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Going Where We've Already Been; Draft Talk and Helpful Reminders

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OK, one of my big goals/hopes for the site this season was to make it until the New Year without the product on the court turning this site into a Wolves-based Lord of the Flies island of madness that could only be cured by thinking about anything else than what was on the court.  In the face of what I believed were predictably bad results during a predictably tough stretch of the schedule with a predictably subpar roster, I was really hoping for this:


We almost made it, Merle.  We almost made it. 

While doing research on past draft boards in order to update the Hoopus Score I came across this passage from December 20th, 2008:

At 4-21 Our Beloved Puppies Zombies are playing .160 ball.  If they continue on this pace they will end the season with a 13-69 record, good for the worst record in team history.  I seriously doubt that they will meet this putrid mark.  As bad as they are, the dog days of the NBA should be filled with enough half-hearted opponents to give the Wolves a few March wins here and one or two April wins there.

What I do not doubt is that this year's team will not reach last year's total of 22 wins.  At the beginning of the year, many fans and observers believed that the Wolves could end up being a 30-win team, winning at a .366 clip.  Should the Wolves immediately convert into such a beast, they would end the season with a 24-58 record.  In other words, if they lose their next two games against the Rockets and Spurs, they will need a radical change of direction in order to scramble their way to the lowly win total of the 2007-08 campaign. 

Even more disturbing is that even if they play at a modestly improved .250 pace, they will only win 14 more games, ending with an 18 win season.  Are the Wolves good enough to play with the NBA's sub-.300 clubs? We're talking about the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and Charlotte Bobcats of the world.  Against these titans, the Wolves are 2-6 while being outscored by a grand total of 62 points. Dog days or not, .366 ball, .300 ball, and even .250 ball seems like an awfully tall order at this point.

Let's update it for the new decade:

At 4-21 6-23 Our Beloved Puppies Zombies are playing .160 .207 ball.  If they continue on this pace they will end the season with a 13-69 17-65 record, good for the (second) worst record in team history.  I seriously doubt that they will meet this putrid mark.  As bad as they are, the dog days of the NBA should be filled with enough half-hearted opponents to give the Wolves a few March wins here and one or two April wins there.

What I do not doubt is that this year's team will not reach last year's total of 22 wins 2008's total of 24 wins.  At the beginning of the year, many fans and observers believed that the Wolves could end up being a 30-win team, winning at a .366 clip.  Should the Wolves immediately convert into such a beast, they would end the season with a 24-58 25-57 record.  In other words, if they lose their next two games against the Rockets and Spurs Jazz and Cavs, they will need a radical change of direction in order to scramble their way to the lowly win total of the 2007-08 2008-09 campaign. 

Even more disturbing is that even if they play at a modestly improved .250 pace, they will only win 14 13 more games, ending with an 18 a 19 win season.  Are the Wolves good enough to play with the NBA's sub-.300 clubs? We're talking about the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and Charlotte Bobcats New Jersey Nets, Cleveland Cavs, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, and (cough) Los Angeles Clippers of the world.  Against these titans, the Wolves are 2-6 while being outscored by a grand total of 62 points 3-2 while outscoring their opponents by a grand total of 11 points (progress!). Dog days or not, .366 ball, .300 ball, and even .250 ball seems like an awfully tall order at this point.

On that note, let's start talking about draft picks. On the bright side of things, this will be the last year we will have to worry about lottery picks. For those of you who will miss the Hoopus Draft Boards, I'll be sure to turn them into a Fan Post over at Clips Nation

Let's get our draft on below the fold!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Hoopus Score, it's an ever-evolving metric I use to rank how well I think college players will perform in the NBA.  We've been doing it for 3 years now and I've been able to look at what has and hasn't worked and adjust the formula accordingly.  You can read our last 3 final draft boards by clicking on the links in the left sidebar. 

Because it's still a work in progress, I'm not going to roll the whole thing out but I would like to start showing how some of the sausage is made so I can (hopefully) get some helpful feedback.  The formula is admittedly offensively-geared and based on a few key concepts:

 

  • All player percentages must be viewed through the lens of a) the relation to their team's overall proficiency and b) the relation to the amount of possessions they use compared to the percentage of used team minutes.  For instance, I take a player's offensive rating and weigh it against the percentage of team minutes divided by a player's %poss.  How do you begin to figure out how much of an effect Player X has on the Ortg of his team while he's out there?  He's just one of 5 guys.  My solution has been to take an Ortg and then weigh it with a ratio of how many shots, possessions, turnovers, etc a player has compared to his team minutes.  It's not perfect, but it also helps to sort out mid-level players who look better than they are because they play next to really good ballers.  In past Hoopus Score equations, I looked for efficient players.  This time around, I'm looking for guys who make their team efficient....while being efficient and good themselves.   
  • Player percentages are position-specific and should be adjusted accordingly to the type of position and style a player plays.  For instance, it is completely unreasonable to expect awesome ast%/to% ratios from a freshman big.  Things like assist%, block%, oreb%, and steal% must be adjusted for position.  
  • It is one thing to get a lot of free throws.  It is quite another to do so while making them at a fair clip and not having an out-of-whack foul discrepancy.  I have adjusted anything related to free throws to be weighed against these two factors.  
  • Thresholds matter.  There are certain levels of performance certain types of players should reach.  Harrison Barnes has an eFG of 40%.  His FTrate is 29.1%. Ah-ooh-ga, ah-ooh-ga!  
  • It's really early in the season.  Harrison Barnes has an eFG of 40%.  His FTrate is 29.1%.  Relax. 
In order to give you a better sense of what a particular score means in relation to past draft examples, here are a few blasts-from-the-past to help you gain your footing:
  • Ty Lawson (44.287)
  • Kevin Love (39.647)
  • Steph Curry (39.214)
  • Blake Griffin (37.206)
  • DMC (32.616)
  • Evan Turner (31.40)
  • B-Easy (31.253)
  • D. Rose (30.101)
  • Jonny Flynn (28.997)
  • John Wall (28.433)
  • Derrick Favors (27.031)
  • Russell Westbrook (25.367)
  • Wes Johnson (24.277)
  • Eric Bledsoe (19.016)
You know, for all the talk about how Sam Presti is a new school GM (and he is), that Westbrook pick was a diamond in the rough and I suspect they did some good ol' fashioned scouting/coaching work to know he was the right choice.

Also, I think Ty Lawson is the ultimate example of what I'm looking for with this new version of the Hoopus Score.  He's the primary reason why UNC was so effective/efficient and he was probably the most impactful player to his team in all of college basketball for the past few years.  Now, to be very  clear, this isn't a MVP type stat.  I'm still measuring overall worth.  I'm just giving extra credit to guys who make their team better.  This new score also makes me question how well someone like Jonny Flynn is being used in the pros.  He's obviously not being used in a way that makes the most of his talents and he had a larger impact on Syracuse than I thought he did before. I'm not going to do a 180 on the guy but I will start to wonder a bit more about coaching/deployment when it comes to his performance.  

Also, I am in no way suggesting that Ty Lawson is a better player than Blake Griffin.  This is just a measure of his efficiency and worth to his team as a guide to how well he will perform at the next level along the lines of what he was able to do in college.  In other words, Lawson's score suggests that there is a very high likelihood that he will be able to produce along the lines of his college production in the pros.  Ditto for Blake Griffin and anyone over 30.  

Keeping in mind that we are very early in the college season and that some of these guys have verryyyyy small sample sizes, here's the first 2011 Hoopus Draft Board along with a +/- number in relation to their spot on DX's big board. For instance, we have Kyrie Irving rated at #3 and DX has him at #1.  He'll be a -2:
  1.  Kemba Walker (48.125) +6
  2. Marcus Morris (37.868) +12
  3. Kyrie Irving (37.471) -2
  4. Derrick Williams (38.898) +11
  5. Demetri McCamey (36.159) +28
  6. Joshua Smith (34.432) not listed
  7. Jordan Hamilton (33.912) +16
  8. Jared Sullinger (31.643) even
  9. Markeiff Morris (30.706) not listed
  10. Alec Burks (30.682) +12
  11. DeShaun Thomas (29.961) not listed
  12. Nolan Smith (29.348) +14
  13. Cris Singleton (28.834) +3
  14. Terrence Jones (27.784) -8
  15. Kyle Singler (27.632) +12
  16. Travis Leslie (26.352) +5
  17. David Lighty (25.067) +20
  18. Perry Jones (23.947) -16
  19. Mason Plumlee (23.006) -9
  20. Brandon Knight (21.233) not listed
  21. Tyler Honeycutt (21.156) -4
  22. Malcolm Lee (20.815) +19
  23. John Henson (20.593) -11
  24. Patric Young (19.671) not listed
  25. Harrison Barnes (19.376) -22
Some thoughts: 
  • Kemba Walker is good at basketball.  His current level of play probably isn't sustainable but he tops the list because of an insanely good efg (60.7%) and a weighted ast/to% of 2.69 that puts him above and beyond anyone I have ranked in the past 3 years, to include Steph Curry (2.49) and Demetri McCamey (2.29).  The guy doesn't turn it over, creates opportunities for his teammates, and is shooting at an extremely high level for a guard.  That all adds up to an insane score. 
  • Harrison Barnes is having an awful start to the season.  The shooting is especially worrisome because he seems to be a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy and he doesn't have the "holy crap" factor in any one part of his game to make up for stats/rates that are in red flag territory.  
  • Luckily for the Wolves, this draft seems to have its high-end talent at the PF and PG positions.  Hooray. 
  • A lot of players are really having hot starts to the season.  There are a lot of guys with scores over 30, which seems to be the magic number for this year's Hoopus Score.  
  • Players I'm especially interested in: Joshua Smith, Demetri McCamey, Kyrie Irving, Jordan Hamilton, and DaShaun Thomas.  Smith is one of those guys who you can watch for about 5 minutes and know he's the smartest guy on the court.  Amazingly talented guy who lost a lot of weight this year and should put up big numbers in Pac-10 play.  I'd take McCamey over any PG on the Wolves roster right now.  Ditto for Irving.  It will be really interesting to see how Irving is viewed if he doesn't play a lot this year and decides to come out.  
Well folks, that about does it for the draft portion of this mega post.  If you have guys you want me to add to the list, please tell me who in the comments.  I'd also like to take this opportunity to crib a post from Blazers Edge about site etiquette

All of Blazer Nation is going through a difficult time.  It appears to many as if a dream held for nearly four years--an entire generation of players--is slipping away.  The future is uncertain but doesn't look positive compared to previous seasons.  That's generating a lot of grief and angst.

People tend to deal with grief and angst in different ways.  Some react with anger, lashing out at the source and anyone who gets in the way.  Some evidence anticipatory grief.  To assimilate the experience they throw it into overdrive, talking about future losses as if they were a certainty, feeling everything all at once to get through it.  Some try to seize control over the experience by being unkind to others, taunting and lording over, grasping for one kind of power when another has been robbed beyond their ability to retrieve.  Others are just honest about their sadness but need to pour it out and talk through it, sometimes repeatedly.  Finally there are some who just plug their ears and pretend it's not happening at all (and woe be to anyone who tries to convince them differently).  We've seen all of those responses at Blazersedge this season.  We've also seen plenty of folks trying to make relatively normal comments amidst this sea of different responses and getting caught up in the mess, sometimes getting their feelings bruised in return.

As you can imagine, it gets tricky trying to sort through all of this.  It's difficult to define the line between letting people work through their stuff and allowing that stuff to impede someone else's working through.  That's the task these mods face.

From the very beginning we identified what this would look like if it went wrong.  You only have to go back five or six years to the heart of the Jailblazer era to see ugliness in full bloom among Blazer fans.  Back then there were two camps.


Team Red Pill, meet Team Blue Pill.  Go read the entire post and tell yourself "ditto".  

Dave lays out 3 rules:

1. People are allowed to work through their grief and react to bad news, but there are limits. 
2.  People are not allowed to belittle, disparage, attack, or slight each other on this site even in the name of "fandom".
3.  Where and when you make your comments matters as much as how.

He gives wonderful explanations for all of the rules and you really should take the time to read them because that is what we expect here at Hoopus.  We're not as big and not as strict as BE, but we definitely have moved beyond the little corner bar of 250 folks a day stopping by and our newer customers are probably...well, over 5000 people a day read this site and things are getting ugly with the team.  I think it's time for a reminder of how we'd like people to treat one another.  

I would especially like to call attention to two things.  First:

This rule also applies to those who repeat similar arguments in multiple threads.  We need to hear things a couple times but not dozens.  Responding with the same argument every time someone brings up a given subject gets tiresome and quickly becomes a form of conversation-stifling intimidation.  In this case you're not talking to people, but over them.

If you go on and on about the same point over and over and over, chances are you will run into a situation where even if people agree with you, they will be sick and tired of hearing you say the same thing over and over and over regardless of the situation.  If you think this is an example of the moderators on this site being out to get you, or that it is somehow groupthink, then you really need to rethink why you choose to sit down at a virtual bar that obviously isn't your cup of tea.  No one is telling you that you can't say certain things; we're kindly asking you to say them in a more constructive way and to respond to the comment/person at hand without your pre-determined goal of this, that, or the other oft-repeated statement.  

Second, the name calling and swearing needs to stop.  I'll remind everyone that there are flag buttons on each and every post/comment and I encourage you to use them if a post/comment goes over the top.  From here on out, swearing at someone gets you a week's vacation from the site.  I don't mind the occasional cuss word in frustration during a tough loss, but it can't be directed at anyone.  Also, let's cut the crap out about accusing people of not watching the game, or them belonging to a certain camp of thought.  Disagreement is good, name calling and putting people into whatever camp you think they belong in is not. Disagree with the point at hand, not the person who makes it.  

Finally I cannot tell you how much I think of this on-line Wolves community.  It really has grown far above and beyond what we ever expected.  We have a constant stream of entertaining and interesting FanShots and FanPosts; TimAllen and Oceanary have really brought some much-needed optimism to the main page; and long-time commenters like Eric in Madison, PoorDick, and Andy G have become below-the-fold institutions.

The two most interesting things about running this site are trying to maintain it's overall feel as a "voice of the fan" and finding a balance between entertainment and, unfortunately with the Wolves, reality.  This season has been challenging on several fronts for these two main Hoopus planks.  Hopefully, we can keep things entertaining, somewhat based in reality, and away from the content you can find in the local paper.  

OK then, I think this post has gone on long enough and it covered a lot of ground.  I'm going to add those 3 rules to the "keep it clean, don't be mean" mantra and I hope you'll drop some additional draft names in the comments.  

Go Wolves!