Man, what a crazy draft. I tweeted this out during the night, but the degree to which this year’s draft didn’t follow any sort of consensus suggests a more contrarian big board is appropriate. If NBA team’s can’t figure out who should go where, there’s little point in sticking with Mock Draft groupthink.
Instead of traditional A/B/C…etc grades I will be handing out Love, Like, Meh, Dislike, and Hate. Granulating grades down across A+/A/A- just seems a little too exact for evaluating a team’s whole draft. The usual caveats about how silly it is to grade a team’s draft a day after the draft apply – but I’ve always found that line of thinking a little ridiculous. My grading of the draft is not meant to be a final determiner of each team’s draft, but instead purely how I would grade things with the currently available information, and nothing about that strikes me as invalid. On to the draft. Continue reading
The traditional center is a fascinating player in today’s NBA. The ability to switch pick-and-roll on the defensive end and space the floor on offense has become so coveted that interior focused big guys who can’t really move on the perimeter have become marginalized. Rim protectors still have a lot of value, as we saw with the drop-off Golden State experienced from Andrew Bogut to Festus Ezeli/Anderson Varejao, but guys who can’t guard on the perimeter have become matchup dependent role players, not 30+ minute a game guys.
Depending on how a given “traditional” 5 guards on the perimeter and just how much value they bring on offense they might be able to carve out a truer starting role, but all are fighting an uphill battle. I’m going to analyze the players in order of their DraftExpress rankings before re-ordering them into my own rankings.
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.
Before I dive into writing more player specific breakdowns for this year’s draft it is important to classify what exactly an NBA team should want out of a player they’re drafting. The positional foundation of the NBA has been shaken these past few years, and the movement to smaller 4’s and 5’s seems to be coming to a head. When evaluating players for the draft it is crucial to understand the current makeup of the NBA, and what value each player brings within that context. Continue reading
When it comes to evaluating “winners” and “losers” at something like the draft combine it’s important to know what to react to, and what not to. My thoughts are that the 5-on-5 play at the combine is largely irrelevant, but there is some information to be gleaned from measurements and athletic testing.
The 5-on-5 play is a very odd game setting that doesn’t really reflect any actual team situation, and is an incredibly small sample of minutes. To me it would seem silly to change an evaluation of a player based on one or two games in a situation dissimilar to any other type of basketball these guys will play in their careers.
Reaction to athletic testing and measurements is largely overblown. It’s easy to try and draw conclusions from different measurements or athletic numbers, but it’s only worthwhile if those numbers have proven to have value historically. So, in order to find out I asked Layne Vashro, someone who has actually backtested all the numbers to find out what is important.
Now that we know what to look for, it’s much easier to identify “winners” and “losers”. Obviously, height measurements are also of importance; I assume Layne didn’t mention them only because height isn’t seen as purely a “draft combine” thing like wingspan is.
Someone testing well athletically or not testing well still doesn’t replace what you saw in how their athleticism translated on the court, but it can add to the evaluation. Also, I will not be mentioning everyone who measured with good or bad length/jumping, but only those that did even better or worse than expected. Continue reading
If you’re reading this
it’s too late you really like basketball. More specifically, you probably are really interested in the NBA draft, and evaluating future NBA talent. The NBA Draft is fascinating for many reasons, but the inaccuracy is part of what makes it so compelling. Coming into the year, not a single person would have suggested that Minnesota was the league’s 2nd best team, or that Ramon Sessions would be the league’s second best player. However, if you go back and look at the 2009 NBA Draft, you can see that Hasheem Thabeet was picked second overall! An actual NBA front office had looked at the hundred or so potential NBA-level guys who they could draft that year, and decided Hasheem Thabeet was the second best option of that entire player pool. This is a player pool that also included MVP frontrunners James Harden and Stephen Curry, while Thabeet isn’t even in the league anymore. What makes this so incredibly crazy is that no one thought this was crazy at the time. Sure, some people disagreed and maybe would have suggested taking Thabeet a couple picks later or so, but by and large, the smartest basketball minds in the world thought this was a reasonable decision. Continue reading