Top 5 Players with the Highest Vertical Jump in the NBA Draft Combine


Keon Johnson
Credit: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NBA Draft Combine is where rising NBA players showcase their physicality, athleticism, and mental to improve their draft stock. However, not performing to standards could ruin a player's reputation/stock.


In the 2007 NBA Draft Combine, Kevin Durant couldn't bench-press 185 pounds, which didn't affect his stock since he was still picked second in the draft. For players that are guaranteed to be selected high in the draft, the NBA Draft Combine isn't even necessary. For example, Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Jackson skipped the Combine but still were the Top 5 picks.


On the other hand, for a player that's predicted to be lower in the draft, performing well could change one's entire career. For example, the 15th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Cory Kispert, will make $5,000,000 more than the 30th pick, Santi Aldama, by the 2024-25 NBA season. Second-round picks aren't even guaranteed a contract!


Now, let's get into the exercises. The physical exercises test four different fitness components. Strength, power, speed, and agility. Here are the exercises for each component:

  • Strength: Bench Press

  • Power: Vertical Jump

  • Speed: 3/4 Court Sprint

  • Agility: Lane Agility Drill and Reactive Shuttle Run

Out of the five exercises, the one we'll be focusing on is the vertical jump. There's the standing vertical jump and running max vertical jump, and we will only be including the player's RUNNING MAX VERTICAL JUMP. Although it's just one of five exercises, one's vertical jump helps scouts/coaches predict a player's ability to grab rebounds, block shots, and finish at the rim!


Without further delay, here are the players with the highest vertical jumps in the NBA Draft Combine! Also, since some players have similar max vertical jumps, we'll be including every player that records the respective max vertical jump.

 

Table of Contents:

  1. 43 Inches: Four Players

  2. 43.5 Inches: Five Players

  3. 44 Inches: Four Players

  4. 44.5 Inches: Two Players

  5. 48 Inches: One Player

 

43 Inch Vertical Jump: Four Players

Since there is more than one player here, I'll also include links to each player so you can skip to the player you're interested in. Here are the players with a 43-inch vertical jump:

  • Matt Santangelo: 2000

  • Keifer Skyes: 2015

  • Marcus Thornton: 2015

  • Justin Anderson: 2015

Matt Santangelo: 2000 NBA Draft Combine

Matt Santangelo is starting off our list of players with the fifth-highest vertical jump in the NBA Draft Combine. Santangelo was a 6'1" Point Guard entering the 2000 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, Santangelo would go undrafted even with the highest vertical jump in that year's draft combine.

Santangelo played for two teams in Italy (Poliform Cantu and Benetton Treviso) and Spain (Caja San Fernando). It seems like Santangelo's vertical helped his rebounding because at 6'1," in his first season overseas, he was grabbing 3.0 rebounds per game! However, afterwards, his rebounding numbers decreased along with most of his stats:

  • 2000-01: 12.3 Points, 3.0 Rebounds, 1.6 Assists, 2.3 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks

  • 2004-05: 6.9 Points, 1.9 Rebounds, 3.1 Assists, 0.5 Steals, and 0 Blocks

Since Santangelo played overseas and almost two decades ago, there isn't a stat to indicate his percentage when shooting near the rim. Instead, we'll use 2P%, but that might not accurately predict Santangelo's ability to finish at the basket. For all we know, maybe he was a good mid-range shooter. Santangelo's career 2P% was 46.3% which is pretty good!

As for his professional basketball career in college, he averaged the exact numbers, and the only difference is that he was somewhat of a better shot-blocker. In the 1998-99 season, Santangelo's junior year, he averaged 0.4 blocks per game.

In total, Santangelo ended up with 14 blocks that season, the 13th most in the West Coast Conference. That might not seem impressive, but Santangelo was the only guard with more than 14 blocks in the conference. His 6'11" teammate, Axel Dench, ended with the same total number of blocks!


Keifer Sykes: 2015 NBA Draft Combine

The following three players recorded the fifth-highest vertical jump in the NBA Draft Combine. Sykes is a 6'0" Point Guard and, like Santangelo, went undrafted. Instead of immediately going overseas like Santangelo, Sykes ended up with the Spurs' G-League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, in the 2015-16 season.


Sykes was probably the Spurs' fifth-sixth best player. He was decent, but not that impressive. In the 2015-2016 G-League Season, he averaged 12/4/3/ while shooting 44.6% from the field and playing 31 minutes per game. 82.9% of his shots were within the arc. Based on his Summer League play in 2021, he's much more of a slasher than a mid-range shooter, which isn't surprising due to his vertical jump.


In the 2015-2016 G-League Playoffs, Sykes' play improved tremendously. He averaged 18/3/3 and shot 52.9% from the field while playing 36 minutes per game. Unfortunately, the Spurs would lose to the Los Angeles D-Fenders, 1-2 in the Semifinals.


In the 2019-2020 season, Sykes played in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Loong-Lions. As a 6'0" Point Guard, he averaged 5.3 rebounds per game! Yongpeng Zheng, their starting Center (I think), averaged fewer rebounds (4.7) than Sykes. Zheng is 7'0!" To be fair, Sykes played nine more minutes than Zheng per game.


Also, Sykes was the Loong-Lions' best player. Sykes averaged:


28.2 Points, 5.3 Rebounds, 6.1 Assists, 1.5 Steals, and 0.1 Blocks

48.0 FG%, 33.0 3P%, 90.6 FT%

36 Minutes


Keifer Sykes definitely used his vertical jump to his advantage. There are various YouTube videos of him dunking at 5'11," and he participated in the G-League's Slam Dunk Contest in 2016. However, he lost to Johnathan Jordan.


Recently, Sykes signed a contract with the Indiana Pacers, so hopefully, that goes well for him!


Marcus Thornton: 2015 NBA Draft Combine

Marcus Thornton is the second 2015 NBA Draft Combine prospect with a 43-inch max vertical jump.

Thornton is a 6'4" Shooting Guard that got drafted by an NBA team, unlike the previous two. In the 2015 NBA Draft, Thornton was selected by the Boston Celtics as the 45th pick. There is another Marcus Thornton that is also a 6'4" Shooting Guard, but he was selected in the 2009 NBA Draft.


Unfortunately, Thornton never played with the Boston Celtics in the NBA. He did play in the Summer League but only averaged 5.1 points and 1.1 rebounds while shooting horribly from the field (38.5%) and three-point line (20.0%).


In the 2017-18 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers signed Thornton to a 10-day contract but was assigned to the G-League. The Cavaliers wouldn't sign Thornton to a second 10-day contract, so Thornton played the rest of the 2017-18 season for the Cavaliers' G-League affiliate, the Canton Charge.


Thornton played well with the Canton Charge, unlike his stint with the Boston Celtics during the 2015 Summer League. He averaged:


18.8 Points, 2.9 Rebounds, 3.4 Assists, 0.7 Steals, and 0.1 Blocks

41.6 FG%, 38.8 3P%, 77.4 FT%

36 Minutes


Out of everybody thus far, Thornton is the only player not to have averaged more than three rebounds per game. The most rebounds Thornton's averaged per season is 2.9 when he played with the Canton Charge. Although he hasn't averaged three rebounds per game, similar to Sykes, Thornton uses his vertical jump to help him get to the basket smoothly.


Justin Anderson: 2015 NBA Draft Combine

Finally, the last player with the fifth highest vertical jump in the 2015 NBA Draft Combine was 6'6" Small Forward Justin Anderson. Unlike everyone that has been mentioned thus far, Anderson played in the NBA. The most recent team he's been on was the Brooklyn Nets in the 2019-2020 season. The Dallas Mavericks originally drafted him in the 2015 NBA Draft as the 21st pick.


Anderson has played 226 NBA games and, besides the Mavericks and Nets, was on the Philadelphia 76ers from 2016-18 and the Atlanta Hawks from 2018-19. His best season was in 2016-2017 with the 76ers. He averaged:


8.5 Points, 4.0 Rebounds, 1.4 Assists, 0.5 Steals, and 0.3 Blocks

46.3 FG%, 29.2 3P%, 78.0 FT%

22 Minutes


Even though Anderson is taller than Sykes by six inches, Anderson still got outrebounded by 1.3 rebounds. To be fair, the 'difficulty' level between the CBA and NBA is pretty significant. So far, Anderson has the highest blocks per game with 0.3, which isn't THAT much. His most blocks in a season were 25 with the Dallas Mavericks.


When looking at Anderson's shooting charts, most of his shots come from the three-point line (48.1%), even though his three-point percentage is abysmal (29.6%). He takes the second-most shots from 0-3 feet and is also most accurate from that range (69.6%). His accuracy at that range while being 6'6" might have to do with his vertical jump!


In addition, 9.6% of Anderson's points are from dunks! That's more than his field goal attempts from 10-16 feet (5.4%) and 16 feet to the three-point line (5.3%).


In the 2019-20 season, besides being on the Brooklyn Nets, Anderson also played for the Toronto Raptors G-League affiliate, the Raptors 905. He averaged:


20.7 Points, 6.8 Rebounds, 1.6 Assists, 1.2 Steals, and 0.7 Blocks

47.6 FG%, 33.9 3P%, 75.0 FT%

34 Minutes


Out of the seasons he's played in the NBA and G-League, this was by far Anderson's best season. He even got selected to the All-G League Third Team. However, I don't know if anybody's told Anderson this, but he needs to STOP shooting threes. He always hits a ton of threes, even though he's inaccurate.


43.5 Inch Vertical Jump: Five Players

Here are the players with a 43.5-inch vertical jump:

  • Nate Robinson: 2004

  • Markel Brown: 2014

  • Tyler Bey: 2020

  • Tim Bowers: 2004

  • Demetrius Jackson: 2016

Nate Robinson: 2004 NBA Draft Combine

To start, the player with the fourth-highest vertical jump in the NBA Draft Combine is Nate Robinson. Does Robinson even need an introduction? Only standing at 5'9," Robinson was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the 2005 NBA Draft as the 21st pick. However, he ended up being traded to the New York Knicks. For the next eleven seasons, Robinson would play with eight teams!


Robinson is tied for the 13th shortest player in NBA history! Even though he was severely undersized, that didn't stop him from being one of the best slashers and dunkers in the NBA. Obviously, it's a bit hard to dunk in-game when you're 5'9," but thankfully, the Dunk Contest allowed Robinson to show off that 43.5 vertical jump.


Dunking at 5'9" is already hard enough, but in the 2009 Dunk Contest, Robinson dunked over Dwight Howard, who's 6'10!" Since the Dunk Contest started in 1984, the only player that has won three Dunk Contests is Nate Robinson (2006, 2009-10)! It also wasn't like Robinson didn't have any tough opponents. Here were some of the players Robinson had to beat to win the contests:

  • 2006: Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala

  • 2009: Dwight Howard and J.R. Smith

  • 2010: DeMar Derozan and Gerald Wallace

Besides his dunking, although Robinson has only recorded 42 blocks within 618 games when Robinson does block another player, it's always legendary. In a playoff game between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, Robsinson blocked LeBron James (6'9") from behind.


In an even more impressive feat, in a game between the Rockets and Knicks, Robinson blocked Yao Ming (7'6"), who was at that time, the tallest player in the NBA.


Like Justin Anderson, Robinson shot most of his shots from the three-point line (38.8%) but was most accurate when shooting from 0-3 feet (56.8%).


Finally, in the 2008-09 season, Robinson averaged 3.9 rebounds per game! Robinson only averaged 0.2 fewer rebounds than Jared Jeffries, who was 6'11!"


Markel Brown: 2014 NBA Draft Combine

Markel Brown is a 6'3" Shooting Guard drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2014 NBA Draft as the 22nd pick. Like Robinson, Brown got traded to the Brooklyn Nets on draft night, and Brown's NBA career was short-lived. He played for the Nets from 2014-16 and returned to the NBA in the 2017-18 season to play four games for the Houston Rockets.


Brown's NBA Draft Combine max vertical jump was 43.5 inches, but it might have been even higher. B