Thursday, June 4, 2009

COMBINE RESULTS: TAKE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT: We linked this article this morning in the morning dump, but if you did not click the link, here is a perfect explanation of how to interpret the athletics testing at the combine:

The conclusions that we can draw from the vast majority of the data is extremely limited, we’ll nonetheless try to take something away from the information we’ve been presented with.

Trying to pinpoint a player’s athleticism based on their combine testing is akin to trying to get a feel for their basketball IQ by watching them play one-on-zero –it simply doesn’t make all that much sense. It does help us get a very general idea of where a player is at in terms of physical conditioning and strength, which often speaks to their work ethic, but rarely sheds much light on what it really aims to portray.

Unlike the NFL combine, all parties involved realize that few people put much stock in these results. Players aren’t trained in running 40-yard dashes from their days in high school like most gridiron stars and simply aren’t well versed in many of the events. Raw athletic data can be useful in a football setting where certain properties manifest themselves more completely on the field, but for the NBA’s purposes, a player’s ¾ court sprint team is virtually meaningless on the top end.

In basketball, where anticipation and coordination play major roles in how players perform on the court, combine numbers will always take a back seat to how a player uses the tools it aims to measure in actual games. Scouts have done their homework, they know who the fastest players in the draft are, and know which athletes are the most explosive. The combine only provides them with a standardized metric that often fail to live up to the consistency of what they already know.

Despite our reservations about the data, it still exposes some players who land at the extremes of each test, and gives us the chance to draw some historical perspectives on certain stats. The combine does a decent job exposing which players are truly lacking in some aspects physically. At the end of the day though, the numbers these players posted at the combine are only as valuable as their ability to use them on the floor, and no matter how many times a player runs or jumps beyond his perceived means on test day, if he doesn’t “play athletic” in games, he’s not going to magically change his ways at the next level.

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