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May 16, 2016

Six potential late first-round prospects who impressed at the NBA Combine (with GIFs)

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The NBA Combine has come and gone, as the Sixers will officially work out their first batch of prospects Monday morning at PCOM. After watching ESPN’s coverage of the combine (specifically the 5-on-5 games), the first thing you have to remember is not to overreact. It’s only two scrimmages played by teams that have little chemistry. Just like in football, the college tape is more important.

There is also the competition level: Only two eventual first-round picks participated in the 5-on-5 last year, Terry Rozier (16) and Larry Nance, Jr. (27). Many players who are borderline first-round picks sat out the 5-on-5 this year. 

The Sixers own two picks toward the end of the first round, 24th and 26th overall. Here are a couple of players who participated in the 5-on-5 in Chicago who could be considered in those spots. 

DeAndre’ Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph’s (6’6”, 210 lbs.)

Yeah, we have already written a ton about Bembry (and more is coming later today when he works out for the Sixers), but he performed well in games he wasn’t required to play in. Jay Bilas was praising “The ‘Fro” in a manner I haven’t seen since Cris Collinsworth was calling games during Jason Peters’ prime. 

Bembry was an excellent passer at St. Joe’s, and he continued to make strong reads in combine games. Here he curls off the down screen out of the simple single-double set, draws two defenders for a split second, and makes the hook pass to a slipping Jake Layman, who gets fouled:

How about this play in transition at the end of the half? Isaiah Whitehead puts Bembry is a tough spot with the clock running down, and he calmly plays drive-and-kick with Layman for a wide-open corner three:

You’re going to have to trust that the jumper will improve (Bembry chucked up an ugly airball and bricked some free throws on Friday), but the St. Joe’s product has the well-rounded skillset to be a first-round pick. I would be surprised if he lasted until Round 2.

Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV (6’7”, 185 lbs.)

McCaw isn’t close to finished as a prospect, which makes some of the things he did at the combine intriguing. He made some nifty reads out of the pick-and-roll (four assists, zero turnovers on Day 2) despite not being anything close to an advanced ball-handler at this point. As a two guard that could be a secondary playmaker, there is some promise here. What happens if he tightens up his handle?

From a physical standpoint, McCaw is still extremely thin. He shot 35 percent on a ton of threes this year at UNLV (and 38 percent the year before), so there is reason to be optimistic there as well. 

McCaw can guard, too:

Those are a couple of home-run plays, but McCaw projects as a plus halfcourt defender in the long run. Drafting him (#31 DX) takes a lot of projection, but if things go well, the finished product could turn into great value for a late first-round pick.

Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia (6’5”, 215 lbs.)

Brogdon is almost the polar opposite of McCaw in that we know what he is, and that’s a solid basketball player. The upside probably isn’t as high, but some team late in the first or early in the second round is going to settle on the All-American who scored efficiently and played on college teams that sucked the life out of opposing offenses.

Brogdon played much better on Day 1 than Day 2. In that first game, his ball-handling and vision were impressive:

Of the two, I would probably lean toward McCaw, especially for a team like the Sixers. But there is an argument to be made for a player like Brogdon who should fit in any defensive system and not take anything off the table offensively.

Cheick Diallo, PF/C, Kansas (6’9”, 220 lbs.)

I know Kansas was an awesome team, but it’s hard to figure how Diallo couldn’t even crack the rotation. The 19-year-old is a bit undersized, but that 7' 4.5" wingspan helps make up for a lot of mistakes.

Simply put, Diallo has a lot of raw talent. After sitting on the bench all year, he showed well in Chicago:

Diallo added four blocks in the first game. The Sixers don’t have a pressing need in the frontcourt, but if Diallo slips down this far, a decision maker might reasonably think he’s too talented to pass up.

Ben Bentil, PF, Providence (6’9”, 235 lbs.)

Robert Carter, PF, Maryland (6’8, 247 lbs.)

No GIFs for these two players because I don’t believe they’re candidates to get drafted by the Sixers at this point, but I was impressed watching both of them (who coincidentally go back-to-back at 44 and 45 in the latest DX mock draft) play offense in the 5-on-5 games.

On the surface, their strengths and weaknesses look to be fairly similar. Bentil and Carter are “bucket getters,” skilled power forwards that can shoot the ball all the way out to three-point line but also drive and crash the offensive glass. If either player is going to carve a niche in the NBA, the pick-and-pop element should be part of their effectiveness. 

Carter scored near the bottom in most of the athletic testing (on the positive side of things, he has a 7’3.25” wingspan) and defense is the area he’ll need to work on. Bentil scored closer to average (or slightly below average), but the same applies to him. With the local product’s (well, via Ghana first) performance at the combine, Ed Cooley very well might be looking at replacing both Kris Dunn and Bentil next year.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann