The NBA draft has been drawing headlines for weeks now. The Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have the first three picks of the draft.
While the sports world is focused on the top three picks, players like former Loyola guard Milton Doyle have been working hard to impress an NBA team and land a spot on an NBA roster.
Doyle has been traveling the country working out for NBA teams. This summer he’s worked out for the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls.
While Doyle’s workouts don’t necessarily mean he’s going to be drafted, according to his former head coach Porter Moser, it means he’s building buzz around his name with his performance.
“If you’re playing well and tough teams are working you out and giving you good feedback, then it seems like other people bring him in,” Moser said. “I think at the beginning of the workouts he wasn’t projected to get drafted … but sometimes it’s better not to get drafted because your rights don’t belong to a team that doesn’t necessarily have a need for you.”
Moser compared Doyle’s journey through the draft process to former Wichita State star Fred Van Vleet. Van Vleet wasn’t drafted but signed with the Toronto Raptors in July of 2016 and ended up playing eight minutes per game off the bench as a role player for the Raptors.
Doyle said he hopes to get drafted, but in the meantime, he’s soaking up as much knowledge as possible, trying to play hard and enjoying the experience as he works toward his dream of playing on an NBA team.
The workouts consist of a lot of competition. The teams have prospects play half court and full court games of one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three, according to Doyle.
“I feel like I held my own in every workout I’ve had so far,” Doyle said. “I think I’ve had some pretty good workouts.”
Each team he’s been with has run workouts in a similar way, with small-sided competition, shooting drills and conditioning drills, according to Doyle. He said he thinks he plays better at each workout because he knows what to expect and the nerves of the first few have gone away.
After every workout the teams gave Doyle and his agent feedback about his performance. Doyle said he feels like he’s gotten great responses and the teams haven’t had anything negative to say about his game.
Teams have told him the only knock against his game is the uncertainty of whether his fit on a roster would be as a true point guard or as a combination of point guard and shooting guard.
Doyle said he thinks he’s learned a lot about how to play in the NBA from his workouts.
“The competition level [is high], you can’t take any plays off,” Doyle said.
Moser said Doyle’s work ethic will be an asset for a team. An NBA team has 12 spots on its roster and when it is deciding who will fill those 11th and 12th spots, a team doesn’t necessarily look for the most talented players. A team wants a high energy player who will work hard and give up his ego for the good of the team, according to Moser.
Moser said he believes Doyle fits that description and compared him to former NBA player Travis Diener. Diener played on Marquette University’s 2003 Final Four team with Dwyane Wade and according to Moser, even though he wasn’t the most talented guy, he always gave everything he had when he was on the floor and played in the NBA for five years.
While he is working hard at the workouts, Doyle isn’t forgetting to enjoy the experience. He said meeting the general manager of the Lakers, Magic Johnson, at his workout was the coolest part so far.
Doyle acknowledged that while playing for his hometown Bulls would be “cool,” he just wants a shot at the NBA.
“I just want to play,” Doyle said.