We saw it in the weeks leading up to April's NFL Draft and the NBA Draft, which will take place this Thursday, is no different: obfuscation and misinformation is a big part of the pre-draft process. Typically, it goes something like this: an erroneous report causes a player's draft stock to take a dive, and he invariably slides down the board. Weeks, months or years later our suspicions are confirmed: the "report" was a fabrication.
Coach Jim Calhoun is quite familiar with the process and talked about it recently with the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore.
"There are always rumors," he said, "and they're probably started by the team that actually wants to draft the player because they want him to slip. … But when you see one of your players up there at the podium, you just feel a sense of pride. It would be hard to say which player I'm most proud of -- that would be like saying which one of your children you love the most."
Calhoun has two players -- Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond -- as likely lottery picks and both have found themselves unwittingly caught up in the pre-draft rumor mill. Lamb's laid-back style apparently has some teams' concerned, while Drummond's "boom or bust" label keeps prospective NBA GMs, scouts and coaches up at night.
Calhoun said that he's already been asked about Lamb's mystery shoulder injury "and we know nothing about it." (Lamb did tweak his ankle during a workout earlier this month, but unless this was the worst game of "telephone" ever, it's hard to imagine that "ankle" somehow morphed into "shoulder.")
As for which team would be the best fit for Lamb's skills, Calhoun offered this:
"It would be good if he had something like he had here with Kemba [Walker]," Calhoun said via Amore, "a guard who could draw defenders to him then kick it back out. I've told [NBA scouts], Jeremy is the best long-range shooter out there; if you need to shoot behind the NBA three-point line, he's the best one out there. So for a team that shoots a lot of threes … I think he's going to be a real good pro."
Meanwhile, Calhoun echoes what we've heard in recent weeks concerning Drummond's immediate future: any team expecting immediate returns will be disappointed because experience has yet to catch up with athleticism.
"The coach that gets Andre is going to need to be patient," he said. "He's getting one heck of a piece of clay. It's going to take time for him to develop; it may take five years, but you're going to have something awfully special when he does develop. And Andre's a great, great kid; he wants to learn. You'd rather have a kid that doesn't have all the answers than a kid that thinks he has all the answers."
Calhoun also spoke in more general terms about his unique perspective on the draft, from Cliff Robinson, the first of his UConn players to be drafted to Kemba Walker last season. Ultimately, the overarching theme is that the NBA is a business and he hopes his kids remember that as they transition from college to professionals.
"You try to prepare them for what they're going to be facing," Calhoun told Amore. "When they get to a city at 2 a.m. and get to their hotel, there are going to be people there. Get through the lobby and get your rest. When you're told to be at a certain place a certain time, you get there -- the NBA is a business. … When they're up there at that podium, you're watching them pass into manhood."