NBA teams and evaluators were a little underwhelmed by last week’s draft combine in Chicago, per Jeremy Woo of ESPN.com (Insider link). A total of 37 prospects opted not to take part in scrimmages, which resulted in some “watered-down” games, Woo writes, noting that executives felt the level of competition was lower than in most recent years.
The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement will introduce guidelines that require top prospects to attend and participate in more aspects of the annual combine, but they still won’t be compelled to play in scrimmages. It remains unclear just how much the new CBA will require of prospects — Woo says it’s hard to imagine the league forcing a top-10 prospect to go through combine drills.
For what it’s worth, while Sam Vecenie of The Athletic believes the scrimmages matter and was “dumbfounded” by the fact that certain players opted out of them, he says that medical evaluations and in-person interviews are the aspects of the combine that NBA teams care about the most.
Here’s more on the 2023 NBA draft:
- Dillon Jones was the big winner of the G League Elite Camp earlier this month, according to Vecenie, who says the Weber State wing has gone from an afterthought to a prospect who has a very real chance to be a second-round pick.
- San Jose State forward Omari Moore will keep his name in the draft rather than take advantage of his final year of NCAA eligibility, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The No. 69 prospect on ESPN’s big board, Moore isn’t a lock to be drafted, but is highly regarded enough that he could get an opportunity to make an NBA roster, perhaps on a two-way contract.
- Kansas guard Kevin McCullar, who ranks right behind Moore on ESPN’s board at No. 70, will use his final year of college eligibility, having decided to withdraw from the draft and return to the Jayhawks for his “super-senior” season, according to a press release from the school. He’ll be automatically draft-eligible in 2024.
- SMU guard Zhuric Phelps will return to school for his junior year, as Joseph Hoyt of The Dallas Morning News writes. Phelps announced in April that he would test the draft waters, but didn’t show up on the NBA’s official early entrant list last month, so there was some confusion about whether or not he actually declared. Either way, he won’t be draft-eligible in 2023.