First, Wiggins, Embiid, and Parker withdrew from the combine. Now, there are more lottery picks that are going to follow suit.
Sources: Randle, Exum, Gordon, Vonleh, Ennis, McDermott, Stauskas unlikely to participate in drills at NBA Draft Combine
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 12, 2014
That is, essentially, all of the projected lottery picks skipping workouts of combine testing. Now, all lottery teams need to rely on actual gametape, improvement, interviews, and work ethic to assess a player. NFL combine testing reveals a lot about a player athletically, enough to boost a player’s stock into the 1st round despite being a total project player. The same has happened for previous NBA players in the past, even if the projected upside isn’t fulfilled. The term, “Best Athlete Available,” used to be a phrase that general managers would stick to if they weren’t sure of a player’s talent. At the very least, a team would draft a guy that is capable of being on par with NBA athletes.
The term, “Best Player Available,” is a subjective term. Teams want a combination of size, skills, athleticism, and intangibles. Now, the athletic portion cannot be measured in a constant environment compared to other draftees. Rather, athleticism needs to be gauged in terms of game-time athleticism. Sometimes, players will score shockingly well athletically, but not use all of that athleticism on the NBA floor. Other times, players may not score so well in terms of lateral agility or maximum vertical ability, but they use the best of their agility or vertical ability as much as possible on the floor. Do you really see Michael Carter-Williams‘ 41″ vertical on fast break? No. But, you can bet you see all of Terrence Jones‘ 30+ inch vertical ability when he goes to rebound, block a shot, or dunk on a defender.
There’s one player though, that hasn’t withdrawn. He too, is a projected lottery pick. The fact that he’s willing to step up to the challenge and reveal who he is as a player speaks volumes of him as a person.
His name is Marcus Smart. Perhaps, his stock just went up.
It’s tough enough that the Lakers don’t have their official pick position. Now, the lottery is far more unpredictable than it was before.