The Wizards’ front office may not select a point guard in the June 25 NBA Draft, but team president Ernie Grunfeld and coach Flip Saunders have done their due diligence working them out.
On Tuesday, six guards - including Davidson’s Stephen Curry, Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn and Brandon Jennings, who played in Italy last year - had a group workout at Verizon Center.
Jennings - who last year turned down a chance to play at Arizona for a spot on Italian club Lottomatica Virtus Roma and $1.2 million - said he didn’t regret his decision to play overseas for a year.
He said going to college “probably would’ve helped my stock” but getting a chance to play in the Euroleague - which Jennings called the second-best league in the world - was “a great experience.”
With that said, the 6-foot-1 point guard - who displayed his superior passing ability and ballhandling skills during the workout - is happy to be back home, where he’ll get a chance to play at point guard. He averaged 35.5 points and 6.8 assists a game at the position in his senior year at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.
Jennings played varying minutes and was used everywhere from point guard to small forward by his Italian club. Consequently, the former Naismith player of the year averaged only 5.5 points and 2.3 assists.
“I have my swagger back now,” Jennings said. “I’m playing my position - the point guard. I’m back on U.S. soil. I’m back where my friends and family and my fans are. I’m real happy about that.”
Despite his subpar numbers in Italy and questions about whether his slight build can withstand an 82-game season, Jennings still contends he’s the No. 1 point guard prospect in the draft. He’s part of a group that includes Curry, Flynn, Spain’s Ricky Rubio and Memphis’ Tyreke Evans. The only member of the group who has yet to work out for the Wizards is the 18-year-old Rubio.
“I think I’m the best guard in this draft,” said Jennings, who also worked out with Connecticut’s A.J. Price, N.C. State’s Brandon Costner and Clemson’s Raymond Sykes. “Besides Ricky Rubio, I have more experience than any other guard in this draft by playing pro basketball. … You can’t fight that experience.”
Curry showcased his shooting ability in a grueling workout Tuesday. He hit open 3s, guarded 3s and midrange jumpers and got into the lane easily.
“[He] can just shoot so well,” Flynn said. “But you know, he’s just not… a shooter. He can create for others; he can create for [himself] as good as anybody in the country. Just trying to defend a guy like that - where you can’t close out on him too hard because he can go past you, but if you don’t close out he’s going to hit the shot in [your] face. It’s almost unguardable.”
Curry played a lot of point guard in his final year with the Wildcats, when he led the nation in scoring at 28.6 points. At the next level, the 6-3 Curry sees himself primarily as a point guard, though he also said he could play shooting guard.
“My game has evolved from my freshman year in college - every year I’ve had a different role,” said Curry, who has worked out only for New York, Charlotte and Washington because he’s taking a summer class at Davidson. “Right now I’m a point guard first. … I’ve developed my game a lot playing point guard and being able to manage an offense.
“I saw a lot of defensive strategies and a lot of different looks [as a point guard last year], so I got to adjust game to game, and that’s how it’s going to be in the NBA next year.”
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