- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2009

A day after hosting North Carolina’s Ty Lawson and Southern Cal’s DeMar DeRozan, the Washington Wizards worked out four more prospects Friday, hoping to find the right fit for their No. 5 and No. 32 picks in the NBA Draft. The group included lottery projections Tyreke Evans of Memphis and James Harden of Arizona State.

Evans, whose ability to play point guard and shooting guard makes him attractive to the Wizards, spent about 30 minutes after the workout talking to team president Ernie Grunfeld.

“[Grunfeld was just telling me] a lot of things about the league, what I can do well with the ball, where I can create for other players [when I] play the point guard position,” said Evans, who has worked out for Sacramento and is slated to visit New York and Minnesota.

If the Wizards pick Evans at No. 5, they would be getting insurance at point guard and an athletic shooting guard with an upside. In his one season at Memphis, Evans primarily played the point and averaged 17.1 points and 5.4 rebounds.

But at 6-foot-6, many scouts contend Evans - who is projected to go in the top 10 - would be better suited off the ball if he develops more of an outside shot. Last season, Evans hit 27.4 percent of his 3-point attempts.

“I’d probably play a little bit of both [positions] with my height and my length,” said Evans, who worked out after Ohio State’s B.J. Mullens and Georgia Tech’s Alade Aminu. “I shot it pretty good. … I think my jump shot [has] improved a lot.

“I think I’d fit [in] pretty good [with the Wizards]. This is a good team.”

Similarly, Harden would fill the Wizards’ need at shooting guard and bring a versatile offensive game. Still recovering from being sick last week, Harden said he wasn’t satisfied with his workout but mentioned the Wizards’ brass said he did great.

“It could’ve been better,” he said. “I could’ve made more shots. I’m still trying to get my legs under me from being sick for four or five days - not being able to move. Overall, I think I held up; I made some shots.”

In two years at Arizona State, Harden averaged 19.0 points and was named a first-team All-American. He shot 37.6 percent from 3-point range but attempted less than four long-range shots a game. The 6-5 Harden, however, was one of only two Division-I players to average 20 or more points, five or more rebounds, and four or more assists last season - the other being Tennessee-Martin’s Lester Hudson.

But since declaring for the draft, Harden, who worked out for Sacramento on Wednesday and will go to Oklahoma City and Memphis next week, has heard whispers about his lack of athleticism. He tried to dispel that at the NBA’s draft combine with a 37-inch vertical jump and a three-quarter-court sprint in 3.13 seconds - one hundredth of a second behind Lawson, the speedy point guard from North Carolina.

Harden’s subsequent workouts have helped catapult him from a lottery pick to a projected top-five selection in the June 25 draft.

“I was in [the] lottery range [when I announced],” Harden said. “But working out and hearing the names and then going to Chicago [for the draft combine] and showing that I am athletic helped me out a lot to move into that top five. I’m not for sure a lock, but if I can keep having good workouts, then that’s what it comes to.”

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