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The ‘grand experience’ - Inside a Nets draft workout

NBA Announces Possible Re-Opening Of Team Practice Facilities Starting In May Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Pre-draft workouts are like job interviews: a limited-time opportunity that’s valuable for both sides to see if they’re a match, the ultimate piece of the Draft process where prospects showcase their game and skills before the watchful eyes of teams’ top talent evaluators.

For NBA teams, it’s an in-depth evaluation with a customized twist to reach the end goal of filling roles — or harvest development projects. Now, with the NBA Draft 2021 on July 29 clearly on the horizon, the pace of workouts is quickening.

Brooklyn — which holds the 27th, 44th, 49th and 59th picks in the Draft 2021 — typically works out dozens of prospects behind the big glass doors on the eighth floor of 168 39th Street in Sunset Park, home of the HSS Training Center. Its process is much less transparent than most of its NBA counterparts. The workouts are closed and even the names of the prospects are kept secret. That’s a big difference from what happened under Billy King and Rod Thorn when scouts briefed the media after each workout.

But we got a big of an inside look on Friday’s morning’s workout when the Nets front office hosted what’s a typical pre-draft workout for six prospects. Jordan Goodwin, a 6’3”, 200-pound senior combo-guard from Saint Louis University, was one of them who came to play ... and work. He talked exclusively to NetsDaily.

The Nets pre-draft workout, as described by Goodwin, included a battery of tests; both on and off the hardwood, all of it in front of Nets staff members, primarily those involved scouting and development. Neither Goodwin nor his agent disclosed who was on hand but typically, Sean Marks, assistant GM Jeff Peterson and director of player evaluation, B.J. Johnson are among those on the sidelines. The process starts with what Goodwin described as “combine” tests, describing the type of measurements, interviews and tests that top prospects experience at the NBA Combine.

“We did a lot of tests, like ‘combine’ tests,” Goodwin told NetsDaily, “We also did off-court tests in the weight room. Strength tests and things like that.”

Then, things moved into a more competitive environment with supervised drills, essentially a limited scrimmage among the prospects. “We did a few drills and just played and got after it,” he noted. Goodwin said he was impressed by the family-like atmosphere he saw from the Nets staff.

“A lot of energy. You can tell that the staff and everybody is on the same page and feels like a big family there. It was probably one of the best workouts I’ve had and been to,” he explained.

Overall, he said, it was a lengthy process. The “combine” tests stretched close to two-and-a-half hours while the on-court drills ran for an hour and twenty minutes.

Goodwin said he was also impressed by the surroundings. While the prospects were showcasing their skills, they also got a look at the Nets unique training facility that features views of the glimmering New York skyline just across the harbor. Goodwin called it “a grand experience.”

“The facility is amazing. The court was on the eighth floor and you can see the Statue of Liberty and everything. Definitely a grand experience to walk through those halls and just see the weight room and everything like that. That was probably the most takeaway I got from that and most impressed with the facility,” Goodwin said, echoing players and pundits alike.

Beyond the mesmerizing views from the HSS Training Center — only 20 minutes away from Barclays Center the home of the Draft — the prospects like Goodwin are aware of the team’s success and their star-studded roster well before arrival. The superstar talent who usually pound the floor at HSS adds a layer of extra motivation to the prospects.

“Most definitely. Just the flight going to it and knowing who is on this team and the Nets bringing me in to potentially be on this roster with those guys. I definitely soaked all of that in,” Goodwin said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, so I played my hardest in the workout and tried to showcase my talents the best I could,”

It has been a busy pre-draft process for the Saint Louis combo guard, who concluded his senior season with averages of 14.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals. Goodwin had pre-draft workouts with the Hornets, Kings, Warriors, Hawks, Nuggets, Spurs, Mavericks and Wizards along with Zoom calls/interviews with the Bucks, Sixers, Thunder, Heat and Cavaliers. His previous workouts gave him a good idea of what to expect with Brooklyn. He also noted the schedule can be grueling.

“The Nets workout was very good. I kind of figured out a little bit because I’ve been to so many already. I had a workout with San Antonio so I got there late, went to sleep and woke up the next morning. Went over to the gym, ate breakfast, and started the day. They are pretty much all the same as far as guidelines. Some teams might do some of the things differently, but you pretty much do everything you do somewhere else,” Goodwin said.

What can he deliver? Here’s some highlights...

The 6’3’’ combo-guard is known for his defensive mindset, earning Atlantic-10 First-Team honors this past season with the Billikens among other accomplishments. He helped lead the program to a season-high 22nd place in the AP Poll. Undersized for his position, Goodwin utilizes his big frame to run through defenders and clear out for offensive rebounds.

Brooklyn, his agent said, was impressed by Goodwin, highlighting his energy and competitiveness to go along with his calling card, a gritty defense. His play Friday morning grew the Nets’ interest in the 22-year-old, said the agent, Oshwand Scott, his agent.

“They couldn’t stop talking about how tough he was and how much energy he brought to the workout. Also talked about how competitive he was and how he was a joy to be around and work with,” Scott told NetsDaily. “He shot the ball very well and defended exceptionally well too. They definitely said they would circle back as the draft gets closer.”

Goodwin, who just finished his senior year, is one of 353 early entry candidates for the 2021 NBA Draft who opted to stay in the Draft, foregoing a year of eligibility. He’s realistic about his chances.

At this point, he’s not “mocked” in either for the first two rounds. But even if he goes undrafted, there could very well be suitors for a Summer League roster spot, a training camp gig or a two-way contract for the 2021-22 season. Goodwin acknowledges everyone takes a different path and is ready to take the route that’s in store for him.

“I really don’t have any hopes because everyone’s path is different. For me, just knowing that one day that I can play in the NBA whatever route I have to take to give me a step closer to my goal. I’m just grateful for the opportunity so I don’t really have hopes. I’m just letting it go as it goes and just be ready to take whatever route it takes,” Goodwin said.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 13 Saint Louis at George Washington Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Overall, Goodwin crafts his game around hard work and envisions himself as a student with an open mind come his professional career.

“First and foremost, I’m a hard worker on both ends of the court. I pride myself on defense on that side of the ball. I’m definitely reliable on the defensive end and on both sides of the ball. I’m able to make plays off my offensive rebounding, cutting, distributing the ball, being able to make open shots. Early on, I’ll be just a hard-working player right there and learn from the veteran guys and keep on developing into whatever role and whatever team they want me to be in.”

He’ll know just how well all those workouts, including the one in Brooklyn, went in a little more than 10 days. Once the second round ends (sometimes even before!), Nets staffers are on the phone with those who went undrafted, offering summer league invites, training camp gigs, etc. The Draft process will be over and the career will have begun.