While the NFL Combine is a tradition for NFL fans, only die-hard NBA fans have typically followed the NBA Combine.
There is no flashy 40 yard dash number to discuss at the NBA Combine, but there is one piece of information that is even more important: wingspan.
An overlooked trait for years, wingspan is becoming the new physical metric of choice. This measurement is so important, in fact, that the NBA Combine is now more important than the NFL Combine. This year, the NBA Combine runs from May 11th-15th, and will give Suns fans insight to many of the top draft prospects.
The 40 yard dash is the most often cited piece of information from the NFL Combine, but there is little proof that a fast 40 time leads to production on the football field.
Admittedly, the data behind increased wingspan is limited as well. The effect it has on rebounding is unclear, but there is certainly an advantage defensively to a longer wingspan. A long wingspan for a shooting guard could give them the ability to guard small forward – a key feature in small ball lineups.
The NBA Combine will be fascinating because the data on wingspan is inconsistent from player to player. The reported data from colleges is often inaccurate: Devin Booker was listed .75 inches taller but with a 2 inch shorter wingspan at Kentucky compared to his NBA Combine numbers.
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The data at the NBA Combine should at least play a role in the Phoenix Suns analysis of these players.
Henry Ellenson is one player in particular to watch: his last measurement came in 2014 when he was just 17 years old. Even at that time, his wingspan was measured by Team USA at 7′ 1.5”. If he has grown significantly, that could be a boost to his draft stock.
There have been several players with notably longer wingspans than their height. Myles Turner is 6′ 9.75”, but his 7′ 4” wingspan has helped him be one of the most productive rookies in the 2015-16 season.
Draymond Green is probably the best example of wingspan giving a player added versatility (although Green has many skills as well). At the 2012 NBA Combine, Green measured in at just 6′ 5.75”. However he also had a ridiculous 7′ 1.25” wingspan. That has proven to be a game changer for Green and the Warriors.
The Phoenix Suns should target at least one athletic forward with a large wingspan. This will give them added versatility in their lineups, a feature becoming more and more important each year in the NBA.