NBA Combine: Prospects make big leaps

NBA Combine: Prospects make big leaps
May 18, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Seemingly nobody is jumping for joy about the 2013 NBA Draft class, but the prospects certainly soared during the athletic portion of the two-day combine. One day after learning the exact heights, weights and wingspans of those in Chicago, an impressive 10 players posted at least a 40-inch vertical leap including those the Wizards intended to meet with like Victor Oladipo or potential targets like Glen Rice Jr.

Granted, any talk of impressive vertical leap, agility or speed does not alone equal a must-have player, but the measurables (including the suspect numbers) certainly make an impression. Among those that stood out on Friday:

*Indiana's Cody Zeller pulled off 35.5-inch standing vertical leap. Not only did the 7-footer trump all participants this year, but according to Chad Ford with ESPN.com, it's the highest for any 6-foot-9 or taller player ever at the combine. No, the standing vertical is not as cool as how-high-can-you-jump, but for big men dealing with traffic in the paint, the ability to go straight up with minimal room is crucial. Zeller, considered the best rim-to-rim among the college basketball big men last season, also posted the best time in the modified lane agility drill (2.69) and his three-quarter court speed (3.15) ranked sixth overall. Clearly his stock took a hit as a sophomore, especially after being swallowed up by Syracuse's defense in the NCAA Tournament, but this appears to be a strong step in reminding scouts what they loved about Zeller during his freshman season. If he can show enough with his perimeter touch during workouts, teams looking for a stretch-four, like the Wizards could come calling in the middle-to-back of the lottery.

*The unofficial award for best athlete at the combine surely goes to Miami point guard Shane Larkin. The 5-foot-11 sophomore turned in the top vertical leap (44), the fastest three-quarter court speed (3.08) and finished seventh in lane agility (10.64 seconds). Not so long the ACC Player of the Year appeared to be a fringe first round pick, which is perhaps why Barry Larkin's son waited until the last minute to declare for the draft. Now with this athletic display and Marcus Smart staying at Oklahoma State, Larkin is moving is way closer to the middle off the round. 

*Others with a vertical leap of at least 40 inches included Oladipo (42, second overall), Kansas' Ben McLemore (42), Louisville's Peyton Siva (41.5), NC State's C.J. Leslie (40.5) and Rice (40.5). 

*Seeing as the primary questions about Georgetown's Otto Porter Jr. centered on his athleticism, the 6-foot-8 forward posting a 36-inch vertical leap is a good thing. Same goes for UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad (37). 

*On the flip side, only four of the 59 players jumped under 30 inches, including Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk.

*Larkin, Leslie and Siva were the only players to rank among the top-10 in vertical leap, lane agility and three-quarter court speed. The 6-foot-10 Leslie, who left the Wolfpack after his junior season, trumped all the little guys by turning in the best overall lane agility time (10.19). He could be available early in the second round and makes some sense for the Wizards if they break up their current logjam of Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely.

*Siva, the fiery lead guard on Louisville's National Championship team, also finished among the top-10 in the spot up shooting drills (68 percent). If teams are convinced his stretches of inconsistent play with the Cardinals can be overcome, Siva could land in the second round with a team needing a backup point guard or energy off the bench.

*Going back to the stretch-four theme, Miami's Kenny Kadji surprised some with a 34-inch standing vertical (4th overall) and 38-inch maximum vertical leap. That leaping ability did not always translate into interior production with the Hurricanes, though the 6-foot-11 forward grabbed 6.8 rebounds. However, combined with his perimeter touch (41.8 percent 3-point shooter as a junior) and pick-and-pop game, Kadji may have played himself the second round.

*Any hope of New Mexico's Tony Snell lasting until the Wizards' pick early in the second-round may have ended. The 6-foot-7 swingman finished second behind Leslie in lane agility (10.36) and Bucknell's Mike Muscala in spot up shooting (74 percent). 

*Click here for the top-20 lists from each of the six categories tested. DraftExpress.com has the full combine results.