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Post-Combine NBA Draft Stock Report for Every Position

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 17, 2014

Post-Combine NBA Draft Stock Report for Every Position

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Even if the stars largely skipped the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, there was a lot of information to be gleaned from the proceedings. 

    And by stars, I mean Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, none of whom even showed up, as well as the dozen or so first-round prospects who sat out during drills. 

    Those who chose to participate had their physical measurements taken, their athletic tools tested and performed in a number of drills. The measurable ones were largely shooting drills, as the prospects attempted to connect off the dribble, on the move and while spotting up from various zones around the court. 

    And between the interviews, 2-on-2 showings and everything else, there was even more information out there than the raw numbers would indicate. 

    Over the course of two days, not that much can change. Opinions are shaped, but they aren't really being formed for the first time. Consider the combine more of a tweaking process than anything else, as the extra inches and small-sample-size shooting drills can put a bit of luster or damper on a prospect's already established stock. 

    Nonetheless, the perception of each position was altered during the combine. Most for the better and one for the worse. 

    Even if the NBA playoffs are rolling along in full force now that the field has dwindled to only four teams, draft season is officially underway. 

Point Guards: Stock Up

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    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    Many notable point guards chose not to participate in the shooting drills, unfortunately for those of us who hoped to get a bit more clarity on some of the enigmas in the class. But even through measurements alone, two of the very elite 1-guards managed to stand out. 

    Marcus Smart has always been revered as a huge player for his position, often acting like a tank with his size and physical style of play. But in Chicago, he measured in at 6'2", 227.2 pounds without shoes. And the most impressive part was his wingspan, checking in at a half-inch past 6'9".

    That puts him in the realm of big wing players, more than an inch ahead of Spencer Dinwiddie and the rest of the point guards, save one. 

    A certain Australian phenom also measured quite nicely, tying Smart in wingspan. 

    Dante Exum is more of a combo guard than a true point guard, but bear with me as he's listed in this section. Then again, you wouldn't know it until you watch his smooth ball-handling and distributing skills, given that enormous wingspan and 6'4.5" frame without shoes. 

    Smart and Exum are huge. There's just no way around that. 

    It would've been nice to see both of them shoot—the former to put aside concerns about his jumper and the latter to peel away layers of mystery. But some of the floor generals who did were impressive nonetheless. 

    Jahii Carson, a fringe second-round pick out of Arizona State, may have done away with that "fringe" descriptor. Not only did he boast a 33.5-inch standing vertical jump, but he excelled shooting the ball. Though he struggled going to his left, he did manage to knock down 22 of his 39 attempts while on the move from 15 feet. 

    As Marc D'Amico wrote for Celtics.com, "He easily blew past Craft, a great defender, on a couple of plays. Now it doesn’t surprise me that Carson averaged 18.6 PPG and shot 39.1 percent from long range this past season."

    Xavier Thames and Russ Smith showed off potent shots on the move as well, and Kendall Williams, out of New Mexico, was the only point guard to really struggle.

Shooting Guards: Stock Neutral

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    If you were from UCLA and have a chance at playing shooting guard in the NBA, then the combine probably treated you quite nicely.

    Zach LaVine was one of the biggest standouts in the field, showing off the potent combination of impressive athleticism (33.5-inch standing vertical) and a surprisingly adept stroke shooting the ball. He's more of a project player than an immediate contributor, so it's quite encouraging to see how good his jumper is already looking. 

    As Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman wrote, "We already knew about his long-term potential, but LaVine actually looked like the best player in the gym as of right now."

    The UCLA product knocked down 14 of his 18 attempts off the dribble, missing twice in six attempts only when going to his left. On the move, he was similarly impressive, hitting 21 of his 32 tries. 

    And LaVine wasn't the only standout from the Bruins—not with Jordan Adams in the field as well. 

    As a spot-up shooter, Adams was absolutely unconscious. There are 10 different zones that backcourt prospects typically shoot from, and he made at least three of his five attempts from nine of them. Only NBA-range triples from the top of the key gave him trouble. Well, relative trouble, as he still drilled two of them, and no one would complain about a 40 percent clip in the Association. 

    Without spotting up, he wasn't much worse. Adams went 13-of-18 off the dribble and 21-of-35 on the move. 

    Jordan McRae from Tennessee was another standout, boasting great measurables and defensive tenacity during live action, but the position took a hit when two of the elite players were revealed as much smaller than expected. 

    Nik Stauskas had one of the smallest wingspans at his position, and it's also troubling that his body-fat percentage was higher than everyone else's, except three slower players.

    Granted, there's a negligible difference between his 12.05 percent and a more respectable mark, but that's not a good sign for a player who thrives on getting open via screens and cuts, especially when you're supposed to be in the best shape of your life for the measurements. 

    Falling into a similar category is Michigan State's Garry Harris, though it's no fault of his own. The 2-guard measured in at 6'2.5" without shoes, which is problematic for a player who spends almost all his time off the ball.

Small Forwards: Stock Up

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    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    Did Andrew Wiggins participate in the combine? Nope. Did it matter? Nope. 

    The small forward from Kansas is such a special prospect, he stole the show without even competing in any part of the festivities. He didn't shoot. He didn't get measured. He didn't go through the athletic testing. 

    He wasn't even there. 

    All he did was jump really, really, really high and have a picture taken that went viral. Then ESPN's Chad Ford tweeted out, "The picture of Andrew Wiggins vert jump floating around? His agent, Bill Duffy, told me it's a 44 inch vert."

    44 inches? No big deal.

    If that was a standing vert, the highest recorded at the combine belonged to Glenn Robinson III and Markel Brown, who tied at 36.5 inches. If that was a max vert, the combine-high was 43.5 inches, a tie between Brown and Jahii Carson. If Duffy's number is correct, that means Wiggins beat the tested portion of the field by nearly eight inches or 0.5 inches, depending on which comparison is used.

    Either way, he beat the field.  

    Of course, Wiggins' stock can't go that much higher, but the rest of the small forward class did enough to improve the position's overall stock. 

    Rodney Hood knocked down what seemed like every shot he looked at. Thanasis Antetokounmpo (yes, Giannis' brother) showed off some flashy athleticism and speed while hitting his jumpers. Robinson did just about everything well. 

    If there was a "biggest" winner at the position, it would be the Michigan prospect who measured nearly an inch bigger than anticipated. He also knocked down 16 of his 18 looks off the dribble, 25 of 39 on the move and 31 of 50 while spotting up. 

    That's how you stand out, and it could be enough for the former Wolverine to move up into the first round of many mock drafts.  

    It wasn't all good at the position, though. 

    "I'll really have to be able to guard a 3 or a 2," Doug McDermott told Wasserman after his physical measurements put a damper on his time at the combine. "It's something I'm going to have to work on, but I really understand the team concept of defense, and I think I'm going to be just fine out there."

    McDermott didn't shoot the ball during the proceedings, so this was all we got. But then again, did we really need to confirm that the Creighton superstar could scorch the nets?

Power Forwards: Stock Up

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Noah Vonleh might have been the biggest winner of the combine, at least during the measurements portion.

    Wasserman, among others, was quite effusive with his praise after Day 1:

    He's a physical specimen with measurements that come close to Kevin Durant's (6'9" in socks, 7'4.75" wingspan), and given his strength, post game and promising jumper, Vonleh should be able to get shots off with ease at the NBA level.

    I've had him ranked No. 5 on my big board (behind Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum) all season long. And after the measurements he put up at the combine, I don't plan on changing my mind. 

    Vonleh's 7'4.25" wingspan is absolutely insane. It trailed only Isaiah Austin among all measured prospects, and that only adds to his status as a physical freak. View that word in a positive way, much as Antetokounmpo's "Greek Freak" nickname has positive connotations. 

    A few other elites stood out too. 

    Julius Randle's size was always a bit of a knock against him, but those concerns went up in smoke after he measured in just shy of 6'8" without shoes and had a wingspan right at 7'0". He's not exactly a huge power forward, but he's not going to be an undersized one with those measurements. 

    Of course, that also makes it even more troubling that his steal and block numbers were so disappointing at Kentucky. Hmm...

    Arizona's Aaron Gordon proved he could fly, while Randle was boasting good measurements. A 39-inch max vert is quite impressive for a 4 his size, and his incredible lane-agility drill lends credence to the belief that he can be a versatile defender at the next level after emerging as one of the best in the collegiate ranks. 

    To put this in perspective, Gordon completed the drill in 10.81 seconds, which ranks No. 7 among all players who worked out. The next power forward or center in the rankings was Austin (11 seconds flat), who finished 12th overall. And behind them was Patric Young, who came all the way back at No. 21. 

    Really the only thing working against Gordon was his knowledge of pennies.

    "Aaron Gordon said one team (he thinks it was Minnesota) asked him how many pennies are in a million dollars," wrote MassLive.com's Jay King. "He answered: 'A lot.'"

    He'll get to count a lot of pennies if his paycheck comes in that form.

Centers: Stock Down

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    Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    Quick. Tell me who that is in the Green Bay uniform. 

    He averaged 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game during his senior season at Green Bay, and the combination of his 7'1" frame and shooting touch makes him appealing at the NBA level, even if he's still largely considered a fringe second-round prospect. 

    Stumped? 

    His name is Alec Brown, and he was the biggest standout at center during the combine. 

    Brown was the second-tallest player who was measured (7'0.25"), trailing only Jordan Bachynski, and while his wingspan wasn't enormous (7'1.5"), he absolutely thrived as a shooter. He went 11-of-18 on shots off the dribble, 22-of-36 on the move and a ridiculous 18-of-25 on NBA-range three-pointers. On top of that, he drained 21 of 25 spot-up shots from 15 feet. 

    That's impressive. Beyond that, it's enough for him to draw some serious second-round consideration, and it's likely Brown continues to move up the boards as he completes individual team workouts. 

    But think about this for a second. I'm focusing on Brown of all people. Yes, he was impressive, but he's not an elite prospect.

    There just weren't any at the combine, at least not at this particular position. Austin was the biggest name. 

    As Wasserman wrote, "It didn't even seem like anyone was paying attention when the big men took the floor Thursday afternoon at the combine."

    Technically, this is nothing new. It's not like everyone was thrilled about this crop of centers going into the combine, as it's widely known that the strength and depth of this draft class lies in other positions.

    Hell, DraftExpress.com's latest mock draft, which was published before the combine, has only eight true centers going in either round, just three of which—Joel Embiid, Mitch McGary and Austin—are prospects coming from American colleges. 

    But the combine exposed the shallowness once and for all. It was no longer possible to ignore the dearth of truly high-quality players. 

    Well, actually, it was possible to ignore them. The general managers in attendance quickly proved that.

     

     Note: All stats and measurements, unless otherwise indicated, come from NBA.com's databases.

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