There is no promise of an NBA Draft Combine this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but if it does take place, two college seniors with ties to the state of Utah will participate.
In a normal draft cycle, that would be pretty straightforward, but this has been anything but a normal draft cycle.
Earlier Sunday, ESPN NBA Draft analyst Jonathan Givony reported the NBA sent emails informing select players they have been invited to attend NBA Combine. The invites included a disclaimer that no decisions have been made about a date, format, location, or even if the event will actually occur.
The number of invitations that went out is unknown, but the prevailing notion is that it is between 60-70, which is normally how many prospects annually attend the Combine. This year’s event was originally scheduled for May 21-24 in Chicago.
Essentially, the emails are standing invitations if and when a Combine does take place, but whether or not that does happen is very much up in the air. The NBA is in the process of trying to pull off its Disney bubble with as few hitches as possible, and hosting a Combine of some sort is likely low on the priority list.
The NBA Draft was postponed from its original June 25 slot at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and has been rescheduled for Oct. 16, likely in a virtual format similar to what the NFL did with its draft in April.
After having facility visits and group workouts, two hallmarks of the pre-draft process, taken away due to COVID-19, Merrill and Childs could both use the Combine, which would allow them to work out in front of personnel from all 30 NBA teams.
Neither prospect is currently a lock to be drafted. With the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA draft set for Aug. 3, Givony has Merrill slotted as the 67th-best available draft prospect, while Childs is outside the top 100.
Merrill, according to one source, has met virtually with 26 NBA teams during this unorthodox pre-draft process, including the Jazz.
The two-time Mountain West Tournament MVP told The Tribune in May he had received an invite to the Portsmouth Invitational, a seniors-only showcase in Virginia contested each April attended by decision-makers from all 30 NBA teams. Merrill had not yet committed to playing at Portsmouth, but the pandemic and social-distancing guidelines in Virginia took care of that decision by canceling the event.