NBA Draft Combine tidbits: Darius Garland pulls out, prospects reach out
It didn’t take long for the NBA Draft Combine to provide some savory draft speculation. Unlike the 1/8-inch win for Kyler Murray in the NFL Draft, it didn’t take a measurement to do it.
Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland, a top-10 projected pick, pulled out of the combine on Wednesday to the surprise of many, reports The Athletic’s Shams Charania. That’s naturally led to the assumption he’s received a promise from one team to go high in the lottery.
For the Phoenix Suns, the news is significant in some way.
Phoenix is in dire need of a point guard and has been listed in a majority of early mock drafts — and named by 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro and Kellan Olson — as a potential landing spot for Garland, who played in five games before injuring his meniscus in his knee. Is it the Suns who promised Garland?
It’s hard to imagine any team making that call at this odd point in time without doing due diligence on other prospects or (based on Garland’s hasty exit) without having medically cleared a player coming off a fairly serious knee injury.
The Suns might be the obvious guess for promising Garland, but it’s also worth noting the point guard is signed with Klutch Sports, the same agency that represents Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. The Lakers select fourth overall. If they are interested, then perhaps that would pave a way for the Lakers to move Ball, who reportedly was of interest to Phoenix in trade talks last year.
Garland averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists with 3.0 turnovers per game in limited action in 2018-19.
His brief Vanderbilt tenure provided a platform for his shooting abilities, as he hit 54% overall and 45% percent (11-of-23) of his threes.
There is no confirmation or report about Garland’s decision to dip out of Chicago’s combine, and there certainly are questions about why he would be content to leave the combine unless he got a promise in the top-five.
JAY BILAS WILL BE DISAPPOINTED
Don’t expect ESPN’s Jay Bilas to get too excitable — or you to sip too many drinks — over this year’s top prospects on draft day. A number of mid-lottery picks who could be available to Phoenix at No. 6 didn’t show out when it came to wingspan.
Gonzaga big man Brandon Clarke, who played center in college, is 6-foot-8 and 1/4 inches with the exact same wingspan.
It could be concerning against NBA-level athletes considering he’ll be drafted for his defensive efforts. Then again, if he averaged 3.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game with alligator arms, maybe he more than makes up for the lack of measurables.
Maybe more concerning is Clarke weighing in at 207 pounds. For having just one offensive move in the toolbox — the driving spin — what position is Clarke if he is too small to even handle NBA power forwards?
Also lacking in the wingspan department is North Carolina combo guard Coby White, who is 6-foot-4 and 3/4 inches tall with a 6-foot-5 wingspan.
Then there’s Texas Tech forward Jarrett Culver, who joined Garland and White on Gambadoro’s list of three players to watch for Phoenix. Culver stands 6-foot-6 and 3/4 inches in shoes with a 6-foot-9 1/2-inch wingspan. That’s good news after he was listed as being shorter as a freshman and appearing to hit a growth spurt heading into this year.
But Culver’s defensive upside is, at present, limited by his 194-pound weigh-in.
That might be less concerning because he’s 20 years old when his rookie year will start compared to someone like Clarke, who will turn 23 in September.
MORE LIKE TACKO TALL
It’s hard to say Tacko Fall “won” the combine, but he’s certainly the most unique human being to come through it.
The Central Florida center measured 7-foot-7 in shoes, 289 pounds and with an 8-foot-2 1/4-inch wingspan. His standing reach is 2 inches above the rim.