The NBA combine is mostly used as a way to get accurate measurements for size and athleticism of top prospects, but a number of key players will actually help themselves by playing basketball.
It's weird how competing in the sport itself is almost a strange concept, but this year's event will see the return of five-on-five drills for the first time since 2008. As Detroit Pistons general manager Jeff Bower explained, "It makes sense to watch a player play with four teammates and five defenders. We're happy about that," per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
ESPN's Chad Ford provided a full look at the competitors likely to participate in these battles:
Although many of the biggest names of the 2015 class will avoid these scrimmages, it could be a nice boost for a few less regarded prospects on the board.
Tyler Harvey, SG, Eastern Washington
You would think the nation's leading scorer at 22.9 points per game wouldn't have much to prove that wasn't already on film. However, it's hard to trust a player who only put up stats against inferior competition.
Tyler Harvey had an excellent two seasons for Eastern Washington, but there is clearly a big jump from the Big Sky to the NBA. The 6'4" guard has to prove he can get it done against better competition, and the combine is a good place to start.
Unlike many other small-school prospects, Harvey was efficient with his shooting (43.1 percent from three-point range) and had a knack for creating his own shot. He should be able to keep this up with bigger, more athletic defenders going forward.
Additionally, the shooting guard class isn't exactly deep for 2015, as Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports noted:
With some strong play this week, Harvey can find himself in the first round of the draft.
Joseph Young, PG, Oregon
Usually a competition like this will cause players to be more selfish than usual, showing off their scoring ability in front of scouts. However, Joseph Young showed off his scoring ability all year long while carrying Oregon, averaging 20.7 points per game.
Instead, this will be a chance for the former Ducks star to showcase his other skills, as Sheila Mikailli of College Insider noted:
Oregon had some young talent, but in reality the senior was forced to take more tough shots than necessary to keep the squad afloat. That won't be the case no matter where he lands at the next level. He will instead need to become more of an all-around player who can distribute as well as he can score.
In the five-on-five scrimmages, Young can display the skills he couldn't show at Oregon because there simply wasn't enough help on the roster.
Terran Petteway, SF, Nebraska
Just like Young, Terran Petteway was asked to carry his college team this past season. The difference was the Nebraska star did a poor job in this role.
While Petteway is a gifted scorer with the athleticism and quickness to create his own shot, he was incredibly inefficient this past season while shooting just 39.6 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three-point range.
The good news is he seems to be getting back on track just in time to show scouts what he can do. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress watched the forward show off his outside shooting in recent days:
When you watch Petteway on the floor for a few plays, you see a competitor capable of becoming a versatile scorer who will be tough to defend at any level. These skills should be on display at the combine in a wide-open game against top competition.
Obviously this won't erase everything he did during the year, but you can certainly understand if he convinces an NBA organization of his potential in the coming days.
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