The 2014 NBA Draft Combine kicked off today with drills and measurements for the participants...Here's what happened.
The NBA 2014 Draft Combine officially got underway in Chicago, Illinois today, and the players from all position groups participated in measurements and drills.
The full list of measurements can be found here.
These are some of the players who really stood out for one reason or another:
Vonleh might have increased his draft stock even more (was already considered a top-10 pick) when he measured 6' 8" without shoes, with an incredible 7' 4.25" wingspan, a standing reach of 9 '0", and HUGE hands that measured 11.75" wide, and 9.75" long. His 11.75" hand width is the second highest ever recorded at the combine...Some impressive measurables all around.
Jerami Grant won the measurables for the wings with a long 7' 2.75" wingspan at only 6' 7.75" in shoes. He also posted a standing reach of 8' 11". James Young of Kentucky also turned some heads with an impressive 7' 0" wingspan at only 6' 7" in shoes.
Although Payne couldn't participate in the drills, his measurements may have helped his case in proving he has plenty of size and length to play as a true PF. Payne measured in at 6' 9" without shoes, with a very impressive 7' 4" wingspan...second under Vonleh for the power forward group and tied for third overall. He also posted a standing reach of 9' 1", and weighed in at 239lbs at only 7.6% body fat. Very solid numbers for Payne.
McDaniels is not only one of the most athletic wings in the draft, he's one of the longest as well. While measuring only 6' 4.5" without, and 6' 6" in shoes, he posted a long wingspan of 6' 11.25", and a standing reach of 8' 6". This, along with his elite athleticism could help him make up for his lack of height, especially if playing at the three.
On the plus side, Patric Young actually measured out slightly taller than expected, at 6' 10" in shoes. He also measured in with a 7' 1" wingspan, which is good for his height. His small hands are also a bit overstated, as he measured out at 9.25" in both length and width...not great, but not Kwame Brown worrisome either. On the negative side, Young's standing reach was a mere 8' 7.5"...which is extremely short for a guy with his height and wingspan.
McDermott, who was already considered a tweener, came in a little smaller than expected today...which may cause even more apprehension among some potential suitors. McDermott came in at only 6' 6.25" without shoes...and an estimated 6' 7.5" with them (though no official measurement with shoes was listed). His wingspan was also a fairly unimpressive 6 9.25". Combine this with his less than stellar athleticism, and you can see why it could be concerning. Still, the guy scored over 3,000 points in college, which is top-5 all-time...that has to count for something, right?
Bachynski measured in as the tallest player at the combine at 7' 1.25" without shoes. He also had the third longest wingspan (tied with Payne) at 7' 4". Bachynski could be a player that slips into the late first round with those numbers, depending on how his workouts go.
Unfortunately, when you try to watch the combine on TV they continuously cut in and out with various player analysis pieces and other commentary, so it's difficult to keep any sort of track of who was hitting their shots. Fortunately, the NBA keeps track for us which you can find here (spot-up shooting) and here (non-stationary shooting).
One of the more interesting notes from today came from who the Phoenix Suns met with. After a somewhat surprising meeting with Dante Exum yesterday, a potential top 5 pick, the Suns went all in once again with the point guards...meeting with Marcus Smart, Russ Smith, and Tyler Ennis, according to Alex Kennedy.
Now the Suns can only meet with 18 players total, and they may just be going through the positions one at a time...but it is interesting that they've only met with point guards so far...especially since all but one of them, Russ Smith, is mocked in the top 10.
Oh, and if you are suffering from a lack of Andrew Wiggins at the combine...here's your medicine! Apparently, Wiggins held his own training session today where he was photographed showing off his incredible vertical. No official measurements...but...just look for yourself.
More to come tomorrow with strength and agility testing.
Despite having no pick higher than 14, the Phoenix Suns spent time with projected Top-5 pick PG Dante Exum today.
Exum will turn 19 this year, and just might be the most intriguing player in the draft. He has been projected to go anywhere from #1 overall to #8, depending on how much you want to project his skillset into NBA production.
Each NBA team only gets to meet with up to 18 of the 60 players invited to the Combine, and the Phoenix Suns made Exum one of their 18.
While the Pistons and Sixers definitely have the high pick needed to get Exum, the Phoenix Suns don't have a pick any higher than #14 overall.
With the 14th, 18th and 27th picks, many Suns fans have predicted they could parlay the lower picks into a top-5 position, but that kind of move is quite unlikely.
The Suns do have a 1.8% chance of snaring a Top-3 pick in the Draft Lottery on May 20, but no one has ever made that big a leap since the lottery began in the late 80s.
So why would Exum waste his time meeting with the Suns? And why would the Suns waste one of their 18 interviews on a guy most certainly out of reach, and who triples down on their best position?
Players don't have limits on how many teams they can interview with, but Exum's representatives might think that the Suns have a better than 1.8% chance to get into the top of the Draft. This probably speaks to McDonough and Babby's larceny in trades last summer.
Either way, the "unknown" Exum already knows all about the Phoenix Suns now. Why wouldn't he want to join a 48-win team if he can?
On the surface, there is a bit of mystery as to why the Suns picked Exum as one of their 18 interviews at the combine, considering they should be focused on the 20-25 guys in their range on Draft night (14-27, plus #50 overall) and considering the Suns already have two of the league's best point guards on their roster.
It's not like 2011 when the Suns wanted to avoid 19-year old Kawhi Leonard because they already had 38-year old Grant Hill entrenched at the SF position (insert sarcasm font). These Suns have 28-year old Goran Dragic, who almost made the All-Star team, and 24-year old Eric Bledsoe who might make one in the future. But Dragic and Bledsoe have only one signed contract year between them, and if the Suns stand pat their starting back court could cost $24-28 per year alone beginning in 2015.
Exum is an 18 year old insurance policy against Dragic and/or Bledsoe leaving for greener pastures. In fact, don't be surprised to hear the Suns bringing in every point guard in the Draft between now and late June.
So, meeting with Exum at the Combine is a good move.
Unless the Suns win the lottery on May 20, there's little chance Exum will want to make a trip across country to meet with the Suns for an individual workout and interview in the Valley. He will want to focus on the top 10 teams at the most, and give them all the looks they want. There are only 6 weeks until the Draft, so you've only got some much time to meet with team after team.
Yet, the Suns like guys who are willing to work out, to compete against their best competition.
"I like competitors," Suns GM Ryan McDonough said to Craig Grialou of Arizonasports.com. "Guys who show up and compete and work. I've been in the league 10 or 11 years now and seen enough guys make mistakes where they assume that they're in a certain range because of the mock drafts or because they get information from a certain group of people, they assume they're going in one range of the draft and then on draft night it changes."
Last year, flat-top Nerlens Noel declined a visit to the valley entirely, while Ben McLemore visited Phoenix but refused to compete with other shooting guards. Instead, McLemore insisted on doing his drills by himself.
Both were projected as the top 2 talents in the Draft. Both dropped unexpectedly to the Suns at #5, and both were bypassed by the Suns for Alex Len (who was injured but did everything he could for the Suns). Think about that.
"It's always valuable to go and work and show teams what you can do so there's no doubt," McDonough continued. "I think that's what the best guys do."
You've got to figure that the Suns were trying to determine Exum's competitiveness in the Combine interview today.
But with Exum taking the last year off of basketball, and now rumored to decline to do the drills at the Combine, you have to start to wonder if he has the competitiveness that McDonough is looking for in a prospect.
The big key is whether he visits Phoenix in the next few weeks, and if he competes against other point guard prospects when/if he does.
Last year, the Suns tested players' readiness by giving them running drills that made players begin to prepare for the visit. Now, McDonough has dropped the gauntlet of competition. He wants guys willing to compete against other players.
I think despite the interview today, even if the Suns acquire a top pick on Draft night they'd be hard-pressed to pick Exum unless he goes the next step to visit Phoenix.