After numerous athletic tests, interviews, drills, and scrimmages, the NBA combine came and went in the blink of an eye. With most lottery bound picks choosing to skip the combine, some under the radar players got the chance to shine and showcase their skills for scouts, general managers, coaches, and media members. Here is what we learned:
Hamidou Diallo, the NONE and Done player out of Kentucky by ways of New York City all but guaranteed himself a first round selection if he opts to stay in the draft. Diallo did nothing but impress during the athletic testing portion of the combine, posting the second highest max vertical leap in combine history at 44.5. Compare that vertical to freak-show Zach LaVine’s 41.5 and realize that Diallo is the real deal. If he went to Kentucky to play out his freshman season, he would all but guarantee himself to be a top 10 pick next season. The difference is millions of dollars but also the risk of injury if he does play in Lexington next season. My gut tells me Diallo will stay in the draft and with what we saw with Milwaukee and Thon Maker last season makes me believe some team will be willing to take a chance on Diallo in the top 20.
Donovan Mitchell, a player I was not very high on coming into the draft, was the overall biggest winner of the combine. His wingspan (6’10”) is a big plus, and his ability to defend and shoot makes me to believe he can be an Avery Bradley type player at the next level. Mitchell also posted the fastest three-quarter spring of any player at the combine (3.01 seconds). Mitchell could sneak into the back end of the lottery.
Zach Collins will be a top 10 pick. Collins did not participate in the combine but he is rising fast on draft boards. For a draft built mostly on perimeter players, Collins has a chance to jump Laurri Markkanen and be the first big man off the board come draft day.
Justin Jackson solidified himself as a lottery pick. Jackson had an extremely impressive junior season for the National Champion Tar Heels. He was a first team All-American and the ACC Player of the Year.More importantly, he transformed his game and became a complete scorer. Jackson set a North Carolina single season record by draining 105 three-pointers. Jackson shot well in drills and his shooting will translate into the NBA where he should be a nice role player for years to come.
Lonzo Ball will be a top 3 pick. Regardless of what his father says or does. Ball is the best pure point guard in the draft and perhaps of the last five years. He has the unique ability to make everyone around him better. Forget the hoopla around Lavar. Lonzo is a lock to end up a top 3 pick.