Bilas: Games ‘incredibly valuable,’ but workouts like Adebayo’s can make a difference on draft night

Bam Adebayo made 13 of 25 three-point attempts during a workout with the Charlotte Hornets over the weekend.
Bam Adebayo made 13 of 25 three-point attempts during a workout with the Charlotte Hornets over the weekend. AP

Former Kentucky big man Bam Adebayo made 13 of 25 three-point shots Sunday in a workout for the Charlotte Hornets, which means:

A. His value in Thursday’s NBA Draft increased because he showed he’s more than a low-post strongman.

B. Playing for a deep and talented Kentucky team made it, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, counterproductive for Adebayo to display his full range of skills.

C. Workouts are part of the draft evaluation process, but do not take the place of the actual playing of college basketball games.

The correct answer is all of the above, one of ESPN’s NBA Draft analysts said Monday.

Speaking on a teleconference, Jay Bilas said the one-for-all role-playing on a team can mask the full range of a player’s abilities.

“It does happen where you have players who have to play in a certain role … ,” Bilas said. “They may be a better shooter or scorer than they’ve been able to show given the team dynamic that they have.”

Since John Calipari began coaching Kentucky in the 2009-10 season, the Wildcats have had more players selected in the NBA Draft than any other school or foreign country.

More than once, UK Coach John Calipari spoke of Adebayo being a much better face-the-basket shooter than it might have seemed. In the past, Calipari has made light-hearted comments about preventing a player (often DeMarcus Cousins) from showing all his skills for a deep and talented Kentucky team.

Adebayo’s shooting in Charlotte — which was from NBA three-point range — was a plus, Bilas said.

“If Bam can stretch his range out, he becomes even more valuable,” the ESPN analyst said. “With his athleticism, his body, his length and his ability to rebound and work the glass, if you can step out and knock down shots and work as a floor stretcher, that’s what the NBA is looking for in a lot of big guys. So it makes him more valuable.”

A workout making a telling difference suggests the games themselves are not the important tool in evaluating a player. Not true, Bilas said.

“The games are incredibly valuable,” he said. “Five-on-five is the way the game is played. It’s one thing to hit shots in a workout. It’s another thing to hit shots when you’re guarded and it comes in a flow of a five-on-five game.

When the 2016-17 NBA season ended, former Wildcats who played under Calipari were spread across 15 of the league’s 30 teams. That number is likely to increase at Thursday's NBA Draft.

“We’ve all been fooled by workouts. You see a guy in a workout and you think, ‘My God, what an incredible talent.’ And then it doesn’t translate into a five-on-five game.”

Bilas, who will be part of ESPN’s telecast of the NBA Draft, advised not over-reacting to reports about workouts.

“You take them with a grain of salt,” he said. “And you have to be a lot more concerned with what you see on the floor rather than what you see in a workout.”

Later in the teleconference, Bilas said player workouts had value.

“They’re important, period,” he said. “You always want to put your best foot forward in any appearance you have for NBA personnel.”

The workouts can not only impact decisions on draft night, but also later in weighing free agents or potential trades, Bilas said.

Fox and Fultz

Bilas used superlatives when asked about former UK player De’Aaron Fox and another highly regarded point guard, Markelle Fultz.

“De’Aaron Fox is the fastest guy in the draft . . . ,” Bilas said. “Just lightning speed in the open court. And he does a good job of creating for others.”

Bilas called Fultz “the most complete player in the draft.”

Inevitably, it seemed, Fox’s shooting was addressed. Fox made only 24.6 percent of his three-point shots for Kentucky last season.

“His jumper is inconsistent,” Bilas said, “but he shoots a good ball. So with some work, I think he can become a much better shooter. But his deal is transition and he’s a very good on-ball defender.

“He’s not the crazy-long athlete that some point guards are. He doesn’t have crazy-long arms like some of these guys, but he’s a really, really good prospect and a great, great young man.”

Bilas said Fultz was “the best pick-and-roll ball-handler in the draft. . .

“He floats a little bit defensively . . . but that’s true of a number of prospects. He’s the real deal.”

Jerry Tipton: 859-231-3227, @JerryTipton

NBA Draft

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.


NBA Draft order


1. Philadelphia (From Boston via Brooklyn)

2. Los Angeles Lakers

3. Boston (From Philadelphia via Sacramento)

4. Phoenix

5. Sacramento (From Philadelphia)

6. Orlando

7. Minnesota

8. New York

9. Dallas

10. Sacramento (From New Orleans)

11. Charlotte

12. Detroit

13. Denver

14. Miami

15. Portland

16. Chicago

17. Milwaukee

18. Indiana

19. Atlanta

20. Portland (From Memphis via Denver and Cleveland)

21. Oklahoma City

22. Brooklyn (From Washington)

23. Toronto (From LA Clippers via Milwaukee)

24. Utah

25. Orlando (From Toronto)

26. Portland (From Cleveland)

27. Brooklyn (From Boston)

28. Los Angeles Lakers (From Houston)

29. San Antonio

30. Utah (From Golden State)


31. Atlanta (From Brooklyn)

32. Phoenix

33. Orlando (From Los Angeles Lakers)

34. Sacramento (From Philadelphia via New Orleans)

35. Orlando

36. Philadelphia (From New York via Utah and Toronto)

37. Boston (From Minnesota via Phoenix)

38. Chicago (From Sacramento via Cleveland)

39. Philadelphia (From Dallas)

40. New Orleans

41. Charlotte

42. Utah (From Detroit)

43. Houston (From Denver)

44. New York (From Chicago)

45. Houston (From Portland)

46. Philadelphia (From Miami via Atlanta)

47. Indiana

48. Milwaukee

49. Denver (From Memphis via Oklahoma City)

50. Philadelphia (From Atlanta)

51. Denver (From Oklahoma City)

52. Washington

53. Boston (From Cleveland)

54. Phoenix (From Toronto)

55. Utah

56. Boston (From LA Clippers)

57. Brooklyn (From Boston)

58. New York (From Houston)

59. San Antonio

60. Atlanta (From Golden State via Philadelphia and Utah)

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