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Greg Monroe for Eric Bledsoe would be a solid S&T for both teams

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It’s late August and Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe are still not signed, which is turning into a mess for Detroit and Phoenix. Either Monroe or Bledsoe taking the qualifying offer is the worst case scenario for both teams, as if they walked in unrestricted free agency they wouldn’t receive value in return for their asset.

I like the idea of just swapping Monroe and Bledsoe personally, even if this idea seems unlikely due to the lack of momentum in the press about it.

Detroit’s end

The Pistons suddenly teaming up Eric Bledsoe and Andre Drummond’s elite athleticism would give them an exciting direction going forward. In the drafts since acquiring Drummond, they took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013 and had to surrender their lottery pick to Charlotte in 2014. Although I’m a big fan of their 2014 2nd round pick Spencer Dinwiddie, they’re lacking the supporting young talent to go around Drummond. Getting it through trade with Bledsoe may be the direction to go.

The argument against is fit, as Detroit has Brandon Jennings 2 year 16.3 million contract, which is already one of the most unmoveable contracts in the league, a situation that would get worse if backing up Bledsoe. Presumably giving Bledsoe the max contract he wants could also scare them for the same reason it did Phoenix, because of some injury issues so far in his career.

Nevertheless, Jennings problem is a short term problem. Within a year it’s an expiring deal and easy to move on from. Jennings and Bledsoe may also be able to share time in a small backcourt, like Dragic and Bledsoe did this year in Phoenix. I see it as the right move to grab the talent upgrade in Bledsoe and wait for the opportunity to move on from the Joe Dumars mistakes Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons won’t be rebuilt in a day and don’t have to be a perfect fit immediately. Yet with Bledsoe and Drummond along with pieces like Jodie Meeks and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the pieces seem in place. It would also make the Pistons expected to make the playoffs next year, which may be important to ownership after disappointing seasons lately.

Phoenix’s end

There’s a few reasons why Phoenix may be lukewarm on this deal. First Monroe is not a perfect fit as they have two young centers in Alex Len and Miles Plumlee who’d move down the depth chart, with Len’s minutes especially unguaranteed. In the meantime however Monroe starting at C beside Markieff Morris is an upgrade, giving them passing and post skills to compliment Phoenix’s perimeter penetrating and shooting skills. Some minutes could be opened up for Plumlee and Len by playing Monroe at power forward in some matchups.

Financially Monroe may be asking for upwards of 11 or 12 million to do this deal for a player who’s game has stagnated in recent years. For his strengths like post scoring, ability to drive past defenders with ballhandling skills and passing, he neither spaces the floor especially well or provides defensive impact, a combination that is scary in the modern game. Monroe is a poor man’s Al Jefferson or Zach Randolph, the question as he goes into his prime is whether that’s still enough to pay a premium contract.

However, signing Monroe to a long term deal may also give Phoenix some needed stability. The core of their team last year in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe is in doubt long term. In addition to their Bledsoe issues, because Dragic is so underpaid right now, the Suns can’t offer him an extension high enough for him to consider taking – Toronto faced a similar dilemma with Kyle Lowry last year. Although Dragic clearly likes Phoenix enough for him to return there last time he was a free agent, it’s never easy to see a player enter unrestricted free agency where any matter of large offers from contenders could be thrown at him. Toronto was able to have a division winning, franchise record season, promising Lowry a slew of winning seasons in upcoming years. Phoenix is in danger of becoming an also-ran non-playoff team next year, making it less appealing to Dragic. By trading for an established player like Monroe instead of S&Ting Bledsoe for draft picks or young players, it may help them resign Dragic next year, or give them a fallback option of an Isaiah Thomas-Greg Monroe core to rebuild with if he leaves.

Although it depends on what Phoenix’s other offers for Bledsoe are, I’d say you can certainly do worse than acquiring a starting big in Greg Monroe and then going from there.

For now this trade is a fantasy, but I’d say for both it’s certainly preferable to their player taking a qualifying offer.

Written by jr.

August 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Who will win 2014-2015 NBA rookie of the year?

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While I’m more attracted to picking out the long term success of an NBA player than their rookie seasons, this year I thought I’d take a stab at predicting Rookie of the Year:

First, let’s look at the last 10 rookies of the year:

2013-2014 – PG Michael Carter-Williams
2012-2013 – PG Damian Lillard
2011-2012 – PG Kyrie Irving
2010-2011 – PF Blake Griffin
2009-2010 – PG/SG Tyreke Evans
2008-2009 – PG Derrick Rose
2007-2008 – SF Kevin Durant
2006-2007 – PG Brandon Roy
2005-2006 – PG Chris Paul
2004-2005 – PF/C Emeka Okafor

How voters pick these winners isn’t a secret. Of the above 10 names, Okafor, Paul, Roy, Durant, Rose, Evans, Griffin, Irving, Lillard and Carter-Williams all led rookies in points per game, while Rose finished 2nd behind O.J. Mayo’s points per game in 2008. (Okafor tied with Ben Gordon at 15.1ppg, but my manual calculation has Okafor fractions ahead)

To put up a high points per game, players need the minutes and touches and to emerge as a team star quickly. Of course, talent and being a strong long term prospect is also a huge help.

First, here are the top 10 2014 draft picks on my mixed model draft board expected to have full NBA seasons next year:

2. SG Nik Stauskas
3. PF Julius Randle
4. PF Noah Vonleh
5. SG Jordan Adams
7. PF Jabari Parker
8. PG Shabazz Napier
10. SF Doug McDermott
12. PF Aaron Gordon
13. SF T.J. Warren
14. PG/SG Marcus Smart

(6. SG Bogdan Bogdanovic, 9. PF Dario Saric were removed because they will play overseas next season, 1. C Joel Embiid 11. SG Spencer Dinwiddie were removed due to injury)

Nerlens Noel and Nikola Mirotic are also eligible for rookie of the year next year, I’ll discuss them later in the post.

If I’m confident in my draft rankings I should believe one of those ten players will win rookie of the year, if a prospect from the 2014 draft wins. Here’s my ranking from 10 to 1 of those players, in order of how likely I feel they are to win.

“Forget about it”

10. PF Noah Vonleh

Vonleh will fight to get minutes over two young bigs in Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, along with Marvin Williams who fills a veteran stretch PF need beside Al Jefferson. In addition the Hornets have their hands full with possession users in Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson, Al Jefferson. This isn’t your rookie scoring leader.

9. PG Shabazz Napier

The Heat will still be committing a ton of possessions to Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng, plus Napier has two PGs in front of him in Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, so he may not play period. Although he’s the type of shot creating, high possession-guard who’s done well in rookie seasons lately, only conceivable path for him to get into this race is if Wade’s season falls apart due to injury.

In reality Vonleh and Napier are worse than the 9th and 10th most likely rookie of the year winners, with other prospects like Dante Exum, Andrew Wiggins and Nerlens Noel having more friendly possession using situations.

“Probably too good of a team”

8. SG Jordan Adams

The Grizzlies need a player like Adams, who’s shooting and ability to drive to the basket is badly needed at SG or SF. With a very productive college career and nice summer league, it’s possible he jumps out to a high minutes per game role. With that said the Grizzlies offense will still look to Mike Conley, Jr., Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol first and Vince Carter could fill their offensive needs before Adams does. ROYs coming on great teams picking late in the 1st round just doesn’t happen.

7. SF Doug McDermott

Like the Grizzlies, the Bulls are a defense first team which allows an offensive upgrade to be important early. There’s also the unfortunate chance that Rose’s health could fall apart again, creating a vacuum for offensive usage. So McDermott could find himself important on the Bulls. But the most likely situation is he gets used as a spot up and spacing shooter early in his career like how the Bulls used to play Kyle Korver. McDermott would likely need to be more of a shot-creator to be the rookie scoring leader and rookie of the year.

“Right place, wrong player?”

6. PF Aaron Gordon

Orlando is the type of young, expected to flounder team made for rookie of the years. But Gordon was known as one of the worst offensive players coming into this draft and in summer league was a raw project. Orlando also has another rookie in Elfrid Payton who’ll get the ball, along with other young players like Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris to feed. Even if Gordon has a surprisingly great rookie season it’s likely to look like either Kenneth Faried or Kawhi Leonard’s in 2011, both of whom lost to a classic high scoring rookie candidate in Kyrie Irving.

5. PG/SG Marcus Smart

Smart fits the profile of some rookie of the year guards lately, most notably, the defending belt holder Michael Carter-Williams who similarly was a big, defensive guard with shooting problems. If he can handle the possessions, Boston will give it to him, despite playing beside Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. It’s also conceivable Rondo is traded, opening up the minutes for Smart. Despite looking like Carter-Williams and Oladipo, there’s a difference between leading rookies in scoring in 2013-2014 and winning it in 2014-2015. There’s only so high Smart’s points per game will be this year especially if getting pushed out of position by Rajon Rondo for at least half the season. Furthermore Smart only ranked 14th on my mixed model big board so it’s already borderline whether I like him enough as a prospect to put him in the mix.

“The dark horse”

4. SF/PF T.J. Warren

The rarity of Warren’s 24.9ppg season in the NCAA for a major conference college sophomore was relatively understated and he continued to score at a similar per 36 minutes in summer league. Removing a 7 minute game, in the other 4 games he averaged 21.25 points in 29 minutes per game. Warren gets buckets.

With that said, he’s on my 13th on mixed model big board which is a little low to predict rookie of the year and the Suns aren’t chopped liver as a team. Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe presuming he’s still under contract long term or short term and Isaiah Thomas, will take a lot of scoring possessions. Although the Suns aren’t stacked at SF which seems Warren’s most likely position, a floor spacer like P.J. Tucker fits their progressive offensive style more than Warren. Warren’s lack of shooting is likely to bother the Suns as much as anyone, which is why it’s surprising they took him. It’ll still be hard for Warren get a big minutes and shots role immediately to lead rookies in scoring.

With that said, all Warren has done is prove he’s great at scoring compared to his peers and if Rookie of the Year almost solely gets voted on PPG, he’s worth the consideration.

“The favorites”

3. PF Jabari Parker

Parker is the Vegas-odds favorite to win rookie of the year. He has a history of high volume scoring in college and high school and Milwaukee is a perfect rookie of the year situation, as they’ll come into the year planning for Jabari to be their #1 possessions option and will give him all the minutes he can handle.

My only reservation is I like but don’t love his game as a prospect. I’m not sure how good his jumpshot or ability to drive will be immediately. The NBA is not the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago, if a rookie like Jabari takes too many low percentage midrange shots he’ll be benched or coached not to. It’s not a guarantee that just because Jabari can get many midrange shots off, that he’ll be allowed to shoot his way to rookie of the year numbers. In the modern NBA the high usage a player like Carmelo Anthony gets, is earned by having unique skills to create efficient shots at the rim or from 3 then complimenting that with midrange chucking.

Still, Jabari is still a good prospect ranking 7th on my mixed model big board and in the best situation of anyone to win this. Even if I believe his talent has more in common with Antoine Walker than Carmelo Anthony, that still puts rookie of the year on the table.

2. SG Nik Stauskas

Stauskas was ranked 2nd on my mixed model big board and was on my shortlist of star talents in the draft. He has the off the dribble skills that has led to multiple backcourt rookie of the year winners lately.

The biggest thing going against Stauskas is situation, as the Kings have DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay expected to shoot just about every time they touch it. Notably however Isaiah Thomas averaged over 21 points per game in all of December, January, February and March despite sharing the ball with Gay since his trade on December 9th. I suspect as long as Stauskas gets starter minutes at SG, the opportunity is there to put up rookie of the year scoring numbers. The only concern there is the Kings drafting Ben McLemore last year, however they may make up for that by playing McLemore at SF beside Stauskas at times and McLemore struggled enough as a rookie that minutes are not guaranteed this year.

Stauskas’ rookie of the year would likely be the modern equivalent’s of Brandon Roy on Portland in 2006-2007, managing to stand out despite Zach Randolph’s 23.6ppg in the front-court.

1. PF Julius Randle

I’m leaning towards Randle as my favorite right now. He ranks 3rd on my mixed model board for both talent and production reasons and the Lakers are the type of bad team who should breed the minutes and touches for a rookie of the year winner. Although Randle has to compete with other natural 4s like Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis, Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly, realistically if Randle’s rookie of the year train starts rolling, I expect he’ll become the overwhelming priority of those players. It doesn’t hurt that the Lakers are a high profile media team for whom any young star is likely to his profile blown up, especially a high school lauded, Kentucky prospect who made the national title game. Randle appears to have the physical and mental maturity to produce early as well.

Randle’s chances at ROY are probably better the worse Kobe’s condition is next year, as it would allow him to take a bigger role in the offense. And I’m fading Kobe’s performance next year, I just think a 19th season coming off major injuries is too much to come back from and expect another healthy 27ppg+ season.

Now as I’ve said, I don’t believe these are truly the top 10 candidates for rookie of the year next season, so it’s worth covering a few more names:

PF/C Nikola Mirotic

Mirotic’s talent level seems very impressive, enough to be top 10 compared to 2014 prospects. However the Bulls situation likely plays against him even more than for McDermott. Getting past Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson in the rotation enough to have rookie of the year caliber points per game, is unlikely. The transition from Europe to the NBA can also sometimes include a slow first year.

SF Andrew Wiggins

The #1 pick gets a more rookie of the year favorable situation in Minnesota than Cleveland, however he ranks 19th on my mixed model board which is stretching it for candidates. His rawness as a ballhandler is likely to hurt his chances to create enough to put high scoring numbers, likely to play off the ball in transition and take spot up shots more early. And the Wolves aren’t chopped liver. Nik Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Thaddeus Young If the Timberwolves make the rumored Anthony Bennett for Young trade, should still lead the way for the Wolves. It doesn’t seem like Flip Saunders is the most “play the youngins” friendly coach either. Wiggins being in the top 5 or 6 leading scorers next year wouldn’t shock me, but I don’t see him leading in PPG

PG/SG Dante Exum

Exum ranked 16th on my mixed model big board, not far off from players who made the above list like Smart and Warren. He’s a dribble-first guard on a bad team which usually is an encouraging sign for ROY. However Trey Burke and Alec Burks are also guards who like the ball in their hands, with the latter’s similarity to Exum being particularly problematic for Exum’s chances. Hayward also should once again be their #1 option on the perimeter. If Exum’s rookie season goes well I suspect it looks like Giannis Antetokounmpo’s, where he excites more than puts up gaudy numbers.

PF/C Nerlens Noel

My private re-grading of the 2013 draft would rank Noel 17th if he came out in the 2014 draft. That’s worth fringe consideration and the Sixers are of course, the ultimate rookie of the year opportunity, giving players both heavy possessions and a high pace statistically.

Still, it’s clear you need to lead rookies in scoring to expect to win this award and I just don’t see Noel clearing that bar. Even 15 points per game feelsa lot to ask of Noel and I suspect the rookie of the year will average higher than that.

PG Elfrid Payton and SG Jordan McRae

Payton ranks 42nd and McRae 35th on my mixed model board, so I would consider it a failure on my point if either won rookie of the year. Nevertheless I thought they deserved mention for opportunity alone. Payton has starting PG position handed to him on a poor Orlando team. I’ve also got my eye on McRae who despite getting picked in the late 50s, averaged over 20 points per game in summer league for Philadelphia, who’s summer league team looks a lot like their regular season team in quality, so the odds of him using a surprisingly high of FGA per game this year seem solid to me.

For fun as a comparison, here are the current Bovada odds listed for Rookie of the Year, as of August 19th 2014:

Jabari Parker: 3-1
Andrew Wiggins: 5-1
Nerlens Noel: 15-2
Julius Randle: 15-2
Doug McDermott 10-1
Dante Exum: 12-1
Marcus Smart: 12-1
Elfrid Payton: 14-1
Gary Harris: 20-1
Shabazz Napier: 20-1
Nik Stauskas: 20-1
T.J. Warren: 20-1
Jordan Adams: 33-1
P.J. Hairston: 33-1
Adreian Payne: 33-1
James Young: 33-1
Kyle Anderson: 40-1
Joel Embiid: 50-1
Mitch McGary: 50-1

Written by jr.

August 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Some closing words on the Warriors and the Klay Thompson-Kevin Love saga

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Kevin Love has been unofficially traded to Cleveland, so I wanted to revisit Golden State’s side of the Love saga, which has been more fascinating than either Cleveland or Minnesota’s.

Golden State refusing to trade David Lee and Klay Thompson for Kevin Love may go down in infamy one day. More or less, the only people who don’t think it’s a bad move is them.

The best article about the Warriors end of this is from Tim Kawakami in late July. In in he stated what I had been suspecting at the time. This is as much about David Lee as Klay Thompson. It’s not so much the Warriors prefer Klay to Love, it’s just they don’t see the difference between two offensively gifted PFs in Lee and Love as worth giving up Klay. Along with other requests Minnesota made like Golden State taking Kevin Martin’s contract or giving up Harrison Barnes.

Golden State thinking Lee and Klay provide as much value as Love and Martin at the same positions, isn’t batshit insane. It’s probably wrong still, I mean, Golden State with Curry, Love and tons of defensive role players like Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green could be an incredible team, which last year’s Warriors weren’t. But nevertheless, it crosses the line of defense-ability to choose the Lee/Klay combo. Klay Thompson had better raw on/off +/- than Kevin Love last year, it’s possible the Warriors think his combination of floor spacing and defense is a key to their starting lineup.

Where this decision really breaks down is in the long term. In the NBA players value does not extend to the previous or next season, but the long term after that as well. David Lee is 31 and his value to the Warriors should not last long. In 2016 he will be a 33 year old free agent. If they don’t lose him outright to another team, they may regret overpaying a player well on the backside of his career. At the same time, Love will be entering his absolute prime, which much more longevity both as a superstar and then valuable post-prime star. The difference in value in 2014 between Kevin Love and David Lee is significant, but that difference only grows in time. Even if the Warriors somehow convince themselves Klay bridges the gap now, will that be the case in 2017 and 2018 when Lee is either old or on another team and Klay is on a maximum contract?

In other words, in the short term Kevin Love and Kevin Martin is probably more valuable than Klay Thompson and David Lee. In the long term, it likely ceases to be a question which combination is more valuable. In the NBA there’s no easier way to build an every-year contender with 2 superstars who only need role players plugged and rotated around them. The Warriors trying to build a contender with Klay and Lee on the other hand is a tightrope. Even if they manage to contend next year (something I’d personally bet against), in the long run the age and free agencies of Lee, Andrew Bogut and David Lee means the Warriors have to do the dance of avoiding overpaying older players and trying to find new core players in free agency in the draft. If making mistakes, this balanced team could collapse to also-ran and lower level playoff team. But a team with Stephen Curry and Kevin Love is probably in good shape no matter how the pieces are refit around them. Compare them to the Houston Rockets who lost Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, but because they have James Harden and Dwight Howard, it seems inevitable they’ll restock the roster around them to contend. That’s the type of “easy” reshuffling having Curry and Love would do for the Warriors. Superstars are consistently valuable, while balanced lineups could one day become unbalanced. I understand the Warriors are in “all in” mode and aren’t thinking about the long term as much right now, but it’s already hard enough to make the argument Lee and Klay are better than Love and Martin, when virtually all statistical evidence supports the latter. It isn’t like there’s a decisive indication Klay and Lee win the short term battle while Love and Martin win the long term one.

Just to mention, there’s the question of whether Love would resign in Golden State next summer after the trade, but I don’t see it as much of one. In addition to a fantastic roster to play with, the Warriors would be able to offer him far more money than alternatives. Just as Cleveland has already gotten a commitment out of Love to resign, I suspect the Warriors would have. It’s no excuse for not making the deal.

Written by jr.

August 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Oklahoma City’s marriage to Serge Ibaka

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The most important decision of the Oklahoma City Kevin Durant era was when they traded James Harden to Houston. Clearly the Thunder understood they couldn’t pay Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Harden long term and stay under the luxury tax.

Although there are other things problematic with the Harden trade such as dealing him a year too early, the real long term decision they made was choosing to keep Ibaka over Harden.

The Thunder likely made this decision on the merit of fit over raw talent. Harden was considered the Thunder’s “3rd star” over Ibaka at the time, but Ibaka is a defensive anchor and a big man, while Harden is an offensive perimeter star like Westbrook and Durant. Thus the Thunder decided they need a defensive anchor/big man more than a 3rd offensive perimeter star.

My main objection to this for the last few years is keeping the best offensive talent is a good idea, because defense can be made up for elsewhere. With Durant, Westbrook and Harden, the Thunder could have filled the rest of the team with defensive role players and done whatever they can playing-style to have a defensive identity. By giving more offensive responsibility to Harden, Durant and Westbrook, along with Harden himself, may have been groomed into expending more energy on defense such as how Chris Bosh became a far more valuable defender in Miami than Toronto now that he wasn’t required to use as much energy on offense. The Thunder would NOT have had a defense-less roster if they chose to trade Ibaka. Westbrook, Durant, Harden is still a physically imposing wing rotation on the defensive end and they had other role players like Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison who were game on that end. That’s before considering Ibaka could have gotten them strong value in return for a trade, possibly a defense-first cheap prospect or big.

However to defend the Thunder there may be a few other reasons to shy away from Harden. One is that we don’t know how Harden acted behind the scenes to being the Thunder’s 3rd perimeter scorer and whether long term he’d have wanted out to become a star elsewhere. Secondly, Harden’s personality is different than Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka’s. Harden’s reputation as loving nightclubs is now well known and his body is not as finely conditioned as his three former Thunder teammates. It’s possible the Thunder partly made they trade because they were turned off by factors like Harden’s late night habits or diet, especially during the 2012 Finals.

The Thunder haven’t made the Finals since they traded Harden as their 3rd star. They’d had a few excuses. It’s hard to blame them for 2013 when they didn’t have Russell Westbrook. Last year they lost Serge Ibaka for the first 2 games of the Spurs series. However they still lost the last 2 games of the series with Ibaka, including Game 6 at home when Tony Parker missed the 2nd half. If the Thunder had the team to beat the Spurs when healthy, there’s no way they can blow an elimination home game with the gift of Parker’s injury. I personally don’t feel the Thunder were going to beat the Spurs last year even if Ibaka played the whole series. The Spurs caliber of play had been higher in the regular season and postseason and they proved it the last few games of the series once they made the adjustment by putting Matt Bonner in the starting lineup to stretch the Thunder out. The Spurs point differential over the Thunder was also overall a massive domination, which is tough to blame on just 2 Ibaka-less games. Furthermore OKC missing Ibaka for 2 games is a problem some teams have to get past to win the title. When Miami won their title in 2012 they had to do with Chris Bosh for some of the 2nd and 3rd round and managed to get through it.

Still, the Thunder have plenty of time to prove their decision to keep Ibaka over Harden is correct. They’re playing the long game to develop young talents like Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams long enough to win around Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka before Durant and Westbrook hit their free agencies in 2016 and 2017. It’s hard to bag the Thunder for their post Harden plan not working yet when they’re only passed year 2 of it and those years were marred by injury.


But what’s interesting is they probably chose Ibaka over pursuing the “3 offensive star” model again. What I mean is the complete lack of Serge Ibaka-Oklahoma City involvement in the Kevin Love rumors this summer. I’m of the belief that if Oklahoma City offered Ibaka along with pieces like Jeremy Lamb and draft picks, there’s an excellent chance they’d be heavy players or leading for Love.

Consider the deal all signs say Minnesota wanted before Andrew Wiggins was offered, which is was a Klay Thompson/David Lee centered package from the Warriors. I presume Minnesota wants to win games next year and pursue the playoff appearances upside of a Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, etc. roster. Serge Ibaka is an ideal fit for this plan from Minnesota. He is both a win-now player and young enough to be in long term plans. He fits in perfectly beside Nik Pekovic, with Pekovic providing the low post offense and Ibaka providing the floor spacing and defense. When added to the Thunder’s ability to sweeten the deal with young prospects and draft picks, it’s exactly the type of deal to woo the Timberwolves right now.

Yet the Thunder have not been in the picture, it hasn’t even been reported they’ve made any offer at all. I would put the chances of the Thunder offering their best non-Durant and Westbrook pieces for Love but having it turned down behind the scenes, as fairly minimal. Even if turned down it’d likely have been heard about in some way or Minnesota would have leaked it to gain leverage over other suitors. Remember that Kevin Love trade rumors were going strong for a month before Cleveland’s Andrew Wiggins offer got involved, so it’s not as if Minnesota would have been turning down Ibaka for Wiggins this whole time, if charging hard after Love, Oklahoma City’s biggest opposition in mid-late June would have been the Boston and Golden State offers. It’s pretty easy to speculate a conclusion from this. The Thunder don’t have an interest in moving Ibaka for Love for some of the same reasons they chose Ibaka over Harden. They prefer having the defensive compliment over a 3rd offensive star, along with possible continuity reasons.

And I’m of the belief this is probably even crazier than choosing Ibaka over Harden. Love at least is a big man instead of a 3rd offensive wing, fitting into the lineup more than Harden did. Any concerns about Harden’s off-court commitment not being at Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka’s level, don’t exist with Kevin Love. Although he provides less defense than Ibaka, his offense is a perfect fit for the Thunder co-stars, providing devastating spacing on a roster where teams already struggle to defend Westbrook and Durant at once, along with his outlet passing skills complimenting Westbrook and Durant, two of the scariest transition players in the league for different reasons. He gives OKC what they’ve needed for a long time which is a low post scorer. In addition to his defensive rebounds, his offensive rebounding could provide a scary amount of 2nd chances, putback points and free throw line trips to an OKC offense that doesn’t even need it to dominate. Love is widely considered a better player than Serge Ibaka. Love is considered potentially the best true power forward in the game and a top 10 player in the league, which is the type of resume Serge Ibaka does not have. By virtue of being presumably better, I have to think there’s a good chance Kevin Love makes every team in the league better than if they had Ibaka.

Defensively Love could try to make a Bosh-like transition to a stronger defensive focus, while again, Westbrook and Durant may benefit defensively from playing with Love. It’s true they give up shotblocking by trading Ibaka, but they also gain all these other offensive things Love does that Ibaka doesn’t, along with his rebounding.

What it comes down to is that Durant, Westbrook and Love would be anchor an insanely talented at a level beyond the present Thunder. And when a franchise can overwhelm the league with star talent it usually works out. Some of the great teams haven’t been the best “fits” positionally. The 1980s Celtics effectively had 3 star bigs in Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish instead of a more balanced roster with a PG or SG star, but they still fit well and won 3 championships. The most recent Miami Heat had a lot of overlap between Dwyane Wade and Lebron James and at first before we knew Chris Bosh could make a defensive transition, it didn’t appear they had an anchor on that end. The list of teams who lost because they didn’t have enough talent, is longer than the list of teams who teamed up superstars in their mid 20s but didn’t fit together well enough to win.

Another HUGE motive for the Thunder to go after Kevin Love, is it takes him off the board for other teams. Letting Kevin Love be traded to the Cavaliers creates a serious threat in Cleveland to win the title the next two years. The Thunder snatching Love instead would’ve taken the wind out of Lebron’s sails, presuming the Cavs would then proceed with an Andrew Wiggins-centered long term plan. Likewise for when it looked like the Warriors were a top contender for Love last month. The Thunder would’ve been wise to act against a potential West behemoth being created in Golden State and a Stephen Curry-Kevin Love combination. Considering all the other reasons why it’s smart to trade Ibaka for a star talent in Love, strategically weakening the competition alone especially now that we know that competition is “Lebron’s team”, would just be the sealer for me. The Thunder would have 3 of the game’s superstars in their mid 20s and importantly, there’d be a shortage of other teams in the league who had more than one. This is the type of landscape giving them the upside of not just a title but a dominant dynasty.

Finally, there’s an argument just for variance. We saw how the 2013-2014 Thunder played in the regular season and postseason and it wasn’t spectacular. Again one can harp on the Ibaka injury, but not taking care of business in Game 6 at home with the injury bug on the Spurs side, is a major enough sign the Thunder weren’t ready to win the title last year. So why not trade Ibaka for Kevin Love for the sake of it being different? It’s not a guarantee to work out spectacularly as Durant-Westbrook-Love enter their names in superstar “Big 3” lore, but there appears to be a fair chance it could. And the downside? There’s only so badly a Durant-Westbrook-Love era could turn out. Perhaps there’s a chance they win games in the mid 50s but bow out in the 2nd and 3rd round. Well that’s the same downside the Thunder core right now has.

The Thunder have 2 seasons until Durant’s free agency and last year’s results would not make me excited about the status quo. That’s not to say they have to make a move just for the sake of it, but if you can team up a potential top 10 player in the league with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant? Why not see what’s behind this Door Number 2? Why not try to the shoot the moon? Why not go for the “scary, seize the balance of power of the league?” option? To be frank, don’t complicate it. Serge Ibaka is a good player, Kevin Love is a superstar player and going from good to superstar at PF could take the Thunder to an entirely different level in a way desperately needed to avoid Durant 2016 free agency problems.

Written by jr.

August 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm

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

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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

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.

2014 NBA Draft Final Talent Grades and More: The Draft the SG Position Strikes Back?

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Here is my rankings for the 2014 NBA Draft!

In 2012 and 2013 my draft big board was just my rating of the players talent level, using my system. I have never felt players are guaranteed to reach their talent, certainly factors like player intangibles and opportunity are important for a player’s success. My belief is more that the most odds-friendly strategy to draft is to take the most talented player anyways and then hope for the best, especially if a team can put a good context around him to develop him.

After some of the players I’ve bullish about in the last 2 drafts started slowly and are at risk of never reaching the minutes to develop (I tend to think 7,000-8,000 minutes+ is a good benchmark for when players need to start proving themselves – for example some prospects I rated highly in 2012 haven’t even gotten to 2000 yet), I’ve added some extra models this year after my traditional one. Here are my models:

Model 1 – My traditional talent grades

Model 2 – My grades weighted against ESPN.com/conventional wisdom

Model 3 – My grades weighted against college PER (adjusted for age)

Model 4 – My grades weighted against analytics (with the help of Layne Vasharo’s statistical model who can be found on twitter here and whose models can be found here )

It’s possible a more successful way to draft is to mix it with other factors like conventional draft rankings and statistics. Another benefit is these extra models could better predict who produces early, which is important, since lots of talented picks still don’t pan out in time for the team who drafts them. At the least, it’s worth posting these models to test their results.

Model 1 – Traditional talent rankings

This year I added the final pieces to my talent grading methodology. From the 2012 to 2013 drafts I developed the methodology for my feel for the game and skill impact categories to a similar place they are today, but from last year’s draft to now, in my physical impact category I have made major changes – including what I see as a reliably technique to judging NBA slashing ability and weight it against length, strength and lateral mobility. In March I posted a review of how I grade my 3 categories, but I have actually found a few more tricks and improved how I grade the physical impact category in the few months since that post.

I understand some are turned off by the subjectivity of a grading method like this. What I try to remember is to grade every player the exact same consistent way. I repeat my method for every player as identically as I can and then post my results whatever they are and without confirmation bias, no matter how close or far they are from the conventional rankings. Some people may be shocked at players ranked high or low in this draft, but it’s what my consistent system told me to grade. I trust the process and if it leads to incorrect rankings, I’ll improve the process and the system at a later date.

In addition to my grades I post a “contextual chance of success” grade. These factors include how high a player is picked in the draft, injury, international buyout, attitude, how competitive a position is (PG is more competitive than C for example). This doesn’t affect the rankings at all, it’s just worth mentioning as a placeholder.

When players have the same grade I break the tie according to who’s combined physical impact and feel for the game grades are higher, taking into account more variability in the skill impact category. If the combined grade in those 2 categories is a tie, I then choose the higher feel for the game since I feel most confident about rating that category. Finally if all three categories are identically graded, I rate the “bigger” position 1st.

The dominant position in these rankings are SG with 10 of the top 30 rated players including 1st, 3rd, 5th, 10th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 23rd, 25th, 30th. In the secondary models there are some concerns about whether the production matches this talent, but if everyone pans out, this could be the long awaited revenge of the 2 guard spot with multiple stars and other blue chip starters behind them.

If a player doesn’t make the list, it’s because I didn’t rate their talent level, not that they weren’t good enough to make it. I have 80 prospects ranked and tried to include everyone relevant.

My talent grades:

1. SG Bogdan Bogdanovic

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 9 / Elite

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 25 (Perennial all-star talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 18

Contextual chance of success grade: B- ( International buyout Bubble 1st round draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Brandon Roy, Joe Johnson, James Harden

2. C Joel Embiid

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 8 / Great

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 24 (Fringe perennial all-star talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 16

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( Injury High draft pick Rare position )

NBA Comparisons: Pau Gasol, Brook Lopez, Tim Duncan

3. SG Nik Stauskas

Physical/motion impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade: 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 10 / Incredible

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 24 (Fringe Perennial all-star talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 14

Contextual chance of success grade: A ( High draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Manu Ginobili, Ray Allen, Jamal Crawford

4. PF Adreian Payne

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 22 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 14

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Mid 1st round draft pick Lung condition )

NBA Comparisons: David Lee, Amir Johnson, Taj Gibson

5. SG Spencer Dinwiddie

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 9 / Elite

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 22 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: C+ ( Injury Bubble 1st round draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Gordon Hayward, Danny Green, SG Chandler Parsons

6. PG Shabazz Napier

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 9 / Elite

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 22 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: B+ ( Mid 1st round draft pick Competitive position )

NBA Comparisons: Isaiah Thomas, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul

7. PF Julius Randle

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 15

Contextual chance of success grade: A ( High draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Zach Randolph, Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin

8. SF Deandre Daniels

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 15

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Bubble 1st rounder )

NBA Comparisons: Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Trevor Ariza

9. PF Dario Saric

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 10 / Incredible

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 14

Contextual chance of success grade: A- ( International buyout High lottery pick )

NBA Comparisons: Boris Diaw, Jeff Green, Hedo Turkoglu

10. SG Jordan Adams

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 14

Contextual chance of success grade: B- ( Bubble 1st round pick Conditioning)

NBA Comparisons: Joe Johnson, James Harden, Arron Afflalo

11. PF Noah Vonleh

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score(Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: A ( High draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: David West, Zach Randolph, Al Jefferson

12. SF Doug McDermott

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade: 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 10 / Incredible

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: AHigh draft pick)

NBA Comparisons: Antawn Jamison, Peja Stojakovic, SF J.J. Redick

13.  PF Aaron Gordon

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 8 / Great

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 16

Contextual chance of success grade: A ( High draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Kenneth Faried, Blake Griffin, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Dennis Rodman

14. SG Dante Exum

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 8 / Great

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 20 ( Blue Chip starter talent grade )

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 15

Contextual chance of success grade: A ( High draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Goran Dragic, Lance Stephenson, Dwyane Wade

15. PF Cameron Bairstow

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 14

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round/undrafted )

NBA Comparisons: Taj Gibson, Paul Millsap, Al Horford

16. SG Zach LaVine

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 14

Contextual chance of success grade: A- ( Mid 1st round pick )

NBA Comparisons: Louis Williams, Monta Ellis, Dion Waiters

17. PF Damien Inglis

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades: 13

Contextual chance of success grade: B- ( International buyout Bubble 1st round pick )

NBA Comparisons: Jeff Green, Lamar Odom, Kawhi Leonard

18. SG P.J. Hairston

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion grade (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: B- ( Bubble 1st rounder Attitude )

NBA Comparisons: Wesley Matthews, Arron Afflalo, Danny Green

19. SF Rodney Hood

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade – 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: B+ ( Mid 1st round draft pick  Pukes before games )

NBA Comparisons: Marco Belinelli, Mike Dunleavy, Jr., Mike Miller

20. PF Jabari Parker

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 9 / Elite

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 20 ( Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: A- ( High draft pick Conditioning )

NBA Comparisons: Markieff Morris/Marcus Morris, Antawn Jamison, Al Harrington

21. C Alec Brown

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 9 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: C ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Rare position)

NBA Comparisons: Ryan Anderson, Mehmet Okur, Channing Frye

22. SF T.J. Warren

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 14

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Bubble 1st rounder )

NBA Comparisons: Thaddeus Young, Draymond Green, Marcus Morris/Markieff Morris

23. SG Marcus Smart

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 9 / Elite

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score: 14

Contextual chance of success grade: B+ ( High draft pick Competitive position Attitude )

NBA Comparisons: Lance Stephenson, Tyreke Evans, Rodney Stuckey

24. PG Russ Smith

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Competitive position )

NBA Comparisons: Mike Conley, Jr., Ty Lawson, Darren Collison

25. SG Jordan McRae

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

NBA Comparisons: Gerald Green, Corey Brewer, Terrence Ross

26. C Jusuf Nurkic

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 8 / Great

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: A- ( International buyout Mid 1st round pick Rare position )

NBA Comparisons: Kris Humphries, Nikola Pekovic, Mareese Speights

27. SF Andrew Wiggins

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 8 / Great

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: A ( High draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Gerald Green, Rudy Gay, Corey Brewer

28. SF Cleanthony Early

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade: 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Bubble 1st round pick )

NBA Comparisons: P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza, Omri Casspi

29. PF Kyle Anderson

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade – 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: A- ( Mid 1st round draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Boris Diaw, Hedo Turkoglu, Lamar Odom

30. SG C.J. Wilcox

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade: 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score: 11

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Bubble 1st round pick )

NBA Comparisons: Nick Young, Jamal Crawford, Marco Belinelli

31. C Mitch McGary

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: C- ( Bubble 1st rounder Injury Weed violation)

NBA Comparisons: Anderson Varejao, Nick Collison, Marcin Gortat

32. PF Jerami Grant

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Bubble 1st rounder )

NBA Comparisons: Kenneth Faried, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis

33. PG Jahii Carson

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Competitive position )

NBA Comparisons: Kemba Walker, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison

34. C Clint Capela

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 8 / Great

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Bubble 1st rounder Rare position )

NBA Comparisons: Marcus Camby, Chris Anderson, Serge Ibaka

35. C Nikola Jokic

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( International buyout Bubble 1st rounder Rare position )

NBA Comparisons: Spencer Hawes, Robin Lopez, Kosta Koufos

36.  SF Lamar Patterson

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

NBA Comparisons: Tobias Harris, Draymond Green, Caron Butler

37. SG Markel Brown

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grade): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

NBA Comparisons: Gary Neal, Courtney Lee, Randy Foye

38. SG Jabari Brown

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: B- ( Bubble 1st rounder )

NBA Comparisons: Nick Young, Gerald Green, C.J. Miles

39. SG Gary Harris

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: A ( High draft pick )

NBA Comparisons: Jordan Crawford, Courtney Lee, Gary Neal

40. SG Travis Bader

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) – 1 / Terrible

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 9 / Elite

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score: (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

NBA Comparisons: Jason Kapono, SG Steve Novak, Steve Kerr

41. PF Javon McCrea

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 17 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 13

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round/undrafted )

42. SF K.J. McDaniels

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 17 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Bubble 1st rounder )

43. PG Keith Appling

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 17 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( 2nd round pick/undrafted  Competitive position )

44. PF Patric Young

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 17 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game talent grade): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

45. C Walter Tavares

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 17 (Fringe Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: B+ ( Bubble 1st rounder Rare position )

46. PF LaQuinton Ross

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 17 (Fringe Blue Chip starter player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

47. PG Vasilije Micic

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( International buyout 2nd round pick/undrafted  Competitive position )

48. SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion grade (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

49. PG DeAndre Kane

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Competitive position )

50. PG Jordan Clarkson

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: C ( Bubble 1st rounder Competitive position )

51. C Khem Birch

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: C ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Rare position )

52. C Sim Bhullar

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades: 11

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round/undrafted Rare position Conditioning )

53. PG Deonte Burton

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades: 11

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( 2nd rounder/undrafted Competitive position )

54. PF Jarnell Stokes

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Bubble 1st rounder )

55. SF James Young

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: A- ( Mid 1st round pick )

56. PG Markel Starks

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round/undrafted )

57. PF Cory Jefferson

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

58. PF Shayne Whittington

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted  )

59. SG Xavier Thames

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

60. SG Andre Dawkins

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round/undrafted )

61. PG Bryce Cotton

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 1 / Terrible

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 9 / Elite

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 7

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Competitive position )

62. PG Elfrid Payton

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 12

Contextual chance of success grade: A- ( High draft pick Competitive position )

63. SF Glenn Robinson III

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: B- ( Bubble 1st rounder )

64. SG Semaj Christon

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd rounder/undrafted )

65. PF James Michael McAdoo

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 11

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

66. PG Tyler Ennis

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade –  8 / Great

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: B+Mid 1st round pick Competitive position )

67. PF Johnny O’Bryant

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

68. PF Dwight Powell

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

69. PF Josh Huestis

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

70. SG Fuquan Edwin

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 10

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

71. SG Joe Harris

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact +Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

72. SG Roy Devyn Marble

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

73. SG Nick Johnson

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 6 / Decent

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

74. PG Scottie Wilbekin

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 8

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Competitive position )

75. SF Melvin Ejim

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

76. C Alex Kirk

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 7

Contextual chance of success grade: C ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Rare position)

77. SF C.J. Fair

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 13 (Fringe Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: D ( 2nd round pick/undrafted )

78. PG Aaron Craft

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 13 (Fringe Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 9

Contextual chance of success grade: F ( 2nd round pick/undrafted  Competitive position )

79. C Jordan Bachynski

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 13 (Fringe Rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 8

Contextual chance of success grade: C ( 2nd round pick/undrafted Rare position )

80. C Artem Klimenko

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade – 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 13 (Fringe rotation player talent grade)

Total motion score (Physical motion/impact + Feel for the Game grades): 8

Contextual chance of success grade: D+ (International buyout 2nd round/undrafted Rare position)

 

Model 2 – ESPN.com weighted rankings

To calculate this I simply take my talent grade in Model 1, add it the prospect’s rating ESPN/Chad Ford’s top 100 (As of June 23rd), then divide the numbers by two. This creates a more balanced rating between my ratings and conventional wisdom. One benefit of this is that if it’s more likely a player succeeds the higher he’s picked in the draft, this helps account for this. Some of the players who rated high on my list, but in the 2nd round/undrafted on Ford’s list, fall heavily down the board in this model.

Players out of Ford’s top 100 receive a ranking of 101.

(E) refers to ESPN rank, (J) refers to my talent grade rank.

1. C Joel Embiid 4 (E) + 2 (J) = 3.0
2. SG Nik Stauskas 11 (E) + 3 (J) = 7.0
3. PF Julius Randle 8 (E) + 7 (J) = 7.5
4. PF Noah Vonleh 5 (E) + 11 (J) = 8.0
5. PF Dario Saric 9 (E) + 9 (J) = 9.0
6. PF Aaron Gordon 7 (E) + 13 (J) = 10
7. PF Jabari Parker 2 (E) + 20 (J) = 11.0
8. PF Adreian Payne 19 (E) + 4 (J) = 11.5
9. SF Doug McDermott 12 (E) + 12 (J) = 12.0
10. PG Shabazz Napier 22 (E) + 6 (J) = 14.0
11. SF Andrew Wiggins 1(E) + 27 (J) = 14.0
12. PG/SG Marcus Smart 6 (E) + 23 (J) = 14.5
13. SG Zach LaVine 14 (E) + 16 (J) = 15.0
14. PG/SG Dante Exum 3 (E) + 14 (J) = 17
15. SG P.J. Hairston 18 (E) + 18 (J) = 18.0
16. SG Jordan Adams 27 (E) + 10 (J) = 18.5
17. SF T.J. Warren 20 (E) + 22 (J) = 21.0
18. C Jusuf Nurkic 17 (E) + 26 (J) = 21.5
19. SF Rodney Hood 25 (E) + 19 (J) = 22.0
20. SG Spencer Dinwiddie 40 (E) + 5 (J) = 22.5
21. SG Bogdan Bogdanovic 45 (E) + 1 (J) = 23.0
22. SF/PF Damien Inglis 30 (E) + 17 (J) = 23.5
23. SG Gary Harris 10 (E) + 39 (J) = 24.5
24. PF Kyle Anderson 23 (E) + 29 (J) = 26
25. PF Clint Capela 24 (E) + 34 (J) = 29.0
26. SF Cleanthony Early 32 (E) + 28 (J) = 30.0
27. C Mitch McGary 29 (E) + 31 (J) = 30.0
28. SG C.J. Wilcox 34 (E) + 30 (J) = 32.0
29. PF Jerami Grant 33 (E) + 32 (J) = 32.5
30. C Nikola Jokic 31 (E) + 35 (J) = 33.0
31. SF Deandre Daniels 59 (E) + 8 (J) = 33.5
32. SF K.J. McDaniels 26 (E) + 42 (J) = 34.0
33. SF James Young 15 (E) + 55 (J) = 35.0
34. SG Jordan McRae 47 (E) + 25 (J) = 36.0
35. PF Jarnell Stokes 21 (E) + 54 (J) = 37.5
36. PG Elfrid Payton 13 (E) + 62 (J) = 37.5
37. PG Jordan Clarkson 28 (E) + 50 (J) = 39.0
38. PF Patric Young 36 (E) + 44 (J) = 40.0
39. PG Russ Smith 58 (E) + 24 (J) = 41.0
40. C Walter Tavares 37 (E) + 45 (J) = 41.0
41. PG Tyler Ennis 16 (E) + 66 (J) = 41.0
42. PF Javon McCrea 43 (E) + 41 (J) = 42.0
43. SG Lamar Patterson 50 (E) + 36 (J) = 43.0
44. PG Jahii Carson 54 (E) + 33 (J) = 43.5
45. PG Vasilije Micic 41 (E) + 47 (J) = 44.0
46. PF Khem Birch 42 (E) + 51 (J) = 46.5
47. SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo 48 (E) + 48 (J) = 48.0
48. SF Glenn Robinson III 35 (E) + 63 (J) = 49.0
49. SG Markel Brown 64 (E) + 37 (J) = 50.5
50. SG Jabari Brown 67 (E) + 38 (J) = 52.5
51. C Alec Brown 86 (E) + 21 (J) = 53.5
52. SG Semaj Christon 44 (E) + 64 (J) = 54.0
53. SG Joe Harris 38 (E) + 71 (J) = 54.5
54. PG Bryce Cotton 49 (E) + 61 (J) = 55.0
55. PG DeAndre Kane 65 (E) + 49 (J) = 57.0
56. PG Deonte Burton 61 (E) + 53 (J) = 57.0
57. PF Cameron Bairstow unranked 101 (E) + 15 (J) = 58.0
58. PF LaQuinton Ross 70 (E) + 46 (J) = 58.0
59. PF Johnny O’Bryant 52 (E) + 67 (J) = 59.5
60. C Artem Klimenko 39 (E) + 80 (J) = 59.5
61. SG Travis Bader 81 (E) + 40 (J) = 60.5
62. PG Keith Appling 80 (E) + 43 (J) = 61.5
63. PF Cory Jefferson 66 (E) + 57 (J) = 61.5
64. SG Roy Devyn Marble 53 (E) + 72 (J) = 62.5
65. PF James Michael McAdoo 62 (E) + 65 (J) = 63.5
66. PF Dwight Powell 63 (E) + 68 (J) = 65.5
67. PG Nick Johnson 60 (E) + 73 (J) = 66.5
68. PF C.J. Fair 56 (E) + 77 (J) = 66.5
69. SG Xavier Thames 76 (E) + 59 (J) = 67.5
72. PG Aaron Craft 68 (E) + 78 (J) = 73
71. SF Melvin Ejim 72 (E) + 75 (J) = 73.5
72. PG Scottie Wilbekin 74 (E) + 74 (J) = 74.0
73. C Jordan Bachynski 73 (E) + 79 (J) = 76
74. C Sim Bhullar unranked 101 + 52 (J) = 76.5
75. PG Markel Starks unranked 101 + 56 (J) = 78.5
76. PF Josh Huestis 89 (E) + 69 (J) = 79.0
77. SG Fuquan Edwin 88 (E) + 70 (J) = 79.0
78. PF Shayne Whittington unranked 101 (E) + 58 (J) = 79.5
79. SG Andre Dawkins unranked 101 + 60 (J) = 80.5
80. C Alex Kirk 85 (E) + 76 (J) = 80.5

Parker and Wiggins benefit here for obvious reasons. While players like Bogdanovic, Dinwiddie, Bairstow, Brown fall heavily. The top 19 players are ranked in the top 30 on both lists and may be very good bets to reach whatever talent they may have.

Model 3 – PER/Age weighting

In this model I use college PER and a player’s age as a model. To adjust for age I used these benchmarks, Freshman: 22 PER, Sophomore: 24 PER, Junior: 26 PER, Senior: 28 PER. I take the prospects difference between their PER and this benchmark, then add this difference to my model 1 talent grade. For example Joel Embiid is a freshman C with a 28.6 PER, so that’s (+6.6) compared to the freshman benchmark of 22. I then add this to my talent grade of (24) to get a total sum of 30.6, which tops the list. Those numbers are written like this ” Freshman C Joel Embiid 28.6 PER (+6.6) (24) = 30.6 ”

For international prospects I just left their grade as what it was after the talent grading model.  For P.J. Hairston I used his 2012-2013 UNC season.

1. Freshman C Joel Embiid 28.6 PER (+6.6) (24) = 30.6
2. Senior SF Doug McDermott 33.1 PER (21) (+5.8) = 26.8
3. Freshman PF Jabari Parker 28.7 PER (+6.7) (20) = 26.7
4. Sophomore SF T.J. Warren 31.6 PER (+7.6) (19) = 26.6
5. Sophomore SG Jordan Adams 28.7 PER (+4.7) (21) = 25.7
6. International SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (25) = 25
7. Freshman PF Julius Randle 24.9 PER (+2.9) (21) = 23.9
8. Sophomore SG P.J. Hairston 27.1 PER (+3.1) (20) = 23.1
9. Sophomore SG Nik Stauskas 22.9 PER (-1.1) (24) = 22.9
10. Sophomore SG Marcus Smart 27.2 PER (+3.2) (19) = 22.2
11. Freshman PF Noah Vonleh 22.8 PER (+0.8) (21) = 21.8
12. Senior PF Cameron Bairstow 29.3 PER (+1.3) (20) = 21.3
13. Junior SG Spencer Dinwiddie 25.1 PER (-0.9) (22) = 21.1
14. Sophomore C Mitch McGary 27.0 PER (+3.0) (18) = 21.0
15. International PF Dario Saric (21) = 21.0
16. Sophomore PF Kyle Anderson 25.2 PER (+1.2) (19) = 20.2
17. Senior PG Shabazz Napier 26.0 PER (-2.0) (22) = 20.0
18. International SG Dante Exum (20) = 20.0
19. International PF Damien Inglis = 20.0
20. Senior PF Javon McCrea 30.8 PER (+2.8) (17) = 19.8
21. Junior SF K.J. McDaniels 28.7 PER (+2.7) (17) = 19.7
22. Senior SG Jordan McRae 23.7 PER (-4.3) (19) = 19.4
23. Senior PF Adreian Payne 25.2 PER (-2.8) (22) = 19.2
24. International C Jusuf Nurkic (19) = 19.0
25. Freshman PF Aaron Gordon 20.9 PER (20) (-1.1) = 18.9
26. Freshman SF Andrew Wiggins 21.8 PER (-0.2) (19) = 18.8
27. International C Clint Capela (18)
28. International C Nikola Jokic (18)
29. Senior SF Cleanthony Early 26.7 PER (-1.3) (19) = 17.7
30. Junior PF Jarnell Stokes 27.5 PER (+1.5) (16) = 17.5
31. Senior PG Russ Smith 26.4 PER (-1.6) (19) = 17.4
32. International C Walter Tavares (17)
33. Sophomore SG Gary Harris 22.8 PER (-1.2) (18) = 16.8
34. Senior C Khem Birch 26.7 PER (+0.7) (16) = 16.7
35. Sophomore C Sim Bhullar 24.6 PER (+0.6) (16) = 16.6
36. Sophomore SG Rodney Hood 20.3 PER (-3.7) (20) = 16.3
37. Sophomore PF Jerami Grant 22.0 PER (-2.0) (18) = 16.0
38. International PG Vasilijie Micic (16)
39. D League SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo (16)
40. Junior SF Deandre Daniels 20.5 PER (-5.5) (21) = 15.5
41. Senior SG Xavier Thames 27.0 PER (-1.0) (16) = 15.0
42. Senior C Alec Brown 22.7 PER (-5.3) (20) = 14.7
43. Freshman PG Tyler Ennis 21.7 PER (-0.3) (15) = 14.7
44. Junior SG Jabari Brown 22.4 PER (-3.6) (18) = 14.4
45. Senior SF Lamar Patterson 24.5 PER (-3.5) (18) = 14.5
46. Senior PF Shayne Whittington 25.5 PER (-2.5) (16) = 13.5
47. Junior PG Elfrid Payton 24.4 PER (-1.6) (15) = 13.4
48. Senior SG C.J. Wilcox 22.3 PER (-5.7) (19) = 13.3
49. Junior PF LaQuinton Ross 22.1 PER (-3.9) (17) = 13.1
50. Senior PG Deonte Burton 25.1 PER (-2.9) (16) = 13.1
51. International C Artem Klimenko (13)
52. Freshman SG Zach Lavine 14.9 PER (-7.1) (20) = 12.9
53. Senior SG Markel Brown 22.3 PER (-5.7) (18) = 12.3
54. Senior PG Bryce Cotton 24.1 PER (-3.9) (16) = 12.1
55. Senior PF Cory Jefferson 23.8 PER (-4.2) (16) = 11.8
56. Senior PF Patric Young 22.4 (-5.6) (17) = 11.4
57. Sophomore PG Jahii Carson 17.3 PER (-6.7) (18) = 11.3
58. Senior PG Deandre Kane 22.9 PER (-5.1) (16) = 10.9
59. Junior SG Nick Johnson 21.9 (-4.1) (15) = 10.9
60. Freshman SG James Young 16.8 PER (-5.2) (16) = 10.8
61. Senior SG Andre Dawkins 22.7 PER (-5.3) (16) = 10.7
62. Junior PG Jordan Clarkson 20.5 PER (-5.5) (16) = 10.5
63. Sophomore SG Semaj Christon 19.3 PER (-4.7) (15) = 10.3
64. Sophomore SF Glenn Robinson III 19.2 PER (-4.8) (15) = 10.2
65. Senior SG Roy Devyn Marble 22.9 (-5.1) (15) = 9.9
66. Junior PF James Michael McAdoo 20.7 PER (-5.3) (15) = 9.7
67. Senior SF Melvin Ejim 23.5 (-4.5) (14) = 9.5
68. Junior C Alex Kirk 21.1 (-4.9) (14) = 9.1
69. Junior PF Johnny O’Bryant 19.0 PER (-7.0) (15) = 8.0
70. Senior SG Travis Bader 17.8 PER (-10.2) (18) = 7.8
71. Senior SG Fuquan Edwin 20.5 PER (-7.5) (15) = 7.5
72. Senior C Jordan Bachynski 22.1 PER (-5.9) (13) = 7.1
73. Senior PF Dwight Powell 20.0 PER (-8.0) (15) = 7.0
74. Senior PG Markel Starks 17.9 PER (-10.1) (16) = 5.9
75. Senior PG Keith Appling 16.2 PER (-11.8) (17) = 5.2
76. Senior PG Scottie Wilbekin 18.0 (-10.0) (15) = 5.0
77. Senior PF Josh Huestis 17.6 PER (-10.2) (15) = 4.8
78. Senior SG Joe Harris 19.0 PER (-9.0) (15) = 4.0
79. Senior PF C.J. Fair 18.0 PER (-10.0) (13) = 3.0
80. Senior PG Aaron Craft 16.9 PER (-11.1) (13) = 2.9

Embiid’s production for his age for his talent, really makes it clear without health problems, he was an across the board home run pick. McDermott, Parker and Warren are big winners here for their fantastic seasons for their age.

Model 3 – Part II

Here’s another way to look at the PER adjusted model. I took only the players “above average” in PER from their freshman (22)/sophomore (24)/junior (26)/senior (28) benchmarks at the beginning of Model 3 and separated them as a list from the players below those benchmarks. Then within these groups, I ordered players by their rank on my Model 1/talent grades. Therefore the talent grade is the determining factor but only after the players production is deemed above expectations according to my PER benchmarks.

Above PER benchmark:

Freshman C Joel Embiid 28.6 PER (+6.6) (24) = 30.6
Freshman PF Julius Randle 24.9 PER (+2.9) (21) = 23.9
Sophomore SG Jordan Adams 28.7 PER (+4.7) (21) = 25.7
Freshman PF Noah Vonleh 22.8 PER (+0.8) (21) = 21.8
Senior SF Doug McDermott 33.1 PER (21) (+5.8) = 26.8
Senior PF Cameron Bairstow 29.3 PER (+1.3) (20) = 21.3
Sophomore SG P.J. Hairston 27.1 PER (+3.1) (20) = 23.1
Freshman PF Jabari Parker 28.7 PER (+6.7) (20) = 26.7
Sophomore SF T.J. Warren 31.6 PER (+7.6) (19) = 26.6
Sophomore SG Marcus Smart 27.2 PER (+3.2) (19) = 22.2
Sophomore PF Kyle Anderson 25.2 PER (+1.2) (19) = 20.2
Sophomore C Mitch McGary 27.0 PER (+3.0) (18) = 21.0
Senior PF Javon McCrea 30.8 PER (+2.8) (17) = 19.8
Junior SF K.J. McDaniels 28.7 PER (+2.7) (17) = 19.7
Junior PF Jarnell Stokes 27.5 PER (+1.5) (16) = 17.5
Sophomore C Sim Bhullar 24.6 PER (+0.6) (16) = 16.6
Senior C Khem Birch 26.7 PER (+0.7) (16) = 16.7

International:

International SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (25) = 25
International PF Dario Saric (21) = 21.0
International SG Dante Exum (20) = 20.0
International PF Damien Inglis (20) = 20.0
International C Jusuf Nurkic (19) = 19.0
International C Clint Capela (18)
International C Nikola Jokic (18)
International C Walter Tavares (17)
International PG Vasilijie Micic (16)
D League SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo (16)

Below PER benchmark:

Sophomore SG Nik Stauskas 22.9 PER (-1.1) (24) = 22.9
Senior PF Adreian Payne 25.2 PER (-2.8) (22) = 19.2
Junior SG Spencer Dinwiddie 25.1 PER (-0.9) (22) = 21.1
Senior PG Shabazz Napier 26.0 PER (-2.0) (22) = 20.0
Junior SF Deandre Daniels 20.5 PER (-5.5) (21) = 15.5
Freshman PF Aaron Gordon 20.9 PER (20) (-1.1) = 18.9
Freshman SG Zach Lavine 14.9 PER (-7.1) (20) = 12.9
Sophomore SG Rodney Hood 20.3 PER (-3.7) (20) = 16.3
Senior C Alec Brown 22.7 PER (-5.3) (20) = 14.7
Senior PG Russ Smith 26.4 PER (-1.6) (19) = 17.4
Senior SG Jordan McRae 23.7 PER (-4.3) (19) = 19.4
Freshman SF Andrew Wiggins 21.8 PER (-0.2) (19) = 18.8
Senior SF Cleanthony Early 26.7 PER (-1.3) (19) = 17.7
Senior SG C.J. Wilcox 22.3 PER (-5.7) (19) = 13.3
Sophomore PF Jerami Grant 22.0 PER (-2.0) (18) = 16.0
Sophomore PG Jahii Carson 17.3 PER (-6.7) (18) = 11.3
Senior SF Lamar Patterson 24.5 PER (-3.5) (18) = 14.5
Senior SG Markel Brown 22.3 PER (-5.7) (18) = 12.3
Junior SG Jabari Brown 22.4 PER (-3.6) (18) = 14.4
Sophomore SG Gary Harris 22.8 PER (-1.2) (18) = 16.8
Senior SG Travis Bader 17.8 PER (-10.2) (18) = 7.8
Senior PG Keith Appling 16.2 PER (-11.8) (17) = 5.2
Senior PF Patric Young 22.4 (-5.6) (17) = 11.4
Junior PF LaQuinton Ross 22.1 PER (-3.9) (17) = 13.1
Senior PG Deandre Kane 22.9 PER (-5.1) (16) = 10.9
Junior PG Jordan Clarkson 20.5 PER (-5.5) (16) = 10.5
Senior PG Deonte Burton 25.1 PER (-2.9) (16) = 13.1
Freshman SG James Young 16.8 PER (-5.2) (16) = 10.8
Senior PG Markel Starks 17.9 PER (-10.1) (16) = 5.9
Senior PF Cory Jefferson 23.6 PER (-4.4) (16) = 11.6
Senior PF Shayne Whittington 25.5 PER (-2.5) (16) = 13.5
Senior SG Xavier Thames 27.0 PER (-1.0) (16) = 15.0
Senior SG Andre Dawkins 22.7 PER (-5.3) (16) = 10.7
Senior PG Bryce Cotton 24.1 PER (-3.9) (16) = 12.1
Junior PG Elfrid Payton 24.4 PER (-1.6) (15) = 13.4
Sophomore SF Glenn Robinson III 19.2 PER (-4.8) (15) = 10.2
Sophomore SG Semaj Christon 19.3 PER (-4.7) (15) = 10.3
Junior PF James Michael McAdoo 20.7 PER (-5.3) (15) = 9.7
Freshman PG Tyler Ennis 21.7 PER (-0.3) (15) = 14.7
Junior PF Johnny O’Bryant 19.0 PER (-7.0) (15) = 8.0
Senior PF Dwight Powell 20.0 PER (-8.0) (15) = 7.0
Senior PF Josh Huestis 17.6 PER (-10.2) (15) = 4.8
Senior SG Fuquan Edwin 20.5 PER (-7.5) (15) = 7.5
Senior SG Joe Harris 19.0 PER (-9.0) (15) = 4.0
Senior SG Roy Devyn Marble 22.9 (-5.1) (15) = 9.9
Senior PG Scottie Wilbekin 18.0 (-10.0) (15) = 5.0
Junior SG Nick Johnson 21.9 (-4.1) (15) = 10.9
Senior SF Melvin Ejim 23.5 (-4.5) (14) = 9.5
Junior C Alex Kirk 21.1 (-4.9) (14) = 9.1
Senior PF C.J. Fair 18.0 PER (-10.0) (13) = 3.0
Senior PG Aaron Craft 16.9 PER (-11.1) (13) = 2.9
Senior C Jordan Bachynski 22.1 PER (-5.9) (13) = 7.1
International C Artem Klimenko (13)

This could very well end up the most powerful model of the post. The first 14 names on the above PER benchmark list are Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, Jordan Adams, Noah Vonleh, Doug McDermott, Cameron Bairstow, P.J. Hairston, Jabari Parker, T.J. Warren, Marcus Smart, Kyle Anderson, Mitch McGary, Javon McCrea, K.J. McDaniels. For all I know, this could end up being the “smart man’s” lottery in this draft. Many are tough and high motor players. Bairstow has emerged as the late round steal of the draft to me. In addition to his has legitimate NBA athleticism, strength, length and skills for an NBA power forward that impressed me in talent, his production also passes the sniff test.

That’s not to say the talent level of some other prospects should be disregarded. Certainly the European players deserve heavy consideration, with Dario Saric, Jusuf Nurkic and Clint Capela putting up dominant advanced statistics. Bogdan Bogdanovic advanced stats are not as strong, but won the Rising Star award and is already playing a lead role for his team in the Euroleague which is encouraging. For a player whose talent I rate so high, Nik Stauskas’ production is concerning. An optimistic argument could be that he was carrying a surprisingly high body fat % this year which could’ve slowed his numbers. Andrew Wiggins’ number is only marginally negative, so that may not be much to worry about. But this model arguably gives reason to doubt some other talented players like Spencer Dinwiddie, Shabazz Napier, Adreian Payne, Rodney Hood, Jabari Brown, Jordan McRae, Russ Smith, Cleanthony Early, C.J. Wilcox. and especially Deandre Daniels and Zach LaVine, who are otherwise exciting talents. While Stauskas and Bogdanovic may be rare enough talents to bypass this model in my opinion, it may be worth it to look at players like Warren, McGary or McCrea over some of the above higher ranking talents, if one was committing to this model.

Some of the prospects I was already bear-ish on in my talent grading such as Gary Harris, Elfrid Payton, James Young, Tyler Ennis continue to unimpress here and this further encourages me to consider them major reaches in the top 20.

Model 4 – Analytics weighted model

For my fourth model I wanted to take into account more advanced analytics. Many analytics-driven sites have gained popularity by ranking players with with high steal/block, college production, young age, etc. Arguably leading the way is Layne Vasharo (or “VJL”) whose draft model has an excellent track record against conventional wisdom. These models can be found here and his twitter account @VJL_bball. (Also, to note, his “Humble” ranking also inspired my ESPN weighted Model 2). With an already successful track record, it could make my talent grading method even more powerful.

To calculate this, I simply added VJL’s rating EWP and added it to my talent grade. For international players and NCAA players who were unranked on VJL’s list,  I added a score of 4.4 in place of EWP, which I chose because it’s the EWP his 30th ranked player had. For Hairston again I used his EWP in his last college season in 2012-2013 at UNC:

1. C Joel Embiid 15.6 EWP + (24) = 39.6
2. PF Kyle Anderson 14.3 EWP + (19) = 33.3
3. SG Jordan Adams 11.9 EWP + (21) = 32.9
4. PF Noah Vonleh 11.1 EWP + (21) = 32.1
5. PF Aaron Gordon 11.1 EWP + (20) = 31.1
6. PF Jabari Parker 10.8 EWP + (20) = 30.8
7. SG Marcus Smart 11.4 EWP + (19) = 30.4
8. International SG Bogdan Bogdanovic 4.4 est. + (25) = 29.4
9. SF T.J. Warren 7.4 EWP + (22) = 29.4
10. SG Nik Stauskas 4.7 EWP + (24) = 28.7
11. SG Spencer Dinwiddie 6.7 EWP + (22) = 28.7
12. PF Julius Randle 7.7 + (21) = 28.7
13. PG Shabazz Napier 5.5 EWP + (22) = 27.5
14. SF Andrew Wiggins 8.5 EWP + (19) = 27.5
15. PG Tyler Ennis 11.3 EWP + (15) = 26.3
16. C Mitch McGary 7.9 EWP + (18) = 25.9
17. SG Gary Harris 7.5 EWP + (18) = 25.5
18. International PF Dario Saric 4.4 est. + (21) = 25.4
19. PF Javon McCrea 7.7 EWP + (17) = 24.7
20. PG Elfrid Payton 9.7 EWP + (15) = 24.7
21. PF Adreian Payne 2.4 EWP + (22) = 24.4
22. International SG Dante Exum 4.4 est. + (20) = 24.4
23. International PF Damien Inglis 4.4 est. + (20) = 24.4
24. SG Zach LaVine 4.4 EWP + (20) = 24.4
25. SF Doug McDermott 3.1 EWP + (21) = 24.1
26. PF Jarnell Stokes 8 EWP + (16) = 24.0
27. SG P.J. Hairston 3.5 EWP (12-13) + (20) = 23.5
28. International C Jusuf Nurkic 4.4 est. + (19) = 23.4
29. PG Russ Smith 4.3 EWP + (19) = 23.3
30. SF K.J. McDaniels 6.3 EWP + (17) = 23.3
31. SF DeAndre Daniels 1.6 EWP + (21) = 22.6
32. PF Jerami Grant 4.6 EWP + (18) = 22.6
33. C Khem Birch 6.5 EWP + (16) = 22.5
34. International C Clint Capela 4.4 est. + (18) = 22.4
35. International C Nikola Jokic 4.4 est. + (18) = 22.4
36. SG Travis Bader 4.4 + (18) = 22.4
37. PF Cameron Bairstow 2.0 EWP + (20) = 22.0
38. C Alec Brown 2.0 EWP + (20) = 22.0
39. C Sim Bhullar 5.8 EWP + (16) = 21.8
40. International C Walter Tavares 4.4 est. + (17) = 21.4
41. SF Lamar Patterson 3.3 EWP + (18) = 21.3
42. SF Rodney Hood 1.8 EWP + (19) = 20.8
43. SF Cleanthony Early 1.4 EWP + (19) = 20.4
44. International PG Vasilijie Micic est. 4.4 + (16) = 20.4
45. D League SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo 4.4 + (16) = 20.4
46. PF Shayne Whittington 4.4 + (16) = 20.4
47. PG Bryce Cotton 4.4 + (16) = 20.4
48. SG Andre Dawkins 4.4 + (16) = 20.4
49. PG Markel Starks 4.4 + (16) = 20.4
50. SF James Young 4.3 EWP + (16) = 20.3
51. PF Patric Young 3.1 EWP + (17) = 20.1
52. SG Roy Devyn Marble 5.1 EWP + (15) = 20.1
53. SG Jordan McRae 1.0 EWP + (19) = 20.0
54. SG Markel Brown 1.9 EWP + (18) = 19.9
55. SG C.J. Wilcox 0.8 EWP + (19) = 19.8
56. SF Glenn Robinson III 4.8 EWP + (15) = 19.8
57. PG Jahii Carson 1.1 EWP + (18) = 19.1
58. SG Jabari Brown 1.1 EWP + (18) = 19.1
59. PG Scottie Wilbekin 4.0 EWP + (15) = 19.0
60. PG Keith Appling 1.9 EWP + (17) = 18.9
61. PF Dwight Powell 3.4 EWP + (15) = 18.4
62. C Alex Kirk 4.4 + (14) = 18.4
63. PF LaQuinton Ross 1.2 EWP + (17) = 18.2
64. PF James Michael McAdoo 3.2 EWP + (15) = 18.2
65. SG Xavier Thames 2.1 EWP + (16) = 18.1
66. SG Nick Johnson 3.1 EWP + (15) = 18.1
67. PF Cory Jefferson 1.8 EWP + (16) = 17.8
68. SG Fuquan Edwin 2.7 EWP + (15) = 17.7
69. PG Jordan Clarkson 1.6 EWP + (16) = 17.6
70. PG Deonte Burton 1.5 EWP + (16) = 17.5
71. International C Artem Klimenko 4.4 est. + (13) = 17.4
72. C Jordan Bachynski 4.4 est. + (13) = 17.4
73. SG Semaj Christon 2.3 EWP + (15) = 17.3
74. PG DeAndre Kane 1.1 EWP + (16) = 17.1
75. SG Joe Harris 1.4 EWP + (15) + 16.4
76. PF Johnny O’Bryant 1.1 EWP + (15) = 16.1
77. SF Josh Huestis 1.0 EWP + (15) = 16.0
78. SF Melvin Ejim 1.9 EWP + (14) = 15.9
79. PG Aaron Craft 2.4 EWP + (13) = 15.4
80. SF C.J. Fair 1.5 EWP + (13) = 14.5

Healthy Joel Embiid continues to dominate the models. Kyle Anderson moves way up on the strength of his EWP, while  Jordan Adams and Noah Vonleh continue to look like two of the safest picks in the draft to be really good. Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart continue to look like top 10 picks in every model except my traditional talent grading one, which is an encouraging sign for them. Aaron Gordon is somewhat of a puzzle by ranking excellently in EWP but below average in the PER list. Doug McDermott’s EWP is as bad as his PER ranking was good. Some players like Nik Stauskas, Adreian Payne, Shabazz Napier continue to look discouraging in this model. Players like Elfrid Payton, Tyler Ennis, Gary Harris look better in this model, but all signs continue to point towards James Young being a poor pick in the top 20.

Overall thoughts:

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.

Written by jr.

June 25, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Kawhi Leonard and big hands

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Kawhi Leonard is now one of the youngest Finals MVPs after dominating the last 3 games of the Finals. He’s also one of the great draft steals in recent memory, with the Spurs picking him up at #15 in the 2011 draft.

The success of a player like Kawhi is a challenge to the other 29 teams in the league, or at least the ones who passed on him. Kawhi not only fell to 15 but it was a draft getting called one of the worst of all time and where teams picking in the lottery were dieing for a star talent. They passed on him for players they barely liked.

All of these teams have to look at Kawhi and ask how do we pick this player next year instead of passing. They have to re-evaluate their draft methods that led to passing on him.

Interestingly, one of Kawhi’s attributes that is getting targeted is his gigantic hands. Now, Kawhi’s big hands clearly make him better. However, it’s one piece of the larger puzzle.

First, consider that one of the biggest ways Kawhi’s big hands help him, is they make his wingspan longer. Leonard has a 7’3 wingspan, with an average PF’s being around 7’2 and average SF at around 6’11, this is a significant advantage at SF. Having a long wingspan makes a player better by extending his reach on defense and helping him deflect steals, but this is nothing new, teams have been obsessing over the length measurable for a long time including at the 2011 draft.

There are other ways big hands can help a player. Arguably it helps a player secure rebounds and dribble the ball better. However Leonard’s ballhandling remains one of his weaknesses and are not a major reason why he’s a draft steal. His rebounding is exceptional thanks to his strong hands. There was other reasons to believe Leonard was a stronger than average SF however, at the combine he measured 227 pounds, while the average SF prospect at the combine measures about 210 pounds, to an average PF’s 230. So Leonard has the length and weight of a power forward, but moves laterally like a shooting guard. Leonard’s hands may make him even stronger than his power forward-like weight suggests.

It’s not that Leonard’s hands aren’t important, it’s just there’s many things that will make a player like Leonard successful. In addition to his hand size, there’s

– How strong he is
– How long his arms are
– How well he moves laterally on defense
– Above average athleticism driving to the basket and playing in transition
– The ability to hit the 3pt and increasing ability to have offensive sets run through him
– Extremely strong basketball instincts/feel for the game
– A perfect demeanour and work ethic

In light of this, Kawhi would likely still be a major draft steal if his hand size was normal, making him slightly less long and strong, but nonetheless still stronger and longer than most SFs while being a great full court athlete with 3pt range and feel for the game. He’d still have many of the strengths that all-stars like Paul George and Luol Deng have had, who aren’t as known for their hand size.

Written by jr.

June 16, 2014 at 5:22 pm