Thon, Cheick and Ulis: Five observations from the NBA Draft Combine

Thon, Cheick and Ulis: Five observations from the NBA Draft Combine

The NBA Draft Combine came and went in Chicago this week at Quest Multiplex. With most of the top names in the draft opting against participating or speaking with the media there wasn't much of a buzz, but there were plenty of headlines worth breaking down. Here are five observations from Thursday and Friday's open sessions.

1. The rule is beneficial to everyone involved

Having college underclassmen declare for the NBA Draft and go through this combine process is a tremendous tool that players should try to do if they can. Even if some of these players testing the waters need another year of college basketball before they're ready, they get to interview with teams and play in front of personnel from every NBA team. It's a valuable learning tool and a good way for NBA teams to gauge how much a player is growing each year on and off the floor. - SP

2. Thon Maker impresses with media on Friday

The mystery man, Thon Maker, spoke with the media on Friday and knocked his interview out of the park. He was well-spoken, admitted his infamous YouTube mixtape isn't who he really is as a player, and how - despite being 19 years old - he sees himself as a leader. He was one of the best interviews during the two-day availability. He still has plenty to prove - he didn't scrimmage - and his game will likely remain a mystery to teams leading up to the draft. But what teams will know on draft night is Maker is a mature, intelligent prospect oozing with potential. CSN will have his story on Monday. Check for that. - MS

3. Cheick Diallo shows he can play 

After an up-and-down first season at Kansas, freshman big man Cheick Diallo opted to play in 5-on-5 competition and showed he could hold his own. Although it is still a mystery to see how the 6-foot-9 big man will look against complicated half-court sets, Diallo showed he can be productive in an uptempo setting as he moves well on the NBA floor. If Diallo works out well for individual teams he could find himself moving into the first round. - SP

4. Tyler Ulis' up-and-down week in Chicago

Tyler Ulis should hear his name called in the first round at next month's draft. But whether Ulis' measurements and speed times helped or hurt his stock remains to be seen. First, the good. Ulis, standing just shy of 5-foot-9, had a 38-inch maximum vertical leap and was top-12 in all three speed tests. The bad is that he weighed in at 149.2 pounds. Say what you will about his mental and physical toughness (he has both) or his skill set (he was the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year). But it's tough to see a player competing at under 150 pounds. Yes, he'll put on weight at the next level. How much he'll be able to add on without losing what makes him great is still a mystery. - MS

5. Daniel Hamilton shows versatility at combine

UConn sophomore Daniel Hamilton is trying to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Jordan, who played in the league for a few years out of Texas. The 6-foot-8 wing showcased his versatility at the combine this week as Hamilton scored, rebounded and also displayed some of his passing ability. During the season at UConn, Hamilton would frequently put up high-assist games as a distributing wing and could be a nice piece for a team that uses him the right way. - SP

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.

Here's why the Bulls didn't take Michael Porter Jr. last night


Here's why the Bulls didn't take Michael Porter Jr. last night

There was angst and anger among the Bulls fan base following the team's selection of Wendell Carter in Thursday's NBA Draft. Though the team had been linked to Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. - and he was far and away the biggest fan favorite - the Bulls passed on the former No. 1 prospect, opting to play it safe and find a complement to Lauri Markkanen on the frontline.

Porter fell farther than just past the Bulls at No. 7. Cleveland opted for Collin Sexton. The Knicks and Sixers went with wings similar to Porter in Kevin Knox and Mikal Bridges.

Porter didn't hear his name called until the very last selection of the Lottery, with the Nuggets grabbing the 6-foot-10 scorer. It's a dice roll for Denver, but one it can afford after it won 47 games and was Game No. 82 away from making the postseason. They're a team on the rise that doesn't need an immediate contribution from a rookie. And that's good, because Porter might not be contributing at all in his rookie season.

Gar Forman and John Paxson were asked about whether Porter was in consideration at No. 7, and if his medicals played any part in the decision to pass.

And while Forman wouldn't address medical situations, he did say the Bulls were in contact with Porter throughout the draft process.

"We spent time with Mike, he’s a great young man," Paxson said. "We’re not gonna talk about medical things. We go through a diligent process every single year.

"This year we probably had more debate and dialogue as a staff. Varying degrees of opinion were really strong. We wish him the best out in Denver."

Paxson didn't say that "debate and dialogue" necessarily included Porter, but multiple reports said the Bulls weren't interested in Porter when it came down to choosing at No. 7.

And it makes sense. The Bulls are in a position where they're beginning to move along in their rebuild. They needed a contributor, and someone who could play right away. Porter wasn't that player, and he wasn't going to be a great fit with Markkanen and Zach LaVIne anyway.

It'll always be fun to think about what could have been, but the injury risk was simply too high for the Bulls to consider using an important 7th pick on a guy who might not play for 16 months.