The lottery portion of the NBA draft naturally receives the vast majority of attention every year, but the back half of the first round has been home to some of the better players in the league. For example, Jimmy Butler was taken 30th in 2011 by the Chicago Bulls, while the two starting centers in this year's Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz playoff series (Clint Capela and Rudy Gobert) went 25th and 27th, respectively, a few years later.
Players projected to go toward the end of the first round likely want to increase their draft stock as the big day nears, and they'll have an opportunity to do so at the NBA Draft Combine, which will take place next Wednesday through Sunday.
Here's a list of the 69 combine participants below, alongside the schedule, other pertinent information and three players to watch. The focus in the latter section is on prospects currently mocked in the latter half of the first round by Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report.
- Arizona G Rawle Alkins
- Duke G Grayson Allen
- Dayton F Kostas Antetokounmpo
- Kansas C Udoka Azubuike
- Duke F Marvin Bagley III
- Texas F Mohamed Bamba
- Arkansas G Jaylen Barford
- Ohio State F Keita Bates-Diop
- Syracuse G Tyus Battle
- South Carolina F Brian Bowen II
- Villanova G/F Mikal Bridges
- Michigan State F Miles Bridges
- Miami G Bruce Brown Jr.
- Oregon F Troy Brown Jr.
- Villanova G Jalen Brunson
- Penn State G Tony Carr
- West Virginia G Jevon Carter
- Duke F Wendell Carter
- Kentucky G Hamidou Diallo
- Villanova G Donte DiVincenzo
- Duke G Trevon Duval
- Cincinnati G Jacob Evans
- Maryland F Bruno Fernando
- Tulane G Melvin Frazier Jr.
- Kentucky G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Kansas G Devonte Graham
- Virginia G Devon Hall
- UCLA G Jaylen Hands
- UT Arlington F Kevin Hervey
- UCLA G Aaron Holiday
- Maryland G Kevin Huerter
- Boise State F Chandler Hutchison
- Michigan State F Jaren Jackson Jr.
- Maryland F Justin Jackson
- Missouri State F Alize Johnson
- Colorado G George King
- Kentucky F Kevin Knox
- West Virginia F Sagaba Konate
- Nevada F Caleb Martin
- Nevada F Cody Martin
- Georgia F Yante Maten
- UNLV F Brandon McCoy
- USC G De'Anthony Melton
- USC F Chimezie Metu
- SMU G Shake Milton
- Kansas F Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
- Kansas G Malik Newman
- Georgia Tech G Josh Okogie
- Missouri F Jontay Porter
- Missouri F Michael Porter Jr.
- Igokea (Bosnia) F Billy Preston
- Boston College G Jerome Robinson
- Chalmette HS C Mitchell Robinson
- Alabama G Collin Sexton
- Wichita State G Landry Shamet
- IMG Academy G Anfernee Simons
- Texas Tech G Zhaire Smith
- Villanova F Omari Spellman
- Creighton G Khyri Thomas
- Duke G Gary Trent Jr.
- Arizona G Allonzo Trier
- Kentucky F Jarred Vanderbilt
- Michigan F Moritz Wagner
- Miami G Lonnie Walker
- Kentucky F PJ Washington
- Auburn C Austin Wiley
- UCLA G Kris Wilkes
- TCU G Kenrich Williams
- Oklahoma G Trae Young
Schedule and Other Information
Dates: Wednesday, May 16, to Sunday, May 20
Location: Quest Multisport in Chicago
TV Coverage: Thursday, May 17, and Friday, May 18, from 3-7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Combine Workload: Shooting drills, strength and agility drills, measurements, five-on-five games, team interviews
Players To Watch
Penn State G Tony Carr
Can Penn State guard Tony Carr parlay his final four NIT games into a first-round selection? The 6'5" sophomore averaged 21.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game during that stretch, including a near triple-double (15 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds) in a championship game win over Utah.
The two-year Nittany Lion has two things going for him on the next level: First, he's a taller point guard at 6'5", and second, he's excellent from three-point range (43.3 percent), which is a vast improvement from his first year at Penn State (32.0 percent).
NBADraft.net has a solid pro comparison for Carr, aligning him with former NBA standout Sam Cassell, a tough 15-year veteran who averaged 15.7 points and 6.0 assists and played a key role in two championships for the Houston Rockets. If Carr has anything close to the career that Cassell had, he would be a steal at the end of the first round.
Villanova G Jalen Brunson
Although being named the Naismith College Player of the Year doesn't guarantee being a lottery selection in the NBA draft, it's still odd seeing Villanova guard Jalen Brunson being mocked in the back end of the first round by some sources.
It makes sense, as Brunson's size (6'3", 190 lbs) and athleticism is a bit lacking compared to some other guards. However, Brunson is a proven winner (part of two national championship teams) who excelled on the highest stage.
Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer offered praise for Brunson during the Final Four, noting the following:
"He plays like someone who grew up around the game. He rarely forces the issue or takes bad shots, and opposing defenses can't speed him up. He knocks down 3s, drives the gaps, and finds open teammates, making the right decision in Villanova head coach Jay Wright's read-and-react offense almost every time he touches the ball."
Brunson's efficiency during his last two seasons was remarkable, as he made 52.9 percent of his shots, while posting 16.9 points and 4.4 assists per game. Although Brunson may not become a star on the next level, he could certainly be a key piece on contending teams during a long NBA career.
UCLA G Aaron Holiday
The UCLA guard broke out during his third year in Westwood, averaging 20.3 points and 5.8 assists en route to leading his team to the NCAA tournament. His three-point shooting percentage (42.9 percent) also went up from his sophomore year despite taking 2.6 more shots per game from beyond the arc.
Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype wrote about Holiday's pro prospects, noting that "he plays with a tenacity that will be worth watching in the NBA" and that he "will likely be a backup in the pros because he is not particularly fast but can score in bunches off the bench."
Even if he's a backup on the next level, as this year's playoffs have showed, numerous teams could use deeper benches to contend in April, May and June, specifically a sharpshooter to lead the second unit.
For example, Eric Gordon averaged 18.0 points (primarily off the bench) for a 65-win Rockets team, while Marco Belinelli (13.6 points on 49.5 percent shooting) was a key piece for the Philadelphia 76ers during their 16-game win streak to end the regular season.
Like Brunson and Carr before him, Holiday certainly has the potential to be a significant part of a contending team's rotation.