Jumping has always been a critical skill for basketball. You jump to control the opening tip. You jump to block shots. You jump to shoot or dunk. And you jump to grab rebounds. One of the NBA's most iconic images, the Air Jordan logo, is called the "Jumpman."
Basketball players have always defied gravity, but in 2014, they are jumping higher than ever. According to Draft Express, the average max vertical of players at the NBA Combine has increased significantly over the past 10 years, especially at the point guard position. In 2004, the average max vertical of point guards was 33.8 inches. In 2013, almost a decade later, it had shot up nearly five inches to 38.3 inches. All other positions (aside from center, which seems to fluctuate every year) experienced an increase as well. Just look at these average max vert figures from Draft Express:
2013: 38.3 inches
2004: 33.8 inches
2013: 36.5 inches
2004: 34.5 inches
2013: 36.9 inches
2004: 34.8 inches
2013: 35.7 inches
2004: 31.3 inches
For more evidence of the superior hops in today's NBA, look no further than this photo of Andrew Wiggins, in which he reportedly jumped 44 inches at P3 Performance. Or how about the 2013 draft class? Last year, D.J. Stephens jumped 46 inches in the air, the highest at that year's Combine. A total of fourteen players had verticals of 40 inches or better. In 2004, only two players reached that height.
Of course, each crop of NBA prospects is different. Some years have higher jumpers than others, but overall, verticals have steadily increased. And although experts can't point to a single reason why athletes are jumping higher than they used to, Alan Stein, owner of Stronger Team, says more guys are seeking Combine-specific training as they prepare for the draft. (Check out Stein's guide to dunking this year.)
All we know is that if this trend of outrageous hops continues, they might need to raise the rim another two feet sometime in the next decade.
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