Anunoby, Bryant to use combine in different ways

This week’s NBA Draft Combine will look different to OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant.

For Anunoby, a first-round draft prospect who continues to recover from January knee surgery, the combine is a chance to meet face-to-face with NBA team personnel and begin building relationships.

For Bryant, it’s an opportunity to get on the court with the nation’s top college players and sell the league’s power brokers on his potential following a year of unmet expectations.

“In OG’s case, obviously, he won’t get much out of it, other than interviews,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “And as you know, he’s a relatively quiet kid. … With Thomas, I mean, he’s going to have to show that he’s an athlete. He’s got to know what he’s going to do at the combine that can show people that.”

Despite only a modest increase in scoring as a sophomore (12.6 points per game) compared with his freshman season (11.9 ppg), and generally struggling to give IU a consistent post presence on both ends of the court, Bryant is still projected to be drafted.

Draft Express has Bryant as the third overall pick in the second round in its latest mock draft, while ranking him the No. 9 available sophomore and the No. 36 player overall.

A year ago, Bryant was widely viewed as a first round talent. Now, this week’s trip to combine in Chicago represents, perhaps, his greatest remaining opportunity to restore his past draft stock.

“I was surprised that he’s decided to sign with an agent, to be honest,” ESPN analyst Jeff Goodman said. “I’m never going to say whether a kid should or shouldn’t do something because we don’t know their individual circumstances. So to me, somebody that says, ‘Hey, everybody should do this if they don’t get invited to the combine or everybody should do that,’ I’m not buying that.

“But I do think, to me, Thomas Bryant’s stock was high going into this year, and because of what Indiana did or didn’t do, and because of what Thomas Bryant did or didn’t do, it’s fallen a bit, and this is a very strong and deeper draft than next year. So I was a little bit surprised he didn’t come back and play a year under Archie Miller. I think he could have benefitted from it. I think his NBA stock could have benefitted from it.”

Because of his versatility as a defender, ability to crash the glass and upside as a shooter, both Goodman and Fraschilla agree that Anunoby remains a first-round talent despite missing half of his sophomore year with an ACL tear.

While Bryant will have the opportunity to do on-court drills and compete in five-on-five scrimmages, Anunoby’s combine will be limited to medical screenings and meetings with team personnel.

Right now, Anunoby appears to be a fringe lottery pick. Draft Express tabs him as the 13th overall pick, the No. 14 overall prospect and the No. 1 overall player in the sophomore class.

Fraschilla said Anunoby, whom he compares favorably to Kawhi Leonard, could one day develop into the ultimate “3-and-D” player at the NBA level.

Anunoby was averaging 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds, while shooting 31 percent from the perimeter at the time of his knee injury on Jan. 18 at Penn State.

“He is an elite defensive player,” Fraschilla said. “He’ll be capable in a league that covets versatility right now, both offensively and defensively, of being able to guard probably four positions because he’s strong enough to guard a small-ball 5-man. So he’s going to hang his hat initially on this elite defensive ability.

“… He looks to be able to someday become a good NBA three-point shooter, although his consistency wanes. The other skills are below average. What makes him a guy that is going to be drafted in the first round is just the athleticism, the rawness of his game.”

Neither James Blackmon Jr., who this week announced his intention to hire an agent and leave IU, nor Robert Johnson, who declared for the draft without hiring representation, received invitations to the combine, which runs through Sunday.

In total, 67 players were invited to this year’s combine.

7 comments

  1. Did they ever ‘combine’ for thirty points, twenty rebounds, and 10 assists in one game while at Indiana?

    But now they will ‘combine’ for thirty million, twenty thousand sq. ft. of home space, and 10 cars to match a childhood set of Hot Wheels…Yippee.

  2. And just another example of some 30 million ills, 20 thousand symptoms, and 10 wrong solutions in this country. I do not blame these players and others one bit. Rather, just illustrating what this culture and the United States of America has long past come to and to a degree has always been. (not just in sports but in much all of it). As far as sports go you hear the false statistics and statements “that is what the market will bare.” Yet, entities subsidized to pay their own bills rather than maybe paying players $15.00 an hour to do something they claim to love to do. Yes, those above (coaches, owners etc. paid in relation to players 15.00 per hour). Then, of course there are all the falsehoods that surround how much benefit these entities are to society. It depends how you define what a benefit actually is.

  3. Is what is happening at ESPN the first of many bubbles to pop? Are many sectors of sports finally hitting a point of diminishing returns? Is the strategy, teamed with the technology to bombard the viewing public with more quantity than selective quality, diluting interest?
    Is there a maturation for all things and has sports participation and its coverage reached that point?
    Will there be less and less intrinsic satisfaction to play professional sports(even with the dollars built on network contracts, cable company fees, ISPs, advertising payoffs, and other forms of viewership speculation) when even the best in the world seem buried in the depths of oceans of varied coverage and offerings? Will athletes at all levels continue to feel distanced from truly passionate cheers and the sort of heroic status of close interaction in a more narrowly delivered product?

    Will eyes become as desensitized to remarkable feats of athletic ability in the same manner Playboy Magazine is now purchased for the editorial content?
    Has sports heavy reliance on imagery over the content and the story set a course for doom via saturation? Can the grass roots interaction with the emotions of cheers directly in ears ever fuel the hearts of athletes again?

    Many athletes say they “don’t want to be role models.” Have we reached the point that very few young eyes care to even see them in any state of existence to look up to? Do we all feel we’ve just been taken too much out of the equation and thus we attend events with greater and greater indifference?

  4. Eventually, the thrill of winning the lottery will itself wear off. If all things are judged by the extent to which they depart from a baseline of past experience, gradually even the most positive events will cease to have impact as they themselves are absorbed into the new baseline against which further events are judged. Thus, as lottery winners become accustomed to the additional pleasures made possible by their new wealth, these pleasures should be experienced as less intense and should no longer contribute very much to their general level of happiness (courtesy: New York Magazine/”Science of Us”).

  5. I hope they each make tens of millions of dollars, remain wealthy until they die, and leave a substantial inheritance for their children and grandchildren. God bless America!

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