I’ll have a few thoughts at the bottom, but this post is mostly about just getting my big board up. For extended thoughts on my rankings/specific players you should read the positional breakdowns I’ve released over the past week.
|15||Gary Payton II|
|70||Marshall Plumlee (more because I love him than anything)|
Some Quick Notes:
-I feel pretty confident that Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, and Jamal Murray aren’t going to return traditional lottery pick value. All of the guys have glaring flaws in their profiles, and don’t have the type of strengths to make up for them.
-I don’t feel all that confident in the guys I have replacing them in the lottery. I like Luwawu, McCaw, Zimmerman, Onuaku, Bembry and my other non-traditional lottery picks, but I’m not head over heels in love with any of them. There’s a big drop off from 3 – 4 for me, and figuring out who to put in that 4 spot was the hardest part of the big board process for me. I can come up with a lot of scenarios in which every single player I have going 4 or later really flames out of the league.
-Marquese Chriss and Jaylen Brown deserve the lottery hype, Malachi Richardson and Dejounte Murray do not. All have a ways to go in terms of their understanding of basketball, but Brown/Chriss actually have the elite physical tools where it is more projectable for them to make massive improvements. Murray and Richardson both have a lot of talent, but neither are just overflowing with avenues to NBA success like Chriss and Brown.
-Zhou Qi is the prospect I’m least confident in my ranking of, and if I knew he was 20 years old I might legitimately put him at 4. 7’2 guys with reasonable athleticism, shooting touch, and great statistical production just don’t come around very often, and while I have a lot of concerns with Qi, it’s possible everyone is overthinking things and ignoring his incredible base set of skills.
-For a couple reasons, my rankings correspond significantly less to statistical models than they did last year. Some of my biggest mistakes last year were made when I payed too much attention to draft models, and also draft models have much less of a consensus this year – both amongst each other and in correspondence with scouting mocks. As a result, I don’t have all that much confidence in which player’s stats I should actually weigh as good/bad, and instead tried to focus a lot more on the context in which the players accumulated their stats, and their actual tools on the basketball court. Still, having guys like Luwawu/Brown/Chriss/Bembry/Zimmerman so high in my rankings when they all kind of fail stat models is pretty worrying to me, and I might have overcorrected in my weighting of their importance.
-I really feel like I might be too low on Derrick Jones, and people are generally wayyy too low on him. It seems implausible that all of the UNLV guys I love will actually be as good as I project (McCaw/Zimmerman/Jones), but Jones truly has an elite athletic and defensive profile, and it is possible he should be a top-20 pick like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should have been last year.
-Looking back 5 years from now I would guess the most valuable players from this draft come from all over where they go in the actual draft, and the international crop will be represented strongly. Between Qi, Luwawu, Zubac, Zizic, Papagiannis, Korkmaz, Zagorac, Zipser, Cordinier, and even guys like Hernangomez, Yabusele, and Cornelie there is a lot of international talent, and they’re being underrated compared to their NCAA brethren.
-Denzel Valentine, Caris Levert, and Tyler Ulis all probably deserve to be moved down on this board based on their injury risk, I just have entirely no idea how significant that drop should be. I won’t fault NBA teams for letting these guys slide, though once it gets to around pick 40 Levert and Valentine are probably strictly worth the gamble.
-I emphasized versatility, and specifically defensive versatility, to a huge degree in this board. Looking at my top-10 every single guy has the potential to be a multi-positional plus on the defensive end with the exception of Zimmerman, who still has the tools to be a plus at center. I believe defense is consistently undervalued in both the draft and general NBA player valuations, and as Dean Demakis wrote yesterday defensive versatility is particularly valuable as the league continues to trend toward switch heavy schemes. However, I grant the possibility that I swung a little too far in this direction, and may have been slightly too harsh on more one-dimensional but offensively gifted prospects like Ellenson, Murray, and Demetrius Jackson.
-This is a big man heavy draft in a league that doesn’t need all that many big men. Across both the traditional center and the small ball center positions this draft is very deep, with a lot of guys who have the talent to earn NBA minutes. As Jonathan Tjarks likes to say the NBA is a zero-sum game, and it does seem unlikely all the big guys I like end up finding roles, particularly since non-star big guys are increasingly becoming 25 minute a game or less guys.
-Ben Simmons flags shouldn’t be ignored, and there’s a real chance he never tries on defense and becomes a little Carmelo Anthony-esque. AKA he puts up pretty big numbers but hurts his team on defense and needs to play like a ball-dominant star but also isn’t good enough to carry a team as their #1 option. On the other hand, the hype has died down on Simmons quite a bit and it probably shouldn’t have dampened so much. His raw talent level is pretty crazy, and his chances of becoming a legitimate NBA superstar are damn good. Particularly if Philly is smart enough to allow him to play the point guard role on offense.
-I can’t wait to look back on these rankings in a year and become enraged with all the mistakes I made. There is certainly a lot of randomness inherent in draft rankings, but I also believe humans could do much better than we currently do, and an array of biases and flawed lines of thinking prevent me (and everyone else) from predicting things as well as we can.
-This has very little to do with the draft, but Joel Embiid is coming to destroy worlds. I was an enormous fan of his when he left Kansas, and the way he’s bulked up and grown since is downright frightening. I have very little confidence in his long-term health, but I absolutely can’t wait to see what he can do on the court. This will forever be my most watched video on YouTube.