Prior to the lottery, prior to anyone seeing an actual 3 on 3, 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 drill, prior to anything actually related to on the court play, analysts will measure every aspect of a prospect to nit pick at before we even know who’s picking in what order of the first 14 picks in the draft.  And I am one of them. 

We are always listening to ‘upside’ and ‘length’ and ‘coachability’ and any other adjective Jay Bilas and Chad Ford can spew at us, some of which are graded by a ruler, others are graded by ‘a guy who knows’ from within that specific players school.  A combine measurement, an interview answer, a doctor’s opinion won’t necessarily swing a team solely based on those things, unless of course you’re a narcissistic a-hole like Royce White or unless you don’t have knees like DeJuan Blair, but they are all units of measurement that compile the sum of the parts and help us begin to pave a path for who teams will pick come draft night.  I, as the junky I am, watched a bit of the combine.  Watching the workouts is a bit mind-numbing at times unless you can really divulge yourself into what you’re watching.  Body language, conversations, even positioning can drive a stock up or send it crashing through the floor.  For example, Marcus Morris was thought to be the better prospect of the Morris twins out of Kansas during their draft combine, but Marcus’ utter refusal to workout with the 4’s and demanded to be labeled a small forward in the league hurt his stock so much, he ended up getting picked AFTER his brother.  So here are my observations in bulletpoint form after one day of combine workouts.


-Ones who come up short-

                Michael Carter Williams-MCW is known to be the 6’6” point guard who will be transcendent because of his size and court vision.   In his measurements though, he listed at 6’5” in shoes.  That’s about 6’3” in socks (but who cares, nobody plays in socks), and a rather pedestrian 6’7” wingspan.  For a guy thought to be a defensive disrupter, I would have expected something greater.  He also measured out with hands smaller than guys 5” shorter than him.  Who would have thought hand measurement would really mean anything?  Well, ask Kwame Brown.

                Gorgui Dieng-Dieng is thought to be a pretty sure thing in the NBA as a high post passer, rebounder and defender on defense.  You’d think his natural position will be the 5 since Ibaka is proving if you don’t have a whiff of an offensive game and don’t have to the ability to stretch the floor outside of 7 feet, you’re not going to be a successful 4.  Not to say Ibaka isn’t successful, I just have my doubts of him.  Dieng measured at barely over 6’10” in shoes.  Look, 6’10” isn’t terrible, but you’re then forced to position him with somebody, nearly at all times, of equivalent or greater height unless you’re playing against small ball.  Dieng did measure out extremely well in other pre-requisites though with a 7’3” wingspan, a 9’4” standing reach and huge hands, so all in all, he has the length to be successful as an NBA defensive center, but I think he came up about an inch shorter most would have liked.

                Pierre Jackson-look, we all knew Jackson was small.  You can see it on the court at Baylor, but you hoped maybe it was a trick your eyes was playing on you because teammate Isaiah Austin is like 7’5” and has arms that drag against the floor.  He barely snuffed 5’9” without shoes, 5’10” in shoes,  a wingspan exactly his height (5’10-not good for an NBA player since your wingspan is your height to a normal human) and the smallest hands in the draft.  Luckily, Jackson doesn’t necessarily play with his size, but it will show that he’s definitely not a full time starter in the NBA, more like a change of pace guy and I’m not sure, in a class deep with talent at point guard, teams will jump at the bit knowing the best they’re getting out of him is a role player.

                Ben McLemore-its hard to judge a guy who is a lock for the top 3 in the draft and you can’t knock him based on his success in college that is almost a surety to translate to the NBA, but McLemore came up alarmingly small.  Barely 6’4” in shoes, 6’3” without them.  His other numbers were about average for what you’d expect, nothing eye popping, nothing that causes concern, but I thought McLemore was AT LEAST 6’5” in shoes.  

                Cody Zeller-let me write this guy off now.  I had major question marks about him before.  Amazing that a few measurements will throw him off my radar entirely.  Zeller stood at 7’ in shoes which is nice to see.  He proclaimed he wanted to be a face up 4 in the NBA in interviews and if a team likes the thought of that and see him at 7’, they’d be remiss to think anything but positive about that.  Now here’s the scary part…his wingspan is SHORTER than his height.  His wingspan came in at 6’10” He had average hand size for the entire class of point guards at the combine.  His standing reach was average for a wing player at the combine.  These aren’t just small nuances about Zeller.  It’s a legitimate concern at this point.

Bigger than life itself-

Rudy Gobert-this guy’s stock rose just by walking through the door at measurements.  He stood 7’2” in shoes with a 7’9” wingspan and a 9’3” standing reach with a body fat percentage of 4.4-one of the lowest in measurements.  Gobert, a French prospect, is only 19 years old has shot up draft boards and will participate in combine drills which is huge for him.  It could mean boom or bust.  If he shows any signs of NBA ability, he could go top 10, even top 8.

CJ Leslie-Leslie’s name has been tossed around as a guy working himself into the late 1st round in the mold of the scrappy, defensive forward (see: Draymond Green, Kenneth Faried).  His measurements helped him in that regard.  He stood nearly 6’9” in shoes which is fine for a ¾, but recorded a 7’2” wingspan and decent size hands.  His length will be his greatest asset by being able to disrupt shots and play in the lanes.  He also recorded the fastest lane agility and had a 41” vertical.  He’s a physical specimen whom scouts are down on because of NC State’s poor play and his inability to lead them to great success.  Leslie won’t record 20 points a game in the NBA, but could be a great defender, one who can take on any position.

Tim Hardaway Jr-none of his numbers stood out and made anybody go “wow!” but they were above average across the board.  He stood over 6’6” in shoes (more than some may have expected), a 38” vertical, a fast lane agility and was showing off some major charisma and a smooth jumper.  After McLemore and Oladipo, it’s a toss up for 3rd SG off the board.  It will come down to scouts opinion, but Hardaway certainly helped himself.  Its really between him, Caldwell-Pope, Rice Jr and Crabbe.

Every point guard in the class-every time one point guard stepped up and wow’d somebody, there was suddenly buzz about another.  Shane Larkin was the fastest by far, and jumped a 44” VERTICAL!  He helped himself by standing ALMOST 6’ in shoes.  He’s on the small side, but not the 5’10” some were projecting.  Isaiah Canaan was a buzz in 2 on 2 and 3 on 3, he looked really smooth with the ball in his hand.  He and McCollum are bringing a lot of Lillard buzz.  Much like the 3rd SG off the board, this point guard class is a toss-up.  Burke will go 1st, McCollum is 95% lock to go second and after that, Carter-Williams, Larkin, Schroeder, Jackson, Canaan, and even Ray McCallum are in play in the 1st round.

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