For fringe NBA prospects like Texas Longhorns forward Jonathan Holmes, performing well at the Draft Combine is crucial to convince a team to use a second-round pick on them.
So consider Holmes' efforts in Chicago a success.
It's not something that he can control, but measuring in at 6'9 with a 6'11 wingspan was important for Holmes to prove that he can play some power forward in the NBA without giving up a great deal of height and length. Some struggles converting to the small forward position last year only increased the need for Homes to measure in close to his listed college height of 6'8. Not only did he do that, but it appears that he grew nearly an inch over the last year.
During Thursday's games, Holmes was impressive with 13 points, five rebounds, and three blocks:
The versatile forward made a handful of impressive plays on both ends that make it easy to envision him having an impact at both forward spots in the NBA. Holmes knocked down shots from the perimeter, attacked the rim in a straight line and even operated as the roll man on some occasions. Although he missed a couple of spot threes and went 1-for-4 from distance overall, the 6' 9" combo forward knocked down two tough step back jumpers (one going right, one going left) that most players his size struggle to pull off. Holmes also impressive as a straight-line driver, displaying a strong first step going to his right, and the strength to keep his defender on his hip once he turns the corner. Holmes had an impact on the defensive end as well, guarding multiple positions and blocking three shots in the process. Although he wasn't overly efficient on Thursday, Holmes did several different things that make him an attractive 2nd round prospect given his physical attributes.
On Day 2, the jumper still wasn't falling, but he was able to find other ways to score points:
Holmes couldn't get his jumper going, but he was able to get to the line off of a strong straight line drive from the left wing early in the first half. Holmes did some damage in the paint as well, oftentimes operating as the roll man or attacking the rim from mid-post spots. Holmes caught and finished an Andrew Harrison drop off, got to the line after an aggressive rip through drive from the mid-post, and spun and finished a jump hook after receiving a pass from the perimeter just outside of the left block. With Holmes' ability to make shots from the perimeter (although not all that consistently) and score on the interior at 6' 9" 242 pounds, he's going to be very easy for NBA coaches to fit him into their offensive sets at either forward spot.
Holmes now sit at No. 33 overall in the current mock draft from DraftExpress because the scouting services believes that he can shoot well enough to play the stretch-four position in a league that is increasingly going with smaller lineups to spread the court and create driving lanes.
There are no guarantees that Holmes would be able to make a team with an early second-round selection, but there's a growing feeling that the former Longhorn is an NBA-caliber player who won't have to excel overseas or in the NBDL to earn a shot.