Friday's Workout An NBA Family Affair
By caseyholdahl Posted in: Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers hosted two pre-draft workouts Friday at the team's practice facility in Tualatin. The goal of a workout, from the players' perspective, is to prove that you deserve one of 450 roster spots available in the NBA. And when you consider that four of the seven players who participated in Friday's workout have family ties to currently or former NBA players, maybe it makes it a little easier for the front office to visualize those players in Trail Blazers uniforms.
The headliner for the Friday workouts was Indiana forward/center Cody Zeller, whose brother is Cavaliers rookie center Tyler Zeller. The younger Zeller, projected by most mock drafts to be selected somewhere in the mid-to-late lottery, had a solo afternoon workout with the Trail Blazers, which, unlike the morning group workout, was attended by team owner Paul Allen.
"The group workouts are more 3-on-3, more competitive but even the individual ones you get a lot of work done and can show a lot," said Zeller. "All the workouts are good. I like to work hard, so whether I'm back at home working out or here, it's not too big of a difference to me."
Portland's assistant coaches ran the 7-footer through a battery of drills throughout the course of 45 minutes, testing the shooting and finishing ability of one of the best big men in the 2013 Draft.
"(Shooting) is definitely one of the things I want to show just because I've been able to shoot my whole life," said Zeller, whose 62 percent shooting from the field last season set an Indiana record. "In high school and AAU and growing up in Indiana you always go up, shoot the basketball in the driveway. It's definitely one of the things I wanted to show."
Zeller's stock had taken a hit after some questioned whether he'd be able to deal with the size and athleticism of NBA bigs, but after testing and measuring out better than expected at the draft combine, it seems he's back on the rise. And recently, some have gone as far to compare Zeller to current Trail Blazers power forward and two-time all-star LaMarcus Aldridge.
"I like his game," said Zeller of the comparison. "I'm obviously not to his level by any means but headed in that direction with how good he is in the mid-post. He's an underrated passer. So I have a lot of respect for his game."
The group workout only featured one player, D-Leaguer Glen Rice Jr., son of former NBA sharpshooter Glen Rice, who has the potential to be selected in the first round. The group was rounded out by UCLA's Larry Drew II (son of former Atlanta Hawks head coach Larry Drew), Belmont's Ian lark, Murray State's Ed Daniel, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe and University of Oregon product EJ Singler, whose brother, Kyle, plays for the Pistons.
Singler, who prepped at South Medford, was especially happy to have a chance to workout for a team he had grown up watching.
"It's really a dream come true," said Singler, "growing up in Oregon always watching the Trail Blazers. It's really a dream come true and just so happy and proud that I got the chance to come here and workout for the Blazers."
Singler averaged 13.6 points and 5.6 rebounds during his senior season at Oregon, a season in which the Ducks advanced to the Sweet 16. That added exposure, along with his NBA pedigree, might give Singler a chance to make the NBA as a second-rounder.
"I think what people see in me is a high-character guy, a guy that can come in and be a good role player for a team," said Singler, "a guy who can in and be a knockdown shooter in the NBA and a guy that just really understands the game of basketball and has good knowledge behind it."