Players aren’t going to make or break their NBA draft stocks at the combine like those in football’s counterpart, but there are still some takeaways to be made from the 2014 edition of the NBA combine.
Unfortunately, not all of those takeaways are positive.
ESPN’s Chad Ford filled fans in on a number of impressive players who missed the drills portion of the combine, which did nothing to improve the stocks of those who did not participate.
With that in mind, here are a few players who failed to improve their stock at the combine.
Of everyone who missed an opportunity on Thursday and Friday, Joel Embiid may look back with the most regret.
Embiid could have showed NBA front offices that his knee and back injuries are no longer concerns with an impressive showing in Chicago, but he elected to skip out on the proceedings. There is a real chance that teams early in the draft could pass on him and break up that assumed top triumvirate of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Embiid (here’s looking at you, Dante Exum).
Embiid is such an interesting case study because he could be anything from the next Hakeem Olajuwon to the next Greg Oden.
We are talking about an athletic specimen at 7 feet tall and 250 pounds who nearly averaged a double-double in only 23 minutes a game at Kansas. With more consistent playing time in the NBA, Embiid could average 20 points and 10 rebounds a night while serving as a shot-blocking machine as a rookie.
However, he is just a college kid and already has serious health concerns. Oden is already considered a bust because of his injuries, and it doesn’t help that Kevin Durant, who was taken after Oden, is one of the best two players in the world.
What if Embiid is crippled by injuries his entire career and either Wiggins or Parker becomes something of a next-generation Durant?
Shabazz Napier has so much momentum on his side after the national championship run that it was somewhat surprising that he didn’t participate in all the drills.
He certainly could have kept that going with an impressive showing in Chicago. He was a collegiate superstar on both sides of the ball, which definitely can’t be said about everyone in the draft and could have demonstrated that versatility during the drills. Instead, he missed a golden opportunity.
One thing in Napier’s corner, though, is his experience with coach Kevin Ollie, as he said at the combine—reported by Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer:
He made sure every single day that we gave everything we've got. He made sure that we understand that you don't get this day back, so you've got to push to the next level.
At the end of the day, you don't know what your future holds for you. You have to prepare for it. You have to get ready for it. He made sure that we did all that.
Tyler Ennis of Syracuse is on this list, but it isn’t completely his fault. Exum is shooting up draft boards and will likely be the top point guard taken at the draft, which subsequently hurts Ennis’ stock.
However, Ennis didn’t participate in the drills as a way to demonstrate his own skill set alongside Exum.
What’s more, Ennis checked in with a height of 6’2.5” in shoes and a 6’7.25” wingspan, which didn’t compare well to Exum’s, via Ford:
Exum is a physical specimen who is basically a silky smooth point guard in a small forward’s body. On paper, he is the more athletic of the two, and Ennis didn’t challenge that notion by participating in the drills designed to test that athleticism.
Exum will be taken ahead of Ennis on draft day, and while that would likely still be the case had Ennis participated in the combine drills, general managers may have hesitated a bit if Ennis had an impressive showing in Chicago.
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