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NBA Draft Combine 2024 winners and losers: Bronny James performs under pressure; Zach Edey is bigger, but slow



CHICAGO – The 2024 NBA Draft Combine is in the books from the Windy City but the breeze of change is blowing as strong as ever this predraft process with the NBA Draft lingering just over one month away. So on the heels of what was the most impactful event leading up to this year’s draft, it’s time to break down all the biggest winners and losers from the week that was in Chicago as we put a bow on the combine.

Let’s dive in.

Winner: Hawks have big decision

Yes, it’s true: the top of the 2024 NBA Draft class is not the strongest

In fact some in Chicago I’ve talked with believe this class could be the weakest in more than a decade.

But the Atlanta Hawks come away from the combine a winner nonetheless after kicking off the week with a win in the NBA Draft Lottery on Sunday. First dibs in this class isn’t the slam dunk it would’ve been last year with Victor Wembanyama, to state the obvious, but it is still first dibs. 

History suggests some stars will come from this class. Finding the right fit and hitting could change the trajectory of the franchise. Being able to be on the clock first even in a lackluster draft is a win, especially after entering the week with just 3% odds to win the No. 1 pick.

Winner: Edey is still growing

The biggest man at the NBA Draft Combine last year showed up as the biggest man at the NBA Draft Combine again this year – and incredibly even bigger than he was last year. Unreal. Zach Edey actually measured a half-inch taller this year (7-foot-3.75) than last year, and he won some folks over in the process with some surprisingly agile drill numbers. Among the biggest personal wins for him was posting a faster lane agility time than other center prospects like Alex Sarr, Yves Missi and Donovan Clingan, all of whom are 7-footers or close to it and projected as top-20 talents.

Losers: College lottery prospects don’t measure up

Not every lottery prospect from college had rough weeks – Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard had a stellar week and several others simply weren’t involved enough to cast judgment – but a handful in this category wound up as losers. UConn’s Donovan Clingan didn’t test well, UK’s Rob Dillingham measured shorter (6-1) and lighter (164.2) than expected, and Cody Williams checked in at 178.4 pounds – smaller than expected for a wing pushing 6-7 and more than 10 pounds off what he was listed at while at Colorado

Winner: Edey should be in Happy Gilmore 2

Netflix announced this week that Happy Gilmore will be getting a sequel led by none other than Adam Sandler, who will be reprising his role as Happy Gilmore. Great timing, too, because … it appears we may have a frontrunner for who can play Mr. Larson: Edey.

Edey was MOVING and posted a ¾ court sprint time of 3.42 – which was fourth-worst among participants. I applaud the effort, but the Mr. Larson similarities were impossible to ignore. (And for what it’s worth, he was a good sport with Peek about this afterward when he saw the internet having a field day.)

Winner: UConn guards look sharp

It’s the offseason but Huskies coach Dan Hurley still cannot help his program from collecting Ws. Stephon Castle, Tristen Newton, Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban all had big weeks at the combine. Among the accomplishments were:

  • Karaban finishing first in the 3-point star drill, first in shooting off the dribble drill, first in side-mid-side shooting drill
  • Spencer finishing third in the 3-point star drill and second in shooting off the dribble drill
  • Newton posting a top-five number on the shuttle run and finishing tied for seventh in the 3-point star drill
  • Castle finishing third in the on-the-move shooting drill

Turns out the best team in college basketball last season also had the best players in college basketball. Amazing how that works.

Loser: USC had more talent than we thought

USC going 15-18 and finishing tied for seventh in the Pac-12 – seven games out of first – was pretty rough for coach Andy Enfield on its own after bringing in No. 1 recruit Isaiah Collier and bringing back Boogie Ellis and Kobe Johnson, among others. But it looks even worse after this week where we learned that Bronny might just be one of the top 60 players in this year’s draft class – which would mean USC might’ve had two NBA Draft picks on its roster and still couldn’t finish above .500. Which leads us to …

Winner: Bronny exceeded expectations

James measuring at 6-1.5 to start the week put him in a hole out of the gate but he played his way back out of it and emerged as one of the biggest winners from Chicago. His max standing vert was 40.5 inches, which was tied for sixth best, and he finished second in the 3-point star shooting drill. His first scrimmage action was mostly forgettable but he brought it on the final day with a mix of defense, passing and shooting to draw some serious interest. He’s no longer a draft prospect because of his father. He is a legitimate draft prospect based on the merits of what he did on the floor this week.

Losers: College upperclassmen fail to impress

A big chunk of college upperclassmen struggled this week at the NBA Draft Combine with Nique Clifford, David Jones, Jaxson Robinson, Payton Sandfort, Trey Alexander and Reece Beekman among those who had some moments but in general did not do much to improve their stock. Sandfort struggled, which is a big problem for a shooter. Robinson looked overwhelmed by the speed of the game. Same for Jones. Even Coleman Hawkins had some record-scratches, though he bailed himself out with a big game on the final day. 





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