By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Whatever the preconceived notions of what an NBA point guard should be, 5-foot-11, 175-pound Phil Pressey doesn’t believe he is fighting those as he makes his way through the NBA Draft process this spring.
“I’ve played against bigger point guards, I really don’t see them as being more athletic than me, just taller,” the Dallas native and University of Missouri product told SNY.tv after his session at the Nets Draft Combine on Wednesday morning at PNY Center. “When it comes to athleticism, I match up with the best of them. If a guy is a couple inches taller than me, I don’t feel like that affects me at all. I feel like what I do is a lot better than what they do.”
Unlike last week’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, the beauty of the Nets’ event, which is held in conjunction with the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets, is that the 44 players spread over four sessions and two days have the opportunity to play 5-on-5 in front of executives from all 30 NBA teams. On Wednesday, Pressey found himself matched up with Miami’s Durand Scott, who had six inches and 30 pounds on him.
The matchup, played over two 12-minute quarters, was a mixed bag for Pressey, who is the son of 11-year NBA veteran Paul Pressey. The younger Pressey got over a rough start, which saw him turn the ball over three times and take an ill-advised, one-handed runner in the lane inside the first three minutes, before settling in and playing the role of quarterback. He distributed well, got into the lane at times and did the job defensively on Scott throughout, but his shot selection was the one minus on the day.
“I wanna like Pressey,” one veteran NBA scout who witnessed the workout told SNY.tv. “I like his energy, he’s a good passer, he just has to realize he’s not Nate Robinson. Play straight, get in the gym and get 500 makes a night. His jumper leaves a lot to be desired.”
Pressey is currently slotted as the No. 51 overall pick by DraftExpress.com and is rated as the 11th-best true point guard in this year’s draft. He declared for the draft on April 10, leaving Missouri as the school’s all-time leader in assists and co-leader in steals. As a junior he averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 assists on his way to All-SEC first team honors.
He flirted with declaring for the 2012 NBA Draft after going for 10.3 points and 6.4 assists per game for the 30-5 Tigers. He indicated on Wednesday that losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed against 15th-seeded Norfolk State left a bad taste in his mouth and helped fuel his return for another season in Columbia.
“Coming off of my sophomore year, I was thinking about it, but decided to come back for another year to polish up some things and try to win a national championship and get to a Final Four because I know that can improve the perception of a point guard,” Pressey said. “It was just about me feeling ready and being ready mentally. My dad gave me good advice. He supported me whichever way I decided to go, but he knew I was ready to go on to the next level, he knew I accomplished a lot of the things I came to college to do. The only thing I didn’t do was win a national championship. Other than that, I felt like I was ready and he was just behind whatever I did.”
Pressey competed in Chicago and after his stop in East Rutherford, said he will work out next for the Boston Celtics. Pressey’s agent, Aaron Mintz, confirmed the Celtics workout is this weekend, while workouts with the Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder are on the docket in the coming weeks.