NBA Combine 2019: Players Who Will Help Themselves in 5-on-5 Scrimmages

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, IN - FEBRUARY 07: Romeo Langford #0 of the Indiana Hoosiers looks to shoot the ball against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first half of the game at Assembly Hall on February 7, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. Iowa won 77-72. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Now that the dust has settled on the NBA draft lottery and teams know what picks they'll have come June 20, all the attention will now be on the prospects scheduled to participate in the draft combine.

This year, the two-day event will be held at Chicago's Quest Multisport on Thursday, May 16 and Friday, May 17 and will be televised on ESPN2 from 3 to 7 p.m. ET.

Scouts and coaches will use the measurements (height with and without shoes, weight, reach and wingspan), physicals, agility, strength and shooting drills to form their opinion of players, but it's the five-on-five scrimmages that will play a major part of their overall evaluations of the 66 players that will be in attendance.

This is where some of the lesser known or on-the-bubble NBA hopefuls can significantly raise their draft stock with a strong showing.

Last year, Kevin Huerter went from being a borderline prospect unsure of whether to stay in the draft or return to school to a legitimate first-round pick. He was later taken by the Atlanta Hawks at No. 19.

The Maryland standout's success will likely be a blueprint for a number of players hoping to garner a buzz with analysts in the Windy City.

Here's a brief look at players who could make that happen.


Romeo Langford, G, Indiana

Romeo Langford's freshman season at Indiana didn't live up to the hype the 6'6" guard had coming out of New Albany High School, where he was ranked No. 7 nationally by 247sports and was the No. 2 shooting guard in the class of 2018.

BLOOMINGTON, IN - FEBRUARY 10: Romeo Langford #0 of the Indiana Hoosiers dribbles the ball against Luther Muhammad #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Assembly Hall on February 10, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

As a 5-star prospect, Langford earned a spot on the McDonald's All American roster and was projected to be an early lottery pick.

But after a less-than-stellar year in Bloomington, where he averaged 16.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, he's been relegated to a late lottery pick or lower.

If the former Indiana Mr. Basketball can show that he's fully recovered from his hand injury by shooting well out of the pick-and-roll and connecting at a high clip from long range, he could recapture some of that preseason hype.

Most of the teams are looking for versatility and shot creators, so if Langford can reintroduce his elite scoring package, athleticism, rebounding and defensive acumen to the NBA folks in Chicago while going head-to-head against top stars, he could leave with an improved position on mock drafts heading into June.


Quentin Grimes, G, Kansas

Quentin Grimes will be an interesting test case this week. By most accounts, he shouldn't be dipping his toe into the draft pool after an underwhelming first year at Kansas. 

Grimes was supposed to be a prolific combo guard who could light it up and explode to the rack in transition.

The 6'5" phenom only averaged 8.4 points per outing for the Jayhawks in what could only be described as an up-and-down season.

Jeff Swinger/Associated Press

NBA teams will likely still covet his strength, athleticism and physicality, but they'd also be taking a big chance that he'll continue to develop and catch up to the lofty expectations heaped on him coming out of College Park High School in Texas.

"When we recruited Quentin we knew the chances would be great for him to have the opportunity to declare for this upcoming NBA draft," Kansas head coach Bill Self said in a statement, per The Kansas City Star. "Quentin started every game for us and was a key performer in the success we had this past year.

"As a freshman he went through some highs and lows that, no doubt, will be great preparation for him moving forward."

The Atlanta Hawks brought in Grimes for a predraft workout last week, so he's drawing some interest for his upside and could garner interest from more teams if he plays well in scrimmage games.

Grimes is a great passer and has solid instincts as a rebounder and defender, so if he shows enough of those skills when it counts, he could have a chance to ensure he'll get taken in the draft.

Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

For Bruno Fernando, this year's combine is a do-over.

The 6'10" big man participated in the event last year but didn't make the kind of impression that he'd hoped for, so he returned to Maryland.

Now, after already declaring that he's keeping his name in the draft, he'll be motivated to show how he's put in the work on his skill set since the scouts and coaches last saw him.

Fernando has an NBA-ready body, and teams should see a lot of upside when they evaluate the Luanda, Angola, native, so he's likely to at least be a late first-round selection.

In his sophomore campaign, he averaged 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds and showed improvements on his footwork and shooting ability, especially down low with jump hooks and spin moves.

He's not there yet, but he does compare to Houston Rockets center Clint Capela.

Like Capela, he is a rim runner with explosive finishes at the rim and could be a great target off the pick-and-roll with alley-oops.

Where he'll make his mark during scrimmages is on defense and rebounding, two important areas in which he excels.

He's got a motor, so if he takes advantage of the opportunities he'll get on both ends of the floor, he could move up a few spots on the board.


Unless otherwise indicated, all stats are from Basketball Reference or NBA.com.

Maurice Bobb covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ReeseReport.


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