It just much harder for the Phoenix Suns to evaluate players for the draft

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17: NBA Combine, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17: NBA Combine, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns’ job of evaluating talent for the NBA draft just got harder, as there will likely be no NBA combine and no individual workouts permitted.

This NBA draft class was already set up to be one of the weakest in recent memory. Now executives might not have anything more to evaluate players on other than game footage, and that would seriously hurt teams with lottery picks like the Phoenix Suns.

Part of the reason this class might appear so weak is that it comes after the one that featured Zion Williamson as the prized selection. Slightly thanks to ESPN’s nonstop coverage over the athletic phenomenon, the NBA draft lottery last season may as well have been the actual Powerball as badly as teams wanted to win it.

This year, however, there is no one with near that level of clout and the current overall #1 projection on many big boards, LaMelo Ball, comes with enough family baggage that teams (probably unfairly to Ball) haven’t exactly expressed unbridled enthusiasm to draft him.

It makes critically evaluating this class that much more important, and unfortunately, that process took a major blow due to COVID-19.

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Woj is reporting the NBA sent a letter to NCAA coaches the league is accepting applications to the Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which gives feedback to players on their potential draft stock.

He followed up with the real impact this might have, which is players may have to make decisions on entering the 2020 NBA Draft with the reality that there could be no opportunity to audition for teams individually or attend a combine.

While I joked in my post about how every Phoenix Suns player played in March Madness that James Jones puts a ton of stock into how far players advanced in the NCAA tournament, the reality is, he and most other General Managers put even more stock into the NBA combine.

Cheick Diallo is the player on the Phoenix Suns who is a shining example of this. After not getting much playing time at all at Kansas, he shined at the combine and boosted his stock all the way up to an early second-round pick. If teams only had game footage to go on, they would have only had 202 total low-performing minutes of him in college; that’s it.

Now with no college post-season and likely no NBA combine or individual workouts allowed, teams are going to have to go off a limited supply of game footage to evaluate players. While that is certainly frustrating for them, this is a huge blow to players who have to make their decision on whether to declare for the draft by April 21.

Considering we are in unprecedented times and the situation continues to be very fluid, I could foresee some flexing of the rules here, but generally speaking, when faced with a relatively common-sense decision, the NCAA always makes the wrong one.

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We will need to keep an eye on this because, as Woj says, the pre-draft process is murky amid this crisis.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.