Three Up, Three Down: Who helped and hurt themselves at the combine?
Every year, there are winners at the NBA Draft Combine. And even though it's awfully difficult to hurt yourself in a setting like this, there are losers every year too. Here are three guys that really helped themselves, and three guys that hurt themselves in Chicago this week.
Every year, there are players who come out as winners at the NBA Draft Combine. And even though it's awfully difficult to hurt your stock in a setting like this, there are people who come out on the short end of the stick every year too. Here are three guys that really helped themselves, and three guys that hurt themselves in Chicago this week.
Terry Rozier, PG/SG, Louisville: Rozier may have been the biggest winner this week, performing well in all facets of the process. His decision to play in the 5-on-5 portion paid off immensely, as Rozier was possibly the best player out there and he particularly showed some improvements in perceived weaknesses of his game. He got into the lane at will in Friday's game against Joe Young, and found open spot-up shooters in a way that he often did not at Louisville. He also showed an improving jump shot, and general defensive energy that will go a long way toward his carving out a niche in the NBA. Put his excellent play in the 5-on-5 in conjunction with his strong athletic testing numbers, solid measurements and good interviews, and this was basically a home run combine for Rozier. Maybe his confidence and success will convince others to participate in the 5-on-5 in the future.
Rakeem Christmas, C, Syracuse: Some believe that Christmas was the player who helped himself most this week. I wouldn't go that far, but he definitely did improve his standing a bit. He measured better than expected at 6-9.75 with a 7-5.25 wingspan, and his athletic testing was average. In 5-on-5, he was extremely active offensively, bullying his way into the paint for lay-ins and foul shots, as well as showing off increased range on his jumper (albeit with a low release point). But he was bothered a bit on Friday by the activity level and length of Chris Walker, and defensively he struggled in both games. Plus, his vision really hasn't improved at all since the season, as I'm not sure he made a pass in the halfcourt in either game. Still, this was a solid week that should solidify him as a second round pick.
Pat Connaughton, SG, Notre Dame: As I've written previously, I will refer to the past two days as "The Pat Connaughton Combine" in the future. The Notre Dame prospect was an afterthought coming into the event, but he put the crowd on notice with a 44-inch vertical jump that was the second-best in combine history. He then also performed very well in all of the other athletic testing events, and played exceedingly well in the games. He played tough, physical, communicative defense, and then also knocked down 3-pointers from both kick-outs from guards and plays himself off the dribble. For a guy that was very much on the periphery of NBA Draft radar coming into this event, Connaughton has put himself in a decent position to potentially be selected in the draft if he can knock out a few more workouts and interviews. Also, as noted here, he reiterated Friday that basketball is his first priority despite his burgeoning baseball career.
Others who helped themselves: Jordan Mickey, LSU; Devin Booker, Kentucky; Andrew Harrison, Kentucky; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona; J.P. Tokoto, UNC; Alan Williams, UC Santa Barbara; Michael Frazier, Florida
Tyler Harvey, SG, Eastern Washington: Harvey struggled this week. At times, he looked like he didn't really belong on the floor as a scorer athletically with some of the other players, and that matched up with his measurements and testing. His quickness allows him to get open for shots, but longer defenders were able to close down on him quickly and cause him issues due to his lack of explosiveness and short wingspan. He also hasn't lost his penchant for chucking, as he really just jacked up every single shot that he could without looking to pass it off. He's solidly in the second round at this stage, and it wouldn't be a total shock if he went undrafted.
Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky: Tough week for Johnson. He showed up a bit out of shape with 15 percent body fat, then admitted to the Courier-Journal that he took some time off after the season. Then, he put up a 25-inch vertical leap, which is one of the lowest scores in the last 15 years, a scary proposition for a guy that doesn't particularly play above the rim to begin with. Plus, despite being considered a second-round pick by most teams, he didn't play in the 5-on-5 portion to try to help himself, leaving his standing here only with the weak scores. Not his best week. He'll still get drafted, but it might be more toward the middle of the second round now.
Aaron Harrison, SG, Kentucky: For as much as the increased spacing of the NBA 3-point line seemed to give Andrew the little cracks and daylight that he needed to be successful here, Aaron struggled quite a bit. He measured out okay for a shooting guard at 6-6 with a 6-8 wingspan, but struggled in the games. If there's one thing that he needs to prove to scouts, it's that he can shoot. Despite his reputation for clutch heroics, the numbers simply don't back up his ability to make shots consistently. And in that regard, the jury is still out. He went 5-21 from the field -- including 1-7 from 3 -- in his two days, pressing the action often and never really looking settled. It's going to be incumbent upon him to prove to scouts in workouts that he can make shots, otherwise there's a significant chance that he could go undrafted.
Others who didn't help themselves: Treveon Graham, VCU; Ryan Boatright, UConn; TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma; Terran Petteway, Nebraska; Delon Wright, Utah
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