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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

Rating Giannis Antetokounmpo’s talent level (+Thoughts on the Anthony Bennett Hindenburg disaster)

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In a rookie class where most players have fallen between mediocre and poor production, Giannis Antetokounmpo is providing some of the most optimism. Many are now saying they’d take Giannis 1st in the draft, or believe he has the most potential.

How does my talent grading system rate “The Greek Freak”?

In my Physical impact (Athleticism, ballhandling, size) talent category Giannis rates well. Admittedly I rated him too low in this category before the draft, mostly due to lack of quality footage of him outside of a televised Greek all-star game. Giannis has been more athletically explosive and fast than I graded at the time, which in addition to gifted ballhandling skills gives him slashing upside offensively. He is also extremely long for a small forward having even grown a few inches since the draft. It is possible his growth caused the extra athletic explosiveness he is showing now, perhaps he is able to take longer strides or the muscles in his legs were altered. While I’m split on how to rate hand size as importance, Giannis’ are so abnormally big it becomes hard to ignore. These large hands should help him rebound and steal the ball.

Giannis also rates strongly in my Feel for the Game talent category. He’s a very fluid, natural player and has shown signs of playing in control offensively already, in addition to defensive anticipation.

Where Giannis rates weakest is in my Skill Impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent category. He is hitting a mediocre 31.4% from the 3 point line and making 0.6 3s per 36 minutes, in addition to an average 72.9% from the FT line. He was not known as a shooter or perimeter scorer coming into the league. He has the height to be a post player but not the strength yet. Giannis is young enough to improve his finesse game, however right now it does not appear to be any sort of strength for him.

Here are my grades for Giannis based on these ratings:

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

Giannis grades:

Physical impact (Athleticism, Ballhandling, Size) talent grade: 8

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8

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

With the adjustment I used at the time of the 2013 draft (giving a slightly higher weighting to feel for the game, then physical impact, then skill impact in that order, due to descending level of how static/easy to predict I feel each talent category is), Giannis’ score would have ranked 5th in my talent rankings tied with Victor Oladipo and behind Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Kenny Kadji, Dennis Schroeder. But close enough to the non-Bennett prospects to make it a near wash for 2nd. Like Oladipo, Giannis has sky high potential in the areas of attacking the basket and defense, but his upside may have a ceiling if he does not become more skilled on the perimeter. (On that note, for the same lack of footage reasons as Giannis I have a different rating of Schroeder than I did before the draft. Schroeder’s shooting has been worse than I thought, but his feel for the game better – the difference ends up a wash. I now see him as having the same strengths and weaknesses as Giannis and Oladipo, with elite physical tools and feel for the game for his position but a huge question mark as a perimeter skill player)

Other players I would compare Giannis to include Kawhi Leonard, Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala. All of whom like Giannis have impressive size and athleticism and great feel for the game, but are not truly natural perimeter scorers and finesse players. Some have compared Giannis to Paul George and Kevin Durant because of his physical tools, but George and Durant showed standout shooting talent in college and early in their careers. For Giannis to have similar upside he’d need to change the face of his shooting/skill game entirely. Whether a player can develop this much is up to interpretation, but personally I consider it quite unlikely.

I consider it defendable to take Giannis before all the other 2013 prospects if given teh choice, depending on the confidence one has in developing his skills and with the understandable apprehension about Anthony Bennett’s play so far. How do I feel about Bennett’s epic disaster of a rookie season? From a talent grading perspective I haven’t seen any reasons to make a major change. He is not hitting his perimeter shots, but taking them with such frequency, that one has to believe he makes them enough in practice (where he reportedly plays great) for the Cavs to believe they’ll start going in. Other than that he has the same combination of athleticism, strength, ballhandling and fluidity, that when added to perimeter skills, are the tools of a star. I consider the two ways for a player to be a star talent is to be above average in all 3 of my physical impact (Athleticism, ballhandling, size), skill impact (Shoot, post, pass), and feel for the game categories, or to have incredible/transcendent ability in at least one to make up for average or worse talent in another. For example Lamarcus Aldridge and James Harden are two stars who are above average in all three of my categories, while Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook have a combination of transcendent talents (Love’s feel for the game/skill impact, Westbrook’s physical impact) and no more than average ones (Love’s physical impact, Westbrook’s feel for the game). In this class I see Bennett as easily the best example of an “above average in all three” prospect, while my next highest prospects have holes. Schroeder, Oladipo, Giannis have everything but shooting, Olynyk and Kadji have average at best physical talents. Nobody is transcendent in a category based on what I can see, the closest are Nerlens Noel physically and Otto Porter’s feel for the game but Noel’s weak skill level/feel for the game and Porter’s weak athleticism is enough that I don’t see them as likely stars.

The concern with Bennett isn’t talent, it’s reaching his talent. It’s conceivable, even if a stretch, that Bennett ends up with a “broken confidence” complex that does to his career what Greg Oden’s knees did to his. Now there’s been so little prospects where confidence has been a long term problem after they settle into the league, that it’s hard to treat it as a major concern. But most prospects weren’t taken with the pressure of a #1 pick either. There’s also Bennett’s physical conditioning which wasn’t great even at UNLV and his shoulder surgery threw it way off, but with no bad words about his work ethic, I suspect that will get better by next season.. Overall, I’d say the odds are in favor of Bennett eventually hitting or nearing his talent level whatever it is, eventually. Whether it happens on the Cavaliers or not. I understand why some would choose otherwise, but because of the difference between a star and a great starter, I still wouldn’t blink taking Bennett before the other 2013 prospects available.

Written by jr.

January 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Final NBA Draft Talent Grades and more! (June 2013)

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Part I: The Talent Grades

Here are my final talent grades for the 2013 draft. If you’d like to read my individual position breakdowns, here they are:

2013 NBA Draft Rankings: The Centers

2013 NBA Draft Rankings: The Power Forwards

2013 NBA Draft Rankings: The Small Forwards

2013 NBA Draft Rankings: The Shooting Guards

2013 NBA Draft Rankings: The Point Guards

Some of the grades have changed (just ignore what I wrote about Schroeder in the point guards post, my post at the end of the centers post explains my change on him) and I added a few new grades to the below list:

My grades are from 1 to 11 in 3 categories: Physical impact 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

I also added an “Adjusted” grade based on this method: Because I see skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent the be the most likely to be volatile translating from the NCAA to the NBA, followed by physical impact talent, then feel for the game as the most static, I multiply their grades by these weights: 100% * Feel for the Game talent grade + 90% * Physical impact talent grade + 80% * skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade. I then add 10% * the Total Talent Grade to that adjusted score. For example here are my grades for Otto Porter:

SF Otto Porter (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 3 / Weak, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 6 / Decent, Feel for the Game talent grade: 10 / Incredible, Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 19.4)

100% * Feel for the Game talent grade (10) = 10, 90% * Physical impact talent grade (3) = 2.7, 80% * Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4.8. That adds up to 17.5. Which added 1.9 which is 10% of his overall talent grade of 19, Porter’s adjusted talent grade is 19.4. This indicates Porter is a strong 19.

The adjusted grades both help me account for the unpredictability of skill development and to an extent physically impacting the game, plus it gives me a more clean order of prospects based solely on the grades. If two prospects have an identical adjusted grade, I order it by biggest position first, from C to PG.

Here are my grades:

1. PF Anthony Bennett (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 9 / Elite, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great, Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great, Total talent grade: 25 (Perennial all-star talent grade) (Adj: 25.0)

My clear cut top ranking prospect. If his shooting translates, I see him as likely one of the league’s star talents, if not a franchise player. As important is his cushion between him and my threshold for starting talent. With a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent of 17, even if he had awful range and touch for a PF, he may challenge starting status. However as an NCAA 3pt shooter with touch, he’s not only a great bet to be at least decent as a finesse skill player, but average at worst. Bennett to me presuming health, both has an ultra-high star upside for his position, but also a high floor as a virtual lock to be a starter.

2. PF Kelly Olynyk (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 22.2)

3. PF Kenny Kadji (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good, Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great, Total talent grade: 22 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 22.1)

4. PG Dennis Schroeder (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 9 / Elite, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good, Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent, Total talent grade: 22 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)  (Adj: 21.9)

Olynyk, Kadji and Schroeder have strong cases. If their shooting becomes elite for their position instead of the decent grade I gave them, they can challenge multiple all-star type of careers. Whereas with a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 15 for all three, their skill games would have to be one of the worst at their position to be in danger of missing starting and blue chip status. Considering Olynyk and Kadji’s touch at the rim likely isn’t going away for a big, they should be shoo-ins. Schroeder may have the biggest danger of his shooting bottoming out, but perhaps with his youth the most likely elite upside in the area. Overall I see these three as having both a puncher’s chance at stardom and a high likelihood of starting, making them great prospects.

5. SG Victor Oladipo (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 8 / Great, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average, Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great, Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 21.3)

6. C Alex Len (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 6 / Decent, Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great, Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 21.2)

7. PG C.J. McCollum (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 21.0)

Oladipo, Len and McCollum are also strong prospects. Oladipo’s combined physical impact and feel for the game grade of 16 is the second highest in the class behind Bennett, indicating he’d have to be one of the worst perimeter shooters in the league to be in danger of less than blue chip and starting. Whereas if he can turn himself into elite in the area, he may have a huge upside. Len’s combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 15 is also high enough, that when considering his relatively guaranteed touch and hands, should help Len cruise to starting status especially considering the talent bar to start at C may be lower than at other positions. Len if he develops a go-to midrange shot and/or post play, could also have huge upside. McCollum’s combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 13 is weaker and indicates if his shooting fell apart, he’d have a bigger danger of falling to journeyman status – he needs at least decent shooting to be a starter. For McCollum to approach star status, he needs to become one of the league’s signature shooters, following in the footsteps of players like Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving. McCollum also has positional concerns between PG and SG. I consider McCollum to have a little more risk and a little less likely upside than the above players on this board, but his chance at blue chip status as a guard is still high. Overall for Oladipo, Len, McCollum I consider the most likely situation good starters, but not true all-stars.

8. C Jeff Withey (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 20.3)

9. C Gorgui Dieng (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 5 / Average, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good, Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great, Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 20.1) 

With a high combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 15 and Withey’s good touch at the rim ensuring at least a middling skill floor, his chance of starting looks excellent. However at his age and frame preventing post skills, it’s hard to envision the great to elite skill game needed for Withey to approach star status. Dieng has a lower combined physical impact and feel for the game talent of 13 which indicates he needs at least average to decent skill to lock down starting, but with his midrange shooting and passing, that looks likely enough. I see Withey and Dieng as likely reliable, but not stellar starters.

10. PF Jackie Carmichael (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 20.1) 

11. SF Solomon Hill (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 8 / Great, Skill impact talent grade (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 6 / Decent, Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent, Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 20)

Carmichael and Hill are two of the draft’s most interesting prospects. If either of their decent skill levels as of now is pushed to elite for their position, they’d move up to star potential. At the same time with a good combined physical impact grade of 14 for both, they’d need average or barely lacking skill, to make it as starters. I’d say there’s reasonable risk of Carmichael and Hill becoming just middling players, but with a more likely than not chance at starting and a puncher’s chance at an all-star appearance.

12. SF Tony Snell (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 20)

13. SF Sergey Karasev (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 20)

14. PG Trey Burke (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 20)

Snell, Karasev and Burke have the same grade. With a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent of 12, they need at least decent shooting games to be starters, but that seems likely. It’s also more difficult to envision them as stars than some of the above prospects with an already assumed great skill level, unless they learned to physically impact the game more than I rated. Overall I see all three as likely starters, but not locks and unlikely stars. These are the type of prospects who end up the 15 or 16th best starter in the league, but not threatening the top 8 or 10. That’s still a valuable piece to have.

15. PF James Southerland (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 5 / Average, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 19.9)

16. SG Ben McLemore (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 19.8)

Southerland and McLemore also rate similarly to Snell, Karasev and Burke. With combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grades of 12, they need to be decent shooters to be starters, while pushing their talent just by improving their already great shooting games, also seems hard. Southerland and McLemore are unique in that assessing their physical impact feels harder than for other prospects, as both are more athletic than their jumpshot dominated games in college suggested. Because of this I see Southerland and McLemore as having a higher upside than players like Snell, Karsaev and Burke, but also more of a risk of falling short of starting if both their skill games and physical impact goes in the wrong direction.

17. SF Otto Porter (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 3 / Weak, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 6 / Decent, Feel for the Game talent grade: 10 / Incredible, Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 19.4)

18. SG Jamaal Franklin (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact  (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great, Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 19.4)

19. PG Lorenzo Brown (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 19.3)

Franklin’s combined physical impact and feel for the game grade of 15 is huge for this stage of the rankings, only surpassed by Bennett and Oladipo. He’s a volatile prospect because of the unpredictability of his shooting game. It could conceivably be both awful in the pros which would make him a defensive specialist and unlikely starter, as well as it could be good to great, which with his other tools may make him one of the draft’s better prospects. Franklin also has some ‘crazy person’ in his style of play and energy which could be good or bad for his career. Either an all-star, starter or energy player off the bench wouldn’t shock me for Franklin. Porter also is at a stage with risk and upside. With a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent of 13, he needs average skill to start – in other words, the ability to hit an open 3. On the other hand, with a great to elite shooting game, also in play, he may have near star upside. Porter is another player where a standout SF in the league and a less than true starter, wouldn’t surprise me. Brown is also an intriguing prospect. With a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 14, he needs an average shooting/passing/post game to be a starter and that’s no lock, it’s in play he’s poor at the position in those areas. However if he can turn himself into a great skill player, his has the chance to be an above average starter and blue chipper. With Franklin, Porter and Brown, both are at risk of falling short of starting, but with the upside of blue chip starting – the most likely situation is likely somewhere in the middle as usual, becoming good, but unspectacular starters.

20. C Mike Muscala (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 19.1)

21. PG Nate Wolters (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 19.0)

22. PG Erick Green (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 3 / Weak, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great, Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Elite, Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 19.0)

Muscala, Wolters and Green have similar projections. With a combined physical impact and feel for the game grade of 11, they need well above average skill games to be starters. They seem to have a good chance at that, but it’s no guarantee. Likewise true all-star status may be out of reach unless they can both become elite skill players and impact the game more physically than I graded. These can be good players and are likely impact 1st bigs/1st guard off the bench scorers at worst.

23. SF Giannis Antetokounmpo (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average, Feel for the Game talent grade: 9 / Elite, Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 18.4)

24. PF C.J. Leslie (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 18.3)

25. PG Myck Kabongo (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 18.3)

26. PF Andre Roberson (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, 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) (Adj: 18.2)

Antetokounmpo, Leslie, Kabongo and Roberson are all intriguing prospects. Both are in the range where with a great to elite skill impact game out of nowhere, they’d near star status. However with a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 13 for Giannis and 14 for Leslie, Kabongo and Roberson, with a below average skill game, a huge possibility for all three, they’d be unlikely starters. The risk of irrelevance for these three may be too real to go *too* high for me, but at a certain point of the draft outside of the lottery, getting a player with a blue chipper and top 15 starter upside, is terrific value.

27. PG Matthew Dellavedova (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great, Feel for the Game talent grade: 9 / Elite, Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 18.1)

28. C Lucas Nogueira (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 18.0)

29. C Ryan Kelly (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 17.9)

30. PF Erik Murphy (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 17.9)

Dellavedova, Kelly and Murphy rate similarly. With a relatively low physical impact and feel for the game combined talent grade of 10 for Dellavedova and 9 for Kelly and Murphy, these players need at least great shooting and skill games to start. They have a fair chance at that, but if they slip a bit as shooters, they can likely find a role as scorers off the bench. Nogueira has a big combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 13 for this stage, indicating if he can develop a perimeter scoring game, he has blue chip upside. However if his skill is poor for a big, he have risk of irrelevance. Nogueira has some risk, but also blue chip upside, making him similar to Antetokounmpo, Leslie and Kabongo.

31. PF Trevor Mbakwe (Physical impact 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: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 17.3)

32. PG Ray McCallum (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grades: 6 / Decent, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 17.3)

33. PG Michael Carter-Williams (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 17.3)

34. SG B.J. Young (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent, Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 17.2)

Much like Leslie and Roberson, Mbakwe has the athleticism and feel that with a perimeter skill game, he can challenge starting status. However with a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 12, an average or worse skill game makes him a backup. McCallum, Carter-Williams and Young have a high physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 13, meaning with an above average shooting and skill impact game they’d be blue chippers and starters. However their NCAA careers so far, makes a below average aptitude in that area seem more likely than not. I would say these three have the talent to have a puncher’s chance at starting, but are more likely standout bench contributers.

35. SG Glen Rice, Jr. (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 3 / Weak, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 6 / Decent, Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great, Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 17.2)

36. C Bojan Dubjlevic (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful, 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) (Adj: 17.0)

37. PF Cody Zeller (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 5 / Average, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 6 / Decent, Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent, Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 17.0)

Rice and Zeller could be blue chippers and true starters, if the Rice becomes one of the best shooters at his position and Zeller one of the most skilled inside/outside bigs. With a combined physical impact and feel for the game grade of 11 however, a middling skill level or worse would make them unlikely starters. They have decent chance at starting, but it’s more likely they don’t. Dubjlevic’s low combined physical impact and skill grade of 9, means he’d need among the best skills as a stretch big at his position to start. With that said it seems likely he’s a positive value contributer off the bench, if he ever comes to the NBA.

38. PF Deshaun Thomas (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful, 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) (Adj: 17.0)

39. SG Seth Curry (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful, 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) (Adj: 17.0)

40. PF Grant Jerrett (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 16.9)

41. PG Pierre Jackson (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj: 16.9)

42. SG Michael Snaer (Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj. 16.9)

Thomas, Curry, Jerrett, Jackson, Snaer rate fairly similarly. With a low combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 9, they need elite shooting games to challenge a starting spot. If they fall a little short, their most likely role is specialist sparkplugs off the bench. These are good prospects to count on as at least having long term NBA careers presuming at least decent jumpshots for them.

43. C Steven Adams (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 8 / Great, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 3 / Weak, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5 / Average, Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 16.2)

44. SF Adonis Thomas (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5 / Average, Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 16.1)

For this late, Adams and Thomas having combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grades of 13 and 12 is fairly impressive. It indicates that with good to great skill games, they could still be blue chippers and starters. However with nothing but poor skill shown so far, that’s somewhat unlikely. Furthermore, there’s a risk they have not only poor skill level, but among the worst at their position. This would make them replacement level players.

Overall, Adams and Thomas have some upside, but also more strikeout risk than above prospects. Their chances of long term rotation roles is still solid.

45. SF Shabazz Muhammad (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 16.1)

46. SG Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 16.1)

47. C Nerlens Noel (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 9 / Elite, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 3 / Weak, Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 15.9)

48. PG Isaiah Canaan (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 15.8)

Shabazz and Hardaway, Jr. with a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 10, need to be among their position’s best shooters to be starters. If downright poor as shooters, they’re in danger of struggling to maintain minutes in the NBA. The most likely situation is probably decent but not great shooters, making them rotation wings, but not starters. Noel’s combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 12, puts him in a similar camp as players like Leslie, Roberson and Mbakwe for me where they need an above average skill game to start, settling in as an energy big otherise. Canaan’s low physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 8, meaning even among the league’s best shooting, may not make him a surefire starter. With decent shooting he should lock down a backup PG spot. I wouldn’t say upside is that likely for Canaan, but he may have a better chance of sticking as a contributer than some other prospects around here.

49. PF Brandon Davies (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 9 / Elite, Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 15.5)

50. C Colton Iverson (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average, Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent, Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 15.1)

51. SG Nemanja Nedovic (Physical impact talent grade: 6 / Decent, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5 / Average, Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 15.1)

Davies, Iverson, Nedovic have a physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 11, 10 and 11 respectively, all fairly impressive for this stage of the overall rankings.  With a great skill game such as lockdown midrange range for Davies or Iverson or 3pt shooting for Nedovic, they could challenge starting status. That’ll be difficult for all three however considering their age. With average or worse skill games, they’d likely be backups.

52. SF James Ennis (Physical impact talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5 / Average, Total talent grade: 17 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade) (Adj. 15.0)

53. SF Reggie Bullock (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 15.0)

54. PG Shane Larkin (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 15.0)

55. C Rudy Gobert (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 8 / Great, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average, Feel for the Game talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 14.7)

56. SG Allen Crabbe (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 14.7)

With Bullock, Larkin and Crabbe having a physical impact and feel for the game grade of 9, 8, 8 and 7 respectively, barring absolutely elite skill and perimeter games, challenging a starting spot looks unlikely. However if they maintain decent range, they should be rotation players and backups. Gobert’s physical impact and feel for the game grade of 10 is a little better, but he’s at a bigger risk of poor skill level. He’ll need a great perimeter shooting game and some post ability, to be a blue chipper.

57. PF Richard Howell (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 14.3)

58. SG Ricky Ledo (Talent grades: Physical impact 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) (Adj: 14.3)

59. PF Livio Jean-Charles (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 14.2)

60. SG Alex Abrines (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 6 / Decent, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 14.1)

61. C Mason Plumlee (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 3 / Weak, Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 13.9)

62. SG Archie Goodwin (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 9 / Elite, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 1 / Awful, Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 13.7)

With a combined physical impact and feel for the game talent grade of 10, Howell, Plumlee, Goodwin have limited skill games right now, but need great skill games to challenge starting spots, which is unlikely. There’s also a risk of a below average skill game, which would cause them to struggle to hold onto their minutes long term.  These aren’t surefire rotation players and an upside beyond that is unlikely. Jean-Charles and Abrines are international players and Ledo is a college knock-out who it’s hard for me to peg down, it wouldn’t surprise me if they either become too limited to play long term, or if they’re signature role players.

63. PG Phil Pressey (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grades: 2 / Very poor, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 13 (Deep bench to Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 13.3)

64. C Jack Cooley (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good, Total talent grade: 13 (Deep bench to Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 13.1)

65. PG Peyton Siva (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 5 / Average, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Total talent grade: 13 (Deep bench to Rotation player grade) (Adj: 13.0)

66. SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 3 / Weak, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good, Feel for the Game talent grade: 3 / Weak, Total talent grade: 13 (Deep bench to Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 12.6)

These prospects largely need to show a better skill game than they have so far, to be positive contributors for teams in the league. If Pressey and Siva’s outside shot continues to struggle, they’ll likely struggle to find more than end of the bench reserve spots. Cooley needs to be a great skill player instead of just a garbage man and Caldwell-Pope needs to be an elite shooter instead of a decent one, in both cases to be an above average player, not a blue chipper. It wouldn’t surprise me if these players held onto journeyman careers in this draft, showing the depth of this draft. But Europe could also be a better fit.

67 PF D.J. Stephens (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 3 / Weak, Feel for the Game talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Total talent grade: 12 (Deep bench to Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 11.9)

68. PF Tony Mitchell (North Texas) (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grades: 5 / Average, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average, Feel for the Game talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Total talent grade: 12 (Deep bench to Rotation player talent grade) (Adj: 11.7)

To be rotation players in the NBA, I need to see Stephens and Mitchell have respectable and above average skill games respectively. If raw offensively, I don’t see it long term for NBA teams unless very deep depth.

69. SG Brandon Paul (Talent grades: Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor, Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Feel for the Game talent grade: 4 / Lacking, Total talent grade: 10 (Deep bench talent grade) (Adj: 10.0)

If Paul can be an elite shooter in the NBA, he has a shot at carving out a rotation spot. But for the most part, I see him as likely headed overseas.

Part II: Probability forecast

For fun, let’s say the probability of my grades for each player being accurate are:

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%)

Now IF these numbers were correct, I forecast these probabilities for each player/grade:

Grade of 25 (Anthony Bennett)

65% Perennial all-star talent
95% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
99.5%+ Blue Chip starter talent

Because Bennett needs to either stay at his grade of 25 (the threshold for “Perennial all-star talent” based on the rubric at the top of this post), if he’s 0 “away” from my grade or anything in the positive direction, I forecast he’ll finish with a perennial all-star talent. That’s enough for a 65%, including both the 30% for 0 along with the 35% combined probability of finishing above what I graded. Likewise he’ll need to finish more than 2 points lower than my current grade to fall below the “Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent” threshold of 23, with only a 5% chance of -3 or worse, I forecast that gives him a 95% chance of finishing at least in that Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent category. Then with the threshold of Blue Chip starter being 19, 6 points lower than my grade, that’s enough for me to give him a virtual lock grade in the category. Overall I have Bennett in the came category as #1 prospects like Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis where starting is ensured and at least fringe stardom for his position seems extremely likely. While if he pans out, he could be an MVP contender and one of the faces of the league.

Here is the same exercise done with other prospects and grades:

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

The chance of Olynyk, Kadji and Schroeder being true stars is a lot lower than Bennett. However the chance of one entering that fringe stardom category is excellent, according to these numbers, I forecast there’d be about a 73% chance that at least one of these players hits the  “Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent” category and a 14% chance one becomes a “Perennial all-star talent” and true star. Starting at their position is a near lock.

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

1.5% Perennial all-star talent
15% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
95% Blue Chip starter talent
99.5% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
99.5%+ Rotation player talent

These players are superb bets to be good starters with a puncher’s chance at stardom at the next level. These probabilities forecast there’s about a 39% chance at least one of these players becomes a “Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent” category prospect, but a 14.3% chance one of them is a “Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent” instead of a true blue chipper.

Grade of 20 (Jeff Withey, Gorgui Dieng, Jackie Carmichael, Solomon Hill, Tony Snell, Sergey Karasev, Trey Burke, James Southerland, Ben McLemore)
0.5% Perennial all-star talent
5% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
85% Blue Chip starter talent
98.5% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
99.5%+ Rotation player talent

While on an individual basis these players are overwhelmingly likely to be good starters and no more or no less, but because of the size of this group, these numbers forecast there’s a 47% chance that one of these prospects becomes a “Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star” category talent and a 4% chance one becomes a “Perennial all-star talent”. The numbers also state that there is a 77% chance at least one falls short of “Blue Chip starter talent” and a 13% chance one falls short of “Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent”. Of this large group, one could very well break through to stardom and one could disappoint, but which ones?

Grade of 19 (Otto Porter, Jamaal Franklin, Lorenzo Brown, Mike Muscala, Nate Wolters, Erick Green)
< 1% Perennial all-star talent
1.5% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
65% Blue Chip starter talent
95% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
99.5%+ Rotation player talent

The numbers forecast there is only a 9% chance one of these prospects becomes “Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star”, a 93% chance at least one prospect falls short of “Blue Chip starter talent” and a 26% chance at least one falls short of “Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent”. The risk of falling short of starting or even borderline starting is real for these players, while the upside is realistically a long starting career instead of stardom.

Grade of 18 (Giannis Antetokounmpo, C.J. Leslie, Myck Kabongo, Andre Roberson, Matthew Dellavedova, Lucas Nogueira, Ryan Kelly, Erik Murphy)

< 1% Perennial all-star talent
0.5% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
35% Blue Chip starter talent
85% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
99.5% Rotation player talent
99.5%+ Deep bench to Rotation player talent

It’s more likely than not these guys fall short of true starting status, settling into fringe status. These numbers forecast a 4% chance of one of these players becoming a “Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent”, a serious longshot. There is a 97% chance at least one of these players is a “Blue Chip starter talent”, but a 27% chance one of these players falls below the “Rotation player to Blue Chip starter” talent category. I forecast there’s a 4% chance according to these numbers that a player in this group falls below “Rotation player talent”.

Grade of 17 (Trevor Mbakwe, Ray McCallum, Michael Carter-Williams, B.J. Young, Glen Rice, Jr., Bojan Dubjlevic, Cody Zeller, Deshaun Thomas, Seth Curry, Grant Jerrett, Pierre Jackson, Michael Snaer)
< 1% Perennial all-star talent
< 1% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
15% Blue Chip starter talent
65% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
98.5% Rotation player talent
99.5%+ Deep bench to Rotation player talent

Because of the size of this group, I forecast there’s an 86% chance according to these probabilities that at least one of these players is a “Blue Chip starter talent”, but also a 17% chance at least one is a “Deep Bench to Rotation player talent”. Some of these players will be starters and fringe starters, but as many will likely be undisputed bench players, if they stick in a rotation at all.

Grade of 16 (Steven Adams, Adonis Thomas, Shabazz Muhammad, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Nerlens Noel, Isaiah Canaan)
< 1% Perennial all-star talent
< 1% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
5% Blue Chip starter talent
35% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
95% Rotation player talent
99.5% Deep bench to Rotation player talent

According to these numbers, I forecast a 26% chance of one of these players turning into a “Blue Chip starter talent”. I forecast a 93% chance that at least one of these players is a “Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent”, but a 26% chance one of these players falls short of “Rotation player talent” and becomes a “Deep bench to Rotation player talent”. These players are not guaranteed rotation players or sticking in the NBA, but have a longshot puncher’s chance at starting as well. The most likely scenario is bench contributors, or borderline starting ability.

Grade of 15 (Brandon Davies, Colton Iverson, Nemanja Nedovic, James Ennis, Reggie Bullock, Shane Larkin, Rudy Gobert, Allen Crabbe)
< 1% Perennial all-star talent
< 1% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
1.5% Blue Chip starter talent
15% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
85% Rotation player talent
98.5% Deep bench to Rotation player talent

These numbers forecast an 11% chance of one of these players becoming a “Blue Chip starter talent” and a 73% chance of at least one player being a “Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent”, or borderline starter. This also forecasts that there’s a 73% chance of one of these players only being a “Deep bench to Rotation player talent”. The numbers also forecast there’s a 11% chance of one of these prospects not even making it to the “Deep Bench to Rotation player talent” threshold of a grade of 12. These players have a Russian roulette chamber caliber danger of not sticking in an NBA rotation or the league long term, but overall still have a more than good chance of being NBA caliber players, whether they’ll stick around long enough to prove it or not.

Grade of 14 (Richard Howell, Ricardo Ledo, Livio Jean-Charles, Alex Abrines, Mason Plumlee, Archie Goodwin)
<1% Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter to perennial all-star talent
0.5% Blue Chip starter talent
5% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
65% Rotation player talent
95% Deep bench to Rotation player talent

These numbers forecast a 3% chance of one of these players being a “Blue Chip starter talent” and a 93% chance at least one falls short of “Rotation player talent”, instead”Deep bench to Rotation player talent”. They also forecast a 26% chance that at least one of these players falls short of the “Deep Bench to Rotation player talent” threshold. These players may struggle to establish rotation player status, especially considering it may take them years to develop to reach their talent level, but if they’re not producing immediately, may not be given the leash to get there. They have a reasonable chance of sticking, but it wouldn’t surprise me if any of them fell out of the NBA whether for talent reasons or not.

Grade of 13 (Phil Pressey, Jack Cooley, Peyton Siva, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope)
<1% Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter talent
1.5% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
35% Rotation player talent
85% Deep bench to Rotation player talent

These numbers forecast a 48% chance that at least one prospect falls short of “Deep bench to Rotation player talent”, with a scarce chance at getting past pure bench player and the “Rotation player talent” grade. These players could be out of a rotation spot early in their careers and struggle to get it back.

Grade of 12 (D.J. Stephens, Tony Mitchell)
<1% Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter talent
0.5% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
15% Rotation player talent
65% Deep bench to Rotation player talent

Grade of 11 (nobody in this category)
<1% Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter talent
<1% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
5% Rotation player talent
35% Deep bench to Rotation player talent

Grade of 10 – (Brandon Paul)
<1% Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent
<1% Blue Chip starter talent
<1% Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent
1.5% Rotation player talent
15% Deep bench to Rotation player talent

These players are longshots to establish themselves as bench rotation players and are at risk of falling short of even fringe status for that. Overall it’s not that these players have no shot at an NBA career, but if they start slowly, it won’t look good.

Part III: Final Rankings

Ok, gun to my head, after taking into account my grades along with other factors like character, health, contract status, how confident I am in my grades about them or their ability to improve, position, etc. here’s how I would rank the 2013 prospects:

1. PF Anthony Bennett

2. PF Kenny Kadji

3. PF Kelly Olynyk

4. PG Dennis Schroeder

5. SG Victor Oladipo

6. PG C.J. McCollum

7. C Jeff Withey

8. C Gorgui Dieng

9. SF Sergey Karasev

10. SF Solomon Hill

11. SF Tony Snell

12. PF James Southerland

13. PG Trey Burke

14. SG Ben McLemore

15. PF Jackie Carmichael

16. C Alex Len

17. SF Otto Porter

18. PG Nate Wolters

19. SG Jamaal Franklin

20. PG Lorenzo Brown

21. C Mike Muscala

22. PG Erick Green

23. SF Giannis Antetokounmpo

24. PG Myck Kabongo

25. PF Andre Roberson

26. PF Lucas Nogueira

27. PG Matthew Dellavedova

28. PF Erik Murphy

29. C Ryan Kelly

30. PF Trevor Mbakwe

31. PF Cody Zeller

32. SG Glen Rice, Jr.

33. PF C.J. Leslie

34. PG Ray McCallum

35. PG Michael Carter-Williams

36. SG B.J. Young

37. SG Tim Hardaway, Jr.

38. C Bojan Dubjlevic

39. PF Grant Jerrett

40. PF Deshaun Thomas

41. SG Michael Snaer

42. SG Seth Curry

43. PG Pierre Jackson

44. C Steven Adams

45. SF Adonis Thomas

46. SF Shabazz Muhammad

47. C Colton Iverson

48. SF James Ennis

49. SF Reggie Bullock

50. PF Brandon Davies

51. C Rudy Gobert

52. SG Allen Crabbe

53. C Nerlens Noel

54. PG Isaiah Canaan

55. SG Nemanja Nedovic

56. PG Shane Larkin

57. SG Ricardo Ledo

58. PF Richard Howell

59. PF Livio Jean-Charles

60. SG Alex Abrines

61. C Mason Plumlee

62. C Jack Cooley

63. SG Archie Goodwin

64. PG Peyton Siva

65. SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

66. PG Phil Pressey

67. PF D.J. Stephens

68. PF Tony Mitchell

69. PG Brandon Paul

Part IV: Final thoughts

I haven’t ranked this many prospects or this closely in a draft before, so I’m not sure whether it’s just me or the year – but the depth of this draft looks freakish. Clearly it won’t really have 45-50 rotation players, it’d be too out of line with normal draft standards, on average  in the 20-25 range for rotation players. I’ll say the most likely situation is there’s a number of NBA talents who slip through the cracks. Because some players need thousands of minutes before reaching their talent level, many of these players with 8th or 9th man talent may not play like it immediately, eventually developing in an international league unsure to return to the NBA. Still, there should be a lot of NBA players from this draft and a lot of starters. In regards to stardom with one player I feel confident about in Bennett and the likelihood at least one of the players underneath breaks through to star status or fringe star status, I’d say it won’t lack for stars either in the end. Overall this seems like an excellent draft.

Compared to my draft ratings a year ago, the confidence I have in the methods I used this year is night and day, in particular knowing what to look for to make feel for the game ratings and skill impact (shoot, post, pass) ratings. This also helped me change my assumptions, for example realizing Cody Zeller’s feel for the game is more underwhelming than his reputation, is a nuance I wouldn’t have seen last year. . I expect next year my ratings are more consistent from the start of the year to the end based on the methods I have now. But for the most part the most important change was just more time, also allowing me to rate more prospects

Thanks for reading! Enjoy the draft, the best day of the year!

2013 NBA Draft Talent Grades: The Power Forwards

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2013 NBA Draft Rankings: The Small Forwards

2013 NBA Draft Rankings: The Shooting Guards

2013 NBA Draft Rankings: The Point Guards

Here are my grades for the Power Forwards in the 2013 NBA Draft. The PFs I felt worth it or comfortable ranking were Anthony Bennett, Cody Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, Tony Mitchell, C.J. Leslie, Jackie Carmichael, Erik Murphy, James Southerland, Deshaun Thomas, Grant Jerrett, Kenny Kadji, Brandon Davies, D.J. Stephens, Dario Saric, Livio Jean-Charles, Richard Howell. (Nerlens Noel, Jeff Withey, Mason Plumlee, Gorgui Dieng, Lucas Nogueira, Mike Muscala, Ryan Kelly are among the debatable position players included as Cs)

My grades are from 1 to 11 in 3 categories: Physical impact 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

Here are my grades in the 3 categories first, before getting to individual breakdowns:

Physical impact talent grades:

Anthony Bennett: 9 / Elite

Jackie Carmichael: 7 / Very good

C.J. Leslie: 7 / Very good

D.J. Stephens: 7 / Very good

Kenny Kadji: 7 / Very good

Kelly Olynyk: 6 / Decent

Tony Mitchell: 6 / Decent

Cody Zeller: 5 / Average

Livio Jean-Charles: 3 / Weak

Richard Howell: 3 / Weak

James Southerland: 3 / Weak

Dario Saric: 2 / Very poor

Grant Jerrett: 2 / Very poor

Brandon Davies: 2 / Very poor

Erik Murphy: 1 / Awful

Deshaun Thomas: 1 / Awful

Bennett leads the way for physical impact with his elite explosiveness, strength and the ballhandling to attack the basket off the dribble. Leslie and Stephens are arguably the two most explosive athletes of the group, but their skinny frames hurt their finishing talent. Carmichael has an impressive all around combination of explosiveness and strength. Kadji, Olynyk can get to the rim. Zeller slightly trails them due to ballhandling problems. Mitchell has a vertical, strength and length. The rest of the PFs are below the rim or stretch bigs.

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grades:

Anthony Bennett: 8 / Great

Deshaun Thomas: 8 / Great

Erik Murphy: 8 / Great

Grant Jerrett: 8 / Great

James Southerland: 8 / Great

Kelly Olynyk: 7 / Very good

Jackie Carmichael: 7 / Very good

Cody Zeller: 7 / Very good

Kenny Kadji: 7 / Very good

Tony Mitchell: 5 / Average

Dario Saric: 5 / Average

Livio Jean-Charles: 5 / Average

Brandon Davies: 5 / Average

Richard Howell: 4 / Lacking

C.J. Leslie: 4 / Lacking

D.J. Stephens: 3 / Weak

There are a slew of PFs with NCAA 3pt range such as Bennett, Thomas, Murphy, Jerrett, Southerland, Bennett is the least trustworthy shooter of the group but having the most post potential. Olynyk has solid midrange shooting and touch around the basket. Zeller likewise appears to have midrange potential, along with post touch. Carmichael has an excellent post game and signs of a solid shooting game. Kadji hit NCAA 3s and post touch, though his FT shooting put some doubt into whether he can hit NBA 3s. While I hesitate to give any players too low a grade in skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent due to development, the rest of the PFs are a work in progress. Saric, Jean-Charles, Davies, Howell, Leslie appear to have touch but not range. Stephens is the most raw skill player of the group, only finishing around the rim.

Feel for the Game talent grades:

Dario Saric: 10 / Incredible

Kelly Olynyk: 9 / Elite

Brandon Davies: 9 / Elite

Anthony Bennett: 8 / Great

Deshaun Thomas: 8 / Great

Erik Murphy: 8 / Great

Kenny Kadji: 7 / Very good

Cody Zeller: 7 / Very good

Jackie Carmichael: 7 / Very good

Grant Jerrett: 7 / Very good

James Southerland: 7 / Very good

Richard Howell: 7 / Very good

Livio Jean-Charles: 7 / Very good

C.J. Leslie – 7 / Very good

Tony Mitchell: 2 / Very poor

D.J. Stephens: 2/ Very poor

Saric leads the way in feel for the game, along with Porter the only player in the class I’ve given a feel for the game grade of 10 or higher to, as a rare, rare brand of special talent in the category. Olynyk and Davies are the next most impressive with their endlessly smooth, crafty games. Bennett, Thomas, Murphy, Kadji, Zeller, Carmichael, Jerrett, Southerland, Howell, Jean-Charles, Leslie all impress me in the category, showing fluidity and natural offensive feel. Mitchell and Stephens are the weak links, as largely stiff and raw athletes.

Individual rankings

Perennial all-star talent grades (Grades 25 or higher)

Anthony Bennett

Physical impact talent grade: 9 / Elite

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

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

My highest grading player in the draft, Bennett performs strongly in all three categories. His physical impact talent is significant with a combination of explosiveness, ballhandling, strength and length. This gives him a dynamic upside attacking the basket off the dribble and finishing.

Bennett is a smooth, fluid offensive player with a degree of craftiness off the dribble. His feel for the game is clear cut above average.

Finally, Bennett has shooting range out to the NCAA 3pt. With good FT%, he should at least be a midrange shooter in the NBA with developing 3pt range in play. In addition to this he has all the tools to add a post game later in his career with a huge strength level, low center of gravity and excellent touch. If he adds a 3pt shot, post game or both, my prsent skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent grade would be too low. It’d be too high if he only ended up an inconsistent midrange shooter.

With the upside to attack the basket, hit the perimeter shot and play in the post, Bennett has a huge offensive upside. In my opinion he’s the biggest star material in this draft. In addition I see him as the most surefire starter. Even if his shooting and post game ends up underhwelming, his athleticism, strength, feel and ballhandling make him a near surefire starting PF.

Blue Chip starter talent grades (Grades between 19-22)

Kelly Olynyk

Physical impact 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)

Olynyk’s strength is his elite feel for the game. A tremendously smooth, fluid and crafty player, he makes everything look easy and natural.

Kelly’s skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent is also impressive. He has a perimeter jumpshot, can create jumpshots off the dribble and excellent touch around the rim. It’s unclear whether he has NBA 3pt shooting potential, but he should have some semblance of a perimeter jumpshot, enough for an above average skill impact (shoot, post, past) talent grade for a PF.

Olynyk also has the ability to attack the basket off the dribble with a strong first step and ballhandling ability. His speed in transition and ability to finish vertically also shows his athleticism.

If the ability to attack the basket off the dribble and his shooting game translates, with his feel it should make him a starting PF in the NBA. With an NBA 3 which would push my skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent grade higher it’d push him near star status, while his status as a starter may get dicey if he doesn’t have a perimeter jumpshot in the NBA. I see Olynyk as one of the best prospects in the draft.

Jackie Carmichael

Physical impact 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)

Jackie Carmichael has an impressive combination of explosiveness and strength, allowing him to attack the basket with force. Better ballhandling could help him physically impact the game more. With respectable size for a PF, Carmichael’s physical impact talent to me is at least decent.

Carmichael’s strength and touch gives him an effective back the basket and mid-post skill game. He has a semblance of a perimeter shot, but needs to improve his range. Carmichael has the touch, signs of a shot and post game to get an above average skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent grade. If his post and shooting game doesn’t translate, his skill impact may be closer to average than this grade. However it could also be more impressive if he established a legitimate 15-20 foot game.

Carmichael also has an above average feel for the game, showing real craftiness around the basket and adjusting his plays, along with defensive instincts.

Jackie Carmichael has an excellent chance at starting at PF. He has strength, athleticism, a post game, signs of a shot and a good feel. In addition, his toughness and intangibles seems a strength.

Kenny Kadji

Physical impact 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)

Kadji is a nice all around talent. He had the 3 point shot as a weapon in the NCAA, albeit a 66.1% FT gives some worry to his mechanics. Still, it makes midrange shooting likely. Kadji also has the size to make some plays in the post and develop in that area in the NBA. Overall, it’s worthy of a decent skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent grade.

Kenny also has a solid ability to attack the basket thanks to his first step. Solid strength also helps him finish at the basket. I see this as worth as solid physical talent impact grade.

Finally, Kadji is also a relatively smooth, feel for the game friendly player.

Kadji isn’t dominant in any category, but with athleticism and strength, a perimeter shot, some post potential and a feel for the game, I see his chance at starting at PF as solid. He’d fall short of that if I overestimated his shooting skill or ability to attack the basket off the dribble.

Cody Zeller

Physical impact talent grade: 5 / Average

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good

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

Zeller has quick feet, though a skinny frame and average ballhandling diminishes his ability to attack the basket off the dribble and physically impact the game. Nevertheless, average to decent physical impact talent seems fair.

Cody has excellent touch around the rim and the length to have a post game at PF. While his jumpshot is unproven, solid FT mechanics shows he has the potential to add a midrange shot.

Finally Zeller also has an above average feel for the game with instincts and ability to recognize space well.

Zeller has the skill, feel and athleticism to be a starter in the NBA. To lock up that status, he needs either his post game, shooting or both to translate well. If just a finisher at the rim he may struggle to hold his starting spot.

Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grades (Grades between 17-18)

C.J. Leslie

Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good

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

Leslie is one of the best athletes in the draft. He has an incredible first step and excellent agility for a power forward. However while this helps him get to the rim, he’s also skinny for a PF which may hurt his finishing.

C.J. also has an above average feel for the game. He is a fluid and natural offensive player who recognizes space well when attacking.

Leslie has problems as a skill player. Aside from a lack of a post game because of his frame, he also has a lack of a perimeter shooting game. His touch around the rim however is solid.

Leslie is an impressive talent because of his rare combination of explosiveness and feel. If his perimeter skill develops he can establish himself as a long term starting PF in the NBA. There are concerns about whether Leslie sees himself as more of a SF and may shy away from attacking the basket and he is known as having an enigmatic motor. However I see his talent as legitimate.

James Southerland

Physical impact 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)

Deshaun Thomas

Physical impact talent grade: 1 / Awful

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)

Erik Murphy

Physical impact: 1 / Awful

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)

Grant Jerrett

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good

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

Southerland, Thomas, Murphy, Jerrett are similar prospects. All are stretch 4s, with range out to the NCAA 3pt in college and impressive FT% near 80% for bigs, a good sign for their range translating. All also have a smooth, fluid feel for the game. However, in classic stretch 4 fashion, their weakness is lacking the ability to create offense attacking the basket off the dribble. If their perimeter shooting translates, I expect very solid rotation players in the NBA. Elite 3 point shooting may even make them starters. However if their shooting falls off, their minutes and consistent place on a team could be in more jeopardy.

Dario Saric

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 10 / Incredible

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

Saric is an absolutely amazing feel for the game. He has a fluidity, instincts, anticipation and recognition of other players borderline on “basketball genius” territory.

However he is to an extent a one trick pony. His athleticism and strength level is poor and he’s used to playing on the perimeter, making it unlikely he physically impacts the game well at PF. Furthermore he also has a poor jumpshot even for a big man, albeit is a good passer. Giving his development the benefit of the doubt I don’t give him a rock bottom skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent grade, instead settling on average.

If Saric can get his perimeter shooting game in order to become more of a stretch big, he can approach starting status in the NBA because of the feel to compliment it. However if his skill game ends up near broken and lower than I graded him, he may be a stricter bench player. He is an intriguing player but I’m hesitant to say more than that, despite his amazing feel for the game.

Rotation player talent grades (Grades between 14-16)

Brandon Davies

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 9 / Elite

Total: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Davies has an elite feel for the game only surpassed by Saric and matching Olynyk’s. One of those players who’s smoothness and easy, watery nature to his game jumps off the screen.

The rest of his talent is not great. He does have strong touch around the rim, though a lack of strength may prevent a consistent post game and he’s yet to prove he can be a perimeter shooter. His touch is enough for an average skill impact (shoot, post, pass) grade.

His weakness is physical impact talent with unimpressive athleticism and strength making him a likely below the rim PF.

Davies feel makes him a likely rotation player in the NBA. If he can develop a perimeter shooting game, he has a chance to make a run at a starting spot at the NBA.

Livio Jean-Charles

Physical impact talent grade: 3 / Weak

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 15 (Rotation player talent grade)

Richard Howell

Physical impact 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)

These two prospects look to be similar to Davies, highlighted by a smooth feel to their games but struggling to showcase talent after that. Both are below the rim athletes and have untested skill games outside of finishing around the rim. The instincts and touch should keep them in the NBA.

Deep bench to rotation player talent grades (Grades between 12-13)

Tony Mitchell

Physical impact talent grade: 6 / Decent

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 2 / Very poor

Total talent grade: 13 (Deep bench to rotation player talent grades)

Tony Mitchell’s reputation is that of an elite athlete, but he’s one of those players who looks exceptionally athletic in out of game dunks, but his in-game athleticism disappointed me. His first step, agility and quickness off his feet look mediocre. With that said especially when his strength and length is considered, a grade below decent in physical impact talent seems unfounded.

Mitchell appears to love taking perimeter shots, but it’s yet to be seen whether he has the mechanics to translate that game at the next level. His post game and touch appears raw.

His weakness is a poor feel for the game. He is not a natural, smooth player and plays a low IQ game.

I still see Mitchell as having upside to be better than this, if he develops a strong perimeter shooting game or if my low physical impact grade for his reputation, ends up inaccurate. However reported poor intangibles are another reason to be cool on Mitchell. Overall Mitchell has enough flaws that I wouldn’t be interested in him.

D.J. Stephens

Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good

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

Feel for the Game talent grade: 2 / Very poor

Total talent grade: 12 (Deep bench to rotation player talent grade)

Stephens may the best athlete in the draft, his explosiveness is otherworldly. That’s where his strengths end. Physically he is undersized in height and weight. He doesn’t appear to have a natural feel for the game. Finally his skill game is untested outside of finishing garbage buckets at the rim, which may be difficult at his height and weight.

Stephens is so athletic that such as a player like Jeremy Evans, it may be enough for him to land a roster spot for a number of years. However I expect his inevitable dunk contest appearance will be a bigger highlight than any of his on-court minutes.

Total talent grade: 12

Factors outside of talent grades: Bennett has been banged up in high school and college. Leslie and Mitchell are known as having an enigmatic motor and possibly preferring to play PF. Jean-Charles and Saric may have buyout issues bringing them to the NBA. I have seen little of Jean-Charles and Jerrett and don’t have great confidence in my grades of them. Of these players Davies seems the only one unlikely to have a shot at playing another position, everyone else potentially getting minutes at SF or C.

If ranking these PFs by upside, I would order it: 1. Anthony Bennett 2. Kelly Olynyk 3. C.J. Leslie 4. Kenny Kadji 5. Cody Zeller 6. Jackie Carmichael 7. Dario Saric 8. James Southerland 9. Grant Jerrett 10. Tony Mitchell 11. Livio Jean-Charles 12. Brandon Davies 13. Deshaun Thomas 14. Erik Murphy 15. D.J. Stephens 16. Richard Howell. Leslie and Mitchell’s raw brand of athleticism does well here, while Saric, Jean-Charles, Jarrett are relative winners here due to unpredictability as I don’t have the greatest grasp on them. If ranking by downside (A high ranking is better), I’d order it: 1. Anthony Bennett 2. Kelly Olynyk 3. Jackie Carmichael 4. Kenny Kadji 5. Cody Zeller 6. Erik Murphy 7. Deshaun Thomas 8. Brandon Davies 9. James Southerland 10. Dario Saric 11. Grant Jerrett 12. C.J. Leslie 13. Richard Howell 14. Livio Jean-Charles 15. D.J. Stephens 16. Tony Mitchell. I feel relatively confident in what Murphy, Thomas, Davis, Southerland will do in the NBA, so they rate well in my downside rankings.

My final rankings of the PFs and where I’d consider taking them:

1. Anthony Bennett (top 3)
2. Kelly Olynyk (top 3)
3. Kenny Kadji (top 10)
4. Jackie Carmichael (top 10)
5. Cody Zeller (top 14)
6. C.J. Leslie (top 20)
7. James Southerland (top 30)
8. Grant Jerrett (top 30)
9. Deshaun Thomas (top 30)
10. Erik Murphy (top 30)
11. Dario Saric (top 30)
12. Brandon Davies (top 30)
13. Livio Jean-Charles (top 40)
14. Richard Howell (top 40)
15. Tony Mitchell (top 50)
16. D.J. Stephens (top 60)

My cumulative rankings (I’ve ranked PGs, SGs, SF and PFs so far) and where I’d consider taking them:

1. PF Anthony Bennett (top 3)
2. SG Victor Oladipo (top 3)
3. PF Kelly Olynyk (top 3)
4. PF Kenny Kadji (top 10)
5. PG C.J. McCollum (top 10)
6. PF Jackie Carmichael (top 10)
7. SG Ben McLemore (top 10)
8. SF Tony Snell (top 10)
9. SF Otto Porter (top 10)
10. SF Sergey Karasev (top 10)
11. PG Trey Burke (top 10)
12. PG Lorenzo Brown (top 14)
13. PF Cody Zeller (top 14)
14. PG Matthew Dellavedova (top 14)
15. SF Solomon Hill (top 14)
16. PG Myck Kabongo (top 20)
17. SG B.J. Young (top 20)
18. PF C.J. Leslie (top 20)
19. SG Jamaal Franklin (top 20)
20. SF Giannis Antetokoumpo (top 20)
21. SG Seth Curry (top 20)
22. PG Erick Green (top 20)
23. PG Shane Larkin (top 20)
24. PG Nate Wolters (top 20)
25. PG Isaiah Canaan (top 20)
26. PG Pierre Jackson (top 20)
27. PF James Southerland (top 30)
28. SG Glen Rice, Jr. (top 30)
29. SG Tim Hardaway, Jr. (top 30)
30. SF Shabazz Muhammad (top 30)
31. PF Grant Jerrett (top 30)
32. PF Deshaun Thomas (top 30)
33. PF Erik Murphy (top 30)
34. PF Dario Saric (top 30)
35. PF Brandon Davies (top 30)
36. SF Adonis Thomas (top 30)
37. SG Ricardo Ledo (top 30)
38. PG Michael Carter-Williams (top 40)
39. PG Dennis Schroeder (top 40)
40. SF Reggie Bullock (top 40)
41. SG Archie Goodwin (top 40)
42. SG Allen Crabbe (top 40)
43. SG Alex Abrines (top 40)
44. PF Livio Jean-Charles (top 40)
45. PF Richard Howell (top 40)
46. PF Tony Mitchell (top 50)
47. PG Phil Pressey (top 50)
48. PG Ray McCallum (top 50)
49. SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (top 50)
50. PF D.J. Stephens (top 60)
51. SG Brandon Paul (undrafted)

Why PF Anthony Bennett is my #1 ranked 2013 NBA draft prospect

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Choosing the top prospect for this year’s draft hasn’t been any easier for me than everyone else. However I am feeling stronger and stronger about who my top graded prospect is: UNLV PF Anthony Bennett.

Bennett is a unique combination of physical tools, skills and instincts. An area he has dynamic potential in, is as a slasher. With both a strong first step and an impressive ballhandling base, he has the tools to blow by defenders to the rim off the dribble. Once there, he has great strength, vertical explosiveness and a long wingspan to finish. Although Bennett is 6’8, short for a PF – I believe his athleticism, strength and wingspan shouldn’t prevent his ability to finish above the rim and through contact. On the defensive end he isn’t expected to be a shotblocker, but most PFs aren’t. Because of his speed and power, I see Bennett’s talent in the area of physically impacting the game, as clearly above average.

He also has a strong feel for the game. Bennett is a smooth, natural and fluid offensive player who shows the ability to adjust and craftiness off the dribble. He plays at an easy pace. Bennett needs to improve on the defensive end, but his offensive instincts, I expect Bennett’s defensive problems come from youth and inexperience. With his feel for the game along with his athleticism and wingspan, I see little reason to doubt Bennett can be respectable defensively. On the glass he has the body, instincts and college production to average over 9 or 10 rebounds a game in the NBA.

What really excites me about Bennett however, is his skill impact game. For a freshman big, Bennett has impressive shooting range out to the NCAA 3pt line and can create jumpshots off the dribble like a guard. This indicates he has the potential to be an NBA 3pt shooter. In addition to this, Bennett’s freakishly strong frame, low center of gravity and touch around the basket, make him a perfect fit to add a post game in the NBA with the body to hold position and skill to finish. If he had either an NBA 3 or a post game, he’d be a high end skill player for a PF. With both it would potentially make him the most skilled PF in the league. Because of his shooting ability for a young player and post upside, Bennett’s skill game has the upside to be one of the best for his position in the league.

Although my prospect grading system is based on pure talent and not college production, it also doesn’t hurt that Bennett produced at an elite level as a freshman (Per 40 minutes: 22.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, .60 TS%, 27.6 PER). These numbers are especially impressive once considering it came in spite of UNLV’s system and teammates, dominated by shot jacking perimeter guards, instead of a system clearly designed to run plays for Bennett. There have been many talented big men whose production slipped through the cracks in college because of a game suiting perimeter players more, the recipe for Bennett to be the latest of these misused college bigs were there, but in the face of this he still produced at a rare level for a freshman PF.

Here are my talent grades for Bennett using my 3 categories Physical Impact, Skill Impact (Shoot, post, pass) and Feel for the Game under 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 impact talent grade: 8 / Great

Bennett grades well here, due to his upside as an explosive, face-up slasher, with the length and strength to finish at the basket.

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

His best category, due to both shooting range and the tools to be a post player. If everything goes right, regrading this to a 10 or 11 would be conceivable. On the other hand, he could also be only a solid midrange shooter, instead of a 3pt or post player, in which case 7 or 8 would be a more accurate grade.

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

An 8 or 9 feels right here. Bennett’s fluidity and natural feel to his game, is a clear strength.

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

If all goes right, Bennett would have the ability to do all of attack the basket off the dribble, shoot the ball  on the perimeter or score in the post, with the feel for the game to mix it all together. With all these tools, he’d likely be one of the game’s best offensive frontcourt players and a star. There are some questions about whether he’ll prefer to play SF, but I believe Bennett neither has the lateral quickness or ballhandling to play the position, which should rule out that possibility quickly, perhaps to the benefit of his career. Bennett’s grade does not have a huge lead over other prospects near the top of my board like Kelly Olynyk, Gorgui Dieng, Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, or Alex Len, but I expect to hold as the top grade until the June draft. I believe Bennett would likely be picked 1st overall if he had been 6’10 instead of 6’8. Due to not only his strength, wingspan and athleticism, but his skill and feel, I see his lack of height as only preventing an even higher upside, not a weakness that will prevent him from dynamic upside. From the last 5 drafts (2009-2013) Bennett is one of 8 players who’s talent I presently grade a 25 or higher (my highest category, “Perennial all-star talent grade”), along with James Harden (2009), Blake Griffin (2009), Paul George (2010), Kyrie Irving (2011), Anthony Davis (2012), Jeremy Lamb (2012), Evan Fournier (2012). I see Bennett as the most likely candidate to the be star this draft is looking for.

Written by jr.

April 27, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Basketball, NBA Draft

Tagged with , , ,