It wasn't long ago when the only person who would guarantee that Dion Waiters would be a lottery pick was Dion himself. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-US PRESSWIRE
The NBA draft combine was held this past weekend and the biggest Orange news out of the event was about a player who was barely there. Dion Waiters left the combine early after reportedly getting a guarantee from a lottery team that he would be their choice. He also cancelled the remainder of his pre-draft workouts. The initial rumor was that the Toronto Raptors, picking eighth, were the guarantors, but the prevailing opinion among pundits now is that the team is the Phoenix Suns, who pick at thirteen.
It's hard to know what to make of Dion's decision. On the one hand, the desire to remain healthy is understandable. Why would Dion want to put himself at risk for injury if he doesn't have to? As morose as it might sound, every step on a basketball court is a torn ACL waiting to happen. But, then again, so it every step period. As much hype and attention as he's has been getting, it's hard to imagine that, if Phoenix really is the spot, that Dion can't work his way a little higher. Of course, the dissemination of the rumor that he'll be gone at thirteen may in itself be enough to prompt teams to reach a little if they're really that intrigued by him, but I doubt it. In any case, a guaranteed spot in the lottery does come with the guaranteed contract, though the difference between the 8th and 13th pick is some $1.7 million over the first three years. It's a relatively small amount when considering the total potential salary over a career, but on the off chance that Dion doesn't make it in the League, that extra dough could come in handy.
After that, there was really no standout news from any of the former Orange in attendance. Scoop Jardine wasn't there at all and continues to make the rounds for individual workouts. Most of the buzz around Fabricio Melo has concerned the confirmation of his size. He measured a shade over 6'10" without shoes and weighed in at a svelte 255 pounds. "Huge" seems to be the adjective of choice when it comes to Fab, but scouts are still concerned about a lack of quickness and explosiveness. Still, none of this ruins his draft prospects. It's simply confirmation of what most people already knew. I doubt it affects his draft stock going up or down. Here's what Fab himself had to say about the combine:
And, finally, Kris Joseph, who doesn't seem to be be helping his draft stock at all. He doesn't appear in any mentions of players who disappointed during the combine, but he didn't really impress anybody either, which is what he really needs. KJ measured about as expected, 6'6" without shoes and a manageable 215. His 6'11" wingspan was the most impressive part of his combine. What hurts KJ is that he didn't measure well in the areas that are seen as his strengths. KJ's best attributes are this athleticism and work in transition. Yet, he only recorded a 35" max vertical and a 3.46 3/4 court sprint. For us mere mortals, those numbers are fantastic. But, to put it in perspective, Fab (who was considered slow and earthbound) recorded a 31" max vertical and a 3.44 sprint. Any team interested in KJ isn't looking for the guy who shot 42% from the field and 34% from 3pt. They're looking for the guy that's flying down the passing lane on the break, looking to finish at the rim. They're looking for the guy that's going to crash the boards with reckless abandon. They're looking for the guy that's going to get in a passing lane and create turnover. If these physicals from KJ hold up, he simply won't be able to do those things. He'll always be a step slow and inch short. Still, KJ is talking positive: