Biggest storylines at the 2023 NBA draft combine

Purdue's Zach Edey is one of 123 athletes heading to Chicago this weekend for the NBA draft combine, G League Elite camp and pro day circuit. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

A record 123 players will assemble at Wintrust Arena in Chicago for the NBA draft combine, G League Elite camp and pro day circuit starting Saturday, kicking draft season into high gear.

Chicago also plays host to the highly anticipated NBA draft lottery on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), a monumental event that will determine which lucky franchise is given the right to select Victor Wembanyama, the most coveted basketball prospect since LeBron James in 2003.

The NBA moved the draft lottery to the middle of combine week a few years ago and invited top projected picks to be part of the television show. It helped make the combine more attractive to top prospects, who had increasingly declined invites and elected not to show up at all (more on that later).

That trend has been reversed, as all of the top prospects in the draft -- with the exception of Wembanyama, who is still playing for Paris' Metropolitans 92 along with fellow first-round projected teammate Bilal Coulibaly -- are slated to be in attendance this week.

The G League and NBA combines will also help provide feedback to dozens of collegiate prospects "testing the waters" who will decide whether to keep their names in the June 22 NBA draft or return to school by the May 31 NCAA deadline.

Three international-based prospects will also be in attendance, providing NBA teams with an excellent opportunity to evaluate players who would be difficult to see otherwise: Rayan Rupert, Nikola Djurisic and Tristan Vukcevic, with only Vukcevic expected to play in scrimmages.

Players will interview with teams, and many will participate in competitive 5-on-5 contests, shooting, transition and 3-on-3 drills. Some of them will undergo extensive medical examinations, measurements and athletic testing.

Still, most of the top prospects won't participate in any of these activities -- and certainly won't pick up a basketball in front of NBA teams during that time. Some might elect to be measured or conduct interviews with teams or the media, if deemed advantageous for them to do so, but few first-rounders will elect to participate in drills or scrimmages for fear of injury or damaging their draft stock with a poor showing.

This has caused significant friction between teams -- which will be in Chicago for more than a week and want to get their money's worth for their time -- and agents, who often feel less is often more when it comes to baring their clients' weaknesses for the world to see.