My Take: Martin vs. Mickey in Draft

TSD publisher Ben Love shares his thoughts on the fluctuating draft stocks of former LSU Tigers Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey.

The 2015 NBA Draft Combine came and went in the Windy City last week, and a pair of All-SEC Tigers have seen their draft stocks twist in the wind, going in opposite directions, since the events in Chicago.

Via a horde of media reports, Jordan Mickey helped himself immensely by participating in the 5-on-5 portion of the Combine, viewed by onlookers as far and away the best shot-blocker on the floor. He also impressed, as was expected, with his physical measurements, in particular the 7-foot, 3.25-inch wingspan.

On the other side of the ledger, Jarell Martin declined to play in the open-floor portion of the proceedings and, in the estimations of some NBA reporters, has dropped a rung on the ladder due to non-overwhelming measurements.

Here are the measurement results for Martin and Mickey.

Jarell Martin

Height with Shoes: 6-9.25, Weight: 238.6 pounds, Wingspan: 6-9.75, Body Fat: 10.1%, Hand Width: 8.25 inches, Standing Vertical: 28.5 inches, Max Vertical: 34.5 inches

Jordan Mickey

Height with Shoes: 6-8.25, Weight: 238.0 pounds, Wingspan: 7-3.25, Body Fat: 7.2%, Hand Width: 9.5 inches, Standing Vertical: 33.0 inches, Max Vertical: 37.5 inches


The sum total of these numerical indicators plus Mickey's reportedly strong play in five-on-five work have led a number of Draft analysts to bump Mickey up to a projected late first round pick, or close to it, while docking Martin a few spots, placing him on the fringe of the first round, which contains 30 selections.

In one way I believe it's extremely just. In another I'd caution NBA executives not to place too much stock in Combine results.

To the first point there never should have been a wide gulf of separation between Martin and Mickey in terms of their draft stocks.

That Martin was seen as a top 25 draft pick around the time he declared on March 25 wasn't the issue. It's a valuation that still holds water for me. The problem was Mickey was being undersold, perhaps even significantly, because of a relatively poor, injury-plauged end to his season and a nightmarish choke to halt the Tigers' season in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 64.

Now, the other dilemma with Mickey - one that's still fair to point out - is his position ambiguity.

Where does Mickey fit in the NBA?
A career power forward through his prep and collegiate days, many have questioned whether Mickey can hack it at the three or as an undersized four in the Association. So went the thinking, his mid-range to outside jumper isn't strong enough for him to sustain offensively.

All that makes for worthy debate. But the reality is the NBA, a little like LSU under Johnny Jones, isn't as hard-bound these days when it comes to pigeon-holing players into positions one through five.

It's more about skill sets than it is positions.

And in that sense Mickey, the nation's leading shot-blocker in 2015 who rejected 219 shots in two campaigns in Baton Rouge, can help an NBA frontline. He'll have a learning curve, and it may be severe, but in hindsight it was foolish for many to view Mickey as a borderline draftable player through 60 picks in two rounds (which up until a week or two ago, many did).

I don't believe Mickey will be an immediate impact type who pushes for starting minutes as a rookie, but there's a place for him in the first 30-40 picks of this draft. Should that come to fruition Mickey will have the last laugh after many in the basketball community laughed at him for the statement below, given to TSD the day he declared on March 31.

"I've had outside people help me make the decision. I feel I'm a first-round player," Mickey said by phone from his home in Dallas. "The people in my circle have confidence in me and they know what I'm capable of and what I can bring to the table for a team."

While Mickey's rise feels justified to me, more in line with his college production and potential with his enormous wingspan, Martin is still the better prospect in my eyes.

In fact it's almost comical that evaluators are flipping out over their respective measurements as if it's something no one already knew.

We already knew Mickey had unbelievable reach given his height. We already knew Martin, by comparison, didn't. We already knew Mickey was a little leaner than Martin.

What we also already knew, and what GMs and scouts would be best served to remember, is that Martin, in a game he only began playing competitively at age 16, made the bigger leap from year one to year two at LSU.

Martin 2014: 10.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 47.1% FGs, 27-of-81 3s (33.3%)
Martin 2015: 16.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 50.9% FGs, 14-of-52 3s (26.9%)

Mickey 2014: 12.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.1 bpg, 53.3% FGs, 69.5% FTs
Mickey 2015: 15.5 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.6 bpg, 50.4% FGs, 64.6% FTs

There's nothing to sneeze at when it comes to Mickey's spikes in production from his freshman to sophomore seasons, but they don't quite compare to Martin's ascension to becoming one of the premier offensive forwards in America.

Simply put his upside is higher than Mickey's.

Martin scores the ball better, has deeper range on his jumper (although he correctly adjusted his game to take a lot less threes in 2015) and is a terror in transition, all while pulling down a similar number of rebounds to Mickey.

The defensive advantage certainly goes to Mickey, but it is nullified a bit because he'll be more likely to guard threes than fours at the next level.

It's a head-scratcher for me that Martin opted not to play in five-on-five games, but it's also my contention that shouldn't alter his draft stock in a tangible manner.

He feels to me like he has since the season ended in Pittsburgh - a player that should go between 22 and 30 to a playoff team. As for Mickey he isn't expected to climb that high, but if he can go somewhere between 30 and 35 (where I think he belongs), his decision to come out will look a lot better.

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