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While the 5-on-5 scrimmages at Chicago’s NBA draft combine draw the most attention from fans and media members, the most important parts of the event, from the teams’ perspective, happen in private, far away from the spotlight.
The most crucial element is the physical, conducted by league-appointed doctors, in which players have everything (especially prior injuries) poked and prodded with X-rays and MRIs. Every year, a number of players fall unexpectedly in the draft based on the results of these medical examinations, even though it is far from an exact science and there is often quite a bit of disagreement among team doctors about the prognosis.
There are also measurements conducted to get an updated (or sometimes first) look at players’ true heights, weights, wingspans and standing reaches, as well as their body-fat percentages, which can provide some insight into a player’s body type and how seriously he has been training for the draft process since the season ended. Separately, players undergo a barrage of athletic testing intended to measure their speed, lateral quickness, agility, leaping ability, reaction time and strength. Teams don’t put a great deal of stock into these types of tests, but some interesting information can be gleaned from the outliers on both ends of the spectrum.
Another important part of the week: 13 hours of interview sessions scheduled in three batches over three days. All 30 teams submit in advance lists of players they would like to sit down with — a process that is reminiscent of speed dating, with players (who are typically well-prepared by their agents) going from hotel room to hotel room to meet NBA executives, coaches and team psychologists.
Finally, 40 of the players will play 5-on-5, while others will elect to participate only in shooting drills. This is a little more useful for coaching staffs and other NBA team representatives who weren’t able to evaluate players live throughout the year than it is for scouts who have followed these prospects for much of their careers. But it certainly does have an impact, even if just to confirm what people already thought about prospects going into the week.
Schedule and logistics
Monday and Tuesday: Players arrive. Elite prospects conduct physicals/medical testing. Combine participants are invited to watch NBA draft lottery show.
Wednesday: Measurements. Medical testing. First batch of NBA team interviews from 2-8 p.m.
Thursday: Second batch of NBA team interviews (8:30 a.m. to noon). Shooting drills, athletic testing and competitive 5-on-5 scrimmaging (1:45-6:30 p.m.). Elite prospects depart.
Friday: Final NBA team interviews (8:30 a.m. to noon). More drills, testing and scrimmages. In the evening: Remaining combine participants meet with players association (NBPA) representatives.
Saturday: Medical testing. Meeting with NBA player development group and NBPA.
Sunday: Medical testing.
Monday: Players depart, many to NBA team facilities for private workouts.
Players who can help or hurt their stock the most
Players rarely get drafted significantly higher than they were projected off a strong week at the combine, just as a poor performance is unlikely to move the needle too far in the other direction. Significant medical red flags or an usually bad series of interviews are much more likely to affect a players’ standing than a particularly hot shooting day or impressive vertical leap numbers.
That said, certain players have more to gain in Chicago than others, usually based on past exposure. Teams have extensive scouting evaluations on
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Billy Preston, Graham’s former teammate at Kansas, is a different story. Because he was deemed ineligible and elected to leave the team midseason, very few of the hundreds of talent evaluators in Chicago have had a chance to watch him in person. A particularly excellent showing could resonate much more strongly. The same goes for Brian Bowen, who was swept up in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption and was able to practice at South Carolina only during the second semester. Since the NCAA has yet to make a ruling about his eligibility for next season, Bowen might not have a choice but to keep his name in the draft and start his professional career by trying to earn a spot in the second round — or prove to be worthy of a two-way contract.
The 20-year-old Mitchell Robinson faces some of the same challenges, as he voluntarily elected to withdraw from Western Kentucky in the preseason and has been completely off the radar of NBA teams. He is largely an unknown, as teams are not allowed to send executives to high school or AAU games, with one impressive showing at the Jordan Brand Classic last April being the extent of Robinson’s live-scouting résumé. Because he’s a projected late first-round pick, Robinson might elect to preserve his mystery man status and not put himself out for all to see against players who are significantly stronger and more experienced in such an important setting. Instead, he could wait for private workouts.
This is the type of cat-and-mouse game that goes on among agents, players and teams throughout the months of May and June. A handful of players, such as Deandre Ayton and Robert Williams, elected not to participate in any part of the combine, as they (perhaps rightfully so) feel they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by being forthcoming with their medicals, interviews, measurements and athletic testing data — let alone touching a basketball.
High school post-graduate Anfernee Simons declared his intentions to enter the NBA draft back in November, and he has been scouted extensively all season by teams, though perhaps not by GMs. The league initially asked him to compete in the 5-on-5 sessions, but his representation understandably balked at that, as he’d likely be woefully overmatched physically against the many NCAA seniors in attendance. — Givony
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Via:: NDTV – Sports