If you think it’s too early for NFL mock drafts, it’s WAYYYYY too early for NBA mock drafts. But don’t tell that to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who is already on his third version of the 2015 NBA mock, with more than four months to go until draft day.
At this point, it’s probably just reshuffling teams based on records, even though the draft lottery could blow it all up. Still, his latest mock has the Wolves picking second and taking Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns, which would be fine and dandy. Of more interest to us is his lavish praise for Wolves coach/President Flip Saunders. Per Ford:
Andrew Wiggins wins MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge. Zach LaVine wins the Slam Dunk Contest. Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng all have bright futures. The Wolves have several other interesting young players such as Anthony Bennett, Adreian Payne and Glenn Robinson III. And don’t forget that vets such as Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin should have terrific trade value before the trade deadline, and into the summer. Of the teams at the top of the draft, only the Jazz have an equal stockpile of young talent and assets. I can make a case that Flip Saunders should be in the running for Executive of the Year. The Wolves are going to be a very dangerous team in a couple of years, and adding Towns to the mix would make them even richer in talent.
NBA Exec of the Year will almost certainly go to a GM from a contender, but it is interesting praise from Ford for the rebuilding effort here.
INDIANAPOLIS —- The Vikings have arrived in Indianapolis. I know this because I sat behind several Vikings VIPs, including head coach Mike Zimmer and assistant GM George Paton, on an airplane from MSP this morning. I would like to thank Zimmer for not reclining his seat during the flight.
The Vikings are eager to check out the 300-plus prospects who will be here in Indianapolis over the next week for the NFL scouting combine. Sure, they will be there with stopwatches for the televised portion of the event, but the 15-minute formal interviews with players and physical examinations are also important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to completing a draft profile for each player.
Of course, what these guys do in spandex — the players, not Zimmer and Co. — will get the attention of fans. Some of these feats of athleticism don’t always translate to the football field, but you can’t help but marvel at how fast some of these guys are and how much air they can get.
The Vikings, especially in recent years, have coveted athletes, and current players such as Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Everson Griffen and Anthony Barr come to mind. But which current Vikings players fared the best in each of the major combine drills? Some answers may surprise you.
(Note that I compiled this information mostly from the NFL’s website along with some other online sources. I think these top performers are accurate, but feel free to alert me to any omissions.)
40-yard dash: This one is a little deceiving. The top performer for the Vikings has only been with the team for a few weeks. That would be cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, who was signed to a futures contract last month. Van Dyke has bounced around the league, but he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds in 2011, the fourth-fastest time since 2006.
Bench press: Nose tackle Linval Joseph pumped out 39 reps on the bench in 2010, tied for the 10th most since 2006. He was drafted by the Giants in the second round and signed here last year.
Vertical jump: Running back Jerick McKinnon was a workout warrior at last year’s combine, finishing as a top performer at his position in most of the events. One of those was the vertical jump. He leapt 40.5 inches, tied for fifth among all players. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes also jumped 40.5 inches back in 2012. Peterson measured 38.5 inches in the vertical jump in 2007 — ridiculous considering he wasn’t fully healthy after breaking his collarbone.
Broad jump: Cornerback Josh Robinson jumped 11 feet and one inch in 2012, which ranked second among all players that year. That was the best broad jump I could find for an active Vikings player, though former Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson jumped 11 feet and four inches in 2008.
Three-cone drill: Robinson again. He ran the three-cone drill in 6.55 seconds, ranking second among all players in 2012. Safety Harrison Smith was not far behind him that year at 6.63 seconds.
20-yard shuttle: Safety Robert Blanton is the top Vikings performer in this drill after running it 3.97 seconds in 2012. That time was tied with — guess who? — Robinson. Wide receiver Jarius Wright ran it in 4.03 seconds, also in 2012, more proof the Vikings prioritized speed that year.
60-yard shuttle: A blast from the past! Wide receiver Greg Jennings had the best 60-yard shuttle time among current Vikings players. He ran it in 11.15 seconds way back in 2006 — yes, they had the combine back then — before the Packers drafted him in the second round.
Anyway, that should be all for today on the blog. I’m going to do some scouting of my own to find the best places to grab a bite to eat in Indy. My big combine preview will be published in tomorrow’s newspaper (it should go up online tonight), and I’ll have more content throughout the week.