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May 10, 2016

What to watch for at the NBA Draft Combine

In the American sports landscape, the NFL is king. The local football team’s mediocre starting quarterback holds out of voluntary workouts for two weeks, and it instantly becomes national news in addition to dominating the local airwaves. 

Along similar lines, the NFL Scouting Combine in Indy has become a major week-long event every February. The NBA’s version is neither as religiously covered nor as significant from a scouting standpoint at the NFL’s, but the event certainly holds some weight. And it takes place this week in Chicago, starting on Wednesday.

From a Sixers (and Philly standpoint), here are some things to watch for in the next few days:

NBA Scouting Combine

When: Wednesday May 11th to Sunday May 15th

Where: Chicago, Attack Athletics

Television: Thursday and Friday, 3-7 ET., ESPN2

Top two choose different strategies

Like Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor before him (plus a whole bunch of other big names who aren’t current Sixers), Ben Simmons is punting on the combine completely. The top projected picks generally believe they only have something to lose by participating in the combine, something DX’s Jonathan Givony explained well here. Simmons is repped by Rich Paul, LeBron James’ close friend, as is Washington’s Dejounte Murray, who is also skipping out. Domantas Sabonis also has elected to pass on the combine.

On the other hand, Brandon Ingram will be in Chicago, which means he should at least be going through all of the medical tests. And while we don’t know how much of the combine Ingram will actually participate in, his decision to attend even without much to gain is notable.

Lakers pick workouts

Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, and Buddy Hield will be on hand in Chicago, although it’s still unknown which portions of the combine they’ll be participating in. No Dragan Bender, though, which isn’t uncommon…

International workouts

Almost all of the international leagues are still going, which means that almost all of the top international picks won’t be in Chicago. Of the 11 international prospects in the Top 37 of DX’s prospect rankings, only Chinese 7-footer Zhou Qi will be in attendance. With a possible upcoming roster crunch, we have written about the possibility of the Sixers going the draft-and-stash route with one of the late first-round picks.

The names of those missing prospects, by the way:

Bender, DX #3

Timothe Luwawu (6’7”, 205 lbs.), France, DX #13

Furkan Korkmaz, (6’7”, 185 lbs.), Turkey, DX #17

Ivica Zubac, (7’1”, 265 lbs.), Bosnia and Herzegovina, DX #20

Ante Zizic, (6’11”, 240 lbs.), Croatia, DX #23

Juan Hernangomez, (6’9”, 220 lbs.), Spain, DX #26

Petr Cornelie, (6’11”, 220 lbs.), France, DX #27

Guerschon Yabusele, (6’8”, 240 lbs.), France, DX #34

Rade Zagorac, (6’9”, 205 lbs.), Serbia, DX #36

Isaia Cordinier, (6’5”, 190 lbs.), France, DX #37

What will we get from 5-on-5? 

The NBA brought back 5-on-5 to the combine last year, and the hope is that some of the players that the Sixers would consider in the 20s will participate. The league does require prospects that are projected as borderline first-round picks to play in the 5-on-5 games.

Looking back at the 2015 NBA Draft, only one first-round pick (Terry Rozier, 16th) played any competitive basketball at the combine. Most of the players drafted in the 30s played, though, including Richaun Holmes.

Local flavor

Three Big 5 products will be participating in Chicago, the highest-rated of which is DeAndre’ Bembry. Over at Bleacher Report, Jonathan Wasserman had an interesting piece wondering whether Bembry could become the next Jimmy Butler in terms of a do-it-all wing drafted late in the first round that figures out how to shoot in the pros. Josh Hart, still trying to figure out whether to go pro or defend the belt as a senior back on the Main Line, will be there, too.

Coming off an All-Tournament Team nod at Portsmouth, Isaiah Miles’ incredible year continued with an invite to the combine:

Make sure to check back for our coverage of the combine and the NBA Draft in general over the next month.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann