With most teams now eliminated from playoff contention, focus has shifted to the upcoming 2014 NBA draft. On Thursday and Friday, many of the draft's top prospects took part in the combine in hopes of impressing NBA scouts and executives and bolstering their draft stocks.
Most of the combine's participants did well for themselves in Chicago. However, a few stood out above the rest.
Based on how prospects measured up, looked during on-court workouts and fared with team interviews, let's take a look at who left the greatest impressions in Chicago.
Not a lot was known about Exum before the combine—at least on a face-to-face basis.
The 18-year-old Australian phenom was highly impressive during team interviews and speaking with media. His maturity for his age was fantastic and hints to the fact he may become a great team leader.
Alex Kennedy of NBA.com confirmed Exum's prowess during interviews, according to this tweet:
Teams that have met with Dante Exum have raved about him. He's doing very well in these interviews. He has a lot of fans around the league.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 16, 2014
Exum measured 6'6" with shoes on with an 8'7" reach and a 6'9.5" wingspan—exactly as advertised.
He impressed onlookers with his speed and agility during on-court drills. ESPN Stats & Info tweeted an impressive statistic regarding his sprint time:
Dante Exum's 3/4 court sprint time of 3.19 is better than Chris Paul (3.22), Steph Curry (3.28), Damian Lillard (3.34)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 16, 2014
ESPN's Chad Ford tweeted the rest of Exum's results:
Dante Exum with a 10.75 sec lane agility drill score. Ran a 3.19 second 3/4 sprint. Both scores top among all 2 guards he's testing with.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2014
Dante Exum with a 31.5 standing vertical and a 34.5 inch max vert. Good, but not elite.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2014
Here's a look at Exum's vertical, courtesy of the NBA's official Instagram account:
Exum was already widely heralded as one of the draft's top prospects. After his performance at the combine, he's absolutely solidified that notion.
After Exum, Smart may be the next guard prospect selected in the 2014 NBA draft. His solid physical build, good vision and ball-handling skills are very much coveted by teams looking for someone who can handle running point effectively.
Smart did very well during team interviews, as many executives came away impressed with his passion for the game. One such executive was Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, according to a tweet from Chris Forsberg of ESPN:
Danny Ainge on Marcus Smart: 'I like his fire.' http://t.co/hHBU8tc4ra— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) May 16, 2014
The interview process wasn't the only area in which Smart flourished. His agility was very impressive for his build, and ESPN Stats & Info tweeted a staggering statistic:
Marcus Smart's lane agility time of 10.82 is faster than John Wall (10.84), Russell Westbrook (10.98) and Chris Paul (11.09)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 16, 2014
That's quite an impressive number for a guard who measured at 6'3.25" with shoes on, an 8'3" reach, a 6'9.25" wingspan and a weight of 227.2 pounds.
Smart's strength was well on display, according to a tweet from Jonathan Givony of Draft Express:
Marcus Smart also bench pressed 185 pounds 19 times, tied for 3rd best at the NBA Combine this year. One of best ever among PGs historically— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2014
It appeared as though Smart was looking like a top-10 selection heading into the combine. He's not only solidified that notion, but his name could be called even earlier than we originally anticipated.
LaVine may have entered the combine with the most to prove. He has freakish athleticism and is a great outside shooter, but he's been all over the place in early mock drafts.
Well, his decision to participate at the combine was an excellent move.
His measurements were fantastic for a guard, as he came in standing at 6'5.75" with shoes on, boasting a 8'4'' reach and a 6'8.25'' wingspan.
Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead tweeted his impression:
Had Zach LaVine 24th in my March Mock Draft. His measurements: WOW. 6-5 w shoes, 6-8.25 wingspan http://t.co/zUIt3sLr2w— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) May 15, 2014
LaVine took full advantage of those measurements and his athletic ability during the vertical jump. Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweeted the numbers:
Zach LaVine checks in with a 41.5-inch vertical -- tied with Nick Johnson and behind Markel Brown and Jahii Carson -- both at 43.5.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 16, 2014
Just how big is that jump? NBA's official Instagram account posted LaVine's serious ups:
Could LaVine have increased his draft stock to the realm of a lottery pick? That's a strong possibility. The combination of his shooting ability, athleticism and measurables should make him a highly coveted prospect going forward.
Gordon absolutely shone at the combine.
He measured 6'8.75'' with shoes on, had an 8'9" reach and a wingspan of 6'11.75''. That's a great combination of size and length for a member of an NBA frontcourt.
His leaping ability was literally off the charts. In fact, the apparatus used to measure his vertical had to be raised after he completely cleared it on his first attempt.
Here's a look at his amazing vertical courtesy of a tweet from ESPN Highlights:
Draft prospect Aaron Gordon hits 39" on vertical jump. 3rd best among power forwards and centers in combine history. http://t.co/AGoiM01ZEd— ESPN Highlights (@HighlightsESPN) May 16, 2014
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted a telling statistic of just how good Gordon's vertical was:
Aaron Gordon's standing vert of 32.5 is better than Blake Griffin (32.0), Chris Bosh (30.5) and Dwight Howard (30.5)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 16, 2014
Gordon appeared to do well during interviews as well.
He came away rather impressed with how the Celtics conducted theirs, according to the team's official Twitter account:
Aaron Gordon on his meeting with the Celtics: "I got a good vibe from them. They seem to be very family-oriented and very good people."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 16, 2014
Gordon is a bona fide lottery pick in this year's draft. However, after a stellar performance at the combine, the sky appears to the the limit for the former Arizona standout.
All combine measurements and statistics courtesy of NBA.com.