8 players who improved their 2021 NBA draft stock

·8-min read

CHICAGO — There was no 2020 NBA draft combine because of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s been 25 months since we saw players' draft stock rise, like Cameron Johnson and Grant Williams, after a strong showing in the 2019 combine. 

Ten team personnel members per NBA organization were able to attend this year and watch four days filled with five-on-five scrimmages, shooting drills, measurements and conduct individual player interviews.

There were a few players who had a strong showing and got the attention of NBA executives and scouts in attendance. Below are eight players who helped their draft stock at the 2021 combine.

Quentin Grimes looks toward an opposing player during a game for the Houston Cougars.
Houston's Quentin Grimes had a great NBA draft combine and was the best player on the court during Day 2 of five-on-five scrimmages. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Quentin Grimes, Houston

Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-5, 210 pounds

Junior stats: 17.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg

Projected NBA draft range: Mid-to-late first round

What a week for Grimes. He was, by far, the best player on the court in Day 2 of the five-on-five scrimmages. He looked comfortable, playing with confidence, shooting the ball well and getting his teammates involved. Grimes has been here before after testing the NBA waters two years ago. He was coming off a disappointing freshman year at Kansas and learned from that experience.

“Knowing it was my second year coming to the combine, I knew exactly what to do and what NBA teams are looking for,” Grimes told Yahoo Sports. “I just went out there and played my game and tried to shoot the ball well, play defense and play with confidence.”

Grimes was the leading scorer out of all 39 players who played in the scrimmages. He had 27 points (including seven 3-pointers) in the second game and didn’t miss a single shot in the first 10 minutes of the first half.

Grimes met with the Boston Celtics, New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks.

Nah'Shon 'Bones' Hyland, VCU

Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 169

Sophomore stats: 19.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg

Projected NBA draft range: Late first round

Hyland played in only one scrimmage, but what scouts saw from the point guard out of Wilmington, Delaware, was impressive. He had back-to-back pull-up 3-pointers and looked a little bit like Ja Morant the way he finished at the rim and had incredible body control in the lane. VCU didn’t get to play in the NCAA tournament due to multiple players testing positive for COVID-19.

Hyland showed he’s a tough competitor and what he can do with his size and speed at the NBA level.

“After seeing how well Immanuel Quickley did this past year, I think a lot of teams will take a look at Bones in the first round,” one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “There’s a lot of similarities to their game and the way they read the defense. He could be the biggest riser of this draft class.”

Joshua Primo goes up toward the hoop during a draft combine scrimmage.
Alabama's Joshua Primo participates during a scrimmage during the NBA draft combine at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. (David Banks/USA TODAY Sports)

Joshua Primo, Alabama

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 189

Freshmen stats: 8.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg

Projected NBA draft range: Second round

Primo won’t turn 19 until December and was the youngest player participating in the draft combine. He measured a wingspan of 6-foot-9 and has bigger hands than Nuggets center Bol Bol with a 10-inch measurement. 

He looked comfortable on the court all week long in drills and his one game he played in during the scrimmage sessions. Primo shot the ball with confidence and found ways to score around bigger, stronger players at the rim. Primo entered the combine and kept his eligibility, but there’s no way teams let him go back to college after what they saw at the combine.

“I’ve always loved the game, and being able to be in this position right now while I’m young, I really wanna be able to learn at this level and learn to be in a winning franchise, be a part of a winning team and be at that highest level,” Primo said. “I wanna compete at the highest level, and that’s always been a dream.”

Josh Christopher, Arizona State

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 215

Freshman stats: 14.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg

Projected NBA draft range: Late first round/early second round

Christopher didn’t have to play in the scrimmages and could have sat out like Isaiah Todd, Luka Garza, Marcus Bagley and B.J. Boston did, but the Arizona State guard has never one to back down from competition. Christopher played confidently and was one of the most vocal players on the court. He had one of the best dunks in the scrimmages where he drove the lane and got to the rim over 7-footer Makur Maker.

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Scouts were pleased to see Christopher compete, and he definitely helped his draft stock showing NBA personnel what he can do against other elite talent in this draft class. Christopher had 28 points in two games and met with a handful of teams last week, including the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jericho Sims, Texas

Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 250

Senior stats: 8.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg

Projected NBA draft range: Second round

Sims recorded the second-best vertical jump at the combine with a 44.5-inch vertical (Keon Johnson broke the record with 48 inches) and tied for the second-best mark in event history. Usually players his size don’t jump that high, but he definitely put it on display during the scrimmages and played above the rim. 

Sims was great at sneaking into the lane when his defender helped off the screen, and it translated to easy baskets. Sims capped off his strong week, finishing with 18 points in his second scrimmage game.

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Neemias Queta, Utah State

Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 248

Junior stats: 14.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg

Projected NBA draft range: Mid-to-late first round/early second round

Queta led the entire NCAA in blocked shots last season with 97, and his defensive presence was felt in the lane as his team won both games comfortably. 

“I feel like I’m the best shot blocker in this draft class,” Queta told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t really see it as, ‘I played at a low-major, that other guy played at a high-major school.’ It’s basketball, 40 minutes. And if you’re coming into the lane, I’m going to try to block your shot. If I’m taking it to the basket, I'm going to try to score. It’s that simple.”

Scouts were impressed with how well he moved for his size and his pick-and-roll defense against faster guards.

Joe Wieskamp looks to shoot during the NBA draft combine.
Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp looks to shoot during the NBA draft combine at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. (David Banks/USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Wieskamp, Iowa

Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 205

Junior stats: 15 ppg, 6.6 rpg

Projected NBA draft range: Second round

Wieskamp shot 46.2% from 3-point range during his junior year and put his sharp-shooting on full display during the second day of scrimmages. The Iowa shooting guard finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds and was deadly from deep, knocking down six 3-pointers. Wieskamp also tested off the charts with a 42-inch vertical jump and had the fourth-fastest lane agility time, clocking in at 10.7 seconds.

“I believe that I’m a lot more athletic than a lot of people think, so I want to continue to prove that here at the combine,” Wieskamp said.

Wieskamp averaged 1.46 points per possession on catch-and-shoot jumpers, per Synergy Sports. In a shooters' league, there’s definitely going to be a team that takes Wieskamp in this draft.

Moses Wright, Georgia Tech

Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 226

Senior stats: 18 ppg, 8.1 rpg

Projected NBA draft range: Second round

Wright was named the AP ACC Player of the Year last season and was instrumental in Georgia Tech winning the ACC tournament. He is a fierce defender and did a little bit of everything on offense for his team, showing NBA scouts he can extend his game past the 3-point line. Wright had 14 points in the first scrimmage and is a player teams can plug in right away next season and give good minutes off the bench.

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