The NBA Draft Combine starts up on Tuesday and that will charge up the NBA Mock Draft 2017 speculation even more. Sixty-seven prospects are expected to attend the test of athleticism, health, and basketball skills with several notable players skipping the event. The expected No. 1 pick, Washington Huskies freshman Markelle Fultz, is going to participate, although not in a particular aspect of the Draft Combine. Also, three of the players expected to be selected in the NBA Draft after Fultz will not be present for the event.
On Saturday, The Sporting News reported that UCLA standout Lonzo Ball won’t be on the NBA Draft Combine attendance list in Chicago, Illinois this week. Neither will Kansas’ Josh Jackson or Duke’s Jayson Tatum, as all three, who are expected to be drafted within the top five picks, will opt to stay away. Other top prospects who won’t be there include North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith, Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen, and Kentucky’s Malik Monk. The reasoning is that these players realize they probably won’t make a difference in their draft status by showing up at the event.
That may beg the question, why is the current consensus top pick even attending the event? Fultz will probably only be participating in athletic and medical testing or team interviews. That means he won’t be putting himself at risk by being part of five-on-five situations like many other prospects. It’s being called a “low-risk scenario” for the standout guard who could end up a member of Boston Celtics, L.A. Lakers, Phoenix Suns, or whoever else snags the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery.
The prospect who could really help or hurt himself the most at this week’s event is Hamidou Diallo. The NY Rens high school senior is currently listed in the mock draft on Draft Express as the No. 36 pick, which could have him land with the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, or another team in that region of the drafting order. Just like Fultz, Diallo won’t take part in the five-on-five aspect of the event. However, his stock could be improved with a great showing at the NBA Draft Combine.
Diallo is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Queens, New York, who is just nearing 19-years-old, and while he enrolled to play in college, he didn’t participate this past season. His most recent stats were 18.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and two assists per game for his senior year at high school. As with most prospects with no college experience not named “LeBron James,” he’s still got some work to do in terms of his jumper, ball-handling, and passing skills. However, the potential is definitely there and the ability to really impress teams at this week’s event could give him a major boost from testing the waters.
CBS Sports recently reported that some scouts believe Diallo could be selected in the 20s in this year’s NBA Draft, and that could even improve more this week based on his combine performance. If he ends up not doing quite so well and decides he wants to continue to improve his skills, the prospect can choose to opt out of the NBA Draft and continue on with his chosen path. He’s among the latest “one and done” recruits for John Calipari at the University of Kentucky. Two of the Wildcats’ freshmen players from this past season are now considered top 10 or even top six draft picks this year with De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
The NBA Draft Combine for 2017 starts on Tuesday, May 9, and runs through Sunday, May 14. The five-on-five games, as well as the strength and agility drills, are held at Chicago’s Quest Multisport on Thursday and Friday. In addition to Markelle Fultz, other top players expected to attend include Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, North Carolina forward Justin Jackson, and Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac. A full list of all players attending the event is available at the NBA.com website.
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