Thanks to that ridiculous 29-6 closing kick by the Utah Jazz, the first big event of NBA Draft season, the lottery, was irrelevant. The combine, though, features plenty of prospects who will be available when Utah’s on the clock with its No. 21 pick.
And it might even feature a few in the late lottery that the Jazz might come away with. After all, they were able to move up from 24 to 13 last season.
Regardless of where their pick actually is, there are a few boxes the Jazz should be looking to check with their next first-rounder:
- Wing or Guard who can play multiple positions
- Size relative to position
- Versatility on both ends
Several guys at the combine (and a few who weren’t there) appear capable of checking every box. Which one’s could the Jazz realistically land on draft night?
- College: Villanova
- Position: Guard
- Age: 21
- Height: 6’5”
- Wingspan: 6’6”
- 2017-18 Box Plus-Minus: 9.6 (better than Collin Sexton, worse than Trae Young)
Before the combine even started, Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo had already moved into the 20s for a few NBA Draft experts.
“DiVincenzo could have played himself into the first round with his 31-point explosion in the national title game,” Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman wrote after the lottery. “But he built a case all year with playmaking (3.5 assists), shooting (40.1 percent on three-pointers) and exciting athleticism and energy.”
And that case only got stronger at the combine in Chicago.
DiVincenzo’s 42-inch max vertical leap was tied with Josh Okogie for tops at the event. His 34.5-inch standing vert was alone at the top. And his lane agility time was fifth among all guards.
Then there was the scrimmage, where he impressed ESPN’s Jonathan Givony:
Great first half from Donte DiVincenzo. Plays such a physical brand of basketball. Making the right plays passing ahead. Hit one deeeep NBA 3. Really playing confidently. I was skeptical about him playing here after his Final Four, but he's no question helping himself here.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 17, 2018
And Empire of the Suns’ Kellan Olson:
Donte DiVincenzo is a killer. Scores with swagger and can shoot. Was my pick for the Suns at 31 in my latest mock. Quick trigger here. pic.twitter.com/7uaRCMj3o9— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) May 18, 2018
DiVincenzo finished with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting (2-of-3 from three), six rebounds and two assists in just 22 minutes.
But in a setting like the combine, the eye test obviously trumps numbers, and DiVincenzo easily passed that.
He’s an NBA-level athlete with enough size (6’4.5” in shoes) to play either guard spot. With a little time in the Utah developmental machine, it’s easy to see him as a rotation player.
- College: Boise State
- Position: Wing
- Age: Turned 22 in April
- Height: 6’7”
- Wingspan: 7’1”
- 2017-18 Box Plus-Minus: 7.9 (better than Kevin Knox, worse than Trae Miles Bridges)
The day before the combine kicked off, Yahoo’s Shams Charania reported that Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison would not participate:
Sources: Along with Mitchell Robinson, Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison has withdrawn from the NBA draft combine this week in Chicago.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 16, 2018
There are a few reasons for a prospect to pull out of the combine. Maybe he’s dealing with a nagging injury. Maybe he doesn’t want to hurt his already rising or stagnant stock. Or maybe, some team has promised to take him, so there’s no need to show anything else.
Givony reported that the last reason is probably the one for Hutchison’s absence:
Chandler Hutchison has withdrawn from the NBA Combine and canceled all workouts after receiving assurances he's found a "safe landing spot." It appears that he has secured a promise from a team drafting in the 20-30 range. Hutchison is currently slated #24 on the ESPN mock draft— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2018
Given the current state of the NBA, Hutchison’s apparent promise shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Wings, particularly wings who can handle a lot of responsibility and have Hutchison’s size, are in high demand.
Hutchison showed the ability to create for others as a senior at Boise State, where he averaged over six assists per 100 team possessions. He showed defensive instincts, as evidenced by his solid 2.7 steals per 100 possessions. And he showed range, hitting 36.5 percent of his threes over the last two seasons.
And that last skill was identified by The Stepien as one Hutchison might even be better at in the pros.
“Projecting Hutchison into the NBA,” Cole Zwicker wrote. “If he’s optimized and put in a position to succeed, he’s going to shoot a lot more assisted off the catch 3pt attempts and attempts at the rim on cuts than he is self-created pull-ups or slashes in pick-and-roll for example. Basically, more efficient shots.”
Hutchison did a little bit of everything for the Broncos during his career there. One red flag is the fact that he’s a senior, and it took most of his four years to get to impressive advanced numbers. But the physical profile and diversity of skill is plenty intriguing.
- Prep School: IMG Academy
- Position: Guard
- Age: Turns 19 in June
- Height: 6’3.25”
- Wingspan: 6’9.25”
If you’re a Jazz fan who paid attention to the run-up to last year’s draft, those measurements should look familiar. Donovan Mitchell measured 6’3” in shoes, with a 6’10” wingspan.
And the connection to Spida doesn’t end there. Simons and Mitchell are “very close,” according to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz, who spoke to the Jazz rookie about the IMG Academy standout:
He’s talented. He can score at all 3 levels. The main thing I talk to him about is just defense because scorers are easy to come by, scorers who play defense aren’t. I’ve been talking to him a bunch. I wish him the best of luck. He’s just a talented kid. Athletic. Knows where to be, knows the game, and I think that’s rare to find in a kid that age. He has a bright future.
Age is the key with Simons. He’ll be one of the youngest players in this draft. And for a development-minded organization like the Jazz, that has to be intriguing. Well, that and the kind of explosiveness Simons displays here:
Potential 2018 NBA Draft prospect Anfernee Simons is an effortless athlete and smooth 3-level scorer who can get to his pull up at will. Tight handle, sharp footwork, soft touch on floaters. https://t.co/LD7TKkFHyj pic.twitter.com/cX5Bejk9Mh— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) November 18, 2017
It’s probably best to avoid many more comparisons to Mitchell. That wouldn’t be fair to Simons. But a year or two down the road, it’s not crazy to think the athleticism and explosiveness of both could allow them to share the floor.
- Country/Team: Bosnia and Herzegovina/Cedevita (Adriatic League)
- Position: Wing/Forward
- Age: Turned 19 in May
- Height: 6’9”
All year, one of the big selling points for Luka Doncic was the fact that he’s a teenager putting up unprecedented production for his age in the No. 2 basketball league in the world.
Dzanan Musa is another teenager putting up numbers at a high level. Sure, the Adriatic League isn’t the Liga ACB, but it’s still professional basketball. And he’s averaging 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in just 22 minutes in all action this season.
In Eurocup competition, which features scores of former NBA players, Musa has a 17.1 Player Efficiency Rating and a 36.4 three-point percentage. And according to Schmitz, “he’s the only sub-19-year-old to average more than 20 points per 40 minutes at the EuroCup level.”
With his size, age and production, it’s easy to see why Musa has been slowly inching up draft boards over the last year.
Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference or RealGM.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for SLC Dunk and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewDBailey) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B/R’s Dan Favale.