Tale of the Tape: Winners and Losers of the NBA Combine (and G-League combine)
The NBA Combine took place last week, and the (G League Combine the week before) and, like every year, a number of players stood out while others came up short. How much it will affect their overall body of work and how teams perceive them heading into draft night depends on whom you ask. There were some definite winners and losers of the combine, with how they measured and tested athletically, as well as how they played in the scrimmages. Here is a look at how some notable player’s stocks were affected.
Nah'Shon Hyland, VCU (6’2.0” barefoot, 6’3.5” in shoes, 8’5.5” standing reach, 169.0 lbs, 6’9.25” wingspan)
“Bones” (pictured) was the big standout on Day One, and made the smart decision to shut it down after such an impressive performance. He showed why his draft stock has been rising since the collegiate season finished. He was everywhere on both ends of the court, dominating in his 23 minutes in a 19-point blowout win, knocking down three 3s and putting up 17 points in very impressive fashion. Hyland has always been a knockdown shooter and that was clearly on display. He raised his scoring average by ten points and became a defensive menace this past season. The sophomore capped off a sterling combine by posting the second fastest lane agility time at 10.53 seconds. There is so much to love about Hyland as a player, between the beautiful shooting stroke, scoring punch and defensive intensity, and all these strengths were on full display at the combine. Hyland lacks height for a combo, at just 6’2 barefoot, but he has a massive 6’9.25 wingspan and recorded a 8’5.5 standing reach which is prototypical for an NBA 2-guard. He figures to ultimately find a spot in the second half of the first round and fill the role of instant offense off the bench perfectly (a la prime Louis Williams or Jordan Clarkson) at the next level.
Keon Johnson, Tennessee (6’3.5” barefoot, 6’4.75” in shoes, 8’1.0” standing reach, 184.8 lbs, 6’7.25″ wingspan)
Speaking of standouts. The former five-star recruit and Volunteer standout, freshman Keon Johnson made a big statement with his incredible testing numbers. Johnson shattered a 20-year-old combine record with a max vertical leap of 48 inches. That number broke Kenny Gregory’s record of 45.5 inches in 2001 and beat second place Jericho Sims by 3.5 inches. He also broke the record for standing vertical leap, at 41.5 inches. This otherworldly display of athleticism certainly increased Johnson’s name recognition, but also helped boost his draft stock. Posting gaudy, record-breaking numbers is an excellent way to remind scouts and general managers about his insane leaping ability and athleticism and let the all-around basketball game come in the next few seasons. He also tied for second among all guards in the three-quarter sprint, highlighting how special of an athlete he is. As well as Johnson performed in the athleticism testing, his measurement were a below expectations at 6’3.5 barefoot and 6’7 wingspan. His 8’1 standing reach being the biggest negative, is amazingly 4 inches smaller than Bones Hyland.
Joe Wieskamp, Iowa (6’5.75” barefoot, 6’7.25” in shoes, 8’7.0” standing reach 204.8 lbs, 6’11.0” wingpsan)
Wieskamp has always been a lights out three-point shooter. After three years in Iowa City, Wieskamp had buried 184 triples with a 41% success rate. He still came to the combine ready to remind talent evaluators of the kind of threat he can be when he gets hot. Wieskamp had a solid first scrimmage, scoring eight points on 3/7 shooting. The second game is where he lit the gym on fire. Wieskamp nailed six threes on seven attempts, while scoring 26 points on 71% shooting, pulling in 10 rebounds, blocking one shot, and grabbing three steals in 26 minutes. He didn’t have any assists, but it was the most dominant game of the scrimmages. His 26 points were the second most in any of the four games, and only one of two scoring outputs over 20. The initially projected late second round pick also flashed some serious hops with a 42-inch vertical leap, tying for fourth best among all participants. He also ran the fourth fastest lane agility test, at 10.7 seconds. Wieskamp had often been overlooked during his time in Ames, Iowa because most of the attention went to Luka Garza. At the NBA Combine however, all eyes were on him, and his masterful shooting stroke.
Jericho Sims, Texas (6’9.0” barefoot, 6’10.0” in shoes, 8’10.0” standing reach, 250.2 lbs, 7’3.25”wingspan)
Sims had a tremendous combine, with terrific numbers both on and off the court. Off the hardwood, Sims showed his hops off by placing second in both the max vertical leap and standing vertical leap. These numbers can be crucial for bigs, especially ones who don’t space the floor like Sims. Showing how well he can get vertical demonstrates the kind of disrupter he can be on the interior defensively, and a rim-runner and alley-oop finisher offensively. He also had the best time among centers in the three-quarter sprint and lane agility test, further cementing his elite athleticism for a player of his size. Despite not being one of the five tallest players measured, Sims tied for the second longest wingspan with a massive 7’3.25 wingspan. He simply could not have put up stronger numbers, and reminded teams of his elite speed, verticality, and long arms. However, the testing numbers may not have been the best part of the combine for the senior Longhorn. Between his two scrimmages Sims scored 29 points on 74% shooting, had 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and his team won both games. Between the testing results and the scrimmages, Sims helped prove that he has ideal size and athleticism to be an impactful NBA center on both ends of the court, while scoring with relative ease to prop up his offensive game. Sim’s draft combine performance helped quell many immediate concerns. And he also had the most impressive dunk of the combine, converting a two handed allyoop where his head was at rim level, to cap off day 2. Sims seems to be firmly entrenched in the mid second round as one of the most intriguing projects available, and could sneak into the top 10-12 picks in the second round.
EJ Onu, PF/C, Shawnee State (6’9.75” barefoot, 6’10.75” in shoes, 9’6.0” standing reach, 204.8 lbs, 7’8.0″ wingspan)
Pre-draft measurements are the perfect opportunity for players like Onu who are relatively unknown and have rarely been seen in person during a game. The 6’11 big-man who blocked 529 shots in his career confirmed his ridiculous length with a 7’8 wingspan measurement during the pre-draft process. His 9’6 standing reach is absolutely jawdropping. He is starting to become more well-known, and it would not be surprising to see a team take a chance on this project who has all of the potential in the world as a rim-protecting, stretch-five in the mid-second round. Onu fits the style of an evolving NBA, and some team will likely recognize this at some point in the draft and bring on the 21-year-old big man. -Derek Bast
Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas (6’4.5” barefoot, 6’6.0” in shoes, 8’9.0” standing reach, 210.6 lbs, 7’0.75” wingspan)
Moody is a projected lottery pick and he is almost certainly a lock after his measurements at the combine. His long arms and size are what make his mid-range game so appealing as he is able to rise up above opponents and rarely feel a true contested shot. We saw why he was able to do this so often at the college level because of his wingspan that stretches longer than 7 feet. This measurement is the longest out of listed shooting guards on our site and rivals the length of Scottie Lewis and Trey Murphy who are two of the longer wings in this year’s class. -Derek Bast
DJ Stewart, SG/SF, Mississippi State (6’4.5” barefoot, 6’6.0” in shoes, 8’9.0” standing reach, 204.4 lbs, 7’0.5” wingspan)
One player who has consistently ranked higher on our draft board and mock drafts than most other sites is DJ Stewart from Mississippi State. His measurements are almost identical to Moses Moody’s who obviously can shoot it a lot better, but lacks the same speed and versatility. With a legitimate 6’6 height in shoes and a 7-foot wingspan, his measurements should have his stock on the rise. Stewart is a physical wing player who doubled his scoring output from a season ago and improved as a three-point scorer in both volume and percentage. He only played two season with the Bulldogs showing that his dramatic improvement could continue with more time and exposure to stiff competition. Stewart can also create for others to go along with his impressive shooting and his confirmed impressive length might be the final check mark a team needs to give this guy a shot in the second round. -Derek Bast
Ayo Dosunmu, SG/PG, Illinois Fighting Illini (6’3.5”barefoot, 6’5.0” in shoes, 8’0.5” standing reach, 194.4 lbs, 6’10.25” wingspan)
While Dosunmu projects more as a shooting guard, he will undoubtedly take control of the ball and initiate the offense at times so his 6’3.5 height without shoes is very solid. What truly stands out from his measurements was his 6’10 wingspan that is one of the biggest discrepancies between height and wingspan in the entire class. His two-way impact will certainly flourish because of his tremendous length for a smaller guard. We know what Dosunmu can do on the court with his shot creation and scoring, but the obnoxious wingspan will lead to more subtle impacts on the opposite end of the floor that will earn him more consistent minutes in his young career. -Derek Bast
Luka Garza, PF/C, Iowa Hawkeyes (6’10.0” barefoot, 6’11.25” in shoes, 8’11.5” standing reach, 242.8 lbs, 7’1.5” wingspan)
When you have a National Player of the Year who was as dominant as Garza was for a two-year stretch, it is rare to see a complete makeover in such a short time. With that being said, the all-time leading scorer for the Hawkeyes looks like a completely different animal after slimming down to 242 pounds and showcasing more handling and athleticism than we’ve ever seen from him. Scouts questioned his ability to transition to a completely different style of basketball in the NBA that is far less dependent on post-scoring, but if his transformed frame is any indication of what is to come, Garza is more than ready to adapt to the style of the professional game. He still lacks great foot speed and athleticism, but with such a premium on shooting in today’s game, it’s conceivable that Garza can find a way with such a strong work ethic and determination. Garza stands a much better chance of being drafted following the combine than he did coming in. .-Derek Bast
David Duke SG/PG Providence (6’4.25” barefoot, 6’5.5” in shoes, 8’6.5” standing reach, 203.6 lbs, 6’8.75” wingspan)
Duke measured extremely well at 6’5 in shoes and with a 6-8.75 wingspan and a 8-6.5 standing reach, great numbers for a shooting guard, much less a combo guard. Duke still needs to improve on his decision making and shooting. However he’s got very good ball skills and speed and athleticism. He’s seen as a likely second rounder, however his combine measurements certainly help his cause. Duke’s 5.9 fat perecntage was also very solid for a guy with more weight than most players his height, showing that he’s got a lot of muscle mass.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, PF, Villanova Wildcats (6’7.75” barefoot, 6’9.0” in shoes, 8’9.5” standing reach, 242.4 lbs, 6’9.75” wingspan)
Prototypical power forwards are expected to be in the 6’9 to 6-10 range with a 7-foot plus wingspan and a standing reach in . Robinson-Earl is a frontcourt player who only measured at 6’7 last week with a 6’9 wingspan. He can certainly stretch the floor, but he makes his living from mid-range and on the low block on both ends of the floor. With these new measurements, the former Wildcat will be at a severe disadvantage against the frontcourt players he will meet at the next level. Robinson-Earl could find himself caught in the middle of a SF and PF with no true match up advantages at the next level, which will cut into his playing time with teams searching for a role for the college standout.On the bright side, despite just a 6’9.75 wingspan, his standing reach is decent for a player that is likely going to be playing in the post at the next level. -Derek Bast
Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton (6’0.75” barefoot, 6’2.0”in shoes, 8’0.0” standing reach, 180.8 lbs, 6’2.75 wingspan”
Zegarowski had a nightmare combine performance. Despite averaging almost 16 points per game last year on solid efficiency, Zegarowski scored just seven points while shooting two of six from the floor and one of five from deep with four turnovers and only two assists in a forty-point defeat. Game two was even worse for the 6’2 point guard, tallying 8 points on 1 of 12 shooting while going one of nine from three with four turnovers. In the second game, Zegarowski did have five assists, but this was a difficult showing from a player who was so consistently good over the past few seasons. To add to the misery, Zegarowski did not test particularly well, as he didn’t place in the top five amongst guards in a single category. Shooting 3 of 18 with eight turnovers between games, and it is safe to say that the former Creighton star had a dreadful showing. For a player that is not firmly entrenched in a high draft slot, every opportunity to showcase both your basketball skill and athletic ability is paramount. Unfortunately for Zegarowski, this was a golden opportunity wasted.
Johnny Juzang, UCLA (6’5.5” barefoot, 6’7.0” in shoes, 8’4.5” standing reach, 209.0 lbs, 6’10.5” wingspan)
Nobody had a better March than former Bruins star Johnny Juzang. The 6’6 sophomore led UCLA to a shocking final four run with immaculate performance after immaculate performance. That magical run ended with a deep buzzer beater, but Juzang’s stock rose rapidly. He did not have that same effervescence with him in Chicago. He scored only 11 points between the two games, hitting 5/21 shots and 1/8 from deep. To deepen the difficulty for Juzang, he had less assists than turnovers, with three turnovers and two assists. For a player that was scorching hot for a whole tournament, it was a frustrating couple of performances as he was unable to replicate the same shot-making and general brilliance he showed for UCLA. A decent combine showing, coming forth among guards in the shuttle run, and being the second tallest guard with the third longest wingspan. His height and length improves his positional versatility, but it does not make up for what was otherwise a challenging week. Juzang has announced he will return to UCLA.
Dashien Nix, G League Ignite (6’3.0” barefoot, 6’4.25” in shoes, 8’4.0” standing reach, 225.6 lbs, 6’6.75” wingspan)
The former consensus five-star recruit, and number three point guard in the 2020 class, Nix chose to join the professional ranks with the G League Ignite. After a shaky season in which he scored just 8.8 points per game on 38% shooting and an abysmal 17.6% three-point shooting, Nix needed a captivating showing at the combine. Instead, he scored just one point between the two scrimmages, missing all ten of his field goal attempts, and adding six turnovers. He did contribute six assists in both contests, illustrating his quick decision making and feel for the game. Yet, with such a limited scoring output against G league players, combined with almost no scoring against colleges top players, it is more and more challenging to see Nix’s role on an NBA team. Especially as the NBA has moved more towards a spaced, three-point shooting, offense heavy league, Nix doesn’t fit the mold. While that has been on display the whole season with Ignite, he absolutely confirmed those doubts with his combine performance. On the bright side, he showed off his athleticism with impressive vertical numbers in the combine athleticism testing.
Greg Brown, F Texas (6’7.25” barefoot, 6’8.5” in shoes, 8’11.0” standing reach, 206.4 lbs, 7’0.25″ wingspan)
The Texas forward apparent didn’t get the memo about hustle in the combine scrimmage. He could be seen jogging up the floor behind the play, in the middle of game action. Not the look NBA teams are looking for from a player that’s considered a fringe first rounder. Brown should have been flying up and down the court and showing the, “what can I do for you next coach” attitude. But instead he didn’t seem to understand that even when the spotlight isn’t on you, you’re being watched. Brown shot just 1-3 on day 1. One positive, Brown recorded the best shuttle run of anyone at under 3 seconds. But for a player that lacks polish, showing better hustle would have been big in convincing NBA decision makers that he’s willing to put the work in to improve his deficiencies. Another positive note, Brown’s standing reach is extremely impressive at 8’11.