The NBA is assembling a group of NBA hopefuls in Chicago this week for the annual scouting combine. This is a great chance to work out in front of NBA scouts and receive constructive criticism and feedback as these players look to leave a solid impression on a future employer. But Kevin Durant doesn’t think anyone should waste their time at the combine.
“Stay your ass home, work out and get better on your own time,” Durant said when asked for what advice he would give those attending the scouting combine, per ESPN. Durant’s advice may not be totally out of line, at least for a handful of select draft prospects.
At this point in time, there may be very little value to attending the combine for a player expected to go in the top 10 of the draft. Players worth a draft pick that high have already been on the radar long enough and shown what they can (and cannot do), and a bench press drill is not likely to change that outlook too much. Durant should know too, because his combine experience was far from perfect.
“All the strength coaches were laughing at me and [shit],” Durant recalled. “They were giggling with each other that I couldn’t lift 185 pounds, and I was like, ‘All right, keep laughing. Keep laughing.’ It was a funny thing, because I was the only one that couldn’t lift it and I was struggling to lift it. I was embarrassed at that point, but I’m like, ‘Give me a basketball, please. Give me a ball.'”
As we know now, once you give Durant a ball, he’s pretty darn good. Then again, Durant was one of those players that likely would have had nothing to really prove at the combine. He was expected to be a high draft pick anyway when he came out of college.
“I figured they knew who they were going to draft already,” Durant said. “But that says a lot, as well. I was the No. 2 pick, and I couldn’t lift 185 pounds. That shows you that basketball isn’t really that type of sport.”
The combine is more of an opportunity for players slated for a draft pick later in the first round or in the second or third round. Those are the players who can benefit from the combine experience by working out in front of scouts and coaches. More important than the physical examinations is the interview process.
Attending the combine, like in the NFL, is a terrific opportunity for some face-to-face time with coaches, GMs, scouts and more. Future employers want to know the person behind the basketball skills, and finding someone that fits the mentality the team is looking for can be crucial to the overall objective in the front office.
So if you can ball like Durant, the combine is not for you. If you have something to prove, the combine is your opportunity to shine, regardless of Durant’s advice.