NBA executives already know that Vanderbilt’s Luke Kornet can shoot 3-pointers and block shots. It doesn't take a world-class scout to figure that out.
The 7-foot-1 center is the all-time NCAA leader in 3-point shots made by a player over 7 feet tall, and he also blocked 210 shots in his career.
Kornet actually accumulated more total 3-pointers and blocks in his senior season (124) than prospects such as Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen (88), Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac (80) and UCLA’s TJ Leaf (66).
So teams don’t need to scout Kornet in person to figure out he can knock down -- or block -- a shot. But Kornet has been showing teams a dimension to his game that may not have been apparent before -- mobility.
Kornet, a first-team All-SEC selection, will have worked out for more than a dozen teams -- including the New York Knicks -- by draft night (June 22). He says that the feedback he’s heard most often from teams thus far is that they’re impressed by the way he can move. Kornet played a significant portion of his senior season at Vanderbilt with an MCL sprain that hampered him. He was able to heal fully and get in top shape before draft workouts.
Kornet hopes to get selected in the second round but is also fully prepared to fight for a job as an undrafted free agent in the summer league or at training camp. He’s already worked out for the Knicks, Spurs, Magic and Hawks, among others, and has workouts scheduled with the Lakers, Heat, Sixers, Mavericks and Pacers.
Earlier this week, Kornet took some time to talk about his workouts and answer a few questions about the process with the Knicks.
The night before the workout, Meeks and Kornet went to dinner with Knicks adviser and vice president of player personnel Clarence Gaines (the executive who pushed for the Knicks to draft Kristaps Porzingis in 2015) and director of scouting Kristian Petesic.
Kornet said the conversation included "a little bit of everything. … Dinner was pretty long, so we went on a full range of just talking about basketball and some more general life stuff. We had a great dinner.”
The next day at the workout, Kornet said that Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek ran things. Team president Phil Jackson was there, along with associate head coach Kurt Rambis and many other staff members. And, not surprisingly, the triangle offense was a major emphasis of the workout.
“We spent about half the workout doing 5-on-0 stuff with the triangle and different actions and attention-to-detail type stuff," Kornet said. "We actually spent a good amount of time in terms of working different types of actions out of the triangle.”
While Hornacek ran the workout, Jackson also interjected at times to offer “advice and pointers.”
Kornet said Jackson addressed “positioning with where you were in the offense, although the rest of the coaching staff did a great job of emphasizing that as well. Then there were some things more about straight basketball stuff, certain ways to cut. It was a little bit of both.”
So what was it like getting pointers from someone who has won an NBA record 11 rings as a coach (even though Jackson hasn’t had nearly the same success, thus far, as an executive)?
“He’s definitely someone whose advice you’re going to pay special attention to,” Kornet said. "It was an honorable experience, and it was definitely unique in the fact that it is Phil Jackson telling you how to play.”
Afterward, Kornet had lunch with Gaines and Knicks general manager Steve Mills. He also spoke with Hornacek, whose daughter, Abby, played basketball with Luke's sister, Nicole, while growing up in Phoenix.
Knicks to work out Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes: The Knicks have a workout scheduled with the Wisconsin forward this week, league sources told ESPN. Hayes is projected in some mock drafts as a second-round pick. The Knicks have two second-round picks (44 and 58). Hayes measured at 6-foot-8 at the NBA draft combine with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and some college observers project him as a player with potential to be a versatile defender at the next level with a strong shot, something the Knicks certainly could use. Meeks also worked out for the Brooklyn Nets last week and some people familiar with the workout said the UNC big man excelled in the workout.