After considering a proposal from its competition committee, the NBA will bring back 5-on-5 competition for next year’s draft combine. General managers and scouts have been complaining for years that the lack of competition between prospects at the annual draft showcase lessens the scouting value of the combine. Since 2009, the NBA has had the 60 or so prospects invited to the combine run through various shooting and ballhandling drills with some minor simulated 3-on-2 action.
Prior to 2009, the league utilized a 5-on-5 format at what was then called “the pre-draft camp” in Orlando, Florida, and Chicago. However, then-commissioner David Stern changed the format early in 2009 after teams complained that the top prospects were no longer participating in the games. The pre-draft camp had devolved into a series of meaningless pickup games between mostly second-round prospects.
The switch to the new drills-based format opened space for more of the top prospects to participate. However, in the past few years, numerous top prospects have refused to participate even in the drills portion of the combine.
With so many top prospects no longer participating at the combine, and the league fearing that the problem will grow, the NBA now believes that it might be better off returning to the old format. Officials understand that none of the top prospects is likely to play in the event. But it gives a chance for teams to get a better handle on the 40 or so prospects who would play in the games.