The NBA Draft is on June 23rd, 2016. But before we get there on June 13th we have the last possible date for Early Entrants to withdraw from the draft. But before that on May 17th we have the NBA Draft Lottery. But you know it's draft season when the Combine happens. And the NBA Draft Combine is next week, and go on from the 11th to the 15th. Media will have their usual two-day availability on the weekend, but the intrigue has already started. When you get there (and we've covered it a few times in the past, 2013 and 2014), part of the fun is seeing who isn't there. Sure, seeing huge gains in the weight room, crazy length and athleticism, and on court battles is fun. But that's not all there is. Having NBA trainers dis Doug McDermott to his face about not even attempting the bench press is just something you don't get a chance to see that often. One thing you're not going to get a chance to see is LSU's Ben Simmons doing anything this year.
The NBA (and NBA PR) just released their list of players attending the 2016 NBA Draft Combine.
You may remember that Dante Exum was there a few years ago. Fellow Aussie Top 5 pick Ben is not. Which makes sense, he needs to ride as much intrigue as possible, actual facts can only hurt his draft stock right now. For the other 63 players who will be there, they need to show scouts their hunger, GM's their medical history, and team interviewers their personality. Because I'm crazy, I've been keeping tabs on these guys for a while (a few years for some of the people who are juniors and seniors now). Here are the players, their colleges, and all of their normal details -- broken down by position -- and put in order of their consensus rankings after number crunching 15+ Mock Drafts (accurate to the date for some).
|3||Demetrius Jackson||1||6||1||194||21.6||Notre Dame||3||18||17.43||±||6.69||14|
|5||Wade Baldwin IV||1||6||3||195||20.1||Vanderbilt||2||23||21.64||±||7.89||14|
|8||Anthony (Cat) Barber||1||6||2||185||21.7||North Carolina State||3||44||38.71||±||11.15||7|
|9||Gary Payton II||1||6||3||175||23.4||Oregon State||4||45||38.71||±||9.01||7|
|10||Malik Newman||1||2||6||4||179||19.2||Mississippi State||1||51||46.50||±||11.64||6|
|11||Kahlil (Kay) Felder||1||5||9||176||21.1||Oakland||3||71||58.75||±||15.02||4|
|12||Marcus Paige||1||6||2||175||22.6||North Carolina||4||87||68.80||±||16.56||5|
Guys to watch: Most all eyes will be on Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, Demetrius Jackson, Tyler Ulis, and Wade Baldwin IV. Almost all of the top PGs are coming to the combine (10 of the top 12!), with a few guys who played their way as well. Some of these players are the real guys to watch because they are either specialists who need to at least show average athleticism out there (like a defensive specialist or a shooting specialist), or players overlooked because of where they played and who they played against. Former NBA player Nate Wolters was a guy who I still remember because he was playing the right way, but way playing himself out of the 1st round with his misses. That was kind of indicative of his NBA career as well. Sad. Most people my age are very interested to see more of Gary Payton II as well. It's going to be very interesting to see if he can show the scouts that he deserves to be invited to workouts.
Who isn't there: Washington underclassman Dejounte Murray, Iowa State's Monte Morris, Brazilian combo guard George De Paula, Texas' Isaiah Taylor, many others like Fred VanVleet and Yogi Ferrell . . . so many great names.
|2||Denzel Valentine||2||6||6||223||22.4||Michigan State||4||14||14.47||±||2.80||15|
|3||Malik Beasley||2||6||4||185||19.4||Florida State||1||19||19.77||±||5.66||13|
|10||Isaiah Whitehead||2||6||4||195||21.1||Seton Hall||2||60||53.25||±||17.78||4|
|12||Ron Baker||2||6||4||222||23.1||Wichita State||4||86||67.33||±||25.81||3|
Guys to watch: Did you contract Buddy-mania last March? Lots of the world did. Not everyone is sold on him, and that's okay. He appears ahead of the pack (Denzel, Malik, Malachi, and so forth), but that just means he will have a target on his back. Some of the guys invited to participate in the combine are not consensus players across the mock drafts (just like what we see with the point guards), the N value for number of mocks they do appear in goes south of "5" pretty quickly.
Who isn't there: Everyone who is playing for a European club is out, this means all the PGs, SGs, SFs, PFs, and Cs that we would want to get a closer look at are not here. This (for me) really shows up immediately for the shooting guards -- where we will be without Furkan Korkmaz (Turkish version of Gordon Hayward), Timothe Luwawu (France's next in a long line of three and D athletic wing players), Isaia Cordinier (France, crazy name index rating of 5.6), Blaz Mesicek (Slovenia's next guard prospect), Danilo Fuzaro (Brazil's next power combo guard), Diego Flaccadori (Italy's verson of Anton Ponkrashov?) and others. We're also not seeing Andrew White or Jalen Jones -- guys the Jazz invited for workouts. And we're also missing out on some "we should take another look at" guards in Grayson Allen (Duke) and Sheldon McClellan (Miami FL). I really would have wanted to have seen Luwawu, the guy I want the team to draft. But at least this way he is a bit out of sight / out of mind. I can imagine that if he measured off the charts that there would have been hype for him -- and he probably would not be even someone the Jazz could have on the board when their pick rolls around.
I guess this is the silver lining.
|4||DeAndre Bembry||3||6||6||210||21.8||St. Joseph's||3||33||30.00||±||7.24||10|
|5||Jarrod Uthoff||3||4||6||9||210||22.9||Iowa State||4||49||45.67||±||15.72||6|
|7||Dorian Finney-Smith||3||6||8||220||23.0||Florida State||4||61||53.50||±||21.92||4|
|9||Justin Jackson||3||6||8||201||21.1||North Carolina||2||73||59.67||±||13.65||3|
|11||Georges Niang||3||4||6||8||236||22.0||Iowa State||4||76||61.00||±||24.04||2|
Guys to watch: Brandon Ingram will probably just do the least needed -- be there for interviews, maybe get his height checked in shoes -- probably not do any running or anything involving contact. He is likely to be the #1 by the time June rolls around. It is showtime for Jaylen, Taurean, and DeAndre -- those three guys are all trying to secure a lottery spot. Everyone else who was asked to participate (and jumped at the chance) are trying to make names for themselves. Dorian Finney-Smith is a shooter's shooter. Jaron Blossomgame actually worked out for the Jazz -- and he's the only guy who did who is going to the combine this year. Utah needs wing depth, so they will be paying attention.
Who isn't there: Well, Ben Simmons was asked and his people said no. We're also going to be missing Juan Hernangomez (yes, a younger brother Hernangomez), Germany's Paul Zipser, Louisville's Damion Lee, Greece's Visilis Charalampopoulos (please don't get drafted by the Jazz, my fingers cannot possibly develop the muscle memory to type that out regularly), Boise State's James Webb III, San Diego State's Malik Pope, Rade Zagorac from Serbia, Aleksandar Vezenkov of Cyprus, Nik Slavica from Croatia, and Alex Poythress from Kentucky. That doesn't mean that these guys won't get drafted. It just means we won't have the most 'apples to apples' anthropometric data to grade them against the rest of these draft hopefuls.
|2||Skal Labissiere||4||5||7||0||216||20.1||Kentucky / INTL-Haiti||9||11||12.00||±||3.16||15|
|4||Deyonta Davis||4||5||6||10||230||19.4||Michigan State||1||13||14.14||±||2.32||14|
|5||Brice Johnson||4||6||9||230||21.8||North Carolina||4||26||23.75||±||5.59||12|
|6||Thon Maker||4||7||0||219||19.1||Orangeville Prep||9||30||27.82||±||5.21||11|
|7||Cheick Diallo||4||5||6||9||220||19.6||Kansas / INTL-Mali||9||31||28.44||±||6.06||9|
|9||Pascal Siakam||4||6||9||230||22.2||New Mexico St / INTL-Cameroon||9||56||50.25||±||8.92||4|
|10||Joel Bolomboy||4||6||9||230||22.2||Weber State / INTL-Ukraine||9||58||52.40||±||14.52||5|
|11||Robert Carter Jr.||4||5||6||8||247||22.0||Maryland||3||75||60.80||±||19.29||5|
|16||Isaiah Miles||4||6||7||227||21.0||St. Joseph's||4||129||N/A||±||N/A||0|
Guys to watch: Henry Ellenson, Skal Labissiere (Kentucky via Haiti, so maybe he's the next Olden Polynice?), Marquese Chriss, Deyonta Davis, and Brice Johnson all have the creds to be combine participants. But everyone will be paying attention to prep phenom Thon Maker. The 7 foot 19 year old will be the ultimate high risk / high reward guy in this 2016 draft class -- if he stays in the draft. None of the mock drafts I'e seen list Isaiah Miles as a Top 100 guy, so I wanna know more about him. He could be the Ricky Ledo of this draft. I don't know if that's a good thing yet. But no one had him being a success, and yet he made it to the NBA.
Who isn't there: Dragan Bender, who could be a Top 3 pick from Bosnia. Domantas Sabonis, the American born and raised kid of Arvydas Sabonis, of the former USSR and more modern Lithuania. Little Saboner and his Zags should be at this, and I don't know why he wasn't asked to come. There are other Europeans who aren't going to be there, like Frenchmen Petr Cornelie, Guerschon Yabusele, Mathias Lessort, and Alpha Kaba. What are they drinking there? Stateside, we're also going to be missing Devin Williams (West Virginia), Jameel Warney (Stony Brook), and Jack Cooley's homeboy Zach August (Notre Dame). Still, no Dragon-Bender means everyone is kinda playing for second place out of the PF crowd anyway.
|1||Jakob Poeltl||5||7||1||242||20.5||Utah / INTL-Austria||9||8||8.73||±||1.91||15|
Guys to watch: The #1 center in this draft is Ute / Austrian bigman Jakob Pöltl -- it's been a while since we've had a chance to use those dots over people's names. There are some other legit bigs here, like Steph "Don't call me Trayvon" Zimmerman -- but the "new guy" that very few people have footage of is China's Zhou Qi. His measurables are off the chart. But I don't know if I trust the Chinese Athletic Committee to reveal accurate results. The combine will give us some real data to work with. Lastly, for me Onuaku is a big deal for me, though, I am saddened that he doesn't list his older brother, NBA player Arinze Onuaku, as his favorite basketball player.
Who isn't there: Ante Zizic (Croatia), Ivica Zubac (Bosnia), Prince Ibeh (the UK via Texas), Andrey Desyatnikov (a 7'3 Russian), Kaleb Tarczewski, Georgios Papagiannis (Greece), Amida Brimah (UCONN), Youssopha Fall (France), Shawn Long (Louisiana), Moussa Diagne (Senegal).
There may be some late additions to this combine because player's agents may be telling the NBA that their guys will or will not participate in all of the events. From being there I know that the NBA wants to get an even number of players per workout type. If there are not enough centers they mix them with the power forwards -- and that number has to be an even number. (Right now it is not.) Some guys will not play, but still have media availability (like Exum in his year). Other guys will really be putting their name in the hat for every event possible.
I don't expect to see the best talent rise to the top next week. I expect the best talent to take it easy and focus on the closed interviews with teams, and avoid getting their complete medical check up information released. My source informs me that is a major contributing factor as to why so many top prospects don't risk the extra scrutiny before pre-draft interviews. Like Ben Simmons, at this point in time your work history and body of work should trump a 5 day camp. Ride the intrigue.
If you are someone who worked your way up to the combine from the Portsmouth invitational then you know that it's still a long road ahead before June.