NBA Draft Measurements & Overall Athleticism

The NBA Draft combine is over, and all of the measurements have been released. The NBA stopped ranking players in overall athleticism, so I thought I’d take a stab at it.

In short, I looked at three categories — jumping (max vertical leap), lateral quickness (lane agility drill) and straight ahead speed (3/4 court sprint) — to come up with an overall athletic factor for each player within his position, be it guard, wing or big. The player’s performance in each athletic test was compared to the group’s average.

For example. John Wall’s max vertical (39 inches) was divided by the group’s average (33.2 inches) to calculate his Max Vertical Jump factor (1.174). After calculating the factors for Lane Agility and 3/4 Court Sprint, the three factors are averaged to determine the player’s overall athleticism. I then sorted the players by position and by their overall Athletic Factor.

Let’s start with the guards. These are players that are projected to be point guards or combo guards in the NBA.

Table 1: Guards

The Big Winner? Terrico White’s vertical leap of 40 inches is quite impressive, but his lateral quickness is a little worrisome. One could argue that leaping ability is not as important as speed or agility for guards. John Wall didn’t disappoint and by this method proved that he was the best overall athlete in the draft.

The Big Loser? Sherron Collins’ agility score was slower than all the wings and half the bigs. His stock already took a hit after his play in the NCAA tournament and these scores aren’t going to help…at all.

Next up are the wings. These are players that are projected to play shooting guard or small forward in the NBA. You’ll see a couple of tweeners in this group as well.

Table 2: Wings

The Big Winner? Xavier Henry, who wasn’t regarded as a great athlete by DraftExpress, who said “he is a good but not great athlete, not having outstanding quickness or vertical explosiveness around the basket, but still enough to probably be considered average for a wing at the NBA level, while also possessing great coordination and body control.” NBADraft.net gave him an 8/10 in athleticism. He tested as the top wing, and had the second highest overall Athletic Factor of any player taller than 6′ 5″.

Luke Babbitt also tested much better than expected. DraftExpress said that he had “limited athletic ability” yet he tested as the third best wing. If we group him with the bigs, he would have had the second highest overall Athletic Factor. NBADraft.net gave him a 7/10 in athleticism.

The Big Loser? Devin Ebanks’ lackluster scores are quite puzzling, especially since both DraftExpress and NBADraft.net listed athleticism as one of his top strengths. He does have a great wingspan and the second-highest standing reach of any wing, which will help to offset his disappointing scores.

Lastly, the bigs. Save for one player, all of these guys are at least 6-9 in shoes.

Table 3: Bigs

The Big Winner? Obviously, Trevor Booker’s top score will help alleviate concerns about his ability to thrive as an undersized power forward. Patrick Patterson’s numbers cement him as a top 15 pick, at least in my mind. Now that he can add solid leaping, agility and speed scores to his outstanding strength, it’s clear that he’s a good all-around athlete.

The Big Loser? Solomon Alabi’s numbers were disappointing, but I’m not sure how much scouts are going to care when they look at his 9′ 5″ standing reach. DeMarcus Cousins didn’t test well, but that’s not what’s going to cause him to slip (if he slips) on draft day. He’s a dominant inside force because of his strength and knack for rebounding.

CONCLUSION

Athletic scores are just a piece of the puzzle, but they do allow teams to quantify nebulous terms like “athletic” and “unathletic.” If a guy tested poorly, he is either not athletic or he was dogging it, and both possibilities are an area of concern.

And for a guy like Luke Babbitt, where overall athleticism has been an area of concern, his fine performance at the combine should quell any concerns about his ability to physically compete at the NBA level.


Photos from fOTOGLIF

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