The NBA Draft Combine. Since its inception in 1985, the Draft Combine has become a proving ground for up-and-coming prospects that will either make or break their future draft aspirations.
At the top of the big boards, players to the tune of Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, and various other lottery-locked talent opt to skip this event entirely. For others, their combine consists of a quick checkup of measurables and drills — but zero 5-on-5 competition. For the overwhelming majority of 5-on-5 participants, they’re there for one common goal — to make a statement.
Here are some 5-on-5 participants who should be climbing up draft boards following the combine:
Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland – PG, VCU
ESPN Big Board Ranking: 68
To all at-home scouts, Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland’s recent emergence should come as no surprise.
“Bones” Hyland turned into VCU’s golden boy this past season, charging the Rams to a 10 seed bid in March Madness on averages of 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Hyland’s sophomore campaign went to an abrupt close before any gears really started for him, as due to COVID-19 complications within VCU — the Rams never got their chance at the Big Dance.
When you take into account recent March Madness stories (Max Abmas, Carsen Edwards, etc.), just a few breakout games from Hyland could’ve flipped him from a mid-second rounder to an easy first-round candidate headed into the combine.
He helped make up for the lost time.
Hyland played a step above the competition on his first day of 5-on-5 play. So much so that the guard decided to opt-out of his second game. The 6-foot-3 guard became the focal point of his team during his play, posting 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists while shooting 7-of-11 (3-of-5 3pt) during the course of the game.
Hyland’s knack at three-level shot creation got put on full display this past game as “Bones” snapped his defenders with a combination of stepback jumpers, pull-ups, and even blow-bys to seep into the interior. Once inside Hyland amped to pace to overdrive. At his purest form, Hyland managed to drag in inside help from a center off a spin layup only to dump off the ball to his teammate for an open jam.
Hyland has been one of the best-kept secrets heading into draft day, but following this impressive performance — every contending fanbase will be raving about his potential. Picture Hyland as this years’ Tyrell Terry. He can shoot from 30-feet deep, and his crisp passing ability will always keep his defenders on their heels. Just as Terry was considered the “must get” steal of the draft, Hyland very well could garner that hype headed into draft day.
Jericho Sims – Center, Texas
ESPN Big Board Ranking: 72
For Oklahoma State fans, Jericho Sims may still give you nightmares.
Sims entered the Draft Combine as a deserving, yet almost wild-card pick. Sims hits the big board as a four-year center out of Texas. Sims never popped off the page in any of his seasons in Austin, but he did boast respectable numbers with 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks this past season. During the year, Sims developed a strong interior game but it all came to its fullest in the Big 12 Championship where the 22-year-old dismounted the Cowboys with 22 points and 14 rebounds, en route to the Longhorn’s first Conference Championship.
The big man’s hype salted after Texas got ousted in the Round of 64, but it’s back thanks to his big week.
Sims caught the room’s attention early clocking a 44.5-inch vertical (37-inch standing). Not only was Sims second in this category, slipping to new Combine record holder Keon Johnson (48 inches), but the next closest center stood 8 inches shy of Sims’ recording — that’s dangerous.
Sims made sure to put his leaping ability on display becoming a pick-and-roll specialist in addition to a lob threat. In his biggest highlight-reel, Sims slashed from the ring wing in transition for an oop that had his head peering over rim-level.
Sims’ two games saw him average 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals while shooting 14-of-19 (73.7%) from the floor.
The combination of Sims’ elite athleticism combined with a moldable 6-foot-10, 245-pound frame helped drive his draft stock from a clear undrafted pickup to a potential second-round selection next month.
Isaiah Mobley – C, USC
ESPN Big Board Ranking: Unranked
Yes, he is related to Evan.
Isaiah Mobley enters the Draft as a close comparison to 2019 selection Jontay Porter. From a playstyle perspective, they both have shown flashes stretching the floor, and they play in the frontcourt — that’s about it. The real comparison between the two rests in their situation, for both, their hitting draft night in the shadows almost closeted away by their highly-touted sibling.
Mobley showed this week he’s got some gas in the tank.
Mobley put up a little bit of everything in his scrimmage games recording averages of 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.5 steals on 23.0 minutes. Mobley’s first game saw a patchy 3-of-8 shooting performance, but as his team gelled into game number two, he popped off for 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 steals (!) in 24 minutes. The best part, he scalped the perimeter going 7-of-10, and 3-of-5 from distance.
Mobley turns 22 next month, but his unique 6-foot-10, 235-pound build makes him a special project given his playstyle. Mobley’s agility in playing the floor infected his team as both moving defensively and offensively became a mundane task to him. Mobley’s shooting clip also became a serious refresher as well. With the Trojans, Mobley dominated outside going 43.6-percent outside, but with a paltry 0.9 attempts a night coupled with a 52.1-percent clip at the line — he’s still not in the clear.
Regardless, Mobley’s two games proved he has the skill set to compete at the next level. For teams hunting for value late, he put on a platter why he could be your guy.
Other Notables: Josh Christopher, Quentin Grimes, Makur Maker
The NBA Draft will commence on Thursday, July 29, at the Barclays Center.