A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

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

One Response

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  1. I don’t think I buy that skill level is largely innate. Now if you want to say that the foundations for shooting and dribbling are established well before a guy gets to college (through work and practice and whatever else), that I think makes sense.


    July 6, 2014 at 9:05 am

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