Risers and Fallers From Chicago’s NBA Draft Combine as NBA Draft Nears
CBS Sports Jeff Goodman takes a look at the winners and losers from the NBA Draft Combine:
CHICAGO – Just about every NBA executive converged on the campus of Illinois-Chicago for the past two days to watch most of the top prospects eligible for this year’s NBA Draft in the Combine.
It was fairly uneventful — with 11 of the elite players choosing to bail on the on-court portion — and the NBA dummying down the event to what was primarily a series of shooting drills.
However, there were still clearly those that improved their stock — and those that didn’t do themselves any favors. Here are a dozen winner and a dozen more than came up short:
1) Damian Lillard – Already regarded as arguably the top point guard in what is a weak floor leader crop, the Weber State star likely solidified his spot. He showed swagger — and the best pure perimeter shot in the entire camp (yes, better than John Jenkins). He also displayed a high IQ — which should enable him to be able to effectively run a team at the next level.
2) Dion Waiters – Unless this is one hell of a bluff from agent Rob Pelinka, the Syracuse guard has a promise from someone in the lottery. Maybe it’s Houston, Portland, maybe Phoenix. Whatever the case, Waiters was told to leave Chicago on Thursday — so he’s a clear winner just for being able to avoid another day full of prodding interviews.
3) Royce White – The NBA teams have asked me about White’s mental makeup all season. He’s had some issues, but White is engaging and takes accountability for his past actions. No one, according to several NBA guys, was more impressive in the interview process than the Iowa State point forward.
4) Perry Jones III – He could have bailed on the combine, but Bill Duffy and PJ3 decided to participate — and it paid off. Smart move because Jones will always thrive in a workout setting — and that’s exactly what happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t go somewhere in the Top 10 with his length and upside.
5) Meyers Leonard – He checked in at 7-foot-1 and change, had a 9-foot-plus standing reach and was also impressive on the court. He played hard, showed his athleticism and agility and likely solidified himself in the lottery. Toughness remains a question, but Leonard certainly helped himself in Chicago.
6) Andrew Nicholson – No one looked better in the workout setting than the former St. Bonnies star from Canada. He’s so skilled — and made shots from everywhere. At one point, I watched him drill 15 consecutive shots from just about every spot on the court. Strength is a concern at the next level, but he looked phenomenal in terms of his ability to score the ball in a variety of ways.
7) Terrence Ross – I pegged Washington’s wing as a lottery pick prior to the start of the season — and he’s got a chance to move into the top 14. Ross has the length, athleticism and also the perimeter shot. He made more shots than most — and he also did a nice job on the defensive end.
8) Darius Miller – I admit I pegged Miller as a future overseas guy prior to the year, but he’s progressed, matured and developed. Miller showed he can do it all at Kentucky — and did it again in front of all the NBA guys. He made shots from deep, provided consistent effort and also got after it on the defensive end. He’s likely the key to UK getting a record-setting six guys into the first round.
9) Jared Sullinger, Thomas Robinson, Austin Rivers and Bradley Beal — NBA guys were concerned how they would measure, but each wound up breathing a sigh of relief. Sully checked in at 6-foot-9, T-Rob at 6-foot-8 and 3/4, Rivers at 6-foot-5 and Beal at 6-foot-4 and 3/4.
10) Moe Harkless – Was somewhat of a mystery man among NBA teams, but fared well on the court — both from a production and maturity standpoint. Harkless was also impressive in the interview process — according to several NBA guys who spent a half-hour with him on Thursday afternoon.
11) Robbie Hummel – The Purdue star blew out a sneaker. Blew it out completely. Most would have been rattled. Not Hummel — who has blown out his knee on two occasions. He had to borrow a pair from Quincy Miller to take the vertical jump. Hummel was a winner because he did what he does well, make all the right decisions, drained shots — and carried himself well. And he wasn’t even wearing a knee brace.
12) Howard Moore – He’s the head coach at UIC — where the event was hosted. Moore had all the top NBA guys in his gym for a couple days and if I was in his place, I’d make that clear to everyone I was recruiting.