One of the most interesting features relating to the NBA draft is the sortable predraft camp measurement and testing grid at DraftExpress.com.
The speed, strength, jumping and agility tests for this year went up a few days ago. The grid has data going back 10 years or more, so you can see how this group compares to past draft candidates. LeBron James didn’t take any of the tests in 2003, by the way, so don’t bother looking.
Here are some thoughts that stand out about the Class of 2009. The Bulls have the No. 16 and 26 picks:
--First of all, where are all the athletes? The only player with a maximum vertical leap of 40 inches was 6-foot Syracuse guard Jonny Flynn.
That’s a big change from last year, when O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose all cleared 40 inches, as did Patrick Ewing Jr. Another great year was 2006, when Jordan Farmar, Ronnie Brewer, Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay all passed 40 inches, while Tyrus Thomas jumped 39.5.
Of course, vertical leap measurements don’t reveal everything about a player. Dwyane Wade jumped a relatively mundane 35 inches in 2003. Another player who seems far more explosive in real life than in the predraft results was Oklahoma City rookie Russell Westbrook, who recorded a leap of 36.5 last year.
--Another test I like to look at is the three-quarter court sprint, where a time below 3.1 seconds is in the elite class. Wade ran a 3.08, Rose a 3.05, while the best recorded sprint for a first-round pick this decade was Knicks guard Nate Robinson at 2.96.
This year’s sprint champ was Florida State guard Toney Douglas, a borderline first-round pick, at 3.03. The best by a likely first-rounder was a tie at 3.10 between UCLA guard Darren Collison and St. Mary’s guard Patrick Mills, with North Carolina’s Ty Lawson close behind at 3.12. For comparison, Kirk Hinrich ran a 3.10 at the 2003 camp.
--It’s interesting to see how little difference there is in testing and measurements between likely No. 1 pick Blake Griffin and North Carolina's repeat All-American Tyler Hansbrough.
Griffin measured 6-feet-10 in shoes, while Hansbrough was 6-9 ½. Their wingspans were within a quarter inch. Griffin’s vertical leap was 35.5 inches, Hansbrough 34. Their sprint times were roughly the same and Griffin did 4 more reps in the bench press (22).
Anyone who watched college basketball last season knows there appears to be a huge difference between these two guys. Griffin was very explosive around the basket, while Hansbrough’s offensive style was a little unconventional and awkward, though still effective for college. Maybe the difference can be shown in the no-step vertical leap, where Griffin measured 32 inches and Hansbrough 27.5.
I'd say Hansbrough would be a good pick for the Bulls at 26, not so good at 16. He'll probably go somewhere in between.
--Another category worth looking at is the no-step vertical reach, which should be a good indicator of rebounding and shot-blocking potential. The best measurements this decade by players still in the league were Greg Oden (12-0), Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor and Tyrus Thomas (all 11-10).
This year’s class does not seem promising under the boards. The best no-step vertical reach was 11-7 ½ by Ohio State freshman center B.J. Mullens. UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet doesn’t have a measurement and probably didn’t take the test.
--When it comes to mid-first round guys that might be available when the Bulls pick, North Carolina’s 6-5 shooting guard Wayne Ellington measured fairly well, with a vertical leap of 38 inches. He fared slightly better than 6-5 Duke guard Gerald Henderson, who was always billed as a great athlete.
Louisville forward Earl Clark had one of the best vertical reaches, step or no step, and measured 6-10 ¼ in shoes. He seems to be a perimeter-oriented offensive player (poor man’s Rashard Lewis?) who could still be a good rebounder.
The Bulls have looked at several point guards and I mentioned that Collison, Mills and Lawson were the fastest at the predraft camp. Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague had a decent showing, with a vertical of 36.5 and sprint time of 3.18.
--Overall, when you look at the Draft Express charts, this group lives up to its billing as a sub-par class. Very few of the projected top picks tested well compared to the best players of this decade.