Catching up with Tyler Cavanaugh
The former GW star has worked out for 13 NBA teams ahead of Thursday's draft
In the past seven weeks, Tyler Cavanaugh has completed pre-draft workouts with 13 NBA teams as the former GW star looks to begin his path towards making an NBA roster. Ahead of the draft on Thursday, June 22, Cavanaugh talked to GWsports.com about his whirlwind schedule of late, what he learned and how he sees himself fitting in the league.
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind month for you, working out for 13 different teams. How grueling has the process been?
It’s been a lot. My first workout was April 29 in Utah and my last was June 19 with Boston, so it’s been seven weeks. The uncertainty and not knowing what’s going to happen, I had a pretty good schedule and knew which teams were going to work me out, but others popped up. Then I tried to keep myself on a good schedule of working out with Coach [Matt] Johnson and Coach Carm [Maciariello]. It’s the travel that really got me -- having to get out of the plane and go perform at a high level because each one of these is a job interview for me in this profession. I flew to LA twice, Texas a few times, and I’m taking an online class as well.
What kind of feedback have NBA teams given you?
Not many teams give a lot of feedback but I know I have interest. Two teams have already been calling my agent about if I don’t get drafted they want me on their summer league team. There’s still a possibility I could get picked late, probably the last 10 picks but we’ll see what happens. Teams like the way I can shoot the ball and stretch the floor, obviously all these teams want to see how I can defend and do I have enough athleticism to compete at this level. My IQ made up for the lack of jumping ability of lateral quickness, so that’s just something I’ve been trying to show through all these workouts. My calling card is always going to be my ability to shoot the ball.
What have you learned?
How many good players there are. There are so many great players competing for 60 spots in this draft - 60 spots. It’s always nice going into these cities and meeting these people, and occasionally walking through an NBA facility and seeing the players. It’s completely different from college - it’s a business now, so you’re trying to sell yourself to these executives and front office people. It’s not as much about the team and camaraderie like in college; you’re on your own now.
Who are some notable guys you went up against in workouts?
TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu from UCLA who could both be first round picks, Mathias Lessort from France, and Charles Cooke from Dayton are a few. There were lots more, but you lose track when you work out for 13 teams.
In today’s NBA, where there is such a premium on spacing and being able to shoot the 3, do you see yourself as a good fit being someone who can stretch the floor and shoot at a high clip? Especially compared to maybe the style of play you grew up watching?
Absolutely. The way the league’s going is they’re looking for bigger guys who can space the floor and let point guards like Russell Westbrook and James Harden attack. Teams won’t be able to collapse because there aren’t really two traditional bigs anymore, so my ability to stretch the floor and shoot the ball is huge in today’s game. Just continuing to do the best I can defensively because there’s a premium on guys who can defend multiple positions. My ability to shoot and also my versatility is what’s going to get me paid. I just have to prove I can hold my own on the other end and I’ll be able to stay on the floor.
In a story on Syracuse.com, you talked about the complex process of potentially accepting a two-way deal or a regular deal. Can you explain that a bit and what is your thought process heading into it?
It’s nuts. This is the first year with the two-way deal where each team has two more roster spots. Those guys can play in the G League but also be called up to the NBA Team for 40 or 45 days, and then you’re pro-rated at the NBA minimum. It’s very complex. I had a conversation with my agent this past weekend for about an hour about what we wanted to do and at the end we didn’t really clear anything up because you just don’t know. There could be different options, and then there’s the European option. We have a pretty good grasp but you won’t really know until Thursday night. I’m just glad answers are coming soon.
Come Thursday night, whether you are drafted or not, you’ll likely hear from teams and at least have a destination for summer league. You’ve been noted as one of the hardest workers around, so is there a feeling of satisfaction that you’ve done everything possible to put yourself in a good position for this moment?
Yeah. Coming to GW really changed my outlook as a basketball player. I changed my body, I was really able to contribute to the team the last two years, and I made myself a name in the A-10 and therefore with NBA scouts. After the season with Portsmouth and the [Reese’s] All-Star game I played really well and that helped. Then the opportunity to go to 13 different cities and work out has been great. Just getting in these NBA facilities and showing what I can do, representing myself the way I do and talking to people, we’ll see what happens. I’ve put my best foot forward, and whether I’m drafted or not Thursday night I’ll have information about summer league. Get me on the court, and that’s where I like to show people and prove them wrong.
You’re spending draft night with family, and I know they’re all incredibly proud of you. What will it mean to share this moment with them?
My extended family has traveled all over the place throughout my career and they’ll be here as well. We’ll probably have 15-20 people here so that will be nice. I told them there are no guarantees I’ll get drafted so we’ll just see what happens. They just want to be here. They’ve been a part of my journey so that’s what’s best.
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