With the NBA Draft taking place tomorrow, it pays to know what challenges the pro ball prospects had to overcome to earn the right to be there. Although interviews, physical measurements and shooting drills do play a part in who gets noticed by top scouts and team execs, hopefuls who attended the NBA Draft Combine back in May also set themselves apart by completing a set of basic athletic benchmarks. Herein, we show you what the fine line is between being fit for duty and staying undrafted.
Upper-body strength is as important a measure of one’s ability stand up to tough opponents as it is for shooting. For the bench press, it’s a level playing field. NBA hopefuls given a 185-pound bar and are tested to see how many repetitions they can do, for which they’re ranked. As of press time, the NBA Draft Combine still hasn’t released the results of the 2014 bench press testing. However, results from last year’s showing rank Trevor Mbakwe (who didn’t get drafted) at the top of the class with 21 reps. Archie Goodwin, who was drafted to the Phoenix Suns before being carted off to the D-League, put up only one rep. It should be noted that many players don’t succeed to put up any reps at all. The highest-ever results at draft testing were recorded by Luke Harangody, who put up 23 reps in 2009 and 2010.
Lane agility drill
Navigating around the lane is one of the best tests of agility out there, showing just how well an NBA prospect can manoeuvre for better looks. To set up the drill, cones are placed the four corners of the key, two on the foul line, two on the baseline. Players then sprint, move laterally, cut and shuffle between them in various combinations. A common set has a prospect complete a loop. He starts the drill at one of the foul line markers, run to the baseline under the net, move laterally to the other marker on the boundary, backpedal to the cone behind him and shuffle sideways back to his starting position. From this years recorded results, Zach LaVine completed his drill the fastest in only 10.42 seconds. Andy Katz was the slowest with a 14.6-second time. Norris Cole is the fastest recorded draft prospect with a 10.07-second result in 2011.
Three-quarter court sprint
If the Heat-Spurs Finals were any indication, getting to the other side of the court in transition can be a game changer. As a test of acceleration over top speed, prospects are timed for how fast they run three-quarters of a court, or roughly 21.5 metres. This year’s quickest men were Zach LaVine and potential number one pick Dante Exum, who tied with a time of 3.19 seconds. Andy Katz was again the slowest at 3.7 seconds. The NBA Draft’s fastest recorded spring was FIBA Americas U18 champ Jereme Richmond back in 2011.
This short but sweet drill emphasizes quickly changing directions and is a measure of speed similar to the earlier agility test. It starts prospects off in the middle of the key and has them navigate around its edge and back again as fast as possible. Aaron Gordon finished with the quickest run, clocking in at 2.76 seconds. LaQuinton Ross finished slowest at 3.52 seconds.
How high a player can jump is always the most popular benchmark of an NBA player’s worth, which is why there are so many tests measuring it. The combine tests analyze standing leaps and reaches as well as jump assisted by a step-off. This year, the 6-foot-8 Noah Vonleh achieved the greatest reach with 12 feet and one inch, while 6-foot-1 Aaron Craft only reached 10 feet, 6.5 inches. Impressively, Jahii Carson tied with Markel Brown in maximum vertical leap for a draft combine-high of 43.5 inches. Andy Katz trailed both Jordan Adams and Isaiah Austin by four and a half inches, measuring in with a confounding 25 inch vert.