NBA Draft Combine 2014: Event Schedule and Predictions for Top Prospects

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NBA Draft Combine 2014: Event Schedule and Predictions for Top Prospects
USA TODAY Sports
Randle's combine measurements will have a significant impact on his draft stock.

At the NBA combine, the most electrifying prospects the 2014 draft class has to offer get the chance to showcase their skills for scouts and fans alike.

All talent evaluators will descend on Chicago for the three-day workout, ready to let their imaginations run wild as to how guys' physical gifts will translate onto an NBA court.

There's very little resembling actual in-game playing conditions at the combine; some three-on-three action happens, but the combine is more interested in three-man weaves and wingspans, using the most rudimentary drills to isolate players' strengths and weaknesses in a vacuum.

And thanks to the modern marvel of television (and online live streaming), the folks at home get to watch along, too.

They won't see the very biggest names in this draft—Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid have all opted against attending the combine, per ESPN.com—but there will be more than enough talent on display to make fans drool.

 

Julius Randle

For Randle, simple body measurements are going to be key at the combine.

As a freshman at Kentucky, he was listed at 6'9", 250 pounds, flashing some nifty mobility at that size as he was able to comfortably stretch out to the three-point line on offense and make jumpers.

Assuming those numbers are for the most part accurate, Randle's wingspan measurement could swing his stock either way—the difference between him projecting as a David West 2.0 or a bulky, but undersized power forward more in the Paul Millsap mold.

Of course, neither of these comparisons are even remotely insulting, but the Millsap one can be tricky for a prospect. Millsap is the only player ever to lead the NCAA in rebounding in three consecutive seasons, but he went just 47th in the 2006 draft because teams worried he was too small to compete inside as a pro.

Randle is more athletic than Millsap ever was or will be, but not so much that he'll be a natural at defending small forwards repositioned as 4s. Measure too short and stubby to defend true bigs, and he'll be a worst-of-both-worlds hybrid.

He'll go to the combine, be one of the leaders in bench press reps and largely maintain his stock, but don't be surprised if some discontented comments emerge regarding his arm length.

 

Marcus Smart

After a season defined more by character questions than on-court successes, Smart can use this opportunity to remind everyone just how much of a freak of nature he is.

He's the rare point guard for whom every drill is very relevant. Smart not only has a size advantage at his position—standing 6'4"—but the 220-pounder could be the strongest point guard in the league the moment he steps on the floor.

The further he gets into double digits on the bench press, the more tantalizing he'll look, establishing himself as someone who could fit in a legitimate two-point-guard lineup without sacrificing size.

In the three-quarter-court sprint and the lane-agility test, he'll also reintroduce himself as one of the quickest and fastest guys around.

Smart will easily break four seconds in the former test, a very respectable time, and in the cone drill, a 10.5-second time will show scouts just how well he can stick with marks on defense and move without the ball to create space on the other end.

 

Dante Exum

Smart and Randle are both known commodities, albeit ones that haven't been officially measured in every way.

Meanwhile, Dante Exum is the closest thing the top tier of this draft class has to a total mystery.

He has played in high school showcase games like the Nike Hoops Summit, and he has suited up for the Australian U17 and U19 teams, but he hasn't competed against his NBA hopeful peers since before the 2013-14 college hoops season.

So there's some old evidence that Exum is head and shoulders more athletic than the rest of the bunch, but no recent proof.

We'll get that in Chicago. He's sure to be one of the best performers in lane agility, the sprint and the vertical leap, which would give him the image of a 6'6" monster capable of hounding any guard and able to explode inside and score over rim protectors.

The consensus opinion is that, without Wiggins, Parker and Embiid, this combine is missing the top-three available prospects. With an elite performance, Exum has the potential to crash that group.

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