With four days of testing, interviews and scrimmages complete, the 2015 NBA Draft Combine finally comes to a close. In the coming weeks, teams will set up more interviews and workouts as they try to find prospects that fit what they need.
It can be a grueling process for players, traveling from city-to-city, enduring workouts with similar prospects. But before those begin, let’s recap what we learned from the four days in Chicago, as prospects competed to improve their stock in front of an abundance of personnel from NBA front offices.
PF/C Rakeem Christmas 6-10, 243, Syracuse, Senior
Christmas looked like a man on a mission in Chicago, performing well in both scrimmages and making his case to be a late first round pick. Christmas averaged 19.5 points, six rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in Chicago, showing an improved mid-range game and rim protection.
Christmas weighed in a 242 pounds, at 6-9.75 with a 7-5.25 wingspan, showing that he has the size and length to make an immediate impact in the NBA as a power forward or center. One thing of note, however, Christmas averaged four fouls per game in Chicago, so he must become smarter defending in the low post in the NBA. Christmas arguably improved his stock the most among participants in Chicago.
C Mouhammadou Jaiteh 6-11, 250, France
Jaiteh was another consistent performer in Chicago, averaging 11 points and 9.5 rebounds in his two games. The 20-year-old Frenchman looks like a draft-and-stash candidate for a team in the second round, but might have propelled himself into the late first with his performance in Chicago.
Jaiteh has legit center size, at 6-11, 250 pounds with a 7-3.25 wingspan and 9-2.5 standing reach. He has played well overseas, as he’s arguably the best player on JSF Nanterre, averaging 11.6 points per game and is the team’s leading rebounder. Look for Jaiteh to be picked up in the draft with intentions of him improving and coming to the NBA in a few years.
SG/SF Pat Connaughton 6-5, 215, Notre Dame, Senior
Connaughton shocked many during the athletic testing, tying the second-highest max vertical testing height of all-time with 44.0 inches. He also performed well in scrimmages, averaging 12.0 points in two games while knocking down 6-of-12 three-point shots. Showing that three-point acumen while adjusting to the NBA three-point line so quickly bodes well for Connaughton. The biggest question for him will be adjusting to being a secondary ball-handler while defending NBA wings.
He played a lot of small-ball power forward for Notre Dame, and his athletic ability allowed him to average over seven rebounds, which is positive for his NBA outlook. His projection has him squarely in the mix as a second-round pick, as he puts two-feet into professional basketball, after being drafted in the fourth round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2014.
SG/SF J.P. Tokoto 6-6, 210, North Carolina, Junior
Tokoto performed well in the 5-on-5 portion of the combine, averaging 11.5 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game in two games played. He showed a solid perimeter game, hitting a three-pointer and making mid-range shots with confidence, which was good to see as that’s his biggest question mark in regards to the NBA.
Defense is his bread-and-butter and will be the reason he will get picked in the second round. He has the potential to guard many positions in the NBA and showed the intensity needed on that end during the scrimmages, which was good to see. Tokoto will need to build off this performance into individual workouts, where he’ll surely workout against prospects who are more polished in the perimeter.
PF/C Myles Turner 6-11, 240, Texas, Freshman
The only prospect on this list who didn’t participate in the 5-on-5 portion of the combine, Turner increased his stock based on pure measurements. He measured out taller than expected, at 6-11 in shoes and 240 pounds with a 7-4 wingspan and 9-4 standing reach (tied for second at the combine), allowing him to potentially play both frontcourt positions at the next level.
Turner combines that immense size with a skilled face-up game and shot-blocking prowess to go along with his youth. Turner will be an intriguing pick for a team in the late lottery, and has off-the-charts potential if he is engaged. He dominated lower level of competition, which inflated his stats a bit. It might be a few years down the line before Turner develops into a quality NBA player, but the foundation of skills are there to be built upon.
PG/SG Terry Rozier 6-2, 190, Louisville, Sophomore
Terry Rozier was arguably the best overall player participating in the 5-on-5 portion of the combine, and he benefited greatly showing the floor game of an NBA point guard. Rozier participated in all parts of the combine, doing well in measurements, athletic testing, interviews and his play on the court.
Rozier showed the explosiveness and defensive aptitude in the scrimmages he was well-known for at Louisville but ran the team better than many expected. If Rozier can keep up this solid play throughout workouts heading towards the Draft, he could solidify himself as a late-first round pick.
Others who helped themselves: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (SG/SF, Arizona), Andrew Harrison (PG, Kentucky), Alan Williams (PF, UC-SB)
PF/SF Branden Dawson 6-7, 230, Michigan State, Senior
The athletic forward didn’t quite perform well in the athletic portion of the combine, and his stock will take a hit because of it. Dawson’s biggest hope was to display the athleticism, rebounding and defensive prowess he showcased at Michigan State, and while he performed well in the second game of scrimmages, he still has a long way to go to make it in the NBA.
Simply put, you’d be hard-pressed to find a power forward in the NBA who is under 6-7 with no perimeter skills – he shot 49 percent from the free throw line as a senior. Dawson will most likely go undrafted and will have to develop into a lockdown defender and at least some sort of perimeter threat to have a chance at the next level.
PF Chris Walker 6-10, 210, Florida, Sophomore
Walker needed to have an impact in the 5-on-5 portion of the combine in order to gain more looks as a potential second round pick, but he simply struggled to get on the court. In only 20 minutes of on-court time between two games, Walker only totaled three points and five rebounds.
Walker is still skinny for a power forward at only 210 pounds, but he performed well in athletic testing with 37.0 inches on his max vertical, which was not much of a surprise. He did total five blocks in limited time, so that was one bonus. Overall, his performance at the combine was disappointing and will most likely lead to Walker going undrafted.
SG Tyler Harvey 6-4, 180, Eastern Washington, Sophomore
Harvey struggled in this setting with a lack of length (6-5.5 wingspan) and height for a shooting guard. Harvey’s quickness allowed him to get his shot off at times, but more athletic wings were able to close down quickly and make it difficult for him. Harvey only shot 5-22 from the field and 4-15 from three between the two games.
Harvey had the second-lowest maximum vertical jump at 28.5 inches – only a 2.5-inch increase from his no step vertical of 26.0 inches. This doesn’t bode well for Harvey’s ability to create separation off the bounce and the lift he creates on his jump shots. Harvey will have to find a way to create that separation if he wants to make it in the league. Right now, Harvey is in the mix to be a second round pick.
PG Keifer Sykes 6-0, 170, UW-Green Bay, Senior
Sykes had a limited impact in only 37 minutes on the floor in his two games, scoring nine points and dishing out three assists. Sykes needed to standout in this setting to prove he belonged as a potential change-of-pace back up point guard at the next level. He showed out athletically, tying for second overall with a maximum vertical leap of 43.0, which was hardly a surprised.
Sykes has the athleticism to make it in the league, but will need to show he can compete with the top guards in the draft in team workouts that will be done as the draft nears. Sykes still has a decent chance at being a back up point guard in the league and should get looks in the second round.
Others who didn’t help themselves: Norman Powell (SG, UCLA), Dakari Johnson (C, Kentucky), Terran Petteway (SG, Nebraska), Delon Wright (PG, Utah)