OK, change of plans. Instead of rolling out a post about possible draft-day trades (Memphis, OKC, and Washington), I thought it would be a good idea to run a post about some items that don't really fit into our final draft board post and the draft day open thread. With no further delay or set-up, here they are:
Ty Lawson will end up being one of the top 6 players in this draft. The Wolves obviously will have to take into account value and relative draft position, but I continue to be amazed how Lawson has slipped behind players like Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, and even Eric Maynor in a few mock drafts. Lawson is the proud owner of the best ORtg in college ball as well as posting a 66 TS%, 47 3p%, 56 2p%, 8.19 ppr, 61 FTRate, and a 3.48 a/to ratio with excellent quickness and strength for his position. He is a good weak side defender who collects a nice number of steals per 40 minutes of action (2.63) while controlling the pace of the game with expert ball-handling and distribution skills. We have consistently rated Lawson as one of the top 3 guards in the draft as well as being the top-rated pure point of the 2009 class. I'm not saying the Wolves should take Lawson straight-up with the 6th pick, but I'm not saying it would be a bad thing either.
Stephen Curry is the 2nd best player in this draft. This one got some steam when Blake Griffin told the world that he believes Curry is Numero Dos next to his Top Dog, but we have rated Curry as the 2nd best player for a long time. Curry is going to be an amazing ball-dominant scoring point guard in the NBA. He will not be faced with the double and triple teams he saw at Davidson and the NBA's perimeter defensive rules will allow his hesitation-based pick and roll game to become an influential player---operating as a sort of inverted Tony Parker by making a living off of mid-range pick and roll jumpers and threes (as opposed to Parkers mid-range pick and roll jumpers and layups). If Curry is on the board at #6, you take him and don't let go.
Tyreke Evans is going to be an inefficient, ball-dominant volume scorer. We have gone back and forth and back and forth on Evans for a while now. On one hand, he has amazing height, length, and strength for either back court spot and he has the potential to be a physically dominant player. On the other hand, his shot is epically awful. Here's what we wrote about him back in April: "The big problem here is that Evans takes a large chunk of jump shots (40% of his shots are jumpers according to this DX post) and he makes less than 30% of them. What this means is that he can't score when he's not in transition or penetrating the lane. This was abundantly clear in Memphis' year-ending loss to Missouri. Evans made only 2 jumpers in the game and his outside game was so non-existent that Missouri was able to survive with him going nuts in the paint. It's not just that he can't make threes. Tony Parker has been a terrible three point shooter while making a living in transition and the paint. He also has a mid-range game that, at the very least, has to be respected. Evans simply can't make jump shots. I can't think of a single successful NBA perimeter player who makes a living in the paint and at the line while not being able to shoot a jumper over 30%. That's sub-Bassy territory." Is Bassy-with-size and (hopefully) finishing ability worth it? Can he run an offense as effectively as Bassy? If you draft Evans, you get a player who will need the ball in his hands a large amount of time with no guarantee of being able to run an offense. He has the potential to defend at a high level but that jump shot is a scary, scary thing indeed.
I have no idea what in the world is going on with Jonny Flynn and Jrue Holiday. Why? We had these players ranked as the 11th and 16th best college guards at the end of the season. I can sort of see the argument for Holiday (solid defensive potential, size, good 2p%, intangibles) but with Flynn...beyond the excellent athleticism and apparent leadership abilities, he likely wasn't even the best guard on his own team (see Harris, Paul).
- Tyler Hansbrough or DeJuan Blair should 100%, absolutely, in no way, shape, or form be passed up if they are available at 18 (and provided someone like Lawson isn't still on the board). Our 3 top-rated non-Griffin bigs are, in order, Hasheem Thabeet, Blair, and Hansbrough. Both Blair and Hansbrough represent significant upgrades over Craig Smith and would give the Wolves a very capable big man backup. If forced to pick between the two, you go with Hansbrough. His size and athleticism are legit and you know he will bring it 100% each and every single night. The guy is a winner and it would be a very nice thing to see the Wolves finally pick up a hustling, bench-playing white power forward who a) can actually play, b) has talent, and c) hasn't thrown a professional basketball game by jacking up 7 three pointers in an attempt to secure a draft position. End the Mad Dog madness with Psycho T!!!
Staying put at 6 will leave the Wolves in a better situation going forward than using assets to move up to #2. If the Wolves can find a way to turn their extraneous assets into an additional pick while keeping their own, fine. If they turn Mike Miller, Randy Foye, and the 18th and 6th picks into the 2nd pick, not so much. Stephen Curry or Tyreke Evans + Miller, Foye, and the 18th pick > Ricky Rubio and I don't think it's close.
If the Wolves trade for the Washington pick, they may as well just keep it and draft at #5 and #6. Call Memphis' bluff. Chris Wallace will have to go to a completely new level of insane if he picks Rubio. If he does and Rubio stays in Europe, he loses all trade leverage. He has to know other people suspect this so drafting him in the first place makes very little sense. Thabeet is only modestly more attractive because while he likely doesn't want to play there, he would likely show up. If they want Evans, they can't bargain with Sacramento for Rubio because Sacramento seems to be content with drafting Evans or Rubio. In other words, unless Memphis has a jones for Jordan Hill or Jonny Flynn, pick 5 will likely do nothing for them because if the Wolves use it to get Rubio, Sacramento will likely take Evans and Memphis doesn't get the guy it wants even though it traded down. They'd be better off simply taking Evans at 2. Long story longer, the Washington pick sounds nice in a deal with Memphis but its functional value is probably pretty low compared to the outcome of the Wolves simply using the pick on their own. Griffin, Evans, Thabeet, and Rubio probably come off the board, leaving the Wolves with their pick between two of the following: Curry, Harden, DeRozan, Flynn, Holiday, whoever.
The Wolves will have an opportunity to draft a solid player at 28 and 45 and should hold on to both picks. Just like last year (Mario Chalmers), the Wolves will find themselves in a position to draft a player that will be able to contribute as a solid role player. This year we think they will have a shot at 2 of the following players: Nick Calathes, Paul Harris, Jerel McNeal, Jack McClinton, Victor Claver, Sergio Llull, or Nando de Colo.
- UPDATE: If the Wolves want to swing for the fences with a young EL point guard, they should just sit at 6 and take Brandon Jennings. This one came up in the comments and I thought it would be a nice above-the-fold topic. Both Jennings and Rubio have big-time boom/bust potential but for different reasons. Jennings is blessed with what would probably be the best athleticism and quickness at his position the moment he steps on an NBA court. He has tremendous court vision and he can also score. On the other hand, he doesn't shoot well, he isn't all that strong, and there have been questions about his maturity. Rubio was on the Spanish Olympic team and he has the best assist numbers in the EL. He is also an oft-injured 18 year old point with a poor jumper, no strength, average (at best) athleticism and no experience playing an NBA-style game. Both players will likely take 2-3 years to become acclimated to the league. Both players have significant flaws. Both players have amazing ceilings. Both are YouTube heroes. One will likely go at the #2 spot in the draft while the other will be available at 6. My personal opinion is that Jennings has the physical tools to become a better NBA player and that he will cost significantly less than Rubio. His bust-level is Bassy but he would bust without selling the farm to get him while Rubio's bust level is Jason Williams or Rafer Alston and...well, he's going to come at a cost.
That's probably enough items to start up a decent pre-draft discussion. What unconventional opinions do you have about the draft? Throw them out in the comment section. While you're thinking about that, here's where our Community Draft Board currently stands:
- Blake Griffin
- Ricky Rubio
- James Harden
- Stephen Curry
- Hasheem Thabeet
- Tyreke Evans
- Demar DeRozan
- Brandon Jennings
- Jrue Holiday
- Jonny Flynn
- Jordan Hill
- Ty Lawson
- Earl Clark
- Eric Maynor
- Austin Daye