As the NBA pre-draft process chugs along, the NBA Draft Combine
marks the next milestone in prospects' journey to draft
The league announced that 76 players have been invited to this
year's combine, which runs from May 16-22 in Chicago. Scouts
and teams will receive an up-close look as prospects undergo
physical testing and compete in five-on-five scrimmages. The NBA
Draft Lottery takes place on May 17, adding more clarity to the
Senior NBA Draft Analyst Matt Babcock answered some questions
about the combine process, prospects to monitor in the events and
more as the pace picks up in this scouting season.
1. How do you approach
scouting the NBA Draft Combine, and what events are most valuable
to your scouting process?
The NBA Draft Combine is an excellent opportunity to see a large
bulk of the draftable prospects all at once. Unfortunately, most
top players don't participate in competitive play. Still, it allows
us to evaluate players looking to move the needle or establish
their draft standing. The NBA Draft Combine is also critical for
prospects who are weighing out whether to stay in the draft or
return to school.
2. Which prospects do you
think could stand out in the athletic testing portions of the
A few of the better athletes in this draft would be Jaden Ivey
from Purdue, Shaedon Sharpe from Kentucky, Bennedict Mathurin from
Arizona and Kendall Brown from Baylor. I'm looking forward to
seeing their test results, as that group of players is about as
athletic as they come.
3. Which prospects do you
think could shine in the 5-on-5 scrimmages?
Well, let's see who decides to play. I've been talking to some
agents who are in the proccess of deciding whether to have their
clients participate in the live-play or not. Last year, Bones
Hyland was the big winner of the live play. He was terrific. His
play at the combine led to him becoming a first-round pick. So to
me, Bones Hyland is a perfect example of why it makes sense for a
player to bet on himself and play in front of the entire NBA.
4. Who do you think has the
most to gain or lose in the combine process?
I think some of the younger players that possess significant
upside but might not have had the opportunity to fully show their
stuff throughout the year have the most to lose. A few guys that
come to mind are Peyton Watson from UCLA, Josh Minott from Memphis,
JD Davison from Alabama and Leonard Miller from Canada. I wouldn't
be surprised to see any of these players go in the first round due
to their raw talent despite not being overly productive this past
5. Are there any draft
entrants you could see surprising people by returning to school or
Everything has been changing so dramatically recently with the
emergence of NIL deals, and I think there could be some good
players who elect to return to school partially as a result of
that. For example, I heard some rumblings that one player is likely
to return to school if he doesn't get a guarantee that he'll be
selected in the first round. I also heard another player is
interested in returning to school if his NIL income gets to a
certain level. I worked as an agent for more than ten years, and I
think a lot of the dialogue between agents, players, parents and
coaches is changing quite a bit. The pros and cons for players
deciding to go pro or stay in school are very different. However, I
think it's all for the better in the long term.
6. How do players prepare for
the NBA Draft Combine? Do they specifically train for certain
Every trainer has their own strategy, but generally, players are
doing workouts comparable to what they'll do at the NBA Draft
Combine and at workouts when they visit teams.
7. Is it possible for
prospects' stock to rise or fall between the end of the college
season and now? If so, why?
Between the college season and now, there hasn't been much
action on the court, so you might be asking what would cause a
player's stock to rise or fall during that time. Well, I'll tell
you: intel. NBA scouts, executives and people like myself spend a
lot of time talking to folks on the phone, trying to learn more
about draft prospects. We're trying to learn more about players'
character, work ethic, habits on and off the court and things like
that on these calls. I think some teams value intel and certain
traits differently than others, but overall, intel certainly plays
a part, and sometimes a significant part, in players' draft value
8. Aside from the combine,
what other important procedures are involved in the pre-draft
process during the month of May?
My process is a little different from a team's, as I don't have
to follow NBA rules or guidelines. During May and June, I typically
travel all around the country to watch prospects work out and get a
chance to sit down and talk with them. It's an essential part of my
evaluation process, but it's also my favorite part. I spend years
watching most of these guys develop. So it's just neat to get an
up-close look at the players and get a chance to speak to them
right before their dreams of being drafted come to fruition. It's
something I don't take for granted. It's certainly a fun part of my
Be sure to check out BasketballNews.com's full 2022 NBA Mock Draft, with profiles for each prospect
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