Paul enjoys journey, ready for next step
After two months of seemingly nonstop flights to all corners of the country, workouts for more than a dozen NBA teams and countless nights in hotel room beds, there’s one thing Brandon Paul is looking forward to ahead of Thursday night’s NBA draft.
“I just want to relax,” the former Illini guard said. “Even if it’s just for one day.”
Not that he’s complaining, though. When the process for the NBA draft began two months ago, the 6-foot-4 guard didn’t know what to expect. But shortly after signing with agent Jim Tanner in mid-April, Paul left his internship at the I Hotel and relocated to Bradenton, Fla., where he worked out along with other NBA draft hopefuls at the IMG Academy to prepare for the NBA combine and workouts with various teams.
“It’s been real exciting,” Paul said. “I know a lot of guys complain about flying around and going all over the place, but I’ve really enjoyed that part of it.”
That attitude and disposition is what made Paul such an attractive potential candidate for the New York-based Tanner. Tanner’s NBA clients include Shane Battier, Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, Jeremy Lin and the recently retired Grant Hill.
“He’s obviously a great player and equally a great person,” Tanner said. “When we’re looking for clients that we want to work with, that is part of our criteria. Brandon, in every sense of the word, fit that criteria for us.”
Paul has been a model client so far for Tanner, keeping his body prepared for the 15 workouts he went through for the 13 NBA teams he visited, as well as putting forth an impressive temperament during the interview process.
“He’s been great from the very beginning,” Tanner said.
Entering the week, Paul had worked out for the Spurs, Pistons, Bulls, Knicks, Thunder, Grizzlies, Rockets, Trail Blazers, Suns, Timberwolves, Jazz and Clippers. On Monday, the 76ers expressed interest in Paul and asked him to fly out for a workout.
“My mind-set was that I was done with the workouts, but I just turned it back on,” Paul said.
The Bulls, who own picks Nos. 20 and 49, and Timberwolves (9, 26, 52, 59) have worked Paul out twice.
Feedback has been positive, especially as Paul has been consistent in shooting the ball from behind the NBA three-point line.
“They’re very impressed with him as a person; his interviews have been fantastic,” Tanner said. “They were very much enamored with his body and his length. He can guard multiple positions, and that really resonates with teams, and they were very excited about that.”
In recent weeks Paul has drawn comparisons to San Antonio’s Danny Green, who enjoyed a breakout postseason thanks to his prolific three-point shooting.
“I just want to go in and make my name. That’s a great player to be compared to, but I’ve got a long way to go before I can put myself up there with that caliber of player, but I feel like I’ve got the potential to be able to do that,” Paul said.
Where Paul winds up being selected remains to be seen. He will watch the draft at home with his family and a few close friends in north suburban Gurnee. Many of the mock drafts have him going in the second round or undrafted.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen from here. I’m kind of ready for everything to be set in place,” Paul said. “I can’t control what happens. I’m very coachable, very personable. I’m going to come in and work every day.”
Shooting guard — former Illini Brandon Paul’s position — is one of the deepest and most talent-laden positions in the NBA draft. Here’s a look at the top five, courtesy of Andy Vasquez of The Hackensack (N.J.) Record:
1. Ben McLemore
He’s fast, explosive and one of the best overall talents this draft has to offer. A solid shooter and finisher, he seems destined to be a productive starter — perhaps even as a rookie.
2. Victor Oladipo
His fantastic length, speed and defensive enthusiasm made him an elite perimeter defender in college. Those skills should translate to the pros; that’s why he’s a projected lottery pick.
3. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
After a breakout sophomore year, Caldwell-Pope’s biggest weapon at the next level will be his jump shot. He needs to work on finishing around the rim and his ball handling.
4. Allen Crabbe
He’s a gifted shooter who has the ability to hit a lot of shots, especially in catch-and-shoot situations coming off screens. Lacks in ability to create his shot and ball handling.
5. Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway has the size, talent and finishing ability to make a big-time impact on the professional level. His inconsistencies — especially with the jumper — are cause for concern.