LaVine among risers at combine

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CHICAGO -- The 2014 NBA draft combine officially got underway Thursday. Once again, a plethora of NBA GMs, scouts and head coaches were in the gym to watch around 60 of the top draft prospects run through five hours of drills and measurements in the morning.

In the afternoon, teams sat down, one-on-one, with the prospects to interview them.

On Friday, the combine continues with more intensive drills and live action, along with athletic and strength testing and more interviews in the afternoon. (Watch on ESPNU from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET.). On Saturday, players will get physicals conducted by the league.

I was in the gym for the five hours Thursday and in the Palmer House hotel lobby, where the players were staying, for most of the afternoon and evening. Here's what I learned.

Elite players missing in action

The NBA draft combine continues to struggle to get the top players to go through the drills portion of the combine. Two years ago, 11 players, including Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes, Dion Waiters, Jared Sullinger, Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers and Arnett Moultrie, refused to do the drills.

Last year, the numbers were equally bad. Ben McLemore, Otto Porter Jr., Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, C.J. McCollum, Michael Carter-Williams, Cody Zeller, Dennis Schroeder and Mason Plumlee all bailed on the drills section.

This year, things took a turn for the worse.