NBA

The Biggest Leapers in This Year's NBA Rookie Class

Micky ShakedContributor IIIJuly 8, 2014

The Biggest Leapers in This Year's NBA Rookie Class

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The 2014 NBA draft is in the history books, and it's time to start figuring out exactly what your favorite team added to the roster on June 26.

    Among the 60 players chosen were injury risks, sleeper picks and sliders. There was also a unique crop of athletes, gifted with the ability to jump about two-thirds my body height, guaranteeing plenty of lobs in the NBA's future.

    Oddly, four of the five biggest leapers were taken within 11 picks of each other in the second round. Two went to the same team! Let's see who they are as well as how they measured out in the May combine.

     

    All NBA combine measurements from NBA.com.

Undrafted Honorable Mention: Jahii Carson

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    Height: 5'9-3/4"

    Standing vertical leap: 33.5" (T-4th)

    Maximum vertical leap: 43.5" (T-1st)

     

    Had Arizona State's Jahii Carson landed in one of the 60 picks made on June 26's draft, he would have been the fifth-shortest player ever drafted.

    At 5'9-3/4", Carson makes up what he lacks in height with explosiveness off the ground. He jumped out of the gym with a 43.5-inch max vertical leap, tied for the best mark at the scouting combine.

    Point guard @jahiicarson gets way UP! His unofficial 43.5" Max Vertical Jump tied for the highest so far #N... https://t.co/5QDCscSb6U

    — NBA Draft (@NBADraft) May 16, 2014

    Carson averaged 18.5 points and 4.9 assists in two years with the Sun Devils, but his quick first step and scoring knack couldn't overcome his lack of size.

Cleanthony Early, New York Knicks (No. 34)

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    Height: 6'8"

    Standing vertical leap: 34.0" (3rd)

    Maximum vertical leap: 40.0" (6th)

     

    Phil Jackson's first draft pick in charge of the Knicks feels like a steal due to Cleanthony Early's big-time scoring ability.

    His ups are just icing on the cake, even as one of the oldest players selected at 23 years of age.

    Early has drawn some initial comparisons to Carmelo Anthony both for his Bronx upbringing and scoring prowess. He averaged 16.3 points per game in Wichita State's undefeated 2013-14 regular season.

    But Anthony lacked Early's lift at the 2003 combine, posting standing and max vertical leaps of 30.5" and 33.5", respectively.

    Remember Wichita State's loss to Kentucky in the 2014 NCAA tournament when Early exploded for 31 points? No? Well, you can refresh your memory with his mean dunk over Willie Cauley-Stein.

Nick Johnson, Houston Rockets (No. 42)

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    Height: 6'3''

    Standing vertical leap: 33.5" (T-4th)

    Maximum vertical leap: 41.5" (T-3rd)

     

    A compact combo guard with a 6'7" wingspan, Nick Johnson will help Patrick Beverley hound defenders on the perimeter for Houston.

    He's also a sensational athlete, a talent passed down and cultivated by an older generation of Johnsons.

    The 6'4" guard inherited the genetic part from his dad, “Jumpin’” Joey Johnson. Joey was a playground legend who could dunk on a regulation rim at 12 years old and had a 52-inch vertical as an Arizona State player.

    Uncle Dennis Johnson, a nine-time member of the NBA All-Defensive team and a five-time All-Star, helped funnel that physical ability into translatable basketball skills.

    Though Johnson recorded a 41.5-inch max vertical leap at the combine, his personal best is apparently closer to 47 inches. Though he'd rather you focus on the other areas of his game, it's hard not to get excited about his hops.

Glenn Robinson III, Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 40)

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    Height: 6'7"

    Standing vertical leap: 36.5" (T-1st)

    Maximum vertical leap: 41.5" (T-3rd)

     

    When a player walks away from the combine feeling "disappointed" in recording the second-highest vertical leap (beaten by Jahii Carson and Markel Brown), you know he's got serious lift.

    Glenn Robinson III leaves NBA combine 'disappointed' with vertical jump, but pleased overall http://t.co/6EJC0alsBe

    — MLive Sports (@MLiveSports) May 17, 2014

    It makes sense that one of Glenn Robinson III's lifelong dreams is to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest. He claims to model his game after Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, two of the most athletically gifted players in the NBA.

    Drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 40 pick, Robinson is sure to fit in with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love (if he's still around) and the fast-paced transition offense they like to play. DraftExpress' Matt Kamalsky praised him as a "highlight waiting to happen as a finisher with great speed and quickness."

    Judging by the video above, he will soon compete with Corey Brewer for most outlet-pass dunks.

Markel Brown, Brooklyn Nets (No. 44)

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    Height: 6'3"

    Standing vertical leap: 36.5" (1st)

    Maximum vertical leap: 43.5" (1st)

     

    Dubbed the Mayor of LobStilly while playing at Oklahoma State University, Markel Brown earned his nickname flooding the SportsCenter Top 10 with dunk after glorious dunk.

    While the explosive 6'3" guard has worked to improve the other aspects of his game, Brown can't get enough of the rush that comes with a big-time flush. Here's what he told The Oklahoman's John Helsley:

    When I do one of those dunks, immediately I get tweets saying, ‘Markel's going to be on SportsCenter.' Things like that. I like doing those type of dunks. It's exciting. It gets the crowd pumped up. It gets my teammates some hype.

    His 43.5-inch max vertical leap tied Carson for tops at the combine, and NBADraft.net gave him a perfect 10 in athleticism, calling him "highly explosive."

    He seems to have found the perfect NBA comparison:

    On a conference call, #Nets second round pick Markel Brown said he tries to pattern his game after Russell Westbrook. Tries to attack rim.

    — Rod Boone (@rodboone) June 27, 2014

    Brown gives the aging Nets an infusion of energy they lack with heavy-footed Deron Williams and Joe Johnson anchoring the backcourt.

Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 12)

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    Height: 6'5"

    Standing vertical leap: 36.5" (2nd)

    Maximum vertical leap: 41.5" (5th)

     

    As raw a talent as he may be, Zach LaVine temporarily broke the Internet at the combine:

    Zach LaVine NBA workout. STUPID bounce... 😳 http://t.co/mQOUq9XmXy

    — BROKE HOMIE SMOOVE♠️ (@JaeSmoove) June 26, 2014

    His 41.5-inch vertical jump drew plenty of praise.

     

    A LaVine Vine....here's another look at @ZachLavine's top-5 ranking Max Vertical Jump (41.5"; unofficial) https://t.co/OBL9EDIYgZ

    — NBA Draft (@NBADraft) May 16, 2014

    But if you didn't know what it looks like for a human to jump four feet into the air, you do now. LaVine recorded an incredible 46-inch jump while working out for the Lakers earlier this month:

    Zach LaVine also has a FORTY SIX INCH VERTICAL JUMP. That's practically four feet. Four. Feet. https://t.co/gbqHSOrSFN via @Lakers

    — MashableLIVE (@MashableLive) June 27, 2014

    If the Wolves don't move him, LaVine and Glenn Robinson will be able to run teams up and down the court all day.

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