Sheridan Hoops has done three mock drafts thus far and probably will do at least three more. Why? Because players can help or hurt themselves with their performances at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago and in team workouts.
Four players who have improved their stock considerably are Richaun Holmes, Rakeem Christmas, Jordan Mickey and Rashad Vaughn.
“All four have helped themselves so far during the workouts,” one Eastern Conference general manager told SheridanHoops. “Vaughn has a chance to go in the first round. The other three are second-round picks. Although Christmas has apparently intrigued some teams at the bottom of the first round.”
The four players are ranked based on how far they have moved up on the draft board.
1. Richaun Holmes, F, 6-10, 243, Bowling Green
Who? That’s what the average NBA fan may be saying at first glance. Heck, some general managers thought the same thing before Holmes made a name for himself at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament followed by an invitation to Chicago.
“I can play,” Holmes told SheridanHoops. “I can play with anybody. I’m here. I know I went to Bowling Green, which is a small school, but I’m here now and I feel like I can play with anybody in the nation and be successful.”
Holmes displayed his high motor and blocked five shots with a posterizing dunk during the first day of the combine. During his career at Bowling Green, Holmes proved to be an effective rim protector, averaging 2.6 blocks per game.
It’s those types of hustle plays that makes the forward confident he can be a contributor to a winning organization.
“I want to have championships,” Holmes told SheridanHoops. “I want to be seen as a guy who did his job on and off the court as a professional. Above all else, I want to win championships. I see all the time on TV the joy and confidence it brings. I want to be a part of that and I want to contribute to that. If I can play in the NBA and win multiple championships, I would feel accomplished.”
Holmes knows there are elements he has to add to his game to impress executives in his upcoming workouts.
“Being able to knock down the mid-range jump shot consistently,” Holmes told SheridanHoops. “I’m working on stretching it out to the three and being that stretch-4 that’s so coveted in the NBA today. Also, dribbling so when my team needs it, I’ll have ability to bring the ball up.”
In his senior season, Holmes began to show promise of that expanded range, shooting 42 percent from the arc.
Holmes already has worked out for the Jazz, Spurs, Pacers and Mavericks. He will add the Suns, Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Raptors, Grizzlies and others to the list for roughly 15 total workouts, league sources tell SheridanHoops.
Previous Draft Range: Undrafted
New Draft Range: Late 30’s to Early 40’s
2. Rakeem Christmas, F-C, 6-10, 242, Syracuse
Christmas is a rarity by today’s draft standards. In an era where prospects enter the draft early and are chosen on potential, the big man spent four seasons at Syracuse and at 23 years old is ready to make an immediate impact as a rotation player.
Christmas put it all together in his senior season, averaging a career-high 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
“He’s a borderline first-round pick,” one NBA scout told SheridanHoops.
To solidify a spot in the first round, Christmas is attempting to show talent evaluators an expanded offensive game.
“I’ve just been working on a lot of shooting,” Christmas told SheridanHoops. “I didn’t shoot the ball a lot at Syracuse, I was always in the post.”
The work paid off at the combine, where Christmas hit several mid-range jumpers while sprinkling in a hook shot as well. At the first day of the combine, Christmas had 20 points on an efficient 7-of-10 from the field with seven rebounds, one block and one steal.
“He was underutilized in college,” one GM told SheridanHoops. “I like his size. He can be a backup NBA post player.”
The size the GM noted includes Christmas’ 7-5 wingspan, which when coupled with his motor makes him a solid shot blocker and offensive rebounder.
Christmas has a message for others NBA executives as well.
“I’d tell them I’m a great teammate, I give it my all, I do the little things,” he said. “I just want to be aggressive and just come in and learn as much as I can as fast as I can.”
Christmas already has worked out for the Pacers, Spurs, 76ers and Celtics. He will add the Mavericks to that list Friday, league sources tell SheridanHoops.
Previous Draft Range: Late 30’s
New Draft Range: Late 20’s to Early 30’s
3. Jordan Mickey, F, 6-8, 235, LSU
Mickey has a nearly 7-4 wingspan and led all power forwards at the combine with a max vertical leap of nearly 38 inches, which helped him average an elite 3.6 blocks during this past season at LSU.
“I feel I can be a player who can make First Team All-Defense, possible Defensive Player of the Year,” Mickey told SheridanHoops. “Those would be some of my main goals.”
Mickey’s quickness allows him to hedge and show against smaller guards on screens or stretch-4’s in pick-and-pops. At 238 pounds, he also has the quickness and strength to rotate back toward the basket on pick-and-roll plays and hold his own in the paint. His wingspan also shrinks the passing window for guards hoping to find a big man rolling towards the basket.
The next step for Mickey is to become a more polished offensive player to complement his elite defensive skills.
“I’m definitely working on being consistent as a mid-range shooter,” Mickey told SheridanHoops. “I’m not taking a ton of threes right now, but I will. That’s something I’m working on, expanding my range. I’m also working on my ball handling, getting to the rim and finishing. I’m continuing to work on my post-up game and face-up game.”
At the combine, Mickey filled the stat sheet with 17 points, eight rebounds, eight blocks and two steals in 29 minutes during the first day of action.
“A lot of critics told me I wouldn’t be drafted and I’d be lucky to be drafted in the second round,” Mickey told SheridanHoops. “I just use that as motivation. When I hear those things, it makes me work harder so I can prove to people that I’m not that type of player.”
Mickey already has worked out for the Bulls, Rockets and Celtics. The Timberwolves and Spurs will join his list in the coming days, league sources tell SheridanHoops.
Previous Draft Range: Early 40’s
New Draft Range: Early 30’s – Mid 30’s
4. Rashad Vaughn, G, 6-5, 200, UNLV
Despite his age, Vaughn showed a mature scoring prowess at UNLV. As a freshman, he averaged 18.3 points on nearly 45 percent from the floor and 38 percent beyond the arc as a freshman.
“I really like Vaughn,” one GM told SheridanHoops. “He’s a good shooter with range. He can get his own shot and is athletic.”
Vaughn has worked with trainer Drew Hanlen of Pure Sweat. Hanlen has previously worked with veterans Bradley Beal, David Lee and others. In addition, 2014 draftees Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine developed under his tutelage.
“Rashad and I have been working on improving his balance to increase consistency on his shot, creating separation off the bounce, using ball and pindown screens and handling pressure,” Hanlen told SheridanHoops.
A forward in college, Vaughn’s solid frame is better suited to help him mature into a shooting guard at the NBA level.
Given his age, Vaughn’s success will depend heavily on his surrounding environment. At a time when his career can be molded like clay, it will be important to have veterans to guide the talented young wing in the right direction to achieve his potential and stay out of trouble.
Vaughn already has worked out for the Heat and Pacers.
Previous Draft Range: Mid 30’s
New Draft Range: Late 20’s – Early 30’s