The 2019 NBA Combine has come and gone. Impressions made will linger.
Before revealing the updated and expanded 2019 NBA Draft Big Board, we dive into news and notes coming out of three days in Chicago.
*Based on conversations with six NBA teams and other league sources, here’s a list of players that stood out during the two days of 5-on-5 scrimmages. Note projected lottery and first-round selections largely did not participate other than Tennessee’s Grant Williams:
Nic Claxton -- The 6-foot-11 center entered the Combine outside of first-round projections. Now the sense is “late first” assuming he remains in the draft after Claxton’s impressive defensive work protecting the rim and switching on the perimeter when needed.
Tremont Waters -- The small point guard tested the NBA Draft pool after leading LSU to the Sweet 16. That looks like a savory decision after a team source declared the one-time Georgetown recruit as the best player during Thursday’s action. The 5-foot-11 Waters splashed 3-pointers off the dribble, showed quick hands defensively and posted a 40-inch vertical.
Jalen Lecque – The Brewster Academy product/NC State recruit received the most praise from various sources, though the unknown with the high schooler likely played some part. The 6-foot-4 guard with a 43-inch vertical leap received lofty athletic comparisons -- his nickname is “Baby Westbrook” -- and his skill in spots matched the hype. The 18-year-old skipped the second day of scrimmages after receiving positive feedback from teams, ESPN reported. There’s a rung to climb before the first-round talk, but scouts certainly took notice.
Was really impressed with this pass from Jalen Lecque. Nice to see him show the ability to make a live dribble, left-handed pass out of the PnR. Nice job by Tyler Cook rolling and finishing strong with the dunk pic.twitter.com/LTGyD6qbjX— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) May 17, 2019
Luka Samanic -- The 6-foot-10 forward “made friends” within the scouting community after flashing his smooth athleticism, steady shooting stroke and hoops smarts during Thursday’s session. Samanic entered the Combine outside the top 30-35 selections. That probably won’t be the case soon.
Isaiah Roby -- Hey, an upperclassman. The 6-foot-8 forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan made noise with his full-court skills and defensive versatility. According to one source, Roby would stay in the draft if a top 40 selection. How teams decipher his limited shooting numbers last season -- 33 percent on 3-pointers, 68 percent from the free throw line -- could determine which side of that projection he falls.
Re-watching the NBA Combine 5-on-5 games. This Isaiah Roby push and hammer dunk really stood out. He showed glimpses of his versatility on both days. More analysis coming tomorrow on ESPN+. pic.twitter.com/Xn0RjqouQ5— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 18, 2019
Others: Brian Bowen, Darius Bazley, Devon Dotson, Cody Martin, Tacko Fall, Jordan Bone
*The trend of top prospects sitting out the scrimmages went up another level to the chagrin of NBA teams. Williams was the only top-35 on ESPN’s pre-Combine list to scrimmage. That the SEC Player of the Year struggled with his shot and perhaps slid a tick won’t help the argument that players should play. “Agents control things,” one NBA general manager mused. “What can you do?”
*The Wizards met with several prospects potentially available in the 31-40 range, another sign of the franchise’s intentions to buy into the second round. That group includes Oregon forward Louis King.
The 6-foot-8 forward offers a 7-foot wingspan. The 39 percent 3-point shooter at Oregon was one of the top “on the move” shooters from 15 feet during non-game shooting drills in Chicago.
“This is great exposure for people that declared for the draft,” the Ducks’ leading scorer told NBC Sports Washington. “I felt like helping my team get to the Pac 12 championship and the (NCAA Tournament’s) Sweet 16, having a lot of confidence in my game, I was ready for the league."
*We can probably remove Ty Jerome from that early second-round grouping. One source put his draft range at 18-22 based on teams interviewing the Virginia guard -- I’ll note Jerome stood out in our 1-on-1 interview -- and reviewing his shooting prowess.
*As for the overall first round, here’s a rough look based on tiers.
We start with Zion Williamson, then Ja Morant with maybe RJ Barrett. From there think 4-9 with that group perhaps expanding or decreasing by a player or two. Then we go 10 to early 20’s. While there’s always the chance a single player stands out for a specific team, the sense from Chicago is this large group makes the idea of trading down from say 9 more hopeful than likely.
2019 NBA Draft Big Board
5. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
6. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
7. Coby White, SG, UNC
9. Sekou Doumbouya, PF, International
10. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
12. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
14. Nassir Little, SF, UNC
15. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
16. Goga Bitadze, C, International
17. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
18. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech
20. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
21. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia
22. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
23. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC
24. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
26. Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia
27. Carsen Edwards, SG/PG, Purdue
28. Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia
29. KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
30. Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
31. Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State
32. Admiral Schofield, PF, Tennessee
33. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
34. Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont
35. Mfiondu Kabengele, PF, Florida State
36. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
37. Isaiah Roby, SF, Nebraska
38. Jalen Lecque, SG, USA
39. Louis King, SF, Oregon
40. Tremont Waters, PG, LSU
41. Jalen McDaniels, PF, San Diego State
42. Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
43. Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan
44. Darius Bazley, SF, USA
45. Brian Bowen, PF, USA
46. Naz Reid, C, LSU
47. Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
48. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky
49. Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s
50. Cody Martin, SG, Nevada
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