If you’re someone who is constantly muttering to themselves, “enough already” with the NBA playoffs and spend your free time digging online for draft coverage, then you’ve probably already seen the NBA’s combine attendee list. Shams Charania at Yahoo Sports first broke the list, 69 participants in all, sent out to all 30 NBA teams.
The combine will be held in Chicago, May 16-20, the day after the lottery order is set (an event also held in Chicago). Portions will be televised on ESPN2, May 17-18 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm Central.
Over the last several years it has become increasingly common for the elite of the NBA draft class to skip not only the scrimmage at the annual combine, but the entire event. For those projected near the top, scrimmaging or testing does little to affect their spot in the draft, and for some, could only hurt the reputation they built throughout the season. Instead they opt to be around for interviews or set up private workouts with teams they’d like to impress.
It looks like that trend may partially reverse this year. Though the participation level of each player is still unclear, per Jonathan Givony at ESPN, 40 of the 69 will play in 5-on-5 scrimmaging. Notable players that turned down invitations, or are unable to attend, are Luka Doncic (still playing overseas), DeAndre Ayton, and Robert Williams.
The first two have been seen as the top two prospects of the class for most of the year, and Williams looks to be a fringe lottery candidate. For now, the rest of the lottery hopefuls should be around Chicago next week, participating in some capacity. That means players like Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, and even Michael Porter Jr. will make their presence felt. MPJ, in particular, will be an interesting story to follow — how he looks on the floor (should he play) and how much medical testing his group allows.
But in many ways this five-day event is for those players projected outside the lottery. Guys fighting to move up the draft order, or break into the draft discussion at all, use this week to impress scouts and front office brass who haven’t had the opportunity to see them up close.
For the Mavericks, they’ll have eyes on all those top prospects, as they will be fresh off of finding out their spot in the lottery come June. But they’ll be wise to spend just as much time scouting players for their early second-round pick as well. Be on the lookout for guys like Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Khyri Thomas (Creighton), Chandler Hutchison (Boise State), Bruce Brown (Miami), Shake Milton (SMU), and Moritz Wagner (Michigan) — all familiar names to faithful readers of Prospect Watch. These players are projected all over the map, from middle of the first round to middle of the second.
There were plenty of surprise omissions, but two noted here at Mavs Moneyball are Gary Clark out of Cincy, and Jalen Hudson of Florida. The NBA tries to bring in those they see as likely to be in consideration on draft night, so their absence seems odd. But as Givony points out, there are always some players drafted who were not invited to the workout. So perhaps those two just have some extra work to do.
We’re finally entering full-blown draft season! For those of us ready to get the next Mavericks season started, this is a welcome sight.