Louisville basketball: Jordan Nwora and Jay Scrubb are hoping for combine invites.
With the NBA just a few days away from officially restarting the 2019-2020 season inside a bubble in Orlando, Florida, all eyes are on who will walk away champions from one of the weirdest seasons in league history. At the same time, the league has been responsible for figuring out how the delayed NBA Draft will work, leaving former Louisville basketball star Jordan Nwora and former signee Jay Scrubb waiting to find out what their future will look like.
The 2020 NBA Draft was set to take place back in June but was obviously pushed back following the pandemic and corresponding shutdown of the league, making it the first draft since 1975 to be held after the month of June.
Now set to take place in October, the 100-plus players who have declared for the draft will have to wait to find out whether or not they’ll be selected by the NBA or will have to begin their professional careers elsewhere. While there’s a date for the draft, we still have yet to hear what will happen with the biggest pre-draft event, the NBA Combine, which was set to take place back in May leading up to June’s draft.
Analyzing draft chances for former Louisville basketball stars
Even with the event up in the air, that isn’t stopping the NBA from sending out player invites per ESPN’s NBA Draft Expert, Jonathan Givony. As many as sixty invites (which is around the normal amount handed out) could go out over the coming days and weeks, which according to multiple draft writers and college basketball pundits could help a good chunk of draft-eligible players make a decision quicker about returning to school.
Nwora and Scrubb will now patiently wait to see if they will be apart of the 60-plus players invited, something they both need in order to improve their draft stock. I’ve written about the NBA Combine each of the last two seasons and how important it is for players to be invited to improve their draft stock.
Both players are currently seen as a late first-round to early-to-mid second-round selections but are attracting eyes from NBA scouts for completely different reasons.
A rarely-traveled road for Jay Scrubb
Scrubb is looking to be the first junior college player selected since Donta Smith back in 2004, and many around Louisville still can’t believe he decided to skip playing for the Cards in order to go pro.
Since making that decision, Scrubb has interviewed with over 20 of the leagues 30 teams according to Adam Zagoria. His agent told ZagsBlog:
He added: “Teams are falling in love with Jay. The word I keep hearing from teams regarding Jay is ‘charming’ and ‘transparent.’ He’s a very honest and authentic person.”
An NBA Combine invite for Scrubb would almost guarantee his selection in October’s draft and could be what pushes him from a widely unknown “project” to one of the most “intriguing” players in the entire draft.
However, should Scrubb for some reason be glossed over it will be fair to question whether or not the decision he made was the right one. While you respect him wanting to not have to wait to earn a living playing basketball, many, including scouts in the NBA, believe he would’ve been looked at differently coming out of college.
Familiar territory for Jordan Nwora
For Nwora, an invite will be important but not near as vital as it is for Scrubb.
NBA draft experts, like Matt Babcock, have been high on Nwora’s potential and point to a film showing his marked improvement over time.
However, Babcock pointed out when he joined the BRL podcast that this is not a luxury afforded to Scrubb. Scouts came to see Scrubb early last season when he was struggling with his game. Although he turned things around as the year progressed, the impression he left with many in attendance to start his sophomore season was that he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump to the league yet.
“If he decides to test the waters the NBA pre-draft process would be crucial for him,” Babcock said prior to Scrubb’s decision to forego a junior season at Louisville. “I would expect him to be invited to the NBA Draft Combine. From there, he would need to impress.
Nwora, on the other hand, has been able to demonstrate his abilities against some of the top teams in the country in front of national TV audiences. Scouts know the good and bad that goes along with his game already, so missing out on private workouts and performing in a combine in front of coaches and GMs is less important.
While being invited is important for Nwora, it would not make or break his career. At the same time, it could give him the opportunity to improve his stock and maybe even move into the middle to into first-round territory.
Still, it begs the question- Given social distancing measures and restricted play and travel, who will be invited to the combine?
If I had to give my best guess, I’d say both Nwora and Scrubb get the invite, but for two totally different reasons.
For Scrubb, scouts are extremely intrigued by what he brings to the table. He is a freakish athlete that would be a great fit as a scoring guard in the league. But without the opportunity to see Scrubb against high-level talent, most teams are not going to be willing to take the risk without seeing him and getting measurables in person.
For Nwora, it’s the exact opposite of Scrubb. Perhaps teams have seen a little too much, and with all eyes on him in 2019-20, he didn’t impress scouts like many felt he would with an extra season under his belt. Still, Nwora is a great fit as a scoring wing in a league that is increasingly placing value on players with his exact skillset- Long, excellent jump shooter, and above-average rebounder.
As Babcock pointed out, all it takes is getting one team to believe in you. Both Nwora and Scrubb are more than capable of making that happen.