NBA Draft 2012: Projected 1st-Round Picks That Boosted Stock at Combine
The 2012 NBA draft is right around the corner.
Before the draft, the increasingly popular NBA scouting combine is held for top prospects to be evaluated. For some players, the combine merely solidifies their draft placement. For others, it represents an opportunity to boost their draft stock.
There are a few different factors that go into this. Some players, like Damian Lillard end up showing more athleticism than previously anticipated. The combine also provides an opportunity for teams to get a first-hand look at some under-the-radar prospects. Lillard fell into this category as well, because he didn't get much exposure by playing at Weber State.
Lastly, the combine provides official measurements for the players. Some players end up being smaller than anticipated. While others like Thomas Robinson and Meyers Leonard, show that they have the necessary size to compete with the big boys in the NBA.
Here are six projected first-round picks that secured their future at the combine last week.
Damian Lillard, Weber State
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
No player boosted his stock more at the combine than Weber State point guard Damian Lillard, one of the few top prospects to agree to individual workouts.
ESPN's Chad Ford was at the combine, and he had a glowing evaluation of Lillard's performance.
Many of the NBA executives in attendance had never seen him play in person before and the rest had only seen him only a handful of times. Lillard shot the lights out, had a couple of terrific dunks in the drills and 3-on-3 play, played hard and was very good in interviews with teams.
Ford wasn't alone in his assessment of Lillard. Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated wrote an article detailing how Lillard is the next big point guard to hail from Oakland, CA, the hometown of future Hall of Fame point guards Jason Kidd and Gary Payton.
In Amick's article, Lillard talks about how growing up in Oakland provided him with an aggressive mentality on the court.
Oakland breeds toughness, and guys who don't back down and will guard whoever, Lillard said. So I definitely want to hold that standard so people see that I'm an Oakland guard. I've got that same fire to me as those other guards, and hopefully I'll prove myself.
Lillard's mental toughness and athleticism shown at the combine all but guarantees that he will be a lottery pick come draft night.
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Players tend to shrink when it comes to the combine.
That is, they are measured a few inches shorter than what is listed in their school's media guide. Depending on the position, that can be a serious detractor.
However, in Leonard's case, the official measurements actually ended up being a positive, as he was measured as the tallest player at the combine (6'11.75").
On top of that, Leonard displayed good athleticism and touch around the basket. Between his confirmed size and skills, Leonard moved from a mid-to-late first rounder to a potential lottery pick by the end of the combine, according to Chad Ford.
All year, teams feared that Leonard didn't have the skill or the mental makeup to be a lottery pick. By Friday, virtually every exec in the NBA was predicting that he would go somewhere between 9 and 14 and that he had moved ahead of Tyler Zeller on their big boards.
It's safe to say that Leonard figures to be one of the big winners from the scouting combine.
Moe Harkless, St. John's
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Just like Meyers Leonard, Harkless has gone from a mid first-round pick to a potential lottery pick because of his performance at the combine.
Here's what Chad Ford wrote about Harkless' showing:
He still has a ways to go as far as making his game translate to the next level, but the raw athletic ability and elite size for his position, combined with an excellent showing both on the court and in interviews seems to have really improved his stock. I've heard his name as high as No. 7 to the Golden State Warriors and No. 8 to the Toronto Raptors.
With the athletic ability and the size of a successful NBA player, Harkless should be selected in the top half of the draft.
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
As was mentioned in the previous slide, some players get to the scouting combine and size down.
There were concerns that Thomas Robinson might be one of those players. So much so, that some teams doubted whether Robinson had the requisite size to be a power forward in the NBA. Well, you can put all of those doubts to rest.
Here's what Chad Ford had to say about Robinson:
Robinson's measurements strongly helped his cause as an NBA 4 man. He measured nearly 6-foot-9 with an impressive 7-3 1/4 wingspan and 8-10 standing reach. Those wingspan and standing reach measurements (the two measurements NBA teams really care about) put him on par with both Blake Griffin and Kevin Love, two NBA all-star power forwards. Ditto for his 35 1/2-inch vertical.
Entering the combine, Robinson was projected to fall to No. 7 at worst. Now he is rumored to be on Charlotte's short list for the second pick.
Bradley Beal, Florida
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Already seen as the top player at his position in this year's draft class, Bradley Beal further distanced himself from the other shooting guards at the combine.
Much like with Thomas Robinson, there were questions about whether he had the necessary size to be a 2-guard in the NBA. Though he measured in a bit undersized at 6'3.25", Beal helped his cause with an impressive 6'8" wingspan.
When you combine his length with his abilities, Beal is certain to be a top-five pick in the draft.
Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Andre Drummond is a boom or bust player.
Don't believe me? Check out what NBA Director of Scouting Ryan Blake had to say about Drummond:
"He could be a (bust like) Darko (Milicic) or he could be a (star like) Dwight Howard."
That's a terrifying prospect. However, given Drummond's upside, there will certainly be a high lottery team willing to take him on.