COLUMBIA — When Phil Pressey decided to skip his senior season and declare for this years NBA Draft, it didnt take long for people to not only second-guess his decision but let him know their feelings about it.
By TEREZ PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
When I first announced it, I heard it from like everybody, said Pressey, a junior point guard. I was even hearing it from Mizzou fans. I was like Man, tell me how you really feel.
Not that it would make him change his mind. Pressey, who told the story with a chuckle, said he learned long ago not to take criticism too personally, especially when it comes through social media. Instead, he should strive to turn it into a positive.
I use criticism all the time as motivation, said Pressey, who has been preparing for the draft in Dallas. Its like gas to a car for me.
That said, Presseys gas tank must have been full for the better part of six months. Despite helping Missouri to a 23-11 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance last season all while posting career highs in points (11.9) and assists (7.1) and also setting the school record for assists in a career Pressey was roundly criticized for inconsistent shooting, ill-timed turnovers and miscues in the clutch along the way.
Phil Pressey is one of the most frustrating players to scout for NBA scouts and for myself because when you want to talk about a floor general, a guy that can see the floor, hes as talented as any point guard in this draft, said ESPN NBA Draft analyst Chad Ford. He is a special passer who really, I think, can run a team.
The problem is he doesnt always see himself that way. And you saw at Missouri, over and over again, as games would get tight, he would start to try to play hero ball, try to do too much, and then commit mind-boggling turnovers and take horrible jump shots and almost single-handedly lose games for Missouri after playing so well for the first 35 minutes. And so, is Phil Pressey the guy that you see in the first 35 minutes of a Missouri game, or is he the guy you see in the last 5 minutes?
He Pressey said hes had workouts with Boston, Houston, Milwaukee, Denver, Phoenix, Utah and Portland, among others.
Ive been going out there doing what I do best, which is playmaking and shooting the ball, if necessary, Pressey said. All these workouts, Ive had opportunities to do both, and theyve been going well so far. I really think Ive improved myself going into this process.
Pressey said hes been told there are a few teams interested in taking him at the end of the first round, and that there are a lot of teams interested in taking him in the second. Ford has consistently had Pressey going in the second round of his mock drafts, with his most recent having him slotted to the Orlando Magic at pick No. 51 overall.
However, Ford said there have been times where Presseys weaknesses have shown through the last few months, most notably at the Nets draft combine in May.
He goes into Brooklyn, in front of a horde of NBA general managers and scouts, and does exactly the same thing (he was criticized for), Ford said. At first, hes making some great passes, hes running his team well, and then all of a sudden, like, a switch goes off in his head and he thinks that he needs to be Kobe Bryant and get out there and shoot and score, and youre almost screaming at him from the sidelines No, no, just keep passing it and a team will take you in the first round.
Ed Isaacson, who runs NBADraftBlog.com, also appreciates Presseys rare gifts the speed, the court vision, the anticipation. These are things that can help him make an impact in an increasingly wide-open league, provided hebecomes a more consistent jump shooter.
Last season, Pressey shot only 37.6 percent from the floor.
In the pick-and-roll offense, which most teams use, if youre not able to knock that outside shot down consistently or at least be a threat to, all of a sudden defenses will sag, and that kind of takes away all your options, Isaacson said.