It’s that time of the year when the rumor mill is churning out of control with misinformation.
With the NBA draft about a month away — June 26, to be precise — NBA teams are “leaking” intel with regularity. One of the rumors making the rounds in recent weeks pertained to Jabari Parker, the former Duke star who could be the No. 1 overall pick. Parker, if you believe the gossip, has seen his weight balloon since the end of the college season.
In reality, just the opposite happened. Parker’s body has become more toned, as those who attended his recent workout in Southern California will attest.
“There was some rumor going around at the pre-draft camp (in Chicago) that Jabari Parker had gained 20 to 25 pounds,” Milwaukee Bucks scouting director Billy McKinney said. “And that’s the gamesmanship of the draft.
“But he looked fantastic from a physical standpoint.”
McKinney also got to see Joel Embiid up close and personal last week. Embiid, a 7-foot center from Kansas, has been plagued by back problems the last two years.
“Embiid went through the entire workout and it didn’t appear there were any signs or issues with his back which, of course, will continue to be investigated as we go into the draft,” McKinney said. “(But) seeing Embiid run, jump, pull up, sit up and do everything but throw a softball was really good for everybody. He looked good.
“He took a hard fall on the court and I think everybody was wondering if he was going to get up. And he got up and continued to look as lively and bouncy as ever.”
GETTING ATTENTION: Joe Harris had his first pre-draft workout Tuesday with the Bucks and he made the most of it.
The 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Virginia made a marked impression on Bucks officials and the other players who worked out with him.
“He shot the ball real well,” McKinney said. “He’s a very good shooter, an excellent shooter.’’
Not only is Harris one of the premier shooters in the draft, McKinney said he’s also one of the most team-oriented players.
“One of the things that you knew when you watched him play was that he compromised a lot of his game for the betterment of his team,” McKinney said. “He’s a guy who is going to be unselfish and understands the chemistry aspect.”
RUSHING TO JUDGMENT: Embiid, Parker and Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins are all regarded as legit No. 1 overall picks.
Of course, as McKinney astutely noted, the draft is still a month away and things could change. One only has to look back to last year at this time, when all the national draft gurus were anointing Kentucky center Nerlens Noel or Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore as the cream of the crop. Instead, Cleveland selected forward Anthony Bennett with the top pick. Noel and McLemore wound up being drafted sixth and seventh, respectively.
“Right now, there’s been some discussion that any one of those guys could be the No. 1 pick,” McKinney said of Parker, Wiggins and Embiid. “Go back to the draft last year: I don’t think anybody would have anticipated — we certainly didn’t on our draft board — think that Anthony Bennett would be the first pick. So we don’t know yet.”
BAD ANGLE: Remember the photo of James Young sitting next to Rihanna at courtside during a playoff game between Toronto and Brooklyn?
It appeared Young, the former Kentucky shooting guard, was checking out Rihanna, the pop superstar. Young vehemently denied that was the case.
“I saw it (the photo); it was crazy,” Young told me. “It might have looked like I was looking, but I was looking at the ground. It made it look like I was staring at her, but I really wasn’t.”
Young said he did have a brief, friendly chat with Rihanna, though.
“I talked to her a little bit; I didn’t want to sweat it because everybody around her was talking to her,” Young said. “She’s really nice. She’s really sweet.”
BONUS SHOTS: Nobody has come further in a such a short time than Elfrid Payton, the intriguing point guard from Louisiana-Lafayette. Payton received only two scholarship offers coming out of high school: Xavier University of Louisiana and Louisiana-Lafayette. Payton is now projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick. ... McKinney acknowledged it isn’t a cinch any of the marquee players in the draft will come to Milwaukee to work out. “That’s not determined yet,” McKinney said, adding, “So we’ll have to be a little creative.” … The Bucks will resume workouts Thursday with several point guards expected to be on hand. ... Got any advice for new Bucks owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry? Well, they’ll be watching the NBA playoffs Thursday night at McGillycuddy’s Bar and Grill, 1135 N. Water St., Milwaukee and they are inviting fans to join them.