Draft Combine: Day 1
Run, jump, shoot. Some prospects decide to participate in NBA Draft Combine to prove doubters wrong or to get that extra face time with NBA personnel. It can really pay off for a lot of players and hurts some depending on how they perform. At the end of the day, this is just their first NBA practice. These drills make big impressions in the NFL Draft process; in the NBA it is just another measuring stick.
Today we saw the prospects compete in some generic shooting drills and run some fast-breaks. A few players stood out, but a lot of it was just going through the motions and having interviews with NBA teams.
Group 1 – Shooting Guards
(James Anderson, Jordan Crawford, Manny Harris, Xavier Henry, Dominique Jones, Darington Hobson, Sylven Landesberg, Andy Rautins and Lance Stephenson)
Nobody in this group really had any “wow” moments. This is not the most talented group in the draft and when the cream of the crop, Evan Turner, isn’t here it looks even less impressive. James Anderson and Xavier Henry, the only possible lottery talents in this group, didn’t show us anything we didn’t already know.
Darington Hobson was seen as a possible late lottery pick before he injured his hand late in the season and now has a second round grade by most. He came into the combine today with the mentality that he was the best player on the court. He was running hard, playing with active hands on defensive drills and trying to outwork his opposition. He even drew a comparison to Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway from the commentators on hand.
Lance Stephenson is a guy everyone wants to move up and like because he has such and NBA body. His body language was very nonchalant and he was just going through the motions. As a high school phenom, Stephenson was in DVD’s and breaking records; today he might not get drafted.
Group 2 – Small Forwards
(Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Damion James, Luke Babbitt, Stanley Robinson, Devin Ebanks and Lazar Hayward)
Paul George might have replaced Hassan Whiteside as the prospect who not everyone knows about but might move into the top 10 picks in the draft. He nailed four NBA three-point shots well behind the line with no effort. With a range of comparisons from Trevor Ariza to Tracy McGrady, George is a very interesting prospect.
Group 3 – Power Forwards
(Trevor Booker, Luke Harangody, Derrick Caracter, Patrick Patterson, Gani Lawal, Ryan Richards, Craig Brackins and Jarvis Varnado)
The guy who created the most buzz was English power forward Ryan Richards. Richards showed great shooting touch and wowed the crowd of NBA personnel as he ran the floor. It will be interesting to see if a team grabs him early and stashes him in Europe for a couple years, as he is only 19 years old.
Group 4 – Centers
(Soloman Alabi, Keith Gallon, Jerome Jordan, Artsiom Parakhouski, Dexter Pittman and Larry Sanders)
No real stand outs in this group, as all the top talent sat out today and watched their peers compete. A rising name, Keith “Tiny” Gallon, showed he can shoot three and was terrific on the perimeter. As he started running the floor he showed his fatigue and that he is out of shape. If he can improve on this, Gallon might be able to have a Channing Frye-type impact on games.
Group 5 – Point Guards
(Eric Bledsoe, Sherron Collins, Greivis Vasquez, Terrico White, Willie Warren, Avery Bradley, Armon Johnson and Mikhail Torrance)
Not known as a deep point guard class, this group did not look too bad. Eric Bledsoe proved if he had his own team last year, he would be a high lottery pick. Bledsoe is a very good athlete in his own right and showed this in several drills.
On Friday, May 21st at 10am EST we will see almost all the draft prospects during the running and jumping tests. Hopefully we will see John Wall, Evan Turner and Derrick Favors on the court doing what they do best.