Top performers from the 2022 NBA Draft Combine

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Top performers from the 2022 NBA Draft Combine originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Time is running out for prospects to showcase their talents ahead of next month’s draft, and the 2022 NBA Draft Combine was one of the last major opportunities to raise their respective stocks.

Now that the week-long event is over, team scouts and personnel are loaded with more data on potential targets for June 23. Some players may have risen on boards while others might have dipped. 

Let’s focus on those who stood out. These seven players, along with some honorable mentions, are among the top performers from the 2022 combine:

Jalen Williams, G/F, Santa Clara

Perhaps the player who could end up being the biggest climber next month is Jalen Williams out of Santa Clara. The 21-year-old wing was initially regarded as a likely second-round pick, but now there’s whispers of him potentially soaring into the late lottery. That’s not common for a player coming out of a smaller WCC school, but Williams is a rare one.

The 6-foot-6 Williams helped his case tremendously after measurements revealed he had a 7-foot-2 wingspan. That’s the type of profile that enamors teams, especially when you see what he can do on film and on paper. His numbers increased throughout all three seasons. He posted a 51-40-81 shooting split as a junior and has intriguing two-way potential. Last year, Joshua Primo and Trey Murphy used the combine to take big jumps in the draft. Williams looks to be the 2022 version after shining in scrimmages as well.

Terquavion Smith, G, NC State

Even though draft events and scouting are back to normal levels following COVID-19, there was still an underlying impact on certain players. That was the case for Terquavion Smith who, out of the small town Greenville, N.C., wasn’t on many teams’ radars. That’s no longer true. Smith, a freshman guard out of NC State, has burst onto the scene at the combine, which is an exact description of his playstyle.

The 6-foot-4 guard plays with tremendous speed and burst. He’s aggressive when picking his spots and confident with his release (8.1 3-point attempts per game), even if his field goal percentages (40-37-70 split rounded up) weren’t eye-catching. His role in an NBA rotation after these combine outings is clear: a microwave scorer off the bench who could provide instant offense. 

The downside is he weighed 165 pounds, far from ideal given his height. That makes him an easy target on defense who might struggle with the physicality of offense at the NBA level. But we saw what Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland could do last year after he climbed to the Denver Nuggets. Both have similar archetypes. 

Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite

Anyone interested in a 6-foot-7 combo guard with a 6-foot-10 wingspan? Australian prospect Dyson Daniels spent the past year developing his skills with the G League Ignite, and the combine has taken his tantalizing intangibles a step further. He measured a little under 6-foot-8, posted a 2.95 shuttle run time (which would be No. 1 last year) and a 10.8 lane agility time that matched Scottie Barnes’ tally last year. 

He’ll be 19 his entire rookie season, so there’s plenty of room for his development as long as the team that drafts him has the patience to fine tune his weaknesses. His long-range shooting is surely one of them, as he shot just 25.5% (3.6 attempts) in 14 games with the Ignite. But he causes havoc in passing lanes, has excellent vision, can guard three positions and is a theoretical matchup nightmare. Fellow Australian guard Josh Giddey jumped to No. 6 overall last year. It wouldn’t be surprising if Daniels, a likely mid-to-late lottery guy, experiences a similar fate after his showing.

Kenneth Lofton Jr., F/C, Louisiana Tech

As Kenneth Lofton Jr. tweeted himself, all someone needs is an opportunity. Lofton was a late addition to the combine. He received an invite after impressing in the G League Elite Camp, and he has yet to look back. Lofton has a unique frame at 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, and he’s shown more than his numbers through two seasons at Louisiana Tech indicate.

After attempting 20 total 3s in college, his release has been on display at the combine, which shows his potential to thrive from NBA distance. Lofton’s athleticism limits his ceiling, but he compensates for it with really smooth footwork and good IQ. If his 3-point shot can translate, he could become a sneaky-good candidate in the second round. He turns 20 in August and is reminiscent of a faster version of Zach Randolph.

Christian Koloko, C, Arizona

Between Jalen Duren, Mark Williams, Walker Kessler and Christian Koloko, there are some intriguing tall centers who could go in the first round. Koloko gets the spotlight here because of the 3-and-D potential he flashed at the combine. He measured 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, and his performances in some shooting drills stood out. The Cameroonian center shot 16-for-25 (64%) in the 3-point star drill, trailing only guards Smith from earlier and Villanova’s Collin Gillespie.

As a junior this past season, he shot 63.5% overall on 7.8 attempts and blocked 2.8 shots per game. Add a 3-point jumper to his arsenal and there’s something dangerous waiting to be unleashed. And it helps that Koloko shot 73.5% (3.7 attempts) from the foul line last season, which is usually an indicator of a player being able to extend their range at some point in their career. He turns 22 in June, but it’s not often you find 7-footers with 3-and-D potential. 

Dereon Seabron, G/F, NC State

The Wolfpack landed a second prospect on this list. Following Smith’s inclusion earlier is Dereon Seabron, a 6-foot-6 wing with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He enjoyed a tremendous leap in several statistical categories as a sophomore after a reserve role as a freshman, minus his 3-point shooting percentages. 

He was initially on the lower end of the second round, but that likely isn’t the case anymore. He is a superb rebounder for his size (8.2 average last year), can make plays off the bounce, run an offense and is an aggressive downhill attacker. The 3-point shooting is a concern (26% this past season, but he finished the 3-point star drill tied for fourth, making 15-of-25 shots (60%). And like Koloko, Seabron’s free throw percentage last year (71.3%, 6.3 attempts) bodes well for his long-ball development. He turns 22 in a few days, but he’s also been turning heads in the scrimmages. NC State did not have a good year (11-21 record), but they have two potential gems emerging from the program.

Gabriele Procida, G/F, Fortitudo Bologna - Italy

Gabriele Procida out of Lega Serie A in Italy had a chance to show more of his abilities during Saturday’s Excel Sports Pro Day. He turns 20 on June 1 and has spent the last two seasons developing his game in Italy. Procida measured a little under 6-foot-8 in shoes with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, which isn’t optimal, but recent players like Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (who has a negative wingspan) quieted the naysayers by putting in the work and blooming in his sophomore year.

Procida didn’t fill the stat sheet while playing in Italy, but he shot just under 40% from 3-point range his last two seasons. The volume wasn’t high (2.9 and 2.3) but his jumper looks promising along with a nice athletic bounce to his game. He still needs to improve as a ball-handler who can create off the dribble, but some team could use a second-rounder on him and stash him while he polishes his skills. 

Honorable mentions:

Kendall Brown, F, Baylor

Christian Braun, G/F, Kansas

Scotty Pippen Jr., G, Vanderbilt

Hugo Besson, G, New Zealand

Trevion Williams, F/C, Purdue