2022 NBA Draft Combine Preview
The NBA Combine is here and I cannot wait for it all. Measurements, cone drills, vertical leaps, shooting drills, and 5-on-5 scrimmages. Here is what I'm keeping an eye on this week in Chicago.
This time of the year is always hectic for draft nerds, so buckle up. If you are reading this or if you subscribe to No Ceilings (first off, thank you!), then you probably already know that the 2022 NBA Draft Combine starts today. The event is the first step in the draft hysteria that will be circulating the interweb non-stop leading up to draft night on June 23rd. Measurements, vertical leaps, 5-on-5 scrimmages, pro-days, empty gym workout videos, prospects staying in, prospects dropping out; this is the home stretch.
Given that, I wanted to give you all my thoughts on some things I am keeping my eyes on over the next couple of days. The NBA announced they expect 76 participants this year, which is a huge number, so there will be plenty to talk about heading into the combine!
The Top 4
Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr., and Jaden Ivey will all be in attendance at the NBA Draft Combine, but will any participate in anything? The trend is for the top prospect(s) to skip all the workouts and 5-on-5, so I assume all these guys will as well. However, them being in attendance could mean some do end up participating in something. Is it measurements? Shooting drills? Athletic testing? Not sure, but I’m excited to hopefully see one of them in some sort of action this week. In my opinion, Jaden Ivey would have the most to gain from participating, given his athletic ability. If he showed some more poise and playmaking skills in 5-on-5 settings, he could play himself into being the top pick in the draft.
G-League Elite Camp Call Ups
The G-League Elite Camp has some talented alumni who are currently important players for their NBA teams, including Jose Alvarado, Max Strus, Terance Mann, and Oshae Brissett. As of writing this, Marcus Sasser and Jared Rhoden seem to be the standouts thus far at the G-League Elite Camp, and I think both should receive Combine invites. Honestly, if Sasser was healthy this past season, I think he would have already been at the Combine and probably close to a first-round pick, so not surprising. Jared Rhoden is a solidly built wing who is a worker, especially on defense; so another guy whose good showing in this setting was not shocking. Both prospects offer up intriguing sets of skills that can translate pretty easily to the NBA (Sasser’s shooting and Rhoden’s defense), so I am hoping to see them get the call up to the Combine.
(Editor’s Note: Both Sasser and Rhoden received Combine invites as of Tuesday night, per Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated.)
International Men of Mystery
This isn’t the most lauded international draft class in terms of star power; however, there are a plethora of intriguing players who will be at the NBA Draft Combine. Ousmane Dieng and Leonard Miller are the two I’m most excited to see, and I’m hoping they play 5-on-5. Both are fascinating young prospects with rare combinations of size, skills, and tools. Dieng’s stock has been on a steady rise given his better play later in the NBL season; meanwhile, Miller has exploded onto the scene at Nike Hoop Summit, and his stock has climbed because he was officially declared eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft. It will be interesting to see what each prospect does at the Combine because both should measure extremely well, and I also think the free-flowing 5-on-5 style of play at the combine suits both of their games extremely well.
Below is the full list of international prospects who will be at the NBA Combine this week. All of which are worthy of your attention:
Every year there seems to be a guy who ends up staying in the draft even though he doesn’t seem to be a lock for a first-round selection. We already received the Woj bomb that Max Christie is staying in the NBA Draft and hiring an agent. Christie is the perfect example of a guy who may have gotten a promise from a team in the first round, even before the combine. Christie had an underwhelming freshman season at Michigan State, but there is no denying the talent. His jump shot is beautiful, but the shooting numbers are ugly. He showed some solid defensive awareness and effort, but he’s still a little underdeveloped physically. It seems like most people in the draft media realm have a second-round grade on Christie, but NBA teams (or just one team) are higher on him. There will certainly be more names popping up about staying in post-combine that might be a surprise to some people, so be on high alert for #PromiseSZN.
For my money, Patrick Baldwin Jr. is the guy I am circling to receive a promise at some point. I don’t think his stock ever gets back to the preseason top five projections, but if he plays well at the Combine, then he could easily play himself back into a first-round selection. Showing defensive effort, staying engaged, knocking down shots, and just playing hard will do wonders for Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s draft stock. It would not surprise me if we get another Woj bomb during (or right after) the combine, saying that Patrick Baldwin Jr. will be staying in the 2022 NBA Draft and is hiring an agent.
It wouldn’t be a combine if we didn’t talk about measurements. Every year, people get obsessed over measurements. We all want to see how close these guys are to their listed height but more importantly, do they have the wingspan and standing reach that front offices obsess over.
The guys I am most excited to see measure out are actually on the smaller side. Remember last year when Sharife Cooper “measured” in at 6’3.5” at the combine? That was a fun few hours. Jean Montero and Kennedy Chandler stand out to me in this year’s class. Both seem to be undersized, but just how small are they? Do they still have the length where the height won’t matter as much for certain things? These are the questions I am looking forward to getting clarity on this week.
Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin are the two lottery prospects who I am focused on the most when it comes to measurements. If Daniels does end up measuring closer to 6’8” vs. 6’6” paired with the rumored 6’11” wingspan, it could impact his stock greatly—especially for teams who think he has primary playmaker upside. For Mathurin, I have seen him listed at 6’6” and 6’7” in various places, which are both solid heights for a guy projected to be more of an off-ball shooting wing. If he measures at either of those numbers, I think it would firmly keep him where he’s currently projected in the Top 10. However, if he somehow comes in a little lower near 6’5” and the wingspan isn’t as long as expected, it could scare some teams away and have him slip a few spots.
The number one guy I have my eye on, and the player who I think will shoot up draft boards after the combine, is Shaedon Sharpe. There’s no doubt he will test out great in the athletic drills, and I think the measurements will be fine. If he decides to do shooting drills, I expect him to also look great in that setting, as his jumper is pure. The 5-on-5 setting is the one area where this prediction might not come to fruition. However, he may be eye-popping enough to some scouts that it may not even matter. Given that the kid hasn’t played competitive basketball in almost a year, he’ll probably get some benefit of the doubt if he ends up playing poorly. If he does great in drills, measurements, AND 5-on-5, I guarantee there will be some Shaedon Sharpe #1 pick buzz going around the internet.