Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Draft Dissent

I gave myself a day to find something more valuable than frustration and disappointment to express regarding John Jenkins and Mike Scott being the 23rd and 43rd selections in the 2012 NBA Draft.

In Jenkins, the Hawks acquired a one-trick pony. Granted, Jenkins' trick is the most important in the game. He can make shots. Problem being, he can't create shots and there's little evidence that Larry Drew's offensive system is capable of consistently creating quality shots for players. Furthermore, given Drew's tendency to play his reserves en masse, Jenkins figures to get court time with to be determined reserves who will, in all likelihood, be more comfortable creating shots for themselves than others.

Unless injuries force his hand, Drew has shown little willingness to give inexperienced players consistent minutes. Jenkins will always be a percentage player. Give him enough open looks from beyond the arc and he will score points efficiently. In a situation where a couple misses in a row might lead to Jenkins getting a week off, his limitations as a player could even be exaggerated as a Hawk.

In short, Jenkins is a nice second-round talent the Hawks drafted in the first round who does not, pending roster completion and/or changes, have a defined role to play for a team that, historically, has done a poor job of leveraging its players strengths while mitigating their weaknesses.

Regardless of identity, it is unreasonable to expect anything from the 43rd pick in the draft. Mike Scott does not figure to challenge that precept. Successful as a fifth-year senior at Virginia, Scott turns 24 in a couple of weeks. He's just two years younger than Marvin Williams and Al Horford. There's little precedent of a power forward draftee of any age succeeding in the NBA with the poor athleticism markers evident in the stats from Scott's excellent senior season. Scott averaged just one blocked shot and 1.4 steals per 100 on-court defensive possessions. He rebounded less than ten percent of Virginia's misses.

It's difficult to find recent comparisons to Scott's numbers. Best I can come up with are Luke Harangody without demonstrating college three-point range, a less efficient Tyler Hansbrough, or Gary Wilkinson, who went undrafted out of Utah State and currently stars in the Australian league. All three of those guys turned the ball over significantly less than Scott in their final college seasons so even the best comparisons for Scott break down eventually and not in his favor.

Furthermore, it's puzzling to comprehend how Scott fits on a roster with Ivan Johnson. Were Scott younger, it might make more sense to carry him as fifth big man (sure to be sixth once the Hawks sign a franchise-defining third-string center) in the hopes he develops into a rotation player. With Johnson yet to receive a qualifying offer, the suspicion lurks that the Hawks may be comfortable replacing him with an inferior, younger (but no young) player, in order to save about $500,000.

All in all, would the Hawks be significantly worse off, from a talent perspective, not even considering the combination of talent plus the inherent value of using the 23rd and 43rd picks to acquire additional talent, with the undrafted pair of William Buford and Drew Gordon?


Jenkins and Scott are clearly the superior scorers. Not to get all Prof. Berri here, but that's the simplest explanation for why they were drafted while Buford and Gordon were not. However, as all around players, what certainty is there that Buford, longer and more athletic than Jenkins, won't become a superior two-way role player to the Hawks' first-rounder? Does Gordon's relative youth and superior activity defensively and as a rebounder really suffer that much in comparison to Scott's superiority in knocking down a face-up jumper?

We'll see, won't we.


Jonesy2x4 said...

Im with you on Mike Scott to the point I'll be shocked if he even makes the roster.

I think John Jenkins will buck the trend however. LD HAS consistently played basketball players who could make a jump shot, large reason why Josh Powell got so much run, also why VLad would get crunch time minutes over Marvin And Tracy before his back injuries. Willie Green and Mike Bibby as well to the detriment of our sanity.

Personally im of the opinion he was a first round talent, elite shooters go for the mid level every time in FA. There's nothing in his statistical profile to tell me otherwise, and the eye test tells me he has a chance to be better than that.

Jonesy2x4 said...

To the Ivan Johnson point, what the hell is the rationale of the Hawks not offering him the QO? Is their a cap hold im unaware of?

Mark Phelps said...

I have to agree with your points here. We didn't really need a John Jenkins type, and in the right system, he may be successful (i.e. Miami), but here he will struggle to get good looks and doesn't create his own very well. We'd have been better off drafting a big to take the place of whatever nonsense that we'll inevitably sign (for reference see: Erick Dampier). If we play him with some of the starting unit (Teague/Jenkins/Joe/Josh/Al) he could get some decent looks, but you know that's pretty much a pipe dream.

Scott, as you pointed out, probably won't make the roster. You only have to go back to last year to find a 2nd round PF who was cut so quickly. I'm stunned we didn't sell the pick. The fact that we took him and haven't offered the QO to Ivan may indeed foreshadow the fact that Ivan will make his bones with another team.

Poor draft for the Hawks.

Lorso said...

While everyone is entitled to their own criteria for evaluating a team's draft - I think now is as good a time as you'll find to give the Hawks the benefit of the doubt. Danny Ferry hasn't been on the job long, but he's been very consistent in his message that he will focus on organizational and cultural change for the Hawks. Obviously, the default way to evaluate a pick has always been to size up the player's athleticism and physical gifts. But that doesn't really seem to have been "the missing piece" for this Hawks team, and it's certainly not been a point of emphasis in Ferry's press conferences to date. Are these picks coachable? Do they seem to be young men of character? Do they know their limitations, and will they play smart - not trying to do too much? Are they willing to work, and can they avoid getting discouraged? What do they bring to the locker room and to the team in terms of personality? These aren't the usual questions we want to ask, because the answers are hard for fans to see right away. But I suspect these are more important concerns for Ferry at this point than the degree of athleticism for these picks. Time will tell, I suppose...

Bret LaGree said...

Mark --

The difference between Ivan Johnson's qualifying offer and the cap hold for him without making the qualifying offer is $200,000. Shouldn't make a difference in decision-making.

Unknown said...

If Drew can't find good use of a shooter like Jenkins, then it would be time for Drew to go. Maybe with Ferry as GM he'd even be replaced by somebody who wouldn't make the lowest salary in the league.

jrauch said...

Jenkins is puzzling, simply because the Hawks have a more athletic version of him already -- Jannero Pargo.

Neither guy could guard a chair, which is a bit of a problem.

I like Scott simply for what I saw from him during the ACC schedule this year. He may be nothing more than a rotation sub, but I'll take him over a year of, say, Joe Smith or any other recent fossil they've filled the bench out with.

Bronnt said...

Well, Ivan Johnson was tendered a QO finally, so perhaps Mike Scott's role is not about replacing Johnson. It could just be to have another young frontcourt player on the bench rather than a Vladimir Radmanovic or a Josh Powell. If Mike Scott's job is to just be a supplement for Ivan Johnson rather than replacing him, I can't necessarily disagree with the pick. There's not a lot of talent to be garnered with the 43rd pick, so having someone you might feasibly give rotation minutes to seems solid enough.

Though you're quite welcome to maintain the pessimism, of course. We'll be in a bad place if you ever start getting too excited about what the Hawks are doing. :)