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Archive for July 2014

Predicting the Kevin Love trade

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Here is my prediction for the Kevin Love trade. I believe the following deal is legal:

Minnesota trades:

Kevin Love – 15.7 million
J.J. Barea – 4.5 million

(19.9 million outgoing)

Minnesota gets:

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)

Cleveland trades:

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)

Cleveland gets:

Kevin Love – 15.7 million

(15.7 million incoming)

Philadelphia trades:

Thaddeus Young – 9.4 million

(9.4 million outgoing)

Philadelphia gets:

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.

Written by jr.

July 29, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Philadelphia vs Atlanta and the Finish Line + Ensemble title caliber teams

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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.

Written by jr.

July 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Basketball

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Is the Oklahoma City-Josh Huestis “domestic draft and stash” agreement rational?

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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?

Josh Huestis

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.

Oklahoma City

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.

Written by jr.

July 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

A few summer league thoughts

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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.

Written by jr.

July 22, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2014 NBA Draft Mixed Model Big Board

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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:

Philadelphia 76ers

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)

Total: +4

Chicago Bulls

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)

Total: +3

Atlanta Hawks

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)

Total: +3

Detroit Pistons

SG Spencer Dinwiddie (38th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 11th, Expected value: 21, Difference: +3)

Total: +3

Sacramento Kings

SG Nik Stauskas (8th overall pick, Expected value: 21, Ranked: 2nd, Expected value: 24, Difference: +3)

Total: +3

New Orleans Pelicans

PG Russ Smith (47th overall pick, Expected value: 16, Ranked: 30th, Expected value: 19, Difference: +3)

Total: +3

Memphis Grizzlies

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: /)

Total: +3

Charlotte Hornets

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)

Total: +2

Phoenix Suns:

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)

Total: +2

Miami Heat

PG Shabazz Napier (26th overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 8th, Expected value: 21, Difference: +2)

Total: +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)

Difference: +2

Toronto Raptors

SF DeAndre Daniels (37th overall pick, Expected value: 18, Ranked: 24th, Expected value: 19, Difference: +1)

SF Bruno Cabolco (unranked)

Total: +1

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)

Total: +1

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)

Total: +1

Los Angeles Clippers

SG C.J. Wilcox (28th overall pick, Expected value: 19, Ranked: 39th, Expected value: 18, Difference: -1)

Difference: -1

Denver Nuggets

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)

Total: -1

Utah Jazz

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: / )

Total: -2

Brooklyn Nets

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)

Total: -2

Houston Rockets

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)

Total: -2

Minnesota Timberwolves

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)

Total: -3

Milwaukee Bucks

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)

Total: -4

Boston Celtics

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)

Total: -6

Orlando Magic

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)

Total: -6

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)

Total: -7

Cleveland Cavaliers

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)

Total: -10

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)

Written by jr.

July 16, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Free agency advice column: Ask Dr. Offseason

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Dear Dr.

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.

Dear Dr.

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.

Dear Dr.

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.

Dear Dr.

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.

Dear Dr.

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.

The Blazers signing Chris Kaman: Somehow much worse than the Magic signing Ben Gordon

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A lot of people jumped on Ben Gordon’s contract with the Magic (2 years, 9 million with the 2nd year unguaranteed) as the WTF free agent signing of the summer so far. It was an inexplicable bad decision but I feel Portland giving Chris Kaman 2 years, 10 million (again, the 2nd year unguaranteed) was easily worse.

First, Kaman is effectively the C version of Gordon. He’s aging and inefficient offensively, very poor at defense and isn’t known as a veteran leader. It’s been understood for a few years by smart basketball people online Kaman and Gordon aren’t helping you win games.

But at least in the Magic’s case they’re probably tanking anyways. They were a 23-59 team who traded an all-star caliber guard in the East in Arron Afflalo, for the younger more erratic Evan Fournier. They also cut Jameer Nelson who was a stabilizing presence in the locker room. Afflalo and Nelson easily led the team in 3pt makes, despite their shooting the Magic ranked 21st in total 3 point makes for the season. At the same time they drafted Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon and are likely to play them over 30 minutes per game. Both players have shooting and spacing the floor as their biggest weakness. So at their perimeter positions the Magic’s floor spacing has gotten much worse. They ranked 29th in offense last year despite having Afflalo and Nelson’s shooting, replacing those minutes with Payton and Gordon more likely than not makes their offense even worse. The Magic did sign Channing Frye today who’s 3pt shooting and spacing should help in the frontcourt. In general due to the loss of Afflalo and likely giving major minutes to two rookies in Payton and Gordon, The 4.5 million they spent on Ben Gordon has less opportunity cost both because they were unlikely to win and because they were far under the salary floor. Enough that after the move if they wanted they could still make “salary dump for draft picks” deals with another team, like Utah absorbing Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins for 2 1sts. That becomes more difficult after signing Frye, but this decision isn’t related to whether signing Gordon was smart or not. As for Ben Gordon’s contribution to the team whether the Magic intend it or not (I wouldn’t rule out intent considering I’m convinced Sam Hinkie signed Byron Mullens to be his “tank secret weapon”), playing Gordon’s brand of ball stopping inefficient offense and negligent defense is likely to increase their loss column next year and get them a higher draft pick. By midway through the season if the Magic are poor again they’ll be happy to have Gordon’s loss-friendly contributions. The Ben Gordon contract certainly isn’t good, but it doesn’t hurt what they’re trying to achieve going forward either.

The Chris Kaman signing differs from this in a lot of ways. The Trail Blazers won 54 Gs last year and are on the precipice of contention. Their starting lineup of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Lamarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez is one of the most complete in the league. They just need bench contributions. The MLE they spent on Chris Kaman was their big chance to improve their big weakness behind their starting lineup. Therefore it has a huge opportunity cost.

First, 5 million on Chris Kaman is an overpayment for a player little evidence suggests has helped teams win more than a replacement caliber player lately. Secondly, I just don’t see what Kaman does for Portland. The team ranked 2nd in offence and 16th in defense last year. Kaman is a poor defender so he should add to their weakness. The Blazers need more speed and athleticism on defense and Kaman won’t help there. Offensively Kaman’s biggest contribution is floor spacing at PF/C, but the Blazers already spaced the floor exceptionally well and have a much much better version of Kaman offensively in Aldridge. The Blazers succeed at ball moving and not turning the ball over (ranking 3rd lowest in TOV%), Kaman hasn’t passed the ball overly willingly and has been turnover prone. Also note that the Blazers style of play is modelled after Rick Carlisle’s Dallas 2011 Mavericks, with Lamarcus Aldridge in the place of 2011 Dirk, as the high post shooter/scorer who’s spacing the floor for his teammates. Of course, the Mavericks tried signing Chris Kaman to get value of his skill level in a new system… and it didn’t work. He used possessions inefficiently because of turning the ball over, didn’t pass the ball and didn’t play defense. So why would it work with a 2 years older Kaman on the Mavericks clone the Blazers?

My feeling on Kaman is if anything he’ll make the Blazers worse defensively and he’s as likely to hurt the Blazers offense as help it, by hurting their ball movement, efficiency and turning the ball over. Compare this to other MLE options like signing Thabo Sefolosha to help the Blazers wing defense off the bench, or signing Greivis Vasquez/Darren Collison to run the 2nd unit as a 6th man. To me the value of these signings compared to splurging on Kaman isn’t close.

But what makes the Kaman contract really insane is the timing. They signed him on July 3rd and made him one of the first MLE sized players signed. Why not wait? At the end of July and early August there’s usually free agents who’s agents oversold their client’s strength and now have to settle for a smaller contract than what they begun looking for. That’s when you can get players better than Kaman for 2.5-3 million a year. Signing Kaman for 5 million is already such an inefficient use of finances that it’s hard NOT to beat it efficiency wise later in the summer. By waiting the Blazers may have been able to end up with either 2 bench players as good as Kaman for the same 5 million price, or one player better than him for the full MLE. Either way, spending 5 million ASAP in free agency on a player who hasn’t made a winning impact in years, for a team who desperately needed to use its MLE right, is crazy.

Written by jr.

July 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm

2014 Draft review – How well did each team pick talent?

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To “grade” teams in the 2014 NBA Draft, for fun here’s what I did. I take the talent grade I gave for a prospect in this post and then I compare it to the “expected value” for a pick.

To get this, for example say a team drafts a player with the 25th pick. In my talent grades post, the 25th ranked player had a talent grade of 19, therefore I use 19 as their “expected value”. This means if the team used the 25th pick on a player with a talent grade of 22, I give them a (+3) for the pick.

After doing this, I add up the grades of each player to get the team’s total grade.

In my post last week I acknowledged factors like production and analytics may be important beyond just drafting for talent, so this isn’t a perfect measure of how a team drafted.

Phoenix Suns

SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (27th overall pick) – Talent grade: 25, ranked 1st

SF T.J. Warren (14th overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked 22nd

PG Tyler Ennis (18th overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 66th

C Alec Brown (50th overall pick) – Talent grade: 20, ranked 21st

Expected value:

27th overall pick: 19 (Bogdanovic: +6)

14th overall pick: 20 (Warren: -1)

18th overall pick: 20 (Ennis: -5 )

50th overall pick: 16 (Brown: +4)

Overall: +4

Odds were whoever took Bogdan Bogdanovic in the 20s would rate high on my list. The difference between how I see him and how conventional wisdom sees him is actually simple. Most notice Bogdanovic has shooting, passing, size and feel. But while they see a spot up jumpshooter (think Wes Matthews) I see a possibly great off the dribble slasher. I see a first step and ballhandling that helps him drive past defenders. Sometimes he drives all the way to the rim without a pick. For this reason I see Serbian Brandon Roy.

Phoenix also made one of my favorite 2nd round picks in Alec Brown. Brown has some weaknesses like strength and rebounding and questionable senior production, but a big with mobility, length and 3 point shooting ability should be a unique floor spacing match-up.

I’m mixed on the Warren and Ennis picks. I rate Warren as slightly overvalued at 14 but with strong ability to drive to the rim, a unique floater and feel, he should at least be a scorer and relevant rotation player. His production in college helps his case. The Ennis pick surprises me from an otherwise brilliant front office. He reminds me of the PG version of the Otto Porter pick last year, a guard who should struggle to drive or defend and with a shaky jumper. That looks like either a backup or non-NBA unless his jumpshot blows up.

The Suns have done an incredible job since hiring Ryan McDonough. Their roster build reminds me of the recent Spurs with a balanced mix of penetration, spacing and feel. They could be an NBA champion within 5 years.

Chicago Bulls

SF Doug McDermott (11th overall pick) – Talent grade: 21, ranked 12th

PF Cameron Bairstow (49th overall pick) – Talent grade: 20, ranked 15th
Expected value:

11th overall pick: 21 (McDermott: / )

49th overall pick: 16 (Bairstow: +4)

Total: +4

I’m a big fan of this draft for the Bulls. McDermott is the absolute best shooting prospect drafted in this class, with his sky high FT% backing up his strong 3pt splits. That alone should fill an offensive need for the Bulls at SF, but I also see underrated speed driving off close-outs, along with post skills.

Bairstow both rates a huge steal talent wise at 49 for me, along with fits the Bulls well. Both Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson could be another team next season if the Bulls need to clear the books for Carmelo. Guess who Bairstow kind of plays like? Boozer and Taj! His strength, athleticism driving to the rim, feel and midrange jumpshot give him starting PF potential.

Both McDermott and Bairstow were among the most productive players in college, which could make them early contributors in the NBA for the Bulls. Considering if all goes well they could contend for the Finals next year, this could be crucial.

Atlanta Hawks

PF Adreian Payne (15th overall pick) – Talent grade: 22, ranked 4th

C Walter Tavares (43rd overall pick) – Talent grade: 17, ranked 45th

SF Lamar Patterson (48th overall pick) – Talent grade: 18, ranked 35th

Expected value:

15th overall pick: 20 (Payne: +2)

43rd overall pick: 17 (Tavares: / )

48th overall pick: 16 (Patterson: +2)

Total: +4

The Hawks continued their intelligent team construction under Danny Ferry. Adreian Payne fits the NBA’s modern power forwards. He both is a floor spacer, has the length and mobility to contribute defensively and can drive to the rim off the dribble. This is a terrific package of skills as most stretch 4s leave defensive or penetrating on the table. Payne’s production in college wasn’t elite for a senior which may be related to a lung condition.

Atlanta’s 2nd round was rock solid. Patterson rates as a steal where they got him to me, he has size, shooting ability and feel which could make him a long term role player. Walter Tavares is big and has some mobility and touch. It’s easier for a player like Walter Tavares to stick in the NBA than guards with equivalent talent. When he becomes an NBA player at the least he should give Atlanta a warm body or lower level trade asset.

Atlanta is an interesting example as the anti-Philadelphia 76ers. Although tanking like the Sixers gives them more powerful draft picks, the argument in favor of Atlanta is they’re closer to being good. If a roster with 45 win talent needs 10-15 Ws of improvements to hit contention threshold and a roster with 15 win talent needs 40-45 Ws, is it easier for the former team to reach their goal? They take smaller steps but are far closer to the finish line. With quality picks like Payne and Schroeder last draft and plenty of capspace, why can’t the Hawks quickly improve enough to be a top 2 seed in the East?

Detroit Pistons

SG Spencer Dinwiddie (38th overall pick) – Talent grade: 22, ranked: 5th

Expected value:

38th overall pick: 18 (Dinwiddie: +4)

Total: +4

Stan Van Gundy didn’t have a lot of draft capital this year, but he nailed it with what he had. Dinwiddie’s ACL injury is comparatively low risk in modern day, while his upside at SG is great. He can shoot, drive a bit, has the tools to defend and has a great feel. This could be one of the 10-15 best SGs in the league. In addition a smart-instincts, floor spacing, professional SG is the direction to the Pistons need to go.

Sacramento Kings

SG Nik Stauskas (8th overall pick) – Talent grade: 24, ranked 3rd

Expected value:

8th overall pick: 21 (Stauskas: +3)

Total: +3

After writing off the Kings management recently as incompetent, they shocked me with a fantastic pick. Stauskas is not only an elite shooter, but I rate his penetration ability as one of the best in the draft as well, with both a strong first step and ballhandling. Pairing his perimeter skills with driving could make him devastating offensively, despite strength and lateral mobility concerns. This pick could be like when drafting Stephen Curry 7th changed the Warriors.

Miami Heat

PG Shabazz Napier (26th overall pick) – Talent grade: 22, ranked 26th

Expected value:

24th overall pick: 19 (Napier: +3)

Total: +3

Just the draft the Heat needed. Napier gives them shooting on and off the ball, penetration to the basket and his defensive issues can be covered. I feel the league missed this year on just how likely Napier is to be a starting PG in the NBA. With Napier and a free agent like Pau or Deng the Heat could win the title again next year. Their demise has been slightly exaggerated. They ran into a team playing incredibly in the Finals and playing in the East is such an advantage. Although they may be underdogs against whoever they face in the Finals, their odds of getting to the Finals are better than any individual West team, so in a way their championship odds may still be the overall best in the league.

Toronto Raptors

SF Bruno Caboclo (20th overall pick) – Talent grade: unranked

SF DeAndre Daniels (37th overall pick) – Talent grade: 21st, ranked 8th

Expected value:

37th overall pick: 18 (Daniels: +3)

Total: +3

As a Raptors fan, the Bruno picked shocked me – I hadn’t even heard his name in passing before! Yet after watching some videos, I went “oh, I get it”. His physical tools are probably better than Giannis Antetokounmpo’s, with a 7’7 wingspan and good athleticism, especially laterally. This could give him unlimited defensive potential for  wing. His jumpshot for his age doesn’t seem broken. He looks like a fluid player. A quick glance makes me believe he could be a top 15 talent in the draft.

Yet I didn’t even need to rank Bruno to rate the Raptors draft well. Deandre Daniels was a pick I’d have been happy with at 20. Although his college production has enigma signs, he’s athletic enough to drive, has length defensively, has 3pt potential and has feel for the game. This looks like the recipe of a starter SF talent.

What’s interesting about the Daniels and Bruno picks is they get to the heart of “risk” in the draft. Bruno’s low level competition and Daniels production in college, will get them called high risk, high upside picks. But are they actually more safe players than this? Players with Bruno and Daniels’ athleticism and length usually stick on that alone, even if their skill level remains raw. It’s possible even if these picks don’t work out, they’re still 8th or 9th men off the bench as defensive role players who hit the occasional 3. Which isn’t a poor downside compared to other options at #20 and #37. These picks could both have starter upside and the downside of still low level rotation players.

New Orleans Pelicans

PG Russ Smith (47th overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked 24th

Expected value:

47th overall pick: 16 (Smith: +3)

Total: +3

The Pelicans are weird. Last draft they had an offseason I thought was terrible drafting 2 1sts for Jrue Holiday and using Greivis Vasquez and Robin Lopez to overpay Tyreke Evans. But they targeted one of the best 2nd round picks in Jeff Withey, along with picking another probable steal in D League superstar Pierre Jackson.

This year? They once again make a poor value decision in giving up next year’s 1st for Omer Asik (seriously, 4 lottery picks on Austin Rivers, Jrue Holiday and Omer Asik???)… and once again get one of the best 2nd round picks in Russ Smith. Smith’s ability to penetrate, defensive movement and shooting could make him a starting PG or 6th man. For #47 he’s great value.

Philadelphia 76ers

C Joel Embiid (3rd overall pick) – Talent grade: 24, ranked 2nd

PF Dario Saric (12th overall pick) – Talent grade: 21, ranked 9th

SF K.J. McDaniels (32nd overall pick) – Talent grade: 17, ranked 42nd
Expected value:

PF Jerami Grant (39th overall pick) – Talent grade: 18, ranked 32nd)

PG Vasilije Micic (52nd overall pick) – Talent grade: 16, ranked 47th)

SG Jordan McRae (58th overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked 25th

Expected value:

3rd overall pick: 24 (Embiid: /)

12th overall pick: 21 (Saric: / )

32nd overall pick: 18 (McDaniels: -1)

39th overall pick: 18 (Grant: / )

52nd overall pick: 16 (Micic: / )

58th overall pick: 16 (McRae: +3)

Total: +2

Embiid and Saric rate as fine picks at #3 and #12.. in talent alone. Embiid has a great combination of length, athleticism, skill and feel to make him a two way star and his production in college near seals his stardom if healthy. Saric has rare penetrating ability and feel for a power forward.

But this is on paper. Other than Embiid’s health presenting major concerns, Saric has some risk as well. The TV broadcasters at the draft made a good point, how the team who takes him, has to recruit him for 2 years while he plays out his fresh European contract. Worst case scenario he signs a new contract in Europe and loses both his value to the Sixers and trade value to others. Note that Saric has already delayed his NBA debut multiple times. He’s been a projected NBA lottery pick so long, that if he really wanted to, he could have structured his contracts to join the NBA by the 2013 draft. Not only did he sign longer deals and pull his name out of 2013, but he signed a 2 year deal a week before the 2014 draft. Saric may want to play in the NBA, but if he doesn’t, the warning signs were there.

So can the Sixers recruit Saric? I’m of the mind Philadelphia will still be terrible 2 seasons from now in 2015-2016. Teams made entirely of young players lose and it’s hard to flip the switch immediately. I don’t know if a player as competitive as Saric will want to join that Sixers team. I can’t think of a team I’d be less confident of Saric joining than Philadelphia.

In the 2nd round the Sixers did solid. The steal of the group is Jordan McRae who I rated as a top 30 talent, with a solid combination of athleticism, feel and skills. I rated K.J. McDaniels as slightly worse than where the Sixers took him and Jerami Grant, Vasilije Micic slightly better, but all 3 could be rotation players and assets. If the Sixers get a starter and another bench player out of those 4 2nd round picks, they’ll be happy.

The Sixers had a solid draft, but considering the risk they took with Embiid and Saric, their grade isn’t as much a home run as it could’ve been. As for their overall strategy I can see the argument on both sides, but it probably depends half on how they use these assets after they collect them all.

Charlotte Hornets

PF Noah Vonleh (9th overall pick) – Talent grade: 21, ranked 11th

SG P.J. Hairston (26th overall pick) – Talent grade: 20, ranked 18th

Expected value:

9th overall pick: 21 (Vonleh: / )

26th overall pick: 19 (Hairston: +1 )

Total: +1

This was a quality draft for the Hornets. They may end up with two starters. Both players have size and skill level for their position, post and outside for Vonleh and 3pt shooting for Hairston. Although my grade is slightly positive, compared to the Kemba Walker/Bismack Biyombo drafts, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist draft and Cody Zeller draft, this Hornets draft looks like a huge improvement. Like Atlanta, Charlotte’s case in the East compared to tanking teams may look better than some think, just because they aren’t far away. If this draft gets them on the path to over 50 Ws, they could in the mix to make the Finals after the Heat slide an leave a power vacuum.

Brooklyn Nets

SG Markel Brown (44th overall pick) – Talent grade: 18, ranked 37th)

SG Xavier Thames (58th overall pick – Talent grade: 16, ranked 59th)

PF Cory Jefferson (60th overall pick – Talent grade: 16, ranked 57th)

Expected value:

44th overall pick: 17 (Brown: +1)

58th overall pick: 16 (Thames: / )

60th overall pick: 16 (Jefferson: / )

Total: +1

This draft is unspectacular but Billy King may have hit few solid singles with his bought picks. Brown has some shooting, length and feel. Thames can score from the perimeter. Jefferson is an athlete at PF. Getting 1 or 2 rotation players here is a win for the Nets and they did desperately need some young legs. It’s not just that youth helps their lineup, but the more important reason to find draft steals for the Nets, is to get more trade assets.

New York Knicks

SF Cleanthony Early (34th overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked: 28th)

SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51st overall pick) – Talent grade: 16, ranked: 48th)

C Louis Labeyrie (57th overall pick) – Talent grade: unranked

Expected value:

34th overall pick: 18 (Early: +1)

51st overall pick: 16 (Antetokounmpo: / )

Total: +1

Solid if unspectacular first draft for the Knicks. Early fell into their laps and has rotation/starter potential for his shooting ability and penetration ability offensively, albeit he may struggle on D. Thanasis is an athlete and could play a defensive role at multiple positions in the NBA. I don’t know anything about Labeyrie. I liked this Tyson Chandler trade for the Knicks by giving them talent in Early, Larkin and Thanasis. As for the Knicks future? They need to avoid paying Carmelo a massive contract for an older player and tank in 2015 while they have their pick. Then re-evaluate their situation with more young assets and capspace a year from now. That’s just what they need to do. It makes by far the most sense. The toxins of the pre-Phil Jackson Knicks need time to wash out of their system.

Memphis Grizzlies

SG Jordan Adams (22nd overall pick) – Talent grade: 21, ranked 10th

PF Jarnell Stokes (35th overall pick) – Talent grade: 16, ranked 54th

Expected value:

22nd overall pick: 19 (Adams: +2)

35th overall pick: 18 (Stokes: -2 )

Total: /

Adams is an excellent pick for the Grizzlies. Along with his talent, college production and analytics back up he’s a likely above average starting SG in the NBA. He can shoot, drive to the rim and move surprisingly well on defense. This could be a powerful addition considering the Grizzlies other strengths.

I’m not a fan of Stokes talent. Although he a strong feel for the game Stokes skill level in the post or his jumpshot doesn’t impress me and his athleticism/standing reach is a concern. I need to see an improved jumpshot from him.

The Grizzlies are already near contention and Adams could be a crucial part of taking the next step.

San Antonio Spurs

PF Kyle Anderson (30th overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked: 29th

SF Nemanja Dangubic (54th overall pick) – Talent grade: unranked

Expected value:

30th overall pick: 19 (Anderson: / )

The Spurs had a good draft but I wouldn’t call it a home run. Something to think about, although Anderson fits the Spurs model of feel, passing and spacing perfectly for a PF, does he just replicate what they already have enough? If the Spurs have a weakness it’s athleticism at PF and C, which is also Anderson’s weakness.

The argument against this is the Spurs may not be counting on Anderson’s contribution for years anyways. By the time Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have retired and they’re rebuilding a roster around Kawhi Leonard. They could have a bigger need for his skills then.

I never found enough footage to comfortably rate Dangubic

L.A. Clippers

SG C.J. Wilcox (28th overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked: 30th

Expected value:

28th overall pick: 19 (Wilcox: / )

I like Wilcox well enough, he’s a great shooter and has the athleticism to drive to the rim. But this is a confounding pick. I’d have liked to see the Clippers try and draft a young frontcourt player, instead of yet another spot up shooter. Nevertheless if he contributes he could help the Clippers by becoming a trade asset for one more veteran to help them compete for the title. They also may have eyed using free agency to fill their big man hole from the start, as seen by signing Spencer Hawes today.

Utah Jazz

PG/SG Dante Exum (5th overall pick) – Talent grade: 20, Ranking: 14th)

SF Rodney Hood (23rd overall pick) – Talent grade: 20, Ranking: 19th)

Expected value:

5th overall pick: 22 (Exum: -2)

23rd overall pick: 19 (Hood: +1)

Total: -1

The Jazz got two potential starters. Exum has size, feel and penetration ability, but his jumpshot has no floor. The risk with this pick is you end up with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of guards, a great combination of physical tools and feel who’s just crushed by his jumper. Even with an average jumper it may only make him a good but not elite PG. Nevertheless I can’t kill them for the pick.

Hood is solid value in the 20s. He can shoot and has feel, albeit his defensive tools are concerning.

The Jazz needed a star and I believe there were other options with more potential, but they may add two nice assets all the same.

Los Angeles Lakers

PF Julius Randle (7th overall pick) – Talent grade: 21, ranked 7th

PG Jordan Clarkson (46th overall pick) – Talent grade: 16, ranked 50th

Expected value:

7th overall pick: 21 (Randle: / )

46th overall pick: 17 (Clarkson: -1)

Total: -1

Randle is a great bet to succeed. He has strength, athleticism, feel and skill and his production in college backs up his case. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t end an above average starting PF.

Clarkson is an underwhelming pick, he has some feel and penetrating ability, but his jumper concerns me. There are a lot of intriguing PGs so he may end up bouncing around like the Lakers pick Darius Morris before him.

The Lakers did what they needed, which was bring in a talented future starter to help lead into the post-Kobe era.

Denver Nuggets

C Jusuf Nurkic (16th overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked 26th

SG Gary Harris (19th overall pick) – Talent grade: 18, ranked 39th

C Nikola Jokic (41st overall pick) – Talent grade: 18, ranked 35th

Expected value:

16th overall pick: 20 (Nurkic: -1)

19th overall pick: 20 (Harris: -2)

41st overall pick: 17 (Jokic: +1)

Total: -2

Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris should be solid pros. Nurkic has size and some skill, Harris has some athleticism driving and 3pt shooting ability. I’m concerned about the feel for the game of both. Jokic is the best value of their picks as a skilled, feel-friendly C. The Nuggets took NBA caliber players but I don’t know if any move the needle in the way a roster full of good players but without stars needed.

Minnesota Timberwolves

SG Zach LaVine (13th overall pick) – Talent grade: 20, ranked 16th

SF Glenn Robinson III (40th overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 63rd

PG Alessandro Gentile (53rd overall pick) – Talent grade: unranked

Expected value:

13th overall pick: 20 (LaVine: / )

40th overall pick: 18 (Robinson III: -3)

Total: -3

The LaVine pick is fine from a talent perspective, but whatever college production is the “Mendoza line” equivalent where one should be worried about reaching talent, LaVine fell below it. Nevertheless his ability to penetrate to the basket could be one of the best in the class and his jumpshooting game could become solid. He could be a Monta Ellis type in the NBA.

Glenn Robinson III has long been one of the draft’s overrated to me. He has some feel but his driving or shooting is unimpressive. My guess is he doesn’t get drafted without his father’s name.

As for the rest of the Timberwolves offseason, I may have to tackle that in another post.

Houston Rockets

C Clint Capela (25th overall pick) – Talent grade: 18, ranked 34th

SG Nick Johnson (42nd overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 73rd

Expected value:

25th overall pick: 19 (Capela: -1)

42nd overall pick: 17 (Johnson: -2)

Total: -3

The Rockets made a reasonable pick by taking Capela who has exciting length and athleticism, albeit his skill and feel could keep him out of a starting lineup. Johnson is an underwhelming prospect to me, albeit in Houston he may find a role defending and hitting 3s at PG beside James Harden. This draft nevertheless serves a purpose for the Rockets as Capela will stay a valued trade asset while he remains productive in Europe.

Milwaukee Bucks

PF Jabari Parker (2nd overall pick) – Talent grade: 20, ranked 20th

SF/PF Damien Inglis (31st overall pick), Talent grade: 20, ranked 17th

PF Johnny O’Bryant (36th overall pick), Talent grade: 15, ranked 67th

Expected value:

2nd overall pick: 24 (Parker: -4)

33rd overall pick: 18 (Inglis: +2)

36th overall pick: 18 (O’Bryant: -3)

Total: -5

I’ve been fading Jabari Parker most of the year. My main argument is his skill level is overrated. He wasn’t a top 5 shooter on Duke, his passing was poor in college, in the halfcourt he wasn’t very comfortable isolating with the ball in his hands and his power game relied on strength and fluidity more than moves. Where is the supposedly elite skill level?

Still, if he moves to the PF his outside shooting even if average for a SF, should be well above average for the position. He can provide spacing, fluidity and strength at PF and be a starting caliber 4. But my feeling is he will disappoint on the whole. To me the reason Andrew Wiggins talent level is complicated, but I’m guessing with Jabari people will understand quickly into his career he had overlooked flaws.

Damien Inglis continued the Bucks trend of smart 2nd round picks. He has impressive strength, length and feel for a 4, the makings of a jumper and can pass the ball. He could be a starter in the NBA.

Johnny O’Bryant is a rugged energy guy, but I’m a fan of drafting for talent in the 2nd round and I don’t see enough in the way of physical tools or skill here to be impressed.

Oklahoma City Thunder

C Mitch McGary (21st overall pick) – Talent grade: 18, ranked: 32nd

SF Josh Huestis (29th overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 69th

SG Semaj Christon (55th overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 64th

Expected value:

21st overall pick: 20 (McGary: -2)

29th overall pick: 19 (Huestis: -4)

55th overall pick: 16 (Christon: -1)

Total: -7

A weird draft for the Thunder. McGary is a solid big man with strength and feel and he should fit with his athletic teammates well, but 21 in this draft was like a lottery pick in others and I feel higher upside options were there than him. His drug violation is an exception to the Thunder’s normally strict character policy. Finally, with two C prospects in Steven Adams and Tibor Pleiss in Europe, did they need to spend another crucial pick on one?

Josh Huestis has some length and ability to defend laterally, but offensively the ability to drive or shoot is both questionable. I feel more offense is needed for a SF in the modern day. Semaj Christon’s ballhandling and shooting skill don’t impress me the most and I figure it could hamper him.

The above grade is probably is too harsh on the Thunder since McGary can become a solid piece for them. But picking twice in the 1st round was such an opportunity for them, I wonder if they’ll regret this one.

Boston Celtics

PG/SG Marcus Smart (6th overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked 23rd

SF James Young (17th overall pick) – Talent grade: 16, ranked 55th

Expected value:

6th overall pick: 22 (Smart: -3)

17th overall pick: 20 (Young: -4)

Total: -7

I didn’t like this draft for the Celtics. Smart has elite size and lateral quickness for a guard but his ballhandling and shooting are a weakness to me. Much of the position just comes down to driving to the rim and shooting and I’m not sure he has it. His feel also seems average. My comparison is Rodney Stuckey.

James Young was one of my least favorite top 20 rated picks. He has some feel and length, but I don’t athleticism driving to the basket, much lateral speed or shooting. In other words he may not find a role offensively or defensively.

As for the Celtics direction they could be in for a long rebuild if they strike out on Kevin Love and are forced to trade Rajon Rondo. Boston is doing the right thing collecting assets however.

Orlando Magic

PF Aaron Gordon (4th overall pick) – Talent grade: 20, ranked 13th

PG Elfrid Payton (10th overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 62nd

SG Roy Devyn Marble (56th overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 72nd

Expected value:

4th overall pick: 22 (Gordon: -2)

10th overall pick: 21 (Payton: -6)

56th overall pick: 16 (Marble: -1)

Total: -9

Yikes. The Magic continued to prove my theory that Rob Hennigan targets high feel for the game/fluidity players. But Payton and Gordon’s skill level for their position is a major weakness. Payton’s ballhandling may be a bigger weakness than some think because despite otherwise looking athletic, I thought he surprisingly struggled to drive past defenders in the halfcourt, often being funneled in front of them. His jumpshot could also be a terrible with a sub-60 FT% as a major concern. For the 10th pick he rates scarily low in talent.

Gordon should be a starting PF with athleticism, excellent lateral mobility, ballhandling and feel. He has some weaknesses like length in addition to his skill level and his college production wasn’t the best, but it’s not a killer pick at 4.

Roy Devyn Marble outside of feel for the game doesn’t look too talented to me, as an average athlete with shooting problems.

Orlando’s draft and trading Arron Afflalo was the beginning of an bewildering offseason so far. 8 million in Ben Gordon, Willie Green and Jameer Nelson’s buyout? Even if the Magic are tanking, they could have used that capspace to absorb contracts from other teams for draft picks/prospects. With that said I’m convinced Sam Hinkie in Philadelphia signed Byron Mullens as an “tank secret weapon” move, knowing just how terrible his impact was and counting on him adding to the L column. It’s possible Orlando is following their lead with Ben Gordon, a unique combination of inefficient ball stopping offense and dreadful defense. By likely starting Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon in a league where spacing is becoming crucial, the Magic could be horrendous next season.

Cleveland Cavaliers

SF Andrew Wiggins (1st overall pick) – Talent grade: 19, ranked 27th

SG Joe Harris (33rd overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 70th

PF Dwight Powell (45th overall pick) – Talent grade: 15, ranked 68th

Expected value:

1st overall pick: 25  (Wiggins: -6)

33rd overall pick: 18  (Harris: -3)

45th overall pick: 17 (Powell: -2)

Total: -11

This draft was as bad as it gets for me. I struggle to rate Andrew Wiggins as more than late lotto consideration. His ballhandling should subdue his ability to penetrate, his feel is average and his defensive tools aren’t as perfect as advertised. I feel he has more in common with Corey Brewer than Paul George. If he breaks through it’ll be by his jumpshot blowing up, as he showed just enough in the area for a high upside to be conceivable.

The Joe Harris pick was one of my least favorite in the 2nd round. Consider how he’s a 3pt shooting specialist draft pick who hit just 64% from the FT line, usually as important as 3P% to predict NBA 3pt shooting. Even with good 3pt shooting, slashing and defense could keep him out of a rotation.

Dwight Powell has some athleticism, but skill level and strength are concerns. I don’t see more than an end of the bench talent.

Now, I ordered all the picks in rating from their “expected value”. If players had the same difference, I rated the player taken with the higher pick ahead, as it’s probably harder to get extra value on top picks and there’s more value in it. This is something of a “best pick” list:

1. PHX 27th overall pick: 19 (Bogdan Bogdanovic: +6)

2. DET 38th overall pick: 18 (Spencer Dinwiddie: +4)

3. CHI 49th overall pick: 16 (Cameron Bairstow: +4)

4. PHX 50th overall pick: 16 (Alec Brown: +4)

5. SAC 8th overall pick: 21 (Nik Stauskas: +3)

6. MIA 24th overall pick: 19 (Shabazz Napier: +3)

7. TOR 37th overall pick: 18 (DeAndre Daniels: +3)

8. NOP 47th overall pick: 16 (Russ Smith: +3)

9. PHI 58th overall pick: 16 (Jordan McRae: +3)

10. ATL 15th overall pick: 20 (Adreian Payne: +2)

11. MEM 22nd overall pick: 19 (Jordan Adams: +2)

12. MIL 33rd overall pick: 18 (Damien Inglis: +2)

13. ATL 48th overall pick: 16 (Lamar Patterson: +2)

14. UTA 23rd overall pick: 19 (Rodney Hood: +1)

15. CHA 26th overall pick: 19 (P.J. Hairston: +1 )

16. NYK 34th overall pick: 18 (Cleanthony Early: +1)

17. DEN 41st overall pick: 17 (Nikola Jokic: +1)

18. BKN 44th overall pick: 17 (Markel Brown: +1)

19. PHI 3rd overall pick: 24 (Joel Embiid: /)

20. LAL 7th overall pick: 21 (Julius Randle: / )

21. CHA 9th overall pick: 21 (Noah Vonleh: / )

22. CHI 11th overall pick: 21 (Doug McDermott: / )

23. PHI 12th overall pick: 21 (Dario Saric: / )

24. MIN 13th overall pick: 20 (Zach LaVine: / )

25. LAC 28th overall pick: 19 (C.J. Wilcox: / )

26. SAS 30th overall pick: 19 (Kyle Anderson: / )

27. PHI 39th overall pick: 18 (Jerami Grant: / )

28. ATL 43rd overall pick: 17 (Walter Tavares: / )

29. NYK 51st overall pick: 16 (Thanasis Antetokounmpo: / )

30. PHI 52nd overall pick: 16 (Vasilije Micic: / )

31. BKN 58th overall pick: 16 (Xavier Thames: / )

32. BKN 60th overall pick: 16 (Cory Jefferson: / )

33. PHX 14th overall pick: 20 (T.J. Warren: -1)

34. DEN 16th overall pick: 20 (Jusuf Nurkic: -1)

35. HOU 25th overall pick: 19 (Clint Capela: -1)

36. PHI 32nd overall pick: 18 (K.J. McDaniels: -1)

37. LAL 46th overall pick: 17 (Jordan Clarkson: -1)

38. OKC 55th overall pick: 16 (Semaj Christon: -1)

39. ORL 56th overall pick: 16 (Roy Devyn Marble: -1)

40. ORL 4th overall pick: 22 (Aaron Gordon: -2)

41. UTA 5th overall pick: 22 (Dante Exum: -2)

42. DEN 19th overall pick: 20 (Gary Harris: -2)

43. OKC 21st overall pick: 20 (Mitch McGary: -2)

44. MEM 35th overall pick: 18 (Jarnell Stokes: -2 )

45. HOU 42nd overall pick: 15 (Nick Johnson: -2)

46. CLE 45th overall pick: 17 (Dwight Powell: -2)

47. BOS 6th overall pick: 22 (Marcus Smart: -3)

48. CLE 33rd overall pick: 18  (Joe Harris: -3)

49. MIL 36th overall pick: 18 (Johnny O’Bryant: -3)

50. MIN 40th overall pick: 18 (Glenn Robinson III: -3)

51. MIL 2nd overall pick: 24 (Jabari Parker: -4)

52. BOS 17th overall pick: 20 (James Young: -4)

53. OKC 29th overall pick: 19 (Josh Huestis: -4)

54. PHX 18th overall pick: 20 (Tyler Ennis: -5 )

55. CLE 1st overall pick: 25 (Andrew Wiggins: -6)

56. ORL 10th overall pick: 21 (Elfrid Payton: -6)

Interestingly despite how little ‘feel for the game’ is mentioned in draft scouting reports, the isn’t a clear correlation on the above list of teams underrating. There’s players rated at the bottom with high feel in addition to the top.

What really stands out as undervalued is skill level, both shooting the ball and ballhandling. Many of the players rated as steals are skilled floor spacers, while the players rated as reaches are often rawer players expected to learn how to shoot and dribble. This leads me to believe NBA teams are underrating how much skill level is innate and not learned, along with how important in general it is to be skilled.

Finally, here is the above list rearranged by team and the ranks of their picks, along with the average of their rankings. This may be the purest “drafting skill” rating:

1. DET – 2 (Average: 2)

2. SAC – 5 (Average: 5)

3. MIA – 6 (Average: 6)

4. TOR – 7 ( Average: 7)

5. NOP – 8 (Average: 8)

6. CHI – 3, 22 (Average: 12.5)

7. ATL – 10, 13, 28 (Average: 17)

8. CHA – 15, 21 (Average: 18)

9. NYK – 16, 29 (Average: 22.5)

10. PHX – 1, 4, 33, 54 (Average: 23.0)

11. PHI – 9, 19, 23, 27, 30, 36  (Average: 24.0)

12. LAC – 25 (Average: 25.0)

13. SAS – 26 (Average: 26.0)

14. BKN – 18, 31, 32 (Average: 27.0)

15. MEM – 11, 44 (Average: 27.5)

16. UTA – 14 + 41 (Average: 27.5)

17. LAL – 20, 37 (Average: 28.5)

18. DEN – 17, 34, 42 (Average: 31.0)

19. MIN – 24, 50 (Average: 37.0)

20. MIL – 12, 49, 51 (Average: 37.3)

21. HOU – 35, 45 (Average: 40.0)

22. OKC – 38, 43, 53 (Average: 44.7)

23. ORL – 39, 40, 56 (Average: 45.0)

24. BOS – 47, 52 (Average: 49.5)

25. CLE – 46, 48, 55 (Average: 49.7)

Written by jr.

July 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm