Perhaps one of the more overbaked narratives that winds through every NBA Draft cycle is that certain players skip head-to-head battles with comparable prospects. Brandon Knight skipped a head-to-head matchup with Kemba Walkers on Tuesday at the Toronto Raptors' group workout, which led lower-rung prospects like Isaiah Thomas of the University of Washington -- a stretch to land in the first round, let alone the top five like Knight or top 10 like Walker -- to speak out. The National Post's Eric Koreen has the quotes:
"A lot of them are [avoiding working out against lower-ranked prospects.] That's just how it is, I guess," Thomas said of Knight and players of his ilk. "I wouldn't do that if that was my situation, but that's how it is. People don't wanna, I don't know, I'm not going to ..."
Of course, it's not quite that simple, and Knight told Toronto reporters exactly why: agents make these strategic decisions. Prospects like Walker and Thomas want to work out against Knight because if they outplay him, they can move up in the draft. But Knight isn't going higher than No. 3. So the only team that could likely convince him to work out against Walker is the Utah Jazz, who pick third. (Reports suggest Walker and Knight will indeed go head-to-head in Salt Lake.)
And while Walker suffers an opportunity to go against Knight here, his own agent erased the scheduled head-to-head battle with Jimmer Fredette (slotted behind Walker, in the late lottery to late teens) in front of the Sacramento Kings on Thursday. Walker will instead show up next week.
In the end, we'll see Walker vs. Knight in the NBA, and maybe we'll see moments of Knight vs. Thomas, too. But the avoidance of this battles is completely understandable and, frankly, overblown.