When it comes to evaluating “winners” and “losers” at something like the draft combine it’s important to know what to react to, and what not to. My thoughts are that the 5-on-5 play at the combine is largely irrelevant, but there is some information to be gleaned from measurements and athletic testing.
The 5-on-5 play is a very odd game setting that doesn’t really reflect any actual team situation, and is an incredibly small sample of minutes. To me it would seem silly to change an evaluation of a player based on one or two games in a situation dissimilar to any other type of basketball these guys will play in their careers.
Reaction to athletic testing and measurements is largely overblown. It’s easy to try and draw conclusions from different measurements or athletic numbers, but it’s only worthwhile if those numbers have proven to have value historically. So, in order to find out I asked Layne Vashro, someone who has actually backtested all the numbers to find out what is important.
Now that we know what to look for, it’s much easier to identify “winners” and “losers”. Obviously, height measurements are also of importance; I assume Layne didn’t mention them only because height isn’t seen as purely a “draft combine” thing like wingspan is.
Someone testing well athletically or not testing well still doesn’t replace what you saw in how their athleticism translated on the court, but it can add to the evaluation. Also, I will not be mentioning everyone who measured with good or bad length/jumping, but only those that did even better or worse than expected.
Frank Kaminsky: Measuring with a 6’11 wingspan is actually pretty poor for an NBA PF/C, but measuring at 6’11.75 standing without shoes is a big win for Frank. That’s legit NBA center size and gives me more reason to believe he will be able to play both the 4 and the 5 in the NBA.
Robert Upshaw: Upshaw was thought to have long arms, but since the last time he’d been officially measured was in 2011 the exact length was relatively unknown. Measuring with a 7’5.5 wingspan is great for him, and furthers the idea that he can be an elite rim protector in the NBA.
Rakeem Christmas: The height and no-step vert measurements were only okay, but the 7’5.25 wingspan was an unexpected surprise for Christmas who had last measured at 7’3 in 2010. Christmas’s height still brings him down, but we now know he has at least arguably average size for an NBA center.
Brandon Ashley: Measuring with a 7’3.25 wingspan and 31.5 no step vert are both solidly above average for NBA power forwards. Decent size and good athleticism to go along with a solid stroke make him an intriguing second rounder.
Montrezl Harrell: Standing 6’7 without shoes isn’t necessarily good for an NBA PF, but it is a heck of a lot better than the 6’5.75 he stood two years ago with USA basketball. Given his elite 7’4.25 wingspan he definitely has the size to play power forward in the NBA.
Kelly Oubre: His height and wingspan measurements were great, but also expected. The 34.5 inch no step vert is what is really impressive, and well above the 30.0 inch average for a first round small forward.
Justin Anderson: He was known as an elite athlete coming into the combine, but posting the highest no step vert of 38.0 inches is still really impressive. Anderson’s defensive numbers this year weren’t great, but his athleticism and strength indicate it might have been more due to Viriginia’s conservative defensive scheme. Worth noting that Anderson might’ve been the highest riser in Layne Vashro’s update with combine numbers.
Pat Connaughton: Whether his no step vertical was truly 37.5 inches or was actually 33/4 definitely makes a difference, but either way is impressive. He’s got average size for a shooting guard, elite athleticism, and he can shoot the ball. It’s hard to see him going un-drafted after the combine.
D’Angelo Russell: Didn’t do vertical testing or measure taller than expected, but his 6’9.5 wingspan was over an inch longer than his most recent measurement. Russell has above-average size for a shooting guard, and fantastic size for a point guard.
Terry Rozier: Both his 6’8.25 wingspan and his 33 inch no-step vert are well above-average for a point guard. I’m not a fan of his game, but having that length and athleticism gives him a fair amount of upside on the defensive end.
Chasson Randle: Much like Rozier, having a 6’7 wingspan and 33.5 no-step are both impressive numbers, especially since he isn’t known as a great athlete necessarily.
Quinn Cook: His height and length measurements were subpar, but ultimately fine. The athletic testing, and specifically 24.5 no-step casts a lot of questions on whether he has the requisite athleticism to play PG in today’s NBA.
TJ McConnell: I like McConnell’s game a lot, and think he really has a shot in the NBA. However, a 6’2 wingspan and 26.0 inch no-step are both really bad numbers for a PG.
Tyler Harvey: A 6’5.5 wingspan and 26.0 inch no-step are both well below-average for an NBA SG. I’m just not sure I see him having the size or athleticism to compete in the NBA.
Branden Dawson: He only measured at SF size, and the 28.5 no-step isn’t awful, but isn’t good for someone known as a great athlete either. Without the size or athleticism it’s harder to see him at the 4 in the NBA, and he certainly lacks the skill to be a small forward at this point.
Sam Dekker: His height and length measurements were very solid for a SF and definitely give him a chance to be a small ball 4 in the NBA. However, the 25.5 no-step was disappointing for someone known as a pretty high-level athlete.
Jonathan Holmes: Like Dekker he measured pretty well for a 3/4 tweener, but his identical 25.5 no-step casts some doubt as to whether he has the explosion to hang inside considering he’s already slightly undersized.
Bobby Portis: He’s known as an average athlete, but the 25.0 inch no-step makes him seem more like a bad one than an average one. In Vashro’s most recent update his numbers might’ve been hurt the most.
Dakari Johnson: If it wasn’t Portis who’s numbers dropped the most, then it was Johnson. His 7’2 wingspan is actually below average for a center, and his 22.5 no-step is really terrible. He’s got a really good feel for the game, but below-average skill level and below-average athleticism is a tough combination.