Kentucky coach John Calipari has something in common with Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors—they don’t have the highest opinion of the NBA draft combine.
For Durant, who had a rough experience at the combine because most graded him poorly over his bad strength performance, the combine isn’t the best way for top prospects to spend their time.
We hit on this yesterday, where Durant said “I remember it like it was yesterday. All the strength coaches were laughing at me and s—. They were giggling with each other that I couldn’t lift 185 pounds, and I was like, ‘All right, keep laughing. Keep laughing,’” according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
Calipari heard these comments and agrees, noting the nature of the combine is to pick out anything negative and highlight it. He spoke with Haynes’ colleague, Nick Friedell:
“He may be right,” Calipari said during Day 1 of the NBA draft combine Thursday. “For the guys, if you think there’s anything here that would hurt you, don’t come. If there’s anything here that would help you, come. If you have to play to help yourself, come. If it doesn’t help you [to] play, then don’t play. This is for these kids. My job is to protect my guys. The job of these NBA teams is to get as much information as they can to make a great pick. So they would like to see every one of them play 5-on-5. Do all the [drills]. It’s not the way it is for [all] these kids.”
This isn’t an overarching negative outlook of the combine itself. But for top guys like say, Josh Jackson, the only thing that can come out of the combine is negatives. The NBA already has enough tape to understand the player he is and can be, so why do anything other than let them get official measurements?
There’s not a great reason. Like NFL guys such as Christian McCaffrey showed recently, pro teams won’t take it too personally if a guy skips a bowl game or workout—talent is talent.
The draft combine is important for guys who aren’t household names. But Durant and Calipari are right—the top guys don’t need the event.