Posted May 14, 2014 10:38 AM
CHICAGO -- If top prospects Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins refuse to show up at the pre-Draft combine that begins today, there will be disappointment but little criticism.
Front offices stopped being fazed by agents and the Draft long ago. They know how agents assert more control over the process with each year and how there is nothing the NBA or frustrated teams can do about it. It's greeted by a shrug or a dismissive hand wave now -- not decried as audacious.
A discussion behind closed doors may be the extent of the participation of Duke product Parker and his former Kansas teammates Embiid and Wiggins, who are projected by many clubs as the top three picks.
And, in the key point, skipping the biggest one-stop scouting event leading to the June 26 selections will have no real impact. It is a potential major problem for the NBA because this could be the start of a trend for future years. And declining to so much as take physicals raises red flags for Embiid coming off a fractured back and Parker after a season when the pros took note of conditioning problems. But all will be forgotten for the players if the medical exams and individual workouts in the weeks ahead go well.
"For a kid that's a late-first-round pick, it's worth it" one executive said of the combine. "You get 30 teams to get to interview you. You get the physicals done. You don't have to go to each team and do weight lifting and strength and conditioning and submit to a physical everywhere you go. Can you imagine what a nightmare that is? From an efficiency standpoint, for the players that have a big range, that's great. But for a guy that's first or second in the draft, would you? It's really not that necessary."
And teams won't be scared off by the decision to duck Chicago.
"I wouldn't be," the executive said. "If I was one of those two teams that was going to look at those guys, I would do it anyway. I'm going to have them in and have them do it anyway and then it's for my own private use. And for those guys who only need to submit to one or two physicals, it's not going to kill them."
Approximately 60 participants are scheduled to attend this week. Players projected for the lottery, and even some who wrongly think they will go that high, typically skip the basketball drills on Thursday and Friday to protect their draft stock, but at least show to take physicals and meet with teams. This time, though, the three top prospects won't even submit to medical testing.
Instead, they will wait for the lottery on Tuesday to set the order for the first 14 picks, then probably schedule for the top two or three teams. Those clubs then have an advantage by gaining medical information others will not have and being able to float whatever rumor they want about whether Parker was in shape or how well Embiid moved, or if he is doing full workouts by then after missing the end of the Kansas season with the back injury.
A meeting of top executives from basketball operations of each team will be part of the Chicago gathering. The topic of players not coming to the combine and whether it will become the norm in the future is expected to come up.
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