The N.F.L.’s combine for draft prospects has done nothing but grow in stature in recent years, with rabid fans packing stadiums to watch 40-yard dashes. Now, the N.B.A. draft combine is starting to move in that direction, though it has a long way to go to reach that level of popularity. But it does have almost all of the top prospects, extensive coverage on ESPN and the support of the league.
What You Need to Know About the N.B.A. Draft Combine
Where and when is the combine? The combine begins on Wednesday and runs through Sunday in Chicago at Quest Multisport, a sports facility.
Can I watch it? For hours. ESPN2 will show the combine Thursday and Friday from 3 to 7 p.m., Eastern time. The event will also be streamed here. Maria Taylor will host.
What happens there? The prospects for the N.B.A. draft will scrimmage and be tested on skills like the vertical leap. They will also be measured and have medical examinations. It will all take place under the watchful eyes of N.B.A. coaches and executives eager to find the next Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Who’s participating? More than 60 players are scheduled to lace them up. Among them are the possible top-five picks Jaren Jackson Jr. of Michigan State, Marvin Bagley III of Duke, Michael Porter Jr. of Missouri, Trae Young of Oklahoma and Mohamed Bamba of Texas. Among the other notables on hand will be Jalen Brunson of national champion Villanova, Devonte Graham of Kansas and Grayson Allen of Duke.
Who’s missing? Deandre Ayton of Arizona and Luka Doncic of Slovenia, the two leading candidates to be chosen No. 1, are passing. “If you think there’s anything here that would hurt you, don’t come,” Coach John Calipari of Kentucky said last year. “If it doesn’t help you to play, then don’t play.”
How crucial is it? While the combine may help a team find a second-rounder or lead it to shuffle the order of some players, it is not a be-all and end-all. Private meetings between players and teams may have more of an impact.
Are all these players going to be drafted? No. Only 60 players total are drafted, although some of the combine players could make a team as a free agent. Underclassmen also still have the right to change their minds and return to college, although they must decide by 10 days before the draft.
What is a good score in these drills? Last year’s top performers were Donovan Mitchell of Louisville with a standing vertical leap of 36½ inches and a three-quarter sprint of 3.01 seconds; Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky with a maximum vertical leap of 44½ inches; Frank Jackson of Duke with a shuttle run of 2.7 seconds; and Nigel Williams Goss of Gonzaga with a lane agility drill of 10.42 seconds. Only Mitchell was a first-rounder though.
Diallo will be back to defend his leaping crown this year, as he opted to return to Kentucky last year.
When is the N.B.A. draft? June 21.