John Calipari has Kevin Durant‘s back.
Durant said his advice to top players is to skip the NBA Draft Combine, which is going on this week. Durant does not remember his own trip to the combine fondly, when he failed to bench press 185 pounds even once and was not impressive on agility tests. Obviously, those tests were not exactly accurate predictors of Durant’s career.
“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.”
Durant and Calipari are right. If you’re Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball or Jayson Tatum this year and are lock top five picks, what do you gain showing up to the combine? There is only risk and no reward, which is why agents wisely tell them to stay away. The combine has real value for guys down the board, but the rules are different for the guys already going to go high in the draft. These youth are not yet NBA employees, they can’t be forced to come. So why do it?