It would be no surprise if power forward Josh Owens were the smartest guy in the gym, being that he's a Stanford guy and all. But Owens also being the best athlete in the gym, that might 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 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 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 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,"
Since then, Owens has worked out for Miami and Sacramento, and for several teams in Santa Barbara. Owens said these NBA workouts give him a chance to shine that 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 might not be enough to get him drafted, however. He will be 24 in December. His rebounding statistics were hardly impressive at Stanford. That's a red flag for many executives who believe how a player rebounds in college is usually how he will rebound in the pros. And while Owens can play some defense, 85 blocks in 120 games doesn't look too great, either, especially considering his athleticism.
Concerns also exist about Owens' offensive skills. He was a career 57.2 percent shooter at Stanford. But does he have a midrange jumper? Post moves? Nice touch around the basket? That's what he has been trying to prove.
Owens said he didn't shoot the ball well Monday. But while acknowledging he isn't a big scorer, he said he is convinced he can make plays immediately on offense at the NBA level.
"My college résumé, 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 hardworking mindset and hoping to impress people."
Both could be available for the Warriors to take at No. 30 overall, and either could be a steal.
Taylor, originally from Sweden, had a standout year while leading Vanderbilt 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 with good size at 6-7, 226 pounds.
But Taylor showed a much-improved outside shot and better ballhandling 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 backup at both guard positions, but probably not a 19-year-old.) But if he is there at No. 30, Wroten might be too good to pass up. He's not known for his outside shot, but he's a good playmaker with size (6-5, 180 pounds).
Contact Marcus Thompson II at firstname.lastname@example.org.