It’s him again
Maybe Nick Johnson was surprised he didn’t win the vertical leap competition Friday at the NBA combine, but he couldn’t have been surprised by who did.
The two guys ahead of him in maximum vertical leap, both recording 43½ inches: Oklahoma State’s freakishly athletic Markel Brown … and Johnson’s old buddy and rival from the Phoenix area, former ASU guard Jahii Carson.
Both Brown and Carson recorded 43½-inch maximum vertical leaps, two full inches ahead of Johnson, while Johnson, Carson and UCLA’s Zach LaVine actually tied for fourth place in the standing vertical jumps with 33½ inches. Those three trailed Brown (36½), Glenn Robinson II (36½), and Cleanthony Early (34).
The ever-confident Carson said he’s always jumped “two or three inches” higher than Johnson.
“We’ve had many vertical tests,” he said. “Sometimes we have three steps (for a max vertical), some we have 15 feet. … That’s something we take pride in because both of our parents are athletic and high jumpers.
“We try to carry the tradition on. I think anytime you get over 40, you’ve gotta be pretty happy with that.”
Aaron Gordon and Johnson tried to answer questions about their potential NBA positions all week, Gordon saying he can play either forward and Johnson saying he’s transitioning into a point guard.
But UCLA’s Kyle Anderson didn’t even try to answer the same question about himself.
He played anywhere from point guard to power forward at UCLA … and just might be able to do the same in the NBA.
“I don’t like to label myself,” Anderson said. “I don’t think I’m the best at point guard, but I’m most comfortable playing point guard. That’s what I’ve played my whole life. I know and I think I can play many other positions on the floor. I played there (last season). I think I can play three or four (small or power forward). And I shot pretty well this year. I think I can play the two (shooting guard).”
While Canadian talent continues to gain traction in the NBA, this year with the entrance of the Kansas’ Jayhawks’ Andrew Wiggins, most of it hails from the Toronto area in Ontario.
Then there’s Steve Nash of British Columbia and, from Alberta…well, how about hockey players or rodeo cowboys?
ASU big man Jordan Bachynski of Calgary hopes to change that.
“As far as I know, there hasn’t been a Calgarian in the NBA,” he said. “I hope I can be the first NBA player from my city. To represent the Western part of Canada would definitely give me a sense of pride.”
All that stuff about Gordon being a team guy isn’t just coach-speak from Sean Miller, not the way Johnson described it Friday.
“He was this highly touted guy and he came to me” before last season, Johnson said. “He knew I was the leader of the team, and he said, ‘Nick, I need you to do me a favor. You can’t take it easy on me. I need you to treat me like everyone else. Whatever you think you gotta do, if you think I’m doing something wrong, tell me.’
“He checked his ego at the door and that was something that stood out to me. At that time, he was 17 years old.
“For him to do that just showed me what kind of player he was.”
Probably the most cited evidence for the irrelevance of some NBA combine statistics is this: As a predraft prospect in 2007, Kevin Durant took the 185-pound bench press and … couldn’t lift it once.
This season, Durant was the NBA’s MVP.
But Johnson, disappointed that his maximum vertical leap was “only” 41½ inches, didn’t find much solace in Durant’s example. After all, Durant has skills other than weightlifting.
“Kevin Durant is 6-11, is ultra long and has the touch of gods,” Johnson said.
“I asked my friend, ‘They don’t show minor leagues (on TV) here? They show college basketball?” – Greek prospect Thanasis Antetokokoumpo, on when he realized the difference between the American and European developmental systems.
The big number
10.81 Gordon’s time in the lane agility drill (running around cones in the lane and reversing course), the fastest time of any non-guard at the combine.