Carter, Konate Help Themselves With Combine Showing
On the first full day of activity at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, West Virginia alumnus Jevon Carter and potential early draft entrant Sagaba Konate had good performances in both drills and five-on-five scrimmage sessions. What that means for the potential draft placement of either (or both) is anyone’s guess, but there’s not much doubt at this point that neither did anything to hurt themselves.
First, for Carter. The senior showed his floor game in a 40-minute scrimmage, dishing out nine assists and recording three steals in a starting role while playing 27 minutes, more than anyone else on his team. He was just 2-9 from the field, missing his only 3-point attempt while failing to get to the free throw line, but his defensive play earned notice from several observers on hand, both via streamed coverage and on social media. He also had three turnovers, but offset that with four rebounds, and only enhanced his ability as a hard worker that plays the game with intensity. Opposing point guards Devonte Graham and Tony Carr were 2-17 in the game with four turnovers.
In the measurements portion of the day, the Maywood, Ill., native was up and down the charts. With a body fat percentage of just 4.15%, he was fourth-best overall, and second among those listed as exclusive point guards, behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s skeletal mark of 3%. His hand length of 9.25 inches was best among points (maybe that helps explain his ability to deflect and steal so many balls), bu his height of 6′ 0.25″ without shoes and 6′ 1.5″ with left him near the bottom of the group, as did his standing reach of 7′ 11″ and wingspan of 6′ 4.25″.
Those that have watched Carter, though, know it’s not about measurements with him. It’s about measuring his productivity on the court, and teams that understand that will have the chance to get a player that will do all the right things, work extremely hard, and do all the right things, in addition to bringing quality defensive and play-setting abilities.
Sports Illustrated agreed, sharing this impression:
“Perhaps the draft’s top defensive guard, Carter spent a lot of time matched up against Devonte’ Graham and Tony Carr and reinforced his stock in the 25–40 range. He began the game by picking up Carr man-to-man across the length of the court, and his unrelenting intensity makes it easy to group him in with success stories like Patrick Beverley, another Chicago native who has made a living off of ball pressure and making open shots. Carter’s offensive decision-making can be up and down and he fell into a spell of trying to do too much, but he should be able to find a role despite a lack of great physical measurements. He specializes in making opponents uncomfortable, uses his hands extremely well and understands positioning on the perimeter. Expect a team to fall in love with him.”
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Konate was an emotional presence during his game action, letting out big yells after blocks and big plays. That drew attention from a number of onlookers.
Sagaba Konate is playing the second scrimmage. He has blocked a couple shots and screams like a mad man each time. It's insane.
— Nick Neppach (@NickNeppach) May 17, 2018
Sagaba Konate just let out an unbelievable scream after blocking a shot at the rim. Move him up your draft boards immediately. https://t.co/pVfuZWGPjm
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 17, 2018
Will that play in the NBA? Or does it impress scouts and general managers? That remains to be seen, but it is attracting attention, as did his play in the scrimmage. Starting at center and playing 22.5 minutes, Konate was 5-9 from the field and 1-2 from the line for 11 points. He had seven rebounds, an assist, two steals and yep, four blocks in a very good outing, with three of those coming within his first seven minutes of action.
Konate was right in the middle of the pack of 14 centers on many measurements, including body fat (7.35%) hand length and width (9.25″ and 10″). It was in the height measurements where he fell short, measuring out last both without (6′ 6.5″) and with (6′ 7.5″) shoes. (Side note: Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike must have been wearing heels by Prada, as his height was boosted by 2.25″ when putting on his adidas.) Given Konate’s height, it’s also no surprise that his standing reach (8′ 10.5”) and wingspan (7′) were the lowest among centers.
The rising junior also participated in strength and agility drills, topping the centers participating with a standing vertical jump of 31.5″ and a vertical of 35″. His numbers in the lane agility drill, shuttle run and 3/4 court sprint were all in the mid-pack, and very good considering his body build.
What does this all mean for Konate’s decision? That’s still to be determined, with more weight to come on the results of his individual meetings with teams over the next day or two. For now, though, it’s clear that he made an impression on some observers on his first day of public work. Just like the NFL Combine, that doesn’t necessarily equate to a potential high draft selection, or a strong recommendation from scouts, but his performance so far doesn’t rule him out, either.
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Two more practice games are scheduled today beginning at 3:00 p.m., with more drills and player interviews with individual teams continuing through Sunday.