Unless you're a diehard fan or an NBA employee, you may not even know the NBA Draft Combine is like, a real thing.
But it is, and the New Orleans Hornets made some headlines this week for finally putting their foot down on the all the prospects treating the combine like a formality. According to Draft Express' Johnathan Givony, New Orleans canceled one-on-one interviews with every prospect—including 13 of Draft Express' 14 projected lottery picks—that declined to participate in the physical portion of the NBA combine. This led to three thoughts from Givony:
1) Good for the Hornets for taking a stand.
2) Doesn't every team need to do this to have any real effect?
3) Are the Hornets only hurting themselves?
After the jump, three questions of my own.
Why does the NBA need a combine? Unlike the NFL—which features like 250 prospects, many of whom hail from small schools—the NBA draft features about 50 players, most of whom hail from power conferences. The importance of physical fitness tests are debatable even among NFL scouts, but with basketball? That's a really easy way for teams to outthink themselves, falling in love with a guy based on some agility test. Remember: Joe Alexander once graded out with flying colors in all these fitness test. The correlation to basketball is tenuous, to say the least.
Why would any top prospect ever participate? Seriously, what's to gain? If you're a middling prospect looking to shoot up the draft board with an impressive shuttle test, then sure. But otherwise? Who. The. F—. Cares. John Wall could go into hiding for the next six weeks, and he'd still go number one overall. Same with Evan Turner, DeMarcus Cousins, and every other truly elite prospect in the draft. The only thing they could do by participating in this meat market is hurt themselves, literally or figuratively, during the physical testing.
Are the Hornets part of the problem, or the solution? That's a good question. Who can be sure whether the Hornets made this decision because A) They realized the futility of the process or B) They're trying to restore integrity to a process that has become a joke among the best players in the country. It's probably the second one, but in so doing, the Hornets—and the rest of the league—might just realize how little insight the combine actually provides. New Orleans will still have the chance to interview every prospect one-on-one, and have them workout privately. So, even if you skip out altogether, what are you really missing?
As Givony explained, "1) Only one projected lottery pick (Patterson) actually participated. 2) No NBA guy I spoke with feels like he actually learned anything new." So why does this exist again?