Here is the reality of the NBA Draft Combine: It doesn’t matter that much. It’s one small piece of a big puzzle.
This isn’t like the NFL draft where a good or bad combine can really move a guy on draft boards. The reason is pure numbers — in the NFL every year more than 250 players are drafted (254 this last draft). In the NBA there are about a 100 guys that get looked at every years, 60 get drafted and about 45 or so make a roster. With a smaller pool to consider, there are fewer surprises.
What do teams care about at the NBA draft combine? Interviews and measurements. How a guy does in shooting drills might reinforce preconceived ideas, but it’s not changing minds (they have seen him play in games already). But what teams don’t know for sure are real measurements — height, standing height (how tall you are with your arms up, which matters for bigs on defense), vertical leap and the like.
So here are a few notes out of the Draft Combine, Day 2, mostly related to measurements. Hat tips to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chad Ford at ESPN for many of these.
• First, here is a full list of the measurements, if you want to see them yourself.
• Cody Zeller is over 7 feet with shoes on but his standing vertical of 8’10” didn’t wow anybody — what did was his surprising 33.5 inch vertical (the best by a guy taller than 6’8” in a decade).
• Great note from Chad Ford at ESPN on Pitt’s Steven Adams (Insider, and a great overall read).
Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams was the big winner on Day 1. Not only did Adams look the part of a NBA center (he measured 7 feet, 250 pounds with a 7-foot-4.5 span), but he showed off some terrific athleticism and toughness on the defensive end. However, that’s not what wowed scouts. Adams showed off a surprising — no, shocking — offensive game, hitting jump shot after jump shot with a feathery touch.
“I can say I was honestly stunned,” one NBA GM said. “Where did that come from? That’s not something you develop with a few weeks with a trainer. He was way more skilled than we thought. That makes a huge difference in our evaluation of him.”
• What about Nerlens Noel? He measured 6’11.5” in shoes with a 7’3.75” wingspan and a 9’2” standing reach. Good numbers. But he weighed in at 206 pounds. Not so good, he’s going to need to put on some muscle for the NBA.
• Both wing players Ben McLemore and Shabazz Muhammad measured 6’4.75” in shoes, which is short for guys who want to play the three in the NBA.
• Indiana wing man Victor Oladipo turned a few heads with a 42-inch vertical leap.
• Shane Larkin, son of former MLBer Barry Larkin, had the best vertical in the combine with 44 inches.