This is year two of putting my thoughts down on as many draft prospects as possible for posterity and possibly comedy. I lean heavy towards stats, but am going to try and take a slightly more holistic approach. I use the Draftexpress mock draft order, so the players are not necessarily in the order I would pick them.
Here's where I tried doing this -- Last year!
For fellow draft junkies, here's a few of the places I lean on when obsessing over draft prospects:
Before starting with this years draft, I'm going to take a look at one guy I definitely got wrong last year.
More in a second.
Greg Moose Monroe. I hedged in my final analysis of Monroe, mainly because his package of skills was unique, but I can't deny that I really, really didn't want the Pistons to draft him (here's the full explanation for why I was low on him). So what to do different? My first guess is to place more importance on age -- Monroe was young for his class and had been solid his freshman year (when he was 18). He didn't make a big statistical leap from his freshman to sophomore seasons, which I took as somewhat of a red flag, but the decent freshman year should probably have weighed heavier in his favor.
An annoying mini-regret from last year: Landry Fields. I had been high on him after taking a look at his career stats. Then when the reality of writing a ridiculously long post hit, I got lazy and skipped some of the projected late 2nd round picks, so I never actually recorded my high opinion of him before the draft. A missed opportunity to look smart.
Here we go.
1. Kyrie Irving: Great stats in a limited sample. Analysis. If Irving's stats had stayed at the level they are at throughout an entire season he'd be the best PG prospect since Chris Paul. As has been ruefully mentioned by NBA scouts and Chad Ford, he doesn't have the size/strength/athleticism of the Rose/Wall/Westbrook breed of PG, but as the stats show, Irving makes up for it with a killer jump shot, a great handle and just a generally high skill level for a player his age. Should be the best player to come out of the draft.
2. Derrick Williams: There are red flags. Not necessarily deal breakers, but here they are -- his block rate was very low, his steal rate was just average, and his assist rate was terrible. A huge chunk of his production is tied to his jump shot. And he has a great jump shot for a guy his size. But the history of players who rely so heavily on their jump shot at any position isn't great, and it is especially not great for combo-forwards (click here for more). There will be better players picked after him.
3. Brandon Knight: Ugh. Well this is where it must suck to be a GM. The holistic approach might say -- yes his stats suck, but he's young, has excellent "intangibles," is known for a being an intelligent kid off the court, and has the size and speed to be an excellent two-way player. And I might say -- yes, but his stats suck. He has every statistical red flag I can think of: a low 2 point FG%, an abysmal steal rate for a PG prospect, and middling rebound rate. He showed little ability to consistently turn his physical attributes into production. I like that he improved as the season progressed, on a bit of a hunch this makes me trust that he will not be a bust, but nobody on the planet knows how he's going to pan out.
4. Enes Kanter: If Knight is a coin flip, Kanter is russian roulette. There is literally nothing to go on with him other than excellent size, youtube videos and some workouts. I have no idea why a team would draft him this early.
5. Kemba Walker: Pretty close to a sure thing to be a rotation worthy player, and not much more or less. His scoring efficiency wasn't great, but he made an effort on the glass and has a solid steal rate. In the NBA he'll be able to transition into the role of scrappy role playing PG (think Kyle Lowry). If he's drafted this high he'll probably be a mild disappoint to the team that drafts him, but he's going to stick in the league.
6. Jan Vesely: A bizarre player. Amazing finisher around the rim, great on the fast break, and started to make an impact on defense with an improving steal rate. Also, not a great rebounder for a guy his size and a terrible free throw shooter. In the NBA he can be good at SF on a quicker paced team. The danger is a typical NBA coach will look at Vesely's 6'11" frame and say -- PF/C!
7: Jimmer Fredette: Jimmer. Jim. Mer. I actually like him. He's been good for three years now, so it wasn't a case where he made a sudden leap his senior year. I'd be more confident about him if his 2 point FG% was a little higher (it's been below 50% the last two seasons), because that would make him truly a complete package as a scorer, rather than relying on just long range bombs and free throws. But for a volume scorer he managed to keep his TS% at a reasonable level. His steal rate is surprisingly acceptable, while his rebound rate is predictably terrible. I think he'll be good, definitely not Steve Nash good, but good.
8: Jonas Valanciunas: The Euro PF/C version of Kyrie Irving. A small (14 game) sample of largely awe-inspiring stats (except for a high foul rate -MP) compiled at a young age in a tough league. I will think it crazy when he is inevitably picked after Kanter. If he can consistently perform at the level he did in those 14 games, he is right behind Irving and is the 2nd best player in the draft.
9. Kawhi Leonard: I like him a lot. He passed the Monroe test -- he was very productive as an 18 year old freshman, plus he rebounds like a maniac, which bodes well for his aggressiveness. The main worry with him is his other indicators are a little soft, he's below 50% on 2 point FGA's as a sophomore, and his steal rate is average, which suggests his lateral quickness isn't great. Still, a kid who produces like Leonard at 18 is someone you want to bet on.
10. Marcus Morris: Looks like a good offensive minded combo-forward. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up being about as good as Derrick Williams. He has almost exactly the same strengths and weaknesses as Williams -- though Morris wasn't as great a jump shooter, but he passed a little better (which suggests more of an ability to play SF).
11: Klay Thompson: Yikes. I don't mean that in a good way. Terrible stats his freshman and sophomore years. His junior year he started to pass the ball better, which is a positive sign. In all likelihood, he's a stock 3 point gunner -- these types of guys are not worth lottery picks.
12: Chris Singleton: Has a rep as a great defender, which is backed up by an amazing steal rate and good block rate. His scoring ability is terrible in every conceivable way. Rebounding is okay but nothing special. He's a tough call. I like that he has a defined strength (defense!), but the massive gaping hole in his game is massive and gaping. The lottery seems too early for him, but to fall back on a bit of a cliche, he's really a "fit" guy. If he goes to a team where all he is asked to do is play defense and crash the glass he can be effective.
13: Tristan Thompson: Hollinger's favorite son. Not quite my favorite son. As a 19 year old freshman, he does not have the Monroe seal of approval. Positives -- draws a ton of free throws (aggressive/athletic), good length for a PF, good offensive rebounder, solid shot-blocker. Negatives -- mediocre scorer from the field, terrible free throw shooter (49%), bad defensive rebounder. The total lack of polish to his game scares me. The improvements he needs to make to become a good player are all based around his lack of skills. So they are theoretically attainable, but the fact that the skills aren't there yet means they aren't there yet. He has been praised as a high "intangibles" guy, so there's that. He improved as the season went on, so there's that too. All in all, I'm not a big fan. I don't think his upside is high enough either offensively or defensively to compensate for the risk that he never develops as a basketball player, especially with a guy like Faried available who has been a beast since day one.
14: Bismack Biyombo: Dunks and Blocks and Beautiful Eyes.
15: Marshon Brooks: Looks good. The mark against him is he was a 22 year old senior, but he was solid as a sophomore and junior before breaking out as the lead scoring option as a senior. Had a good 2 point FG% from his sophomore year through his senior year (hanging between 54%-55%), solid rebound rate for a guard, and good enough steal rate to not be a weakness. His 3 point % isn't great, but it's above 33% so it should be enough to keep defenses honest. Worth a lottery pick.
16: Nikola Vucevic: Meh. When I saw his name rising up mocks I assumed he was Jason Smith 2.0, but his stats are better than I expected. His rebounding is good enough to not be a liability. He wasn't a shot-blocker, but as a space eater he'll be usable. The important thing with him is he has the ability to knock down open jump shots. NBA coaches love, love, love bigs who can make jump shots. Vucevic will get plenty of chances because of this.
17: Markieff Morris: His numbers last season are shockingly good (his junior season). He was 19 years old as a freshman (and wasn't very good), so that tempers the enthusiasm a little. Still as a junior he did everything a PF should do -- rebounded well, average shot blocker, over 1 steal/game, good passer from the mid-post (over 2 assists/game), scored efficiency around the basket (over 60% 2 point FG%). I think he's worth a top 10 pick, and will surprise people by being one of the most productive players from the draft.
18: Donuts Montezuma: Not a fan. His stats are so all over the place from year to year that it's hard to get a read on him, but they usually average out to a standard issue floor spacing PF/C. I'm generally not a fan of this player type, the good ones (Dirk) tend to show they are just all around awesome from a young age. Donuts has not shown this. IMHE, the likeliest outcome with him is he busts.
19: Alec Burks: If he's drafted this low, he will be the steal of the draft. He passes the Monroe test with flying colors (was a young 18 as a freshman - bday in July) by being extremely productive as freshman, then following up with a sophomore year that was an incremental improvement. Between his two years in college he has shown at varying times an ability to finish inside, rebound and get to the free throw line. His 3 point % was bad his sophomore year (below 30%), but was solid as a freshman (35%). His steal rate is the one thing I'm a little wary of (1.3 per/40) because with his crazy wingspan it seems like it should be higher, but everything else is in place. Should be a lottery pick, he's one of the best prospects in the draft.
20: Jordan Hamilton: Also looks pretty good. He's less of a slasher than Burks, but is a better 3 point shooter and slightly better rebounder. The issue is he's a year old for his class, and also has an average-ish steal rate. Should be a safe pick though as he has a defined set of strengths that can get him on the court.
21: Kenneth Faried: I've loved him as a prospect for so long that it's almost a surprise to look at his numbers and realize he still lives up to my lofty opinion of him. Probably the surest thing in the draft. His stats were great as an 18 year old freshman, then quickly ramped up into superstar level production by his sophomore year and have stayed there. The team that picks Faried is going to win games because of him. Should be a top 10 pick.
22: Tobias Harris: Ugh part 2. Harris is like Knight, he's young and the package of physical ability hasn't translated seamlessly into production. He did make an impact on the glass (10 rebs/40), but he is almost the definition of a positionless player -- poor shooter from both inside and outside, poor passing ability, not a great steal or block rate. Right now he's all athlete (and a good one) but not much basketball player. He'd be worth taking a flier on with a 2nd round pick.
23: Iman Shumpert: Running out of steam... Shum-pert. Over 3 steals per 40 as a junior is very encouraging. His entire junior year is very encouraging. His freshman and sophomore years are very discouraging, because they were absolutely horrible. Being bad as a freshman can be forgiven if there is quick improvement as a sophomore. Two years of sucking in college before a player turns the corner makes it harder for me to bet on them. I can see him sticking as a defensive specialist, and the ability to play PG is a plus.
24: Kyle Singler: The Next Larry Bird! If he'd come out after his sophomore year he'd have actually looked like a decent prospect. His numbers have atrophied pretty strangely, as his shooting has stayed consistent, but his rebounding and steals have ticked down as his career has progressed. He's also a year old for his class. If he plays any minutes at PF in the NBA the world will be just a little bit worse than it was before.
25: Tyler Honeycutt: Huh. Excellent freshman year, and fairly sharp drop as a sophomore. The issue is unfortunately obvious -- he shot drastically more 3 pointers as a sophomore and while not terrible at it (36%), pulling himself away from the basket dragged down his overall efficiency and his offensive rebounding. But there's a lot to like from his freshman year -- great steal rate (over 2 per40), good passer (4 assists/40), and solid rebounding. He has a chance to surprise and because I'm lazy I'll say that the comparison to Tayshaun Prince actually looks pretty apt.
26: Davis Bertans: I truly have no idea.
27: Chandler Parsons: Pretty good. In fact, consistently good. But not great, I think he can stick as at least a Luke Walton type passing SF on the right team. If he'd managed to successfully ramp up his usage/scoring I'd nominate him as a Landry Fields level sleeper, but he kept it steady throughout his college career. His 2 point fg% has been good since he was a freshman, and his rebounding and passing have gradually improved, so there's some possibly untapped potential.
28: Justin Harper: I don't like jump shooting PF's who wait until their senior year to be productive. Also, his senior year stats fit much better as a SF.
29: Nikola Mirotic: Not horrible stats for a jump shooting PF playing high level pro Euro competition. And he's apparently locked tightly into a contract for a high level European team for at least another three years... so yeah.
30: Travis Leslie: At first looks like a pretty standard great athlete, poor shooter type. But his numbers show an impressively hard worker (grabbing 10 rebs/40 at 6'4"), and he's managed to improve greatly as a passer (3.7 asts/40) and free throw shooter (from 57% as a freshman to 80% as a junior). I like guys who manage to produce despite a lack of skill, then show a willingness to improve on their weaknesses. Draftexpress lists his best case comp as Tony Allen, and that sounds exactly right to me.
So that's the first round! Now I'm going to skip the guys I don't have much of an opinion on, and just hit my favorites.
Reggie Jackson: He never put everything together in a single season, but after taking pieces from his different seasons he looks impressive offensively. He showed he can hit the 3 as a junior, he can pass, and he made an effort on the glass. His steal rate was dangerously low as a sophomore, really calling into question his defensive effort, but he improved it as a junior. If he's on a team which can cover for him defensively, he could be a big surprise.
Jimmy Butler: Sleeper alert! If I had to nominate a The Next Landry Fields, Butler would be it. There's no clear holes in his game, he's a low mistake player, and he was productive as a freshman, then improved. IME, the key with him will be landing on a team where he is played entirely as a perimeter oriented SG/SF as he doesn't have the length or athleticism to mix it up inside.
Charles Jenkins / Norris Cole / Ben Hansbrough : Three guys who didn't look like much until their senior year. Cole had the worst freshman-junior seasons, but probably the best senior year, and looks like the best of the three at running PG. Hansbrough and Jenkins are the better shooters, and were the more consistent players throughout their careers. I wouldn't be surprised to see all three catch on with teams and stick, or none of them. Hansbrough probably has the best chance because his brother is famous.
Keith Benson / Jordan Williams : End of the bench NBA PF/C's. Potentially usable as rotation pieces. Good value if they can be grabbed in the 2nd round.
And my super sleep for next years draft:
Arsalan Kazemi: Amazing college stats. He's old for his class, so I'm guessing he jumps into the draft next year. If he can play SF in the NBA he looks like a potentially great player.
That's all I got.
Now your thoughts.