There is something to be said about a bunch of rich men sitting around, watching, taking notes, poking/prodding and analyzing which of the many options will be the best asset for them. What is the best investment or which will make them the most revenue?
Having said that, the NBA Draft Combine is basically just that as NBA hopefuls walk around the fields of the hardwood for the cattle ranching NBA decision-makers looking for the best.
The NBA Draft Combine services as a stock assessment for a prospect as those invited are selected by NBA teams specifically. They get a ballot of a few hundred names and select 60 of them to come to Chicago, Illinois to workout for three days with them in attendance. This year the list actually ballooned up to 63 total prospects with three extra invitees getting the last minute call to join the group due to a miscue.
Over the past four years the NBA Draft Combine has shown some semblance of consistency to the draft itself.
Since 2009 the NBA Draft Combine has provided 85.4% of the picks in the draft. That is 205 of the 240 total draft picks. Not a slam dunk, but those invited are typically the ones that hear their name on draft night from either David Stern or Adam Silver. The 14.6% that are not invited (or the 35 players) are in most cases the European stash players picks that we all know and love or international prospects that are not able to attend because of scheduling conflicts with their teams overseas.
This year only Rudy Gobert (France) and Dennis Schroeder (Germany) were invited as non-college prospects. They are not the only top level international prospects this year as Sergey Karasev (Russia), Dario Saric (Croatia), Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France), Livio Jean-Charles (France), and Lucas Nogueira (Brazil) are all first round talents.
Here is a full list of the participants that will be updated with measurements as they are released:
Thursday: ESPNU from 7am-2pm local time
Friday: ESPNU from 7am-2:30pm local time
It is not just the international talent that will be noticeably absent from the Combine as three Top 10 talents will not be able to do more than general measurements. Nerlens Noel, Anthony Bennett, and Alex Len all had surgery to repair injuries that will keep them off the court for the Combine.
Does that matter?
No, it does not. The Combine is not competitive by nature from an athletic standpoint and is basically a dog and pony show for prospects to talk to the media, teams, and get their official measurements.
The only way prospects can have a bad Combine "performance" is if they do not measure out well for their position or insert their own foot into their mouth. See Travis Leslie for that one from back in 2011 when he was insulted with a Tony Allen comparison. The same Tony Allen that became a vital member of the Boston Celtics NBA Championship in 2008 and this years Defensive Player of the Year runner-up. Where is Travis Leslie today?
What matter? Size matters.
A few prospects to keep an eye on to see how they measure out in the NBA's game of inches are Victor Oladipo (listed at 6-5), Trey Burke (listed at 6-1), Shane Larkin (listed at 5-11), Isaiah Canaan (listed at 6-0), Andre Roberson (listed at 6-7), and Cody Zeller (listed at 6-11) to see if they lose and inch or two.
Losing an inch gives up a mile in the NBA, especially for point guards like Burke, Larkin, and Canaan. The gap between finishing at the rim in college and finishing in the NBA are spread about as far apart as possible. Playing the point guard position at 5-10 or 5-9.75 is immensely more difficult than at 6-2 or 6-4 as the position has trended more towards over the past half decade.
Lottery Picks in Attendance
Despite the lack of four potential lottery picks due to injury and international team responsibilities; the top prospects will be in attendance for the most part. They will only do their due diligence with measurements, but Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, Shabazz Muhammad, Cody Zeller, and Mason Plumlee will all be in Chicago.
Because of the few that will not be in attendance others will have a chance to make an impression on teams to take them in the lottery.
Fringe lottery talents like Jamaal Franklin, C.J. McCollum, Gorgui Dieng, Kelly Olynyk, and Schroeder all have a chance to rise up. Franklin, Dieng, and Schroeder are terrific athletes that can open eyes while McCollum and Olynyk can silence doubters about their perceived limitations athletically.
Late first rounders for Suns fans
As of today I have the Suns taking Victor Oladipo and Lucas Nogueira in the most current Mock Draft that was updated today. Depending on how the team handles their lottery pick there will be a nice allotment of talent at No. 30 for them to choose from.
If they go small (Oladipo) early then some potential big men for them to consider are Nogueira (C, Brazil), Steven Adams (C, Pittsburgh), Richard Howell (PF, N.C. State), Jaiteh (F/C, France), and sleeper Colton Iverson (C, Colorado State). All could be groomed to replace or back-up Marcin Gortat.
Say they go big early, then Allen Crabbe (SG, California), Brandon Paul (SG, Illinois), Lorenzo Brown (G, N.C. State), Tim Hardaway Jr. (G/F, Michigan) and sleeper Nemanja Nedovic (G, Serbia) become the targets.