Last year Pat Connaughton recorded a 44 inch vertical at the combine which drew headlines and likely helped him get drafted (41st overall). The only problem was that his vertical was enhanced by four inches as his standing reach (8′ 0) was recorded incorrectly, four inches below what it had been recorded at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
This year there apparently were a bunch of Pat Connaughtons.
Each year at the Draft Combine, the NBA records player’s heights with and without shoes, their wingspan and their standing reach, among other measurements. They then take the BAM testing results of the player’s one step and max jumps on the Vertec machine. The Vertec results (for one step and max verticals) are then subtracted by the standing reach to give a player’s actual vertical numbers.
This year it appears that a number of player’s standing reaches were logged incorrectly. Our Michael Visenberg noted that the standing reaches of a number of players do not match those of previous events. For instance, Stephen Zimmerman measured 9′ 0.5" at the USA minicamp (8′ 8.5 at the combine). Demetrius Jackson measured an 8′ foot standing reach at the Hoop Summit (7′ 9 at the combine), Thon Maker meaured a 9′ 3.5 standing reach at the Hoop Summit (9′ 2.5 at the combine).
Both Kahlil Felder and Tyler Ulis had impossibly low standing reaches at 7′ 4.5 and then ridiculous 44 inch and 38 inch verticals. Ulis is a solid athlete but he doesn’t jump out of the gym. His 38 inch vertical is obviously boosted. And as great an athlete as Felder is, 44" inches is Ronnie Fields’ territory.
Melo Trimble‘s 35.5 inch vertical is also highly questionable.
Dorian Finney-Smith‘s 8′ 3.5" standing reach doesn’t compute for a player with a 6′ 7.75" height and 6’ 11.75" wingspan. His standing reach is likely 4 or so inches short. And his vertical numbers appear to bear that out with a near record 38.5 one step vert and a 40.5 in max vert.
Jake Layman measured 8′ 9" standing reach in the summer and 8′ 6" at the combine. He had a 37 inch vert in the summer and a 39.5 inch vert at the combine.
Kyle Wiltjer recording a 35.5 inch vertical had to set off just a few alarms that something was amiss. His 7′ 0.25" wingspan on a 6′ 8.75" frame does not equate to a 8′ 6.5" standing reach.
Therefore it is tough to take much of the vertical testing numbers as concrete this year. Teams may want to ask BAM for the numbers that players hit on the Vertec machine and then measure standing reaches in individual workouts on guys that they’re interested in and do the math themselves to get a more precise vertical. Or do the entire testing process themselves.
No one is perfect, but it appears this year the combine athleticism testing numbers (vertical numbers specifically) were affected by some sort of clerical errors in the logging of standing reaches. Regardless, here’s a breakdown of who helped and hurt themselves from the information put out.
Joel Bolomboy Weber State
Bolomboy wins the award for most athletic player after the combine testing. Bolomboy’s lane agility time was the fastest of any player in this year’s combine at 10.26. Read that again! Incredible that his time was better than all of the guards that participated. His shuttle and 3/4 sprint were also on par with the guards. His explosiveness is also very impressive. Regardless if you take a few inches off his 40.5 vertical, that is extremely explosive for a bigman. Bolomboy had numerous jaw dropping highlights this year, and his athleticism testing re-enforced that he is an elite level athlete.
Thon Maker, Australia
While Maker may not actually be the combine’s "most athletic" above 6’11 player of all time, as his numbers likely were enhanced. He definitely had very impressive speed and athleticism results. Scouts would love to have seen him participate in the combine games the way Cheick Diallo did. Thon obviously runs fast and jumps high, but he has a very difficult time exploding with contact. He has added some solid upper body strength over the past two years and it shows in his arms and shoulders, but his legs have not shown much improvement and may never be able to carry additional weight.
Cheick Diallo Kansas
Diallo was one of the big winners of the combine, quite possibly the biggest. First he measured with the 2nd best overall wingspan at 7′ 4". And also had very strong standing reach and weight numbers. And then he proved that he was one of the best athletes in the games, running the court very well and making plays on both ends of the floor. His athleticism test numbers also checked out well as his 11.24 lane agility number was solid, as was his 31 inch (one step) and 35 inch (max) vertical results.
Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame
Regardless of whether you like Jackson’s playmaking ability or leadership, there’s no denying one thing and that is that Jackson is an elite level leaper. While it’s more difficult for small point guards to utilize this attribute, his ability to get off the floor and make plays above the rim in not in question. His 43.5 inch vert was probably enhanced by 3 inches as mentioned before, but regardless, a 40+ inch vertical is among rare company. His speed and agility numbers also were among the top handful of players.
Jaron Blossomgame Clemson
His 41 inch max vert was one of the real standout numbers. Even subtracting 3-4 inches he’s still in good territory. His speed numbers weren’t quite as strong but nonetheless he separated himself as one of the top non-guard athletes.
Dorian Finney-Smith Florida
Regardless of the fact that his 38.5 and 41.5 verticals are likely enhanced. His overall leaping ability is obviously very strong. Combine that with a 6’11.5 wingspan and an improved shooting ability and you have a potential sleeper in the 2nd round.
Wade Baldwin Vanderbilt
After being a winner in the measurements, Baldwin also scored well in the athleticism testing. His lane drill score of 10.45 stood out and was the fastest of anyone not named Joel Bolomboy. He also posted a very solid 38 inch vert. This after posting 2-guard length. Baldwin certainly has the physical characteristic boxes checked.
Dedric Lawson Memphis
Lawson scored extremely low in the agility and speed testing. His 12.48 lane agility was among the worst recorded. His three quarter court sprint and shuttle run were also among the absolute slowest of the combine. Let’s hope his vertical numbers of 22.5 (one step) and 28.0 (max) were not enhanced. It’s safe to say Lawson did not have a good showing in the athleticism testing and would have been best advised to skip it.
Robert Carter Maryland
Carter’s 24.5 (one step) and 30.5 (max) verts are among the lowest of the combine. His 3.65 was also the absolute slowest of everyone in the three quarter court sprint. Luckily for Carter he performed well in front of scouts during the first day game.
Diamond Stone Maryland
Credit Stone for at least participating as his ATH numbers were likely better than fellow freshman standout and similarly sized big Henry Ellenson would have been. Stone did not crack 30 inches in the max vert going for 27 (one step) and 29.5 (max). His lane agility wasn’t too bad at 12.02, but his 3/4 court sprint was among the bottom five or so players at 3.50.
Caleb Swanigan Purdue
Swanigan is clearly a below the rim athlete and his numbers bore that out with a 27.0 (one step) and 29.0 (max) vertical result. He may even been given some help on those (as his 7’3 wingspan might have produced a higher than 8′ 11" standing reach). He had a 12.90 in the lane agility which was better than expected and not surprisingly elected to not participate in the sprint and shuttle run.
Just like last year, a number of the lottery hopefuls did not participate in the athleticism testing. Among the currently projected lottery guys, only Marquese Chriss participated in the athleticism testing.