2019 NBA Draft Combine takeaways: Grant Williams staying in draft, veteran guards impress
Seven things you need to know to recap the final day of the NBA Draft combine
CHICAGO -- The second and final day of the NBA Draft Combine took place on Friday with a notably thinner participant list than the first. Due to various reasons, at least six players chose not to participate in scrimmages and drills, leaving those in attendance buzzing in curiosity -- and frustration -- as to why. Despite several prospects clearly feeling confident (with good reason) after strong showings on day one, the general consensus was that, for players skipping, more was to be gained by participating than lost.
Nonetheless, basketball was indeed played here Friday, which served as the final day for players to take the court in the most public of forums with maximum exposure before the next stage of the draft process. There are still private workouts, interviews and more to be done by front offices in weeks ahead, but it was a good send-off platform for many fringe first rounders and second rounders who seized the opportunity to make a splash.
We scouted both scrimmages from the day and have compiled everything you need to know.
1. Grant Williams staying in the draft
With a degree in hand and two SEC Player of the Year honors in the trophy case, Tennessee star Grant Williams decided Friday morning to announce his intentions of officially staying in the draft. Williams hasn't been the same scoring threat at the combine that he's consistently been at UT, but even with uneven offensive performances this week he's shown a lot of traits that NBA teams love: passing, competitiveness and rebounding.
Williams told CBS Sports on Friday that feedback he's gotten since entering the process about where he may land played a huge role in his decision to forgo his remaining college eligibility.
"I think I'm a little bit favored [expected to be drafted] inside the later teens or early twenties," Williams said. "I've moved my range up just by demonstrating I can shoot the basketball in some of these drills and workouts."
2. Tacko Fall continues to generate buzz
He's 7-foot-7 with shoes, his wingspan is 8'2 1/4", and his standing reach? A whopping 10'2 1/2". All three of those measurements, according to ESPN, are record numbers we've not seen since at least the 1980s. As I noted in my, his length absolutely warps the game. Limitations aside, his long and wiry arms create the feeling for shooters that football kickers might feel if the goal posts were half the width and guarded by Michael Jordan's stretchy arms from Space Jam -- good luck!
Fall has flaws in his game and he's not been dominant this week, but he's shown some promising things defensively and can dunk within roughly 30 feet of the rim. That seems useful; an NBA team may decide it's enough for a second round shot.
3. One-and-done is a thing even at the combine
As I noted at the front, Friday was skip day at the combine. Among those who chose not to participate: Charles Bassey, Coby White, Moses Brown, DaQuan Jeffries, Jalen Lecque, and Luka Samanic. Among that group, only two project as first rounders, and one as a consensus lottery pick.
It's not a surprise that some chose to shut it down, but it did create quite a buzz in the building, especially for players who are not surefire draft picks. In an event center that featured Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, Thunder GM Sam Presti and many other executives and scouts across the league, many felt it was a squandered opportunity to showcase their talents on a big stage in front of key decision-makers.
4. Veteran guards enjoying success
In a slightly thinned-out participant list, veteran point guards quietly had strong showings throughout the day. In the first scrimmage, LSU's Tremont Waters was the winner in my eyes. Waters pickpocketed KU's Devon Dotson, made a couple of nice 3-pointers -- a spot-up, and a smooth 3 from the top of the key which he dribbled in to -- and generally was solid all day. For a guard who measured at a tick under 5-foot-10 without shoes this week, he played well above his size. Even when matched up against bigger defenders, he confidently juked and jived and got to his spots to shoot or facilitate. In one instance, he sized up a defender, juked and jived, and whirled around all in one smooth motion to deliver an on-the-money one-hand zip pass into the post. Waters plays with a lot of energy and confidence, and it paid off today.
In the second game, Auburn guard Jared Harper and Tennessee guard Jordan Bone enjoyed pretty even showings. Harper started fast but faded, and got lost on a pick-and-roll on the perimeter as if someone had blindfolded him, but he controlled the tempo well and took care of the ball. Bone, meanwhile, did a nice job making open shots when he had them, delivered a couple laser-lined passes to teammates, and improved his standing overall. Both junior guards could be interesting options for teams looking to snag experienced and capable guards in the second round.
5. Speaking of 7-footers ...
Utah State freshman Neemias Queta showed some interesting stuff on the court today. A really active and competitive big man who this week was one of only four prospects to measure at 7-foot or taller with shoes (he also had the largest hand size).
Queta had a tough matchup Thursday playing against Fall, one of the most impossible assignments for any player this week. But Friday he really got a chance to show some stuff, recording three points, six rebounds and displaying fervor on the defensive end of the floor. Queta might be a year away from being really good; if he comes back to Utah State next season I expect he'll be dominant and enter next year's draft as a center to keep tabs on. For now, he's an interesting prospect with physical tools that will have teams asking to see more.
6. Welcome to the Isaiah Roby show
Roby finished with a horrendous plus/minus on the day. But dearest nerds, let it not mislead you about what he did on the afternoon. Throwing down dunks, running the floor with spirit, going at -- and I mean at! -- Tacko Fall were all highlights. In one particular sequence, Roby gathered a rebound, dribbled the length of the court in transition, and finished with an opposite hand layup, showing off some surprisingly competent handles for a 6-foot-9 forward. Roby did well for himself by playing, and his draft stock seems to be rising as such.
7. The All-Oohs and Aahs team
The gym here in Chicago is always buzzing -- mostly with schmoozing -- but Friday there were a few moments during scrimmages where the attendees couldn't help but let out a squeal or shriek in excitement. Tacko Fall, with a one-handed swat (that came after a whistle), certainly provided one of the most thrilling of those moments. But for my money, Zach Norvell Jr., the Chicago native and Gonzaga product, produced the most unexpected.
Norvell finished with a game-high 18 points in his team's win on 7-of-11 shooting (3-of-7 from 3), and after a juke on the perimeter in one instance, he confidently raised his arms and let out his left-handed release that looked fake it was so smooth. Norvell's physical profile and talents generated a lot of buzz, and his scoring outburst was the talk of the gym.
Honorable mention: Kyle Guy. Guy dribbled into traffic on one sequence -- directly into the body of Tacko Fall. Instead of immediately folding into criss-cross applesauce as many would do, Guy hit the cyclone and squeezed a layup off the inside of the glass. Everyone expected Fall to swat the ball into orbit, but Guy getting it to go was a pleasant and extremely unexpected sight.
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