John Calipari, like Kevin Durant, thinks NBA Draft Combine not for top prospects
It's hard to argue with Calipari, who says there's more to lose than gain for top players
Durant ignited a discussion last week by, and Calipari, who has sent his fair share of players to the league, agreed with his stance before clarifying later he'd advise they skip just "the playing" portion.
"He may be right," Calipari told ESPN about Durant's comments on bypassing the NBA Draft Combine. "For the guys, if you think there's anything here that would hurt you, don't come. If there's anything here that would help you, come. If you have to play to help yourself, come. If it doesn't help you playing then don't play.
"This is for these kids. My job is to protect my guys. The job of these NBA teams is to get as much information as they can to make a great pick, so they would like to see every one of them play five-on-five, do all of ... it's not the way it is for these kids."
Calipari has typically erred on the side of caution when it comes to player safety and the NBA Draft. He has made a name for himself as a master of the one-and-done, sending players to the top of the NBA Draft after one season in Kentucky. His selling point to young kids is to get them from college to the pros to get them paid as soon as they can, and avoiding the risk of injury if you don't have anything left to prove is obviously a smart choice that's hard to argue.
The NBA Draft is one month away, and players like Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz—both point guards expected to be taken in the top 5 of the draft—have nothing left to prove. Skipping out on the NBA Draft Combine is a wise decision for players like that, he says.
"Not skip the event but skip things in the event like the playing," Calipari said. "If there's no reason to play, how do you help yourself if you're some of our guys? You're not going to help yourself."
For other players, however, the NBA Draft Combine is a one-stop shop for players looking to prove themselves in front of scouts, from a measurement and athletic perspective. Calipari has players on both sides of the fence. Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox could go in the top 10, while none-and-done hopeful Hamidou Diallo and freshman big man Bam Adebayo enter next months draft with something to prove and will likely be late first round or second round picks.
For them, the event is exposure they wouldn't get otherwise.
"They're also getting the interview guys, where they wouldn't," Calipari said. "So now each kid is getting 12, 13 people interviewing them, so that's good. What the NBA is doing is good for these kids, and if it doesn't help the kid to play, they don't play. If it doesn't help them to lift weights, they won't lift weights.
"How about an athletic kid like (Diallo)? You think I encouraged him to do the agilities? Did I tell him, 'Try to put your nose on the rim and let them see it?' And then stay away from all the other stuff. Go individually, work with them and if they want to draft you, they'll draft you."
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