Some insights and observations about the Trail Blazers’ predraft workouts after four of the six sessions have taken place at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin:
Top 3&D candidate visits
Saturday saw shooting guard Terrance Ferguson pass through, offering the Blazers a look at one of the younger and more intriguing prospects when it comes to upside.
Ferguson is a stringy 6-foot-7 wing known for his shooting and defense. He turned 19 in May and is coming off a professional season in Australia, where he played 15 minutes a game for the Adelaide 36ers.
His decision to eschew college – he was committed first to Alabama, then later Arizona – came in Portland, after a strong showing at the Nike Hoop Summit. After the game at the Moda Center he said he was approached by representatives from Adelaide, and made the decisions on the spot, which was motivated by the opportunity to get paid and provide for his family.
“It was a teaching point; definitely a teaching point,’’ Ferguson said Saturday of his season in Australia. “It wasn’t the best season ever, not even close. But I learned so much during my time over there – as a person on and off the court. Overall, it was great for me.’’
He averaged 4.6 points while shooting 38 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range. He said the biggest adjustment was playing against older and more physically mature players. Ferguson is listed at 184 pounds.
“The league was so physical,’’ Ferguson said. “Going there -- as you can see I have a skinny body -- but I tried to hold my ground every game, every practice.’’
It was, Ferguson said, a humbling experience, and one that he feels gives him a leg up on the incoming rookies.
“In the pros, you have ups and downs, and I learned that the hard way overseas,’’ Ferguson said. “Everyone thinks they are the man coming in,, but you know, it’s going to hit you at one point that you are not the man anymore. I learned that quick.’’
His reputation is that he is one of the better shooters in the draft, but on Saturday in the limited two-minute window the media was allowed to watch the workouts, Ferguson was decidedly off with his shot as he went around the 3-point arc.
“Every NBA team needs shooter ,’’ he said, noting that he is also a coachable player and a defender. “I think I can bring that to the table.’’
Ferguson is projected by most to be selected in the 20s. He said he was worked out for the Lakers, Pacers, Bulls, Nuggets and Blazers, and has workouts scheduled with Charlotte, Miami, Detroit, Brooklyn and Milwaukee.
Brooks likes Bacon
Former Oregon standout Dillon Brooks worked out for the Blazers on Saturday, which he said was his 10th workout.
Of all his workouts, he was asked if there was one player who opened his eyes and stood out to him. He didn’t hesitate with his answer, and blurted it out before the question was even finished.
“Dwayne Bacon,’’ Brooks said. “He’s a really, really great scorer. Smooth. I was guarding him the whole workout (Saturday) and he was getting up tough shots. He’s going to be a great player in the NBA.’’
Bacon is a 6-foot-6 guard from Florida State who declared for the NBA after his sophomore season when he averaged 17.2 points and 4.2 rebounds a game. He shot 45 percent from the field last season, including 33 percent from three-point range.
Of note: Bacon was a standout student as well. He was a member of Florida State’s Student Athlete Advisory Council and was one of just 10 freshmen to be named to the All-ACC Academic team. In high school, at Oak Hill Academy, he was named to the honor roll in both semesters.
A player whose stock has been rising has been Oklahoma State point guard Jawun Evans, and his Portland workout on June 8 might be adding to that reputation.
The media has not been allowed to view much when it comes to Portland’s workout, but on June 8, Evans put on probably the most impressive shooting display made available to the media.
With Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell cheering him on, and getting louder and more effusive with each make, Evans nearly ran the table on a drill where players must make three, three-pointers from one area before moving to a different position around the arc. Stone-faced, Evans made it through five of the six stations before missing.
Evans last season as a sophomore at Oklahoma State averaged 19.2 points and 6.4 assists while shooting 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range. He also played big against top competition: he scored 30 points against North Carolina and had 15 assists against Kansas and 12 assists against Michigan.
Of intrigue in this draft is how the Blazers will handle their three first-round picks (15, 20, 26). One of the options is to draft a European and let him stay overseas to develop while not occupying a roster spot or cap room, which is often called a draft-and-stash (overseas) approach.
A candidate for that tactic came through Portland on Friday in the form of 7-foot-1, 21-year-old center Anzejs Pasecniks.
Pasecniks is from Latvia but played for Gran Canaria in the Spanish ACB League, where last season he averaged 7.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in 15 minutes a game. His sparse playing time is common for young players in the ACB League.
He is regarded as an exceptionally skilled big man, much like his countryman Kristaps Porzingis, who is a star for the Knicks, and on Friday he said he likes playing in the pick-and-roll.
If there is a downside, it’s his defense and his strength, which was exposed in the limited access the media watched on Friday. Ohio State center Trevor Thompson, who has 30-pounds on Pasecniks, lowered his shoulder and drove on the Latvian, who was unable to hold his ground. By the time Thompson reached the key, Pasecniks was flailing and was called for a foul.
When asked if he saw himself playing in the NBA next season or staying overseas, Pasecniks said he was open to either.
“It has been my dream to play here since I was 14,’’ Pasecniks said. “Every birthday when I blow the candles I wish to play in NBA someday. I hope to play next season, but don’t have any problems staying (overseas) a couple more years.’’
Two workouts left – whose coming?
The Blazers have two workouts left – June 12 and June 19 – after seeing 25 players come through during the first four workouts.
CSN has confirmed that Oregon’s Jordan Bell will workout June 19 while agents have acknowledged that both Ivan Rabb (California) and Justin Jackson (North Carolina) have workouts schedule in Portland.
Of the players widely projected to be available to Portland, the only ones who haven’t come through town are Gonzaga power forward Zach Collins, Texas center Jarrett Allen, UCLA center Ike Anigbogu and center Isaiah Hartenstein, who played for Zalgiris overseas.
So far, of the 25 players brought into Portland, 11 have been guards, eight forwards, three centers and three wings.
Based on the latest mock draft from Draft Express, the top-rated prospect has been Mitchell, the Louisville guard, was is projected to go 12th. Also: Wake Forest forward John Collins (14), Indiana forward OG Anunoby (15), Creighton center Justin Patton (19), Duke forward Harry Giles (20), Ferguson (23), Kentucky forward Bam Adebayo (24), Pasecniks (26) and Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon (30).