Looking Back at My 2015 Draft Predictions: What went wrong and what went right

Last year was my first year formally publishing my thoughts on a draft class, and needless to say I got a lot of things wrong. I have some calls that I’m proud of, but a lot of things that I look back on with regret. In order to get good at any form of prediction you need to be constantly evaluating your past predictions; what went wrong, what went right, and why. The more I understand why certain NBA players succeed and why others fail the better I should be at applying it to next year’s draft class. This is going to be a long post, so buckle in and feel free to skip around. I’m going to look at every single first-rounder from last year, and then comment on just a few second rounders and un-drafted guys worth noting. It goes without saying that the book on all these rookies is no where near closed, but these are just my takes based on the current information at hand.

  1. Karl Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves – My Big Board Rank: 1

I’m happy I had KAT #1 on my board, but I’m still not necessarily happy with what I wrote about him. I thought he was a good #1 pick, and didn’t understand just how good he was going to be, and especially how fast he would be that good. The biggest thing I underestimated was his fluidity attacking the basket in face-up situations – he never really showed that in Kentucky’s system, but there still were moments like this that I should have placed more mental weight on.

Kentucky’s unique team situation is going to come up a lot in this post, and in Towns case the fact that he still put up #1 pick worthy stats despite having to share the ball so much should’ve been a sign of just how incredible this guy is. I fully believe he’s going to be the best center in the NBA within 2 years, and really think I might take his future over Anthony Davis’s.

2. D’Angelo Russell – Los Angeles Lakers – My Big Board Rank: 2

Playing in Byron Scott’s maddening rotation and system it was hard to get a good feel for D’Angelo Russell’s future prospects. He certainly didn’t quite live up to my expectations for him, but also showed a lot of promise during parts of the season. I think the biggest issues with my evaluation of him were underestimating how much his lack of NBA PG athleticism would hurt his ability to create space and defend, and that I had too much confidence in his elite shooting numbers from college.

I still think he can be a really damn good player in today’s NBA with his combination of passing and pull-up shooting, but he’s destined to be a bad defender and a poor scorer inside the arc. He showed enough flashes of his incredible skill set that I’m not too upset with my evaluation, but I definitely was a little too optimistic due to how much I enjoyed watching him play.

3. Jahlil Okafor – Philadelphia 76ers – My Big Board Rank: 3

Jahlil in many ways played into exactly what his naysayers think of him, but showed just enough good things to maintain some enigma status. He’s pretty clearly going to be a very good interior scorer at the NBA level, despite lacking athleticism, and showed more as a jump shooter than many expected. However, his truly horrific defense and inability to function in an efficient modern offense were also very apparent.

Still, looking back on things I was definitely a little too hopeful when it came to both Jahlil’s defensive potential and how effective his offense can be in a modern context. He’s still got some hope of turning into a decent defender due to his natural length and decent mobility, but this year suggested that if he ever does end up a decent defender it is going to be a long way down the road. Offensively, a better version of Enes Kanter is definitely valuable, and that’s what Jahlil looks like, but he also might be best suited to a Kanter-like off the bench role long term. In both his and D’Angelo’s case I fell for guys who are likely negative defenders that aren’t quite good enough on offense for it not to matter. Perhaps an important consideration for non-athletes in this year’s class like Jamal Murray and Henry Ellenson.

4. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks – My Big Board Rank: 11

If only I could’ve flipped Kristaps and Jahlil’s rankings on my big board last year. I could probably write a full post on Kristaps – seeing as just how low I was on him and just how good he has been. In terms of his NBA future I think Kristaps still might be a touch overrated, he showed a lot more shot creating than I expected, but still not enough where he ever projects as a Dirk like fulcrum. However, he looks like he’s going to be a borderline future star as someone who provides significant plus value for his position on both the offensive and defensive end.

The biggest thing I missed in my evaluation of Kristaps was his general basketball IQ and feel for the game. He remains a somewhat awkward and stiff-mover, but I think I mistakenly applied that awkwardness of movement to some flaw in court awareness. On the contrary, Kristaps awareness on both the defensive and offensive end was far above what I expected.

My other big mistake with Kristaps was underestimating just how much it matters to be a solid NBA athlete for a 6’10 guy but stand at 7’2 with crazy long arms. His combination of just solid athleticism with completely outlier length is what allowed him to make an immediate impact on the defensive end, and makes it so much easier for him to provide some shot creation value since no one can challenge his shot. There are two crazy freaky long guys in this year’s class who also possess NBA PF/C mobility in Zhou Qi and Jonathan Jeanne, and I wonder if other people aren’t similarly underrating them for that same reason I underrated Kristaps.

5. Mario Hezonja – Orlando Magic – My Big Board Rank: 6

In general I would say my evaluation of specifically Hezonja was pretty accurate. He had typical rookie struggles in terms of defense and adjusting to the athleticism of NBA defenses, but also showed he belonged on the court due to his combination of shooting, athleticism, and some understanding of the game. Statistically his rookie year wasn’t very impressive, but he looks like he will be a solid NBA wing in the future.

Where my evaluation went wrong with Hezonja isn’t with anything necessarily specific to him, but instead in my underestimating of just how good so many of his compatriots in this class will be. For him to develop into a deserving NBA starter he will need to improve on his 35% shooting from deep, as he’s going to need to be a gravitational threat on offense to make up for what will probably be below average-mediocre defense down the road. I probably ranked him too high due to my affection for his demeanor and how much I wanted him to succeed.

6. Willie Cauley-Stein – Sacramento Kings – My Big Board Rank: 9

Cauley-Stein didn’t garner as much national attention as a bunch of other rookies, but nonetheless had a very promising rookie year. Playing a lot of minutes next to Demarcus Cousins isn’t the best way to showcase Cauley-Stein’s potential, but he still managed to look like a future very good defensive player and showed a little more skill and coordination on non-dunk finishes than I expected. WCS actually had the second best NetRTG of any player on the Kings this year, which is super impressive for a rookie – all typical complaints about NetRTG notwithstanding.

In terms of my ranking/evaluation I think I was pretty right about how good his defense would be and a little too low on how useful of a player he could be on the offensive end. It is weird to say that I think my evaluation of him was relatively correct as was my evaluation of Hezonja when I had Hezonja ahead of him and I would definitely have WCS ahead now. I would say that last year the guys in the 5-11 range were all super closely bunched for me, and I was a little too high on Hezonja and a little too low on WCS, resulting in their flawed comparative rankings.

7. Emmanuel Mudiay – Denver Nuggets – My Big Board Rank: 5

Mudiay is similar to Hezonja in that I don’t have any huge problems with what I wrote about Mudiay himself, but do have problems with where I ranked him in respect to other players. I will say I’m happy I stuck with Russell>Mudiay, as though that is still up in the air I would stick to that prediction with more confidence a year later.

Mudiay’s stats from this year are horrible, but the huge offensive responsibility he had to shoulder as a rookie makes his efficiency numbers a bit more palatable. It’s unclear if Mudiay is ever going to be a top-20 point guard, as he will need to show real improvements in his defense, ball security, and efficiency to provide value as an NBA player.

Mudiay is certainly a concerning tale for someone like Kris Dunn – he’s got NBA size, athleticism, and vision for a point guard, but the NBA point guard position is so stacked you need even more than that to be successful. I think Mudiay has a long term future as an NBA starter, I’m just not sure he’s the type of player who will ever be able to start on a good NBA team. The biggest issue with my evaluation of him last year is more with my misunderstanding of what type of value a player in his role can bring than what type of player Mudiay would be.

8. Stanley Johnson – Detroit Pistons – My Big Board Rank: 7

Johnson continues this stretch of players in the 4-14 range who I had all very close together last year and had promising rookie years that haven’t exactly cleared up who deserves to be where. The concerning thing with Johnson this year was his 30.7% from three, if he can’t get that up he’s going to be struggle to be anything more than a bench piece in today’s NBA. However, his defense and ability to create shots for himself and others translated well, and he’s an outside shot away from looking like a very good and versatile wing starter down the road.

In terms of my evaluation I probably didn’t fully account for his chances of not shooting well from the NBA 3-point line, but the fact that he still earned minutes on a playoff team makes me feel fine with what I wrote about him. I also am fairly optimistic about his outside shot improving, and in retrospect wish I had ranked him ahead of Hezonja. He’s better in basically every area other than shooting, and if he improves his outside shot to just 34/35% I’m pretty confident he’ll be the better NBA player.

9. Frank Kaminsky – Charlotte Hornets – My Big Board Rank: 10

I would say Frank the Tank slightly underwhelmed my expectations for his rookie year, when you factor in his age in comparison to so many of the other rookies. He still earned real rotation minutes on a good team and at least cleared up concerns that he wouldn’t be able to survive defensively in the NBA. I think I overestimated how much he would be able to create against NBA athletes and just how good an outside shooter he was, but he at least is going to be a rotation big in the NBA for a while, and could be even better if he gets more comfortable scoring against NBA athletes.

All of that being said, looking back on last year’s draft my single biggest regret is ranking Kaminsky ahead of Porzingis. Kaminsky looks like an NBA rotation player, mayyyybeee a starter, Porzinigis looks like a legitimate all-star. I covered what I missed on Porzingis already, but that is still the type of egregious error worth noting because it bothers me so much. I would say the general trend in my mistakes from last year is liking un-athletic guys ability to translate creation skills against NBA athletes too much, and relying on draft models a little too much. Smarts and feel for the game are certainly important, but I think I placed a little too much emphasis on those qualities in comparison to athleticism/tools.

10. Justise Winslow – Miami Heat – My Big Board Rank: 4

As is the case with all the Duke guys (I really need to check my personal favoritism better) I was a little too high on Winslow last year. I had way too much confidence in his outside shot, and overestimated how good the rest of his creation/offensive game would be. Still, I’m not unhappy with ranking him ahead of the other wings Hezonja, Stan, and Kelly Oubre. His defense for a rookie was simply outstanding, and he looks like a true All-Defense level player down the road.

Winslow looks like the rare player who could actually be a valuable wing without significant creation ability or outside shooting, but his value would still be severely hampered if he never develops a semi-reliable outside shot. If he does become an adequate outside shooter I think my ranking of 4th is probably going to be accurate as he will be a very good two-way player, but as it stands everything depends on the outside shot. In general, more skepticism surrounding translation of guys outside shots is probably healthy.

11. Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers – My Big Board Rank: 8

I’m happy I was a little higher on Turner than most, happy that I had him ahead of WCS and Kaminsky, but still wish I had been even more aggressive in my ranking of him. His defense and ability to protect the rim translated just as I would’ve hoped, but I underrated his coordination in scoring rolling to the rim and ability to generate mid-range J’s at a high level. He’s going to be a very good two-way center, and I should’ve really considered putting him ahead of Jahlil.

With Kristaps I had more obvious blind spots as to what he would be good at, but with Turner I had pretty good idea and just didn’t fully reflect that in my ranking. The guy was a reasonable athlete with NBA center size, good stats, and real shooting ability, in some ways thinking about things more than that is just overthinking. I don’t think a single big in this year’s class is as good as Turner, but maybe in the case of someone like Stephen Zimmerman who has the size/athleticism/skill combo we should try and stop over-thinking so much.

12. Trey Lyles – Utah Jazz – My Big Board Rank: 21

I would say I am generally happy with my evaluations of the guys in the 5-11 range, but most unhappy with 1-4 and the 12-14 range right here. Lyles, like Porzingis, is someone who I really missed the evaluation on. The most obvious thing I missed with Lyles is his outside shooting, he was the one player whose ability I really underestimated as I didn’t think he would be an NBA three-point shooter and he shot 38% on 128 attempts. I probably should’ve focused more on just how cramped spacing was for Kentucky’s shooters and that he had the fluidity to comfortably take off the dribble jumpers.

The other area where I was wrong is Lyles defense, he has all the tools to be a solid power forward defender in the NBA but I judged him on the poor stats he accumulated playing mostly as small-forward in Kentucky’s weird scheme. That’s just bad analysis on my part, and placing too much emphasis on defensive stats over tools is certainly an issue. I also probably slightly undervalued just how unique Lyles was in his combination of fluidity/handles attacking from the perimeter for someone as big and athletic as he was. He looks like he’s going to be a very good NBA power forward, and I was way off in his case.

13. Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns – My Big Board Rank: 22

Here comes the other player I was super wrong about! I will say I think the optimism about Booker has gotten a touch out of hand, he still looks like he’s going to be a negative on defense down the road, and I don’t think he’ll ever be successful in the point guard role Phoenix gave him towards the end of the season. Where I was wrong in assuming that his negative defense would outweigh the value he brought on the offensive end, as he’s pretty clearly going to be enough of a + on offense to make up for his defense.

Booker is the one player where I’m still not really sure what I could’ve seen in his film/stats that would’ve changed my opinion on him. He simply didn’t show the type of creation ability he has at Kentucky. That being said, he did always look very composed and aesthetically pleasing with the ball, and I guess I should’ve placed more emphasis on such a young kid looking so poised and natural with the ball. I don’t think he’s going to be the star some are projecting, but he’s definitely going to be a much more well-rounded and impactful offensive player than I expected.

What’s confusing about Booker, is that his basic profile of un-athletic/good feel for the game is exactly where I went wrong in overrating so many other players. I think it’s possible the smoothness with which he moves undersells his athleticism a bit, but that’s one of those calls that is difficult to make watching from behind a laptop screen. Booker’s success is really interesting to me and he is the player who I still am most unsure why he succeeded.

14. Cameron Payne – Oklahoma City Thunder – My Big Board Rank: 17

I was definitely a little too low on Payne’s game as a whole. I probably was a little too harsh on his size/athleticism, as he looks like an NBA guy out there on the defensive end. On offense I didn’t place enough weight on just how smooth and good he is with the ball in his hands. I’m not sure how good Payne is going to be down the line, he only shot 32.4% from three this year, but he looks like a capable scorer and creator who is good enough on D to be a starting level NBA point guard.

The biggest issue with my Payne evaluation is where I had him in respect to other point guards as I had him behind Mudiay, Tyus Jones, and Delon Wright. Between him and Mudiay is a pretty good debate over whether you value looking good in small minutes or bad in huge minutes, but he definitely should’ve been ahead of Jones and Wright. I don’t think there’s that much to be learned from what I said about Payne specifically, I should’ve just been a little higher on all aspects of his game.

15. Kelly Oubre – Washington Wizards – My Big Board Rank: 12

Oubre, like Payne, didn’t play enough this season for us to get all that much of a grasp on his NBA future. Though, not playing that much for the Wizards is slightly more damning than getting few minutes on a team like the Thunder. From a statistical perspective, Oubre was pretty awful in his time on the floor, only shooting 31.6% from three and doing other typically bad rookie things. As an admittedly somewhat biased Wizards fan I was probably much more impressed with him than the average NBA fan. He’s got a long way to go to looking like he knows what he’s doing on an NBA court, but he definitely looked like a guy who belonged on an NBA floor from a skill/athleticism standpoint.

My ranking of 12 for him was definitely too high with the way guys like Lyles and Booker played, and I probably overestimated his immediate NBA readiness, but I’m still fairly optimistic he’s going to turn into a good rotation wing once he’s been freed from Randy Wittman. Again, Oubre is an example of being more skeptical about guys outside shots being a good idea.

16. Terry Rozier – Boston Celtics – My Big Board Rank: 40

I admittedly did not watch many of Rozier’s 311 minutes this season. Boston has a deep guard rotation so his lack of playing time isn’t a death knell, but the stats he did accumulate in his few minutes are about as putrid as it gets. In the D-League he put up pretty good box score stuffing stats but still struggled with his scoring efficiency. I don’t have too much to say about Rozier – I didn’t think he would be a real NBA player coming into the year and nothing he’s done has changed that – but it isn’t like we’ve seen enough of him to know for sure either way.

17. Rashad Vaughn – Milwaukee Bucks – My Big Board Rank: 26

Vaughn played a much more healthy than Rozier 1001 minutes, but managed to be almost equally bad statistically despite playing so many minutes for a real NBA team. His biggest strength coming into the draft was his shooting ability and he only shot 29% from three on 140 attempts. From what I did see of Vaughn he didn’t look out of place on the NBA court, but he also looked a long way away from being anything approaching a useful NBA player.

My ranking of him in the mid-20’s was probably fair in a strong class like this – he looks like he has a chance at becoming an NBA rotation piece but is not a confident bet to meet even that threshold.

18. Sam Dekker – Houston Rockets – My Big Board Rank: 16

Dekker dealt with injuries for much of the season, ultimately playing a total of 6 NBA minutes and only 162 D-League minutes. His D-League numbers were uninspiring, but taking anything from that small a minute sample for someone recovering from injury is probably foolish. I am definitely moving him down in my rankings due to him not showing anything positive this year, but he also didn’t necessarily show all that much negative either.

19. Jerian Grant – New York Knicks – My Big Board Rank: 24

Knicks reporters/twitter clamored for Grant to get more minutes, but he did play enough for us to draw some conclusions on his NBA future. He’s an example of another rookie who struggled with their outside shot, shooting only 22% from deep on 100 attempts. If he can’t shoot the ball from three he’s probably not an NBA player, but he did show some real NBA passing/creation and non-awful enough defense that there’s reason for optimism if he turns the shot around.

I probably both had too much confidence in his outside shot and was a little too harsh on his college defense due to his solid physical tools. I think I should move him up a little bit but am altogether pretty fine with my evaluation.

20. Delon Wright – Toronto Raptors – My Big Board Rank: 13

Delon’s 229 NBA minutes shouldn’t mean that much, but since I was so high on him to begin with I still manage to take the optimistic look. He put up good numbers for a rookie point guard in those minutes, and the fact that he couldn’t get playing time over Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph isn’t really a bad sign. In the D-League he shot an encouraging 36% from three and dominated the box score the way you would hope someone of his age/talent level would.

I was almost certainly too high on Delon – placing too much emphasis on his great college stats and not focusing enough on his mediocre athleticism and ball skills – but I am still optimistic that his great feel for the game combined with decent tools will turn him into an NBA point guard. It’s probably silly to still have him above Jerian Grant, but I don’t think Grant was good enough to where I can’t indulge myself a little longer. Hopefully he does get into a situation where he can earn minutes because not getting to play for two years behind Toronto’s great point guards could seriously derail his career.

21. Justin Anderson – Dallas Mavericks – My Big Board Rank: 23

Just a month ago I wouldn’t have had much to say about Anderson, but after his incredible finish to the season for the Mavericks things have gotten a lot more interesting. He only shot 26.5% from three, but he did a great job slashing to the basket and contributing on the defensive side of the ball. Like so many others, he’s probably a small rotation piece at best without the outside shot. Encouragingly, he showed that he’s almost certainly a useful NBA player if he can hit from three at an even decent clip.

I expected Anderson to be a good defensive player, but I think I undersold just how much he’d be able to use his athleticism to contribute on both ends of the floor. He’s still not a guaranteed long term NBA player by any means, but I definitely wish I had ranked him a little higher.

22. Bobby Portis – Chicago Bulls – My Big Board Rank: 19

Portis’s twitter hype oversold how promising his rookie year was. He looks like he’s going to be an NBA player for sure, and if he can improve his three-point shot past 30.8% he might even be a decent starter way in the future. That is more promising than I expected, and I probably underrated his combination of solid tools/skills with a great mentality. Still, I think the hype as gone a little too far and don’t think my ranking of 19th will ultimately look that bad. He’s going to be better than some of the guys I had ranked ahead of him for sure, but I don’t think he’s going to make me as regretful as Lyles, Booker, or Porzingis.

23. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – Brooklyn Nets – My Big Board Rank: 20

Injuries held RHJ to only 615 minutes on a team in which he had ample opportunity to be one of the better players. He didn’t really test his three-point shot, only shooting 14 times from three, but shot a solid 71.2% from the stripe and showed some improvement in his midrange jumper. Justise Winslow got a lot more national attention, but I think RHJ was equally if not more impressive on the defensive end of the court this season.

Like Justise, RHJ looks well on the way to becoming one of the truly elite wing defenders in the league, someone that can have value even without an outside shot. The concerning thing is that his outside shot is seemingly even farther away than athletic wing defenders like Winslow and Justin Anderson. Either way, he was so freaking good on defense as a rookie that I definitely was too low on him, and really should’ve cared more about the fact that he was one of the few guys with a truly elite skill in the draft.

24. Tyus Jones – Minnesota Timberwolves – My Big Board Rank: 15

Tyus is the final example of my Duke bias coming into play, and adds on some caring too much about draft models and un-athletic guys with good feel. In his limited minutes for Minnesota this season he looked predictably bad on defense, and looked good in terms of creating shots for others but pretty awful in terms of scoring himself and taking care of the ball. With his size and athleticism he simply can’t be the 30.2% three-point shooter he was this season, and won’t be an NBA player for long if he can’t shoot above the 33% clip.

If he can turn the shot around I think he’ll be good enough on offense to carve out a role as a decent backup point guard, but my hopes of him becoming an NBA starter look foolish in retrospect. In general, the un-athletic guys struggled a lot more with their transition to the NBA, and I should watch more for guys who have the athleticism to guard their position in the NBA.

25. Jarell Martin – Memphis Grizzlies – My Big Board Rank: 37

Martin didn’t get the chance to play for the first half of the season, but when the injury bug hit Memphis down the stretch he was thrust into some real important playing time. He never played that many minutes, but he showed some signs in terms of his ability to score on the inside and be okay on the defensive end. He’s got a combination of skill and athleticism where if he can survive on the defensive end and stretch his range a little bit on offense he could turn into a very useful NBA player.

Neither of those improvements are necessarily all that likely, but he showed enough in his limited minutes that he could be a deep rotation big off his scoring ability alone. Martin is an example of a player with the athleticism and skills where I maybe should’ve looked past his poor stats and only meh defensive tools for his position.

26. Nikola Milutinov – San Antonio Spurs – My Big Board Rank: 57

Milutinov stayed overseas where he played with Olympiacos this season. I barely watched any of him this year, but he put up decent stats and from what I did see looks like he could play a small role as a 5th big in a rotation someday. I was probably too low on him, but am really not sure at this stage.

27. Larry Nance – Los Angeles Lakers – My Big Board Rank: 46

I actually had Larry Nance higher than many boards at the time, but the Lakers pick was a surprise to even his most ardent supporters. A year later it looks like a pretty smart pick for the Lakers as he showed the requisite smarts and athleticism to somewhat defend his position as a rookie and had an array of highlights finishing the ball around the basket on the offensive end.

As a current non-stretch 4 teams might be better off just playing a wing in his stead, but he looks like someone who can play a role as a more traditional power forward in some capacity. I should’ve paid more attention to the fact that he’s an elite athlete with + feel for the game and some shooting ability.

28. R.J. Hunter – Boston Celtics – My Big Board Rank: 27

I didn’t watch many of Hunter’s minutes this season, so this commentary is mostly on the stats he put up. The key stat for Hunter is that he only shot 30.2% from three in the NBA, and similarly poorly in his D-League minutes. Hunter’s defensive stats were better than I expected, but he still is the type of player where he needs to shoot much better from outside to have a shot at an NBA career. I probably was too harsh on his athleticism and tools last year, but underrated the likelihood of him struggling with his shot at the NBA level.

29. Chris McCullough – Brooklyn Nets – My Big Board Rank: 28

McCullough only played small minutes after returning from his ACL injury, but looked pretty good for someone as supposedly raw as him returning from an ACL injury. His athleticism to make plays popped on the defensive end much like it did at Syracuse, and he showed some promising signs of an NBA three-point shot. It’s yet to be determined if he has the requisite skill and smarts to fit in the NBA, but his athleticism clearly translates to some NBA usefulness. I probably should’ve ranked him higher on his combination of athleticism and maybe shooting ability alone.

30. Kevon Looney – Golden State Warriors – My Big Board Rank: 14

When I made my ranking of Looney I wasn’t aware of the severity of his hip injury, which dramatically derailed his rookie season. He only played 22 minutes in the NBA, and 230 solid but unspectacular D-League minutes. Not sure there’s too much to take away other than that I underestimated how serious the injury was – still would standby him being a better prospect than Portis, though I have more confidence in Portis’s future at this point.

37. Richaun Holmes – Philadelphis 76ers – My Big Board Rank: 32

Holmes was one of the few bright spots in the Sixers season, looking like a guy who can be a good defensive 4 if he refines his outside shot or a good enough defender to get by playing some small ball 5. I was reasonably high on Holmes, and he seems like the type of big guy worth taking a shot on in the second round. Athletic enough above the rim to maybe play small ball 5 and quick enough on the perimeter to play a traditional 4 role, with some promise of an outside shot. I’d much rather draft bigs who have potential 4/5 versatility in the second round than someone who seems strictly one way or the other. Robert Carter is the name that pops to mind in this year’s class with that type of skill set.

40. Josh Richardson – Miami Heat – My Big Board Rank: 61

Richardson looks like the steal of the second round, and a potential big money prototypical 3-and-D wing. At Tennesse he was forced to play a lot with the ball in his hands, which hurt some of his stats, but I should’ve accepted it as more of a strictly good sign about his creation ability for a wing. I ranked other two-guards like Pat Connaughton, Darrun Hilliard, and Anthony Brown ahead of him due to superior shooting profiles, but it looks like I should’ve paid more attention to the defensive profile instead. I doubt Richardson will continue to shoot the ball as well as he has so far, but it seems like a good rule to pay more attention to second round wings defense than shooting – since shooting is so variable.

46. Norman Powell – Toronto Raptors – My Big Board Rank: 63

The mistake I made with Powell seems very similar to the one I made with Richardson. Both had more ball handling duties than similar wings which hurt their stats, and neither had a great looking outside shooting portfolio. What both of them did have is incredible athleticism, with the physical tools to compete on both ends at the NBA. I’m definitely going to try and take a closer look at wings with ball skills and elite athleticism, and care less about their NCAA stats and shooting ability.


All in all, I did far from a good job in my first year going at this. The NBA draft is one of the hardest markets of predictions, which is why I like trying so much, but I still think I can do a much better job in the future. I’ll be trying to incorporate what I’ve learned from last year’s class into this one, and hopefully improving on my own performance.


5 thoughts on “Looking Back at My 2015 Draft Predictions: What went wrong and what went right

  1. Russell was a very decent on-ball defender this season. I don’t know how many Lakers games you saw but he is definitely not “destined to be a bad defender.” He has great tools and has shown good instincts


    • Admittedly did not watch a ton of LA games, but from what I did see he looked pretty inattentive and slow on that end. Has good size and decent instincts, but not sure if I would call his tools great, and doesn’t seem very committed to that end of the court. Will watch more closely in the future.


  2. I think you should spare yourself from the labor of this sort of exercise in the future. For the most part one year just does not give you enough information to make these sort of relative ranking adjustments.

    One thing we might be able to do though is say something like, “I thought before that Mudiay had AS potential, but he was so bad over so many minutes and opportunities that I think we can basically rule that out even at this time. His ceiling is probably ‘good starter’.” Or, “I once thought Towns had AS potential, but he was so good over so many minutes and opportunities that I now think he’s a sure fire HoFer if his body holds up.” But there are not many guys who gave us so much and such strong information in one year.


  3. I’d disagree with Gavolt’s comment. I find this type of exercise extremely helpful to improving analysis. The one area I’d agree with Gavolt is that it could be interesting looking at the analysis year-over-year — good example being D’Angelo Russell where even after a year you have one POV, while Xochilt has another.

    Also could be instructive to explore the evolution of guys like Booker that profile one way out of college and develop another way in the pros.

    Enjoyed this lookback though.


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