Last week the NBA completed its Draft Combine. The results from the workouts, drills and measurements are largely irrelevant. How tall you are in socks is pretty useless and hitting uncontested jumpers only tells you so much.
No, the real value for teams attending the combine is the up to 18 one-on-one interviews teams get with players and the chance to see some small measure of professionalism from the players that do attend by how they approach these meaningless skill drills. The Combine is often the first time teams can actually meet and talk to players.
As Rob Hennigan told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, this was the first step in “completing the puzzle.” There is still a lot of work to do.
The groundwork is laid though. And we only have bits and pieces of information to publicly digest. To start with, let’s review who we know the Magic talked to and some brief info on them:
Dante Exum, G, Australia
Measurements: 6-foot-6, 196.3 lbs., 6-foot-9.5 wing span
Skills: 10.75 seconds Lane Agility Drill, 2.88 seconds Shuttle Run, 3.19 seconds Three-Quarter Court Sprint
Projected: Top 5
Magic interviewed him Thursday, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel and Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated
Exum was the one guy in the top four or five prospects that did not pull out of the NBA Draft Combine. He is also the one guy that fits a definite need for the Magic at the point guard position.
The young guard from Australia opted to work out in solitude this year away from the lights of college basketball, making him something of a mystery man. That feature made him a curious player for scouts and for the media to watch both days.
He impressed in the speed and agility training as you can see above and did little to quiet the excitement over his potential as a big shooting guard or point guard type.
Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
Measurements: 6-foot-3.25, 227.2 pounds, 6-foot-9.25 inch wingspan
Skills: 10.82 seconds lane agility drill, 33.00 inch vertical leap
Projected: Early-Mid Lottery
Magic interviewed him Thursday according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel and Sean Deveney of The Sporting News
Magic fans have been hankering over Marcus Smart for two years. According to some reports, the Magic would have taken him with the second overall pick last year if he had entered the Draft. So everyone recognized Smart took a huge risk returning to Oklahoma State.
Smart’s warts were exposed in that second year at Oklahoma State. He played off the ball more and tried to improve his shooting — something that is still a work in progress. His ugly episode at Texas Tech earlier this season also loomed large in the story of his past year. He offered Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press no regrets for spending the extra year in college however, a good sign for teams looking to judge his maturity.
Smart though reported in with the highest percentage of body fat among point guards. And that shot still raises some questions. He shot only 29.9 percent from beyond the arc this season. Smart did not participate in shooting drills, so those questions will have to be answered in individual workouts.
Julius Randle, Forward, Kentucky
Measurements: 6-foot-9, 249.7 pounds, 7-foot wingspan
Skills: 35.5 inches Max Vertical Leap
Magic Interviewed him Monday according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel
Randle was a monster at Kentucky and one of the best low post players to come through the college ranks in quite some time. He was seen as a young Zach Randolph. He has all the skills to make that comparison apt. He can step out and hit the jumper and has a great post presence. He came on strong at Kentucky in his freshman year and was a big part of the team’s trip to the national championship game.
For much of the year, Randle was the top freshman — certainly the most consistent one — among this celebrated class. He certainly had a lot to gain this past week. Unfortunately, he did not participate in the shooting drills, not that they would do much good.
At the NBA level though, shooting is what is going to have to distinguish him. That is what made Randolph a great player eventually. His ability to be a strong post player mixed in with that solid mid-range jumper. Randle still has to prove that he can be a bit more of a stretch-4 at the next level.
Aaron Gordon, Forward, Arizona
Measurables: 6-foot-8.75, 220.1 pounds, 6-foot-11.75 wingspan
Skills: 10.81 seconds Lane Agility Drill, 2.76 seconds Shuttle Run, 39.00 inches Max Vertical Leap
Magic interviewed him Thursday according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel
Gordon is truly one of the more gifted athletes in this year’s Draft. He is an incredible leaper and a great potential talent. The comparisons to Blake Griffin seem so apt, it is scary. Except for the size, of course. Gordon is more small forward than power forward and a little less refined than Griffin was coming out of Oklahoma.
Drafting Gordon is certainly drafting a project. This is a guy who has not played a ton of basketball in his life and is still learning many of the finer points of the game. He has to grow into his body some more and develop a more consistent jumper. He is still too much of a tweener to build a team around.
One thing we do know about Gordon is that he loves playing now that he has found it. He wants to go all the time. While many of the top stars sat out this summer, Gordon went overseas with Team USA for the U18 World Championship. He was the best player on that team and really began to turn heads there.
Noah Vonleh, Forward, Indiana
Measurements: 6-foot-9.5, 247.1 pounds, 7-foot-4.25 wingspan
Skills: 9.75 inches Hand Length, 37.0 inches Max Vertical Leap
Magic interviewed him Thursday according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel and Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders
Vonleh is one of the more intriguing prospects and has seen himself climb in the eyes of fans and draft writers. His hand length measurement was the highest among the prospects at the Draft Combine. That should add to the potential factor in this prospect.
He had his moments at Indiana, but he also had his freshman moments too. He got muscled around occasionally in the paint in the Big Ten. And he also sometimes hung around the three-point line too much. He still has to develop a comfort and consistency in the post. He probably could have used anotehr year before being “NBA-ready.”
Drafting Vonleh is a draft on his potential. And it is a good one with his physical characteristics and some of the skills he has displayed.
Jordan Adams, Guard, UCLA
Measurables: 6-foot-4.75, 208.8 pounds, 6-foot-10 Wingspan
Projected: Late First Round
Magic interviewed him Thursday according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel
Adams was part of that super athletic UCLA backcourt that featured Zach LaVine and Kyle Anderson. Both those guys are NBA-quality talents. Adams got pulled up with them.
The reality is he tested really poorly at the Combine. It just was not his day. That does not kill him off by any means. But you have to ask questions and he has to answer them now with his play or with his workouts in the next step of the Draft process.
Adams averaged 17.2 points per game as the leading scorer of the high-flying Bruins squad. Was that a product of the guys around him or not? That is the question to be answered at the next level.
Elfrid Payton, Guard, Louisiana
Measurables: 6-foot-3.75, 185.4 pounds, 6-foot-8 Wingspan
Skills: 2.92 seconds Shuttle Run, 11.06 seconds Lane Agility Time
Projected: Mid-Late First Round
Magic interviewed him on Wednesday according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders and Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders
You would be excused if you had not heard of Payton before this. I had not either. Then again, few people had heard of Damian Lillard before he took the NBA by storm and won Rookie of the Year two seasons ago. Lillard is now one of the best young stars in the league, breaking out in the Blazers’ playoff series against the Rockets. This is the story around which Payton enters the NBA Draft.
Payton is a feisty guard to go with that story too. He was a competitive defender and measured well for a player his size. He averaged 19.2 points and 5.9 assists per game last year for Louisiana as the team made the tournament and lost to Creighton in the second round.
The Magic are doing their homework on this young player. He probably is not a player that would normally be targeted with that second lottery pick. But you cannot blame Orlando for taking a look at him. He would be an intriguing option — another veteran player out of college — if none of the other point guard options are available.
Glen Robinson III, Forward, Michigan
Measurables: 6-foot-6.75, 211.4 pounds, 6-foot-10 inch wingspan
Skills: 5.05 percent Body Fat, 8/15 Uncontested 3-pointers, 25/39 On-the-Move Shooting, 16/18 Off-the-Dribble Shooting, 3.15 second Three-Quarter Court Sprint, 36.50 inch Standing Vertical Leap, 41.50 inch Max Vertical Leap
Projected: Late First Round
Magic interviewed him Wednesday according to Brendan F. Quinn of MLive.com
Robinson is an outlier here. The Magic would probably be reaching if they picked him with their second pick in the first round. But that did not stop them from talking with him. And it would not be surprising to see him rise on some draft boards after his performance at the Combine.
Robinson hit jumpers, measured well and showed off his incredible leaping ability. If this was all based on those numbers, Robinson would probably be leaving the No. 1 overall pick (sorry, forgot that Wiggins vertical).
The only problem is that Robinson was never quite consistent at Michigan. He shouldered the scoring load after Trey Burke left for the NBA but Michigan was not nearly as good. He was always better as a role player for those teams. That is what he will have to be at the NBA. But his athleticism is sure to make him enough headway into the first round.
James McAdoo, Forward, North Carolina
Measurements: 6-foot-8.75, 227.6 pounds, 7-foot-2.25 Wingspan
Skills: 25/48 On-the-Move Shooting, 2.91 seconds Shuttle Run
Projected: 2nd Round
Magic interviewed him Friday according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel
McAdoo has always been an interesting case. He was a great talent with a lot of speed and size for what he is. He seemed to have all the potential to put things together. At North Carolina though, he never did. He often disappointed. Then off-the-field issues kept him from realizing his full potential and those questions dogged him out of college.
He is listed as a power forward by NBA.com, he is a bit undersized for that and would have to develop a more consistent 3-point shot to get there. The Magic likely did their homework and are reviewing whether there is anyone worth sneaking back into the second round to take. McAdoo is a talent worth doing that for based on potential. Orlando will have to continue to study.