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By Ronak Patel
ronakspatel@hotmail.com

Friday, June 5, 2009

Does anyone else find it fishy that Austin Daye tested at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago as the slowest, least athletic player in the entire Draft class?

It wasn't a shock that the Gonzaga sophomore forward was the only player who couldn't even lift the 185-pound bench press once. After all, he's 6-foot-10 and only 192 pounds. But, when has Daye ever been described as extremely slow and unathletic? He did it all for Gonzaga over the past two seasons. He scored inside and outside, handled the ball, scored and dished in transition, threw down exciting dunks, blocked shots, and really gave Gonzaga a long, versatile player in its lineup.

Daye has loads of potential to be a terrific player in the NBA. He has Rashard Lewis, Tayshaun Prince, Lamar Odom, Thaddeus Young and Josh Howard (insert any other long, versatile small forward here) written all over him.

NBA executives have been raving lately about how impressive Daye has been in workouts. He's been praised for his ability to do so many things exceptionally well. He's been steadily rising up draft boards over the past few weeks. And he's certainly impressive in interviews.

If everyone has been so excited about Daye, how is it possible that he tested as the slowest, most unathletic player out of EVERY SINGLE PLAYER at the Draft Combine?

To be fair, Hasheem Thabeet didn't participate in the testing, and Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings weren't in Chicago. But that doesn't change much. Hopefully, for Daye's sake, Thabeet is slower than Daye, but he would still then be the second slowest, the weakest, and the most unathletic player at the Combine.

Daye's no-step vertical was 25 inches. The only player with a lower no-step vertical was Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez, who had a 24.5. Taj Gibson and Omri Casspi were next with 25.5.

Daye's max vertical tested at 28 inches, which was tied with Vasquez as the absolute lowest at the Combine. No other player tested at less than 30 inches (Taj Gibson measured at 30).

As stated above, the bench press issue was no surprise. Daye is easily the skinniest player in this Draft class and he showed by not being able to lift the 185-pound bar once. Vasquez lifted the bar just one time, while Casspi did two reps.

When it came to the lane agility test, which tested players' speed moving quickly in various directions around the lane, Jordan Hill (12.23 seconds) was the only player who finished slower than Daye (12.11 seconds).

The 3/4 court sprint is just a straight sprint down the court. Daye's 3.5 seconds was good enough for dead last. Vasquez finished .02 seconds faster. Even BJ Mullens and DeJuan Blair (3.45 seconds) were faster than Daye.

Greivis Vasquez is a whole different issue. Most wouldn't guess he's the strongest, most athletic guy on the court at any time, but it's going to be tough to play point guard in the NBA without being able to beat centers up and down the court.

But this is about Daye, the guy who has been so impressive lately in his workouts.

Is Daye really slower and less athletic than the likes of Blair, Mullens, Luke Harangody and Jeff Adrien? Is he really the slowest, weakest, least athletic player in the entire 2009 NBA Draft class?

Or was Austin Daye dogging it?

Was he told by an NBA team to perform as poorly as he could in order to make other teams not want to draft him because that certain team doesn't want him to be drafted before that team's pick?

Would Daye really do that?

Think about it. How many solid first round, maybe even lottery, prospects have ever been the worst or second worst in every single test? It's one thing if he was only the weakest or only the slowest or only the least athletic, but all three?

We're not talking about an out of shape big man here. We're talking about Austin Daye.

Can a wing player who is the slowest, weakest, most unathletic player in the entire Draft class be a lottery pick? Apparently, it might be possible.

The question really isn't whether or not a player like that could be a lottery pick. It's whether or not the player in question is really what he made himself out to be last week in Chicago.


OTHER COMBINE TESTING SURPRISES AND NOTES


Stephen Curry did very well at the Combine, much better than most would have expected. He measured at a legit 6-foot-3 in shoes and 181 pounds, which is heavier than Patty Mills, Darren Collison, Jeff Teague and Eric Maynor, and only two pounds lighter than Toney Douglas.

Curry's biggest knock has been that he is weak. Well, the former Davidson guard bench pressed 185 pounds 10 times, the same as Jonny Flynn, BJ Mullens and Tyler Smith, and more than Terrence Williams, Gerald Henderson, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Earl Clark.

People also have said that Curry is unathletic. Well, he registered a 35.5 inch max vertical, more than Henderson, Evans, Holiday, Clark and Sam Young.

Curry did everything perfect at the Combine. He tested well, shot well and interviewed well. He could easily find himself in the top five when the Draft rolls around.


Who had the highest max vertical? It wasn't DeMar DeRozan, Gerald Henderson, Jermaine Taylor, Blake Griffin, Derrick Brown or Tyler Smith. To the surprise of many, the only player at the Combine with a true 40 inch vertical was Jonny Flynn.


There was a lot of debate in Chicago about which point guard was the fastest of the bunch. The names thrown around were Darren Collison, Ty Lawson, Patty Mills, or maybe even Jonny Flynn. But, none of them were even the second fastest. Toney Douglas blazed through the 3/4 court sprint with an impressive 3.03 seconds, while even more surprising was the fact that Damion James was second with a 3.09. Matching Lawson and Mills's time of 3.1 was the out-of-nowhere Jodie Meeks.


Everyone knows Blake Griffin and DeJuan Blair are beasts, but how about Luke Harangody and Derrick Brown? Harangody topped Griffin by one (23-22) for the most bench presses. That shows how hard Harangody has been working lately to get in incredible shape. Brown was third with 20 reps. The Xavier forward is not only strong and athletic, but fast, finishing with a 3.13 in the 3/4 court sprint.


Watch out for Rodrigue Beaubois, the young French point guard who is looking to make a name for himself in the NBA. He measured just an inch short of Flynn with a 39 inch vertical. The 6-foot-2 guard has a 6' 9.75" wingspan and had the third quickest lane agility time with a 10.49.


Former high school teammates and college rivals Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson both participated at the Draft Combine. Ellington has always been known as the shooter, while Henderson is the athletic one. But how about the fact that Ellington measured a 38 inch vertical, while Henderson had just a 35.5? What's that all about? Who knew that Ellington was one of the most athletic players in this Draft class? Shooters can be deceiving. Ellington's vertical is much like Jodie Meeks' speed, as Meeks came in as the third fastest player at the Combine.


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