Trail Blazers

4 NBA Draft combine takeaways: Johnson, Barnes stand out

Trail Blazers
Sims

The Portland Trail Blazers currently don't have a pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. With Chauncy Billups being reported to be the next head coach, that may change. 

The 2021 NBA Combine brought droves of new information about draft prospects through anthropometric measurements, drills, scrimmages and interviews both with teams and the media. Here are four observations from the 2021 NBA Combine.

1. Keon Johnson's vertical leap

The biggest standout of the 2021 combine would have to be Keon Johnson of the University of Tennessee. He set a new record for max vertical leap at a whopping 48 inches. He jumped four full feet in the air to pass Randy Gregory's previous mark of 45 1/2 inches set back in 2001. Johnson also had a 41 1/2-inch standing vertical, which is also a record and equally ridiculous, plus he was tied for the third-fastest sprint time in this year's class.

All of that should help solidify Johnson's stock as a likely top-10 pick. He's more than just an impressive athlete -- he can score, rebound well for a guard and defend.

What was interesting was how Johnson described his record-setting vertical leap when meeting with the media after. He said he's focused on developing skills to help maximize his athleticism at the next level. He mentioned ball-handling and being able to shoot from the outside, both of which could lead to more open driving lanes to the basket. He's a detail-oriented guy who clearly thinks about the game and has self-awareness about how he can get better.

 

2. Scottie Barnes' wingspan

While Johnson stole the show with his max vertical, Scottie Barnes of Florida State also drew some attention for his measurements. Barnes came in at 6-foot-8 with a 7-3 wingspan and the third-biggest hands in this year's class. He also posted a 39 1/2-inch max vertical leap.

Those numbers should help his cause as he aims to crack the top 5. The wingspan and hand measurements combined with his unique defensive potential naturally will lead to Kawhi Leonard comparisons. But in the short term, he seems to have a decent chance to go higher in the draft than originally thought, sort of like Patrick Williams did last year. Williams also played at FSU under Leonard Hamilton, and his success as a rookie could bode well for Barnes.

3. Jericho Sims is unique

Jericho Sims is not exactly a household name, as a projected second-round pick out of Texas. But he turned some heads at the combine with his size and leaping ability.

Sims measured in at 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds with a 44 1/2-inch vertical leap. That's a big man who can jump extraordinarily high. Only three players have ever jumped higher at the combine, and none of them has ever been that tall or weighed that much. Sims also had the eighth-fastest sprint time for this year's class.

Sims played four years at Texas and was known for his rebounding more than anything. He wasn't much of a scorer or shooter or even a rim protector. But maybe an NBA team will take a chance on him in the second round, hoping to find a diamond in the rough due to his truly elite athleticism. Sims may have helped his draft stock more than any other player, given where he's expected to go and how he performed.

4. Joe Wieskamp stood out

If it wasn't Sims who helped his cause the most, it might be Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp, who is projected by most mocks to go undrafted. Sims measured in at 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and a ridiculous 42-inch vertical leap. That was the fifth-best for this year's class, and he also had the sixth-best sprint time.

Now, all of that alone isn't enough to vault Wieskamp into the two-round picture. But when you combine those traits with his elite shooting ability, Wieskamp is going to get some serious consideration by teams moving forward.

He shot 41.2 percent from 3 for his career, including 46.2 percent this past season on 5.1 attempts per game. He has the potential to be a lethal outside shooter who can at least jump high enough to be a factor around the rim. That combination is reminiscent of Landry Shamet, who has turned into a solid NBA player. Wieskamp is also a good rebounder for his position, taking in 6.6 boards per game last season as a shooting guard.