by TRINI ANDREW
The NBA draft combine doesn’t compare to the NFL in terms of its scope, magnitude and its ability to affect draft stock but it is very important nevertheless. Its main purpose is to gain consistent measurements amongst draft entrants while allowing early entrants one final chance to impress front offices before making the decision whether or not to return to school.
A guaranteed top five pick typically does not have much to gain from competing in drills during the combine, rather, it is a chance for certain players to sneak into the first round or even become a lottery pick if they can exceed their pre-combine expectations. The NBA is fast becoming a position-less sport and it is important for big men to have an impressive wingspan, hand size or max vertical if they do not have the height to traditionally play center. For guards with less than impressive measurables, the strength and agility portion of the combine carries greater weight. Lastly, the five on five drills are beneficial for everyone but is of utmost importance for international prospects to perform well.
The NBA combine has been especially beneficial for Jonathan Jeanne (Pick #30 in the previous mock draft, Bam Adebayo (Previously #19), Jordan Bell (Previously #13), Frank Jackson (Not on the previous list) and most surprisingly, Hamidou Diallo (Not on the previous list). The combination of combine results with many players already withdrawn from draft consideration makes this mock draft significantly different than before.
- Boston Celtics (via Nets)
The most well-rounded and NBA-ready player in the draft, Fultz also possesses tremendous upside. Markelle Fultz can play either guard spot and within any NBA offense. Reminds me of a vintage Penny Hardaway. He has the height and length to defend 3 positions. Will need to improve his free throw shooting and attention on defense in the NBA. In a draft full of PGs and SFs, irrespective of which team gets the first overall pick, he will be the first name called off the board. He will be an immediate contributor and would ultimately hasten the departure of whomever previously occupied his spot in the lineup.
- Phoenix Suns
Competitiveness on both sides of the ball will be his calling card in the NBA. Josh Jackson is not the most skilled scorer in the draft nor does he possess superior ball handling skills. His hands are not as large as other prospects and he tends to attack the basket in a straight line. He has already learned to maximize his abilities; his catch and shoot ability from three translates well, he has superior court awareness, anticipation, and excellent foot speed. His commitment to defense will earn him lengthy court time early in his career which will also accelerate his offensive development. If his offensive improvements ever approach his current defensive ability, he could become one of the best players in the NBA.
- Los Angeles Lakers
The one player who could potentially vault to the number one overall pick based on individual workouts. Jayson Tatum is the complete package of individual scoring from the SF position with a wide variety of post-up, face-up and off the dribble moves. At six foot eight with an almost seven-foot wingspan he can play small ball power forward and might even bulk up to play power forward on a permanent basis. Currently a cross between Jabari Parker and Carmelo Anthony, he also possesses the potential to be a solid contributor on the defensive end. He projects to be a primary scorer for a team and has to learn how to score within a free-flowing offense.
- Philadelphia 76ers
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and De’Aaron Fox might not be every GM’s cup of tea but he has all of the intangibles to offset his current limitations. He is quite possibly the fastest player in the draft with the ball in his hands. Speed kills in the NBA and his speed combined with his control and change of pace via hesitation dribbles can break even the most established defenses. His NBA combine measured weight was very low for a PG of his height and he will need to improve his weight and three-point shooting in the NBA. He is very good on the defensive end and fights through most screens. He should immediately be a successful drive and dish point guard and is most suited for a team that has a plethora of jump shooters.
- Orlando Magic
|Jonathan Isaac||6’11”||210||SF/PF||Florida State||Freshman|
An intriguing combo forward, Jonathan Isaac projects to the be the rarest of 3 and D players, with the ability to get blocks as well as steals. His seven foot one wingspan, good foot speed and tremendous assets that allows him to cover the entire court on help defense. He has a guard’s mentality due to a late growth spurt (think Anthony Davis) and is very fluid on the court. His individual scoring ability leaves a lot to be desired at this point in his career and his slight frame does not seem to suited to add much more weight. The lack of weight does not seem to hinder him on the defensive end but will prevent him from maximizing his post up ability. I believe he is one of those players who is better suited to the NBA rather than the NCAA. Jonathan Isaac could be the three-point shooting equivalent to the “Greek Freak”.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
The best shooter in the draft happens to be one of the tallest. Lazy comparisons have likened him to Dirk Nowitzki but Lauri Markkanen is in the next wave of European big men who possess great athleticism (comparable to size) in addition to great shooting mechanics. A prolific three-point shooter in college, Lauri can put the ball on the ground and score at the basket. His very small wingspan and lack of strength will prevent him from playing center full time and he should be partnered upfront with a defensive rebounding big man to maximize his skills. He should immediately thrive as a pick and pop shooter in a spread offense.
- New York Knicks
The best passer in the draft, Lonzo Ball combines superior court vision and decision making to always find the open man. He can see over the defense with his height and is more effective on fast breaks than half court sets. He shot the ball very impressively in college but I have serious concerns on how that translates into the NBA due to his low windup and release. His shooting form will probably have to be completely remade. His inability to guard quick PG’s in the NCAA may force him into playing SG in the NBA which would also marginalize his best traits. Will need to add muscle to his frame and increase his foot speed.
- Sacramento Kings
|Dennis Smith||6’2″||195||PG||NC State||Freshman|
Dennis Smith is possibly the most explosive athlete in the draft. He plays very low to the ground and unfurls quickly when near to the rim. He also possesses great court vision and has all the tools to be an elite defensive player. Similar in body type and playing style to Russell Westbrook, he must substantially increase his three-point shooting as well as his midrange game to maximize his ability. Currently, he’s getting by mainly on natural ability. He will be able to collapse any defense and dish to an open player for easy shots.
- Dallas Mavericks
A player who would have benefitted from attended the NBA combine, he has superior height and length for the PG position. This is combined with a solid understanding of the game and the ability to control the offense. A pass-first point guard, he does not possess the explosive ability of other guards and will instead have to rely on craftiness on the offensive end. Projects to be a superior defensive guard.
- Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)
In past years, being a six foot three shooting guard might have caused Malik Monk to drop further in the draft but the current NBA values scoring and especially shooting ability to raw size at the SG spot. Malik Monk is a perimeter scorer and can be effective in the starting lineup or coming off the bench. He makes up for his less than ideal height with an impressive max vertical. He may struggle to defend larger guards but his main role on the floor will be to score. He does not currently profile as a combo guard.
- Charlotte Hornets
|Dwayne Bacon||6’6″||220||SG/SF||Florida St.||Sophomore|
Blessed with an NBA-ready body for the SG position, Dwayne Bacon profiles as an immediate role player who can grow into a larger starring role. The NBA draft is not only about selecting stars in the lottery but also about finding players who can fit various needs for the team. A cross between Danny Green and Khris Middleton, he can defend larger players due to his weight and passing lanes due to his very large hands. An effective individual scorer and defender. He is one of the more well-rounded players in the draft. Needs to improve his off the ball feel of the game on both ends of the floor.
- Detroit Pistons
The leader of one of the best teams in college basketball last year. Nigel Williams-Goss needed to have a very good NBA draft combine and he did. He had excellent results in the agility drills and measured well in height, reach and hand size. Very similar player to Deron Williams coming into the draft, he profiles as a floor general who can control the flow of the offense without giving up much on the defensive end.
- Denver Nuggets
I’ve previously said the one thing holding back Jordan Bell from NBA success was his low basketball IQ and poor fundamentals (Most notably seen by his inability to box out on two consecutive free throws in the NCAA Finals). He needed to have a great NBA draft combine and he surpassed everyone’s expectations. His size measurements were as expected and his agility scores were record breaking (fastest shuttle time in combine history) for a PF. He also showed off his newfound three-point range in shooting drills which suggest that he can combine his elite defensive ability with interior scoring and the shooting to keep defenses honest. He will need to keep improving offensively to thrive in the NBA.
- Miami Heat
A versatile scorer, TJ Leaf brings scoring and a solid understanding of offense from the PF position. He cannot play C which limits him defensively but he is equally comfortable in the post or facing up 20 feet from the rim. He has a high motor, explosiveness, and ball handling skills to conduct fast breaks. Does not have defensive instincts but acquits himself well in team defense. Should be comfortable shooting from the three-point line and physical enough to grab defensive rebounds.
- Portland Trail Blazers
We’re entering the part of the draft where the team picks are set and this is the first of three first-round picks for the Trailblazers. While they have fifteen players under contract, they will be trimming their roster either by waiving or trading players. Bam Adebayo would be a good above the rim complement to Jusuf Nurkic, whom they acquired last year to provide interior scoring. A physical specimen who should immediately become a great screen setter and defensive contributor, he profiles as a late career Dwight Howard/early Amare Stoudemire. He needs to consistently show the intangibles and motor to go with his size.
- Chicago Bulls
|Justin Jackson||6’8″||200||SF||North Carolina||Junior|
The Bulls are heading into the draft with several holes to fill most notably three-point shooting and off the ball movement. At this stage in Fred Hoiberg’s tenure, he does not have time to groom raw players into rotation players. Justin Jackson does not have a high upside and his physique is not suited for the rigors of the NBA. He can immediately step into the rotation however at SG/SF and play off any combination of Rondo, Wade and Butler. Is very coachable which seems to be an issue with the bulls. He should be able to combine with Denzel Valentine and Bobby Portis to be the next wave off the bench.
- Milwaukee Bucks
Another person needed to have a good NBA draft combine and he did not disappoint. Terrance Ferguson brings great height and athleticism to the SG position. He has excellent shooting form and should be able to be a consistent three-point shooter in the NBA. He is undeniably raw but the Bucks have shown a willingness and aptitude in developing raw, international prospects while simultaneously competing for the playoffs. Could be drafted much higher if he performs well in individual team workouts and one and one matchups.
- Indiana Pacers
A modern stretch four. Tyler Lydon only brings one skill at this stage in his career and that is his ability to shoot three-pointers with his feet set. He does not have the skill to drive against NBA defenses but he has very good off the ball movement to create space for himself. He is a good help defender who can get steals and blocks and would benefit playing between Paul George and Myles Turner. His underwhelming physical measurements puts a limit of how high his ceiling can be.
- Atlanta Hawks
Jarett Allen is a 6’11” center with a 7’6” wingspan and a sprint time comparable to a guard. His physical tools outweigh his college production especially as he player mainly as a PF. His strengths and mainly rebounding and he has a soft touch around the basket. He does not show great defensive instincts nor great lateral speed but has very good end to end speed which should get him open looks on fast breaks. Will need to improve almost every aspect of his game. He should pattern his game after DeAndre Jordan.
- Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies/Nuggets)
I’ve been following Jonathan Jeanne for a few years now as he was a late withdrawal for last year’s draft. Another extremely raw player with great height and length, Jeanne is surprisingly mobile for a man of his size and has already begun to add weight to his frame. He should be able to add another twenty pounds of muscle in the next few years. His projects to be a plus defender and passer and his height and mobility allow him to get easy points near the basket. He should be able to develop a post-up game once he gains more muscle mass.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Mitchell shoots into the first round of the NBA draft basically due to his defensive potential combined with his performance in the agility portion of the combine. He is slightly undersized at 6’3” but has very good length, large hands, and obscene speed and agility. He should be able to continue his perimeter defensive in the NBA and give the Thunder yet another athlete to pair with Russell Westbrook.
- Brooklyn Nets (via Wizards)
Frank Jackson obliterated the field in the agility portion of the combine. He has great shooting form and college splits as well as a good pedigree playing under Mike Krzyzewski. At this stage of their rebuild, the Nets have to continue taking risks on high boom or bust players and Jackson could use the playing time afforded being on such a rebuilding team. He could be the Zach LaVine of this year’s draft (three-point shooter with great hops). Would be a good complement for the relatively poor shooters of the Nets. He will need to develop as either a PG or SG.
- Toronto Raptors
A good at many things but master of none small forward. He brings good size and skill to the SF forward position. He can score from deep, put the ball on the floor and attack the rim and acquits himself well in individual defense. He has a developing post-up game and will find and pass to the open man. Will need to become more of a team player in the NBA and also avoid further long-term injuries.
- Utah Jazz
Zach Collins brings great size as a true seven-footer with three-point range. Has very good mobility and show good offensive/defensive potential. Has a good array of post-up moves and spatial awareness. Did not play any significant minutes at Gonzaga against NBA caliber big men. Zach Collins possess the tools to be a traditional center in the NBA albeit a role that is diminishing.
- Orlando Magic (via Clippers/Raptors)
A player who will be drafted based on his athletic ability as he did not play a single minute for the University of Kentucky. This did not prevent Enes Kanter from being selected third overall in the 2011 NBA draft. Hamidou Diallo brings unparalleled athleticism combined with natural scoring instincts, a high motor, and great defensive instincts. He would be the equivalent of a high school player but should be extremely moldable and could move further up in the draft based on individual workouts.
- Portland Trail Blazers (via Cavaliers)
|PJ Dozier||6’7″||200||PG/SG||South Carolina||Sophomore|
A combo guard with terrific size and agility, PJ Dozier benefited from the NBA combine to solidify his first-round status. He would be better suited coming off the bench as an energy player. Does not shoot the ball well enough to command respect from defenses, Dozier relies on a mid-range game comprising of fake and spins to score in the post, can get easy points in transition. Perfect fit to add perimeter defense when one of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum needs some rest. Can learn a lot from Evan Turner on how to thrive in the mid-range.
- Brooklyn Nets (via Celtics)
A very active big man with 7’3” wingspan, Motley is a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor as well as an interior scorer. While he is a good individual defender, he has not shown much as a rim protector nor does he project to be a three-point shooter. His game is most similar to Tristan Thompson and he brings a lot of energy, athleticism and toughness to the PF position. He should be able to play C in small ball lineups. His bread and butter in the NBA will be scoring transition points and grabbing rebounds.
- Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets)
Coming off an ACL injury OG Anunoby needed to have good measurements at the combine and he showed fantastic wingspan and muscle mass for his size. The best defender in the draft, he should immediately be able to defend all five positions. He cannot create his own shot but is active enough to score when presented with the opportunity. A great value pick for the Lakers as he can bring defensive intensity alongside a team full of scorers while learning the nuances of the game from similarly built players such as Luol Deng and Metta World Peace.
- San Antonio Spurs
An impressive physical specimen who can bring much-needed activity and toughness to the center position. He is more of a hard worker than a skilled player at this stage. Isaiah will grab tough rebounds and has an unorthodox release that makes it hard to defend. Similar player to Robin Lopez. Has good shooting form and might be able to extend his range to the three-point line. His gait will have to be corrected as he is too compact in the half court. Has the end to end speed to be active in the transition game. He will allow LaMarcus Aldridge to stay at the PF position.
- Utah Jazz (via Warriors)
A former contender for the number one overall pick, Harry Giles has seen his career almost derailed by multiple knee injuries. His combine measurements as well as his agility scores means that he will certainly be drafted in the first round as long as his medical records check out. He might never be a full-time player to prevent wear and tear on his knees, but he is an incredibly gifted athlete and can play in any offensive/defensive scheme. Should be able to anchor a defense and score in the post up to 15 feet. NBA has a poor history of big men with multiple knee injuries as such, he is the ultimate boom or bust player. He is much less of a risk for the Warriors as they only need to him to provide spot minutes for Draymond Green and against certain matchups. Will only see single team coverage when on the floor with so many shooters.