A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Early 2016 NBA draft top 10

with 2 comments

I made a few changes to my draft system this year. After the last few years I wasn’t happy with the results.

My idea is a less is more approach. Draft analysis can be split into gathering information and deciding what to do with that information. Scouts make judgments in areas like a player’s ability to drive, shoot, defend, his basketball intelligence and so forth. But the second part is deciding what each of these areas mean. How do you value the athletes who can’t shoot against the shooter without athleticism?

In previous drafts of my system I tried to do both. I thought I had a read on inefficiencies in judging things like drivers, shooters and defenders.  I then put this into my grading system of how to value each part of a player’s talent.

My new philosophy is TTS: Trust The Scouts. What is the most agreed upon belief by scouts about areas like driving, shooting or defending I will include in my grades instead of scouting it myself. So how will my rankings by any different than theirs? Because I keep the system and framework of giving grades to physical impact, skill impact and feel for the game. I use the scouts for the information gathering stage but differ in how I organize the information into rankings. In addition to this I’ll use advanced stat comparisons to the list of recent successes at each position as freshman to grade players seasons in that area. I give a player’s advanced stats a letter grade and then use it to multiply the player’s talent grade by the scale A = 100%, B = 90%, C = 80%, D = 70%. Looking at previous drafts I believe the framework of my system along combined with advanced stats would create a sharper draft ranking.

Here is my ranking of the top 10 of 2016 so far, using a small sample size of scouting reports and advanced stats so far:

1. PF Ben Simmons

What the scouts say: Simmons has a superb explosiveness for a 6’10 240 player and is currently a force in transition. His feel for the game may be the best in the class. His ahead of his peers court vision draws comparisons to Lebron, Magic and Bird. Although skilled at the rim and passing Simmons weakness is a lack of any jumper use thus far.

Talent grade: 24 (Physical impact talent grade: 8, Skill impact talent grade: 6, Feel for the Game talent grade: 10)

Simmons has been averaging a dominant 2.7 steals, 1.8 blocks, 22.3 points, 17.5 rebounds, 6.7 assists, .59 TS% per 40 minutes. Using my list of recent successful PFs I would give a grade of B if a prospect they averaged 1.3 steals, 2.7 blocks, 18 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists per 40 minutes on .63 TS%.  Simmons is above average in steals, points, rebounds and assists in dominant fashion in several of those categories. He is below average in blocks and TS%. Normally a player below average in a few categories wouldn’t get a true A, but Simmons is destroying categories like steals, rebounds and assists so much thus far that I decided to give it to him anyways.

Advanced stats grade: A

24 * A (100%) = 24.0

2. SG Furkan Korkmaz

What the scouts say: Korkmaz is an explosive wing athlete although his average ball handling may prevent his ability to drive some. He has solid length for SG but a skinny frame. His outside shooting, passing and feel for the game are excellent.

Talent grade: 22 (Physical impact: 6, Skill impact: 8, Feel for the Game: 8)

Advanced stats grade: Grading European players is a little more complicated than NCAA. If playing at a high level like Korkmaz who is in the Euroleague, I settled on giving them the same treatment as NCAA players but bumping up their grade one level to account to difficulty. In 2014-2015 as the equivalent of Korkmaz’s “freshman season” he averaged 2.2 steals, 0 blocks, 13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists on .58 TS% per 40 minutes. Using my list of recent SGs if an NCAA player averaged 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, 16.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists per 40 on .57 TS% I would give them a B. Korkmaz is above average in steals, assists and TS% and below average in blocks, points and rebounds. I’m split whether to cancel out his strengths and weaknesses and give him a B, or to take categories like his 0 in blocks to matter as worse than any of his positives. So I will grade him a B/C. Since this is a Euroleague player I then bump him up one grade to A/B to account for difficulty.

Advanced stats grade: A/B

22 * A/B (95%) = 20.9

3. PF Ivan Rabb

The scouts take: Rabb is an explosive PF with impressive length. He has a skinny frame for his position. Rabb has shown signs of perimeter shooting skill along with touch inside. I cannot find many scouts comments about his feel for the game but none seem to have a problem with it either.

Talent grade: 21 (Physical impact: 8, Skill impact: 7, Feel for the Game: 6)

Rabb is averaging 0.7 steals, 3.2 blocks, 19.7 points, 14.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists on .67 TS% per 40 minutes. Using my list of recent PFs I’d give a grade to one who averaged 1.3 steals, 2.7 blocks, 18 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, .63 TS% per 40 minutes. Rabb is above average in steals, points, rebounds and TS% and below average in steals. Steals is an important stat so I will hold off from giving him a true A and settle for a A/B with an otherwise excellent profile.

Advanced stats grade: A/B

21 * A/B (95%) = 19.95

4. SF Brandon Ingram

The scouts take: Ingram is a decent but not explosive athlete. Scouts are in love with his wingspan for a SF drawing Giannis and Durant comparisons. His frame is skinny for a SF. Ingram has shown flashes as an outside shooter and has a smooth feel for the game.

Talent grade: 22 (Physical impact: 7, Skill impact: 7, Feel for the Game: 8)

Ingram is averaging 1.8 steals, 1.6 blocks, 19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists on .52 TS% per 40 minutes. For SFs by comparables I would give a B to a player who averages 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 16.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists on .55 TS%. Ingram is above average in blocks, points, assists and below average in rebounds and TS. While not spectacular, with combined steals and blocks above average which is important, these numbers are worth no worse than a B.

Advanced stats grade: B

22 * B (90%) = 19.8

5. C Stephen Zimmerman

The scouts take: Zimmerman is a strong athlete for a 7 footer with quality length, but an average frame. Zimmerman had perimeter shooting skills and an above average feel for the game.

Talent grade: 21 (Physical impact: 7, Skill impact: 7, Feel for the Game: 7)

Zimmerman is averaging 0 steals, 3.4 blocks, 16.8 points, 17.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, .56 TS% per 40 minutes. Using my recent comparables I’d give a B to a C averaging 1.2 steals, 2.8 blocks, 17.3 points, 11.3 rebounds 1.8 assists, .55 TS% per 40 minutes. Zimmerman is above average in blocks, rebounds, assists and efficiency and below average with a worrying 0 in steals and below average in points. Although his steals are worrying his stats are otherwise excellent enough including blocks and rebounds that I will keep him at B.

Advanced stats grade: B

21 * B (90%) = 18.9

6. SF Jaylen Brown

The scouts take: Has a spectacular combination of explosiveness, length and strength for the small forward position. One of the most physically gifted players at his position in a while. His basketball intelligence is above average. His jumper is his biggest weakness.

Talent grade: 22 (Physical impact: 10, Skill impact: 5, Feel for the Game: 7)

Brown is averaging 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks, 25.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, .52 TS% per 40 minutes. Using my comparables a SF averaging 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 16.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, .55 TS% per 40 minutes would receive a B. Brown is above average in points and above average in rebounds, but below average in steals, blocks, assists and efficiency. His low steal and block rate is especially worrying if this continues as steals and blocks are key rates. I rate Brown as no better than a C grade, although it’s early in the season and with his athleticism could quickly boost his steal and block numbers and make a case for top 3 in this class.

Advanced stats grade: C

22 * C (80%) = 17.6

7. SG Denzel Valentine

The scouts take: Valentine has very unimpressive athleticism for a SG that could limit him to more than a small role in the NBA, but solid length and strength. His combination of perimeter shooting, passing skills and feel for the game is one of the best in the class.

Talent grade: 22 (Physical impact: 4, Skill impact: 9, Feel for the Game: 9)

As a freshman Valentine averaged 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks, 9.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists on .52 TS% per 40 minutes. Using my comparables I would give a B to a SG who averaged 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, 16.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, .57 TS% per 40 minutes. Valentine rated above average in rebounds and assists and below average in steals, points and efficiency. Being above average in a few categories and close to average steals and blocks per 40, I won’t go lower than a middling C for Valentine.

Advanced stats grade: C

22 * C (80%) = 17.6

8. PF Skal Labissiere

The scouts take: Skal has an impressive combination of athleticism and length but a skinny frame. He has signs of perimeter shooting talent. Opinions of his feel for the game have been dropping with his start to this season.

Talent grade: 20 (Physical impact: 8, Skill impact: 7, Feel for the Game: 5)

Labissiere is averaging 0.7 steals, 3.8 blocks, 21.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists per 40 minutes on .64 TS%. Using my list of recent PFs I would give a grade of B to a player averaging 1.3 steals, 2.7 blocks, 18 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists per 40 minutes on .63 TS%. Labissiere is above average in blocks, points and TS% is but below average in steals, rebounds, assists, with the rebounding especially drawing negative attention. Judging by how his worst categories are quite bad, I was split between giving him a B or downgrading to C so I chose B/C. At this rate Labissiere could go down as this year’s Andre Drummond, who’s UConn season was panned but with elite block numbers and solid rebounding and steals, had a season more up to par than given credit for in some categories.

Advanced stats grade: B/C

20 * B/C (85%) = 17.0

9. SF Dragan Bender

The scouts take: Bender is a nearly 7 foot wing with the standing reach of a center. He is a good not elite athlete and has a skinny frame. Bender has a great feel for the game and the passing skills of a point forward but his jumper is a work in progress.

Talent grade: 21 (Physical impact: 7, Skill impact: 6, Feel for the Game: 8)

In 10 minutes per game in the Euroleague Bender is averaging 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks, 8.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, .35 TS% per 40 minutes. For NCAA SFs using comparables I’d give a B to a SF averaging 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 16.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, .55 TS% per 40 minutes. Bender would rate narrowly above average in blocks and assists but below average in steals and far below average in points, rebounds and efficiency. I wouldn’t go above D for an NCAA prospect based on how poor his worst categories are, but with Euroleague competition I bump him up one grade to C. The good news for Bender is these numbers are on a small sample size and they could look completely different a month from now allowing him to quickly rise up this list.

Advanced stats grade: C

21 * C (80%) = 16.8

10 PG Isaiah Briscoe

The scouts take: Briscoe is only an average athlete for a PG but has an impressive combination of length, strength and lateral mobility for the position that could make him a defensive standout at the position. Briscoe’s weakness is shooting while is noted as a player with a impressive feel to his game.

Talent grade: (Physical impact talent grade: 6, Skill impact: 5, Feel for the game: 7): 18

Advanced stats grade: Briscoe is averaging 1.9 steals, 0.4 blocks, 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists per 40 minutes on .54 TS%. Using my list of recent PGs I would give a grade of B to a PG averaging 2.2 steals, 0.4 blocks, 5.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 15 pts, .55 TS% per 40 minutes. Briscoe is above average in points and rebounds and below average in steals, assists and TS%.  Since he is only a little below average in his worst categories but an elite rebounder, I kept him at a B.

Advanced stats grade: B (* 90%)

18 * B (90%) = 16.2

Next 10: PF Deyonta Davis, SG Dwayne Bacon, SF Malik Pope, C Jonathan Jeanne, C Henry Ellenson, SG Buddy Hield, C Amida Brimah, PG Gary Payton II, SG Timothe Luwawu

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Written by jr.

December 4, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. So which scouts do you listen to? And how do you translate their words into a number?

    Gavolt

    December 8, 2015 at 5:32 am

    • I use Draftexpress write-ups and the strengths/weaknesses in their videos the most right now. When it gets deeper in the season Chad Ford relaying scouts opinions will be a good idea. My goal is to use the most conventional opinion of prospects which DX and ESPN are a good source for

      For the number it is a judgment call in combination with the framework I was using before. For the physical tools category I start by rating them 0-10 in athleticism or penetration ability, and then adjust up 1-2 points based on their length and strength combo. For for the skill category I give them a 1-10 for perimeter shooting range and then adjust if they’re known as a standout passer, post player, finisher, etc. Eg Okafor had mediocre shooting range but because he was so known as a post player, reflecting how scouts see him as a skill player, may have been worth going as high as 8 or 9

      I only go so low in the skill and basketball IQ categories because of believing most scouts see these areas the player can improve in. For example I gave Jaylen Brown a 5 in the skill impact who is a young prospect that’s example of a “his jumper his weakness” guy but the scouts seem to believe he can improve it. Someone like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had scouts going out of their way to say his jumper was flat out broken, that may have been worth going lower in the category

      julienrodger

      December 8, 2015 at 2:57 pm


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