Test of Strength

In the modern day information age, sports occasionally suffer from paralysis by analysis. Somehow, Kevin Durant became less of a basketball player without stepping on the court for a minute since March. Durant failed miserably in comparison to his fellow prospective draftees in the athletic tests at pre-draft combine in Orlando, rating last among the 78 players who completed all tests. Tests that include bench pressing, vertical leap, body fat percentage, and agility.

Strength, conditioning, and athletic ability certainly contribute to performance, but last check the bench press champion did not lead the league in scoring, and not many NFL lineman are seen as NBA prospects. Kevin Durant can play, end of story. He is only 19 years old, probably still growing, and has yet to participate in a professional athletes workout and nutrition program. That said, under the appropriate supervision, and natural human progression, Durant should get bigger, stronger, and quicker in time.

With Oden a shoe-in as top pick, if I am the general managers of any team picking third or lower I hope Seattle values athletes more than players and Durant falls. He is head and shoulders better than the rest of the draft class, and arguably a more polished player than Oden at this point. If Durant drops past two, Seattle risks becoming a trivia answer for all-time draft mistakes.

To prove the value of the training combine, here are the top performers of the past four years, courtesy of ESPN’s Chad Ford: Troy Bell, Nate Robinson, Joey Graham and David Noel. Not exactly Hall of Fame material. If we used these tests to rate basketball players, how come Michael Johnson or Carl Lewis never got a look.


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