Who will leave Chicago on the rise?

Two years ago, it took Jamal Crawford all of a day and a half at the Chicago pre-draft camp to work his way into the top 10 of the 2000 NBA draft. Last year, Kirk Haston, Steven Hunter and Jeryl Sasser stuck around for the entire camp, stood out enough over the three days, and became first-round picks.

None of these players came into Chicago with much first-round hype, or left with complete games. But sometimes all it takes is one skill -- making shots, grabbing boards, dunking on the offensive backboard, hustling, being a superb athlete or just playing big -- to jump into the first round. And, while it might not be fair to the players gathered in Chicago this week, the reality is a number of coaches and general managers are getting their first snapshots of players.

It doesn't matter that many of these players have been scouted throughout their careers, specifically the past season. What matters most this month is what happens over the next five days at the Moody Bible Institute.

Chicago has become the ultimate tease for teams.

Starting Tuesday night and ending Friday, workouts and pickup games throughout each day carry more weight than they probably should. And that's why players like San Diego State's Randy Holcomb, fresh off a productive workout in Detroit, could be a candidate to leap into the first round.

That is, if he has a standout performance in Chicago.

"This is when these players seduce the coaches into taking them in the first round," said one Western Conference scout. "They won't seduce the scouts because they know the history of these guys. But coaches will see a player like Holcomb get an athletic tip dunk, a one-bounce dunk and start flipping through their notes to see, 'Who was that guy.'"

What makes the 2002 Chicago pre-draft camp even more important is the elimination of the Desert Classic in Tempe, Ariz. -- a camp for draft prospects that used to be held the first weekend of May. Aside from individual workouts for NBA teams, and the Portsmouth Invitational for seniors, this is the first and only group setting for potential first-round picks.

Also adding to the importance of this week is the fact only the first 20 spots in the first round appear taken in some order. A few more could possibly open in the coming weeks if Stanford's Curtis Borchardt and Duke's Mike Dunleavy opt to return for their senior seasons. And the decision by Western Kentucky's Chris Marcus to return for his fourth season of eligibility opened up another first-round spot.

Picks from 21 through the rest of the draft could be decided by how someone plays in Chicago. That's why the borderline first-round players skipping Chicago could be taking a gamble -- players like Maryland's Juan Dixon, Stanford's Casey Jacobsen and Kentucky's Tayshaun Prince.

Chicago is where coaches can have a lot more say in the draft pick. A scout can analyze a player's game, but it's the coach who will see something a player does this week and envision it working in his system.

"They'll see a guy in this short window and see some toughness, his ability to defend and make athletic plays off the rim," said an Eastern Conference scout.

With the majority of the camp centered around scrimmages, a player has the ability to showcase his strengths. That's why Holcomb is such an interesting player heading into Chicago. He runs the court exceptionally well, and while he's not a great shooter, he can get to the basket and make plays. He'll usually end up around the basketball and won't shy away from trying to make something happen on the court. The book on him being an undersized power forward, or a not skilled enough small forward, might not hurt him with a head coach looking for someone with energy to come off the bench.

Notre Dame's Ryan Humphrey can also help himself by simply doing what comes naturally during a game. He could catch a coach's eye with his rebounding, bu will it be enough to improve his draft status? It's clear that coaches look for skilled players in the second round, someone who has a niche (see: rebounder or shooter). The same is true late in the first round, especially when it comes to playoff teams that don't need a player to come in right away and be a star.

A shooter like Hawaii's Predrag Savovic could help himself this week. He's a pure shooter, but he's thicker than most Europeans who have come through college and played small forward. He's already got NBA range on his jumper and been in college for five seasons, giving him ready-made experience for the league.

Arkansas State's Jason Jennings could create a buzz because he's a 7-footer. He's tall enough to stand out both literaly and with his low-post play. A few good days and he could easily be taken in the first round of a draft that lacks true centers.

Then there are the annual underclassmen testing their draft status in Chicago. This year, the players who still can change their minds are Virginia's Roger Mason Jr., and Michigan State's Marcus Taylor. Both need to play well just to keep their first-round chances alive. Neither is a lock for the first round and both are taking a gamble by staying in the draft. Jason Gardner arrived a year ago in Chicago with a similar rep as Mason and Taylor, only to decide his best option was to return to Arizona for his junior season.

Simply put, Chicago is where players create a buzz. And, like Crawford and Sasser, Miami's John Salmons could be the latest point guard to make a name for himself in Chicago with a buzz.

Salmons didn't wow the teams at Portsmouth, but he has the overall skills to get into the first round. One scout thinks he's the best pure point guard in the draft. That's high praise considering this draft includes Duke's Jay Williams, Czech's Jiri Welsch, Gonzaga's Dan Dickau and Illinois' Frank Williams. The 6-7 Salmons could be the player coaches fall in love with because he can see over his defender, post up a point guard and make perimeter shots. He doesn't tend to make costly mistakes and posesses "point-guard plays,'' like looking to pass ahead, rebound and get the ball into the post.

The weekend will also be huge for Cincinnati's 6-1 point Steve Logan. He was one of the five finalists for the Wooden Award and no one doubts his heart, hustle and scoring ability. But they knock his size and he'll have to prove scouts wrong this weekend.

Injuries to Memphis' Kelly Wise, Oregon's Freddie Jones, USC's Sam Clancy and Alabama's Rod Grizzard have hurt their draft status and taken them out of the Chicago mix. Again, one player's misfortune could opens up a potential first-round spot -- if a couple of players can shine this week.

But in the end, the days spent in Chicago become more of a camp for the players on the bubble of the second round, or the player trying to solidify or steal a spot late in the first round.

"There are always two or three guys every year who become better players throughout the weekend in Chicago," said one Western Conference scout. "They get exposed to NBA coaching and that helps them. But they need to be athletic and have a special skill to stand out."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Katz covers the NBA draft for ESPN.com and ESPN.