It wasn’t the first dance between Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez and Oakland’s own Jared Cunningham out of Oregon State. But it was the first time the two matched up on such a stage – under the watchful eyes of an NBA front office.
Both served as the guards at the Warriors’ six-man workout of draft prospects Monday, which was held at the team’s downtown Oakland facility. The two went at it the entire time, much like they did matching in the Pac-12.
“The whole workout,” Gutierrez said. “He’s a great player. I played against him for three years. I always have fun playing against him. I’m always nervous to play against him.”
“I know what he can do and he knows what I can do,” said Cunningham, celebrating his 21st birthday Tuesday. “We both competed hard. … It’s up to the Warriors to say who won.”
Cunningham got the better of the match-up, according to sources inside the private workout. That’s no surprise considering the former San Leandro High School star was the only player in the workout likely to get drafted. The other four players were Old Dominion forward Chris Cooper, Nevada forward Olek Czyz, Lithuania center Mindaugas Kupsas and Missouri State forward Kyle Weems.
Cunningham boasts exceptional athleticism and a skill set that allowed him to be productive on both sides of the ball with the Beavers. He left Oregon State, after three years, 13th on the career scoring list with two Pac-12 All-Defensive Team nods.
At 6-foot-4, 194 pounds, Cunningham has good size for a point guard. Only problem is he’s a shooting guard whose greatest strength is scoring in transition. He said he’s been working on his point guard skills, but he’s going to have a tough time proving to teams he can play the position at the NBA level.
“I’m a combo guard,” said Cunningham, who grew up a Warriors fan idolizing Mitch Richmond. “I’m comfortable at both positions. I’ve been working on the point guard side and the shooting guard side.”
Cunningham could be an option with the Warriors, owners of at least three picks in the June 28 draft. He’s projected as an early second-round pick, which puts him in the wheelhouse of GoldenState, which owns the last pick of the first round and the fifth pick of the second round.
Gutierrez (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), isn’t as explosive an athlete as Cunningham, but the senior Golden Bear has some skills that may intrigue NBA management. He’s a savvy defender who lives on intensity and effort. Though he isn’t a good shooter and wasn’t known for being a playmaker, he could end up winning a team over with his grit. It may be a surprise if he’s drafted, but not if he gets a training camp invite.
“I just try to give everything I have every day,” Gutierrez, 23, said. “If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. … To be honest with you, I just want to have one team who likes me and go from there.”