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Could a gem lie among the five fastest prospects in the NBA combine?

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4 of the 5 top sprinters fall within the Miami Heat's draft pick range. Does an opportunity knock there?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Michigan vs Louisville Thomas Joseph-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA today has drifted away from bruising post play into the more open-court style of the 1950's when speed, agility, shooting and passing won games, even without the 3-point score. In 2016-17, the NBA's two premier rebounders, Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside were not picked for any NBA All-Star team. Golden State Warriors‘ best rebounders, Kevin Durant (#19) and Draymond Green (#25), were listed as power forwards. In game three of the 2017 NBA Finals, Stephen Curry topped his team with 13 rebounds.

Looking at the speediest athletes from the 2017 draft class combine, none are top-10 prospects. The most coveted prizes skipped those tests for one reason or another, leaving the field open to many second-tier hopefuls. The Heat could seize a chance to pick up a determined player without a “peaches and cream” mentality as their 14th pick up, or later on as an undrafted prospect for the new two-way player contract.

The fastest straight-line sprinters in the NBA 2017 combine were:

DONOVAN MITCHELL

Position: Shooting Guard
Sprint: 3.01 sec.
Height: 6'3”
Weight: 194 lbs
Age(years): 20
Mock Draft: 12

DraftExpress notes:

“Louisville Sophomore Guard Donovan Mitchell impressed on day one of the Combine with his huge 6'10 wingspan measurement, and he continued to leave his mark on day two, posting the highest standing vertical leap at 36.5. That number matches the marks of Iman Shumpert and former NBA Dunk Contest Champion Glen Robinson III. Mitchell also posted the fastest three-quarter court sprint time at just 3.01 seconds, which is the quickest time since Sonny Weems ran a 2.96 at the 2008 Combine. His 40 ½ inch max vertical was the fourth best at the Combine, and he also shot the ball well in the drills we watched.”

The unfulfilled story of speedy Sonny Weems.


DERRICK WHITE

Position: Point Guard
Sprint: 3.08 sec.
Height: 6'5”
Weight: 200 lbs
Age(years): 23
Mock Draft: 33

DraftExpress notes:

“Colorado Guard Derrick White posted the second best three-quarter sprint time at 3.08 (97th percentile historically) and tied for the third best standing vertical leap at 35.5 (99th percentile historically). The D2 transfer combo guard was a rather unheralded prospect until this season. White measured 6'4.5 with shoes with a 6'7.5 wingspan which is very similar to the physical measurements of Chicago Bulls guard Jerian Grant, but his athletic testing results are very similar to those of Mike Conley's.”


HAMIDOU DIALLO

Position: Shooting Guard – Small Forward
Sprint: 3.11 sec.
Height: 6'5”
Weight: 190 lbs
Age(years): 19
Mock Draft: 18

DraftExpress notes:

“To nobody's surprise, Hamidou Diallo impressed in the athletic testing portion of the Combine, posting the highest max vertical leap at 44.5. That number would be the highest mark for any drafted player, although Kenny Gregory (undrafted) holds the official Combine record at 45.5 back in 2001. Diallo also posted a 3.11 in the three-quarter court sprint (third overall) and a 2.79 in the shuttle run (second overall). To compare, Zach Lavine posted a 41.5 max vertical jump and 3.19 sprint time at the 2014 Combine.”

The forgotten basketball career of Kenny Gregory.


DAMYEAN DOTSON

Position: Shooting Guard – Small Forward
Sprint: 3.13 sec.
Height: 6'7”
Weight: 202 lbs
Age(years): 23
Mock Draft: Undrafted (free agent)

DraftExpress notes:

“Measured at 6'5.5 with a long 6'9 wingspan, Dotson has very good size and length for the shooting guard position but he will need to improve his strength, especially in his base, to hold his own against NBA guards and wings. His best athletic tool is his open court speed which allows him to get up and down the floor in transition where he scores an efficient 1.2 points per possession. He doesn't dominate the game with his athleticism, but relies more on his skill-level and basketball IQ to read the floor and make the right play.”


FRANK JACKSON

Position: Point Guard
Sprint: 3.14 sec.
Height: 6'3”
Weight: 205 lbs
Age(years): 19
Mock Draft: 19

DraftExpress notes:

“Jackson finished first overall in the shuttle run (2.7 seconds), second overall in the max vertical leap (42), third overall in the standing vertical leap (35.5) and fifth overall in the three-quarter court sprint (3.14 seconds). Despite coming off a very inconsistent freshman season, Jackson opted to officially keep his name in the draft, and had a very good first half in Day One before electing to sit out Day Two of the Combine.”

Added note:

Devin Booker finished first in the shuttle run (2015) and lane agility, while Malcolm Brogdon was first in the shuttle run in 2016.


None of them project as the next Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, LeBron James or Durant. Most are destined for alternative basketball career paths, long or short. Best case scenario is spending time in the G-League to hone their skills in a professional environment. From there the Heat might find a rotation player, who could learn basketball skills using his youthful speed. Just a single addition in a season adds up over time. Or a package of good players could land a single difference-maker.