The NBA Draft Combine starts on Wednesday in Chicago with Ron Baker one of 60-plus invitees. Fred VanVleet was an alternate.
How does the combine work and how are athletes selected?
Bobby Marks of Yahoo.com provides an excellent explanation here. VanVleet’s case was likely hurt by the new rule that allows non-seniors to withdraw from the draft after the combine.
“With a record 162 entries – including 115 college prospects – declaring for the draft because of a change in NCAA rules, teams were forced to prioritize the selection process,” Marks wrote. “Teams focused on underclassmen testing the draft waters first, then international players, underclassmen who had hired agents and, lastly, college seniors. Teams did not want to risk losing a free look at a prospect who could withdraw on May 25. The same strategy applied to international players because it’s a big advantage to evaluate a prospect on U.S. soil instead of traveling overseas. College seniors paid the price with the new eligibility rules. Teams had plenty of info on four-year players and gravitated more to unknown prospects. College seniors also will remain in the draft past May 25, giving teams a full month to work them out.”
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The combine, as Marks points out, is not always the big mover in draft hopes. NBA scouts watched Baker and VanVleet all season (and in past seasons). They talk to WSU coaches. They know all about those two. Both will work out for NBA teams in the weeks leading up to the June 23 draft. Both will likely play in NBA summer leagues.
How will Baker do at the combine?
Anybody who’s been around him for the past five seasons would think he will ace the interview portion. His physical conditioning, strength and footwork should shine. How well will he handle the longer NBA three-point line? How will his ball-handling skills, a minor issue in college, and passing translate to what NBA teams want in a point guard?
Baker appears, if mock drafts are an accurate guide, to be a late second-round prospect.
ESPN2 and ESPN3 will televise the combine on Thursday and Friday from 2-6 p.m.