The NBA Draft Combine is slated to be held this week in Chicago, but don’t expect to see many of the players actually expected to headline the June 26 event on hand for the preliminaries.
Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, all members of a star-studded freshmen-laden class, deemed to be surefire top 5 lottery picks, are all already on record in asserting they won’t be taking part in the camp. The jury remains out about the intentions of fellow class members Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, and Tyler Ennis.
The Boston Globe reports none of the players are expected to harm their draft status by not being in attendance, as each of them still has plenty of time to stage private workouts and/or individual interviews with teams considering selecting them.
A recent poll of 30 NBA front offices executives finds at this point in the process Parker is favored by most GMs nearly 2 to 1 over Embiid as the probable overall No. 1 draft selection. The Duke star registered 17 votes, compared to eight for Embiid and five for Wiggins.
A first-team All-American and Wayman Tisdale Award winner as the nation’s top freshman, Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds in becoming the Blue Devils’ all-time top first year scorer. Just last week, Parker penned an emotional letter to Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Blue Devil fans thanking them for allowing him to be part of such a storied program, concluding “Duke didn’t need JP, JP needed Duke.”
Coming off a back injury that sidelined him throughout the NCAA Tournament, some execs were hoping Embiid might attend the combine to alleviate any lingering concerns some might have over his health. The seven-foot, 250-pound Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 rebounds for the Jayhawks this season, while the versatile Wiggins chipped in with 17 points, six rebounds and two assists.