The first day of the combine is in the bag. The lottery is days away. Yes, it’s very much still the playoffs, but draft season is here. The combine itself is just a big gym filled with more whispering executives than incredibly meaningful basketball, but here, we publicly receive our first universal pieces of the puzzle, the data upon which proverbial rocks are built: measurements and testing results.
Guess what? Guys that look tall on TV are … still tall. Nevertheless, there are some first-day takeaways: good measurements and test results (or bad ones for that matter) will affirm certain things for scouts, giving everyone numbers to agree on—at least until teams have players in to acquire some of the same data for themselves. This offers us a direct point of comparison for players both head-to-head and historically. It’s why Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram didn’t bother: Elite guys with their stocks locked in have little to gain.
There was also a five-on-five scrimmage component, featuring mostly second-round caliber players, but some very solid ones. This draft is only shallow when we’re discussing high-lottery talent relative to the mean in past years. There’s a growing belief that there’s plenty of value floating around in the middle-to-late parts of the pack, and it seemed that way Thursday. Here are 10 guys we learned stuff about from combine Day One. For fun, every time you see the word “wingspan,” drink.
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) May 12, 2016
As of this writing, the measurements are still unofficial, but Demetrius Jackson turned in a 43-inch vertical. 43 inches! The Notre Dame point guard, angling to be the second point guard selected in a not-so-deep draft, turned in the fourth-highest vertical leap ever at the combine. Jackson is a guy some view as good-at-everything, great-at-nothing, a productive college player, but not necessarily a star. Being able to float the “certifiably elite athlete” card won’t hurt him.
We now know that Vanderbilt guard Wade Baldwin may actually be a vulture. He measured 6′ 4″ in sneakers with a gargantuan 6′ 11.25″ wingspan. His arms are longer than those of 6′ 6″ wing Troy Williams, 6′ 8″ forwards Georges Niang and Perry Ellis, 6′ 7″ guard Caris LeVert … you get the idea. Baldwin’s selling himself as a guy who can defend three perimeter positions. With his legitimate size and length affirmed, I’m buying. He had a 38″ unofficial vertical, to boot. The big question: how impactful can he be on offense?