2018 NBA Combine: Players Who Hurt and Helped Themselves the Most

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 19, 2018

2018 NBA Combine: Players Who Hurt and Helped Themselves the Most

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    CHICAGO — Scouts and executives from all 30 teams were present for the 2018 NBA Draft Combine to interview and watch eligible prospects perform drills, athletic testing, measurements and scrimmaging. 

    And every year, we see players help or hurt their stock. 

    Kyle Kuzma was 2017's big winner after dominating five-on-five play.

    Some of this year's winners are prospects without agents who are testing the waters, trying to make enough of an impression to secure first-round interest. And after the week, it seems like a few will steal spots in the teens or 20s, which could shake up our post-lottery mock draft.

Helped: Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, SG, Sophomore)

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Post-combine projection: No. 15-30

    After a 31-point performance (that likely influenced his decision to test the waters) in the national title game, Donte DiVincenzo kept it going in Chicago. 

    With everyone in the gym locked in on the first few minutes of Thursday's opening scrimmage, DiVincenzo knocked down a pair of catch-and-shoot three-pointers, both contested, a reflection of both his shot-making skills and confidence. 

    He continued to make an impression with his energy and athleticism by pushing the pace, creating turnovers and rising above bigs in traffic to grab rebounds. 

    Exiting the combine with the highest standing leap (34.5"), tied for the top max vertical (42.0") and the fifth-fastest lane agility time (10.72), DiVincenzo was an obvious winner.

    Thursday afternoon, he hinted at wanting to be a first-round pick to keep his name in the draft. We had already had him No. 25 on lottery night.

Helped: Kevin Huerter (Maryland, SF, Sophomore)

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    Post-combine projection: 2018 fringe first round, 2019 top 20

    Viewed as a shooting specialist out of Maryland, Kevin Huerter backed up his reputation, but also flashed versatility that suggests he's more than just a spot-up marksman.

    He showcased his convincing 41.7 percent three-point stroke, though it was the other skills that popped—particularly during scrimmages.

    Huerter, who averaged 3.4 assists as a sophomore, demonstrated both high-IQ passing and the ability to attack closeouts and make plays. "Knows how to play" will be a cliche written on scouting reports. 

    The eye test may show a skinny, below-the-rim forward, but he measured 6'7 ½" and managed to record the third-fasted shuttle at the combine. And he got up for a respectable 38-inch max vertical. 

    It could still make sense for Huerter to return as a junior, when he'd have a better shot to crack the lottery. Either way, he capitalized on his invite to the combine and should now be on every team's radar, whether it's for this draft or next.

Helped: Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, SG, Junior)

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    Post-combine projection: Late first round

    Jacob Evans was one of only three prospects we'd projected as first-rounders (pre-combine) who participated in a scrimmage. His agency told Bleacher Report he was adamant about proving himself, which should sit well with teams to begin with and is a reflection of his signature toughness and fearlessness. 

    Evans played well on Thursday, showing off both the shot-making and defense that earned him a spot on NBA radars. One sequence summed up his game: a corner three, followed by on-ball pressure that forced a backcourt violation.

    He's an eye-test standout under the NBA scouting lens, regardless of how pedestrian his stats may appear. 

    Evans sat out Friday with a finger injury, but there wasn't a need for him to participate. He's a good bet to start drawing looks in the early 20s.

Hurt: Brandon McCoy (UNLV, C, Freshman)

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    L.E. Baskow/Associated Press

    Post-combine projection: Nos. 40-60

    Brandon McCoy did little in Chicago to convince NBA teams he's worth a first-round pick.

    The underwhelming athletic-test scores were to be expected. But McCoy had trouble during scrimmages, often catching in the post and holding while teammates stood and watched. His back-to-the-basket bully method didn't work against NBA prospects the way it did at UNLV. 

    McCoy, who already hired an agent and can't go back to school, does not meet the criteria for a modern-day center, unable to stretch the floor, protect the rim or switch out on the perimeter. He'll be in jeopardy of falling into the 40s or 50s, or maybe even going undrafted. 

Helped: Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    Post-combine projection: Top five

    Mohamed Bamba simply confirmed the expected: He possesses one of the most unique physical profiles the NBA draft has ever seen. 

    Bamba created buzz without touching a ball or moving his feet. His 7'10" wingspan ranks as the longest in NBA.com's database, ahead of rim protectors like Hassan Whiteside (7'7") and Rudy Gobert (7'8 ½").

    His standing reach measured 9'7 ½", which means he can nearly touch the rim with his heels on the floor. 

    Sharp and humble—previously well-known characteristics—Bamba likely impressed every team he met with during interviews.

    There is a growing belief that Bamba could be in play at No. 3 once Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic are off the board. And those chances only improved following his appearance in Chicago.  

Helped: Melvin Frazier (Tulane, SF, Junior)

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    Post-combine projection: Late first round

    Melvin Frazier played well Thursday and then sat out Friday, a potential sign he received positive feedback regarding his chances of going in the first round. 

    After rising for a 40 ½" max vertical and measuring 6'6" with a 7'1 ¾" wingspan—excellent numbers for a wing—Frazier showed a little of everything during his scrimmage.

    He knocked down a three, had a strong lefty drive, exploded for a windmill dunk on a fast break and defended with intensity. 

    It appears his stock will benefit from both a solid showing at the combine and the rising value of two-way wings. 

Helped: Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech, SG, Sophomore)

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    Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

    Post-combine projection: Fringe first round

    Josh Okogie will be moving up draft boards after Chicago. 

    His 42-inch max vertical was tied for the highest at the combine with DiVincenzo. He recorded the fastest sprint time and second-fastest shuttle. 

    But Okogie impressed most during scrimmages, standing out with his high-energy athleticism, relentless attacking and shot-making. His confidence and stroke suggest he can eventually become a threatening shooter off the catch or dribble. 

    With an incredible 7'0" wingspan for a 6'4 ½" guard, in addition to his strong results during foot-speed drills, Okogie's defensive potential is exciting. It wouldn't be shocking if he hired an agent and kept his name in, even without a first-round promise.

Hurt: Tyus Battle (Syracuse, SG, Sophomore)

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    Post-combine projection: 2018 second round

    Tyus Battle may want to put off hiring an agent for another year after a quiet NBA combine. 

    Syracuse's ball-dominant, go-to player last season, he struggled in a setting where he wasn't the top option; a discouraging sign, given what his role will be in the pros. 

    Battle did little to distinguish himself, blending in for most of Thursday and Friday. 

    Assuming the goal of testing the waters was to see whether he could earn himself first-round looks, he will need to come back and try again in 2019. 

Helped: Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)

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    Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

    Post-combine projection: Fringe first round

    Grayson Allen didn't participate in scrimmages. Instead, he lit up the athletic testing, getting up for a 40.5-inch max vertical and a 32.5-inch (tied for No. 6) standing vertical.

    The more surprising achievements came in the lane agility drill and shuttle-run drills, where he recorded the fastest and third-quickest times, respectively. 

    Those help measure lateral foot speed typically associated with defense, one of Allen's perceived weaknesses.

    It's uncertain whether any of these results move the needle for a team. His performance during interviews was likely most important. But grading out as one of the draft's top athletes won't hurt, particularly for a 22-year-old senior. 

Helped: Kevin Hervey (Texas Arlington, SF/PF, Senior)

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    Post-combine projection: 30s

    Kevin Hervey looked like a pro among prospects during Friday's scrimmage, finishing with 21 points on seven shots. 

    Already an eye-opener for his 6'7 ¾", 211.6-pound frame and 7'3 ½" wingspan, Hervey flashed his effortless shooting stroke, drilling four of his five three-pointers.

    One was a pull-up, and he added a floater to the highlight reel. 

    Hervey looks the part of a small-ball 4 who can stretch the floor and make tough shots. Questions about his knee injury history and explosiveness could keep him from drawing first-round consideration, but Hervey has made a case to be one of the first players called in the 30s. 

Helped: Gary Trent Jr. (Duke, SG, Freshman)

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    Post-combine projection: 20s

    Gary Trent Jr. led all scorers in Thursday's first scrimmage with 22 points, reminding scouts of his knockdown jumper and ability to find different ways to put the ball in. 

    Along with the made threes, which teams know already known he can do, Trent also had a few impressive drives that resulted in dunks. He showcased better-than-advertised athleticism, also getting up for a 33 ½" max vertical (third-highest at the combine) and tying for the 13th-fastest shuttle run.  

    With teams always looking for shot-makers, Trent, who's 19 years old and 6' 5 ¾", 204 pounds, has positioned himself for looks in the 20s. 

Helped: Jevon Carter (West Virginia, PG, Senior)

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    Post-combine projection: 30s

    Jevon Carter took control of both games in which he played and ultimately looked superior and more confident than his peers.

    He opened with 11 points and nine assists while shutting down Penn State's Tony Carr, who averaged 19.6 points during the season and finished 0-of-4 in the scrimmage. 

    Carter had 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in game No. 2, looking quick off the dribble and sharp pulling up for jumpers.

    It was his signature defense that had everyone buzzing, however. Carter picked up full-court and guarded with extreme intensity. On one play, he made a shot, stole the inbounds pass and laid it back up and in. 

    Carter isn't a standout athlete, and at 22 years old, he's still more likely going in the second round. But there are bound to be teams who'll have him highlighted on their board as a target with their pick in the 30s.

Hurt: Shake Milton (SMU, PG/SG, Junior)

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    Post-combine projection: 40s

    Shake Milton measured well with a terrific 7'0 ¾" wingspan, but it was all downhill from there. 

    He would have been better off skipping scrimmages. Milton didn't record a field goal through two games, finishing 0-of-6 in each and struggling to get any separation or make plays off the dribble, exactly the concerns scouts would have had entering the combine. 

    The fact that he didn't test athletically also suggests he was trying to hide his weaknesses.  

    Milton was viewed as a fringe first-round pick entering the week, but with others in Chicago rising and likely taking away spots in the 20s, SMU's star guard is going to fall.