The 2017 NBA Draft combine has been underway in the Windy City. With the group of guys that are currently in the draft for UNC, there is a wide-range of dynamics from virtual lock in stock position (Justin Jackson), not knowing if they will hear their name called at the NBA Draft (Meeks & Hicks), and the big man with a decision to make in-between. Let’s discuss a few takeaways from the past few days of the combine.
Justin Jackson goes against KD’s advice
Kevin Durant made headlines this week when a conversation he had with ESPN’s Chris Haynes hit the news. Durant’s advice to players in the draft was to “Stay your ass home, work out, and get better on your own time,” a sentiment fueled by Durant’s own experience during the NBA Draft combine. During the combine he participated in Durant was the only player not able to bench-press 185 pounds, causing strength coaches to laugh at him for his lack of ability to execute. Needless to say this had zero impact on KD’s career as an NBA player, being one of the best players in the game today.
Durant’s comments have created quite a bit of conversation about whether or not the combine actually benefits guaranteed first-round players. During an interview with Justin Jackson, he was asked about KD’s comments about the draft being a waste of time:
“I'm not going to say that. That's KD. He can say pretty much whatever he wants. I'm a guy trying to get drafted to that league. So I'm going to do whatever they asked us to do and whatever they need me to do. Does all this stuff translate? Maybe not. But at the end of the day, they asked us to do this, so I'm going to do it.”
Ironically, Justin Jackson later stated that one of the main things he feels he needs to improve on is getting stronger. Currently Justin Jackson is projected to go somewhere around the 15th and 16th pick in the first round. If he goes 15th, the Portland Trailblazers will be bringing the Texas native to the west coast. Should Portland pass on him, it’s highly likely that Jackson will find himself in the Windy City as the Chicago Bulls seem to be very interested in him. We will see after this weekend if he moves up the draft boards and can be drafted potentially earlier than slated.
Tony Bradley wants a guarantee to go in the first round
The last remaining underclassman not signed with an agent left in the NBA Draft process is Tony Bradley. So far during the draft process Bradley has met with Portland, Oklahoma City, Boston, Milwaukee, Detroit, the New York Knicks, and the Brooklyn Nets. He is currently being told that he can go anywhere between the late first round in the draft to second round. At the time of release of this article, Bradley is currently projected by DraftExpress.com to go as the 40th pick overall to the New Orleans Pelicans.
When Bradley was asked what kind of guarantee he was looking for in order to stay in the draft, Bradley said, “First round.”
Tony Bradley only participated in the conditioning and athletic testing phases this weekend in Chicago due to a slightly tweaked left ankle. Whether or not this has any bearing on his stock moving up remains to be seen, but one would imagine things would stay pretty level as far as that goes. NBA execs are currently saying that if Tony Bradley were to go back to school for one more year, he is more than likely a guaranteed top-15 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The deadline for Bradley to decide whether to withdraw from the draft or sign an agent is June 12th.
Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are making their presence felt
Roy Williams showed up for the 5 on 5 games / combine activities on Friday to support his players in the draft. What he saw in the 5 on 5 game was Kennedy Meeks going off for 19 points and 16 rebounds during his time on the court, being one of the standout players of the exhibition next to Oregon’s Dillon Brooks. Currently Meeks doesn’t show up anywhere on the draft boards, but with a performance like that don’t be surprised if his name comes up a little bit more following the combine.
Isaiah Hicks is another player currently in the NBA Draft combine. Hicks currently doesn’t show up on any draft boards either, and is along with Meeks as what ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla calls a “fringe player” in this draft. Hicks conducted interviews with interview with Golden State, Miami, Milwaukee, Houston, Washington, and the Los Angeles Clippers. Hicks seems to be performing well at the combine, so we will see if he managed to show enough to creep onto the draft boards.