The most important decision of the Oklahoma City Kevin Durant era was when they traded James Harden to Houston. Clearly the Thunder understood they couldn’t pay Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Harden long term and stay under the luxury tax.
Although there are other things problematic with the Harden trade such as dealing him a year too early, the real long term decision they made was choosing to keep Ibaka over Harden.
The Thunder likely made this decision on the merit of fit over raw talent. Harden was considered the Thunder’s “3rd star” over Ibaka at the time, but Ibaka is a defensive anchor and a big man, while Harden is an offensive perimeter star like Westbrook and Durant. Thus the Thunder decided they need a defensive anchor/big man more than a 3rd offensive perimeter star.
My main objection to this for the last few years is keeping the best offensive talent is a good idea, because defense can be made up for elsewhere. With Durant, Westbrook and Harden, the Thunder could have filled the rest of the team with defensive role players and done whatever they can playing-style to have a defensive identity. By giving more offensive responsibility to Harden, Durant and Westbrook, along with Harden himself, may have been groomed into expending more energy on defense such as how Chris Bosh became a far more valuable defender in Miami than Toronto now that he wasn’t required to use as much energy on offense. The Thunder would NOT have had a defense-less roster if they chose to trade Ibaka. Westbrook, Durant, Harden is still a physically imposing wing rotation on the defensive end and they had other role players like Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison who were game on that end. That’s before considering Ibaka could have gotten them strong value in return for a trade, possibly a defense-first cheap prospect or big.
However to defend the Thunder there may be a few other reasons to shy away from Harden. One is that we don’t know how Harden acted behind the scenes to being the Thunder’s 3rd perimeter scorer and whether long term he’d have wanted out to become a star elsewhere. Secondly, Harden’s personality is different than Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka’s. Harden’s reputation as loving nightclubs is now well known and his body is not as finely conditioned as his three former Thunder teammates. It’s possible the Thunder partly made they trade because they were turned off by factors like Harden’s late night habits or diet, especially during the 2012 Finals.
The Thunder haven’t made the Finals since they traded Harden as their 3rd star. They’d had a few excuses. It’s hard to blame them for 2013 when they didn’t have Russell Westbrook. Last year they lost Serge Ibaka for the first 2 games of the Spurs series. However they still lost the last 2 games of the series with Ibaka, including Game 6 at home when Tony Parker missed the 2nd half. If the Thunder had the team to beat the Spurs when healthy, there’s no way they can blow an elimination home game with the gift of Parker’s injury. I personally don’t feel the Thunder were going to beat the Spurs last year even if Ibaka played the whole series. The Spurs caliber of play had been higher in the regular season and postseason and they proved it the last few games of the series once they made the adjustment by putting Matt Bonner in the starting lineup to stretch the Thunder out. The Spurs point differential over the Thunder was also overall a massive domination, which is tough to blame on just 2 Ibaka-less games. Furthermore OKC missing Ibaka for 2 games is a problem some teams have to get past to win the title. When Miami won their title in 2012 they had to do with Chris Bosh for some of the 2nd and 3rd round and managed to get through it.
Still, the Thunder have plenty of time to prove their decision to keep Ibaka over Harden is correct. They’re playing the long game to develop young talents like Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams long enough to win around Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka before Durant and Westbrook hit their free agencies in 2016 and 2017. It’s hard to bag the Thunder for their post Harden plan not working yet when they’re only passed year 2 of it and those years were marred by injury.
But what’s interesting is they probably chose Ibaka over pursuing the “3 offensive star” model again. What I mean is the complete lack of Serge Ibaka-Oklahoma City involvement in the Kevin Love rumors this summer. I’m of the belief that if Oklahoma City offered Ibaka along with pieces like Jeremy Lamb and draft picks, there’s an excellent chance they’d be heavy players or leading for Love.
Consider the deal all signs say Minnesota wanted before Andrew Wiggins was offered, which is was a Klay Thompson/David Lee centered package from the Warriors. I presume Minnesota wants to win games next year and pursue the playoff appearances upside of a Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, etc. roster. Serge Ibaka is an ideal fit for this plan from Minnesota. He is both a win-now player and young enough to be in long term plans. He fits in perfectly beside Nik Pekovic, with Pekovic providing the low post offense and Ibaka providing the floor spacing and defense. When added to the Thunder’s ability to sweeten the deal with young prospects and draft picks, it’s exactly the type of deal to woo the Timberwolves right now.
Yet the Thunder have not been in the picture, it hasn’t even been reported they’ve made any offer at all. I would put the chances of the Thunder offering their best non-Durant and Westbrook pieces for Love but having it turned down behind the scenes, as fairly minimal. Even if turned down it’d likely have been heard about in some way or Minnesota would have leaked it to gain leverage over other suitors. Remember that Kevin Love trade rumors were going strong for a month before Cleveland’s Andrew Wiggins offer got involved, so it’s not as if Minnesota would have been turning down Ibaka for Wiggins this whole time, if charging hard after Love, Oklahoma City’s biggest opposition in mid-late June would have been the Boston and Golden State offers. It’s pretty easy to speculate a conclusion from this. The Thunder don’t have an interest in moving Ibaka for Love for some of the same reasons they chose Ibaka over Harden. They prefer having the defensive compliment over a 3rd offensive star, along with possible continuity reasons.
And I’m of the belief this is probably even crazier than choosing Ibaka over Harden. Love at least is a big man instead of a 3rd offensive wing, fitting into the lineup more than Harden did. Any concerns about Harden’s off-court commitment not being at Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka’s level, don’t exist with Kevin Love. Although he provides less defense than Ibaka, his offense is a perfect fit for the Thunder co-stars, providing devastating spacing on a roster where teams already struggle to defend Westbrook and Durant at once, along with his outlet passing skills complimenting Westbrook and Durant, two of the scariest transition players in the league for different reasons. He gives OKC what they’ve needed for a long time which is a low post scorer. In addition to his defensive rebounds, his offensive rebounding could provide a scary amount of 2nd chances, putback points and free throw line trips to an OKC offense that doesn’t even need it to dominate. Love is widely considered a better player than Serge Ibaka. Love is considered potentially the best true power forward in the game and a top 10 player in the league, which is the type of resume Serge Ibaka does not have. By virtue of being presumably better, I have to think there’s a good chance Kevin Love makes every team in the league better than if they had Ibaka.
Defensively Love could try to make a Bosh-like transition to a stronger defensive focus, while again, Westbrook and Durant may benefit defensively from playing with Love. It’s true they give up shotblocking by trading Ibaka, but they also gain all these other offensive things Love does that Ibaka doesn’t, along with his rebounding.
What it comes down to is that Durant, Westbrook and Love would be anchor an insanely talented at a level beyond the present Thunder. And when a franchise can overwhelm the league with star talent it usually works out. Some of the great teams haven’t been the best “fits” positionally. The 1980s Celtics effectively had 3 star bigs in Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish instead of a more balanced roster with a PG or SG star, but they still fit well and won 3 championships. The most recent Miami Heat had a lot of overlap between Dwyane Wade and Lebron James and at first before we knew Chris Bosh could make a defensive transition, it didn’t appear they had an anchor on that end. The list of teams who lost because they didn’t have enough talent, is longer than the list of teams who teamed up superstars in their mid 20s but didn’t fit together well enough to win.
Another HUGE motive for the Thunder to go after Kevin Love, is it takes him off the board for other teams. Letting Kevin Love be traded to the Cavaliers creates a serious threat in Cleveland to win the title the next two years. The Thunder snatching Love instead would’ve taken the wind out of Lebron’s sails, presuming the Cavs would then proceed with an Andrew Wiggins-centered long term plan. Likewise for when it looked like the Warriors were a top contender for Love last month. The Thunder would’ve been wise to act against a potential West behemoth being created in Golden State and a Stephen Curry-Kevin Love combination. Considering all the other reasons why it’s smart to trade Ibaka for a star talent in Love, strategically weakening the competition alone especially now that we know that competition is “Lebron’s team”, would just be the sealer for me. The Thunder would have 3 of the game’s superstars in their mid 20s and importantly, there’d be a shortage of other teams in the league who had more than one. This is the type of landscape giving them the upside of not just a title but a dominant dynasty.
Finally, there’s an argument just for variance. We saw how the 2013-2014 Thunder played in the regular season and postseason and it wasn’t spectacular. Again one can harp on the Ibaka injury, but not taking care of business in Game 6 at home with the injury bug on the Spurs side, is a major enough sign the Thunder weren’t ready to win the title last year. So why not trade Ibaka for Kevin Love for the sake of it being different? It’s not a guarantee to work out spectacularly as Durant-Westbrook-Love enter their names in superstar “Big 3” lore, but there appears to be a fair chance it could. And the downside? There’s only so badly a Durant-Westbrook-Love era could turn out. Perhaps there’s a chance they win games in the mid 50s but bow out in the 2nd and 3rd round. Well that’s the same downside the Thunder core right now has.
The Thunder have 2 seasons until Durant’s free agency and last year’s results would not make me excited about the status quo. That’s not to say they have to make a move just for the sake of it, but if you can team up a potential top 10 player in the league with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant? Why not see what’s behind this Door Number 2? Why not try to the shoot the moon? Why not go for the “scary, seize the balance of power of the league?” option? To be frank, don’t complicate it. Serge Ibaka is a good player, Kevin Love is a superstar player and going from good to superstar at PF could take the Thunder to an entirely different level in a way desperately needed to avoid Durant 2016 free agency problems.
Here is my prediction for the Kevin Love trade. I believe the following deal is legal:
Kevin Love – 15.7 million
J.J. Barea – 4.5 million
(19.9 million outgoing)
Andrew Wiggins – 5.5 million
Thaddeus Young – 9.4 million
Highest of CLE 2015 1st, MEM 2015 1st, MIA 2015 1st
(14.9 million incoming)
Andrew Wiggins – 5.5 million
Anthony Bennett – 5.6 million
Highest of CLE 2015 1st, MEM 2015 1st, MIA 2015 1st
(11.1 million outgoing)
Kevin Love – 15.7 million
(15.7 million incoming)
Thaddeus Young – 9.4 million
(9.4 million outgoing)
Anthony Bennett – 5.6 million
J.J Barea – 4.5 million
(10.1 million incoming)
WHY for Minnesota:
The vibe I’ve been getting from Minnesota this whole time, is Flip’s dream is to come out and win 45 Gs next year. That’s why they were coming so hard after the Klay Thompson and David Lee package over one like Boston was offering.
Now Andrew Wiggins may be their “offer they can’t refuse” when it comes to accepting youth/prospect power instead of win now vets. But by flipping Young for Bennett, they still move in the direction of their original plan of a winning record next year. Minnesota could envision Wiggins and Young as a productive two way SF and PF combination immediately next year. The lineup of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young and Nik Pekovic is a balanced starting lineup, with some shooting off the bench in Mo Williams and Chase Budinger, some athletes like Zach LaVine and Corey Brewer and some defense in Luc Mbah a Moute and Gorgui Dieng’s promise as the 3rd big. I’m not saying this is necessarily the right plan from my point of view, just that it could be what Flip would be happy with.
WHY for Cleveland:
It appears they are already offering Wiggins and Bennett so not much is needed to delve into here. The move is a no brainer from the Cavs end to put the best possible team around Lebron right now. Trying to plan for a window years in the future is dicey because Lebron could decline or Wiggins and Bennett’s development could disappoint or someone could get injured. This way contention is guaranteed, now. And if Love signs long term eventually, they’re still a longevity-friendly core.
A very important part of this deal for Cleveland is they keep the John Lucas III/Erik Murphy/Malcolm Thomas unguaranteed contracts they got from Utah, which allows them trading power to find supporting role players around their stars.
WHY for Philadelphia:
It was reported after the 2013 draft Philly would’ve done the Holiday trade if any of Noel, Oladipo or Bennett were available at #6. While it’s hard to take Philly of all teams at their word about draft targets, after the draft was over they’re less likely to have been smokescreening.
Either way, there’s a solid chance Philly likes Bennett who had a productive and analytics-friendly UNLV season and who’s rookie year was marred by injury. He would both be a decent fit with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid long term because of his perimeter spacing, or just puts up enough statistics to be good trade bait. For an expiring Thaddeus Young who they appear to have no chance or interest in resigning, picking up Bennett’s talent and upside is probably as favorable a return as they can ask for. Barea is just an expiring contract who they may buy out if they’re too worried about him winning games next year.
The Philadelphia 76ers plan to win a championship begins with tanking. The philosophy is to avoid the “middle ground” – meaning to be really bad, to get enough high draft picks/stars to eventually contend and win a title.
Many people who support this plan, point to a team like present day Atlanta as an example of what should be avoided. Atlanta has a good, but only 1st/2nd round caliber playoff team. Without any high draft picks since 2007, they’re lacking in star power. Atlanta is seen as “stuck in the middle” without the upside of teams like Philadelphia or other tankers like Orlando.
However there may be more logic behind the Atlanta plan than it appears. Put it this way – Atlanta may be getting less firepower in the draft, but they’re also closer to the finish line than Philadelphia.
Last year Philadelphia won 19 games and had a 16 win “pythagorean” point differential, but by trading Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes and likely trading Thaddeus Young sometime between now and the trade deadline, their team is probably worse than it was. Atlanta had 38 Ws and had a 40 W pythagorean but their 16-13 record with Al Horford, translates to a 45 W pace. So let’s say we peg Philadelphia as having 15 win talent and Atlanta as 45 W talent going into this offseason. If the goal is to pass 55 Ws for contention to become realistic, that means Philadelphia has to improve by 40 Ws in talent while Atlanta has to improve by 10. This is a huge difference. Improving by 40 Ws requires not just one successful draft pick or free agent signing, but multiple ones. Philadelphia could do great work and still find themselves just at the 45 W position Atlanta is right now. They’re getting more firepower in the draft, but have a far greater task to achieve with it.
As for Atlanta, improving by 10 Ws? Sure it’s difficult, but it can be done. I’ve liked some draft picks they’ve made recently like Dennis Schroeder and Adreian Payne. Neither has to be a superstar to push the Hawks towards mid 50 W status. Finding a “core” player Mike Conley, Jr. or Roy Hibbert from either of those picks could push them to the next level. The Hawks also have cap flexibility to sign other free agents, such as when they signed Paul Millsap last summer or Thabo Sefolosha this summer. One more Millsap type acquisition next year could be enough to elevate them. They’re not a guarantee to get there, but neither is a team like Philadelphia or Orlando guaranteed to make it all the way to contention. They don’t have to run the race as fast as Philadelphia if their starting point is much closer to the finish line.
Another argument against Atlanta is to ask so what if they win as much as the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies have lately, since those teams have neither made the Finals or won the championship. This is true but both teams have more attempts at the bat in upcoming years. As I’ve said in the past, the concept that “you need a superstar to win a championship” has a flaw in how fast the league changes. If you go back 20 years, there’s no analytics-driven GMs, the league is more obsessed with long 2 point jumpers than a slash and kick 3 point game, the CBA and player salaries is unrecognizable, the draft is vastly changed by everyone declaring after 3 or 4 seasons. The NBA in just 20 years has made a “checkers to chess” transformation. The average GM 20 years ago and back is now a terrible GM in 2014. The evidence that teams like the Pacers and Grizzlies can’t win a title is flawed because it relies on decades of NBA history when the league and game was different.
So what if we use more recent evidence? Well first, I would argue 2 of the last 11 champions in the 2004 Pistons and 2014 Spurs are “ensemble” style teams. 2 out of 11 is over 18%, which is a perfectly livable percentage for teams like the Pacers, Grizzlies and Hawks. But this percentage may actually understate things. A position I’ve taken for a while is there can be non-championship winners, that can be as meaningful for determining who can win the title, as much as the teams who did it. How is this possible? Consider the 2013 Spurs, who came within a rebound from sealing it in Game 6. The Spurs should count as much as the 2013 Heat. The difference between those teams in regards to who won, has nothing to do with the Heat having a superstar. The series was a tie someone had to win.
Furthermore in between 2004 and 2014, the 2005 Pistons and 2010 Celtics were two “ensemble” style teams who were leading in the 2nd half of Game 7 of the Finals, making them the next closest behind the 2013 Spurs to winning the title. Again, it’s unlikely to mean much at all that they got beat by the team with a superstar. By beating the other team in 3 games up to that point, they were capable of winning the last quarter or last 15 minutes of the game or so. With such a dead evenly played series, whoever won the last 12 or 15 minutes was likely to be from chance more than anything. It’s unwise to mean the difference between the 2005 Spurs and Pistons or the 2010 Lakers and Celtics has much to do with the superstar make-up of the Spurs and Lakers, especially considering Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant shot poorly from the field in those games. On that note, if someone isn’t as big a believer in the Pistons chance to win Game 7 on the road in 2005, one could also point to the Spurs crucial Game 5 win in Detroit, where Robert Horry’s freakishly clutch shooting spree allowed the Spurs to get to and win in overtime, thus securing a 3-2 lead instead of trailing 3-2 going back to San Antonio. Again, this has little to do with the Pistons lacking the superstar.
So effectively, 18% (2) of the last 11 champions were ensemble-style teams. If including just the 2013 Spurs as title caliber along with those 11, 3 of those 12 (25%) were ensemble teams. If including the 2005 Pistons, 2010 Celtics and 2013 Spurs as more or less equally title caliber as the 11 who won, 5 of 14 (36%) were ensemble teams. All of this makes a Pacers or Grizzlies or Hawks title with an ensemble make-up certainly seem more plausible. It’s conceivable the next 10 years has a swamp of ensemble-style champions, either by chance swinging the other way or a fundamental change in the league’s balance of power because of the CBA and analytics-driven GMs.
Josh Huestis becoming the first “domestic draft and stash” player has become a hot button topic the last week. Effectively, Oklahoma City promised to take Huestis 1st round with the 29th pick, if he would take a $25,000 D League salary his first year instead of taking a rookie salary and roster spot with the Thunder. Presumably he’d then get a longer contract starting in 2015-2016 or later.
Is this a rational decision for either side?
According to reports, Huestis wasn’t sure he’d be drafted at all. By getting drafted 1st round and making some sort of agreement with the Thunder, he may have thought he’d be guaranteeing a longer NBA contract/career more this way. There’s a “code of honor” between NBA teams, players and agents that would make it sketchy if OKC didn’t honor Huestis’ agreement by signing him next year, no matter how he plays in the D League. There’s the risk of injury and the fact that Huestis may have made more money in Europe or as a 2nd round prospect for someone else, but I can see where Huestis is coming from here logically. Considering how likely it is OKC honors this agreement in my opinion, it’s a small risk for Huestis, but with a significant reward if he does get the guaranteed 1st round deal eventually.
It’s on the Thunder’s end I have a lot of questions. First of all, it’s unclear to me why developing Huestis in the D League is better than sending him or another prospect to Europe for a year, where NCAA players as well as international picks can be stashed. If one of the motives for stashing Huestis in the D League would be to delay his post rookie contract a year, this also could have been achieved by sending a prospect to Europe. Secondly I’m not sure why Oklahoma City couldn’t fit another roster spot for a young player, whether on their roster or sending him to the D League with a rookie scale deal. Hasheem Thabeet is still on the roster, despite the Thunder having Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams, Nick Collison, Mitch McGary as the presumed C options in front of him. Thabeet also has an unguaranteed deal, causing no financial cost to waiving him. From my perspective, having Thabeet on this roster is utterly pointless (to be fair, they may still waive him yet). They also used a roster spot by signing a replacement caliber PG in Sebastian Telfair and signed Grant Jerrett, a 2nd round stretch big man who will struggle to get minutes over any of Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams, Nick Collison, Mitch McGary, Serge Ibaka, Perry Jones III. The Thunder are not such a deep team that they can’t afford using a roster spot on another rookie.
All in all, I just don’t see the “upside” of choosing this path for Huestis compared to just sending him to Europe or having him on the roster next year. So what’s the downside? It depends on how much they valued Huestis. If they really valued him as the best prospect available at the 29th pick, there isn’t anything wrong with choosing this path of paying him, even if it’s a weird detour. If they saw another prospect as best player available and saw Huestis as 2nd round caliber, but picked Huestis over him to save the money and roster spot – it’s an absurd draft decision. Drafting the best prospect with this pick, is so much more valuable than whatever they gain from stashing Josh Huestis. The Thunder desperately need the cheap contributors on rookie deals along with the trade assets to find better veterans around their stars. Even the 29th pick is too valuable asset to mess around like this with. How rational a decision this is likely depends on how close to best player available Huestis was with the 29th pick. The more prospects the Thunder had rated ahead of him in a vacuum, the more irrational a decision it was.
I consider summer league more fun than useful information, however it doesn’t mean it all ends up being useless. I can remember years where Evan Turner and Thomas Robinson’s summer league play ended up foreboding for their rookie season, or on the other end Damian Lillard blowing up in summer league was a great sign for his future. It’s finding a needle in a haystack but the needles may be there.
So here are my (few) takeaways:
Bruno Caboclo and Zach LaVine may belong
Both guys showed talent level and were aggressive. These are two wild cards for me not only because of their lack of resume production wise, but because of their shooting. Bruno’s jumpshot is hard to guess for obvious reasons. LaVine had a lukewarm 3pt shooting season at UCLA, normally in those situations I turn to FT% to help sort it out. Although LaVine’s FT% was subpar for a guard at 69.1%, by only getting to the FT line 68 times during the season this is too small a sample size to totally rely on. In Vegas both guys showed they had the chance to be good shooters in the NBA, which would help their career a lot with their other tools. Bruno has a high defensive upside with his massive length and lateral mobility, while LaVine’s speed and ballhandling combination potentially makes him a dynamic slasher.
More confidence in Jordan Adams, Julius Randle, Doug McDermott
These players both did well in my talent grading and had strong college production for their age and in summer league continued to impress me. It’s just one more reason to be confident in them as future NBA starters.
Shabazz Napier struggles
Napier struggled to get his game off at both Orlando and Las Vegas summer league. Although Napier rated in my top 10 talents, he was below my “benchmark” for production for a senior (going by PER) so there may be concerns in that department about reaching his talent. He’ll need his jumpshot to be closer to the elite level it was in the NCAA, though it’s common for prospects to need time to translate to the longer NBA 3pt line.
Jordan McRae getting drafted by the 76ers may be hitting the jackpot
This is actually my biggest takeaway from summer league. The 58th pick McRae averaged 21 points a game for the 76ers in a high usage role in summer league… which is key because the Sixers NBA roster isn’t far off in talent from their summer league one. It’s conceivable McRae uses the momentum of being the man on this summer league roster, to get a surprisingly high amount of minutes and possessions next year, considering other 76ers rookies like Nerlens Noel, K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant are not considered scary offensive threats. It’s in play McRae is the 76ers 2nd or 3rd option next year immediately.
Before the draft I didn’t have time to put this together, but this is a combination of my 4 draft models in my final pre-draft post posted last month.
To calculate this I average the players rank on each of my 4 models – Traditional talent rankings, ESPN top 100 weighted model, PER/age weighted model and analytics weighted model. The explanations for these are in the above link.
My goal is to find a draft model that’s the most successful, so it’s worth listing this one to see how it matches up to the separated ones in the above link. My grades in the above post were finalized before the draft so there’s nothing affected by extra information or summer league play since the draft.
I noticed a clerical error in my ESPN top 100 weighted model, Dante Exum was ranked 14th with “PG/SG Dante Exum 3 (E) + 14 (J) = 17″, the mistake there was I added together my ranking and ESPN’s but didn’t divide by two like I was supposed to. With a new averaged score of 8.5, Exum should’ve ranked 5th. This correction is accounted for in this post.
Bold reflects non-NCAA player, where I didn’t use production in the PER/age or analytics models (instead giving them a “neutral” grade as placeholders). Grey reflects undrafted player, a lighter grey reflects non-NCAA and undrafted
Here are the mixed model rankings:
1. C Joel Embiid
2 (Traditional), 1 (ESPN), 1 (PER/age), 1 (analytics) Average: 1.25, Highest 1, Lowest: 2
2. SG Nik Stauskas
3 (Traditional), 2 (ESPN), 9 (PER/age), 10 (analytics) Average: 6.0, Highest: 2, Lowest: 10
3. PF Julius Randle
7 (Traditional), 3 (ESPN), 7 (PER/age), 12 (analytics), Average: 7.25, Highest: 3, Lowest: 12
4. PF Noah Vonleh
11 (Traditional), 4 (ESPN), 11 (PER/age), 4 (analytics), Average: 7.5, Highest: 4, Lowest: 11
5. SG Jordan Adams
10 (Traditional), 16 (ESPN), 5 (PER/age), 3 (analytics), Average: 8.5, Highest: 3, Lowest: 16
6. SG Bogdan Bogdanovic
1 (Traditional), 21 (ESPN), 6 (PER/age), 8 (analytics) Average: 9.0, Highest: 1, Lowest: 21
7. PF Jabari Parker
20 (Traditional), 8 (ESPN), 3 (PER/age), 6 (analytics), Average: 9.25, Highest: 3, Lowest: 20
8. PG Shabazz Napier
6 (Traditional), 11 (ESPN), 17 (PER/age), 13 (analytics), Average: 11.75, Highest: 6, Lowest: 17
9. PF Dario Saric
9 (Traditional), 6 (ESPN), 15 (PER/age), 18 (analytics), Average: 12, Highest: 6, Lowest: 18
10. SF Doug McDermott
12 (Traditional), 10 (ESPN), 2 (PER/age), 25 (analytics), Average: 12.25, Highest: 2, Lowest: 25
11. SG Spencer Dinwiddie
5 (Traditional), 20 (ESPN), 13 (PER/age), 11 (analytics), Average: 12.25, Highest: 5, Lowest: 20
12. PF Aaron Gordon
13 (Traditional), 7 (ESPN), 25 (PER/age), 5 (analytics), Average: 12.50, Highest: 5, Lowest: 25.0
13. SF T.J. Warren
22 (Traditional), 17 (ESPN), 4 (PER/age), 9 (analytics), Average: 13, Highest: 4, Lowest: 22
14. SG Marcus Smart
23 (Traditional), 13 (ESPN), 10 (PER/age), 7 (analytics), Average: 13.25, Highest: 7, Lowest: 23
15. PF Adreian Payne
4 (Traditional), 9 (ESPN), 23 (PER/age), 21 (analytics), Average: 14.25, Highest: 4, Lowest: 23
16. PG Dante Exum
14 (Traditional), 5 (ESPN), 18 (PER/age), 22 (analytics), Average: 14.75, Highest: 5, Lowest: 22
17. SG P.J. Hairston
18 (Traditional), 15 (ESPN), 8 (PER/age), 27 (analytics), Average: 17.0, Highest: 8, Lowest: 27
18. PF Kyle Anderson
29 (Traditional), 24 (ESPN), 16 (PER/age), 2 (analytics), Average: 17.75, Highest: 2, Lowest: 29
19. SF Andrew Wiggins
27 (Traditional), 12 (ESPN), 26 (PER/age), 14 (analytics), Average: 19.75, Highest: 12, Lowest: 27
20. PF Damien Inglis
17 (Traditional), 22 (ESPN), 19 (PER/age), 23 (analytics), Average: 20.25, Highest: 17, Lowest: 22
21. C Mitch McGary
31 (Traditional), 27 (ESPN), 14 (PER/age), 16 (analytics), Average: 22, Highest: 14, Lowest: 31
22. C Jusuf Nurkic
26 (Traditional), 18 (ESPN), 24 (PER/age), 28 (analytics), Average: 24.0, Highest: 18, Lowest: 28
23. SG Zach LaVine
16 (Traditional), 14 (ESPN), 52 (PER/age), 24 (analytics), Average: 26.5, Highest: 14, Lowest: 52
24. SF DeAndre Daniels
8 (Traditional), 31 (ESPN), 40 (PER/age), 31 (analytics), Average: 27.5, Highest: 8, Lowest: 40
25. SG Gary Harris
39 (Traditional), 23 (ESPN), 33 (PER/age), 17 (analytics), Average: 28, Highest: 17, Lowest: 39
26. SF Rodney Hood
19 (Traditional), 19 (ESPN), 36 (PER/age), 42 (analytics), Average: 29.0, Highest: 19, Lowest: 42
27. C Clint Capela
34 (Traditional), 25 (ESPN), 27 (PER/age), 34 (analytics), Average: 30.0, Highest: 25, Lowest: 34
28. PF Cameron Bairstow
15 (Traditional), 57 (ESPN), 12 (PER/age), 37 (analytics), Average: 30.25, Highest: 12, Lowest: 57
29. PF Javon McCrea
41 (Traditional), 42 (ESPN), 20 (PER/age), 19 (analytics), Average: 30.5, Highest: 19, Lowest: 42
30. PG Russ Smith
24 (Traditional), 39 (ESPN), 31 (PER/age), 29 (analytics), Average: 30.75, Highest: 24, Lowest: 39
31. SF K.J. McDaniels
42 (Traditional), 32 (ESPN), 21 (PER/age), 30 (analytics), Average: 31.25, Highest: 21, Lowest: 42
32. SF Cleanthony Early
28 (Traditional), 26 (ESPN), 29 (PER/age), 43 (analytics), Average: 31.5, Highest: 26, Lowest: 43
33. C Nikola Jokic
35 (Traditional), 30 (ESPN), 28 (PER/age), 35 (analytics), Average: 32.0, Highest: 28, Lowest: 35
34. PF Jerami Grant
32 (Traditional), 29 (ESPN), 37 (PER/age), 32 (analytics), Average: 32.5, Highest: 29, Lowest: 37
35. SG Jordan McRae
25 (Traditional), 34 (ESPN), 22 (PER/age), 53 (analytics), Average: 33.5, Highest: 22, Lowest: 53
36. PF Jarnell Stokes
54 (Traditional), 35 (ESPN), 30 (PER/age), 26 (analytics), Average: 36.25, Highest: 26, Lowest: 54
37. C Alec Brown
21 (Traditional), 51 (ESPN), 42 (PER/age), 38 (analytics), Average: 38, Highest: 21, Lowest: 51
38. C Walter Tavares
45 (Traditional), 40 (ESPN), 32 (PER/age), 40 (analytics), Average: 39.25, Highest: 32, Lowest: 45
39. SG C.J. Wilcox
30 (Traditional), 28 (ESPN), 48 (PER/age), 55 (analytics), Average: 40.25, Highest: 28, Lowest: 55
40. SF Lamar Patterson
36 (Traditional), 43 (ESPN), 45 (PER/age), 41 (analytics), Average: 41, Highest: 36, Lowest: 45
41. C Khem Birch
51 (Traditional), 46 (ESPN), 34 (PER/age), 33 (analytics), Average: 41, Highest: 33, Lowest: 51
42. PG Elfrid Payton
62 (Traditional), 36 (ESPN), 47 (PER/age), 20 (analytics), Average: 41.25, Highest: 20, Lowest: 62
43. PG Tyler Ennis
66 (Traditional), 41 (ESPN), 43 (PER/age), 15 (analytics), Average: 41.25, Highest: 15, Lowest: 66
44. PG Vasilije Micic
47 (Traditional), 45 (ESPN), 38 (PER/age), 44 (analytics), Average: 43.5, Highest: 38, Lowest: 47
45. SF Thanasis Antetokoumpo
48 (Traditional), 47 (ESPN), 39 (PER/age), 45 (analytics), Average: 44.75, Highest: 39, Lowest: 48
46. PF Patric Young
44 (Traditional), 38 (ESPN), 56 (PER/age), 51 (analytics), Average: 47.25, Highest: 38, Lowest: 56
47. SG Jabari Brown
38 (Traditional), 50 (ESPN), 44 (PER/age), 58 (analytics), Average: 47.5, Highest: 38, Lowest: 58
48. PG Jahii Carson
33 (Traditional), 44 (ESPN), 57 (PER/age), 57 (analytics), Average: 47.75, Highest: 33, Lowest: 57
49. SG Markel Brown
37 (Traditional), 49 (ESPN), 53 (PER/age), 54 (analytics), Average: 48.25, Highest: 37, Lowest: 54
50. SF James Young
55 (Traditional), 33 (ESPN), 60 (PER/age), 50 (analytics), Average: 49.5, Highest: 33, Lowest: 60
51. C Sim Bhullar
52 (Traditional), 74 (ESPN), 35 (PER/age), 39 (analytics), Average: 50, Highest: 35, Lowest: 74
52. SG Travis Bader
40 (Traditional), 61 (ESPN), 70 (PER/age), 36 (analytics), Average: 51.75, Highest: 36, Lowest: 70
53. PG Deonte Burton
53 (Traditional), 56 (ESPN), 50 (PER/age), 70 (analytics), Average: 52.5, Highest: 50, Lowest: 70
54. PF LaQuinton Ross
46 (Traditional), 58 (ESPN), 49 (PER/age), 63 (analytics), Average: 54, Highest: 46, Lowest: 63
55. PG Bryce Cotton
61 (Traditional), 54 (ESPN), 54 (PER/age), 47 (analytics), Average: 54.0, Highest: 47, Lowest: 61
56. PG Jordan Clarkson
50 (Traditional), 37 (ESPN), 62 (PER/age), 69 (analytics), Average: 54.5, Highest: 37, Lowest: 69
57. PF Shayne Whittington
58 (Traditional), 78 (ESPN), 46 (PER/age), 46 (analytics), Average: 57.0, Highest: 46, Lowest: 78
58. SF Glenn Robinson III
63 (Traditional), 48 (ESPN), 64 (PER/age), 56 (analytics), Average: 57.75, Highest: 48, Lowest: 64
59. SG Xavier Thames
59 (Traditional), 69 (ESPN), 41 (PER/age), 65 (analytics), Average: 58.5, Highest: 41, Lowest: 69
60. PG DeAndre Kane
49 (Traditional), 55 (ESPN), 58 (PER/age), 74 (analytics), Average: 59, Highest: 49, Lowest: 74
61. PG Keith Appling
43 (Traditional), 62 (ESPN), 75 (PER/age), 60 (analytics), Average: 60, Highest: 43, Lowest: 75
62. PF Cory Jefferson
57 (Traditional), 63 (ESPN), 55 (PER/age), 67 (analytics), Average: 60.5, Highest: 55, Lowest: 67
63. SG Andre Dawkins
60 (Traditional), 79 (ESPN), 61 (PER/age), 48 (analytics), Average: 62.0, Highest: 48, Lowest: 79
64. SG Semaj Christon
64 (Traditional), 52 (ESPN), 63 (PER/age), 73 (analytics), Average: 63, Highest: 52, Lowest: 73
65. SG Roy Devyn Marble
72 (Traditional), 64 (ESPN), 65 (PER/age), 52 (analytics), Average: 63.25, Highest: 52, Lowest: 72
66. PG Markel Starks
56 (Traditional), 75 (ESPN), 74 (PER/age), 49 (analytics), Average: 63.5, Highest: 49, Lowest: 75
67. PF James Michael McAdoo
65 (Traditional), 65 (ESPN), 66 (PER/age), 64 (analytics), Average: 65.0, Highest: 64, Lowest: 66
68. SG Nick Johnson
73 (Traditional), 67 (ESPN), 59 (PER/age), 66 (analytics), Average: 66.25, Highest: 59, Lowest: 73
69. PF Dwight Powell
68 (Traditional), 66 (ESPN), 73 (PER/age), 61 (analytics), Average: 67.0, Highest: 61, Lowest: 73
70. PF Johnny O’Bryant
67 (Traditional), 59 (ESPN), 69 (PER/age), 76 (analytics), Average: 67.75, Highest: 59, Lowest: 76
71. SG Joe Harris
71 (Traditional), 53 (ESPN), 78 (PER/age), 75 (analytics), Average: 69.25, Highest: 53, Lowest: 78
72. PG Scottie Wilbekin
74 (Traditional), 72 (ESPN), 76 (PER/age), 59 (analytics), Average: 70.25, Highest: 59, Lowest: 76
73. C Artem Klimenko
80 (Traditional), 60 (ESPN), 51 (PER/age), 71 (analytics), Average: 70.5, Highest: 51, Lowest: 80
74. SG Fuquan Edwin
70 (Traditional), 77 (ESPN), 71 (PER/age), 68 (analytics), Average: 71.5, Highest: 68, Lowest: 77
75. C Alex Kirk
76 (Traditional), 80 (ESPN), 68 (PER/age), 62 (analytics), Average: 71.5, Highest: 62, Lowest: 80
76. SF Melvin Ejim
75 (Traditional), 71 (ESPN), 67 (PER/age), 78 (analytics), Average: 72.75, Highest: 67, Lowest: 78
77. C Jordan Bachynski
79 (Traditional), 73 (ESPN), 72 (PER/age), 72 (analytics), Average: 74.0, Highest: 72, Lowest: 79
78. PF Josh Huestis
69 (Traditional), 76 (ESPN), 77 (PER/age), 77 (analytics), Average: 74.75, Highest: 69, Lowest: 77
79. SF C.J. Fair
77 (Traditional), 68 (ESPN), 79 (PER/age), 80 (analytics), Average: 76.0, Highest: 68, Lowest: 80
80. PG Aaron Craft
78 (Traditional), 72 (ESPN), 80 (PER/age), 79 (analytics), Average: 77.25, Highest: 72, Lowest: 80
In my pre-draft post (linked above), I made this “Overall conclusions” eyeballing the consensus of my 4 models at the time:
Joel Embiid if healthy is practically a guaranteed stud. He has too much size, athleticism, skill and instinct while his production rocked the NCAA for a freshman. Although our instinct is to believe he’ll either be a total home run or strikeout, this may not be the case. It’s possible he is injured often but still worth the #1 pick for when he plays. Consider two examples in Yao Ming and Bill Walton. Yao had many half seasons and missed multiple playoff runs, but was valuable enough for when he played to still be worth the #1 pick for Houston. Bill Walton’s prime may have ended brutally early for the Trail Blazers but he played long enough to win them a title, again worth the #1 pick. If Embiid became superstar caliber, a team picking top 3 probably needs him there half the time to be happy with the pick, especially if Wiggins and Parker underwhelm like I anticipate.
Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nik Stauskas are players who do not perform as well in my secondary models, however I have confidence in my talent grading methodology enough to believe they have STAR potential. Because of the difference between stars and everyone else in the NBA, I’d still rate them top 3 value.
Jordan Adams, Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh are guys with the talent and production to be near sure things. I don’t rate their talent as star caliber, but they could be prime candidates to join the “David West and Luol Deng” all-stars list, guys who make it once or twice and have an otherwise great starting career. Doug McDermott performs as well outside of the analytical model and I’m also fairly confident he’ll be productive and a starter.
Jabari Parker, T.J. Warren, P.J. Hairston, Cameron Bairstow, Marcus Smart, Kyle Anderson all mix talent with productivity, making them good bets to be relevant NBA players who are consistently heard from. Any of these players making 7 to 9 million a year in their post rookie contract deal, would not surprise me
Dario Saric, Dante Exum, Damien Inglis, Jusuf Nurkic are talented European prospects and possible starters who deserve lotto or top 20 consideration.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Shabazz Napier, Adreian Payne have production reasons to be concerned about reaching their talent, but have the talent to be among the top 5-7 players in this draft and thus are worth taking not far below that.
DeAndre Daniels and Zach LaVine are too of the most clearcut enigmatic cases of the draft with exciting talent, but their production for their age and talent, is certainly worried enough to be a problem. Players like Rodney Hood, Cleanthony Early, C.J. Wilcox are also worth a look for their talent.
Other players I like for either talent or production reasons include Mitch McGary, Javon McCrea, Jordan McRae, Russ Smith, Alec Brown, Clint Capela, Nikola Jokic
Andrew Wiggins is a decent prospect with starter talent, I just don’t know if he’s anything more. He feels like a prospect worth a look in the teens. Due to his draft position he could potentially be a bust more in the vein of Marvin Williams and OJ Mayo than Adam Morrison, the former players established themselves as legit NBA material and got paid contracts over 8 million a year, but it wasn’t enough.
Tyler Ennis and Elfrid Payton play well in the analytics model, but I otherwise don’t like their talent level enough to rate them 1st round caliber. Gary Harris may have a solid career but does not look like more than a late 20s caliber prospect to me.
I don’t see any reason to consider James Young worth 1st round consideration. His talent level is subpar, his production is subpar. I don’t know what his draft position stands on other than being a big name in high school and then going to Kentucky.
These eyeball conclusions look similar to my mixed model posted above. The first 6 players mentioned in my blurb were the same top 6 who ranked highest in the model, in Embiid, Stauskas, Randle, Vonleh, Adams and Bogdanovic. Notably Cameron Bairstow was ranked out of the ESPN top 100 when I did my pre draft post, therefore I gave him a ranking of 101, however he ended up getting drafted 49th. Thus his ESPN/top 100 model rank single handily drags down his mixed model rank more than he probably deserves in retrospect.
Overall I feel my mixed model rankings are possibly more trustworthy than any of the 4 models individually. The most important thing for the players remains my talent grades of them, since it dictates one entire model and then a major % of the other three. However, I’m ready to admit I probably discounted college production and conventional draft position too much in the first 2 years I did this. There were undrafted seniors who ranked high on my list in 2012 and 2013 who’s lack of college dominance for their age or conventional scouting attention, may have reflected an unlikelihood they have it in them whether for mental or physical reasons to stand out in an ultra-competitive NBA (And in the case of many, I simply made some mistakes in the talent evaluation itself, of which I now feel is corrected). I feel confident in the above rankings.
Here is my team by team grades, the methodology of which is similar to in this post.
For example Jordan Adams was picked 22nd, but ranks 5th on my above mixed model. On my talent grade post (Model 1), my 5th ranked player had a “score” of 22, while my 22nd ranked player had a score of 19. I will use these as “expected values”, therefore with the 22nd pick the Grizzlies were expected to get a player of a value of the 22nd pick (in this case reflected by an expected value of 19), but by getting my 5th ranked player on the above list, got a value of 22, therefore +3.
This is not going to be a perfect measure, as it’s more valuable to hit on high picks than 2nd rounders, along with a “drop-off” factor (For example in my talent grade post the 3rd ranked player had a value of 24 and the 4th a value of 22, thus Julius Randle ranking 3rd on my mixed model is rated as several points more valuable than Noah Vonleh ranking 4th, which may not be deserved)
Here are the team grades done this way:
C Joel Embiid (3rd overall pick, Expected value: 24, Ranked: 1st, Expected value: 25, Difference: +1)
PF Dario Saric (12th overall pick, Expected value: 21, Ranked: 9th, Expected value: 21, Difference: / )
SF K.J. McDaniels (32nd overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 31st, Expected value: 18, Difference: / )
PF Jerami Grant (39th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 34th, Expected value: 18, Difference: / )
PG Vasilije Micic (52nd overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 44th, Expected value: 17, Difference: +1)
SG Jordan McRae (58th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 35th, Expected value: 18, Difference: +2)
SF Doug McDermott (11th overall pick, Expected value: 21, Ranked: 12th, Expected value: 21, Difference: /)
PF Cameron Bairstow (49th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 28th, Expected value: 19, Difference: +3)
PF Adreian Payne (15th overall pick, Expected value: 20, Ranked: 15th, Expected value: 20, Difference: / )
C Walter Tavares (43rd overall pick, Expected value: 17, Ranked: 38th, Expected value: 18, Difference: +1)
SF Lamar Patterson (48th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 40th, Expected value: 18, Difference: +2)
SG Spencer Dinwiddie (38th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 11th, Expected value: 21, Difference: +3)
SG Nik Stauskas (8th overall pick, Expected value: 21, Ranked: 2nd, Expected value: 24, Difference: +3)
New Orleans Pelicans
PG Russ Smith (47th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 30th, Expected value: 19, Difference: +3)
SG Jordan Adams (22nd overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 5th, Expected value: 22, Difference: +3)
PF Jarnell Stokes, (35th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked 36th, Expected value: 18, Difference: /)
PF Noah Vonleh (9th overall pick, Expected value: 21, Ranked: 4th, Expected value: 22, Difference: +1)
SG P.J. Hairston (26th overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 17th, Expected value: 20, Difference +1)
SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (27th overall pick, Expected value: 19. Ranked 6th, Expected value: 22, Difference: +3)
SF T.J. Warren (14th overall pick, Expected value: 20. Ranked 13th, Expected value: 20, Difference: / )
PG Tyler Ennis (18th overall pick, Expected value: 20, Ranked 43rd, Expected value:17, Difference: -3)
C Alec Brown (50th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked 37th, Expected value: 18, DIference: +2)
PG Shabazz Napier (26th overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 8th, Expected value: 21, Difference: +2)
Los Angeles Lakers
PF Julius Randle (7th overall pick, Expected value: 21, Ranked: 3rd, Expected value: 24, Difference: +3)
PG Jordan Clarkson (46th overall pick, Expected value: 17, Ranked: 56th, Expected value: 16, Difference: -1)
SF DeAndre Daniels (37th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 24th, Expected value: 19, Difference: +1)
SF Bruno Cabolco (unranked)
New York Knicks
SF Cleanthony Early (34th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 32, Expected value: 18, Difference: / )
SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51st overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 45, Expected value: 17, Difference: +1)
C Louis Labeyrie (57th overall pick, unranked)
San Antonio Spurs
PF Kyle Anderson (30th overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 18th, Expected value: 20, Difference: +1)
SF Nemanja Dangubic (54th overall pick, unranked)
Los Angeles Clippers
SG C.J. Wilcox (28th overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 39th, Expected value: 18, Difference: -1)
C Jusuf Nurkic (16th overall pick, Expected value: 20, Ranked: 22nd, Expected value: 19, Difference: -1)
SG Gary Harris (19th overall pick, Expected value: 20, Ranked: 25th, Expected value: 19, Difference: -1)
C Nikola Jokic (41st overall pick, Expected value: 17, Ranked: 33rd, Expected value: 18, Difference: +1)
SG Dante Exum (5th overall pick, Expected value: 22, Ranked: 16th, Expected value: 20, Difference: -2)
SF Rodney Hood (23rd overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 26th, Expected value: 19, Difference: / )
SG Markel Brown (44th overall pick, Expected value: 17, Ranked: 49th, Expected value: 16, Difference: -1)
SG Xavier Thames (58th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 59, Expected value: 16, Difference: / )
PF Cory Jefferson (60th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 62, Expected value: 15, Difference: -1)
C Clint Capela (25th overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 27th, Expected value: 19, Difference: / )
SG Nick Johnson (42nd overall pick, Expected value: 17, Ranked: 68th, Expected value: 15, Difference: -2)
SG Zach LaVine (13th overall pick, Expected value: 20, Ranked: 23rd, Expected value: 19, Difference: -1)
SF Glenn Robinson (40th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 58th, Expected value: 16, Difference: -2)
PG Alessandro Gentile (53rd overall pick, unranked)
PF Jabari Parker (2nd overall pick, Expected value: 24, Ranked: 7th, Expected value: 21, Difference: -3)
PF Damien Inglis (31st overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 20th, Expected value: 20, Difference: +2)
PF Johnny O’Bryant (36th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 70th, Expected value: 15, Difference: -3)
SG Marcus Smart (6th overall pick, Expected value: 22, Ranked: 14th, Expected value: 20, Difference: -2)
SF James Young (17th overall pick, Expected value: 20, Ranked: 50th, Expected value: 16, Difference: -4)
PF Aaron Gordon (4th overall pick, Expected value: 22, Ranked: 12th, Expected value: 21, Difference: -1)
PG Elfrid Payton (10th overall pick, Expected value: 21, Ranked: 42nd, Expected value: 17, Difference: -4)
SG Roy Devyn Marble (56th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 65th, Expected value: 15, Difference: -1)
Oklahoma City Thunder
C Mitch McGary (21st overall pick, Expected value: 20, Ranked: 21st, Expected value: 20, Difference: / )
PF Josh Huestis (29th overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 78th, Expected value: 13, Difference: -6 )
SG Semaj Christon (55th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 64th, Expected value: 15, Difference: -1)
SF Andrew Wiggins (1st overall pick, Expected value: 25, Ranked: 19th, Expected value: 20, Difference: -5)
SG Joe Harris (33rd overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 71th, Expected value: 15, Difference: -3)
PF Dwight Powell (45th overall pick, Expected value: 17, Ranked: 69th, Expected value: 15, Difference: -2)
Now as I did in my previous team grades post, here is the order of the players rated from highest value to lowest value (if players had the same value, I listed the player picked higher in the draft first)
1. LAL PF Julius Randle (+3)
2. SAC SG Nik Stauskas (+3)
3. MEM SG Jordan Adams (+3)
4. PHX SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (+3)
5. DET SG Spencer Dinwiddie (+3)
6. NOP PG Russ Smith (+3)
7. CHI PF Cameron Bairstow (+3)
8. MIA PG Shabazz Napier (+2)
9. MIL PF Damien Inglis (+2)
10. PHX C Alec Brown (+2)
11. ATL SF Lamar Patterson (+2)
12. PHI SG Jordan McRae (+2)
13. PHI C Joel Embiid (+1)
14. CHA PF Noah Vonleh (+1)
15. CHA SG P.J. Hairston (+1)
16. SAS PF Kyle Anderson (+1)
17. TOR SF DeAndre Daniels (+1)
18. DEN C Nikola Jokic (+1)
19. ATL C Walter Tavares (+1)
20. NYK SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo (+1)
21. PHI PG Vasilije Micic (+1)
22. CHI SF Doug McDermott ( / )
23. PHI PF Dario Saric ( / )
24. PHX SF T.J. Warren ( / )
25. ATL PF Adreian Payne ( / )
26. OKC C Mitch McGary ( / )
27. UTA SF Rodney Hood ( / )
28. HOU C Clint Capela ( / )
29. PHI SF K.J. McDaniels ( / )
30. NYK SF Cleanthony Early ( / )
31. MEM PF Jarnell Stokes ( / )
32. PHI PF Jerami Grant ( / )
33. BKN SG Xavier Thames ( / )
34. ORL PF Aaron Gordon (-1)
35. MIN SG Zach LaVine (-1)
36. DEN C Jusuf Nurkic (-1)
37. DEN SG Gary Harris (-1)
38. LAC SG C.J. Wilcox (-1)
39. BKN SG Markel Brown (-1)
40. LAL PG Jordan Clarkson (-1)
41. OKC SG Semaj Christon (-1)
42. ORL SG Roy Devyn Marble (-1)
43. BKN PF Cory Jefferson (-1)
44. UTA SG Dante Exum (-2)
45. BOS SG Marcus Smart (-2)
46. MIN SF Glenn Robinson III (-2)
47. HOU SG Nick Johnson (-2)
48. CLE PF Dwight Powell (-2)
49. MIL PF Jabari Parker (-3)
50. PHX PG Tyler Ennis ( -3 )
51. CLE SG Joe Harris (-3)
52. MIL PF Johnny O’Bryant (-3)
53. ORL PG Elfrid Payton (-4)
54. BOS SF James Young (-4)
55. CLE SF Andrew Wiggins (-5)
56. OKC PF Josh Huestis (-6)
We just got back together with Lebron James and are SO EXCITED. But what should we do next? Should we make the leap for Love? Minnesota keeps asking us for Andrew Wiggins. We love the idea of Wiggins being our defensive, Scottie Pippen-like compliment to Kyrie Irving and Lebron James. We think this could be like when the Lakers added a young James Worthy to a team with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on it. It may take a few years, but is it worth giving that up for Kevin Love?
- Dan, Cleveland, OH
Dear Dan, I understand why you would be scared to pull the trigger, but you have to make this deal for Love.
First, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Andrew Wiggins is not a guarantee to be a star like Kevin Love. Consider the dichotomy between these two players. Love in college was labelled as having a ceiling beneath star, because despite all the skill, strength, feel for the game and motor in the world, his average athleticism was supposed to limit him. Wiggins is getting called a guaranteed star because he has all the athleticism in the world, despite skill, strength, feel for the game and motor being concerns. Do you see where I’m going with this? If it goes wrong, Wiggins may not be a star for the inverse reason of why Love is one.
Secondly Dan, it’s just about age. To be honest your team with Lebron, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Anderson Varejao and Chris Anderson, isn’t good enough. The supporting cast members are either too young or too old Dan. Rosters like the Spurs and Thunder are more talented and deeper.
The problem is the cost of waiting 2 or 3 years for Wiggins and Bennett to develop. Lebron will have his 12th season next year. Here’s some 12th seasons of recent superstars:
Shaquille O’Neal: 2003-2004
Kevin Garnett: 2006-2007
Kobe Bryant: 2007-2008
Tim Duncan: 2008-2009
Dirk Nowitzki: 2009-2010
All had a relatively short window by this point, to win a title at their apex. Like them Lebron will remain an elite player after he slightly declines, but the Cavs should want to strike when the iron is hottest, while Lebron is still at a greatest of all time level.
Kevin Love is perfect for the Cavaliers, Dan. He’s old enough to immediately contend now and young enough to be a star until Lebron is in his late 30s. With Lebron, Irving, Love and shooters like Allen and Miller, the Heat become the most unstoppable offense in the league. To me this is a no brainer. Love is the way to go.
We have a chance for Love, but when they kept asking for Klay Thompson, we backed out of it. We love how Klay and Steph fit together in the long run and don’t feel the difference between David Lee and Kevin Love is worth an all-star caliber starting SG. Are we making the right decision Dr.? Or are we thinking with our hearts instead of our heads?
- Joe, Oakland, CA
Joe, this is crazy. Think about what you’re doing because it’s crazy. I can’t see where you’re coming from here at all.
Look Klay Thompson is an exciting shooting guard and David Lee’s production is underrated, but this is a superstar you can trade for. As complex and wonderful as the NBA is, succeeding is as simple as getting multiple, mid 20s superstars at the same time. When you team up a pair like Steph and Love everything falls into place around them. Not to mention having defensive talent like Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut is perfect for those two. If the Warriors make this move they’re as big a title contender as anyone, instead of looking at a 5th or 6th seed season.
I can understand the argument that Klay Thompson and David Lee combined may be as productive as Kevin Love next year, even if I’d disagree. Where this really becomes a no brainer is the long term. Neither player’s current value is constant. David Lee is 31 and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2 years. Klay Thompson is on his rookie scale, but judging by Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons deal, will be on a maximum salary as soon as he can get it. In other words, eventually instead of Lee and Klay, Lee expires and Klay’s salary means that you can’t replace Lee’s production on the free agent market. The Warriors just end up with Klay Thompson instead of the superior Kevin Love. In the long run a superstar is the way to go. Superstars are the biggest financial bargains available, with how the CBA restricts their real value. Kevin Love will give you more bang for your buck than Klay making the same salary.
I have to be honest Joe, I haven’t liked the Warriors moves much since you came aboard, with a short-sighted Andre Iguodala deal leading the way. But Kevin Love is all but fallen into your lap. If you get him contending will be easy. The history of the NBA says target the superstars, always target the superstars. The Warriors are far more likely to regret turning down Love than jumping for him.
Kevin Love wants out of here. I know we haven’t been able to give him everything he wants, but he was our hope to get back to the playoffs. Without him, now what? We go back to the lottery? We end up in the middle of the league, picking 13th or 14th in the lottery but not making the playoffs? This doesn’t sound good to me. We’re still damaged from David Kahn, what if we had Stephen Curry and Kevin Love right now? I don’t know what to do
- Flip, Minneapolis, MN
Flip, you just have to pick up the pieces and make the best decision you can. Here’s my advice: Don’t worry about fit. Just get the most valuable assets and make it work later.
I wouldn’t be so bent on the Klay Thompson and David Lee package if I were you. Klay is going to get a max salary soon and will lose a lot of his value to a franchise. Lee becomes less valuable when he expires. Those players still leave your roster with a lot of work to do.
As for a potential Cleveland offer of Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, I’m mixed. Although I’m lower on Wiggins talent than most, I’m higher on Bennett’s and feel he could be an all-star PF for you. On the whole it’s a decent move to trade Love for those two, giving you young talent around Ricky Rubio and Nik Pekovic long term.
You could also trade Love to the Chicago Bulls for a package like Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic. The problem is this is a lot of good but not great. Taj Gibson is 29 so he’s not the most youngest of pieces to rebuild with. Still it gives the Wolves potentially 3 starting caliber players and if you want to win, it’s an option.
Of your options I say holding out for the Cleveland kids is the best way to go. Yeah you may not win the most games next year, but in the long run you could have starters at SF and PF, along with cap flexibility to rebuild the team with. You wouldn’t be starting from ground zero.
WOW, this is a disaster. We thought we were getting Chris Bosh for sure if Lebron James left Miami, but then he resigns in Miami? We traded away Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik just to make this happen, so now what should we do? How do we rebound?
- Daryl, Houston, TX
Daryl, this is a tough spot for you. Chris Bosh was the perfect player for your team and what’s more, holding out so long to sign Bosh or Carmelo only to get neither, along with Chandler Parsons offer sheet putting you on the clock, severly limits your options. Sure, you could go after Luol Deng or Trevor Ariza, but do they fit a team with Parsons? You could wait for Goran Dragic or Rajon Rondo next summer, but do they fit with James Harden?
I’d have loved to see Isaiah Thomas on the Rockets but then BAM, Phoenix signs him, off the market.
So I don’t have a solution for you Daryl. Maybe you should try the less sexy but safe option. Call up Danny Ainge and see if he wants to trade you Jeff Green for your capspace. Yeah he’s not Chris Bosh, but he spaces the floor, is competent defensively and can be a glue guy. You have an awesome team Daryl with Harden, Dwight Howard, Parsons and Patrick Beverly. Jeff Green may be a rebound guy but maybe he’ll turn into Mr. Right.
Dr, I don’t know what to do. Lance is one of the most exciting players we’ve had, we’re a team that needs this talent and dynamic ability. But he can also be an egotistical jerk and rubs our players the wrong way. Last year his rise to prominence led our team chemistry to fall apart. Sometimes we watch Lance’s antics and are like wow, is this really us, didn’t we swear this off after Ron? But if we let him go, we don’t feel we’re a sexy enough option for other free agents and may just end up with a drip. We tried bringing in Evan Turner as a replacement and BOY, that did not turn out. I’m not letting Sam Hinkie trade me a player again, the 76ers give it up so easy, no wonder they only have losers to trade. Dr, what should I do?
- Larry, Indianapolis, IN
This is one of the toughest decisions of the summer, Larry. I agree Lance has a negative influence on your team. I have to be honest Larry, before Lance became a star, the Pacers were like a Christian rock band. Yeah they weren’t the coolest band around, but they had good chemistry, played hard and didn’t mess around with distractions. But Lance becoming a star is like if the band hired a non-Christian guitarist who was a sex addict and brought drugs with him on tour. He made their band sound better, but soon enough his negative influence led the others to slip and to fight with each other. Maybe it’s time to go back to your Christian rock band roots.
But on the other hand, this league is about talent Larry. You can’t just walk up against teams like the Spurs and Lebron’s Cavaliers and expect to win on hard work and chemistry. You need dynamic players and game changers. That’s why giving up on Lance is so hard. He has the star upside to take you over the top.
Here’s what I recommend: I say resign Lance. But here’s what you do. Play out next season and see if the Pacers can get it together and become elite again. If the team self-destructs in chemistry, then just trade Lance after next year. His talent and youth will make him have trade value and you’ll get assets for him. By resigning Lance, you can try the “no Lance” option at a later date. But if you let Lance go, you’ll never have the chance to go back and try it with him again.