by Rob Joyce
As the rules for invitees have been adapted, the NBA Combine is becoming a bigger showcase every year. With the ability for college basketball players to declare for the draft without signing an agent, they can go through the entire process – including the combine – and return to school if they need more seasoning.
With over 60 players in attendance in Chicago last weekend, here’s who helped their stock the most heading into June’s draft:
One of players still without an agent, the Duke freshman helped his case to declare for the NBA. The 19-year-old had the second-highest max vertical leap at the combine (42 inches) and had a nice five-on-five performance (13 points, four assists, one turnover). He’s still likely a late first-rounder, but his stock is a lot higher than it was heading into Chicago.
Much of the NBA draft hype, especially for the freshmen coming out, belongs to “potential”. Anigbogu (first name pronounced “EE-Kay”) didn’t put up gaudy numbers at UCLA – in fact he didn’t even average five points a game. He has a 7-foot-6 wingspan to make up for a slight lack of height, and still being 18 years old, teams are willing to take a risk on the long and strong guys who need some refinement with their skills.
Bell had a national coming out party as he helped lead Oregon to its first Final Four since 1939 and he carried that through the combine. In testing he was the second-most agile player, and had the second-highest max vertical leap among all forwards. In the five-on-fives, he showed off his continued offensive improvement to complement his bread-and-butter with five blocked shots on defense.
Coming out of Utah, Kuzma signed with an agent despite not having a great draft stock. He went a long way towards easing many minds, shining in the five-on-five scrimmages. He led all scorers in Game 2 with 20 points, including three three-pointers. At 6-foot-9 he showed flashes of what a stretch-four needs to be in today’s NBA.
The former Indiana Hoosier did all he could to secure his stock without actually performing in any drills. His sophomore season in Bloomington was cut short because of a torn ACL, so he was limited to merely getting his measurements taken as he continues rehab. Despite not playing in four months, he checked in at 6-foot-7 (with a 7-2 wingspan), 232 pounds with just seven percent body fat. A lockdown defender, he has the ideal small-ball forward body.