You either love or hate the NBA Draft Lottery — there’s no in between. For some parts of the league, namely the bad ones, it’s the most important day of the year. More fun for me, however, is the NBA Draft Combine, specifically the measurements section. They’ve only really been measuring guys for about 10 years now, but it’s always fun to see who stands out, for good or ill.
Most of the top guys didn’t measure or test at the 2019 combine, so no Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett, etc. But given that this draft is as up in the air after those first few picks as any in recent memory, perhaps it’s more important to focus our attention on those “other” players, the kind of guys who could make or break a bench unit for a team that does diligent work this time of year.
I guess we’ll start off where every self-respecting draft nerd starts: wingspans! The obvious winner this year was UCF’s Tacko Fall, who set the new, and probably untouchable, combine record with an astounding 8’2.5 measured wingspan. He also clocked in at 7’7 in shoes, with a 10’2.5 standing reach, which you might be able to figure out is taller than the basket. His measurements are somehow more ridiculous than we’d thought during his four year career.
Fall also become only the fifth player since 2010 to have his hands measured at both 10 inches wide and 10 inches long, joining Dexter Pittman, Andrew Nicholson, Robert Upshaw and Jaren Jackson Jr. That aside, Fall might just be too big to be an effective NBA player. He’s not entirely unskilled, but he’s even bigger and less mobile than Boban Marjanovic, who just got so thoroughly played off the floor against Toronto that Philadelphia was unable to rely on him for much more than mop up duty following Game 1.
Moving on, the other obvious wingspan freak this year is Bol Bol, who measured in at just over 7’2.5 in shoes (from here on, all height measurements will be in shoes, because that’s what they play basketball in), with a 7’7 wingspan and a 9’7.5 standing reach, all patently absurd. Bol’s biggest selling point is his touch and straight line speed, which is why it’s at least a little disappointing that he didn’t take part in the agility tests on Thursday. It probably would’ve exposed his less-than-ideal change of direction skills, so I understand why he chose not to do it.
The agility tests are for fringier prospects, anyway — the only potential lottery guy to do it was Brandon Clarke, and I can imagine that was only to bolster his stock after he measured in at a disappointing 6’8 with a 6’8 wingspan, hardly the measurements of a dominant shot blocker. Thankfully for Clarke, his freakish athleticism shone through, clocking a Lane time of 10.61 seconds, for the sixth-best mark among all players this year and by far the best among those who played real minutes at the five in college last season.