NBA Draft 2021: 6 big observations from the NBA Combine

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NBA Draft Alabama Crimson Tide guard Joshua Primo Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Over the years, the NBA Draft Combine has become less and less about the top players in the draft, and more so a chance for second-round caliber prospects to boost their stocks. Only two players in the top-40 on my big board (Josh Chrsitopher and Ariel Hukporti) played in the five-on-five scrimmages.

Numerous of those top prospects did participate in pro days that NBA teams attended. I still believe a handful of players who didn’t play, missed an opportunity to prove themselves even more in the eyes of front offices.

Most prospects did participate in measurements and athletic testing, and while it’s unwise to change a stance based solely on a measurement, those are good data points to use. That 30 minute stretch where we thought Sharife Cooper may actually be 6’4 was wild though.

Some top prospects wanted to prove they are more athletic than advertised (Corey Kispert, Ayo Dosunmu, and Ziaire Williams) and some just wanted to show how athletic they really are (Keon Johnson, Scottie Barnes, and Jaden Springer).

Still, the combine scrimmages and drills were a useful evaluation tool, and I walked away having a better sense for many prospects outside the top 30, and some who may have played their way into that range. Here are my biggest takeaways from the week.

The Josh Primo hype is warranted

Once the season ended, Alabama’s Joshua Primo became a player who steadily rose up draft boards. He’s the youngest player in the class, and while he didn’t have a huge statistical season, Primo has impressive length to go along with a good shooting profile. Still, I was hesitant to jump on board given his lack of reps and production

But Primo showed this week why he’s a top-30 prospect. His measurements were solid, standing at 6’5 in shoes to go along with a 6’9 wingspan. In the combine drills, Primo showed tenacity with his point of attack defense, and a good passing feel in pick-and-roll. He was just okay in the scrimmage, shooting 3-8 from the field and missing his only attempt from deep, but his defense and rebounding were on display. He had a few flashes of creation that were so impressive for someone that age.

Ultimately, Primo probably isn’t one of the top 30 players in this class today. But, his shooting stroke, defense, and ability to create at that age are enticing enough to warrant a first round selection. He has a ton of room to grow on both ends, and it would probably be best for him, and teams, if he stayed in the draft.

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