OK folks, here it is: the last draft board before the draft. This one is going to differ from the last few boards because I have developed a system of rating college prospects that I'm going to be testing this year. The basic thrust of the system is that it is based on a stat I created that measures the ratio of favorably ended possessions by any given player and then adjusts it into a more encompassing score by taking into account things like age, height for position, etc. I'm still tweaking the formula and I'm not going to put it up here on the site yet because I want to give it a test run vis-a-vis the spread during the NBA season because if it works...well, then I'm going to place a few dollars down on it.
Anywho, the results this time around are a bit different and you may have picked up on this fact with recent attention paid to Kevin Love and my falling out of favor with OJ Mayo. With no further delay, let's take a look:
- Michael Beasley
- Kevin Love
- Derrick Rose
- Brook Lopez
- Joe Alexander
- Mareese Speights
- Mario Chalmers
- OJ Mayo
- DJ White
- Chris Douglas Roberts
- Roy Hibbert
- Richard Hendrix
- Brandon Rush
- Ryan Anderson
- Joey Dorsey
- Pat Calathes
- Jerryd Bayless
- Eric Gordon
- Anthony Randolph
- Russell Westbrook
- Donte Greene
- Deandre Jordan
- DJ Augustin
- Kosta Koufos
- Robin Lopez
- Bill Walker
I obviously didn't have the chance to run the numbers on every player. I tried to keep it to a list of player that have been mentioned in boards or official news reports concerning the Wolves since the end of the year. I also did not include international players as I have no idea how to grade them with the system I created.
Surprisingly, my little system suggests that this year's ditty is a two player draft: Beasley and Love. They are head and shoulders above the competition and Love's stock would grow even more if he could find a team where he could have positional flexibility in the frontcourt to maximize his unique skill set and minimize any mismatches associated with his size.
Beyond Love and Beasley, this draft is packed with solid big men. One of the things to consider in all of this is the relative value of a player like Speights or Hibbert if they could be had in the late teens/early 20s.
Another surprise in this draft is the relative weakness of the top flight guards. According to a recent article over at Draft Express, one of the rules for draft success is to beware of the big men. However, this year's crop of little guys are a) small, b) poor shooting, and c) questionably tied to team efficiency. Outside of Rose, who went nuts during the tourney and the last few games of the regular season, guards like Bayless and Gordon are especially underwhelming. I'm going to predict that Bayless will be viewed as one of the biggest busts in recent top draft memory and will be a bench player within 2 years. Mayo is a bit better than Bayless/Gordon/Westbrook but he, like Rose, benefits a bit from coming on late. Unlike Rose, who showed he could operate at a potentially elite level, Mayo's ceiling is more of a subdivision than a high rise. When all is said and done about his game, I highly suspect that he will be viewed as the jump-shooting, turnover prone, low ppr, low fta, solid defending guard that he is. Instead of my original projection of him having a Billups/Payton-like ceiling, I think his absolute high end is in the area of Steve Francis and Joe Jackson. We're talking about a guy who shoots a lot of jumpers and will get paid an amount that doesn't necessarily match up with the value he brings to the bottom line of wins and losses. 18/4/4 is the sort of top-end production you can expect out of Mayo...or Randy Foye.
That being said, if the Wolves want a lead guard, Mario Chalmers is there for the taking and he may even be worth more in the mid-teens than any other player in the draft. Hoopus commenter Jianfu has been on the Chalmers bandwagon for a long time and I have to credit him (or her?) for turning me on to the Jayhawk guard. Chalmers is legit and if I'm going to believe my ranking system, I have no idea how he's not in the conversation for top guards in this draft; especially when compared to Gordon, Bayless, or Westbrook. If you're a lottery team not named the Bulls and you are looking for a point, you don't need to move up to get the best one available after Rose.
If the Wolves are unable to move their 2nd round picks, they should have some solid big man options at the top of the 2nd round. Ryan Anderson may be sitting there for the taking, as could DJ White, and Joey Dorsey. While I'm kind of disappointed that David Padgett didn't grade out as highly as I thought he would, even he would be a more realistic option than bust-bombs like Javele McGee or Deandre Jordan, especially at that point in the draft.
Pat Calathes, Pat Calathes, Pat Calathes, Pat Calathes!!! Again, if the Wolves keep their 2nd rounders, they could do a lot worse than picking up Calathes. Someone is going to get a kick ass role player when they draft Mr. Calathes.
Brook Lopez is big and young and like Rose, he came on late. The Wolves could do worse than the big guy and even though he's got some red flags, if you break his season in two, his 2nd half and tourney make me feel a lot better about his potential to be a solid NBA center.
Getting down to the nuts and bolts of the 3rd pick, at this point there's only 2 players I'd feel comfortable with the Wolves taking at 3 without moving the pick: Beasley and Love. If they move down, I think it is absolutely essential that they walk away with Love, Lopez, Speights, or Alexander (again, I'm not including internationals here).
If they are able to move their 2nd round picks (or a contract + Shaddy or Foye) for a pick in the teens, there are a few players they should definitely not pass on: Chalmers, CDR, Rush, and Hibbert. If the Wolves have Ajinca rated highly, this is a place to take him but I have no idea how to grade international players.
After thinking about this draft for a long time and after applying my own rating system to the players, I think this draft is surprisingly deep for players that will develop into solid NBA starters or role players. It is filled with some questionable players but thankfully for the Wolves, the "best" ones are at the position (combo guard) they have no business picking. If the Wolves are looking for a point guard, they would be hard pressed to find a player like Chalmers in a future draft at the position he will likely go at. They will be hard pressed to find an efficient wing like CDR at the position he will likely go at. They will be hard pressed to find bigs like Hibbert, Anderson, White, and Dorsey at the positions they will likely go at. There is value to be had in this draft and it is in the backcourt during the teens and the frontcourt during the 20s/30s.
Getting back to the top players, as I have said before, there are only 2 players I'd feel comfortable with the Wolves taking at the top of the draft. After that, players like Alexander, Speights, Chalmers, and CDR demand that a trade down happen. If ever there were a draft to have a couple of picks in the 6-15 range, this is it.
Ideally, I'd like to see the Wolves find a way to get Beasley. He's that good and players like Foye, McCants, and Brewer should be used to bring him aboard. If Miami wants Foye to make it happen, that's a no-brainer sort of deal...especially with 2 2nd round picks and Chalmers still on the board. Short of Beasley, they need to end up with Love, Lopez, Speights, or Alexander by making a trade down no further than 8th. Ideally, they would find a way to move both their 2nd round picks for a mid 1st as well as Shaddy/Foye + a contract and the Celtic pick for another mid 1st. I have been saying it for a while: this is a great draft to have 3 picks and they should take advantage of players like Chalmers, CDR, and (if they have him graded correctly) Ajinca being available in the teens. I have no idea why Chalmers and CDR are going to be available at that point in the draft. Chalmers has been the best player on Kansas for 2 years and CDR was the best player on the 2nd best team in the country. Come on folks!!!
Realistically, 3 picks is a tough one to pull off. However, it does sound like they can get 2 1st round picks and here's a few acceptable situations assuming that the Wolves can move up to, let's say, the 15th pick as well as drafting between 3-8 and keeping 1 of their 2nd rounders:
If the Wolves could magically pop off 3 1st rounders, here's the 2 best possibilities:
Keep in mind that if the Wolves are able to move down, they should be able to pick up another player or two.
Let's also imagine that the Wolves are able to work out a deal with the Clippers and Heat to move Foye and the future Heat pick to grab Beasley. If this is the case, I think they do their best go move up for either CDR or Chalmers and then enjoy life with Jefferson, Beasley, and, let's say, CDR as the tri-core of the future. I don't think a lineup like this is out of the realm of possibility for Our Beloved Puppies:
It would be thin but that's about the best core you could walk away with in this draft.
Wrapping this bad boy up, Chalmers would be a fantastic value for a team looking for a point guard in the teens. He grades out better than Mayo and he'll likely go 10-15 spots lower than the USC Trojan. If the Wolves are dead set on taking a 4/5 and they want to trade down a long way, Speights would be a pretty solid player to end up with, value wise. Even if the team keeps its 2nd rounders, it will have players to choose from that will provide value to the team.
Bottom line: the Wolves need at least 2 1st round picks. The first should be Beasley, Love, Lopez, Alexander or Speights and the second should be Chalmers, CDR, or a center like Hibbert or (if they have him graded correctly) Ajinca.
Also, there as been a lot of talk lately about how the Wolves have narrowed their search to 4 players. Here's my best guess at the 4:
Here's hoping for a good draft.
UPDATE/A NOTE ON METHODOLOGY: The bedrock used for ranking these players is a formula I developed that measures a player's ratio of favorably ended possessions. I then used this number to account for 50% of a player's total score. The remaining 50% was split 2 ways: 25% between 5 year historical comparisons with similar players on stats like ORtg, %poss, pts/poss, and ppr; and 25% on weighted factors like age, position height, and the ratio between their individual and team efficiency numbers.
As for the actual ranking of the players: I am in no way, shape, or form suggesting that a player like DJ White be selected with the 9th overall pick. What I am suggesting is that his college stats suggest that he has a pretty damn good chance to turn into a top-10 rookie in his 1st year and that he would provide a wonderful value for whoever took him in the late 1st/early 2nd as his talent and numbers clearly outpaced his placement in numerous mock drafts. The opposite can be said about a player like OJ Mayo, whose perceived value greatly exceeds his actual performance and the way in which he could provide value to a team, say, with the 3rd pick, is to find a willing trading partner who wholeheartedly believes the hype and is willing to trade down (+ additional assets) to get their hands on the 6'4" combo guard from USC.