NBA Combine 2012: Stars Who Boosted Their Draft Stock the Most at Combine

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NBA Combine 2012: Stars Who Boosted Their Draft Stock the Most at Combine
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Time is running out for skidding NBA prospects to give themselves a boost before their futures are determined in the draft.

Fortunately, that's what the NBA combine is for—at least for some of the players.

The combine can go one of a few ways: Players who were on the bubble of the lottery can officially push their way into it. Or players who were on the bubble under-perform and do themselves far more harm than good. Or players just refuse to take part in any of the drills, and nobody knows what to think about them at all.

Here are a few of the 2012 prospects who experienced the best-case scenario and gained the most from this year's combine. 

Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

Robinson has often been heralded as one of the most complete players in this year's draft. He's ready to step in immediately and be an impact player at the next level, yet he hasn't been able to push himself any higher than No. 4 or No. 5 on most boards (here's one).

After the combine, that may no longer be the case.

The biggest knock on Robinson has been his height, which, at about 6'9", makes him a little on the small side for an NBA 4. According to the Sporting News' Sean Deveney, he officially measured at 6'8 3/4" at the combine, which is just big enough to be effective at power forward at the next level.

Plus, with his 7'3 1/4" wingspan, he's even more attractive as a defensive threat. According to Deveney, that wingspan is bigger than any of the seven-footers on this year's board.

One scout even went so far as to tell Deveney that if Robinson were 6'10", he could contend for the No. 1 overall spot in the draft. After all the hype he created for himself at the combine, Robinson could go second overall to the Bobcats. 

Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Sullinger has been all over the mock drafts this spring. Some have him in the top five; some have him falling to the dregs of the lottery. At the combine, he measured at just 6'9" in shoes, according to the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton, which, like Robinson, puts him on the small side in the grand scheme of NBA 4s.

Another knock on Sullinger has been that he's not as athletic as many of the other top prospects, and given his height, that makes him a risk a lot of teams aren't willing to take.

After the combine, though, that may not be the case. His wingspan measured at 7'1 1/4", which is comparable to most of the centers on the board, according to Hamilton. Plus, he displayed the right attitude at the combine, refusing to let any of the doubters get to him.

Sullinger told Hamilton

People said I wasn't going to be able to play at the college level, and I did. Some people said I wasn't going to be able to play at the high school level; some people said I was too overweight to play at the middle school level. I'm used to it.

Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina

There are doubts about virtually every single center on this year's board. Scouts say that most of them need to get stronger, less passive, better offensively.

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Zeller is currently the second-rated center behind Andre Drummond and shouldn't fall out of the lottery, according to ESPN's Chad Ford. But he may have pushed himself up the board after he showed the scouts this week just how seriously he's taking his pre-draft preparation.

For someone like Zeller, who's already very athletic for a big man and runs the floor incredibly well, it's important that he shows teams he is willing to work hard—and has the NBA IQ—to continue to improve skill-wise until he's dominant.

This week, he showed the media that he's serious about his future, rattling off draft history and talking candidly about himself and his fellow former Tar Heels. He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Charles F. Gardner, "I think we all have the potential to be very good. Obviously, college and the NBA is very different. You've got to make the necessary adjustments."

The first step toward improving your shortcomings is recognizing them, and Zeller is already well aware of what he needs to do to push himself up the board.

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