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Archive for May 2016

The Raptors don’t need a superstar to contend for a title

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With the Cavaliers shellacking the Raptors a popular takeaway is “Wow, teams without a superstar don’t have a chance”. Lowry is a knife in Lebron, Curry and Durant/Westbrook’s gunfight. A knife needing to be sharpened after hacking through two tough series.

But it’s not the only problem. The team struggles to pass the ball and finished out of the top 10 in defense. If a team is going to win a title without a superstar, that’s not the way.

When bringing up the alternatives to superstar championship teams the 2004 Pistons are listed as the lone example. In other words you need an aberration. I’m not as convinced. First, here are the 6 champions in the 2010s:

2015 – Golden State Warriors

2014 – San Antonio Spurs

2013 – Miami Heat

2012 – Miami Heat

2011 – Dallas Mavericks

2010 – Los Angeles Lakers

The list has Curry, Lebron, Dirk and Kobe. But the 2014 Spurs had nobody finish higher than 12th in MVP voting in Parker and Duncan’s tie. Duncan was a former superstar and Kawhi a future one but that season neither them or Parker was any more a superstar than the 04 Pistons had.

Now consider the 2013 Spurs who had a 5 point lead with 30 seconds left and a 99%+ chance at the title after Lebron’s shot missed. From the Raptors perspective, why is this less useful an example than the Heat’s win? They were equally title caliber. Parker and Duncan finished 6th and 7th in MVP this season, while excellent seasons, they weren’t a level two Raptors like Lowry and Valanciunas couldn’t get to one day.

While they didn’t come as close as the Spurs, the 2010 Celtics had a 3-2 series lead and were up 13 midway through the 3rd quarter of Game 7 and up 4 with 9 minutes left in the 4th. That’s probably close enough to call them title caliber. If they were good enough to beat the Lakers 3 other games and build that lead they were good enough to outplay them for one more half game or quarter. The Celtics didn’t get an MVP vote this year as Garnett, Allen, Pierce had aged from 08 and Rondo was still emerging.

3 title caliber teams since 2010 is manageable enough odds for the Raptors to have hope. One could add the the 2011 and 2014 Heat, 2012 Thunder and 2015 Cavaliers as title caliber teams with superstars, but even after that the ratio isn’t that bad for the superstar-less teams.

In the decade before, champions with Shaq, Duncan, Wade, Garnett, Kobe dwarf the lone 2004 Pistons. But the 2005 Pistons went 7 and were up by 6 with about 16 minutes left, not to mention had a great chance to close the series in 6 if not for Robert Horry’s heroics in Game 5. The 2000 Blazers were good enough to beat the Lakers in the conference finals before their collapse, which would have guaranteed a superstar-less champion in them or the Pacers.

Furthermore the more you go back the less recognizable the league is or usable as a test case. The CBA has evolved, the talent pool is different, the talent in front offices is a different level, the style of play has gone from post-ups to a slash and kick 3pt game that would have seemed foreign to that era. Players today live in a radically different, social media-infused world emotionally. The game on and off the court has gone from SNES to X-Box, from serve and volley to baseline groundstrokes with topspin. Just because for 50 years only superstars won titles doesn’t mean it will be that way from now on. A sample size like the last 5 or 6 years may be a more reasonable comparison for the challenge the Raptors face now.

If the Raptors want to beat Lebron James, it’s not about being in awe of his talent but looking at what the 2015 Warriors, 2013 and 2014 Spurs, 2011 Mavericks and 2010 Celtics had that they didn’t. They defeated a King by passing the ball, spacing the floor and playing elite defense. Five men have always had the capability to beat one. That’s the formula to follow for superstar-less teams.

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Written by jr.

May 20, 2016 at 5:28 pm

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The case for Ben Simmons over Brandon Ingram being an easier call than advertised

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Simmons vs Ingram is considered a dead heat. The Lakers are co-winners cause they get to just sit back and grab whoever’s left.

Or is it? I enjoyed this Libertyballers post “Just Fucking Take Simmons”. I see evidence for Simmons as the guy also.

For me it’s all about production. Here is their per 40 stats:

Simmons: 22.2 pts, .60 TS%, 13.5 reb, 5.5 ast, 2.3 stl, 0.9 blk, 3.6 TOV, 27.2 PER

Ingram: 20.0 pts, .55 TS%, 7.8 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.3 stl, 1.6 blk, 2.3 TOV, 21.1 PER

Simmons is 1st in the SEC in PER, 3rd in reb/40, 5th in stl/40, 10th in ast/40. Ingram is 20th in the ACC PER, his best stats are 13th in pts/40 and 16th in blks/40, not coming near Simmons rebounding, steals or assists dominance compared to PFs. He had a quality season but in the same way Harrison Barnes and Bradley Beal did in college.

When you consider how great his Ast/40 is for a PF, it’s fair to call Simmons a sure thing to pass at a standout level for his position. When you consider his elite Reb/40 and his size and athleticism, that’s likely in the bag. When you consider his athleticism, strength and ranking 1st in the SEC in FTA/40, attacking the basket is a likely near guaranteed skill too.

Without the same top 10 statistical performances, Ingram doesn’t have this. His closest guaranteed skill may be taking shots. He’s in 8th in the ACC in FGA/40 in addition to the 13th in Pts/40. He has the tools for this with the length to shoot over anyone.

But the days of valuing 20 point a game scorers who create their own midrange are dwindling. The priority is now shots at the rim, 3s, passing and defense.

The pro-Ingram take is normally his 3s and defense make him that modern player. He is ranked 9th in the ACC for 3pt shooters attempting more than 1 per game (41%), 23rd in 3PA/40 (6.3) and 62nd in FT (68.2%). In those stats Durant rated 19th, 14th and 8th respectively his draft year.

I value volume and FT% to project shooters because the NCAA season is a small sample size. Take the difference between Ingram’s 41% and Malachi Richardson’s 35% who is not considered in his class as a shooter. Richardson shoots a higher volume (7.0 3PA/40) and FT% (72.0%). Ingram went 80 for 195 from 3, Richardson went 79 for 224. The swing between their 3P% comes down to about 11 or 12 made 3s. If Ingram went 75 for 195 and Richardson went 86 for 224 their 3P% is both 38.4%. Not only could the difference between their 35% and 41% be liable to variance, but context. What if one player had to force end of shot clock prayers more often? Or one player especially benefitted from teammates getting him open shots? Using FT% both adds more information and is free of contextual effect of teammates/situation. I still value Ingram’s 3P% but my compromise is to call him a 6 or 7 out of 10 talent in the skill. Good but not a guaranteed lights out guy. More Barnes than Durant.

As for his defense. Ingram has an elite wingspan. But I see defense as a combination of length, frame, athleticism, positional IQ, motor, toughness. Ingram’s case outside of his length isn’t as strong. Here is Draftexpress  on him:

“Defensively is where Ingram surprised many this year with his underrated combination of toughness and competiveness. While his fundamentals need work, his size, length and reach gives him great versatility when paired with his willingness to get stops. He showed the ability to switch out onto guards effectively at times out of pick and rolls from the power forward position, sagging off and staying in front, while still getting a hand up to contest thanks to his 7’3 wingspan.

With that said, Ingram still has a ways to go to become a more consistent defender, something that clearly didn’t become a priority for him until arriving in college. He can get a little sleepy at times and lose his focus, closing out lackadaisically, standing around off the ball and looking hunched over in his stance guarding the perimeter. Duke had one of the smallest rotations in high major college basketball and couldn’t afford for Ingram to get in foul trouble, which didn’t always lead to him operating with the highest intensity at all times. Once again, getting stronger will help, as he tends to get caught up on screens quite a bit on the perimeter and can get pushed around inside the paint.

Upside and Motor wrote this:

His defensive potential is really confusing. There are times when Ingram looks like an elite defender, something that he is capable of being due to his length. There are other times, however, where he is undisciplined and confused. He too often leaves his feet to contest jump shots and chase blocks. Here, he unnecessarily helps down, probably chasing a come-from-behind block, and leaves his man wide open.”

“Ingram’s length can help him make up for it at times, but for the most part the motor and consistency isn’t there. He doesn’t have the type of elite athleticism to help him get away with this all the time. He’s not particularly fast on his feet and he doesn’t get in his stance often enough. For a player with exceptionally long legs, standing straight up can be the kiss of death. He switches out on to a guard here but gets off balance and can’t recover on the step back jumper when he stands up.”

There are times where Ingram looks like a monster on that end, especially when he is locked in. This makes it even more frustrating when he gets scored on because he isn’t sitting in a stance or he is biting on a shot fake. If he wants to improve on that end, he needs to stay dialed in every possession.”

Both recognize his potential but do not rave about his current ability. While he could translate his length into great D he could also end up bullied due to his body, caught upright and flat footed and just not smart or tough enough.

Ingram’s 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per 40 is solid but unspectacular and also reflective of a non-elite defender in college.

He has promise on that end but this is not a guaranteed skill. And that’s where I see the difference between him and Simmons. Simmons has not only tools but the elite track record in NCAA in areas like attacking the rim, passing, rebounding, stealing. Outside of possibly taking creating his own FGA, Ingram does not have both this track record of excellence in addition to the tools, when considering his 3pt is less a closed case than it looks. Sure, if everything goes perfectly, Ingram has a non-zero chance of being Durant. But max upside is not something he has to hold over Simmons, who it’s not inconceivable could be Lebron or Magic. May as well just take Simmons.

Written by jr.

May 19, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Ron Baker and searching for Draymond Green

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The Warriors picking Draymond Green 35th changed their franchise, changed the balance of power in the league, changed a position. Now teams will look at passing on Green and do their best to rectify the mistakes next time.

Here’s an attempt:

Draymond’s defense

Defense is a big reason teams missed on Green. Here is Draftexpress on his defense in December 2011:

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Here is Chad Ford in June 2012:

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Green was supposed to not have a defensive position in the pros as short for a PF at 6’7 and too slow to guard SFs. He’s gone on to be a top 2 defender in the NBA.

There are signs he was a better defensive prospect at the time. First off while Green is short at 6’7, a 7’1 wingspan is above average. He adds that to an excellent frame/strength. So Green’s length and strength combined was actually above average for a PF.

The next sign were results. Green averaged a quality 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 10.3 defensive rebounds per 40 and had the highest defensive win shares on an elite Spartans D. For this he was voted to the Big Ten’s All-Defense team. The season before he averaged more steals and blocks at 2.2 and 1.5 per 40.

Having a plus defensive body and a statistical and recognition track record of playing defense is a great place to start for projecting on that end, especially when you add in grade A basketball IQ and motor raves. While you can’t blame scouts too much for misreading his athleticism at the time, one can guess he would have looked better moving side to side than vertically.

Draymond’s offense

Draymond’s skillset was one of the most unique among college bigs this generation. A stretch big at 39% on 4.4 attempts/40 doesn’t happen too often on its own, but that combined with 4.6 assists/40 is what made him one of a kind, peaking at 5.7 assists/40 as a junior. Green’s unique shooting and passing skills in the NBA far from came out of nowhere. His scoring rate of 19.6 pts/40 on .54 TS% as a senior was not spectacular, but solid.

Ron Baker’s Draymond Green credentials

A prospect with some Green in his profile is Wichita State’s Ron Baker.

To start look at the similarities in Baker’s defensive profile. Defense is one of his biggest strengths in college. He made the MVC All-Defensive team and ranked 1st in Defensive Win Shares on Wichita State’s elite D. His 1.9 steals, 0.8 blocks, 5.5 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes is a strong combination compared to SGs.

Baker is small in height at 6’4, but his 6’9.5 wingspan is above average. He has a big frame. He is known most for his basketball IQ and high intensity allowing him to pressure opposing players and pick off passes.

So much like Green he has the defensive track record of production, the plus body and the IQ and motor. Athleticism is what scouts worry about most on that end. This is fair enough, although it appears to his ability to move side to side is more impressive than his jumping ability. If Green and Baker were such bad athletes, perhaps they wouldn’t have been good defenders in college.

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On offense is where Baker loses the comparison to Green a bit more. He averages 4.1 assists per 40 and has the ball handling to run pick and rolls at the next level. He shot 34.8% from 3, after over 37% as a sophomore and junior. With a quality 78% FT his shooting projection is solid. His 17.4 pts/40 on .55 TS% as a senior isn’t amazing, but you can do worse.

All of this doesn’t compare too badly to Green, but the difference is position. Over 4 assists per 40 is good at SG, but once or twice a generation levels of rarity at PF. Being a 3 point shooter and floor spacer at PF is a whole different animal than SG. It doesn’t mean Baker can’t find a role with shooting, passing and basketball IQ at the next level, it’s just not as obviously rare from the outset as Green’s skillset.

I don’t expect Ron Baker to be a star like Green. I’d estimate the “median outcome” is probably more like Courtney Lee and to be a star would require hitting some high bell curve outcome. But if looking for a Green-like 2nd round older prospect with defensive production, body, IQ, motor make him underrated on that end and has shooting and passing tools on the other, he seems to check a lot of boxes.

 

Written by jr.

May 10, 2016 at 11:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The case for and against Toronto maxing out DeMar Derozan

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The struggles of DeMar Derozan has been an ongoing playoff storyline, scoring only 17.7 points on .395 TS% through 11 games after a career year in the regular season. The worry for Toronto is this isn’t just missing open shots. His unreliable 3 point shot has allowed teams to go under pick and rolls to prevent this driving game and leave him to take inefficient midrange jumpers.

Toronto’s price to keep Derozan will likely be a max contract no matter how he plays the rest of these playoffs. The Lakers have been itching to prove they are a marquee free agent destination and the new TV deal will afford many other teams the capspace to make a run at the 2 time all-star in his prime.

There’s arguments for and against Toronto paying Derozan:

Keep him

– Like the Raptors Derozan is not a finished product. His .338 3P% and 0.6 3pt makes per game were career highs and with his work ethic he could continue to improve his 3 point shooting to manageable levels in addition to clearing up other weaknesses. His teammate Kyle Lowry is proof players can continue to push their game to new heights after the age Derozan is now.

– Lowry has struggled to stay healthy by the playoffs the last two seasons in addition to a track record in Houston of getting banged up. Derozan taking the defensive pressure he does off Lowry could be important to keeping him healthy going forward.

– With the Nuggets Masai Ujiri resigned Nene to a hefty 5 year deal, then traded him to Washington half a season later. Even if the Raptors don’t love Derozan’s max contract, signing him and then seeing what trade offers are out there half a season or a year afterwards could be the best way to maximize value out of the situation.

– The regular season matters. Being the 2nd seed is just about the best thing the Raptors have going for them. It gave them home court and a beatable opponent in Indiana in Round 1 and home court against Miami in Round 2 instead of playing Cleveland. If Derozan helps them repeat as a top 2 seed next year this is worth it.

Let him go

– The Raptors offensive success is despite finishing 30th in Assist % on 2 point field goals this year, 9th on 3s. They have been a poor passing team throughout the Lowry and Derozan era. Letting Derozan go may be the best way to transition towards the ball and player movement teams needed to contend.

– The Raptors have young talent that could break out without him. Jonas Valanciunas is showing all the signs of an all-star in the East if you run the offense through him. Terrence Ross could take the next step especially playing SG full time. Norman Powell has shown flashes of brilliance and the Raptors have the 9th and 27th picks to add more talent. Add in DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph’s minutes at SG and the team would not be left to dry for wing talent.

– Including draft picks but not including Derozan or Biyombo, Toronto has about 73 million on the books next year. That’s not enough to sign a max player like Al Horford or Nic Batum but if a player of that level wanted to sign there, they would could be a cap clearing move away like trading Ross or Carroll. All the teams with capspace this summer makes it perfect conditions to move an existing salary if necessary. The best argument against resigning Derozan may be if the Raptors need the money for someone else.

Written by jr.

May 9, 2016 at 8:54 pm

NBA Draft Big Board – May update

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These come from my statistical retrodiction system, adjusting for talent with the philosophy of 1/3s physical tools and 2/3s skill and basketball IQ and accounting for any mental make-up flags if necessary:

1. SF/PF Ben Simmons
2. PG Kris Dunn
3. C Chinanu Onuaku
4. SF Brandon Ingram
5. PG Wade Baldwin IV

To avoid just posting the same thing over and over again, my post in April went into greater detail of these players stats and talent:

https://asubstituteforwar.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/top-10-prospects-april-update/

To recap some points:

– I am lower on Ingram’s talent than most due to using a statistical approach to shooting instead of scouts, who I rely on for other attributes. Ingram is rated a top notch shooter by scouts but because he hits 68% from the FT line only rates as a decent perimeter shooter for me. That added to average ball-handling and passing skill puts his overall skill level in question for me. If he had Kevin Durant level shooting I would rate him as an elite talent and in consideration for first or second. With that said he’s still plenty talented due to his length, agility, feel and decent shooting.

1443801138– Baldwin’s size is not just good but special. A 6’10 wingspan for a PG is like an Ingram-esque 7’2-7’3 wingspan for a SF. He adds that to a strong frame. If he sticks at PG, that’s one of the best bodies of any PG prospect this generation. In addition to his other talents like shooting.

– Onuaku’s talent comes the closest to being a weak link of this group. But while he isn’t a go-to scorer in the post or a shooter, with only a 58% FT, he has other valuable traits for a center. Especially in the modern game where teams prefer to run their offense through perimeter stars, protecting the basket, rebounding, finishing offensive plays and passing is a lot of what you could ask for from a starting level center. He has the athleticism, size and passing skill to do that.


6. PF/C Zhou Qi

I struggled with how to apply my per category system to international players, but in the end I decided just to look at players who excel for their league compared to their teammates and the rest of the league. A lot of recent international bigs like Kristaps Porzingis, Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela, Nikoa Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic can say they were productive per minute in their leagues, with PER as a solid stat to capture this.

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Zhou’s 22.1 PER ranks 18th in the CBA and 2nd on his team, he is easily the best shotblocker in the CBA at 3.7/40 and has the highest TS% at .672. He is 22nd in rebs/40 and 41st in pts/40, the latter in a league full of individual shot jackers. His stats are about as impressive for his league as Gobert’s were in French A. The question is how much to trust the CBA’s stats to European leagues. The consensus is most European leagues are far better competition than the CBA, but that’s because they put a greater emphasis on coaching, fundamentals and team play. The CBA is more like the D League full of stat-stuffing individuals.

But if Zhou plays in a league full of individual stat stuffers, does that mean being one of the 20 best players in the league statistically is any less impressive? It’s fair to suggest there’s nothing wrong with the CBA’s talent level as it’s is littered with former NBA castoffs who either have put up stats in mid level European leagues, or presumably would be. A quick look for players who’ve played in the CBA and European leagues suggests this is the case. While their per minute stats are inflated in the CBA, their rank in PER compared to the rest of the league isn’t necessarily inflated, since everyone else’s numbers in the CBA are inflated too.

Therefore while coming with some skepticism, I’m inclined to think Zhou’s numbers are a positive. He adds that to a compelling skillset. While having a painfully thin frame, he would be one of the longest bigs in the league and mobile on both ends. He shot 9 for 15 from 3 this year and 75% from the FT line. He has a chance to be a mobile, shotblocking big who shoots 3s, which is the type of commodity teams are dying for right now. The frame is a major weakness but like when a prospect is a few inches short, I don’t think it throws everything positive about his talent set out. Rebounding well despite his frame is also a positive sign.

7. SF Dedric Lawson

Outside of efficiency, Lawson has an excellent statistical profile for a freshman DX has listed as SF, with 1.5 stl/40, 2.1 blk/40, 11.6 reb/40, 3.2 ast/40, 19.6 pts/40 and .49 TS%.

As a talent he is not perfect as he is an average athlete. However he does have excellent size if he plays SF with a 7’1 wingspan and a big frame. He has a high feel for the game and passed the ball well this year. His high volume of scoring this year could indicate shot creating ability long term. The key swing stat is shooting where he put up 35% from 3 on 70.9% FT. This only OK and it would be nice to see the FT% higher especially. However with a 3 point shot he has an interesting combination of size, shooting and feel.

8. SG Ron Baker
9. SG Patrick McCaw

These are two SGs with relatively comparable statistical profiles:

Baker: 1.9 stl/40, 0.7 blk/40, 6.1 reb/40, 4.1 ast/40, in addition to 13.4 pts/40 on .59 TS% as a freshman, eventually 17.4 pts/40 on .55 TS% as a senior.

McCaw: 2.8 stl/40, 0.5 blk/40, 6.1 reb/40, 4.5 ast/40, in addition to 13.4 pts/40 on .59 TS% as a freshman, eventually 17.4 pts/40 on .55 TS% as a sophomore.

Baker is not an impressive athlete, but has good length, frame, ballhandling, passing and feel for the game for his position. McCaw is more agile, but has a skinny frame and worse ballhandling skills.

The body and track record is there for both to defend in the NBA, finding a place offensively could lean on their shooting. Baker shot 34.8% from 3 on 78.4% FT, with a higher 3pt in previous seasons. McCaw shot 35.2% 3pt on 76.9% FT. For both this is just good enough to have potential at the next level, but just average enough to not be a guarantee.

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For Lawson, Baker, McCaw, projecting as can defend and shoot a little feels role player-y, but it bears mentioning sometimes all-stars were the ones projected to just be role players at first, like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green. High IQ, passing and having size can mean more than freak athleticism for all-star potential.

10. C Diamond Stone
11. C Jakob Poeltl

Of these two I prefer Poeltl’s skillset but Stone’s numbers come out higher. The margin isn’t huge in either case. Their profiles are:

Stone: 0.9 stl/40, 2.8 blk/40, 9.7 reb/40, 0.7 ast/40, 21.8 pts/40, .61 TS%
Poeltl: 0.8 stl/40, 2.0 blk/40, 12.0 reb/40, 2.5 ast/40, 15.7 pts/40, .63 TS% as a freshman, 22.6 pts/40, .66 TS% as a sophomore

Stone has a superb combination of scoring and shotblocking for a freshman big. He has a strong body that can be a bully down low, allowing him to back down and finish offensive plays. By hitting 75% this could indicate some shooting potential going forward. His basketball IQ is in question however.

Poeltl puts up better assist and rebound numbers than Stone, while having an appealing skillset. He has a quality combination of athleticism and frame, with post and passing skills and feel for the game. Hitting 69% of his FTs is solid and gives him a chance to improve his range. Post players who aren’t known for spacing the floor or protecting the rim is less in vogue these days, but if you can do it well, there’s still value there. And if a player does it as well as Pau Gasol did, they can still be superstar playing that way. Not to mention that Poeltl has some chance to either expand his range or become a good defender.

Overall while neither prospect seems spectacular to me, they are both solid, skilled big men.

12. SF Derrick Jones, Jr.

Jones is a superb wing statistically with 1.3 stl/40, 2.5 blk/40, 8.1 reb/40, 1.5 ast/40 and 20.4 pts/40 on .61 TS%. I’d take his statistical profile over more hyped up freshman wings like Ingram and Brown.

Despite being one of the best athletes in the draft, his skill game is too raw for me to love his talent level. It’s just hard to be a wing who can’t shoot or create off the dribble in the modern game. But he has a lot of defensive potential with his production and tools, and his youth and current scoring rate, would suggest not to totally write him off as an offensive player. A Jones who learns to shoot at an acceptable level would be an excellent prospect considering his athleticism and numbers. Jones is toolsy with upside and even on the downside, may make it for athleticism and defensive production anyways.

13. C Ante Zizic

Of all the international players in this draft, Zizic’s stats for his age impress me the most. At 19 he is 6th in PER (24.2) in the Adriatic league and 3rd (25.8) in the Croation league this year. In the Adriatic league he is 2nd in rebounds per 40 (12.3), 2nd in blocks (2.1), 9th in points (20.3), and 2nd in TS% (.673). This is the type of stat stuffing you want to see from a young international big and follows in the footsteps of the production of players like Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert, Jonas Valanciunas.

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The knock is that as a talent he has some flaws. He is considered a decent athlete with good size but his skill game is restricted to scoring around the rim, although hitting a solid 70% FT gives him some hope to expand his range. His basketball IQ is considered average. His game to start his career will likely be to get rebounds and finish plays around the basket. But the size, athleticism, touch around the rim and numbers alone is enough to make me interested in his chance to be a starting center or more.

14. PF Deyonta Davis

Davis is an excellent shotblocker for a freshman big at 3.9 blks/40 and scored well at 16.1 pts/40 on .60 TS% and is a solid rebounder at 11.8 reb/40, although is average at some other stats like 1.6 ast/40 and 0.6 stl/40.

He has a solid combination of length and lateral mobility which should help him on the defensive end and although his skill game is raw, scoring at a solid rate may be a decent side. His frame is skinny and weakness.

I don’t love the upside of Davis to be more than a finisher at the basket at block shots, but that may do just fine.

15. PF Brice Johnson

Brice is one of the most complete statistical prospects in the draft with 1.5 stls/40, 2.1 blk/40, 15.0 reb/40, 2.1 ast/40, and 19.8 pts/40 on .50 TS% as a freshman, later 24.2 pts/40 on .65 TS% as a senior. As a talent he has great athleticism but questionable length and frame for a big man and his skill game is largely around the rim, although he improved his range a little this year and hit 78.3% of his FTs. Still, his skills and his size puts some caps on his talent.

His numbers and athleticism would be enough for him to be top 10, except I also have him flagged for mental make-up as he has the reputation as immature or a hothead. I don’t have a big enough sample size of hotheads to say with confidence what this measn for his career, but it’s enough to rate him below some prospects who were rating close to enough to him.

16-30:

16. SG James Blackmon
17. SF Taurean Prince
18. PG Demetrius Jackson
19. SF/PF Juancho Hernangomez
20. C Ivica Zubac
21. PF Petr Cornelie

22. SF Jaylen Brown

Brown’s stats are no worse than average, with a low rate of 1.2 stls/40 and 0.9 blks/40 for his position, but a solid 2.9 ast/40, 7.8 reb/40 and 21.2 pts/40 on .52 TS% against hard competition. The thing keeping him out of the top ten, is that my philosophy of 2/3s of talent being skill and IQ does not play well on Brown at all, as he is an average shooter at 29.4% 3 and 65.4% FT, is not a great ballhandler, and is known for average at best basketball IQ. It also bears mentioning that while his statistical profile comes out as OK, I don’t take into account one of his worst categories like TOVs, and his whole profile from the high volume inefficient scoring, high assists and high turnovers, screams someone who just used a lot of possessions regardless of whether it was the right move. Therefore Brown forcing his way into some of these stats is plausible and wouldn’t be a great sign.

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23. PF Dragan Bender

Bender rates as an impressive talent to me due to his athleticism, length, potential to shoot 3s and basketball IQ, I just don’t favor his season in Europe. In the Israeli league where he got most of his minutes he was about 9th on his team in PER, and being around his team’s 9th man reflects the rest of his season where the coach treated him as a fringe rotation player. In his limited minutes in the Euroleague he was the team’s least productive per minute player. There have been European prospects who weren’t trusted with a lot of minutes, but when they did, filled up the per minute stats compared to teammates. Bender is not one of them. While he blocked shots and scored at a decent TS% in a small sample size, but put up poor rebounding numbers, a low steal rate compared to the rest of his team and was an average scorer in volume and passer. His numbers suggest he got the minutes he deserved.

I see the team who drafts Bender as believing they can get a defensive anchor, shooter and playmaker from the 4 spot, a holy grail trinity of skillsets. It’s the Draymond Green package. But the problem is that there’s likely a reason why there’s only one Draymond Green in the league, and almost never another in NBA history: Because playing like him is really hard, and relies on stuff like Green’s incredible combination of basketball IQ, skills, strength and toughness. It’s sort of like how Shawn Marion used to be a popular prospect comparison in the draft because every year there’s a long armed, athletic wing who likes to score in transition. But with so many athletes at SF in the NBA and only one Marion, it’s clear there was a lot more to it than that. Bender could end up a great defensive anchor who shoots and is his team’s playmaker, or he could just be a long armed project.

24. PF Nigel Hayes
25. PG Melo Trimble
26. C Daniel Ochefu
27. PG/SG Jamal Murray

Murray is a talented player as one of the top 5 shooters in the draft, the rare strong ball-handling/shooting combination and a strong feel for the game, making up for mediocre size and athleticism for his position.

He just doesn’t come out well enough in my numbers. 1.1 stl/40 and 0.3 blk/40 is a low rate when most star perimeter players are over 2 stls and blks combined and 2.5 ast/40 is unimpressive. His 22.7 pts/40 on .59 TS% and 5.9 reb/40 are good numbers though.

28. PG/SG Alex Caruso
29. PF Henry Ellenson
30. SG Furkan Korkmaz

Notes on players out of the top 30:

Buddy Hield, Denzel Valentine, Malcolm Brogdon – From a talent perspective all of them rate highly as 3 of the best shooters in the draft, a high feel for the game, passing skill and size attributes. This is just all about the statistical indicators as old prospects with low numbers in categories like steals and blocks and who didn’t score at a high rate until they were older than the competition.

Domantas Sabonis – just missing the top 30, his profile outside of rebounding is somewhat average, especially in steals and blocks. More than that I struggled with his talent level as an athlete average with a below average wingspan at PF and not a great shooter.

Timothe Luwawu – Of the 1st round international prospects in this class, his numbers come off the worst to me. He is 21 next week and played in the Adriatic league and wasn’t all that impressive, shooting under 40% from the field and having about the 30th highest PER In the league. He was even less impressive if we went back a year ago when he couldn’t stand out in the French Pro B. Nemanja Nedovic in his draft year was a great athlete for his position, but old and putting up weak numbers in the Adriatic league. The concern for Luwawu is his profile points towards being the SG/SF version of that pick.

Gary Payton II – he is a high ranking on a lot of statistical boards right now. Rebounding is not rated as important in my system as it for others which hurts his performance a little and leaves his outstanding performing to largely the steals category. He also gets burned on the talent side of things as despite a great athlete, he is a non-shooting guard who struggles to handle and is considered to have an average feel.

Skal Labissiere – not saying anything surprising here, but yeah, his numbers are bad.

Written by jr.

May 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized