Stars, studs and duds at the NBA combine
Stars, studs & duds at the NBA combine
By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSN Celtics Insider
CHICAGO – Every draft combine known to man has involved some players who as they say, out-kicked their coverage. So, it comes as no surprise that there were a number of players who caught the eye of NBA teams this week for all the right reasons.
And then there were others whose play left a lot to be desired, and others who went through just the measurements portion of the combine and got back results that will be seen as potential red flags to NBA teams.
Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from the NBA combine this week in Chicago:
Joel Bolomboy, F, Weber State (pictured): The 6-foot-9 forward ranked among the top players in several key athletic measurements such as lane agility, shuttle run, 3/4 sprint and standing vertical leap. He came into the combine with an uncertain draft status but following his measurements and strong play in the 5-on-5 games, he looks like a safe pick in the second round who could play his way into the end of the first with strong individual workouts.
Cheick Diallo, F, Kansas: After the combine, Diallo is now reportedly all-in when it comes to the draft after giving some thought to returning to Lawrence, Kansas next season. His play at the combine was strong on many levels. He is an athletic, rim-running, rim-protector which was evident by him averaging 13.5 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots at the combine. He looks like a late first-round pick who might work his way up to the late-teens of the first round.
Robert Carter Jr., G/F, Maryland: He led all players at the combine in scoring with a 17.5 points per game average, displaying the kind of inside-outside game that was instrumental in him coming into the combine as a middle-to-late second round prospect. Similar performances in the coming weeks through workouts could see him sneak into the latter stages of the first round.
Ben Bentil, F, Providence College (pictured): There was some uncertainty coming in if he would measure out well enough to be a legit NBA stretch forward. He measured 6-8.25 with shoes with a 7-1.5 wing span, not to mention he tied Dedric Lawson for the longest hands (9.5 inches). He was strong all week, averaging 16 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 33 percent from 3-point range. He told CSNNE.com that he hasn’t decided yet on whether he will stay in the draft. But league sources told CSNNE.com that they anticipate he will stay in the draft based on them believing he will be at worst, a second-round pick.
Michael Gbinije, G, Syracuse: Proving he could be an adequate man-to-man defender after playing in Syracuse’s zone coverage for years, was a focal point of Gbinije at the combine. He won’t be drawing any comparisons to defensive studs Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart, but he more than held his own. And even more important, he shot the ball well in a variety of scenarios (off the dribble, catch and shoot, going to the rim) which can only help solidify him to be among the 60 names called on draft night.
Kay Felder, G, Oakland University: The numbers weren’t eye-popping for Felder, but he showed some legit athleticism and toughness, which are essential if you’re 5-9 trying to make it in the NBA. Felder had the best maximum vertical leap at the combine, with 44 inches. He also fared well in the 3/4 sprint, finishing in 3.15 seconds which was second only to Gbinije. Another two or three inches in height, and we’re talking about a first-round lock. Felder’s going to have to really wow teams in workouts for them to look past his height, a battle that the Celtics' Isaiah Thomas is familiar with and one that he has spoken with Felder about.
Kyle Wiltjer, F, Gonzaga: Wiltjer is a stretch big and he didn’t waste any time trying to showcase that part of his game. He took 27 field goal attempts in two games, 18 of which were 3s (he made seven of them). He’s one of the better big man shooters in this draft, but conditioning is a concern especially when you see he doesn’t carry a lot of weight (242.8 pounds), yet his body fat is on the north side of 15 percent.
Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky (pictured): Being an undersized point guard at 5-10 is challenging enough. Throw in the fact that Ulis came into the combine weighing 149.2 pounds and it gives any team interested in drafting him a moment to pause. Through workouts he’s going to have to prove that what he lacks in height and weight he can compensate for that in other areas.
Nigel Hayes, F, Wisconsin: He is among the underclassmen who are considering a return to school depending on the type of feedback he gets from NBA teams. He didn’t look particularly comfortable in either game he played in at the combine. You love a 6-6 guy with a 7-3 wingspan, but Hayes didn’t do enough to prove he can be a wing player at this level after spending most of his college career around the basket.