NBA planning for 2020 Draft Combine, which could be virtual

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Much like the players in the 2020 NBA Draft, this year’s draft process is in limbo.

That includes the 202 NBA Draft Combine. Originally scheduled for late May, the combine has been postponed indefinitely (along with this year’s draft lottery). While no new date has been set — it will hinge on the yet-to-be-determined return of the NBA and how long the season runs — the league has started to map out how the 2020 Draft Combine might work. From Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Teams — specifically their scouts and front office — traditionally help select the 60 players invited to the combine. That the NBA is reaching out to teams and asking who should be invited to the combine is a small step toward normalcy.

What teams most want access to are the medical records on the players in the draft. At the combine, physicals are conducted with the results available to every team, however, players do not have to submit to those physicals. Often, players with a questionable medical history do not (for example, Michael Porter Jr. did not have one). Teams want those medical reports from a neutral source like at the combine, rather than having to rely on agents to get them.

The other thing of value to teams are the player interviews. Those can be done virtually, although certainly context is lost (just like a Zoom meeting vs. an in-person one).

Some things would be the same regardless of a virtual or in-person combine, including measurements (wingspan, standing reach, etc.) and some of the athletic tests (standing vertical leap, for example). Those have some value for teams. Same with players going through drills and scrimmages, players could stand out enough to get an invite to workout for a team. Sometimes players do move up at the combine, but usually it is more a guy jumping from the middle of the second round to high second/borderline first round.

The NBA seems to want to keep its timeline in order (not moving free agency in front of the draft, like some teams want, for example). That means once the league sets dates for a return to play and how long the season could stretch out, it will slot the 2020 Draft Combine in there. Whatever it looks like in a final form.