Draft season is upon us.
This is a time of the year that we've all come to know too well around here. A time when our focus shifts from action on NBA basketball courts to action in small, crowded, sweaty gyms around the country. It's a time of the year that's usually jumpstarted by the NBA lottery, which has typically come before the combine, and thus most of the workouts. That's changed this year, however, and the NBA combine is now the first major event for us to obsess over.
While the likely top 3 picks (Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker) sitting the event out may have lessened some of the excitement around the event, there's still plenty of information to be gleaned from this weeks proceedings, even if some of the information can be overscrutinized and overvalued.
What's some of the notable developments to come out of Day 1 so far?
Noah Vonleh is long
Expectations coming in were that Noah Vonleh's physical profile would be a huge positive in his corner, and they didn't disappoint. Vonleh, while only coming in at 6'8" without shoes, he has an absolutely ridiculous 7'4.25" wingspan and a 9' standing reach. To put a little context around that, average for a power forward according to DraftExpress is 7'0.6" wingspan and 8'10.4" standing reach. Vonleh gained 11 pounds and 1.25" of wingspan since being measured at last years LeBron James camp, and 2" in standing reach since the Nike Hoop Summit last year.
Julius Randle - slightly better than expected.
Someone else who measured (relatively) well is fellow big man Julius Randle. While Randle's measurements (6'9" in shoes, 7' wingspan, 8'9.5" standing reach) are slightly below average for a power forward, they're only slightly below average, which is probably a good thing, considering expectations. The standing reach was an inch more than what was reported at Hoop Summit last year. Not a huge deal, but his measurements are likely to be one of the more scrutinized among the top of the draft.
Randle also gets props from me on actually competing in the basketball drills portion of the combine. It's not something that I think should alter his draft stock in the eyes of either executives or fans, but in a process that's increasingly run by risk-averse agents, it's refreshing to see at least somebody go out there and do what they will eventually get paid to do.
Dante Exum measures well.
Once again, the measurements Dante Exum posted are relatively in line with what was expected, as the only real changes are ~8 pounds in added weight and ~0.25" longer wingspan than at last years Hoop Summit, although the 8'7" standing reach is new information, as that wasn't measured last year. Still, the numbers (6'6" in shoes, 196 pounds, 6'9.5" wingspan, 8'7" standing reach) are good for a shooting guard and ridiculous for a point guard. Both the standing reach and wingspan are either the best (wingspan) or tied for the best (standing reach, with Spencer Dinwiddie) at the combine for point guard prospects. He also has the biggest hands among point guards, and the 3rd biggest hands at the combine, for what that's worth.
But what position does he want to play?
The NBA grouped him in with the shooting guards in the drills, but during the media interviews Exum reiterated that he sees himself as a point guard. I'm not too worried about that, but I'm sure it's something that the Sixers coaches and staff asked during interviews with the prospect.
Who met with the team?
The combine started with the media today, but teams and players were out here earlier in the week for interviews. The Sixers have already conducted a few, and have a few more scheduled.
According to Keith Pompey, who is out there covering the event, the Sixers have already met with Dante Exum, Gary Harris and Aaron Gordon, and are scheduled to meet with Julius Randle and Doug McDermott.
Of those, only Exum is the most interesting, due to a combination of his previously stated desires to play the point guard position, his previous history with Brett Brown, and the fact that he's likely one of only 2 real options at the combine for the Sixers top pick (along with Noah Vonleh. I'm not even acknowledging the possibility of falling down to 5 until it happens). Gordon, Randle, McDermott, and Harris are all possibilities if the Sixers retain the Pelicans pick, likely to be slotted 10th.
Besides athletic measurements, the NBA also has shooting drills it conduts, with players spot-up jump shots, catch and shoot shots on the move, and jump shots off the dribble. I would caution anybody against really placing much value in these figures, as front offices will have much better data, with a larger sample size and more game-relevant situations, at their disposal. And, due to a combination of recency bias and some of that other ifnormation not being publicly available, this information released at the combine has the chance to be overvalued by some. It really shouldn't change your opinion on a prospect. Still, you can find that information and more at NBA.com.
More information will be released over the next 2 days, and we will have updates during that time. Feel free to discuss the combine below.
2014 NBA Combine measurements. [DraftExpress.com]
2014 NBA Combine shooting statistics and other measurements [NBA.com]