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NBA Draft Combine: What can we learn?

The NBA Draft Combine is Wednesday and Thursday. But what does that mean?


The NBA Draft Combine is today and tomorrow. ESPNU will have coverage of it for most of both days. So what does the combine actually mean? Well it means a couple of things. I agree that it is certainly overrated in terms of impact, but that doesn't mean it's useless. Here's what we can learn from the combine.

Official measurements

This is probably the biggest thing that outsiders can learn from the NBA Draft Combine. As far as teams are concerned, the interviews are probably the most important part. But, of course, we don't get to see those. We can, however, learn some of the official measurements of certain prospects. Naturally, we're looking for official heights (with shoes -- they play with shoes on) and official wingspans. That will give us a concrete idea of how big these players are. For a guy like Victor Oladipo, it would be nice to see if he has the necessary size to guard small forward. For a guy like Cody Zeller, it'd be nice to see if he has normal arms and not T-rex arms.

They don't release the measurements until the end of the entire session, if I recall correctly.

Specific skill drills

I'm not sure how much the drills really matter. Since we're watching on TV, we can't really get a sense of who is competing hard and who is just coasting. But we can see how a guy is shooting or how a guy is dribbling. Now, a lot of the top guys that the Cavs would be looking at aren't competing in drills. But almost every target with the #19 pick will be competing in drills. We can check out Reggie Bullock's ball-handling ability and Glen Rice Jr.'s size against other small forwards. Again, it's hard to make big observations in this part -- but if a guy has totally changed his mechanics or something, we can definitely see that.

Keep in mind that they'll be moving back to NBA three-pointers. It will be interesting to see if any guys really struggle with the longer range.

Athletic testing

This one is tricky. One the one hand, you'd love to see a guy like Otto Porter test really well in the lateral agility and vertical leap tests. But on the other hand, you can just go and watch the film and see that he really doesn't play with that much athleticism. It's tough to determine how much this matters, but it can definitely make you feel better about certain prospects. Furthermore, if a guy shows a bunch of unexpected athletic ability, that might hint at him having a lot of untapped potential.

Ultimately, you have to take everything with a grain of salt. You shouldn't let the NBA Draft Combine violently change your opinions about a prospect. You should enjoy watching these guys compete and get excited about the Cavaliers drafting a couple of them next month.