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Old 05-16-2007, 02:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Draft Watch: Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah

CARSON, Calif.-- You'd think two straight NCAA titles and Most Outstanding Player awards for Joakim Noah in 2006 and Corey Brewer in 2007 would be enough to shore up the credentials of both players heading into the NBA draft.

But watching the former University of Florida stars work up a sweat from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, you'd think they were fighting for their NBA draft lives.

I spent Monday at the Abunassar Impact Basketball training center here watching Noah, Brewer and a number of other prospects work furiously throughout the day in preparation for the 2007 NBA draft. President and co-founder Joe Abunassar took Noah and Brewer through state of the art training that included customized meals, strength training, skills work and five-on-five work.

Abunassar, along with Tim Grover of A.T.T.A.C.K. Athletics in Chicago, is widely regarded as one of the elite trainers in the NBA. He trains Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, Baron Davis, among others, in the offseason.

Here's a look at one long, grueling day for a couple of future NBA stars.


8:30 a.m: Brewer and Noah go through intense strength training. Almost all of the training is sport specific. This isn't curls and squats. They use muscle groups the way a basketball player would. Everything includes movement with the exception of the bench press.

While Abunassar says the bench press has little to do with basketball prowess, he gets his players working on 185-pound reps every day because the NBA tests for it at the draft combine in Orlando.

9:45 a.m.: Brewer and Noah are done with strength training and Noah comes out of the back room with a huge protein shake with two fish oil capsules perched on top. Both are obsessed with gaining weight for the draft and Abunassar has them on a high-caloric diet to up their weight.

Noah says the shake tastes like "s---." Brewer just laughs and says it isn't so bad. I give in and try one myself.

I'm with Noah on this one.

Afterward Noah hits the scales and proudly announces that he's up to 224 pounds -- up roughly five pounds since he arrived a little over a week ago. Brewer tells me later he's gained five pounds, too; he's now around 190 pounds.

In the ultra competitive world of the NBA draft every pound, or even half pound, counts.

10 a.m.: Brewer and Noah head to the court to begin individual skills work. Noah is at one end working with Nevada forward Nick Fazekas. Brewer is down on the other end along with Oregon State's Marcel Jones.

Brewer looks great.

He's stroking the ball from 18 feet and showing range out to the NBA 3-point line with good accuracy. He has great form on his jump shot with a high, quick release. He gets great lift on his shot and shows the ability to shoot off the dribble, too.

He's most impressive, however, getting up and down the basketball floor. He has excellent speed for his size and is very explosive getting off the floor.

Meanwhile, down on the other end, Noah is grunting and huffing with every post spin and dunk. Somehow, that frenetic energy he brings to the court every night also translates to the practice court. At one point Abunassar tells Noah that he doesn't need to grunt so hard in the workouts. Noah smiles and says that's the way he rolls. It's pretty clear it's not an act.

Dripping with sweat, Noah looks more skilled in the post than he's been given credit for. He has good footwork and is quick. He explodes off the floor and likes to finish with either a dunk or a short hook shot. His balance looks a little off at times, making his spins a little unorthodox, but he's very effective.

Noah backs down a trainer on a post-up isolation and dunks the ball emphatically. "I'm kicking your a--," he screams.

But when Noah steps back and starts working on jump shots, everyone in the gym begins to cringe a little. Noah has a wacky release. He puts the ball on the left side of his head and then shoots it across his face in a diagonal motion. It's not Shawn Marion ugly. But it's close. The crazy thing about the shot is that it goes in pretty regularly from 15 feet in.

Abunassar says at this point he's not going to try to fix it, saying there isn't enough time to change his shot. The key, according to Abunassar, is that he has a consistent release point on his shot. While his shot release is far from ideal, his lower body mechanics are good and he does get the ball in the basket. The fact that he shoots the ball the same way every time, according to Abunassar, means that his shot isn't nearly as problematic as it looks.

What's interesting is comparing Noah to Fazekas.

Fazekas has been working here for six weeks. He has gained some muscle, improved his athleticism and he looks much better running the floor. But he's not in the same league as Noah with his quickness and explosiveness. For the most part, he's a ground hog with pretty heavy feet.

However, put the guys on the perimeter and the entire thing is reversed. Fazekas is a dead-eye from the NBA 3-point line. His release is picture perfect and he nails 3 after 3 after 3. Noah? Not so much. While his shot goes in from 15 feet in, his accuracy dips greatly the farther he ventures from the basket.

The thought crosses my mind: Combine the skill of Fazekas with the athleticism and energy of Noah and you have the perfect big man.

12:30 p.m.: The guys get a break for lunch. Their breakfast, lunch, dinner and three different snacks arrive each day in a beige insulated bag. Everyone is on a different diet. But each meal is packaged in a black plastic tray with sections resembling a TV dinner. Neither Noah or Brewer is a fan of the food. Brewer says he misses fast food as he picks at some boneless, skinless chicken.

The room they eat in has a widescreen plasma TV, Internet and an Xbox 360. Several players are gathered around the Internet watching Baron Davis highlights on YouTube -- even when they're not playing basketball, they're thinking basketball.

1:30 p.m.: Abunassar is back on the court doing a special session with just Noah and Brewer. It's another hour of shooting and post drills. Each player does 30 reps. Then the next one is on. In between the reps, Noah admits that this has turned into the hardest work of his life.

"It's all day, every day," Noah says. "In college you have class and life. Here it's basketball all day." He says this not with disdain, but with a grin. The two Gators seem to be loving the work.

"The NBA is a dream, Noah says. "How could you focus on anything else? Nothing else matters."

Abunassar says that despite their near-star status in the college basketball world, Noah and Brewer are working relentlessly. "They're winners and this is the next challenge," he says. "They want to beat everyone at this, too."

2:30 p.m.: Noah is done for the day. Brewer joins a group to play five-on-five. The Blazers' Martell Webster and the Rockets' Kirk Snyder are here. They're joined by USC's Gabe Pruitt, San Diego State's Brandon Heath, Iowa's Adam Haluska, Creighton's Nate Funk, Oregon State's Marcel Jones and Wright State's Dashaun Woods.

The play is fast and furious. Webster was the No. 5 pick in the draft two years ago. He would've been just a sophomore in college this year. He has an NBA body and two years of pro experience. But he still doesn't have the game of Brewer, who clearly outshines everyone else on the floor. His smooth game, from pull-up jumpers to alley-oop dunks, shows just how destructive he could be in an open-court game.

The other four players who stand out are Pruitt (who possesses great athleticism and a beautiful shooting stroke), Woods (great speed and the ability to get to the basket), Heath (who is intriguing as a combo guard, a guy who does just about everything in the backcourt well, but not great) and Jones (an athletic small forward who scored several big buckets from midrange with Brewer on him).

4 p.m.: The day is almost over. Noah and Brewer will get rubbed down, drink another shake and go chill out at the beach for the rest of the day. For six days a week, until the Orlando predraft camp, the drill will be the same. The goal is to improve their showing at the predraft workouts. From the looks of things, both should be a success.

From my conversations with NBA GMs and from what I saw with my own eyes on Monday, I think Brewer could go as high as the No. 3 or No. 4 pick in the draft. How often do you find a 6-foot-9 guy with the wingspan of a 7-footer who can play lock-down defense at the 2 or the 3, shoot the basketball and slash to the basket? Brewer has a chance to be a totally unique player at his position.

I've pegged his teammate, Noah, with the Suns at No. 4, but I've reconsidered. In my latest version of our Mock Draft I think it's Brewer who could go to the Suns. He'd be a perfect fit in their system and he'd help them with his defense, shooting and ability to get up and down the floor. He'd be a big upgrade over Raja Bell at the position.

Noah is still a possibility with Phoenix at No. 4. He, too, would fare well in its up-and-down style. But the Suns already have one facilitator in Boris Diaw and, to a lesser extent, Marion. Could they afford to play Noah on the floor as well?

I think Noah will show in workouts that he's more skilled than NBA GMs think he is. His relentlessness in his workouts will impress. He has a magnetic personality. Even his grunting and shouting have a positive psychological effect; if all the other guys on the floor were working as hard as Noah, he would just sound like he's doing more.

I think Phoenix at No. 4, Minnesota at No. 7, Sacramento at No. 10 and Atlanta at No. 11 are all possibilities for Noah. If somehow he slips past there, it's hard to imagine the Pistons at No. 15 or the Wizards at No. 16 passing on him. I know some scouts think he'll be a bust, but I have a hard time believing that a 7-footer with that much athleticism, energy and skill can't succeed in the pros. As long as he keeps playing frenetically, I think he'll be good.

As for the rest of the crew, I want to see more of Pruitt, but I think he has a chance to be a first-round sleeper. He has all the skills to succeed in the NBA. I'm not sure he's a pure point guard, but I think he could be a Devin Harris-type player (with a better jump shot) in the pros.

Fazekas is very, very skilled. But compared to a guy like Colorado State's Jason Smith, he's going to struggle.

I'll also be intrigued at how Wood and Heath do at the predraft camp. Both could help their positions with good performances.

On Wednesday: Podcasts with Noah and Brewer
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Interesting.

This article would tell you otherwise, but I was never sold on Brewer's outside shot (apart from the last few games of the season). That's why I've always had him in the 12-15 range, but that might change after the Orlando camp.

I'm also glad to see I'm not the only one still in love with Noah.
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by i seen hippos
Interesting.

This article would tell you otherwise, but I was never sold on Brewer's outside shot (apart from the last few games of the season). That's why I've always had him in the 12-15 range, but that might change after the Orlando camp.

I'm also glad to see I'm not the only one still in love with Noah.

Yeah moonwalk bytch!

Noah is a schoolgirl. But I wont diss him because he could end up a Sixer.
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GOBB
Yeah moonwalk bytch!

Noah is a schoolgirl. But I wont diss him because he could end up a Sixer.

Noah will make a lot of mistake his first year cause he'll be going 200mph all the time, but you will see how much his energy helps a team. He has more skill than Horford as well.
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Noah won't be a bad pick as long as the team that selects him realizes he'll be an Andy Varaejo type of player. You draft him with anything more in mind and you'll be upset three years from now.
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:34 PM   #7
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If the Wolves don't move up as a result of the lottery, I wouldn't mind them taking Brewer and feeling alright about getting rid of Ricky Davis.
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Very cool article.
Thank you for posting it.
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Old 05-16-2007, 04:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Da KO King
Noah won't be a bad pick as long as the team that selects him realizes he'll be an Andy Varaejo type of player. You draft him with anything more in mind and you'll be upset three years from now.

I find this is a good and bad analogy. It's good because he's an energy type player and without that energy he'd look pretty average.

But, it's bad because Noah's is much more talented. To the point that he could have sets actually run for him in the future. plus, his defense is better than Verajo's.
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Old 05-16-2007, 04:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by i seen hippos
Noah will make a lot of mistake his first year cause he'll be going 200mph all the time, but you will see how much his energy helps a team. He has more skill than Horford as well.

More skill at what exactly?
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Old 05-16-2007, 04:11 PM   #11
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Dribbling, shot blocking, passing. Rebounding and shooting will be about even imo. I can't predict how they will develop, but off the bat this is how I see it.

Man to man, neither can defense really big players, so I believe Noah will have an advantage guarding then Bosh's of the NBA...but both will have to improve a lot in this area. Help D goes to Noah of course.

Horford will have a better back to the basket game.
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Old 05-16-2007, 05:25 PM   #12
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by i seen hippos
....But, it's bad because Noah's is much more talented. To the point that he could have sets actually run for him in the future. plus, his defense is better than Verajo's.
I agree he's more skilled than Varaejo but running sets for Noah is setting yourself up for failure.
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Old 05-16-2007, 05:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I agree he's more skilled than Varaejo but running sets for Noah is setting yourself up for failure.
true that. Still Ill take him at 15 if hes still there. Who wrote this? Ford?
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Old 05-16-2007, 06:01 PM   #14
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Default Re: Insider Request: Training for draft prospects.

I hope he does well. I always was a Noah guy while everyone else was *****ing that he talks too much, sounds unintelligent, is too excited, etc. No chance we get him in Dallas though, but another guy I like who everyone hated that may fall to Dallas, Big Baby Glen Davis, looks like he has lost tons of weight. I watched his interview on espn360.com and granted you can only see his face, you can tell. He said he's 6'9 290
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Old 05-16-2007, 06:09 PM   #15
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I like Noah a lot too. I still like Horford more, but I think Noah's stock has taken some unnecessary hits over the last year. I said this once before, but I still believe it. In a league where Boris Diaw got a huge extension, and every team in the league is demanding David Lee and Varejao in deals with the Knicks and Cavs, how is it that this guys stock keeps falling. He brings more defensive potential then any of the three, because he's probably immediately a better shot blocker than any of them. It's not quite there, but his high post game is similar to Diaw's, and better then the other two's. And he'll bring the same energy that make Lee and Varejao so valuable.

Brewer to me has bust written all over him. I know I'm in the extreme minority on this, but if I wasn't then he wouldn't be a bust. His ball handling skills are a mess. I don't think he can create nearly enough seperation for himself to use what is a streaky jumper. And his athleticism is a bit overstated to me, because again, he can't get to the rim consistently enough with that handle to make it worth anything outside of openfloor play. I also think he's going to have some defensive issues, because he plays a lot with his length, which won't play as well now that the league has made an effort to show off quickness more. He'll be unable to guard most SGs, and he has about as much shot at logging time at PF as Morrison did this year (which someone reputable tried to claim last offseason). That isolates him against SFs.
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