Shane Larkin might have pulled off something few can do. He might have moved the needle at the NBA combine.
The NBA holds this combine to get the top prospects in the country all under one roof at the same time. It's a lot easier to evaluate and compare when everyone's packed together instead of spread across the country in isolated gyms.
A big portion of the event is the athletic testing—five separate drills that test five separate dimensions of athleticism.
And Shane Larkin put on a show.
But before the show, it should be noted that Larkin measured in at 5'11.5" in sneakers. Considering his size, it became even more important that Larkin blow scouts away with his athleticism.
He got up for a max vertical leap of 44", the second-highest in the history of the event. Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore, two pretty explosive athletes, both finished second at 42".
Let's look at some past leapers:
Isaiah Thomas: 40"
John Wall: 39"
Ty Lawson: 36.5"
Blake Griffin: 35.5"
Larkin's jump crushed some of the NBA's most explosive leapers and undersized starting point guards, and though it says nothing about his game, it just goes to show the caliber of athlete we're talking about.
Not surprisingly, Larkin's 34.5" standing leap was tied for second-highest of anyone at the combine.
Jumping translates to finishing at the rim and snatching up loose balls, but more than anything, it represents athleticism. The highest leapers are usually the best athletes.
Larkin was also the fastest player at the combine. He ran the three-quarter court sprint in a blazing 3.08 seconds. This was big for Larkin, who needed to show he has the speed to help make up for that extra inch of height.
Darren Collison: 3.10
John Wall: 3.14
Avery Bradley: 3.14
Ty Lawson: 3.12
Kemba Walker: 3.16
Isaiah Thomas: 3.14
Speed will be a big part of Larkin's game when he gets to the next level. Clearly, he'll be in that elite class with some of the fastest guards in the league. And with more space and transition opportunities in the NBA, Larkin could thrive as an uptempo point guard.
Lastly, Larkin finished seventh amongst all participants in the lane agility drill, coming in at 10.64 seconds. This drill tests lateral quickness, which translates to on-ball defense and staying in front of your man.
It's just something else to help alleviate that under-six-foot label.
Between Larkin's elite ability to jump, sprint and change directions, it's fair for us to crown him the best athlete in the draft class.
And if you don't think that's going to stick in general managers' minds, think again. The NBA digs athleticism.
There is going to be someone out there who finds it in his heart to ignore that half-inch that seems oh-so important.
Scouts will do their homework. They'll look at scores of previous guards who've made it. If Ty Lawson can excel as a 6'0.5" starter, can't Larkin do the same at 5'11.5"?
Everyone may not think that way, but someone is bound to. And all it takes is one—one general manger to say "forget that one inch." We saw Larkin guide Miami to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. He demonstrated the leadership qualities and ball skills that allows point guards to succeed, and he did so at a high level.
The arrow was pointing up before the combine, but the buzz is really strengthening now given his new status as the draft's best athlete.
All test results can be found at NBADraft.net