Thursday, June 26, 2014

NBA Draft Pre-Draft - I Actually Can Evaluate 13 Guys!!!

Feel free to read my early morning tweets at @hoopsmavenhm.  I see that draftexpress.com
has the Wolves picking Zach LaVine (who has the worst PER of any top 40 prospect).  I will be glad that I am having a fancy dinner out on draft night.  Yuck.

My player reviews going into the draft:

5 Best Values: 

-- Aaron Gordon (I see him as an 3-4X all-star level NBA player similar to Larry Nance - folks have him going way down at #10 - now imagine this, you can go up 3 picks and get Gordon, or you can sit and get LaVine.....egad, come on Flip Saunders);

-- Julius Randle (Zach Randolph type player, people have him going somewhere 5-10);

-- Andrew Wiggins (highest ceiling of any player in the draft, yet the Cavs seemingly refuse to just pick him at #1);

--  Doug McDermott (I saw Wally Szczerbiak play several very good years - they are basically the same guy)

-- James Young below 15 -- you cannot sit there and tell me that Nik Stauskas will clearly and definitely be a better pro than James Young.  Very high end athlete, plays hard offensively, has ability (if maybe not the desire) to play both ends.


4 Worst Values:

Jabari Parker -- I saw the guy play probably 20 games last year.  He is not consistently explosive, he is not in good shape, he is an OK jump shooter, while he COULD be an OK defender, he refused to work at it any all year.  He cannot guard people out on the court.   Had fewer assists per game than Julius Randle.  Would be a good pick at 7 or below.

Joel Embiid above 6 -- you just don't want to pick a guy with a bad back.  Sorry.
The foot will heal eventually (hell, even Walton and Z had feet that eventually healed) but it is really rare for a great basketball player to have a bad back.

Noah Vonleh above 13 -- the guy's primary weakness?  Doesn't produce points and almost never gets an assist.  Yikes.  So what is your upside here?  Maybe Derrick Favors?  And you think you want a guy whose potential will require you to pay him $12M a year for a stat line of 13-10?    I don't see this going anywhere good, even if he is "good".

Rodney Hood in the first round -- Rodney Hood is a stand still jump shooter.  He his basically a stereotypical white player, but he is not white.  Shorter arms, poor standing vertical, tweener size, fouls a lot.  If you want to draft Rodney Hood, see if you can pick up the phone and get Matt Bonner or Steve Novak or wait to see if Wayne Ellington will be cut by the Knicks. 

4 About Right:

Marcus Smart -- could be really good, could just be a solid bench guy.  Picks 6-10 is a good range

Nik Stauskas - I have seen him listed several times to the Wolves at 13 - that is about right.  Basically a worse Gordon Hayward.  Has some ability, should play some minutes, never going to be a star.

TJ Warren - I have seen him moving up some board into the top 15.  It is hard for me to understand how you put Parker's tape next to Warren's tape and determine that Warren is 13+ picks worse. 

Adreian Payne - Listed at 15-20, about right.  I wouldn't have a fit if the Wolves picked him at 13.  Good solid guy, can contribute on both ends, never gonna be an NBA star.


Guys Where I Have No Idea:

Dante Exum -- who knows?  Taking a wild guess from his highlights, he reminds me of Antonio Daniels.  But I imagine that the reply is "Try Russell Westbrook".  We shall see.

Elfrid Payton -- PG, UL-Lafayette.  I know absolutely nothing about the guy's strengths and weaknesses, and have never seen him play.  I DO like his over 5 assists and over 5 rebounds a game.
That tends to tell you he won't be an absolute bust because he tries hard to be productive.

Any Foreign Big Man -- there will be a couple in Round 1 and you will get the typical line of "highly skilled, could you some toughness, not a great athlete."  I will take their word for it, cuz I ain't watching more Euroleague tapes.  I saw Pekovic and Valenciunas's tapes from Europe and was able to sort through the grainy footage to see guys whose highlights each looked like a young Shaq overseas.  That is about the level of dominance necessary to transfer to being an above average player in the NBA.

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