What first began with some not-so-favorable reports out of Chicago seemed to have ended with a bang for Vander Blue, who came out a winner from the past two days at the NBA Combine.
There wasn’t much to be seen or read about on Day 1, other than Blue being listed as “from DePaul” and an ugly report from ESPN.com Insider Chad Ford, writing, “It’s pretty hard to hurt your stock in a camp like this. But there was some negativity around the poor shooting performances by Archie Goodwin, B.J. Young and Vander Blue. All three players really struggled to look the part of “shooting” guards in the drills Thursday.
We know from Blue himself that he’ll be working as a point guard throughout the draft process. Still, struggling to shoot is struggling to shoot. Gone are the days of pass-first point guards with little-to-no outside shooting prowess (we see you, Tony Parker; keep the fight alive), so it was a slight disappointment to see Ford name Blue out of the 60+ prospects in attendance.
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Luckily, Day 2 brought plenty of success.
Before anything began on the court, Blue measured in at 6-foot-5 1/4, more than an inch taller than his 6-foot-4 listing at Marquette and taller than consensus Lottery picks Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore. Furthermore, the “point guard” Blue measures in as the second-tallest at his position, behind only Michael Carter-Williams (6-foot-5 3/4.). What’s remarkable is that Blue wouldn’t even be considered all that undersized for a shooting guard; now he’s one of the taller point guards in the class, and if that handle is consistent his “new” height is a major plus.
Blue weighed in at 197 pounds, which isn’t terribly light but presumably lower than he would have liked. Then again, it also leaves room for him to add weight and muscle however an NBA team sees fit. Blue appears to have worked diligently in Los Angeles the last month, so this isn’t a matter of not packing enough weight on.
Blue’s 6-foot-6 wingspan is just average for his height, and his 8-foot-4 1/2 standing reach a much better number. Either way you look at it, Blue plays longer than he is so these numbers won’t help or hurt his status. He covers ground and plays above the rim, so being average in this department is just fine.
At 4.6 percent, Blue measured in with the 12th lowest body fat of all players. That’s a pretty impressive number, for whatever it’s worth, and proves that flying to Los Angeles, as far away as possible from Real Chili, Sobelman’s and Dog Haus, will do the body good.
But where Blue made his mark earlier this afternoon–and official times won’t be posted by this story’s publishing–was in the speed and agility drills. This really should come as no surprise since Blue’s quick first step has been on display all season, but it’s another thing to do it in front of scouts and general managers, knowing dollars and draft stock is on the line. Here’s what Blue did:
Blue finished with the top time for guards in the modified lane agility drill at 2.70 seconds, 0.19 tenths ahead of Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan and 0.2 tenths faster than Illinois’ Brandon Paul. The Michigan duo, Tim Hardaway Jr. (2.93) and Trey Burke (3.01) rounded out the top-5 for guards. The modified lane agility drill, which Anonymous Eagle so eloquently described in their live chat, is: “where the player stands in the middle, bounces to one side, then to the other side, and then finishes by heading to the first side. Two-tenths of a second in that drill is a LOOOOONG time.”
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Essentially the measurement here is lateral agility, more of a defensive test than anything. For Blue, who will make or break his dollars with his defensive showing, this was about as best-case a scenario as he could have hoped for. This was the one drill (aside from outside shooting) that he needed to perform well in, and he wound up topping the list.
Blue also showed off his straight-line speed by posting the fifth-fastest 3/4-court sprint time (3.14 seconds). The only players to top him were Miami’s Shane Larkin, North Carolina State’s C.J. Leslie, Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Missouri’s Phil Pressey. Blue also finished third in the lane agility drill (different, of course, from the modified drill) by posting a time of 10.4 seconds, slower than only Leslie (10.19) and Tony Snell (10.36). Again, a solid showing to rank in the top five with such athletic players around him.
Blue finished his testing with a 37.5-inch vertical which unofficially put him 14th for all guards. I couldn’t find any information on his bench press, but as Chad Ford said, zero general managers care about this number.