It would be no surprise if power forward Josh Owens were the smartest guy in the gym, since he’s a Stanford guy and all. But him being the best athlete in the gym, that may come as a shock.
That explains why Owens’ is getting more attention during NBA draft workouts than he did during his five-year Stanford career. Two years after Stanford forward Landry Fields rose from anonymity to second-round sleeper, Owens is trying to do the same.
“I would love to be that guy this year,” Owens said after working out for the Warriors at the team’s downtown Oakland practice facility on Monday.
Owens — who averaged 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds combined his junior and senior seasons with the Cardinal — wasn’t even invited to the famous Portsmouth Invitational, the combine where lesser-knowns usually make a name for themselves. But Owens announced his presence boldly at the Brooklyn Nets combine May 19 and 20.
His physique and athleticism were on full display before dozens of NBA general managers. Owens measured at just under 6-foot-9 (with shoes) and 230 pounds. His 7-foot wing span was average for his height, but his vertical measurements really dropped some jaws.
He registered a 40.8-inch standing vertical, the best in the camp — and higher than what Rudy Gay, Tracy McGrady and Jason Richardson posted as draft prospects. Owens also had a combine-best 21 repetitions on the bench press (185 pounds).
“He’s an incredible athlete,” said one NBA executive who’s seen Owens workout.
Since then, Owens has worked out for Miami and Sacramento, and for several teams during a workout in Santa Barbara. Owens said these NBA workouts give him a chance to shine he didn’t have in college.
“It’s a totally different game,” Owens said of the NBA. “Here, you’ve got a much more spread-out floor, you’ve got more one-on-one type defense. It changes the dynamics of the game a lot. I think I’m a great athlete, so I can show some of those skills a lot better out here.”
Owens said he wanted to show the Warriors he had a motor. His athleticism alone may not be enough to get him drafted, however. He’s 23, will be 24 in December. His rebounding numbers were hardly impressive at Stanford. That’s a red flag for many executives who believes how a player rebounds in college is usually how they’ll rebound in the pros. And while he can play some defense, 85 blocks in 120 games doesn’t look to great either, especially with his athleticism.
Concerns also exist about Owens’ offensive skills. He was a career 57.2 percent shooter at Stanford. But does he have a mid-range jumper? Post moves? Nice touch around the basket? That’s what he’s been trying to prove.
Owens said he didn’t shoot the ball well Monday. But while acknowledging he isn’t a prolific scorer, he said he is convinced he can make plays immediately on offense at the NBA level.
“My college resume, individually, wasn’t necessarily spectacular,” Owens said. “But at the end of the day, college is college and the NBA is the NBA. I’m just going in there with a hard working mindset and hoping to impress people.”
* Of the 12 players Golden State worked out Monday, two of them were projected first-rounders: Washington guard Tony Wroten and Vanderbilt small forward Jeffrey Taylor.
Both could feasibly be available for the Warriors to take at No. 30 overall, and arguably be a steal.
Taylor, originally from Sweden, had a standout year while leading Vandy to the SEC title. He figures to be the bigger need for the Warriors, especially if they lose Brandon Rush to free agency. For starters, he’s a noted defender who at 6-foot-7, 226 pounds has good size.
But Taylor showed a much-improved outside shot and better ball-handling skills, averaging 16.1 points on 49.3 percent shooting as a senior (42.3 percent from 3-point range).
Wroten doesn’t figure to be an option for the Warriors, in that he is a freshman combo guard. (The Warriors need a back-up at both guard positions, but probably not a 19-year-old.) But if he is there at 30, the 6-foot-5, 180-pound Wroten may be a steal to great to pass up. He’s not known for his outside shot, but he’s a good playmaker with good size and he’s only 19 years old.
* The Warriors, who have the No. 36 and No. 52 overall picks (second round), worked out several potentials Monday. Michigan State forward Draymond Green, West Virginia power forward Kevin Jones, Syracuse small forward Kris Joseph and Xavier point guard Tu Holloway are all projected to be selected in the second round.