A Closer Look at the Draft Combine
If you’re a fan of both professional and college basketball, you’ve likely spent the last six months playing armchair GM with regards to the young players expected to make the jump from the NCAA to the NBA this summer. Later this week, many of those top prospects will converge upon Chicago, the site of the NBA’s annual Draft Combine. The 60 or so invitees will be poked, prodded, measured, and put through a litany of athletic tests designed to quantify the eye-popping physical traits we observed during the college season.
If you’re familiar with the NFL Draft Combine, the format is quite similar. Players are divided into groups by position before having their height, weight, wingspan, standing reach, body fat percentage, and hand size measured. They then participate in a series of drills – fastbreaks, weaves, three-on-three scrimmaging, set shooting, etc. – designed to replicate certain game situations. It’s an opportunity for NBA executives to see top prospects go head to head and to evaluate various aspects of players’ games that are not featured at the collegiate level (a post player’s ability to extend out to corner three-point shooting range, for example).
Prospects are also tested from a purely athletic standpoint, having their strength, straight-line speed, agility, and verticality measured through a series of drills outlined below:
A rather self-explanatory exercise, prospects do as many repetitions of 185 pounds as they can as a test of upper-body strength and fitness.
This drill is actually comprised of two independent measures – standing vertical and maximum vertical. Both test explosiveness, but the first is done from a standstill position while the second allows the participant to take a running start. Talent evaluators may value one over the other with regard to a player’s position – standing vertical is more important for big men because of its application to rebounding, for example.
3/4 Court Sprint
A bit of a misnomer, as the distance covered in this drill is actually 75 feet despite the fact that an NBA court is 94 feet in length, the 3/4 court sprint is the basketball equivalent to football’s 40-yard dash. The drill is primarily a measure of acceleration rather than top-line speed, and times typically fall between the low- to mid-three second range.
Lane Agility Drill
The lane agility drill is designed to measure a player’s lateral quickness and ability to change direction. Cones are placed along the four corners of the key, and players follow a square path around them, first clockwise and then counterclockwise, peddling forwards, backwards, and side to side in the process.
Coverage of the event begins at 1pm (EST) on Wednesday, May 14, with analysis of this year’s class and interviews with top prospects on NBATV. The drills themselves begin Thursday and will air on ESPNU from 10am until 1pm (EST) before switching over to ESPN2 from 1pm until 3pm (EST). Friday’s television schedule will be the same as Thursday’s.
Sixers.com will be at the combine all week long, so stay with us for news, results, interviews, and more!