Wintrust Arena set to host 2021 NBA Draft combine


Shane Rene

Outside of Wintrust Arena, home of the DePaul men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Chicago is set to once again play host to the NBA draft combine, the event set to take place June 21-27 at Wintrust Arena.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania broke the news that the event will be held after it was canceled last season due to Covid-19.

The NBA had to improvise when it came to last season’s draft, which began in late September with interviews between players and team organizations. The players then worked out at team facilities before taking part in a version of Pro Day.

According to CBS Sports, the combine this year will feature team interviews, five-on-five games, drills, measurements and medical exams. A total number of six members of each organization will be allowed to attend the in-game interviews, while 10 will be allowed to attend the on-court portions.

In essence, the combine is a prelude to the draft where those expected to go early can try out for teams and make a good impression.

The NBA draft lottery will take place during the middle of the combine on June 22. The lottery is where the teams who did not make the playoffs the season prior participate in a process to determine the order as well as who gets the first overall pick. Alongside the lottery, the NBA G League Elite Camp is set for June 19-21, according to the Rookie Wire of USA Today

Wintrust Arena is no stranger to hosting basketball games or events, as the stadium is the home of the DePaul Blue Demons and the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.

In the 2020 draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 overall pick. The Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets had the second and third picks and took James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball, respectively. The Chicago Bulls had the fourth pick and selected Patrick Williams.

The consensus for the 2021 NBA Draft, on July 29, is that Oklahoma’s Cade Cunningham, USC’s Evan Mobley, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs and the G League’s Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga are all in the No. 1 pick conversation. 

In addition to not being strangers to hosting basketball games, DePaul also has priors in their own players making it to the pros.

Former DePaul power forward Paul Reed was selected in last year’s draft. He was the Philadelphia 76ers second round pick — 58th overall.

Being taken in the draft was a culmination of Reed’s collegiate career and determination to make it.

I have always been overlooked my whole life,” Reed said. “I always have been underrated. People don’t always see my full potential or how good I can be, or how good I am. It’s normal for me, they don’t owe me anything. I know I got a chip on my shoulder because I feel like I got to prove to a lot of people that I can actually play, and I can compete on the highest level. Before the games, I would always tell myself they got me messed up because nobody knew who I was and still don’t know who I am. I still feel the same way.”

Another Blue Demon making his mark in the NBA is former forward Max Strus.

Despite going undrafted in 2019, he was named to the Boston Celtics Summer League roster before signing a two-way contract with the team. He was ultimately cut by the Celtics and signed with the Bulls.

He signed a two-way contract with the Bulls and made his debut against the Miami Heat on Nov. 22, 2019 and later joined Miami on Dec. 19, 2020. Earlier this year, on Feb. 11, Strus had a career-high 21 points against the Houston Rockets.

Attendance issues have been an issue for Wintrust Arena. The numbers have yet to reach the ones seen during its debut season. The combine should be a good publicity both for the facility and the university.