NBA Draft Combine: Athleticism Testing Analysis
By: Michael Lewis Visenberg
While we are counting down the days to the NBA Draft, we have passed the significant landmark of the Draft Combine! We saw people gain and lose inches of height, or stay relatively as tall as we thought they were. Also, after the usual painful wait, the combine athletic scores were released! While I will preach time and again that these scores are not the end all be all, they are still fun to see and go through. Well, lets see what players jumped up the draft boards:
NBA Draft Combine: Athleticism Testing
With Kyrie Irving choosing not to participate in the athletic portion of the testing, this appeared to be an opportunity for Derrick Williams and Enes Kanter to make the decision difficult for Cleveland. Each of these prospects showed very nice athleticism, though it is unknown as to whether either put up numbers impressive enough to knock Irving from the top spot. One could only assume what Irving would have tested, as he was not seen as being a top flight athlete, but Williams and Kanter were slightly more athletic than once thought.
After measuring in as having a slightly high 10.8% body fat on his 248-pound frame, Derrick Williams did not let this weigh down an impressive athletic testing. Williams has close to prototype size and length for a PF, but his numbers showed that he very well could find his place for himself on the wing. His athleticism and speed appear solid for a wing player, but incredibly strong for a post. His lifting the 185-pound bar a combine high 19 times showed great strength for any position. Add in his excellent 34.5-inch vert and a strong 11.03 in the lane agility test numbers, Williams definitely showed the hopes teams are placing in him to play either forward position. The numbers may not exactly jump out at you as being elite, but they definitely showed that Williams has what it takes to be a high level NBA athlete.
Enes Kanter impressed scouts just by being there, as everyone was incredibly anxious to see the young Turkish phenom play after what seemed like an eternity from his standout 2010 Hoop Summit performance. Reviews appeared to be incredibly positive for Enes, as he measured at a svelte 6’11 and 260 pounds, with an incredibly solid 5.9% body fat. This shows that he has pretty adequate size to play Center, and he also posted athleticism results that bettered top post prospects of last year DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe. While he does not possess the length of Cousins, and has yet to be battle tested as Monroe was, his combine numbers definitely show that Kanter has at least been keeping in good shape and shows nice athletic potential. He posted an ideal 14 reps on the bench and his 11.3 lane agility score shows he has some ability to move the floor. Kanter’s athleticism is not going to blow you away, but it must have alleviated some of the worries teams had about him.
We may not have an idea of where Irving would rate on the athletic tests, but other top PG’s showed a great deal of athletic ability. Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker posted 37.5 and 39 inch max verts respectively, and appear to be every bit the NBA athletes one would expect. They both posted above average agility and sprinting ability, and Knight posted an impressive 10 reps on the bench press, while Walker had a decent 7. Still, with their impressive numbers aside, Jimmer Fredette was a star amongst athletic tests. His 10.42 agility was third fastest in the combine. Jimmer also posted a beastly 14 reps, showed nice speed and while his jumping numbers were slightly below average, Jimmer fans were ecstatic with his combine showing.
Kawhi Leonard may not have been lock for the lottery, but if the combine meant anything, he might not have a very long wait in the Green Room. He may not have incredible size for a 3 at 6’7, but his 7’3 wingspan should more than make up for that. His athletic numbers however, were not as great as one would expect. He posted only a 32-inch max vert, which is quite below average for a player his size, and his speed numbers were nothing to write home about. Also, he lifted 185 only 3 times, though his colossal wingspan may be a reason why. Still, armed with a pair of massive mitts and a great work ethic, do not expect him to slip out of the first 10 picks.
If prospects were to be given movie names for this weekend after their combine performance, than Iman Shumpert would be “The Hangover II”. Shumpert not only appeared much taller than other point guards, and with his build and athleticism, should truly become a combo. At 6’5.5 and 222 lbs of solid frame, he jumped out the building with verticals of 36.5 standing and 42 max. He had great running numbers and lifted 185 a monstrous 18 times. While his shooting and decision making still have a lot to be desired, Shumpert’s freakish athleticism could easily give teams in the first round some intrigue.
Josh Selby equaled Shumpert’s vert numbers, and is quickly growing in popularity. Selby may have had a mediocre freshman year at Kansas, but he seems to be showing why he was viewed as such a top-flight prospect. Isaiah Thomas also showed some big time hops and speed, not to mention 13 reps, strength in which Thomas uses to play much bigger than his size. Butler star Shelvin Mack really proved that he is not only strong, with his 17 reps, but posted some major league vertical numbers and solid speed. He definitely was known as being an incredibly strong guard, but his other athletic numbers were incredibly surprising in a very good way for this natural born leader.
A number of combo guards made some noise during the combine as well, trying to show which small school star is the next Kevin Martin or Rodney Stuckey. They do not have the size, but Norris Cole, Charles Jenkins and Andrew Goudelock are all making some noise as legit NBA prospects. Cole, well known for playing much bigger than his size, posted very impressive vert numbers and a combine high 10.07 lane agility. Word is that he is moving up draft boards after these results. Jenkins is the biggest of these prospects, and while he showed nice strength, his athleticism was fairly below average. Goudelock meanwhile has the best shooting stroke of these players, and showed very solidly in the testing. He posted the second fastest lane agility, a very fast ¾ court sprint and an above average vert. All of these players should be drafted and should all get some first round sniffs.
We all knew that Travis Leslie would post monster numbers, so his 40.5-inch vert was no real surprise; only surprising it was not higher. Someone who may find himself as a combo guard would be Malcolm Lee, and he showed a great vert and strength. Lee has been getting rave reviews, and is one too be watched. The twosome of Tennessee players also looked great in the athletic portion of the combine, as Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris both showed the athleticism that has people loving their potential on the wing.
Alec Burks showed his nice smooth athleticism and posted nice numbers for a 2. He will need to get stronger, but he showed the athleticism that will probably make him a lottery pick and the first true 2 guard taken. Marshon Brooks also showed a huge 34.5 inch standing vert and some great quickness. Brooks is also slight, but he is very long and has impressed people with his smooth game. Klay Thompson showed decent to below average athleticism, though with his length and shooting stroke, he will still be a very high pick on June 23.
For those most suited to SF, Chris Singleton showed the athleticism that will hopefully help him guard multiple positions. Jordan Hamilton actually had a below average showing for the most part, though I doubt he slips too far. Two wings were unable to bench 185, Tyler Honeycutt and Jereme Richmond. They both need work on their frames, but they ran the two fastest ¾ sprints at the combine, Richmond running a 3.02. Jimmy Butler, whom many seem to be calling the Wesley Matthews or Landry Fields of this years draft, also posted really impressive numbers.
The Morris twins are two of the more polished prospects in this years draft as far as basketball ability, but they really did not stand out very much as athletes. It is not that either Marcus Morris or Markieff Morris are bad athletes, but really neither stood out much in that category. If anything, Marcus showed that he is more fitted as a 4 than on the wing.
JaJuan Johnson and Keith Benson both showed really big athleticism to go with their long and slightly smaller frames. They both had 12’1.5 max vert reaches, which shows that these guys are great athletes for their size. With 15 and 12 reps respectively, they also showed they are athletes despite them being a few pounds lighter than one would like.
Jeremy Tyler also showed above average athleticism for a player his size, with a 12-foot max vert reach and a very nice score in the agility test. Tyler has major potential due to his tremendous length and athleticism. Tristan Thompson is another player with great length and potential, and his athleticism has to make him a possible lottery pick. Justin Harper tied Derrick Williams with 19 reps on the bench press, showing top end strength.
Kenneth Faried also showed nice speed and hops, we all know he uses them for grabbing a lot of boards and his pesky defense. While not blowing people away with his speed, Greg Smith had nice ups and 17 lifts. The biggest hands in the draft and his being built like a tank should help this post hopefully be picked. Jon Leuer also had to be a pleasant surprise, posting nice agility, a strong vert for his size and 17 lifts as well. Leuer seemed to be really helped by the combine, measuring an inch taller than many thought and than showing he was a pretty nice athlete to boot. Finally, Malcolm Thomas really put up some major numbers as well. Kawhi Leonard’s SDSU teammate is definitely a sleeper and a big time athlete.
Well, they are great players:
Darius Morris, despite his major size advantage over most guards, did not exactly blow people away with his athleticism. Chandler Parsons showed something to be desired in the bench press, only lifting 4 and Kyle Singler posted a combine low 23 inch standing vert.
The combine also definitely was not incredibly beneficial to either Trey Thompkins or Jamie Skeen. Thompkins had a combine high 15.5% body fat, and also was not really incredibly athletic, though no one really expected him to be. Skeen meanwhile was one of the slowest timed players at the combine; posting combine lows amongst his position in the speed tests. Jordan Williams also was not exactly a great athlete, though no one really expected him to be. Also, Nikola Vucevic showed a lot to be desired as an athlete, though his length and skill set should still make him a top pick.
Combine results are not the end all be all for a prospects position in the draft. While some results may be positive or negative to a prospect's stock, they usually are somewhere around where we thought they were. Not only that, but it is a single workout and is not exactly congruent with what these players do on the court. So, while these numbers may surprise us, they should not be taken out of context as to the way a player has played before this combine. How one uses these gifts in size, length or athleticism on the basketball court is much more important than in these combines, and these numbers are not an exact science. These results show that this draft has a number of great athletes, whether they become great NBA players, as well, will take much more than a combine to prove.
good ish mikeyv
Is it surprising b/c he is white? Wondering why it's surprising.
The stigma of the unathletic white american basketball player is alive and well. It doesn't matter if you're only 6'2" and lead the country in scoring, break ankles with your crossover, cut through double teams like butter constantly, or finish over the bigs with circus shots in the lane, or win player of the year. You'll never hear a sports announcer say the white american athletes are fast or athletic. What you'll hear instead is mind boggling nonsense like, "he's not fast, but he's quick." Or "he makes up for his lack of athleticism (whiteness) by being crafty". Just listen for it the next time you watch someone like Aaron Craft at OSU play. He's lightning quick but he's a white american, so you'll get to hear every excuse in the book from the announcers as to why he's effective on the court despite his white-american-ness. Sure, there are some white american ballers that fit the slow-white-guy-with-no-hops stereotype perfectly, but it can't be so blindly applied to all.
It works both ways, African American athletes are rarely seen as intelligent. Sure they can run and jump but not really seen as smart, and rarely one will be said to have a high basketball IQ, but get him off the court and the impression is that he's just as "dumb" as the rest of them.