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Posts Tagged ‘33 point method

2014 NBA Draft Big Board – Late May/Early June update

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I have a much larger draft/talent grades big board coming up in a few weeks, including not only the players grades but a write-up for most prospects, NBA comparisons and star/starter/bench player/etc. “probability” grades for each one.

For now I will just post where my big board is at in minimalist form. As a reminder, grade 25 and up = Perennial all-star talent, 23-24 = Fringe Perennial all-star talent, 19-22 = Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18 = Fringe Blue Chip starter talent 14-16 = Rotation player talent, 13 and below = Fringe rotation player talent or worse. My current list is up to 72 prospects including virtually everyone I feel is relevant:

1. SG Bogdan Bogdanovic – 25
2. SG Nik Stauskas – 24
3. C Joel Embiid – 23

Because of Embiid’s health and Bogdanovic’s unclear buyout situation, I may call Stauskas most worth the 1st pick. Although Embiid’s two way talent at C is ultra-enticing, the value of a star perimeter talent should not be underestimated. It’s not about what position you play but how good you are at it. I rate Stauskas as the best offensive talent in the draft while Bogdanovic and Embiid have the size and lateral mobility to be more complete 2 way players.

4. PF Julius Randle – 22
5. PG Shabazz Napier – 22
6. SG Jordan Adams – 21
7. PF Adreian Payne – 21
8. SG Spencer Dinwiddie – 21

I’m fairly confident these are starting caliber players in the NBA, given health and enough minutes – and “once or twice” all-star appearances coming from this group would not surprise, if an all out star doesn’t emerge from it.

9. SG Dante Exum – 20
10. PF Jerami Grant – 20
11. SF Dario Saric – 20
12. PF Damien Inglis – 20
13. SG Zach LaVine – 20
14. C Isaiah Austin – 20
15. PF Jabari Parker – 20
16. PF Alec Brown – 20
17. SF Doug McDermott – 20

A lot of these prospects are showing more visible weaknesses such as skill level or physical tools limitations, nonetheless average or above average starter careers for them, are within reach. These prospects are not “out of danger” falling to a fringe starter type of career, nor is a more special career inconceivable.

18. PF Aaron Gordon – 19
19. PF Noah Vonleh – 19
20. SF Deandre Daniels – 19
21. PF T.J. Warren – 19
22. PG Russ Smith – 19
23. PF Kristaps Porzingis – 19
24. SF Cleanthony Early – 19
25. SG Markel Brown – 19
26. SG Rodney Hood – 19

The list of players I have rated as starting caliber talents is admittedly long, but in talented drafts like 2003 and 2008, the starter count went into the 20s.

27. SF K.J. McDaniels – 18
28. C Mitch McGary – 18
29. SF Andrew Wiggins – 18
30. PG Marcus Smart – 18
31. SG Roy Devyn Marble – 18
32. SG Jabari Brown – 18
33. PF Kyle Anderson – 18
34. SG Travis Bader – 18
35. SG Glenn Robinson III – 17
36. PF Clint Capela – 17
37. PG Jahii Carson – 17
38. PG Jordan Clarkson – 17
39. PG Deonte Burton – 17
40. C Jusuf Nurkic – 17
41. SG Semaj Christon – 17
42. SF Lamar Patterson – 17
43. SG Xavier Thames – 17
44. SG C.J. Wilcox – 17
45. SG P.J. Hairston – 17

Most of these players are interesting and can have unique physical, skill or mental talents, but the whole package does not blow me away. This is the part of the draft where who has the long career and rotation player, starts to depend more on opportunity and getting minutes to develop, as much as it does talent. It’s one thing to have the talent to be the 6th or 7th best player on a good team, but if it takes thousands of minutes of development to get to that level, some of these prospects may wash out in the process. A player like Nurkic is likely to have one of the 30 best careers in the draft because of the NBA’s sweet tooth for gigantic centers compared to some prospects like PGs Carson and Clarkson, for example. All of these prospects have a reasonable chance of breaking out to being true starters, because of the size of the group, surely a few will.

46. PF James Michael McAdoo – 16
47. PF Thanasis Antetokounmpo – 16
48. PG Vasilijie Micic – 16
49. PG Deandre Kane – 16
50. PG Tyler Ennis – 16
51. PF Patric Young – 16
52. PF Cory Jefferson -16
53. SF LaQuinton Ross – 16
54. SG Jordan McRae – 16
55. SG Gary Harris – 16
56. PG Bryce Cotton – 16
57. PG Elfrid Payton – 16
58. SF James Young – 16
59. PF Jarnell Stokes – 15
60. PF Johnny O’Bryant – 15
61. C Walter Tavares – 15
62. PG Scottie Wilbekin – 15

These guys aren’t total dregs, just mediocrity. The odds of these prospects becoming starters and blue chippers starts to get increasingly slim. There are some prospects in this group such as Ennis, Young, Harris for whom the lottery love affair with, I find relatively confusing.

63. SF Josh Huestis – 14
64. SF C.J. Fair – 14
65. PF Dwight Powell – 14
66. SG Joe Harris – 14
67. SG Nick Johnson – 14
68. C ALex Kirk – 14
69. SF Melvin Ejim – 13
70. PG Keith Appling – 13
71. PG Aaron Craft – 12
72. C Jordan Bachynski – 12

The end of the list starts to real real ugly, with most of these prospects unlikely to make a mark for talent and opportunity reasons.

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Written by jr.

May 28, 2014 at 5:39 pm

2014 NBA Draft Talent Grades – May update

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Here are my current talent grades. I am up to 52 players graded, I may add a few more prospects by June, but right now all the most relevant players are included including everyone in the top 30 of either Chad Ford’s ESPN or Draftexpress.com’s mock draft.

Details about my grading methodology can be found in my March update

A new feature I put in is a “contextual chance of success” letter grade. Factors like health, conditioning, attitude, international buyouts are mentioned as flags here. Two other factors I included are where a player is expected to be picked and his position. All other things equal, a player is better off getting picked higher in the draft. Teams believe in high draft picks more and they are more guaranteed to get the thousands of developmental minutes to reach their talent. The farther down the draft one guys, the more prospects are expected to produce immediately to keep their roster spot. Furthermore 1st round prospects get guaranteed contracts which is an advantage.

Another factor is position. Again, all other things equal, I feel a prospects chances are generally better the less alternatives there is for players his size. Which favors centers the most and point guards or combo guards the least.

Because of this, situations like the following are conceivable:

Prospect A is rated no better than the 40th-50th most talented prospect in this draft, but is selected in the lottery and has one of the 25 or 30 best careers, after he gets thousands of minutes to develop and mark his place. Meanwhile 2nd round/undrafted prospects who are as talented as him or more, wash out too quickly before developing.

Prospect B is rated no better than the 40th-50th most talented in his class, but has one of the 25 or 30 best careers, because he is a 7 foot, heavy center, which teams consider a bigger need at the back half of their bench. Meanwhile some prospects as talented as him or more, are guards who need the ball and need shots, which teams don’t target as much and thus, decide not to have on their roster.

Overall, the contextual chance of success grade is worth mentioning but minor compared to grading the players talent, which I consider the real value in this system. Especially considering for example in this draft, my top 15 prospects are rated B- or higher in contextual chance of success. Which means if my system is right, whether I am successful predicting who the all-stars and starters are from the class, should barely be affected. Context’s biggest effect is whether sub-starting rated talents, will hard on to bench spots or wash out of the league.

For this update I’m just going to post the grades. In the next 2 months I won’t have that much to do in terms of adjusting the ratings, so I’ll have more time to explain.

1. 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 – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 23 (Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent grade)

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

2. SG Nik Stauskas

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 23 (Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent grade)

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

3. SG Bogdan Bogdanovic

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 – 9 / Elite

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

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

4. C 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 – 9 / Elite

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

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

5. PF Julius Randle

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: 8 / Great

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

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

6. 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)

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

7. PG Shabazz Napier

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)

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

8. 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)

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

9. SF Andrew Wiggins

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade – 10 / Incredible

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

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

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

10. PF Kyle Anderson

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 – 10 / Incredible

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

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

11. PF Dario Saric

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 9 / Elite

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

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

12. PG Marcus Smart

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 – 7 / Very good

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

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

13. SF Damien Inglis

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 – 8 / Great

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

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

14. PF Jabari Parker

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)

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

15. SF Rodney Hood

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)

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

16. SG Spencer Dinwiddie

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 – 8 / Great

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

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

17. PF Adreian Payne

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

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

Contextual chance of success grade: B ( Mid 1st round draft pick Small lungs )

18. SF Cleanthony Early

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

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

19. 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

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

20. SF Doug McDermott

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade:  1 / Awful

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

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

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

21. PG DeAndre Kane

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

22. C Mitch McGary

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 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

23. PG Jordan Clarkson

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 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

24. PG Dante Exum

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 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

25. PG Deonte Burton

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 – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

26. PG Jahii Carson

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 – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

27. SG P.J. Hairston

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Contextual chance of success grade: C+ ( Bubble 1st rounder Attitude )

28. PG Elfrid Payton

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

29. PF James Michael McAdoo

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

30.  SF Glenn Robinson III

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 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

31. SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo

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 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

32. PF Clint Capela

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 – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

33. PF Jarnell Stokes

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 – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

34. SG K.J. McDaniels

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 – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

35. PG Tyler Ennis

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 – 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

36. SG Gary Harris

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 – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

37. C Isaiah Austin

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

38. PF T.J. Warren

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

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

39. SG Semaj Christon

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: 17 (Rotation player talent grade)

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

40. 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)

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

41. SG Zach LaVine

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)

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

42. C Kristaps Porzingis

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)

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

43. SG Jabari Brown

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)

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

44. SF DeAndre Daniels

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 – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

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

45. SF Jerami Grant

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 – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

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

46. SG Nick Johnson

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)

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

47. PF Johnny O’Bryant

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)

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

48. PG Russ Smith

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 – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

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

49. C Alex Kirk

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 – 5 / Average

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

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

50. PG Vasilijie Micic

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade)

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

51. C Jusuf Nurkic

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 – 2 / Very poor

Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade)

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

52. 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 (Deep bench to Rotation player talent grade)

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

Written by jr.

May 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm

2014 NBA Draft Talent rankings – March update

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Here’s my first talent big board for the 2014 draft. For a review of my talent grading methodology, click here. A few more notes:

– Since my system ranks talent, players are not guaranteed to reach their talent level. However, I consider the NBA exceptional at developing players to reach their talent level, with a limited number of enigmas in the NBA by my system. By the time a player reaches say, 6,000-8,000 regular season NBA minutes, they should be showing the signs of their talent level. I estimate about 5% of the 300 or so out of 450 players who have played long enough to no longer be called prospects, are enigmatic/not reaching their talent.

– Therefore if the NBA does not draft one of these players, or takes them in the 2nd round but doesn’t believe in them, I am more in the dark about whether they reach their talent level. Years down the road I may be able to speak with more confidence about the chance of an undrafted player breaking in the NBA and reaching their talent. For now there’s a possibility an undrafted player has a much higher chance of never reaching their talent than players who are drafted and developed by NBA teams. That and these players may going undrafted in the first place because they are enigmas – such as seniors who are not dominant statistically.

– As talent rankings, factors like health, effort level on/off the court, buyout concerns for international players, etc. are not taken into the account in these rankings.

I tried to include as many prospects in ESPN and Draftexpress.com’s 1st round mocks I felt comfortable ranking, as well as other prospects if relevant. I have 36 of those players rated on this list. Last year by June my list of rated players was over 60 players long. If I am unsure about a player’s position, whatever position I rate their talent higher in, is what I choose

To recap in my 3 categories for the players positions Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent, Feel for the Game talent, here are the grade meanings:

11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Weak, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

What the overall grades mean:

25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

When players have the same total grade, I order them for now according to the combined physical motion/impact and feel for the game grade. If those are tied, I give the edge to the higher feel for the game. This is because I see feel for the game as most static, followed by the physical impact, followed by the skill impact.

The rankings:

1. C Joel Embiid

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 – 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 23 (Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent)

No argument from me about the most talented prospect in the draft. In addition to the special fluidity and feel shows, when added to his lateral mobility and length, it makes his defensive potential aces. He shows signs of a post and perimeter shooting game. For a weakness he is not an explosive athlete. Embiid is a two way star at best and is the closest to a locked starter if he stays healthy. For the most part, there aren’t enough Cs in the league for Embiid to not start.

2. SG Nik Stauskas

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

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

Perhaps the best offensive talent in the draft. In addition to his perimeter shooting skills (8 in the skill impact category could very well end up too conservative), Stauskas is such a good ball-handler for  a SG, it allows him to be a driving threat despite decent, not exemplary explosiveness. He also shows great fluidity and craftiness. Many are concerned about his defense and his lateral mobility indeed is unimpressive, but I see no reason why he can’t be an average defender, considering positional intelligence is as important as physical talent on that end. In the NBA plus defense is not a requirement to be a star player, if one provides enough offense.

3. PF Noah Vonleh

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 – 9 / Elite

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

4. PF Julius Randle

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: 8 / Great

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

5. SG Jordan Adams

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good

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

Vonleh and Randle are the first two of a strong power forward class. Both with outstanding strength, Randle is the more athletic player, while Vonleh is longer. Both have a fluid feel and craftiness, Vonleh’s even better than Randle’s. The trick for both is adding the perimeter shot. They’ve both shown enough to me in both perimeter attempts and FT shooting, to make me believe they will be mid-range jumpshooters in the pros. When added to their strength, feel and touch at the rim, it should be enough to be starting 4s.

Adams is a very similar prospect to Stauskas. He can shoot, has an above average feel for the game and has the ballhandling and enough athleticism to drive. I see Stauskas as the better handler and more explosive off the dribble, but Adams to have better lateral mobility and strength.

6. 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)

7. PG Marcus Smart

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

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

8. PG Jahii Carson

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)

9. SF K.J. McDaniels

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 9 / Elite

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

10. SF Mario Hezonja

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)

11. PF Adreian Payne

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 6 / Decent

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

12. PF Jabari Parker

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)

13. 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)

14. SG Bogdan Bogdanovic

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

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

Feel for the Game talent grade – 8 / Great

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

Gordon, Smart and Carson are intriguing talents. Gordon and Carson are two of the best athletes in the draft. Smart is not as athletic as them, but has great height and strength for his position. When added to above average feel/fluidity for all 3, the only difference between them and star talents is skill. Gordon is an all-around mess in that area, a grade of 4 admittedly is giving him the benefit of the doubt the can improve to OK. Smart and Carson are unreliable outside shooters. Still, they’re talented enough to be good players even with below average skill games – and great players if they make great leaps in the area.

Parker, Hood and Bogdanovic are somewhat on the opposite end. They have great perimeter skill and feel for the game, but do not show an explosive ability to attack the basket or physically impact the game, in addition to likely defensive concerns. Still, there is typically a place in starting lineups and the “blue chip” core for outside shooting and feel at a terrific level.

Hezonja and Payne somewhat bridge the above two gaps. They have athleticism and perimeter skill, but neither at an elite level. (Notably, including Hezonja here is almost pointless – by most accounts, there is almost no way he declares for this draft). McDaniels combination of feel, size and lateral mobility make him an excellent defensive prospect, while offensively he has 3 point range, even if not a slasher.

15. PG Jordan Clarkson

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 – 8 / Great

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

16. SG Semaj Christon

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)

17. PF Dario Saric

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 – 10 / Incredible

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

Like Marcus Smart, Clarkson has an impressive combination of size and feel. While not a great athlete his ballhandling skills helps him drive. His 3 point shooting is unreliable, but the tools are there to be a rock solid, two way PG in a game manager role. Semaj Christon can slash and has feel, but on the wing to really break out needs better outside shooting. Saric is unique in he’s the only player I have a perfect 10 grade given to in this draft, with an amazing feel for the game. He is however unexplosive and undersized for his likely position at PF, with signs of a perimeter jumpshot, though not enough to bank on. His potential as a post up threat looks legitimate.

18. PF Clint Capela

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 – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent)

19. PG Dante Exum

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 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

20. SF Andrew Wiggins

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 – 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

21. PG Deonte Burton

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 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

22. SF Kyle Anderson

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 – 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

23. SG Gary Harris

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 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

24. SG P.J. Hairston

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 – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

25. PF Doug McDermott

Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent grade:  1 / Awful

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue chip starter talent grade)

This is where the depth of the 2014 draft starts to shine, as I still consider these prospects to still be pretty good, potential starters. Of the group Capela and Burton have my highest physical impact score, both imposing their explosiveness on the competition in a terrific way. Anderson leads the way in feel for the game, garnering the nickname “slo-mo” for his smooth, crafty style. Harris and Hairston have “3 and D” potential for their outside shooting, feel and enough size, but may not attack the basket in the NBA offensively. McDermott is an absolutely elite outside shooter for a PF (a case can be made for deserving of the second 10 in the class, after Saric’s feel for the game) with a great feel for the game, but provides nothing in the physical impact category. And in the group is Wiggins and Exum, currently mocked as top 5 picks. I’ve made my reservations about Wiggins known multiple times, such as in this post. As for Dante Exum, when looking at the only footage I trust of him in the Nike Hoop Summit game (because of its filming on TV cameras), I did not see as explosive an athlete as his reputation. He is also a hard player to peg in the skill impact category. The word seemingly, is outside shooting is a weakness more than a strength. Overall for these prospects, their strengths are either not big enough strengths, or their weaknesses are too big of ones, to rate higher.

26. PF T.J. Warren

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 – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

The huge amount of 18 grade players, left only one in the 17 group. Warren will likely have to cut it as a stretch 4 in the NBA, where his outside shooting will likely be a strength instead of a weakness at SF. With his feel that may get him minutes, albeit physically he’ll be at a disadvantage, as neither explosive or big. His best chance to start is to become a great 3 point shooter.

27. SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

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)

28. C Willie Cauley-Stein

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 – 4 / Lacking

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

29. SF Sam Dekker

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 – 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

30. SG Wayne Selden, Jr.

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)

31. 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 – 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

32. SF James Young

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)

33. SG Zach Lavine

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)

These are players for whom where they get drafted and to who, likely will determine whether they can stick as energy guys, shooters or game managers off the bench. At absolute best case scenario, largely in the skill development department, they could make a run at starting.

34. C Jusef Nurkic

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 – 3 / Weak

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

35. SF Jerami Grant

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 – 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade)

36. PF Montrezl Harrell

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 – 4 / Lacking

Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade)

These players look like 2nd round caliber prospects. Nurkic is the latest international C to have a flawed, stiff feel for the game, which it would be hard to get past with his average athleticism. Grant is not really gifted either driving to the basket or shooting. Harrell is an athlete without much size, skill or feel or his position.

Written by jr.

March 14, 2014 at 6:30 am

Review of talent grading methods

with 4 comments

Before getting into my draft grades for 2014 prospects, I’d like to review how I grade each category. First, my grades are from 1 to 11 in 3 categories: Physical motion/impact (Explosiveness, ballhandling, size, lateral quickness) talent, Skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent and Feel for the Game talent. The grades go by this rubric:

11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Weak, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

What the overall grades mean:

25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

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

This is the one category my methods for grading has changed since the 2013 draft. When looking at my grades in that draft and what I have seen so far in the NBA, it’s largely in this category I regret some grades. For example, I graded Anthony Bennett 9, Kelly Olynyk 6, Alex Len 7, CJ McCollum 5, Trey Burke 4 in the category. All of those I would now rate as at least 2 points lower. I also rated Giannis Antetokounmpo a 4 in the category, which looks 2 or 3 points too low. On the whole, despite these corrections and others, unlike 2012 where admittedly I made major mistakes grading players such as Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard and do not expect to outperform the NBA, despite a few mistakes here and there I expect my 2013 order despite imperfections to perform better than the way the NBA really drafted the players – especially since I am quite critical of the way the NBA picked players. I am very happy with how my grades in the skill impact and feel for the game categories have panned out so far in the NBA, so I should be in range of what I predicted. But am eager to do better in the 2014 draft.

It took me some time to settle on a consistent way to grade each of the elements of this category against each other. How to rate a tall player who struggles with athleticism and ballhandling, or an athletic player without ballhandling, for example. Here is how I do it now:

I begin by evaluating how they break through the defense at the “point of attack” on offense, which typically comes through a combination of first step athleticism and ballhandling. Being able to drive past defenders and the opponent is huge for a player’s offensive game and “physically impacting the game”, by typically allowing a player to drive to the basket. I thus give a player a beginning grade covering their explosiveness and ballhandling together. After I get this “primary grade”, I then adjust it according to their size (including both length and strength) and their lateral quickness, which finds most use defensively.

For example, I will rate C.J. McCollum this way. McCollum was a hard player for me to evaluate in this category last year for multiple reasons. First is I wasn’t sure whether to rate him as a PG or SG, where he’d be at a size disadvantage. At the time I chose PG, but I will now side with SG based on Portland’s long term role for him there. Secondly, he had little explosiveness but was a very tricky ballhandler.

When looking at his “point of attack” driving in clips like this

Despite his ballhandling I don’t see much burst from McCollum at “point of attack”. I will rate him as a 3 to begin, thus. Before adjusting for size and lateral quickness. He is short for a shooting guard, without more than average strength for the position and does not appear to have lateral quickness. So I will adjust him down to a 2, not downgrading him more from a reservation about going all the way to 1 except for the absolute most unable talents in the category.

What about the rest of his talent? CJ’s college career and start to the NBA season shows an impressive outside shooting resume, while his feel for the game is terrific. Giving him a grade like 8 in the skill impact category and 9 in feel for the game would make his overall grade 19, which isn’t as high as I originally rated him (21) but is enough to pass “blue chip starter” threshold makes a productive, if unspectacular season unlikely as a smart outside shooting role player. But if his shooting goes downhill, he may find himself more of a irrelevant role player.

To recap

Primary grade (Explosiveness+Ballhandling): 3

Size: -1

Lateral quickness: /

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

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade

Grading this category has become relatively straight forward to me. Internally, like the physical impact category, I use a primary grade-secondary grade system.

I come up with a baseline grade by evaluating their shooting “range”. For a PG, SG, or SF, to get a high grade like 8 or higher, they have to be a great 3 point shooter, with both % and volume. It’s usually relatively simple to see the scale of 3 point shooting skill for perimeter cases. In some cases, such as Demar Derozan’s mid-range jumpshot or Tony Parker’s finishing in the paint, there are other ways to give players credit for “shooting” that goes beyond 3 point range. For PFs and Cs since shooting range is more rare, a terrific midrange jumpshooter without 3 point range, still rates high compared to his position. For example even though his shooting range is less than theirs, Lamarcus Aldridge gets as much credit as a shooter as Wes Matthews and Nic Batum in my system, since his midrange jumpshooting for a power forward is as rare as 3 point shooting for a SG or SF.

For college prospects, it can be difficult to rate players just by 3 point shooting, because of small sample size. If a player takes 120 3s over the entire NCAA season, 48 for 120 is 40% and 36 for 120 is 30%. The difference between a poor and great shooting season is a little slim and suspect to chance. Thus there are two other factors I use. A major one is free throw %, as most great shooters in the NBA are matched by the mechanics to be elite free throw shooters. For legitimately great shooting 3 point prospects, I usually look for a FT% of at least 80%, over 85% is especially rare and special. A prospect who hits 42% from 3 and 75% from the FT line worries me, for example. He may become a great 3 point shooter, but he may not as well. Some prospects like Wes Johnson, Xavier Henry, Adam Morrison lately have been drafted to be sharpshooters, despite a FT in the 70s. That also made me concerned about Otto Porter and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s shooting last year, both in the 70s for FT. For prospects like that, I typically give them a grade like 6 in the category, representing a conservative approach to their shooting talent. Another indicator of NBA shooting skill is volume of 3 point attempts. While I consider 3pt and FTs %s to be the most important, it makes one more comfortable to see a player having the confidence to put up a ton of 3s, instead of just taking them when wide open. Paul George is a good example of the power of FT and volume as indicators. In his sophomore season in college at Fresno St., he hit only a mediocre 35.3% from 3, but did it on 5.75 3 point attempts a game and a 90.9% mark from the FT line. Those were two important reasons to believe in him as a shooter. As for PFs and Cs who are evaluated as midrange jumpshooters in the NBA, the benchmark for FT% I look to see is more like over 70%, albeit mid to high 60% is not too bad either.

After evaluating them as a shooter, I adjust upward if they show special post or passing skill. However, I don’t lower a player’s grade if they lack post or passing skills. It is possible for a player to be near perfectly graded in the category as a whole without them. For example, I’m not going to downgrade Stephen Curry’s skill impact talent for not posting up, or Dirk Nowitzki’s for lacking standout passing skills. Their shooting skill (along with passing for Curry and post skills for Dirk) is enough to make them perfect for their positions without it.

To give an example of grading in this category, here is how I would rate Kelly Olynyk from last year’s draft:

Olynyk did not have true 3 point range in college, hitting 30% on less than 1 attempt a game (9 for 30). However that’s better than most PF or Cs will perform from 3pt. In addition, he was a strong midrange jumpshooter. He hit 77.6% from the FT line his junior season, which is well above average for a big. Overall, it’s enough for me to rate him a 7 in the category as a baseline grade, with the assumption he would have a midrange jumpshot in the pros, if not more.

Olynyk made some passes in college, but at 1.7 assists per game, it’s not enough for me to adjust his grade (yet). Nor did his post ability stand out enough. So I left him at a 7.

To recap:

Primary grade (Shooting range): 7

Post up skills: /

Passing skills: /

Final skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7

It may turn out that this grade is too low. Olynyk is 20 for 68 from 3pt (29.4%) in 48 Gs which isn’t elite, but for a prospect adjusting to a longer NBA line, none too shabby. He is also over 80% from the FT line on a small sample size. Olynyk with good to great 3 point shooting eventually would be worth 8 or 9 in the category, considering the rarity of 3 point shooting bigs. This would help balance out grading him too high in the physical impact category.

Feel for the Game

This category is perhaps where I lose people the most, but is actually the easiest for me to grade by this point. I’ve broken it down to identifying feel for the game in two areas – Driving to the rim through traffic or posting up. Thus I can watch a video (X scores Y points) and only pay attention to the plays doing one of those two things. I figure in both cases, the player is under physical duress and is under danger of being “rushed” by the players around him. Therefore his feel has a place to shine.

When judging drives or post up, I look for who is the most fluid, balanced and poised. Often with players who have a high feel for the game, there is a “slo-mo” effect, where they make the game look slower for them than everyone else. (Kyle Anderson at UCLA, who’s feel for the game is one of the best in the class, literally has been given the nickname Slo-Mo).

Most tend to identify feel for the game most when it is elite. When asking what makes a player like Andre Miller, Tony Parker or Paul Pierce great, most would be able to call upon feel for the game as their gift. In this draft, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Tyler Ennis, Kyle Anderson, Dario Saric are all receiving credit for their special feel. What gets lost is the talent’s importance for everyone else. Recognizing who lacks it and who has it in above average, but not elite rates.

To give a visual example of feel for the game, here is 3 clips:

First is Russell Westbrook, who I would rate as having below average feel for the game. He drives at :20, :35, :57, 1:05, 1:16, 2:28, 3:00, 3:18 and posts up at 1:12, 1:40

Now compare the “smoothness” and balance on his drives or lack thereof, to Damian Lillard, who I would rate as above average in feel for the game but not elite. He drives at :32, 1:00, 1:19, 1:50.

A major difference I see between the Lillard and Westbrook drives in addition to greater control, is Lillard has a greater ability to “change pace” according to the situation, this adjustment catching defenders off balance.

I am not sure if everyone will be able to see this immediately. It may be hard for some to remove themselves from the perception of Westbrook’s assist per game numbers and overall competence, to see him rating below Lillard in this category. Here is another example of a player I would rate as “below average” in feel for the game

Here is a similar example using centers, first Jonas Valanciunas who I rate as below average feel for the game. He posts up at 0:54, 1:05, 2:58,

Now here is Andre Drummond, who I would rate as above average but not elite. He posts up at :41, :53, 1:02, 2:17

Even if one doesn’t see the difference between those pairs, then the difference between Westbrook or Valanciunas and the following ELITE feel for the game players, is unmistakable:

Here is Tony Parker, who drives at :07, :11, :16, :40, 1:45, but with players at this level of feel for the game, one doesn’t need to look at just the drives, it shows up in everything he does as an aesthetically pleasing, slippery, artistic type of play

Here is Andre Miller, a gold standard for feel for the game and the “slo-mo” effect. He posts up or drives at :18, :51, :56, 1:00, 1:05, 1:28, 1:35, 1:57, 2:09, 2:14, 2:25, 2:48, 3:13

In Miler and Parker, the change of pace and slipperiness Lillard started to show in his clip, gets taken to another level entirely

Here’s Roy Hibbert, who has elite feel for the game for a C. He posts up at 0:01, :50, 1:17, 1:33, 2:06, 2:16, 2:47,

Marc Gasol is another center with elite feel for the game. He posts up at :32, 1:04, 1:22, 1:33, but his feel is largely impossible to miss in the other plays as well

So at the least, we know that players like Miller, Parker, Hibbert, Gasol have a special fluidity, control and pace to their game, that would supercharge any players talent level. And we can ask “how much does player X have of that?” Personally, I feel I am confident in grading between 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10/11. What I am not as good at admittedly, is seeing the difference between 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I know when players don’t appear to have feel for the game, but struggle consistently rating how little they have of it. Part of this is that the number of players with low feel for the game is much smaller than above average. This is because it’s evidently harder to become an NBA caliber talent without it. It’s the same reason why such a high proportion of players in the NBA are good to great athletes. To make it into a rotation with subpar athleticism requires relatively rare skill level and feel for the game. For that reason you will likely rarely see me rate a player below a 4 or 5 in feel for the game.

Let’s look at a player from last year’s draft, Victor Oladipo. He drives at :10, :27, 1:34, 2:51, 3:12, 3:23, 3:33, 3:54

Oladipo certainly shows a lot of what the above average feel for the game players have, in terms of fluidity, ability to change pace and balance. Personally because I have been doing this for a while, I have a specific grade that comes to mind after seeing the above drives – and that grade is 8. Just below the elite feel perimeter players like Miller and Parker showed and probably below C.J. McCollum’s in this clip, but above Lillard.

Written by jr.

March 4, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Why I wouldn’t take Jabari Parker top 10 in the 2014 draft

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Duke’s Jabari Parker is widely considered a favorite to be picked top 3 in 2014, if not 1st overall. Through his high school to college career, he’s been one of the most productive players of his age group and a star name.

However, I would not take him top 10 in 2014.

Why?

First, let’s give Jabari credit for his strength. His feel for the game is exceptional, showing great fluidity, craftiness and ability to adjust mid drive or post-up. He’s been credited for elite instincts for years and it’s deserved.

But even though I talk about feel for the game the most, even I only rate it as 1/3 of basketball talent. I have major concerns with Jabari in the other 2/3.

Everyone knows Jabari is not a great athlete, in fact I would call his speed and explosiveness legitimately subpar for a SF or PF. Adding to this is that I am not impressed by Jabari’s ballhandling. That he does not make many plays based off the dribble, is perhaps why he is averaging a surprisingly low 1.3 assists per game despite his great feel and point forward history in high school. It is hard for a player to average the assists of a point forward when they are not handling like one. When added to his athleticism, I have huge concerns about whether Jabari will attack the rim off the dribble consistently, despite having the strength to finish at the basket well.

If not a dynamic “slasher”, Jabari will just have to be an elite perimeter/finesse scorer. But in this area I also have concerns. Jabari is hitting 36.7% from 3pt on 3.3 attempts a game, which is fine but unspectacular. Worryingly, of his 29 for 79 3 point shots/attempts this season, he went 11 for 16 in his first 3 games of the season, meaning he’s gone 18 for 63 (28.6%) in the 21 games since. Jabari has been frankly bad as a 3 point shooter after his hot start. His free throw percentage of 74.1% is respectable, but I typically like to see players over 80% before calling them locks to be 3 point threats in the NBA. In comparison to Parker, Andrew Wiggins who has the reputation of a less skilled player is hitting 36.7% from 3 on 3.4 attempts a game and 77.1% from the FT line, shooting marks better across the board than Parker’s.

To use a comparison, Xavier Henry was drafted specifically to hit 3s after hitting 41.8% from 3 on 4.6 attempts a game as a freshman, but with only a 78.3% FT. After his shooting went in the wrong direction in the NBA, without a slashing game he simply didn’t have anything to lean on offensively, at least until a mini-resurgence this year. Wes Johnson and Adam Morrison are two other prospects drafted for shooting with FT% in the 70s who went on to struggle more than expected in the area in the NBA. While very early Otto Porter’s inability to shoot from range in the NBA despite a 3P% over 42% last year, also makes him a candidate to go down the path of Henry, Johnson and Morrison.

If Jabari became a disappointment/bust, I would see him following the pathway of Henry. Despite a strong feel for the game, Henry’s athleticism/ballhandling combo or “slashing” tools were weak enough that when his 3 point shot didn’t translate, he didn’t have a fallback and simply got lost offensively in the shuffle. Likewise, my ‘worst case’ scenario for Jabari offensively is having him neither a consistent outside shooter, or one who can make plays off the dribble. In addition to expected defensive concerns as neither being a fit against SFs or PFs on that end, struggling offensively would make it really hard for him to contribute. On the other hand if he become an elite shooter at SF or PF when added to his feel for the game, it would be enough to be a starter and “blue chipper”, but attacking the basket concerns would still make me rate him less of a star.

Or in short, my position on Parker is this: I feel the media is mixing up his feel for the game with an elite skill level. Parker is not an exceptional shooter, ballhandler, passer for a SF and while competent in the post, is not jumping off the screen in the area. If grading his skill level as underwhelming in this way, when adding it to his athletic concerns – well it leaves him with a lot more holes as a prospect than his reputation suggests.

Here is my talent grades for Parker, grading him at PF where I most expect him to play

11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Weak, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

What the overall grades mean:

25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

Jabari Parker

Physical impact (Athleticism, ballhandling, size) talent grade: 3 / Weak

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 9 / Elite

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

This is not a bad grade, simply not enough to rank in my top 10. As for player comparisons, 3 recent prospects Jabari reminds me of are Tobias Harris and Marcus and Markieff Morris. Like them they are between SF and PF in size, have a strong feel for the game and have good, but not elite outside shots yet. But at PF perimeter jumpshots are relatively rare enough for me to rank them above average in the category. They should mark out nice, long careers in the NBA but if taking Jabari top 3 in a heralded 2014 draft, teams have to be expecting so much more than that.

Written by jr.

February 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Is Nik Stauskas a better NBA prospect than Andrew Wiggins?

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Andrew Wiggins has had a fine freshman season at Kansas, however Michigan’s Nik Stauskas has been the more dominant Canadian wing.

Yet this does not differ many from calling Wiggins the best long term prospect. Of course, there has been a long list of dominant college players who couldn’t repeat it in the pros. While on the other end, more enigmatic college players who went on to be stars. The lessons learned of Thomas Robinson getting picked ahead of Andre Drummond won’t be forgotten soon. My position is talent is the great determiner of who translates to the NBA.

But I am not convinced Wiggins is more talented than Stauskas. In fact I more strongly feel the opposite is true.

I have discussed numerous times on this blog the overlap between ballhandling and athleticism on the offensive end. Athleticism helps a player gain freedom of movement on the court. Usually most importantly, driving past defenders into the paint to gain efficient shots, draw fouls and collapse the defense. Ballhandling also helps this freedom of movement and driving game. There are other values to athleticism like finishing in the paint or defending and other values to ballhandling like taking care of the ball, however the connection is strong enough for me to place athleticism and ballhandling in the same category in my talent grading system. When a player such as Harrison Barnes or Ben McLemore struggles to handle the ball, on the offensive end they take the features of less athletic players. That is, becoming jumpshot orientated instead of driving to the basket. The flipside is players like James Harden and Kyrie Irving having elite talent driving to the basket that exceeds their very good athleticism. Their ballhandling helps them play like they are elite athletes for their position.

Because of this, I am not convinced Wiggins is a better NBA slasher than Stauskas. Wiggins is an elite athlete, but appears to be a flawed ballhandler which can cause him to struggle to get by opponents in the halfcourt. Stauskas is a good if unspectacular athlete, showing the first step and speed to get to the basket. However he adds to this very strong ballhandling skills. Because of this he succeeds driving to the basket. This is why despite Andrew Wiggins greater athleticism, Wiggins’ average of 7.7 free throw attempts per 40 minutes is marginally ahead of Stauskas’ 7.2.

Wiggins’ physical gifts however do make him a higher upside defender. Wiggins has the lateral mobility, length and feel for the game to be one of the best wing defenders in the league. Stauskas is not known for his play on that end, but many young players struggle defensively for reasons beyond lacking the tools for it. He has years to learn to be respectable or even above average defensively.

Both Wiggins and Stauskas are among the more fluid and natural wing players in the NCAA. Both play under control and smoothly. I personally rate Stauskas feel for the game as slightly higher, having an advanced sense of craftiness and ability to change pace and adjust off the dribble.

Stauskas is the more reliable shooting prospect of the two. Hitting 46.2% from 3 on an excellent 6.7 3 point attempts per 40 minutes, he is one of the NCAA’s signature shooters. He shows ability to shoot off the dribble in addition to spotting up. Stauskas also has a free throw percentage of 80.0% after 84.3% last year, which I consider as strong an indicator as NCAA 3 point shooting for perimeter mechanics translating to the pros. Finally with 4.4 assists per 40 minutes Stauskas has strong passing skills for a 2/3.

Wiggins is not a slouch as a shooter. At 36.6% from 3 on 4.5 3pt attempts per 40 minutes and 77.9% from the FT line, it is enough to have a high upside as a shooter. However, there is a sense of unpredictability with a shooter with Wiggins’ numbers. He could turn into a great shooter or he could turn into a mediocre one. The odds of Wiggins turning into a great shooter could be the same as Stauskas turning into an elite shooter. In addition to the passing I see reason to rate Stauskas talent as higher in this category, but Wiggins has shown enough to be promising from the outside.

Therefore here are my talent grades for Andrew Wiggins and Nik Stauskas with these grades

11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Weak, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

What the overall grades mean:

25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

Andrew Wiggins

Physical impact (Athleticism, ballhandling, size) talent grade – 7 / Very good

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

Feel for the Game (Fluidity, change of pace, adjustment) talent grade – 8 / Great

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

Nik Stauskas

Physical impact (Athleticism, ballhandling, size) talent grade – 7 / Very good

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

Feel for the Game (Fluidity, change of pace, adjustment) talent grade – 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 24 (Blue Chip starter to perennial all-star talent grade)

Andrew Wiggins is a very good wing prospect. I expect him to be a great defender in the pros, but I am not positive about his offensive game. The way players like Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala has helped teams win is what I would predict for Wiggins unless he becomes a dominant outside shooter.

Stauskas rates higher in my system. His ability to drive when added to perimeter shooting and feel, could make him a deadly all around force on the wing. I believe Stauskas can be the next James Harden or Manu Ginobili and I am leaning towards rating him 1st overall on my draft board.

Written by jr.

January 31, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Introducing the 95% theory

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Despite confidence in my talent grading system, not even if I rate the players talent in my 3 categories correctly, will it prove a perfect measure of a prospect.

Prospects are human beings and the NBA is a sport where psychological nuance matters. How hard an effort a player gives on and off the court clearly affects their career, as does other factors like confidence, or commitment to getting along with teammates on and off the court.

Up to this point my position has largely been to rate a player’s talent level and accept imperfection rating whether they’ll get there since it is too hard to know. When the media jumps on a prospect for not caring about the game or a lack of motor there’s as big a risk this ends up totally unfounded, such as for Andre Drummond coming out of Connecticut.

Nevertheless it creates a concern. For example I rated Anthony Bennett’s talent 1st in the 2013 draft, yet judging from his start there is a possibility he never makes it in the NBA. How is this conceivable? Because even the highest of talent is no guarantee. What if Bennett became one of the all time great headcases? A player with so much anxiety on the court that he fell below a “Mendoza line” of confidence, meaning any shot he took had his head so far in the way to be a disaster? In the case of something like this, Bennett’s mental affliction would be like Greg Oden’s blowing out his knees. And in the case of both talent evaluation would be made irrelevant.

Now in reality, I don’t consider there to be many enigmas in the league. My theory on why is this. I believe most are weeded out by the time of the draft. Professional athletes play at a level of physical conditioning foreign and above regular human beings, which means virtual everyone who gets high enough to be noticed by the NBA is already a physical workout obsessive. That’s before considering the skill level to make the NBA also typically needs a history of practicing hard every day by prospects. In regards to confidence and anxiety the same weeding out factor may occur. The prospect who’s a nervous wreck in game competitions, doesn’t make it to be one of the best 18-22 year old players in the world not in the NBA in the first place. His game will already have been affected. A pro sports league is largely reserved for freaks of the world in not only talent, but confidence and off the court commitment to their sport. Most of the players who are talented enough to be standout NBA starters but were too enigmatic to mentally, probably are not in the NBA – more likely they’re people who never decided to chase after the NBA job, instead going for a regular job or college degree.

However of course, enigmas sneak through. How many? I’ve decided a number I like is 5%, or 95% of players in the NBA once they get a foot in the door (the future of undrafted players becomes less clear to me) eventually reach their talent. At least by the way I measure it. In a 450 player league this would mean 22 enigmas, however if discounting players young enough to be underperforming because of developmental pains only, something like 15 of 300 “established” players is a more reasonable ratio.

Naming 15 enigmas is actually harder than it seems. Here is my best attempt:

Michael Beasley

One of the first names that come to mind. Boasts a rare combination of feel for the game and skill level for a PF and is an above average athlete. Enough to be a star PF, never gotten close.

Charlie Villaneuva

Andray Blatche

Hedo Turkoglu

I list these players together because all 3 have high skill level and feel for the game at their position to make up ok physical tools. Out of seemingly laziness, never have consistently played to their talent, albeit shown flashes.

Josh Smith

J.R. Smith

The Smith duo are both enigmas. Like the above players I rate them as having above average feel for the game, but they play a low IQ brand of shot selection due to non-basketball mental flaws.

Jeff Green

Rudy Gay

Both players are rock solid SFs and Gay has turned it on in Sacramento, yet remain frustrating. Both players have a high fluidity and feel for the game, while Gay has great athleticism/size and ok skill, Green has both good physical tools and skill. Neither are a chasm away from their talent like a Beasley but when comparing them to a more valuable SF like Luol Deng the difference is likely non-talent.

D.J. Augustin

Eric Maynor

Neither player are as widely adknowledged enigmas as the above, however my system rates them as better talents than they’ve shown. Augustin has the shooting ability and feel to be an established borderline starter/backup a la Jameer Nelson, while Maynor’s strong feel and adequate shooting and quickness should also make him a strong backup at the least. This season in Washington right when his talent should be blossoming, he’s been one of the worst players in the NBA.

Jamal Crawford

Crawford is a player who’s had a rock solid career, however I personally see the talent to have been a consistent star. Crawford was one of the league’s best shooters, had an above average feel and despite average athleticism, had the ballhandling to get into the paint.

Andrea Bargnani

Bargnani is a player I almost left off the list, because due to feel for the game problems I feel his struggles are more explainable by talent than others do. However between his demeanor and shooting falling apart in recent years, he’s a player who carries himself so much like an underperforming one, that it feels fair to put him on. At the least, Bargnani does not help teams win games like his talent should.

Danny Green

Green is a player who’s barely played 5000 minutes in the regular season and postseason, so it may not be fair to put him on this list yet. But in his 5th season when he should be breaking out, he’s taken a step back statistically. His shooting, great feel and size/athleticism combo despite ballhandling issues, gives him the talent to be a top 10 SG in the NBA. Green is also a player who struggled to find a place early in his career due to an enigmatic work ethic, he’s admitted.

Andrew Bynum

Bynum is a player who for a handful of years with the Lakers, was reaching his talent level. At this point obviously, that is no longer the case for enigmatic reasons.

Carmelo Anthony

Deron Williams

It may not be fair to put these two players on the list considering they still peaked at a top 10, superstar level. However I hardly been impressed by their demeanor or physical conditioning and they typically carry themselves in an enigmatic way. It’s conceivable that as great of players they were, they could still be underperformers – if they had the talent to do what Kevin Durant and Chris Paul have done.

That’s 16 names, with a few players like Green, Anthony and Williams being somewhat of stretches.

Mind you, this doesn’t include younger players who may eventually be on this list. Here is my case for enigma “candidates”:

Anthony Bennett

Clearly deserves the mention for how he’s started. Bennett is blessed with the strong athleticism, feel and perimeter skills to be a star PF.
Derrick Williams

Patrick Patterson

Earl Clark

Both Williams and Patterson have the perimeter skill, feel and enough athleticism to be above average or top 10 starters in my opinion. Their production so far has been mediocre albeit Patterson is starting to shine in Toronto.

Clark has been in the league long enough to make the non-young player list, however he’s actually played less minutes than either Williams or Patterson, therefore it’s conceivable he is as much prospect. Like them for a PF he has intriguing perimeter skill, feel and athleticism.

Jimmer Fredette

Jan Vesely

Jimmer is a player I’ve listed numerous times as one I’m impressed by, with elite shooting and feel and more respectable athleticism/speed than his reputation.

Vesely has athleticism and feel, while his skill problems are a major concern. I’m not incredibly high on Vesely, but I do feel he can mark out a place in the league as a backup big man and this season he’s begun to get there.

Harrison Barnes

Something of a younger Jeff Green or Rudy Gay, Barnes has strong feel and perimeter skill for a SF and elite size/athleticism despite ballhandling issues, but continues to frustrate in Golden State

Dion Waiters

Waiters ability to drive to the basket, his feel and coming along shooting make him a high upside SG, however there’s a risk he’s a selfish jerk of a teammate it would appear

Meyers Leonard

Scott Machado

Kenny Kadji

Jeremy Lamb

These are players that I ranked top 5 in the 2012 and 2013 drafts who’ve yet to produce at that level yet, therefore I may as well list them. Meyers has perimeter jumpshot and athleticism for a 7 footer enough to be a top 10-15 C, while Machado has fine athleticism, feel and a passable jumper to be a starter. The two remind me of Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry respectively in talent. Lamb has elite feel, perimeter skill and is a good physical talent. Kadji has perimeter skills and feel for a power forward.

Kadji appears to be the most worrisome of the four. Not only due to question marks regarding the opportunity an undrafted player like Kadji or Machado gets compared to a lottery pick like Leonard or Lamb, but a German team cut him after a few weeks apparently because of his attitude. The coach even lambasting him by saying to paraphrase “To us when a player is talented it is isn’t just from the neck down”. It’s hard to tell how serious his misgivings were, it could have simply been a minor mistake breaking a rule about partying or drinking or involving a girl, but nevertheless it’s not a great sign for his commitment to reaching his talent in the NBA.

So if a “95% rule” approach was true, what would it mean? In my 2013 draft I used these probabilities for my talent grades being incorrect, due to changes such as shooting differences, athleticism being hidden at a young age, etc.

Within 0 points of the above talent grades (rounded, as is for all these numbers) – 30%
Within +1 or -1 – 70% (+1: 20%, -1: 20%)
Within +2 or -2 – 90% (+2: 10%, -2: 10%)
Within +3 or -3 – 97% (+3: 3.5%, -3: 3.5%)
Within +4 or -4 – 99% (+4: 1%, -4: 1%)
Within +5 or -5 – 99.5%+ (+5: 0.5%, -5: 0.5%)

Using this for example Anthony Bennett had an overall grade of 25 to top the class, but with the above probabilities it spelled out like this:

65% Perennial all-star talent (25+)
95% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent (23-24)
99.5%+ Blue Chip starter talent (19+)

Likewise my 2nd highest group of players at grade 22 Kelly Olynyk, Kenny Kadji, Dennis Schroeder’s probabilities worked out to this

Grade of 22 (Kelly Olynyk, Kenny Kadji, Dennis Schroeder)
5% Perennial all-star talent (25+)
35% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent (23+)
98.5% Blue Chip starter talent (19+)
99.5%+ Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent (17+)

The 3rd highest group of players at grade 21 were Victor Oladipo, Alex Len, C.J. McCollum

Grade of 21 (Victor Oladipo, Alex Len, C.J. McCollum)

1.5% Perennial all-star talent (25+)
15% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
 (23+)
95% Blue Chip starter talent
 (19+)
99.5% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent (17+)
99.5%+ Rotation player talent

However this is all only measuring talent, not the odds of them reaching it or not. For example even if I said Bennett was a virtual lock to have starting talent, it doesn’t mean he was a lock to reach this talent. But if adding in a rough 95% probability of a drafted player reaching their talent, then my new estimates would be:

Anthony Bennett

62% Perennial all-star
90% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star
95% Blue Chip starter
95% Rotation player

Kelly Olynyk and Dennis Schroeder:

5% Perennial all-star
33% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star
93.5% Blue Chip starter
95% Rotation player

Victor Oladipo, Alex Len, C.J. McCollum

1.5% Perennial all-star talent
14% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star
90% Blue Chip starter
94% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter
95% Rotation player

However, in reality there was probably reason to believe before the draft a Bennett or Schroeder had a higher chance at being an enigma than a player with the competitive streak in college of Victor Oladipo. But I feel more comfortable using the 95% rule for everyone.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers even if we could say there was only a 5% chance of the PF they took 1st overall falling short of being a starter and good player, it’s early enough to panic about whether they hit that 5% like a dart on a bullseye.

Written by jr.

January 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm