Current Dogs and Future Horses (Draft Board pt i, the Guards)

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OK, I'm not going to write about the Wolves/OKC game today.  I turned the game off midway through the 2nd quarter and I'm not going to waste time on a game when the team did not show up at the opening tap.  Garbage.  Absolute garbage.  That was the first time I can remember turning off a Wolves game.  It was painful to watch and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.  I suppose I could write a post about how the team is on dangerous ground when the die-hards don't want to watch, but....well, it's just one game with a terrible team and my final test for fandom comes in the offseason and before the 09/10 trade deadline.  If they flub that, I'm all aboard with the Okie inlaws and the Thunder.  

In lieu of a game wrap I thought it would be a good time to start running the end-of-the-college-year draft board.  Just like the mid-season board, we'll run this in 3 parts: guards, bigs, and wings.  Let's start with the guards.  Here's what we had the last time around:

  1. Ty Lawson (19.942)
  2. James Harden (19.4)
  3. Stephen Curry (19.123)
  4. Jeff Teague (18.126)
  5. Nick Calathes (17.877)
  6. Lee Cummard (16.88)
  7. Eric Maynor (16.081)
  8. Darren Collison (14.785)
  9. Gerald Henderson (14.27)
  10. Tyreke Evans (13.355)
  11. Jonny Flynn (13.209)
  12. Willie Warren (11.9)
  13. Jrue Holiday (11.180)
  14. A.J. Price (10.21)

OK, we've made a few changes since the last time around.  First of all, we completely overhauled the Hoopus Score.  One of my good friends who is trained in the dark arts of econ-based math agreed to help me fiddle with the formula and we thought that it would be best to run a dual score that reflects overall efficiency and net numbers.  This is still a work in progress and we aren't going to post the formula (to be honest, we're kind of interested in its gambling applications) but it goes something like this:

Blake Griffin: 45/18.196 (63.196)

The first number (45) is an efficiency average.  It uses Four Factor associated rates such as eFG, rebr, tor, and FTr.  The second number (18.196) is best described as a weighted help factor.  It takes raw production numbers and tries to give a rough estimate of net positive events a player makes in a given game.  The final number (63.196) is both numbers added together. 

There are a few problems and limitations with this approach:

  1. This formula does not account for year-to-year quality adjustments.  It is firmly stuck in the moment and we have neither the time nor patience to create a database that would give us enough information to say exactly how Griffin's score would match up against, say, Michael Beasley.  
  2. This formula does not show trends during the year.  Since we've been monkeying with what we had at mid-season I really can't give you an idea of who has improved or regressed since December.  This is important because guys like Derrick Rose, Brook Lopez, and Russell Westbrook used big 2nd halfs to really increase their draft stock. 
  3. This formula also does not weigh conference difference.  While we weigh year-to-year average game scores and OE/DE, we don't have any way to break down conference-to-conference scores. This is potentially a big difference maker.  Russell Westbrook may be Exhibit A for this phenomenon. Or, maybe Ben Howland's system isn't good for guards. Whatever it is, this is where we'll have to ask our readers to exercise a bit of scouting on their own.  Which coaches and conferences make a difference?
  4. This formula is best used to grade players within 3 specific player groups: guards, bigs, and wings.  Since we are using efficiency rates for a large part of the equation, you have to take into account the fact that bigs pull down a lot more rebounds than do guards and that guards will likely have far more steals than bigs (and so on and so forth).  If we keep this thing up for a few years we can begin to formulate some sort of unified score but for now, we'll have to use this thing in 3 groups.  
  5. This formula is meant to give our readers a way with which to measure the relative worth of draft picks within a specific year.  It is not meant to be a 1-30 list of the best players.  Nor is it (yet) meant to be a device to compare 2009 players to 2008 ones. 

Keeping in mind how things change from year to year and that we don't really have a full grasp on how things play out from position type to position type, here's a few scores from last year's draft:

  1. Kevin Love: 41.525/15.589 (57.114)
  2. Michael Beasley: 37.875/13.742 (51.617)
  3. Brook Lopez: 34.85/11.092 (45.942)
  4. Derrick Rose: 32.725/7.875 (40.625) 
  5. O.J. Mayo: 28.375/8.538 (35.632)
  6. Russell Westbrook: 29.2/5.730 (34.93)
  7. Mario Chalmers: 26.375/8.538 (34.913)

OK, let's get with the program and run through this year's crop of guards:

  1. Stephen Curry: 42.6/13.203 (55.803)
  2. James Harden: 38.4/10.393 (48.793)
  3. Ty Lawson: 35.275/10.616 (45.668)
  4. Nick Calathes: 33.3/10.575 (43.875)
  5. Jeff Teague: 35.525/7.813 (43.358)
  6. Eric Maynor: 32.875/9.558 (42.433)
  7. Lee Cummard: 30.6/11.359 (41.959)
  8. Marcus Thornton: 31.875/9.685 (41.156)
  9. Toney Douglas: 31.25/8.842 (40.092)
  10. Tyreke Evans: 31.4/8.414 (39.814)
  11. Jonny Flynn: 31.825/7.285 (39.11)
  12. Gerald Henderson: 30.5/7.808 (38.308)
  13. Darren Collison: 29.8/7.757 (37.557)
  14. Willie Warren: 30.55/5.625 (36.175)
  15. Wayne Ellington: 27.3/8.828 (36.128)
  16. Jrue Holiday: 25.5/5.393 (30.893)

Now let's take a quick look at the top 5 in each category.  First the efficiency side:

  1. Stephen Curry (42.6)
  2. James Harden (38.4)
  3. Jeff Teague (35.525)
  4. Ty Lawson (35.275)
  5. Nick Calathes (33.3)

Here is the net side of things:

  1. Stephen Curry (13.203)
  2. Lee Cummard (11.359)
  3. Ty Lawson (10.616)
  4. Nick Calathes (10.575)
  5. James Harden (10.393)

Before I continue, let me add one more name that I'm really not sure what to do with:

Ben Woodside: 35.45/10.590 (46.04)

Keeping in mind what conference Mr. Woodside plays in (we don't account for that in the formula), his Hoopus Score places him as the 3rd most effective guard in the country, just behind James Harden and in front of Ty Lawson.  Irregardless of what he did in the tourney, Woodside deserves a peak at the next level and here's hoping he has a good Portsmouth tourney. 

Of all the players we have here, I do have some mid-season data available for 3 players: Evans, Henderson, and Warren.  While I can't put together a complete formula, I can say that Evans and Henderson showed fairly significant improvement throughout the year while Warren remained pretty much on the same level. 

Looking at the two scores, the most generic way you can think of them is that the first score measures quality and the second measures quantity.  This is something we really wanted to add to the score because it allows you to get a better handle on players who put up big numbers in out-of-the-way places and/or goofy systems but don't have as efficient of a game as someone who plays in a more traditional and/or mainstream system.  Take a look at Lee Cummard.  He has very good net numbers (the 2nd score) but he's 11th in the efficiency score.  It works the other way too; giving us an idea of how 2nd fiddles and/or younger players operate in systems that do not allow them to post high net numbers.   Another option would be that these types of players simply have a lot of room for improvement. Of course, it could also be that players with decent efficiency scores and low net scores simply play on good teams and they are underperforming.  That's the biggest question with guys like Willie Warren, Tyreke Evans, and Jeff Teague.  In the case of Evans, I'm fairly certain it means he has potential.  In the case of Warren, I think he suffers from second-fiddleitis.  As for Teague, he probably should have better net numbers. Then again, he plays with two other solid performers and there might not be enough pie to go around for him to boost his numbers to an elite level.

Getting around to ranking these guards in terms of Our Beloved Puppies Zombies, let me be very, very, very clear: Curry, Curry, Curry, and more Curry. He is far and away the best guard in this draft (if he comes out).  Far. And. Away.  Keeping in mind that this system measures relative worth, there is a bigger difference between Curry and the #2 spot than their is between #2 and #7.  Curry had a fantastic year.  He played on the ball and did so with great success.  He was the absolute focus of opposing defenses (even drawing a box and 2 defense for 1 game; don't forget that he had an entire game's worth of stats almost completely wiped out because of this gimmick) and he still performed far above and beyond any other back court player in the country.  At the next level he won't get that type of attention and he should have more room to get off his perimeter shot.  If the Wolves are unable to draft Griffin (this is a 1 man draft, after all; he's that far ahead) or, if the reports about his talent are correct, Ricky Rubio, then Curry is the best guard available. Period.

Following Curry, deciding who is the next best guard really depends on what you are going to use the player for.  Ty Lawson has the potential to make some team very, very, very happy.  The Trailblazers or Knicks would be a good fit for the UNC guard.  On the Wolves he could have fantastic value as an Uber-Bassy, an undersized guard who can push the tempo.  He probably doesn't have enough value to be a good top 10 pick, but if he's available at the Heat pick and Curry is off the board (along with a few of the good wings), the Wolves could do a lot worse.

Getting to the heart of the matter, the question for the Wolves is this: do they want to move Randy Foye or Sebastian Telfair to the bench?  If they want to keep Foye in the starting lineup, I think they really have to think hard about Tyreke Evans.  If they want to move him to the bench, I think they would be much better served thinking about a big wing at the 2 (Evan Turner or Demar Derozan...more on them in the wings post) then they would James Harden.  It will depend on draft order but they need size and athleticism at one of the guard spots and I think Evans offers them the best size-based option at the point while Turner and Derozan gives them their best size-based options at the 2. 

Of corse, that being said, Harden is, despite his tourney performance, nothing to sneeze at.  Considering the Wolves' specific roster, he may not be the best fit when they make the pick.  Fortunately, he likely won't be the BPA with their first pick either. 

Beyond the previously mentioned players, I will continue to be firmly planted on the Nick Calathes bandwagon.  There aren't many of us now, but I'm firmly convinced that this guy is going to end up as a solid point in the NBA.  He brings an amazing amount of goods to the table. 

Gerald Henderson, while showing improvement over the last 1/2 of the year, is a) still a Dukie and b) scary as a top-10 pick. Henderson is showing some promise as a junior, but is the risk/reward calculation large enough to separate him from a freshman like Evans or, on a lesser scale, Willie Warren?  If he's under 6'4" he may be a tough pick for the Wolves to make. Plus, he's the joker who went WWE on Ty Hansbrough.  No cheap shot clowns on the Wolves please. Anywho, what I do know is that it will be amazing if Jrue Holiday ends up in the lottery.  I can't believe he's still thinking about entering the draft at this point. 

That about does it for the guards.  What say you?

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