Friday, June 29, 2007

Note to John DeShazier

Mr. DeShazier of the Times-Picayune isn't enamored of Mr. Julian Wright:
Because unless Wright has a shooting stroke that belies the 12 points he averaged as a sophomore, it's hard to see how the Hornets helped themselves in the area they need the most help. He averaged 10.4 points in two college seasons, was 3-for-16 from 3-point range with a closer line than the one he'll see in the NBA, and averaged two assists in 71 games.

The franchise entered and exited the first round without a shooting guard.

It left Nick Young on the table in favor of Wright, 6 feet 8. Young also might not have been the perfect fit for a team that needs a veteran more than a youngster, but he certainly looked like a better fit for the vacant hole.

With all due respect, per game averages are for chumps.

Per possession, here's Young vs. Wright in 06-07:


Here's a list of things Nick Young is better at than Julian Wright:

1. Shooting outside of fifteen feet

Even then, Nick Young made less than a third of his three-point attempts over his first two years at USC. He improved last year but he was also, I suspect, very hot.

In addition to being two years younger than Nick Young, Julian Wright is already, at this moment, a better defender, a better rebounder, a better passer, and a better ball-handler.

In their college careers Julian Wright almost averaged twice as many assists per 100 possessions as Young which pretty much negates the five point per 100 possession scoring advantage Young has. Factoring in how inefficient Young was in scoring points in his first two years at USC (eFG% of 49.1 and 49.5, PPWS of 1.03 and 1.10), Wright was a much better offensive player through two college seasons.

Julian Wright is never going to make three-point shots in the NBA but he certainly has room to improve his jump shot and free throw shooting, thus narrowing the one advantage Nick Young has over him on the basketball court. Nick Young is never going to create easy shots for his teammates in the NBA. Nick Young is never going to be an above average rebounder in the NBA. Nick Young is never going to be a (positive) factor defensively in the NBA. Whatever other needs the Hornets have, drafting Julian Wright rather than Nick Young makes them a better, more talented team.

Draft Analysis

These will be quick but they must be done before Hoopinion goes off-line while moving.

Atlanta Hawks: Al Horford was the third best player in the draft. Acie Law IV is what he is but what he is is better than anybody the Hawks have played at the point in recent years. (Okay, he may not be better than Tyronn Lue, but I've been anti-Tyronn Lue for over a decade and I'm not letting his recent, productive offensive play disrupt tradition.) To those who would have drafted Conley I say, the Hawks will not be so good so soon that they forfeit the opportunity to upgrade the point guard position further in the next couple of drafts. (EDIT: Stats has reminded me that Atlanta's first round pick in '08 goes to Phoenix, so they'll have one chance in the draft. I'd recommend trading Marvin Williams for Jose Calderon.)

Boston Celtics: Getting rid of Wally Szczerbiak's contract? Plus. Replacing Delonte West with Gabe Pruitt? Minus. Trading the rights of the fifth draft pick for Ray Allen? Plus in '07-'08, possibly a plus in '08-'09, probably a minus by '09-'10. Adding Glen Davis to play somewhere behind Jefferson, Perkins, and Gomes? Probably irrelevant to everyone except Leon Powe.

Charlotte Bobcats: Jason Richardson is a much better basketball player than Brandan Wright. Granted, I use to think of Jason Richardson as I now think of Brandan Wright so I could be wrong about all this in three years. Jared Dudley should immediately push Adam Morrison down into an appropriate spot on the depth chart while he learns how to get a good shot off in the NBA. Jermareo Davidson is unlikely to be a factor in that frontcourt. I predict Europe.

Chicago Bulls: Noah was the fourth best player in the draft. His lack of scoring ability is massively overstated. He led the first Florida national championship team in scoring (33.5 Pts/100) and simply became more of a passer last season (A/100 up by over 25%). He outscored Horford significantly in their freshman and sophomore seasons and scored just 0.7 fewer points per 100 possessions than Horford this past season.

When Noah's out there in place of Ben Wallace, Chicago will be playing 5-on-5 offensively. Hell, when Aaron Gray's out there instead of Wallace, the same holds. Gray figures to be great value for a second-round pick. He can play 12 good minutes a night for the next 6-8 years. JamesOn Curry was hindered by Oklahoma State's terrible point guard the last two years, but I don't see him becoming an effective off guard in the NBA.

Cleveland Cavaliers: No pick. No trade.

Dallas Mavericks: If his body lets him, Fazekas will make use of his skills. It's certainly a no-lose situation for the Mavericks to use a second-round pick on him but small consolation for Adam Morrison and JJ Redick stealing all of his Player of the Year awards year before last.

By the time Seibutis and Rakovic are ready to come over I'll have established an uninformed opinion about them. It's too early for that now, though.

Denver Nuggets: No pick. No trade. (But cheers to Arseblog for the Satan Kroenke moniker.)

Detroit Pistons: Rodney Stuckey is probably better than Flip Murray, though the extra made shots might be offset by the extra turnovers in the short term. Arron Afflalo is more likely to make an immediate impact as a defender and spot-up shooter. Sammy Mejia was a hell of a lot better than Wilson Chandler at DePaul. Like Chandler, he doesn't necessarily have a position in the NBA but as he's smaller and less athletic than his former teammate, he'll get far fewer chances despite far greater basketball skills.

Golden State Warriors: The Warriors already have a bigger version of Brandan Wright in Biedrins. It's a good situation for Wright as he'd struggle in any sort of half-court context. Plus, playing alongside Al Harrington, he'll immediately look like a good reboudner. Belinelli certainly sounds like a good fit and a possible yin to Pietrus's yang. Stephane Lasme must also be thrilled to have joined an organization that has use for a skinny, 6-7 power forward who specializes in blocking shots.

Houston Rockets: Aaron Brooks is (I guess) an upgrade over Little John Lucas. This is the only organization that keeps a roster spot for an undersized, shoot-first, defend-never point guard that was slightly overrated in college. Carl Landry was quite underrated in college but he has both size and surgery history working against him. If I may resort to stereotype and hyperbole, Brad Newley is going to make Steve Novak look athletic.

Indiana Pacers: Stanko Barac. May we all still have our health when his NBA career comes to pass.

Los Angeles Clippers: If the Clippers try to replace Corey Maggette with Al Thornton, Mike Dunleavy might finally recognize how good Corey Maggette is. Thornton is going to be a scoring, offensive rebounding, undersized power forward on a good team. Even then you'll have to live with his poor defense and frequency of shot attempts. Personally, I'd like to see him on a really bad team where he'd have the offensive freedom he had at Florida State. He's not a guy you'd want to play with unless you suck and need someone to score for you.

Jared Jordan is perfect for the GM who thought about inviting Will Conroy or Aaron Miles to camp but didn't like the fact that either of those guys can keep an opposing point guard in front of him. There's not a great NBA tradition of unathletic point guards who can't shoot. Bully to Jordan if he can change the game.

Los Angeles Lakers: Crittenton could really benefit from the structure of the triangle offense. Poor decision-making (and Paul Hewitt's acceptance of turnovers) limited the accomplishments of his freshman year. He's very talented and could become quite good. Marc Gasol could fill a need if Bynum's traded. Sun Yue can certainly sell some jerseys and possibly backup Luke Walton. Without even seeing Sun Yue play, I give him a good chance at beating out Radmanovic for minutes.

Memphis Grizzlies: Taking Conley was a no-brainer. I always thought Kyle Lowry would be an excellent backup. Now they just have to get moved to the Eastern Conference.

Miami Heat: Daequan Cook is a lot more talented than Dorell (I always have to check as to whether it's one 'r' or one 'l') Wright but I don't know how well he fits in Miami. With the players they currently have under contract, I'd be tempted to give him Antoine Walker's minutes at the 3, but that has more to do with Antoine's inadequacies than Cook's readiness or ability to succeed at that position.

Milwaukee Bucks: Who knows if they'll get Yi to play for them or what they could get in a trade for him. The simple thing to do would have been to draft Noah or Brewer and get immediate contributions. I would have taken Zabian Dowdell ahead of Ramon Sessions in the second round.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Garnett can play but he'll probably be traded. McCants can play, if he's healthy. Foye and Brewer can play. Craig Smith is a nice complementary player. Chris Richard (assuming his success at Florida wasn't primarily due to his ability to play well with good players) might be their next best player depending on Ricky Davis's mood.

New Jersey Nets: I wonder how often I will write this off-season: "Sean Williams is not a good rebounder." In fact, his rebounding numbers last year were almost identical to those Marcus Williams posted. Sean Williams will block a lot of shots but in between shot blocking opportunities his attention wanders. He's a better dunker than Jason Collins but other than that their offensive games are similarly limited.

New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets certainly won't have to worry about their first-round draft pick duplicating any of Peja Stojakovic's skill set. Julian Wright will be immediately useful defensively and as a rebounder on both the offensive and defensive glass. He can finish in transition and is a good passer. If he simplifies his game off the dribble and improves his shooting he'll go down as a massive draft steal.

Haluska may fix any Chris Andersen jones the Hornets franchise has. He's extremely athletic, but at his size, I'm not sure that can make up for his relative lack of skill.

New York Knicks: Wilson Chandler doesn't know how to play basketball. Demetris Nichols can score, but nobody's going to let him touch the ball. Zach Randolph is better than Eddy Curry, but it's not like Eddy Curry does anything other than make a high percentage of his field goal attempts so he can't complement Randolph. Fred Jones might be an upgrade over Mardy Collins the next time Isiah feels the need for blood vengeance.

Orlando Magic: I like Reyshawn Terry a lot but I'm not sure I like him better than Trevor Ariza. Terry can shoot so he might get some minutes at the 2.

Philadelphia 76ers: Thaddeus Young did not show any interest in defending, rebounding, or scoring in the paint at Georgia Tech. He'll have to attempt at least two of those tasks to become a good NBA player. My guess is that he's content to be a jump shooter who gets the occasional dunk in transition or off an offensive rebound.

Jason Smith scored well at Colorado State, but he turned the ball over a hell of a lot. He could be little more than an upgrade over Shavlik Randolph. Derrick Byars has his uses, but are they different than those that Korver, Carney, and Bobby Jones offer? Herbert Hill could parlay his ability to play on both ends of the floor into serious minutes very quickly considering the alternatives.

Phoenix Suns: Alando Tucker can't shoot and he didn't rebound much at Wisconsin. He'll have to make the volume scorer to defensive specialist transition that Adrian Griffin eventually managed. DJ Strawberry could very well be the more productive NBA player.

Portland TrailBlazers: Putting Fernandez and Koponen aside for the moment as I'm ignorant, Portland acquired the best player in the draft, the point guard of the last two national champions (I'm skeptical that Taurean Green will be a useful NBA player, but I wouldn't be shocked if he figured out how to become one.), and picked up Josh McRoberts at a cost appropriate to his abilities. Now all Kevin Pritchard has to do is find a decent small forward.

They also got Channing Frye who figures to fit in nicely alongside either Oden or Aldridge. For the record, Frye is not very much like LaMarcus Aldridge at all. Aldridge rebounds, plays defense, and has a nascent post game.

Sacramento Kings: This may be the first time I'm glad they left Kansas City 22 years ago.

San Antonio Spurs: Splitter is worthy reward for running your organization really well. They're also buying low on Marcus Williams who had a fine freshman season at Arizona but was party to the implosion in Tucson last year. He could give them something like Stephen Jackson's contributions to the '03 NBA Champions.

Giorgis Printezis looked a lot like Eli Roth.

Seattle SuperSonics: I think you can afford to pay Wally Szczerbiak $25 million over the next two years for however many healthy games he can provide you when you're only paying $6 million for Kevin Durant and Jeff Green's combined production. Delonte West should provide a lot of good minutes in the backcourt and one has to assume that some of the current roster will be traded over the summer.

Toronto Raptors: No pick. No trade.

Utah Jazz: Morris Almond should be able to play alongside Ronnie Brewer while backing up Derek Fisher and Matt Harpring, thus preventing Gordan Giricek from playing 1200 minutes again next year. I deem that a success.

Washington Wizards: I fail to see how Nick Young complements Arenas, Butler, and Jamison any better than Jarvis Hayes did. Young is coming off a career year. He'll have to improve significantly to be that good again (relative to the level of competition, of course).

Dominic McGuire is an undersized, under-skilled four who doesn't contribute as much on the offensive glass as those types of guys generally have to in order to be useful. He's this draft's poor man's Stephane Lasme.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Draft Preview Summary

Previously: Oden v. Durant, First-Round Point Guards, Second-Round Point Guards, First-Round Shooting Guards, Lottery Small Forwards, Second Tier Small Forwards, Wilson Chandler, Lottery Post Players, Second Tier Post Players, Hollinger's Collegiate Evaluation

Just like the last two years, I break the (non-International) players down into the following categories:

Best players (I've seen) in the draft

1. Greg Oden
2. Kevin Durant
3. Al Horford
4. Joakim Noah
5. Corey Brewer
6. Mike Conley, Jr.
7. Jeff Green
8. Julian Wright

Safe, useful picks to fill needs (some even with upside)

1. Al Thornton
2. Acie Law IV
3. Reyshawn Terry
4. Aaron Gray
5. Zabian Dowdell
6. Arron Afflalo
7. Glen Davis

Worth a flyer if you can afford it (good role players and/or high-risk talents)

1. Brandan Wright
2. Daequan Cook
3. Nick Young
4. Javaris Crittenton
5. Thaddeus Young
6. Jason Smith
7. Morris Almond
8. Rodney Stuckey
9. Derrick Byars
10. Jared Dudley
11. Nick Fazekas
12. Gabe Pruitt
13. Marcus Williams

Hoping your team doesn't waste a valuable pick on a bust

1. Sean Williams
2. Spencer Hawes
3. Wilson Chandler
4. Josh McRoberts
5. Taurean Green
6. Alando Tucker

Hollinger's Collegiate Evaluation

Previously: Oden v. Durant, First-Round Point Guards, Second-Round Point Guards, First-Round Shooting Guards, Lottery Small Forwards, Second Tier Small Forwards, Wilson Chandler, Lottery Post Players, Second Tier Post Players

Hollinger went and took some of the wind out of my sails this afternoon. It's impressive and interesting work which appears (the formula he uses isn't published with the article) to have all the benefits and drawbacks of one, true number formulas.

To take one example, I have a hard time seeing how Wilson Chandler's statistical profile scores slightly better than Julian Wright's.

Their 06-07 seasons:

J Wright68.355.361.31.1425.

And their freshman seasons:

J Wright

Going down Hollinger's six factors indicative of pro success

1. Age: Wright is 12 days younge than Chandler. I'd guess that makes them even.

2. Steals: Wright averaged 3 steals/100 possessions as a sophomore and 2.9 S/100 as a freshman. Chandler averaged 1.3 S/100 as a sophomore down from 1.7 S/100 as a freshman. That's a significant, consistent advantage to Wright.

3. Blocks: Wright averaged 2.7 blocks/100 possessions as a sophomore and 3.4 BS/100 as a freshman. Chandler averaged 2.7 BS/100 as a sophomore and 3.3 BS/100 as a freshman. I would assume this one is even also.

4. Rebounds: Quoting Hollinger, "Boards, especially offensive boards, are a good indicator of future pro success as well." Wright got 159% as many offensive boards per opportunity as did Chandler last year and 115% as many offensive boards per opportunity as did Chandler in their freshman seasons. Chandler did have significant defensive rebounding edge in their freshman seasons (144%) but Wright was the better defensive rebounder last year (109%). Wright is a significantly better offensive rebounder. That the formula likely doesn't take into account Wright's improvement as a rebounder between his freshman and sophomore seasons is a limitation.

5. 3-Pointers: The formula would be really helpful here as this could be where Chandler must make up a lot of ground on Wright. Chandler has made 41 more three-pointers than Julian Wright in their college careers. Of course, Chandler needed 137 attempts to make 41 threes. Julian Wright can't make three-pointers. This is a fact. At least he has the good sense not to attempt them.

6. Pure Point Ratio: Whatever ground Chandler doesn't make up with his three-point shooting is made up here. Pure point ratio = (((A*2/3)-TO)*100)/Min. Wright and Chandler both played 1048 minutes last year. Chandler had 48 assists and 54 turnovers. Wright had 82 assists and 91 turnovers. Chandler's PPR is -2.1. Wright's is -3.5.

I would have guessed that Wright's extra assists and slightly better A:TO would be an advantage. I do not, however, write basketball analysis for a living. This is something I obviously need to study.

That I find it difficult to imagine a world where Wilson Chandler has roughly equal potential to Julian Wright as basketball players doesn't diminish the usefulness of Hollinger's formula. (Again, I'd like to know what the formula is but I understand why might not want to publish it.)

I don't think that Thaddeus Young, Nick Fazekas, Josh McRoberts, and Jared Dudley have more potential than Joakim Noah (Noah, Julian Wright, and Brewer really look bad in this formula. They are also three of the best defensive players in the draft in that they were good defensive players in college and they figure to be physically able to guard at least one position well in the NBA.) but I'm also the guy who thought that PJ Tucker deserved to be taken in the lottery last year. I'm used to being wrong some of the time and I like learning new things.

Here's hoping Hollinger continues to discuss the particulars of his formula and that he's wrong and I'm right about some of these players.

Second Tier Post Players

Previously: Oden v. Durant, First-Round Point Guards, Second-Round Point Guards, First-Round Shooting Guards, Lottery Small Forwards, Wilson Chandler, Lottery Post Players

In alphabetical order, the 2006-07 seasons of Glen Davis, Nick Fazekas, Aaron Gray, Josh McRoberts, Jason Smith, and Sean Williams:

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions


Taking these guys alphabetically...

Glen Davis


If you take out three games Davis missed through injury, he played 86.8% of the LSU's minutes last year. If he doesn't get any bigger then conditioning will be less of a concern than his shooting percentage. To be fair to Davis he hasn't played with good guards. I would not be surprised if he could be more efficient for an NBA team as he's unlikely to carry a similar offensive load.

Nick Fazekas


Fazekas illustrates my concerns about Spencer Hawes. Fazekas turned into an outstanding college player (he should have been the National Player of the Year in '05-'06) but because of his lack of athleticism he's a probable second round pick as a 22-year-old. Fazekas couldn't even get a guarantee in last year's weak first round.

Whatever happens in the NBA, Fazekas's college career was truly outstanding. (Against slightly lesser opposition) for three straight years he scored at a similar level of volume and efficiency as Durant did last year.

Aaron Gray


No matter how (relatively) up-tempo the NBA gets the ability to rebound will always have value. Aaron Gray is unlikely to ever see significant minutes but I bet he's productive in the minutes he earns.

Josh McRoberts


The back surgery between his freshman and sophomore years really appeared to limit his mobility. McRoberts was an efficient scorer his freshman year but he didn't take on much of the scoring load. As a sophomore, he attempted to do so and failed, losing much of his efficiency in the process.

Right now he's a bigger Luke Walton without a jump shot or the offensive rebounds. (Shelden Williams graduated and McRoberts actually managed to grab fewer offensive rebounds per opportunity.)

He is a pretty good shot blocker from the weak side but he won't be able to keep any one in front of him if forced to guard on the perimeter.

Jason Smith


I've never seen Jason Smith play. The numbers show offensive improvement during his time at Colorado State though he turns the ball over an awful lot especially when one considers the level of his competition. The rebounding and shot blocking is encouraging, but it's almost impossible to average less than 1 steal per 100 possessions which makes me question his overall defensive ability at this point.

Sean Williams


Sean Williams is not a good defensive player, he's a great shot blocker. He shows little interest in anything else (At least on the court. He seems quite committed to his off-court regimen.) as his defensive rebounding numbers attest. I put the odds at 50-50 that he's still in the league by Summer 2010.

Post player rankings, in full:

1. Greg Oden
2. Al Horford
3. Joakim Noah
4. Brandan Wright
5. Spencer Hawes
6. Aaron Gray
7. Jason Smith
8. Nick Fazekas
9. Glen Davis
10. Josh McRoberts
11. Sean Williams

Lottery Post Players

Previously: Oden v. Durant, First-Round Point Guards, Second-Round Point Guards, First-Round Shooting Guards, Lottery Small Forwards, Wilson Chandler

In alphabetical order, the 2006-07 seasons of Spencer Hawes, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Greg Oden, and Brandon Wright:

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions

stats glossary

B Wright66.364.656.71.2929.

It's a great year to be at the top of the draft because there's almost no chance a team can make the most common draft mistake: taking size over talent. Three of the top four players in the draft are post players and the fourth (Durant, natch) is already an excellent defensive rebounder and shot blocker who also has decent, if undeveloped, post game.

I've discussed Greg Oden in a previous post so I'll skip ahead to the third and fourth best players in this draft.

I have Horford slightly ahead of Noah because I think that Horford's post game, though not a huge part of the Florida offense, is NBA-ready. Even if I'm wrong and Horford will not be any more of a scorer than he was in college part of his established level of effectiveness as a post player lies in his being a fine passer who also takes good care of the basketball. He's a year younger than Al Jefferson and I'm not sure that Horford's not the better player right now. I think the Atlanta Hawks have to take Horford with the third pick.

That I rate Horford ahead of Noah says far more about how much I admire Horford than any reservations I have about Noah. I expect Noah, like Shane Battier, to post a beneficial plus/minus on both offense and defense year in and year out regardless of team. Statistically, Noah had a better individual sophomore than junior season. However, Florida's second National Championship season was much better than their first, and, though Noah's scoring slipped, he increased his assist rate by over 20%. To me, this suggests that Noah both recognized the value of and was able to create open shots for Horford, Taurean Green, and Lee Humphrey.

Noah's desire to set up his teammates sometimes causes him to pass up a simpler, available option (in this respect he's not dissimilar to Julian Wright) as his turnover numbers point out. A fair number of those turnovers, though, are the result of sloppy footwork or setting overly enthusiastic screens rather than poor decision-making. Noah is similarly active defensively (He'll be the defensive presence Anderson Varejao could be if he preferred playing basketball to falling down.) and could endure some foul trouble while he and the NBA referees adjust to each other.

Brandan Wright's a distant fourth in this group but he's far ahead of any other big man in the draft. Wright is the one player in this draft who, though he won't contribute immediately, has enough reasonable potential for improvement so as not to be a waste of a lottery pick.

Wright was an extremely successful offensive player in his freshman year at North Carolina despite an extremely raw offensive game. (Seriously, on the spectrum of shooting strokes, Julian Wright's would sit closer to Kevin Durant's than Brandan Wright's. While I'm making Wright-to-Wright comparisons, the similarly skinny Julian Wright had a disappointing freshman year as a rebounder but demonstrated dramatic (19.5% in OR% and 40.8% in DR%) improvement in his sophomore year. The team that drafts Brandan Wright must hope for something similar to occur because, as a freshman Brandan Wright was as mediocre a rebounder as Spencer Hawes.)

In addition to developing a game outside of four feet, Wright will need to adjust to not getting the volume of easy looks Roy Williams creates for his big men. It should remembered that both Drew Gooden and Nick Collison won National Player of the Year Awards at Kansas and both are less effective NBA players than Kirk Hinrich, that Raef LaFrentz was an All-American twice as often as Paul Pierce when they played alongside each other, and Tyler Hansbrough is a tremendously effective college post player despite being widely (and probably correctly) perceived to have little chance of starting, much less starring, in the NBA.

Wright's athleticism could enable him to become a highly effective defensive player should he be so inclined. To be blunt, Wright's athleticism is the primary difference between his projected future value and Spencer Hawes's. Wright will almost certainly fill out to some degree and can sacrifice some athleticism for increased strength. Unless Hawes's illness limited him more severely than I understand, he's already fighting an uphill battle in terms of quickness, a battle that could only become more futile as he ages.

Hawes is a skilled post player and passer. His offensive game did suffer due to Washington's poor guard play and he did play alongside an excellent rebounder in Jon Brockman. However, I have doubts about Hawes's ability to get shots off against NBA defenders (and if he can't do that a lot of passing ability will be negated), Horford and Noah (or even LaMarcus Aldridge and PJ Tucker last year) show that playing alongside an excellent defender need not deflate one's own rebounding rates, and Hawes is not yet a good defensive player. Any upside Hawes is perceived to possess has more to do with where he's starting from than with where could go. That being said, I still like him more than any of the players discussed in my next post.

Post player rankings:

1. Greg Oden
2. Al Horford
3. Joakim Noah
4. Brandan Wright
5. Spencer Hawes

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wilson Chandler

I left Wilson Chandler out of my second-tier small forwards post on purpose. He's not one of the 10 best small forwards in the draft. However, Chad Ford's reporting/speculating that Chandler has a first round promise from someone, possibly the Knicks, so I can't/won't stay mum on Chandler.

Chandler is basically a younger, bigger version of Renaldo Balkman with less of an understanding of his weaknesses. If he's drafted in the first round bu the Knicks I would have to think that it's in the anticipation of trading Balkman or Jared Jeffries (though I can't imagine what either one would get in a trade).


Chandler projects as either a very good defensive rebounder as a small forward or a decent-to-good rebounder as a power forward. His primary defensive skill is blocking shots which may largely disappear whether he's used as an undersized power forward or as a slow small forward. As the latter, I guess he could block some shots from behind after he's beaten off the dribble.

Offensively, Chandler didn't score a lot at DePaul but those points he did score used up a lot of possessions. To his credit he did not compound the inefficiency of his poor shooting by turning the ball over very often. In that respect, he's the inverse of Eddy Curry. Also, he improved his shooting between his freshman and sophomore seasons though he's still below average inside and outside the college three-point line and is a sub-66% free throw shooter not that he gets to the line very often.

Chandler could be a reasonable mid-to-late second-round pick (though teams would be better served by signing the criminally underrated PJ Tucker). I wouldn't be surprised if he became a competent ninth or tenth man in the next couple of years and his athleticism could tempt enough teams into giving him enough chances that he could stay in the league long enough to improve enough to become more than a spare part.

Either I'm missing something significant or taking Wilson Chandler in the first round is monumentally foolish.

Second Tier Small Forwards

Previously: Oden v. Durant, First-Round Point Guards, Second-Round Point Guards, First-Round Shooting Guards, Lottery Small Forwards

These are the guys that could go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round. Taking any of them at the upper boundary is probably a stretch. Taking any of them at the lower boundary is almost certainly a good value.

In alphabetical order, the 2006-07 seasons of Derrick Byars, Jared Dudley, Reyshawn Terry, Alando Tucker, and Thaddeus Young:

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions


Thaddeus Young is projected to be the first of this group drafted, which, barring information to which I don't have access (spectacular workouts or other demonstrations of potential not displayed during his time at Georgia Tech) strikes me as a huge gamble if not an outright mistake.

Young was an extreme finesse player as a college freshman, failing to make half of his two-point attempts, making just 14 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts, and putting up a defensive rebounding percentage that would acceptable for a point guard but is embarrassing for a frontcourt player.

There are positive attributes to Young's game. He made 41.9% of his three-point shots (while taking just 25.1% of his field goal attempts from beyond the arc) and was active on the offensive glass. Were he able to consolidate these strengths while adding other positive contributions he would (obviously) become quite a good player. Like Spencer Hawes, however, Young's projectable improvement has a lot to do with how (relatively) little he contributed as a college freshman.

Offensively, I see Young, like Donyell Marshall, concentrating his value in making jump shots and getting offensive rebounders. Because he's smaller than Marshall, Young will have to find a position he can defend if he wants to match Marshall's overall value or playing time.

Teams looking at Young in the mid-to-late first-round would be better off (at least in the short term) taking Derrick Byars who is a superior scorer, ball-handler, passer, and defender. I don't see Byars getting much better than he is now but he should be able to contribute fairly quickly.

Of course, Byars is four years older than Young so a team that is not drafting for immediate help could have reason to gamble on Young who is more likely to improve. However, Young would have to improve fairly significantly to be as good as Byars is now.

I have little doubt that Reyshawn Terry is the best player in this group. In his senior season at North Carolina he checked off every item on the list of "Ways to Be a Good Basketball Player Without Being Noticed" with the exception of don't turn the ball over.

Terry played limited minutes on a very good team. He scored efficiently but not often. He played good defense. He rebounded (defensively) extremely well for his position.

Terry will join an NBA team and immediately be asked to the things he did so well at North Carolina. His junior season, where he scored over 33 Pts/100 possessions and was a significant factor on the offensive glass only makes him more intriguing.


It's tempting to look at a useful, unspectacular NBA player like Ryan Gomes and project such a future for good, similarly-sized collegiate prospects. Because we now watch Ryan Gomes carry water for players better-suited for NBA basketball it's easy to forget that he was not a pretty good college player, he was a great college player.

Jared Dudley was not a great college player. He was a very good scorer in college but he was a fairly indifferent rebounder and defender (though the latter is symptomatic of Al Skinner's Boston College players and teams and may not be chronic in Dudley's case). Dudley's offensive game is rather unique whichshould make it easier for to find (and hold onto) a role in an NBA team's rotation. He's an effective player in the paint (both making shots and getting to the free throw line) and as a perimeter shooter. His value will be closer to Clarence Weatherspoon or Lee Nailon than it will be to Ryan Gomes.

Alando Tucker had an outstanding career at Wisconsin but I have almost zero faith that he can be an effective offensive player in the NBA. He was a poor shooter throughout his college career:


To stay in the league I suspect he'll have to transform himself into an Adrian Griffin-style player. I don't think there's a market for a smaller Antoine Walker even if this version were to be smarter, harder-working, and more likely to miss shots from 18- rather than 25-feet.

Small forward rankings, in full:

1. Kevin Durant
2. Corey Brewer
3. Jeff Green
4. Julian Wright
5. Al Thornton
6. Reyshawn Terry
7. Derrick Byars
8. Thaddeus Young
9. Jared Dudley
10. Alando Tucker

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lottery Small Forwards

Previously: Oden v. Durant, First-Round Point Guards, Second-Round Point Guards, First-Round Shooting Guards

In alphabetical order, the 2006-07 seasons of Corey Brewer, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Al Thornton, Julian Wright:

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions

J Wright68.355.361.31.1425.

Unlike the guards I've discussed earlier this week, each of these guys should be able to contribute immediately and the key question about their peaks is "all-star or not?" rather than "can he start on a good team?"

Kevin Durant is both the youngest and best player in the group and will almost certainly be taken with the second pick of the draft.

It would be perfectly reasonable for a team to take either Brewer or Green with a top five pick. Brewer should have the easier transition to the NBA as he played exclusively on the perimeter at Florida. Though I think Brewer was somewhat overrated as a defender in college that was do more to him relying (at times) on his superior athleticism instead of always utilizing his excellent defensive technique. He should respond well to the challenge of guarding NBA players on nightly basis.

I don't expect Green's transition to becoming a predominantly perimeter player to be any more difficult than, say, Luol Deng's but there will likely be an adjustment period. Green's three-point range should alleviate whatever amount of rebounding and shot blocking value he loses by playing further away from the basket.

Green is likely the better offensive player of the two, but if someone wanted to deflate his 06-07 offensive numbers because of the general excellence and efficiency of Georgetown's offense, I think that would be fair, but I suspect there are elements of his offensive game that will reveal themselves more fully in the NBA game.

I see both Julian Wright and Al Thornton as a cut below Green and Brewer but still above almost everybody else in the draft. Thornton is a little more one-dimensional than the other four players considered here but his production is skewed toward the most valuable contribution one can make to a basketball team: scoring.

Thornton showed tremendous improvement over his four years at Florida State:


He won't be the focus of an NBA offense to the degree he was at Florida State but I think he has the ability to contribute enough on the glass and defensively (not to mention that he was an efficient scorer at FSU) to be a very good supporting player.

Julian Wright is the hardest player of the five to project as he has yet to harness his talents. There are Kansas fans that attacked Wright for turning pro, and in doing so attempted to deny the selfishness of their motives by claiming he hadn't improved between his freshman and sophomore seasons. That claim is patently false:


Had Wright simply maintained his rate stats while playing that many more minutes in his sophomore season he would have been a better player. By reducing his turnovers and increasing his rebounding Wright was a key contributor to Kansas's improvement over the 05-06 season. It should not be dismissed that the last two Kansas teams have been outstanding defensively due, in no small part, to Wright's ability to both block shots and be active in the passing lanes.

Having seen nearly all of Wright's games at Kansas (and here's his game log should anyone be interested), it's my opinion that there are two things limiting Wright's production at this point. The first is a consistent jump shot. He improved that facet of his game during his time at Kansas but still has significant room for further improvement. Secondly, many of Wright's turnovers occur after he has put the defense in a disadvantageous position. There are a lot of things Wright can do on the basketball court but he does not yet grasp how and when to use his various skills. Should Wright either simplify his game or learn how to make use of all of his talents he will become a more effective passer and ball-handler.

Even with his existing weaknesses, Wright is a useful, if frustrating, player. He's young and the glimpses of greatness outnumbered the moments of indecision and confusion last season.

Small forward rankings:

1. Kevin Durant
2. Corey Brewer
3. Jeff Green
4. Julian Wright
5. Al Thornton

Thursday, June 21, 2007

First-Round Shooting Guards

Previously: Oden v. Durant, First-Round Point Guards, Second-Round Point Guards

Differentiating between shooting guards and small forwards is equal parts difficult and foolish. I'm including Corey Brewer with the small forwards primarily because that puts him amongst the players whom NBA front offices will be comparing Brewer when considering who to take early in the draft. If you, dear reader, consider Brewer to be a shooting guard, know this: he's a far better basketball player than anyone discussed in this post.

One further note: I am not qualified to discuss the relative merits of Marco Belinelli or Rudy Fernandez and thus, will not.

In alphabetical order, the 2006-07 seasons of Morris Almond, Daequan Cook, Rodney Stuckey, Marcus Williams, and Nick Young:

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions

stats glossary


Nick Young is the best of this lot all of whom are helped (in terms of draft position) by Brandon Rush blowing out his ACL and returning to Kansas. Young had an outstanding season at USC, a season so much better than the two that preceded it that I suspect it was the result of a hot stretch as much as it was the result of improvement.


Young improved his two-point field goal percentage by 17.5%, his three-point field goal percentage by 32%, and his FT Rate by 30.9%. His true talent is almost certainly closer to his career averages, so my guess is that if he improves he could put up another season like last year's. That would make him a hell of a player and one sure to appreciated by his organiztion and its fans, assuming of course that they aren't expecting him to improve upon his (to date) career year.

Almond and Stuckey have both demonstrated the ability to score against lesser competition. I think both have the ability to be useful complementary players. Almond is the far better shooter and rebounder but Stuckey can (probably) play some point guard. Depending on team need, either would good use of a mid-to-late first-round pick.

Daequan Cook has tremendous potential. Despite being largely useless throughout the final month of the season he posted extremely impressive numbers for a college freshman. (Compare his freshman season with Nick Young's sophomore year. Then compare their ages and extrapolate relative development. Unless he's a real asshole there are reasons to be very optimistic about Cook relative to the other draft options at this position.) He could very good very soon. His combination of scoring ability and rebounding ability puts me in mind of the young, healthy Quentin Richardson.

Marcus Williams looks like he should be better than his performances have been through two years of college basketball. I wouldn't be surprised if he turned into a good player, but, as of right now, he's a guy who doesn't quite make enough shots or take good enough care of the ball to be a good offensive player and was part of a hugely disappointing college team last year. The likelihood that contributes immediately at the NBA level is fairly slight. His four worst games last year were against Louisville, Memphis, UNC, and @UCLA.

Shooting guard rankings:

1. Daequan Cook
2. Nick Young
3. Morris Almond
4. Rodney Stuckey
5. Marcus Williams

UPDATE: There aren't enough interesting candidates to do an entire post on second-round shooting guards. Russell Carter and DJ Strawberry are awfully generic. Again, I'll cover them should they get drafted.

So here's Arron Afflalo's 06-07 numbers:


If someone wanted to take him ahead of Marcus Williams I wouldn't be surprised. In the right situation, Afflalo could come in and contribute some decent bench minutes immediately. The one concern I have w/r/t Afflalo stems from the difficulty he had getting open looks against Brandon Rush in the Regional Final. If he struggles to get open he won't continue to make difficult shots with the frequency he did that afternoon.

Complete shooting guard rankings:

1. Daequan Cook
2. Nick Young
3. Morris Almond
4. Rodney Stuckey
5. Marcus Williams
6. Arron Aflalo

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Second-Round Point Guards

Previously: First-Round Point Guards, Oden v. Durant

The posts dealing with potential second-round picks will be far more superficial than those that deal with first-round picks.

In alphabetical order, the 2006-07 seasons of Aaron Brooks, Zabian Dowdell, Taurean Green, Jared Jordan, and Ramon Sessions:

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions


Dowdell appears to be the best bet to have a substantial NBA career among potential second-round point guard draftees. Through his combination of size, scoring ability, defensive potential, and ball-handling there's a good chance he can find some way to be a useful player off the bench.

I don't take Taurean Green's college career lightly, but I struggle to see how his game will translate to the NBA. He took tremendous advantage of college defenses tendency to guard only out to about 20 feet. 58.5% of Green's field goal attempts last season were from beyond the three-point line and he made 40.4% of those shots. I doubt that he'll find another such easily exploitable tendency in the NBA. He does have NBA three-point range and showed the ability to get to the foul line in college (40.5 FT Rate). Taking him in the second round would not be a wasted pick, but his future might be in Europe.

As for the other three, Ramon Sessions will have to make defense his priority if he wants to stay in the league, Aaron Brooks will have to find a team looking for another Earl Boykins, and Jared Jordan's NBA chances appear hopeless to me. There's no doubt Jordan plays hard and is an excellent passer but he's neither a good shooter (he made less than 33% of his three-point shots, and barely 70% of his free throws at Marist nor) scorer and he's likely to be exposed defensively.

The '07 point guard rankings in full:

1. Mike Conley, Jr.
2. Acie Law IV
3. Javaris Crittenton
4. Gabe Pruitt
5. Zabian Dowdell
6. Taurean Green
7. Ramon Sessions
8. Aaron Brooks

Should Bobby Brown, DaShaun Wood, JamesOn Curry, Mustafa Shakur, or Jamaal Tatum get drafted on the 28th, I'll address their college profiles at that time.

Shooting guards up next.