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Posts Tagged ‘Andre Drummond

Checking in on 2012 draft favorites Meyers Leonard and Scott Machado

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A few months ago ago a comment asked me how I felt about my 2012 draft grades, a year and change into the prospects careers.

Although one year is still short to judge players, there have been hits and misses so far. For example compared to the ‘consensus’ opinion, my grades came out much lower on Thomas Robinson and Austin Rivers, rating them as non-top 20 and top 30 prospects respectively and both have been awful. Other prospects like Andrew Nicholson and Jared Sullinger rated higher in my system and have done well. Both my system and consensus opinion loved Anthony Davis and were fans of Bradley Beal and both have been successful. Both my system and the consensus draft order rated Michael Kidd-Gilchrist highly, but he has struggled to produce.

Other ratings do not look as successful so far. I’ve acknowledged my grades for Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes were poor, as I weighted their underwhelming college production more heavily then than I do now when rating their feel for the game. Damian Lillard was also misrated after a poor reading from the low quality, usually handheld camera-filmed Weber State footage. The 2012 draft was the first using my talent grading system and my methods have greatly evolved since then, hopefully correcting some of these mistakes in teh future.

Two prospects people may claim my list is missing on is Meyers Leonard and Scott Machado, who rated 3rd and 4th most of the year in 2012 behind Anthony Davis and Jeremy Lamb. Leonard is currently receiving DNP-CDs in Portland after an OK rookie season, while Machado after going undrafted was signed and cut by a few teams, played largely in the D League and is rumored to have signed overseas with B.C. Partizan.

What’s going on with Leonard and Machado and do I retract my opinions of them? On one hand, ranking as high as they did, is in part due to rating Drummond, Barnes and Lillard too low for the reasons I outlined. But I would still rate them as starting talents at C and PG.

Leonard’s offensive development his rookie season was nothing too much to be worried about. He showed a strong midrange jumper and touch at the rim, while struggled to hold position in the post at his age. Overall the combination of midrange shooting and athleticism to roll to the rim, is a rare enough combination for a center to make a career out of even if his post game doesn’t develop.

Where he’s lost minutes is on the defensive end, where he’s been poor to put it lightly. Joel Freeland who’s offensive numbers are worse than Leonard’s, is an older player and experienced defender. Because the Blazers have been much more successful offensively than defensively the last 2 years with the play of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Lamarcus Aldridge, a defensively reliable backup center who struggles offensively fills a hole more than an a greater offensive producer with defensive problems.

Being a player with offensive talent who needs to improve defensively, is not a bad spot to be for a young player. Many young players struggle defensively before improving with age. While I do not rate Leonard’s feel for the game as more than average which hurts his defensive potential, his physical tools can eventually make an impact on that end. As Meyers Leonard’s defensive experience improves he will likely be usable enough on that end to get minutes on offensive merit, whether it’s on Portland or another team.

My opinion of Leonard’s talent is largely identical to before the draft. There are concerns about his maturity and not every player reaches their talent level if something’s wrong upstairs, but he appears to play and work hard.

Scott Machado’s future is more concerning. On one hand I would rate his talent as lower than I did before the draft. As with Barnes and Drummond, Machado’s near 10 assist per game colored my grades more than it would now. I rated his feel for the game as transcendent at the time, while now I would call it great if close to elite.

I believe Machado has the talent to be average attacking the basket off the dribble and shooting for an NBA PG. Logically, if added to an above average feel for the game and passing skills, it should all add together to an above average PG talent.

So far in the D League and summer league, preseason/training camp tryouts, he’s struggled to both attack the basket and shoot. The shooting results haven’t been too worrying. At Iona over 4 years he averaged 34.2% from 3pt and 74.0% from the FT line, with 40.4% 3pt and 81.1% FT his senior season. In the D League between two teams, regular season and playoff combined, he averaged 35.3% from 3 and 78.4% from the FT line, including 45% from 3 in the playoffs. Considering many players struggle to adjust to the NCAA 3pt line to NBA immediately, these are respectable results. Unfortunately with an NBA job on the line in summer league and preseason, he struggled shooting again.

Driving to the rim has been a more worrying struggle. I see Machado’s combination of quickness and physical strength as similar to Kyle Lowry’s, however he’s been inconsistent trying to drive into the paint, in part because of major struggles finishing at the rim.

I may have understated talent-based reasons why he’d struggle driving. He could have more ballhandling problems than I rated and although Machado has two of the major talents I look for in finishing at the rim in feel for the game and strength, it’s possible he has a flaw in touch at the rim holding him back. It’s difficult to see whether his early struggles driving and finishing are talent-based flaws or ones that development will correct. Notably, Machado did not excel scoring driving to the rim at Iona, albeit his role was heavily tilted towards pass-first play.

The good news is Machado appears to be made of “the right stuff” in work ethic and competitiveness, that may push him to developing enough to make an NBA job next time he tries despite early setbacks. Whatever talent he has, his chances of reaching it appears fair.

If I had to compare Meyers Leonard and Scott Machado’s talent to two players, it would be Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry, both of whom have had very good careers. That doesn’t guarantee they’ll get there, as I could be wrong about their talent in certain areas, in Machado’s case he may never come back to the NBA even if he plays well overseas and in general, no player is a guarantee to reach their talent. I rate more players as playing to their talent than most systems, but in a 450 player league there are inevitable enigmas. Other than obvious cases like Michael Beasley, Andray Blatche, Demarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Jeff Green, other players who’s production vs talent confuses me includes Jrue Holiday, D.J. Augustin, Patrick Patterson, Eric Maynor, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford. Some of these players appear to be bad apples/jerks off the court, while others appear to struggle with toughness with physical contract and consistent effort. That Leonard and Machado play and work hard makes me believe they won’t be enigmas, but it’s possible.

All in all, it’s only been 1 year and less than a quarter of a season. For both Leonard and Machado and other players like Kidd-Gilchrist, Waiters, Robinson, they could look completely different by year 4 or 5. Even 2010 draft picks like John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Ed Davis, Eric Bledsoe are in a widely acknowledged “developmental” state, even in their 4th seasons. There is plenty of time.

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33 pt corrections: Re-evaluating a few 2012 draft prospects

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English: French basketball player Evan Fournie...

English: French basketball player Evan Fournier Français : Le joueur de basket-ball français Evan Fournier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year’s draft was the first I used my signature talent grading system for. My rankings in June with them are largely irrelevant, both because I had just come up with the system and because I didn’t post numerical grades for players in it. So I made another just before preseason in October, with grades and a better grasp of my methodology.

I still have a few rankings I regret. I have little doubt about my theory itself or the framework, but just individual grading mistakes within my categories. Here are the players who’s grades look wrong in retrospect:

Andre Drummond

Then:

Physical impact talent: 10

Skill impact talent: 1

Feel for the Game: talent 3

Total grade: 14 (Bench player to Marginal starter talent grade)

Now:

Physical impact talent: 11

Skill impact talent: 5

Feel for the Game talent: 7

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

Analysis: My most glaring mistake. I graded Drummond as a Deandre Jordan or Samuel Dalembert, a superior athletic talent who lacked touch and natural instincts. This is simply wrong. One of the keys to Drummond’s great rookie season is fantastic touch around the basket and hands. He’s not a go-to creator in the post and lacks any range, but touch is a valuable skill at the 5. He’s also a smooth player offensively and plays with strong control defensively, understanding positioning well and not just using his athleticism.  Drummond’s talent scores are nearly identical to Dwight Howard’s.

In retrospect, Drummond’s touch and fluidity is evident in a video like this:

I blame my wrong grade of Drummond on not seeing the trees from the forest in regards to Drummond’s lack of college production. It’s why watching videos like the above can be as useful a tool as real games.

Harrison Barnes

Then:

Physical impact talent: 2

Skill impact talent: 8

Feel for the Game talent: 6

Total talent grade: 16 (Marginal Starter talent grade)

Now:

Physical impact talent: 6

Skill impact talent: 7

Feel for the Game talent: 9

Total talent grade: 22 (Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent grade)

Analysis: This was simply a poor job done by me grading. Like Drummond, Barnes’ underwhelming college production colored my grades at the time. With his athleticism and size Barnes never deserved a physical impact grade that low, ballhandling limits his upside as a slasher but he’s still explosive enough to make plays attacking the rim and impact the game defensively physically. I also underplayed his feel for the game, Barnes’ smooth and natural game is what stands out most about him. However Barnes has not been as strong a shooter as I expected, albeit it’s common for rookies to take their time adjusting to the NBA 3pt line. With his athleticism, size, shooting and feel, Barnes’ is a terrific wing prospect with a lot of Luol Deng and Paul George in him.

Damian Lillard

Then:

Physical impact talent: 8

Skill impact talent: 8

Feel for the Game talent: 4

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

Now:

Physical impact talent: 7

Skill impact talent: 9

Feel for the Game talent: 8

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

Analysis: Lillard is a stud. He’s athletic enough to explode to the basket and strong enough to finish, is an elite perimeter shooting and creating talent and has a controlled, natural feel for the game. I blame my poor grading on a lack of good Weber St. footage and clips. Part of the reason I game Lillard a poor feel for the game score, is at the time he had been labelled a player with a shooting guard’s vision that may struggle to run an offense. Clearly this was incorrect.

Evan Fournier

Then:

Physical impact talent: 6

Skill impact talent: 4

Feel for the Game talent: 9

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

Now:

Physical impact talent: 6

Skill impact talent: 8

Feel for the Game talent: 11

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

Analysis: This one I don’t blame myself a ton for. Fournier was not known as a perimeter shooter before the draft, that the one question mark in his game. With the Nuggets he’s been a monster perimeter bomber. Although the sample size is small so far to rely on the numbers alone, his form is obvious. I also underestimated just how incredible Fournier’s feel for the game is. He’s a magician out there, looking a lot like Manu. WIth his ability to attack the basket and shooting stroke, he’s star material and could be signature star the Nuggets lack.

Written by jr.

April 11, 2013 at 1:27 am

MVP/Power Rankings Monday: The 10 Closest Things to Takeaways from preseason (2012-2013 NBA)

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Yes, the “It’s just preseason” caveat applies to any conclusions one wants to draw from preseason in the NBA. But oh, it’s so tempting. Here are 10 things that may or may not be indicative to take from preseason

10. The Spurs found another “who?” steal in Nando De Colo – Nando looks like the real deal. He has great height for a PG/SG, with a strong feel for the game and court vision and shooting game. He’ll be a mismatch problem for teams to deal with off the bench.

9. Omer Asik is a monster – The Rockets knew what they were doing giving such a big contract to the Bulls’ backup center. Asik is one of the biggest Cs/players in the league period and looks like a special rebounder and defender so far. Dominant defensive Cs is how you win.

8. Marvin Williams is finally ready for a breakout season – Marvin may not have the talent Atlanta thought when they took him 2nd overall in 2005, but he was likely underused all the same. He has an outstanding feel for the game, his length is a great asset defensively and he’s turned himself into a sharpshooter at the SF position. These 3 tools makes him a huge asset for Utah if he’s used properly.

7. Big Baby Davis could have a Big Year – If you’re looking for a dark-horse statistical breakout candidate, look out for Big Baby. Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson leaving the team opens up a ton of free shots in the frontcourt. Davis came on at the end of last season starting in place of Howard at C. Perhaps that’s the position for him, where he can be an offensive mismatch with his outside shot. Read the rest of this entry »

A quick thought on Andre Drummond impressing in preseason

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Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando voice: Remember when I told you I wouldn’t post a column today… I LIED

Well, it’ll just be a quick post. I wanted to touch on Andre Drummond’s impressive play in preseason for the Pistons. He’s been dominant so far, making many teams’ fans already worry about missing on him in the draft. Here’s a good clip package of his play in his last game:

 

The thing standing out for most is how hard he’s playing. The big thing that hurt Drummond’s draft stock was a lack of internal drive and motor on his UConn college team. He’s playing as hard as any rookie so far, alleviating some of those concerns.

But what’s impressing me however is his finishing around the basket. I always knew he could catch the ball well, but in college his touch and finishing seemed outright poor – with his all time bad FT shooting indicating he just might not have it from a skill perspective. In my 33pt method, I ranked Drummond as a 10 in physical impact, a 1 in skill and a 3 in feel for the game. Despite his amazing physical score, his total score of 14 still indicated a borderline starter and average player.

However, Drummond hypothetically having a strong touch and finishing ability if this holds up, would drastically change his outlook as a prospect. Touch and the ability to finish around the basket is by far the most important thing for a center’s Skill score. It makes him a useable option in any offense (even if at a low volume) which is how players like Tyson Chandler and Nene have been very valuable offensive options to their teams, despite unspectacular scoring games. If Drummond indeed can finish around the basket consistently like he has in the above clips, it’d be enough to re-evaluate his skill score as a 4, 5 or 6. Bumping him up to 11 in physical impact if his motor concerns end up unfounded, would also help. This new respectably skilled version of Drummond would be a player scoring 18 to 20 in my 33pt method, an excellent score – with how little impact centers there are in the league, perhaps enough to be a top 5 center and all-star.

With that said. It’s still very early for Andre Drummond. It’s plausible my initial instinct regarding his touch around the basket will prove correct. It’s possible his motor concerns will rear back up. But I see a reason to believe Andre Drummond could be as good as he’s showing.

I’ll have another mini-post tomorrow, on a particular European prospect in a future draft you should get used to the name of.

By Julien Rodger

Twitter: @ASFW_jrodger

Email: julienrodger@gmail.com (Send me a question, if I get enough I’ll do a mailbag, or just answer it in an article)

Written by jr.

October 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

Posted in NBA Draft, NBA Predictions

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Why Andre Drummond may very well be a “safe” pick, not a “risky” one

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Source: Wikipedia

Andre Drummond in the 2012 draft is considered your classic “boom or bust” pick. He’s arguably one of the most physically gifted prospects of the last 20 years (His combination of size and power rivals if not surpasses a young Dwight Howard’s), but also is extremely raw, lacks great spatial awareness/feel for the court and is seemingly a soft player. Because he’s so undeveloped compared to his physical tools, he’s being called a risk if he doesn’t develop.

For example a Warriors insider here http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2012/06/21/andre-drummond-the-player-who-could-cause-the-warriors-biggest-draft-room-debate/  quotes

“Stated simply: Other than presumptive No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, no player in this draft might have more top-end talent than Drummond…. and top-end risk, too.”

“But in this scenario, there almost certainly would be draft room voices on the other side–people who believe that Drummond is too risky and too much of a project for a team that wants to win as soon as possible and do it with players who love basketball.”

This echoes much of the sentiment on Drummond. Because of his once or twice a decade physical tools for a center, he’s considered a high upside player if he develops greatly and gets it mentally, but the chance that he doesn’t get it makes him a risk.

I have to disagree with the sentiment of Drummond’s riskiness. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

June 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Posted in NBA Draft

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Why future #1 pick Andre Drummond reminds me of a bigger John Wall

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The draft board and stage pre draft.

Image via Wikipe

You may have been disappointed by the 2011 draft simply because it didn’t have any knockout prospects. I’m a bit higher on PG Kyrie Irving’s potential to be a top 10 or 15 player and maybe get close to where Mark Price was in impact and statistics, but certainly from a talent perspective, you didn’t have an “Oh my god” physical talent like John Wall, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Greg Oden were in their drafts.

2012 is different. Andre Drummond is the definition of an “Oh my god” physical talent and quite possibly the most purely talented player since Dwight Howard went 1st overal in 2005, if you consider Oden’s health issues as something to diminish his ‘physical gifts’. Like Howard he’s a freakish combination of massive size and outstanding explosiveness – and he’s showing solid touch and ability to pass at the high school level.

But there’s a catch. In the last year or so, he’s starting to get some criticism for coasting on his talent level in games – plus, his stylistic preference has been to be a face-up, finishing and finesse PF. The stylistic comparison for Andre Drummond has moved from Dwight Howard to Amare Stoudemire. Now I’m not going to say we should be remotely disappointing in Drummond having Amare’s career considering how outstanding he’s been offensively, and frankly I don’t have personal hand knowledge of Drummond’s makeup to say he won’t go back to playing center and mimicing Howard. I would suppose that if he is indeed a future PF, he has the potential to be like Amare offensively with greater rebounding and defensive ability – which would possibly make him a top 5 player. But I’ll tell you what his situation reminds me of: John Wall

Read the rest of this entry »