Draft Combine Closes with Testing Day

CHICAGO – Testing Day at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is in the books. The 60-some odd players who participated in the Combine all worked through a series of strength and agility drills to test their physical abilities.

As we all know, a physical test is much different than a mental test. However, these players had been prepping for these drills as if they were getting ready for the biggest exams of their lives.

Marcus Smart

The vertical leap was one of several tests each player went through during the second day of the NBA Draft Combine.
Marc D'Amico/Celtics.com

“I’ve worked out here for about a month and a half before the Combine, so I was doing these things on my own,” said P.J. Hairston, who’s projected to be a first-round pick in this year's draft. “Just trying to do all of the NBA workouts with my trainer and try to put me through the hard work that I was going to do here.”

Each player who participated in the testing went through the following drills: lane agility, shuttle run, three-quarter court sprint, standing vertical leap, max vertical leap and bench press. The results of each test will be sent directly to the inbox of every general manager in the league to aid in their player evaluation leading up to next month’s Draft.

If it sounds like there’s a lot on the line with these tests, that’s because there is. Every player knows the importance of these drills and that’s why they’ve been putting in the work to prepare for them. For some players, such as Australian guard Dante Exum, preparation time was spent on learning the quirks of the NBA’s drills.

“It was mostly footwork drills and kind of getting a feel for how the drills work and kind of learning the shortcuts I can take to get a better time,” Exum said.

For others, work was put into sharpening mechanics to log better numbers.

“I worked on the three-quarter court sprint the most, because they were trying to teach me my running technique,” said Hairston. “Before, I was running but it wasn’t a normal run. I was too low to the ground, my back wasn’t straight. So that was the main thing that I worked on.”

Boy, did that work make a difference for many of these players. Hairston says that he logged a three-quarter court sprint time of 4.5 seconds when he arrived in Chicago for pre-Combine workouts six weeks ago. Today, he ran it in 3.3 seconds. The shortcuts that Exum learned helped him log the second-best lane agility time at the Combine, at 10.75 seconds. He also placed sixth in the shuttle run with a time of 2.88 seconds.

Both Hairston and Exum stated that they were “happy” with their results in those particular tests. However, many players were discouraged with the numbers they put on the board after weeks of preparation.

The majority of the players who came to the media room claimed that they had logged much better vertical leap numbers in the past. Some also said that they had previously been clocked at better times in the lane agility, shuttle run and three-quarter court sprint.

Arizona guard Nick Johnson is one of those players. He explained to Celtics.com why he believes so many players were underwhelmed with their results.

“Once I made my decision (to enter the Draft) I went to the Bay and really since then I’ve been doing three- and four-a-days,” Johnson said. “My legs have been really tired.

“We get here, we had our little workout yesterday and a harder workout today, and then we come do this (testing) thing. I think a lot of guys were a little tired.”

Johnson, who logged a max vertical leap of 41.5 inches, says that he has jumped as high as 47 inches in the past. Aaron Gordon is another player who said that his official vertical leap, which was measured at 39 inches, was much lower than he has jumped in the past.

Regardless of how satisfied or unsatisfied these players are with their results, Testing Day is now complete. Just like any other set of tests, there were those who did well, those who didn’t do so well, and those who finished with a mixture of both. Now it’s time for the league’s general managers to soak in the information as we lead up to the June 26 NBA Draft.