By my lights, Kyrie Irving is pretty close to a sure thing in this draft.
Granted, his college performance constitutes a small sample size, but it’s exceedingly rare for a freshman to burst out of the gates the way Irving did. While some of his skills will certainly need developing if he is to play the point in the NBA, his shooting ability will make him an instant impact player.
The knock against him seems to be that he doesn’t have the measurements of some more recent standout point guard prospects, but his college numbers look like those of Chris Paul during his freshman year.
Derrick Williams looks great on paper. A guy who gets to the line that much and shoots lights out from beyond the arc? Is this the second coming of Dirk?
Call it a hunch, but I’m leery of his college numbers. The fact is that he went from a player with no long range to one who shot 57% (!) from three his sophomore year, but in a relatively limited number of attempts. I’d be more comfortable if he had shot well his freshman year as well.
He’s also pretty much guaranteed to be a liability on defense, as he’ll struggle to matchup physically with fours or keep up with threes. I wouldn’t pass him up at the two, but I can’t blame the Wolves for shopping the pick.
Of course, nothing I wrote above has anything to do with why the Wolves are shopping the pick. A stopped Kahn is right twice a day and all that.
Hollinger’s draft rater is out. He’s high on Irving (he does note that his rater actually penalizes him for lack of minutes played), which is no surprise. Same goes for Derrick Williams.
Jimmer Fredette doesn’t rate well at all, which also is no surprise. If Utah doesn’t take him at the 12, I wouldn’t be surprised to watch him drop. Shooters who can’t shoot don’t help basketball teams win games.
Notes on players the Pistons are considering:
Kemba Walker projects to be a rotation player or nominal starter. That’s probably about right. He’s not skilled in any one particular area, but isn’t terrible either. In any other draft, though, he falls out of the lottery.
Tristan Thompson scores high on the rater (at a 16+, he’s in DeMarcus Cousins territory). In fact, he scores the highest of any prospect. I’m not quite so enthused, and wonder if foul rate factors appropriately into the rating. Nonetheless, if the Pistons pass on Biyombo in favor of Thompson, I’ll cling to this number rather than the pistol resting on my temple.
Markieff Morris and Jordan Williams don’t rate well. In related news, they aren’t very good.
Of the Euros, Jan Vesely doesn’t rate well, but Jonas Valanciunas does. Vesely screams "workout wonder" to me, a guy who can dunk on chairs (and the French) but not on people.
On Biyombo, there isn’t enough data to make a determination, so he slots him at 11 based on scout feedback. Not bad from a guy whose comprehensive metric largely ignores defense.
I do think Hollinger’s rater is a useful tool (it was right about Greg Monroe, for example), but the endless retrofitting bothers me. Adjusting to accommodate new data sets is a viable method for making projections, but imputing a UCLA bonus? That makes me wonder whether some of the tweaks really reflect a reality, or a still nascent sample.
Of all the players whose appeal eludes me, Brandon Knight is chief among them. He was a mediocre shooter and borderline terrible passer. He played for a world-class franchise, and I think that about sums it up. He has a reputation as a great defender (though his foul rate was a bit high for my tastes) and might earn some minutes on that score. He is being discussed as a top three pick. Bizarre.
I understand the love for Enes Kanter, but I don’t share it. Unathletic big men are a big risk. Sure, the occasional Zydrunas Ilgauskas comes along, but do you spend a lottery pick on the off chance you land the second coming of Big Z?
I do think he’ll have foot and toe problems. He just has that look. I have no metrics to back up my suspicion.
So what does my board look like? Assuming Irving and Williams are off the board, my list would be:
Obviously, Biyombo is the top choice. When you are in desperate need of defense in the frontcourt, you draft the best defensive frontcourt player.
I actually think Valanciunas will be very good as well, though he’s going to take a couple of years to develop. Any guy who can actually shoot, but also block shots is intriguing.
Thompson get’s a nudge because of the rater result. His numbers look an awful lot like Jason Maxiell’s, though Maxiell was on his way to a nice career before idiotic coaches started screwing with him.
Faried’s appeal is obvious, I think. Rebounding translates to the NBA, and the dude can rebound.
Kawhi Leonard does not interest me as much as any of the bigs, but the Pistons are hardly set at the three, and fitting in a double-digit rebounder. Like most of the wings and guards in this draft, however, he can’t shoot.
Kemba Walker and Jan don’t intrigue me at all. We don’t need another rotation-caliber guard to miss shots, and, while I’m sure Jan will have some pretty moves, I’m relatively certain he won’t be able to contribute.