The NBA Draft Combine is complete, and while it doesn’t carry the cachet of the NFL Draft Combine, a lot was learned about the participants that not only will there be a shakeup in the Top 10, but the lottery and late 1st round as well. Here are some winners and losers:
Winner: Zach LaVine, UCLA. Wants to play either guard position, and despite modest numbers with the Bruins coming off the bench, he’s an athletic freak: Rated 2nd in max vertical (41.5) among point guards, tied for 1st in standing vertical (33.5), 1st in lane agility (10.42), 1st in the NBA shuttle (2.8) and 2nd in the 3/4 court sprint (3.19). He’s playing his way into lottery, and depending on how he does in workouts, could he crack the Top 10?
Winner: PJ Hairston, UNC. A forgotten man, unless you pay attention to the NBDL. His defense remains an issue, his athletic ability and shooting ability will trump that. I’m hearing he’s firmly in the 10-20 range right now, and depending on how the draft lottery shakes out Tuesday, yes, the lottery is possible.
Loser: Doug McDermott, Creighton. Only measured at 6-7 3/4, which means there’s zero chance he could be a stretch four and he’s going to be a nightmare defensively against SFs, which we already knew. Loved his record-setting career at Creighton and think he’ll have a lengthy NBA career as a role player off the bench, but I never bought into the lottery hype. Depending on who you talk to, he’s somewhere between Adam Morrison and Chandler Parsons.
Loser: LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State. You leave school early and then show up at the Combine with the highest percentage body fat (16.3) of any player? That’s just embarrassing. Ross has no shot at the 1st round. It looks like he made a really bad decision to leave school early.
Winner: Noah Vonleh, Indiana. A 7-4.25 wingspan (2nd best to Baylor’s Isaiah Austin)! The largest hands of any player at the draft (11.75 width, largest by a 1.25 inches)! He looks to be a pure power forward, one with a nice touch from the perimeter. What you’ll be hearing a lot of this week: Whether Vonleh will be taken ahead of Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon, the other two elite PFs in the draft.
Winner: ESPN. It puts on a terrific production, The Andy Katz workout was well done, and they landed a few big interviews among players and GMs, which was informative.
Loser: ESPN. Tom Penn is a former front office guy and smart and solid in small doses on Sportscenter. But he seems too afraid to be critical or offer take-no-prisoners analysis, perhaps because he’s too cozy with agents/teams or because he wants to return to the NBA one day. Ditto Chad Ford, who appears to take a lot of information verbatim from agents, doesn’t know when he’s getting used, and occasionally comes off looking like a mouthpiece. He faltered greatly when getting into discussions about the players with Fran Fraschilla and Jay Williams.
Winner: Dante Exum, Australia. Looked the part of a studly, athletic guard who has unlimited potential. Well spoken for his age (18!). It’s a wing league now, and the only “Top 3” player I can see Exum vaulting is Joel Embiid, the Kansas center.