Polinsky said. "Both will work."
"The way the workout was structured, because they didn't go chest-to-chest, we still got a good look and got to see some of the agility, their quickness around the rim, their hand skills, their ability to read double-teams," Polinsky said. "Even though you didn't have 10 guys on the court, you still got enough of a view to make a determination that both these guys know how to play.
"It would have been easier if one guy came in and did very little and you were very disappointed, but we were not disappointed. I think we all walked out of there going 'These are going to be two really fine NBA players going down the road.' "
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com.
2010 NBA Draft
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