For those readers who don’t fancy covering what is a mammoth article, feel free to head to the end of this article to read my thoughts on the draft. For those who want a (larger) debate and to read about my thoughts on the season, and the principles by which I think the team should plan its approach to the draft, read on.
The first part outlines why I believe what I do, the last part what I believe they should do.
STATE OF THE TEAM
So last season I wrote a pretty huge article talking about the philosophy the team should take going forward in my opinion (link).
I advocated keeping Monta Ellis, a visually impressive scorer, but a consistent net-negative, until a trade for a young player (or draft picks) came along to free up cap space and get this team a young asset. However importantly (to maximise the value of the team) it would increase playing time for Klay Thompson, a rookie who I felt “has to do so little to succeed and yet will be put in a position where he can be so valuable and bring so much to the team playing off Curry” (if Monta is traded).
This year there is (luckily in some senses), a lot less debate. The team has finally jettisoned Monta Ellis, who was holding back their best player, for someone I think the team should be pleased to have got in return in Bogut. I was fairly devastated with the loss of Udoh however, for reasons I will get into later.
The dividends of that trade were fairly huge
The Warriors actually ended up doing a trade that was directly more on the lateral end of the spectrum in how it moved the team, as whilst we acquired a good center for a negative shooting guard, we destroyed our cap space and gave away an undervalued player, who had shown to be a huge plus on the court. If that had been the only effect of the trade, I would have felt much the same as I had said I felt about a potential Iguodala trade last season:
“This will definitely improve the team now, but beyond improvement from within the current roster the team won't improve beyond that and it puts it in a worse position to improve and acquire better players in the future…I see no point in losing some flexibility going forward for the sake of a 4-5 win improvement that won't get the team into the playoffs on its own…Surely with Iguodala, come the end of next season the team will just end up in a similar position to this year with an overpaid player and a roster that isn't contending yet lacks flexibility…"
Luckily the indirect benefits of the trade were apparent and in the end sizeable
Firstly the team proceeded on an epic run in which some clutch play led to a stunning end of season stretch of 4 wins in 21 games. This was a pivotal sign that management understood that this was likely its last chance to significantly improve after taking a (worthwhile) risk on Bogut, and so the Monta Ellis trade really ended up being a trade involving:
Monta Ellis + Ekpe Udoh + 2013 late lottery/15-20 first round pick (in a weak[er] draft)
Even within this spectrum the trade was a great result. Giving the team their starting center who (if he comes back from injury successfully as he should) will be significantly more valuable come next years trade deadline than Monta Ellis ever was, AND a high draft pick in one of the best drafts in recent memory. As I said last year:
“Right now hopefully management appreciates that they are in the position where dealing Ellis won't take the team two steps back, it will most likely take it a couple forward. As such any young player with [“]All-Star[“] upside would be a bonus. However Ellis is the most valuable trade chip they are going to have for a while, assuming it doesn't trade Curry and so they need to make sure this trade sets the team up for the future.”
What the team managed to end up with was amazing. They essentially acquired that young player with upside, whilst getting Bogut in the process. If you consider that right now there seems to be a strong possibility, that if the team wanted to (which in my opinion they shouldn’t) they could acquire Andre Iguodala for the 7th pick (+ filler), that would essentially equal:
Monta Ellis + 2012 & 13 first round pick (one of which we would have lost anyway)
Andrew Bogut + Andre Iguodala
A great example of the avenues that open up for a team when they acquire young players with potential (or the rights to them).
The loss of Udoh, whilst painful, was also a total necessity if the team was to acquire this draft pick. His positive impact on the team was large enough that there was absolutely no reason that what was a fairly balanced team post trade wouldn’t have won at least 2-3 extra games and lost the rights to the pick if he had played. Seeing as large amounts of GSOMers would right now I’m sure, happily trade Monta for a top 5 draft pick (as I know from experience here, we have discussed this every season for the last 3 years!), that we essentially did this, whilst also acquiring Bogut (for Udoh in this analogy) was a phenomenal achievement.
The growth of Klay Thompson was also a huge positive, and something I talk about later.
Bar a dump of David Lee (which I would not advocate unless it brings back either a top 10-14 draft pick or a decent young player), our cap situation is totally uninteresting. It is set up to provide significant room in 2-3 years, but until then it is not an issue with much room for debate.
While some people see the team making the playoffs (my own opinion being that we have a good chance), I still stand by the principles that I wrote about last year:
“The stark reality is that this is a 36 win team and as such it would be fruitless to try to address it's specific weaknesses such as depth, rebounding and defense now ... It needs some young players the team can build a core of, that pushes into or towards the playoffs that then allows it to acquire the specific parts that will make the team better. This has started with Curry, Klay and Udoh and should continue at least until Curry signs his extension. Hopefully management does not get ahead of itself, and completes this phase before addressing the team's specific weaknesses and most likely losing the financial flexibility to improve rapidly and significantly after that.”
In essence I still agree with that. While we have a nice core of players (ignoring injury concerns), it would be a successful season if the Warriors were simply to make the playoffs, let alone advance. With the cap situation already being devastated for the next couple of seasons, this draft pick and the three other later ones this year, are the last significant assets this team is going to have whilst being on this phase of its development.
After the draft, bar some inventive sign-and-trades, the team will have the core with which it can (reasonably, seeing as we won’t have a draft choice next year) achieve it’s goals by:
- Internal growth
This is mainly due to the horrendous decision not to amnesty Biedrins (which seems slightly less of a big deal after the Bogut trade), meaning this is pretty much it for the teams future trajectory.
As an aside it’s kind of funny that the consensus last year seemed to be that the only reason that the Warriors turned down Thabeet + Hill for Biedrins was because they were certain that they’d get the rights to Amnesty Biedrins after the new CBA. That they didn’t was, and still is ludicrous.
Thus at this juncture I still feel as if advocating primarily based on team need is misplaced.
As before, I still would abide by these principles in general:
“Focusing on players as values in trades and as assets because ultimately they may not be a part of the roster if it contends for a championship”
A typical case of this was Ekpe Udoh. One of my favourite players on the team, for his defence, controversially for his team centered rebounding and for the fact that this team over the last 2 years with him on the court had an adjusted plus/minus of +4.51 (one of only 3 players including Stephen Curry and Nate Robinson with simply a positive one). This was a guy who helped this team win when he was on the court.
Unfortunately as I pointed out time and again on these message boards and in my posts, players come and go, and while it is great to get attached to, and root for your draft picks, the sad thing is that most of the time, that player doesn’t remain on your team to take it to the ‘next level’ so to speak. These players maximum value to lottery teams is often in a trade, rather than on the court. Thus while Udoh certainly satisfied what most would call a ‘need’ for the team at the time (defence), if you define what a team ‘needs’ as what they need to do to move towards a championship caliber team, his selection was one of the worst decisions the team made.
The issue with these players isn’t that they are better players than Udoh, in fact I think Monroe is a fairly bad player, whose aesthetically pleasing offense is more than made up for by his terrible defence. Over the last two years he has an adjusted plus/minus of -5.67 with his team being (unadjusted) 12 points worse on defense while he was on the court this season (a terrible differential).
The important difference between these two players and Udoh, is the perception that the GM’s and even more pivotally the media have of them. As us Warrior fans have long realised: so long as GM’s satisfy their primary goal (to put a product on the floor to entice fans to come and spend money to watch it), they will likely (bar extreme fluctuations in team fortunes) be OK. Thus often trades are done to satisfy fan perceptions, which are mostly influenced by the media, but are actually bad basketball trades.
So while there is rightly a large spectrum of acceptable debate that should surround the Warriors draft pick, in my mind the spectrum I will be arguing on is who brings the team the most value going forward, because, as I have said, this is likely the last chance for the Warriors to acquire a significant asset in this phase of the team’s cycle.
SO WHAT FACTORS ARE MOST IMPORTANT WITH THIS PRINCIPLE
There are many different ways of judging potential with their being two main blocks the media tend to perceive. The first is the “he’s a young big, he just has to develop a post game and he’ll be a good offensive player” otherwise known for guards as the “he’s a terrible shooter but obviously he’ll be a good shooter in a couple of years with some work”. On the other hand there’s derivatives of the “this guy has a solid offensive game which will hopefully grow from here” block.
The first set I absolutely despise.
This potential is based on a blind hope that because said player has either the physical attributes that make him appear an excellent player for his position, or good other parts of his game (defense, rebounding etc) that he will obviously develop his other abilities to the same standard of the top 10-20 players in the league at his position (remember in general I’m talking about players who are predicted to be ‘stars’).
That these improvements sometimes happen is obvious, but the unqualified assumption that it will happen I’ve never understood.
A great example of this is Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings. Two players who (due to their physical attributes) undoubtedly have higher potentials than Stephen Curry (in the sense that if they were as good at everything Curry does, they would be better players, as some of the unteachable things such as ‘athleticism’ and strength they have an inherent advantage in).
But what has actually happened? In 3 years they have barely advanced, or have in Evans case regressed from what they were in their rookie season. Mainly because the assumption that they would get better was based on nothing but faith. Their shooting habits are so fundamentally flawed, and so ingrained, that with such an intense season, with a lack of consistent practice, and the demands of a game every few days, they are unlikely to ever be able to significantly alter their shooting mechanics enough to be good shooters.
On the other hand Curry was a very skilled player, who has used this solid, fundamental starting point to build his game. What’s held him back, is unlike the other two, he is yet (bar the end of his rookie season) to be put in a position to run a team like they have.
Kawhi Leonard is a good example of the opposite of the first two players. He actually had an ok shooting stroke, without fundamental flaws in college. Thus while he will never be a great shooter, all he needed was practice, over and over and over, to become a more than serviceable set shooter. No re-write required.
2. Perceived value
Perceived value is also very important. As we know from watching the frenzy of where will an over-hyped, one dimensional scorer (Carmelo Anthony) be traded and the result. Average (or even low) efficiency, high volume scorers are ludicrously valued by the media, which bases the majority of its story-lines around their exploits.
This led to a situation where the NY Knicks gave up their entire roster of young, promising and balanced players, for a one dimensional scorer, who’s new contract (along with the contracts of Amare and subsequently Tyson Chandler) has led to them being in a situation of being a patently average playoff team at best, with no room to improve bar a break up of the team. It may have satisfied the fans, who in large numbers where pining for a player who had been over-hyped and overrated as one of the top 10 players in the league, but it didn’t bring much tangible benefit.
On the other hand look at Ekpe Udoh. A player who if you watched the games, you could see had a huge impact on the teams performance defensively, and if you look at his impact on the team’s rebounding (as I have done) you would see that he positively contributed to it. Furthermore, statistically he was an absolute monster (link):
Effective FG%: on court = 51.8%, off court = 50.1%
Effective FG% allowed: on court = 45.6%, off court = 51%
Total Rebounding percentage: on court = 48%, off court = 45.1%
Offense (points per 100 possessions): on court = 111, off court = 104.2
Defense (points per 100 possessions): on court = 102.1, off court = 112.8
Net points per 100 possessions: on court = +8.9, off court = -8.6
He had a huge plus/minus (unadjusted) and a very large 2 yr adjusted one if you check here (link). We rebounded better with him on the floor, scored more efficiently, had a hugely better defensive efficiency. But it doesn’t matter, when the media almost exclusively concerns itself with scoring numbers, ‘stars’ and those with ‘the clutch gene’.
This isn’t to say Udoh should be as valuable as Carmelo Anthony, but to put it in some perspective, all his apparent abilities, there to see and read about, resulted in him being what at the time seemed like at best, a small but important part of the trade for Bogut (ironically with the inefficient, aesthetically pleasing scorer being the main part). That this was the case made no sense. The Bucks were essentially acquiring a consistently negative player (Monta), who was going to come in and play large minutes, and a player who could be a large positive, who ended up getting a patchy 22 (ish) minutes a game.
This was all apparent atthe time, except the consensus was that Monta was the ‘centerpiece’ and Udoh was a bonus, who in the end became little more than a throwaway in the trade, not even reaching 20 minutes of game time in 5 of the last 7 games (stunning when you consider that he should really have gone straight in and taken all of Bogut’s potential minutes).
This is typical of the NBA and something to keep in mind when you hear draft prospects being described as “winners” and “natural leaders”. Sure they may be those things now, but 2 years after they are drafted, are those value judgements going to mean as much when other players in their class are scoring 18+ PPG and they aren’t? Who will be more valuable then? Wasn’t Udoh a “winner”, a “leader” who made his team play “winning basketball” when he was on the court by these standards? I will discuss this later.
Another aside: As I said before, just think about Greg Monroe. A player who will likely always be a bad defender, and is unlikely to ever have the potential to impact on games in the way that Udoh did in his first 2 years. Does anyone think that (if we had so chosen to draft him and then trade him) we couldn’t have received Bogut + a first round draft pick (at least), for him in a trade, and then used Monta in another trade?
3. Playing Time
This one should be obvious to us after watching Klay Thompson last year. Before the Monta trade he was barely on the radar, but after it he is being described as our future starting shooting guard, being falsely compared to players like Ray Allen and Reggie Miller (by virtue of his great off the ball play and shooting) and will likely (if he keeps up this level of play next season) be as valuable, or even more valuable a trade piece than Monta was when he was traded (rightly or wrongly).
This isn’t to say teams should pick based on need. However once you get beyond the first 3 or 4 picks there often isn’t a clear difference between the players you could select. Thus unless you are potentially a contending team, who figures to have solid minutes for a player a couple a years down the line, it makes sense to prioritise picking a player that your going to have a lot of minutes for in the first or second season (especially as all the players we could potentially pick, with some exceptions, are starting caliber).
This gives them a chance to firstly, improve quicker, as common sense suggests that players get better at playing games by playing in games. Secondly it improves their trade value, because even if a young player puts up really average numbers, they are often lauded as potential stars or at least future starters (Marshon Brooks, Brandon Jennings, Brooke Lopez, Kyrie Irving, Tyreke Evans, Greg Monroe...) rightly or wrongly.
Luckily our position leaves this as a non issue, with only 1 or 2 positions being slightly redundant.
Based on our squad, some, but not many on this board, think that our need is at small forward. Mainly because we don’t have a starter pencilled in. Our lineup looks like this:
PG - Stephen Curry
SG - Klay Thompson
SF - //////
PF - David Lee
C - Andrew Bogut
However as most people are aware, there is about 30 minutes spare behind Curry and Thompson (assuming Thompson doesn’t play the 3 at any point), and the same is the case behind Lee and Bogut. Seeing as there are only a few ‘true’ centres and one point guard, this leaves our draft options almost totally open. That I, and a lot of others would happily play Brandon Rush for around 25 minutes at SF really makes the Warriors options almost totally open.
4. Current Value
This is not so much of an issue, but drafting a 'project' who isn’t perceived like Perry Jones or Andre Drummond, to have *star* potential, acquiring a ‘project player’ may turn out to be a mistake. They won’t have much trade value now, and seeing as there is such a high rate of turnover of draft prospects, they may never reach the value of other players the team could have drafted when they are traded (even if their potential is still higher).
SUMMARY SO FAR
When talking about what the team needs from the draft, the Warriors don’t need “size and athleticism” or any of those other unqualified value judgements, they don’t need rebounding, defense, players who attack the basket etc. What they need is a player that can grow into a net positive on both sides of the floor.
The easiest way for them to achieve this player is the through the draft, directly, by the player they acquire, or by trade (which unless you acquire a ‘superstar’ is often the most likely avenue). Thus the single most important factor in my mind, for who to draft (in what is likely to be the last big move the team can make before its basic roster is solidified) is the potential (perceived or real) of the player, so they can either directly benefit from it, or a couple of years down the line indirectly benefit from it via trade.
Further beyond a phenomenal trade coming up involving the pick, they should in my opinion not consider trading it away. This is regardless of whether it brings in Deng or Iguodala, two players who fit the SF slot perfectly. I had written some stuff on this, but after Brownie 13’s excellent article(link), I feel like I should just quote what he said in regard to these trades:
“From a pure talent perspective, the Warriors win any trade where the 7th pick nets them one of these guys. Over the next two seasons, there's almost no doubt we're a better team with them than any draft pick we could make. But where does that get us? Two first round exits? A trip to the Conference Semi-Finals? Two more playoffs where our guys are watching from the couch because we couldn't stay healthy? I'm just not sure.”
As this is likely the last major move we can make in a while, I feel we just aren’t a good enough team to pine our hopes on one of these players taking us to the Conference finals and beyond. When you consider that these players could all leave our team in 2-3 years, it seems irrational (in my mind) to advocate acquiring them, when in all probability they ‘condemn’ our team to a peak achievement of a Conference semi-finals within that time frame. There are plenty of really intriguing prospects at our position (and below if we sorted out a trade) who’s values will only increase whilst the value of these veterans will likely fall dramatically in the next few years, and they may even leave once their contracts are up. Thus this view is one that I have thought a lot about, but that I state in total conviction.
This isn’t about getting the player who is best (as that requires a value judgement, which individuals have different means of coming to). It is primarily about acquiring players that are perceived to be the best by the main actor in this environment, the media, who’s criteria for it’s value judgements are very predictable and easy to factor in. This is simply PPG (firstly), followed by rebounds and assists. Thus it can be accounted for easily with the teams draft choice.
THE DRAFT - JUDGING THE PLAYERS AVAILABLE
Just look through a recent ESPN article, one for those privileged “Insiders”, who have access to even more potent analysis from the best they have to offer. In it they discuss the “Improvement plans” for some lottery picks (link). They talk about Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, MKG, Andre Drummond and Perry Jones.
Two have to show a tangible level of improvement above skills they are already competent at to ‘improve’. The others have to acquire entirely new skills that they are currently seriously deficient at, which will have to be built from the ground up to have any sort of success.
You can probably guess what I think.
I just have no faith that MKG can turn what is an awful jump shot, not just in outcome, but in technique into a good one, no matter whether he “will spend a good deal of time in the gym”. That is based on a blind hope, that in all the time he has spent playing basketball, he will be able to rebuild his entire technique, whilst having to go and play a game every 2-3 nights, and become a decent shooter with a couple of years in a different setting. This rarely ever happens to players who have spent seven, eight, nine years in the NBA.
Certainly it’s possible, and in fact, I have him relatively high on my board. But for the basis of analysing what he will bring, considering I prioritise the perceived value he will have a year from now as a below average scorer, I can’t assume that he will be anything other than an offensive liability.
His perceived value right now is ludicrously high. “Kidd-Gilchrist is a winner” ESPN’s article proclaims. Further analysis advises:
‘But be careful. Ask anyone who knows anything about basketball what label should adorn Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as he prepares for the 2012 NBA draft and they all, to a man, say the same thing. Winner. "Michael is a flat-out winner," his head coach John Calipari said. "Not because he's one of the nation's best scorers but because of his intangibles, intensity and passion."’
These things are all great, and they may be true, but will they matter a year from now? Will his likely above average rebounding and steals mask his likely well below average points per game tally? Will it mask his (likely) terrible three point shooting percentage? Will it mask the fact that (unless he comes to Golden State) he will likely be putting up poor numbers on, most ironically of all, A TEAM THAT IS NOT WINNING?
The fact is it won’t, because we know it doesn’t and it hasn’t. We know that when a player does all of that stuff, when he brings ‘intensity’, ‘passion’, ‘intangibles’ in actual NBA games, people barely give a crap, even when it leads to winning basketball on losing teams.
Wasn’t Kemba Walker a ‘winner’ a year ago? Is he still a ‘winner’ after playing on the worst NBA team of all time? In fact according to ESPN’s Mock Draft last year (link) he had all the intangibles one could want:
“He's a leader, he can play right now and he brings toughness and character”
I’m sure he still has those attributes, in fact they’re exactly the kind of attributes that don’t go away. I’m also sure that barely anyone cares after he put up some of the worst numbers I have ever seen from such a prominent rookie (36% FG, 30% 3pt).
In fact if you go and read Jan Vesely’s draft profile from last year (link) you will see a practically identical profile to MKG’s this year. “Good motor”, “good athlete”, a “combination of size, athleticism and versatility”, in fact you even see “shooting range”.
But ask yourself: do you care about this now? Does anyone care about this now?
Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but the fact is that these players aren’t valuable right now, and they’re unlikely to ever be, unless they turn in to good NBA players, who more importantly put up stats people perceive to be important.
This is possible in Walkers case, however those intangibles mentioned above dominated the perception of him before the draft, and led to him being drafted so high that there’s no reason to think an average shooter, who is under-sized, and a below average passer will ever do that. In Vesely’s case, maybe at best, he is a worse version of Kirilenko, with likely terrible scoring numbers, but good rebounding numbers. Will that ever be perceived by the media to be as valuable as the 20 PPG on above average efficiency Klay Thompson can put up, even if it turns out Vesely's defense leaves him with excellent adjusted plus/minus numbers? As I’ve said before. No. Because it never is and it never has been.
But at draft time these things suddenly become important, for a brand who’s main aim is to create future stars to market and sell to an audience (us).
As I’ve said before: all these things applied to Udoh, and unlike these guys, he did it in the NBA. But it doesn’t matter. Does anyone think we couldn’t acquire him for the 7th pick in this draft? Well if you care about having a ‘winner’, ‘toughness’, then maybe advocate for that trade (we could maybe even get the Bucks 12th pick). Because what he has already done for us, is well above what any of these players might feasibly do.
When he was in Golden State no one was eulogising over how he was a winner (maybe because we weren’t winning), but when Kidd-Gilchrist, the winner (who happens to have played on one of the most talented NCAA squads in recent years) ends up on a terrible team like the Bobcats will he still be a winner?
Well no he won’t, but he’ll still be likely just as good, if not better than he is right now, those skills just won’t be leading to his team having a winning record, no matter how positive his impact on the court.
But what will happen to him? The pre-draft hype will be vaguely forgotten, no one will care for a ‘winner’ when he’s not winning. And what about his 'intangibles'?
“Intangibles” is from my experience basically a word used to describe a deficit in these situations. The deficit is what exists between the teams performance, and the perceived impact of the player. When the team is playing well, but a player doesn’t look to be particularly spectacular (in MKG’s case he’s good at attacking the basket [like a lot of ‘athletic’ players] and he appears to play energetic defense, but to the uninformed viewer his terrible shooting would appear to make him a ‘bad’ player), the word intangible is often used to fill the gap. Whether rightly or wrongly, it is a word that is used in a painfully unqualified sense to describe someone’s worth, in ways we have absolutely no realistic ability of judging. It is also a deficit that tends to disappear when that player goes on to play for a bad team.
Just look at Luc Mbah a Moute’s adjusted plus/minus numbers (link). His teams crap, so the deficit doesn’t need to exist. His ‘intensity’, his ‘winning’ defense, it doesn’t matter.
MKG will probably be a player that the well read members of GSOM might advocate trading for in a couple of years, just as you advocate trading for similar players like Iguodala. And if we get a player who can play in a way that is (wrongly) perceived by the media to be more valuable, we will be in a powerful position to trade for him.
The moral of this is firstly to judge players on who they are, and what skills they have shown, not who they play with, or what mental character the media perceives them to have. In this case by all accounts MKG is a very solid player, who fits really well on our team. But keep in mind that once that player is not playing with those players who have previously helped defined him, those adjectives such as ‘winner’ will cease to be used, his ‘intangibles’ may disappear, even though nothing about the subject (the player) you are describing has necessarily changed. For a team like us, who have just one shot (realistically) to significantly improve the team, this is a valuable point to remember.
So you can imagine what I would say about Drummond. So I’ll barely bother. He’s got a great body. That’s basically it. By virtue of that he is a fairly good defender, that doesn’t seem to really understand the fundamentals of it. His maximum potential in my mind is a more ‘athletic’ DeAndre Jordan. He can’t play offense to an average standard, with a purely embarrassing free throw percentage that I have no doubt almost all of the community at GSOM could better in a real game.
I honestly just don’t care for him, and if it wasn’t for the media machine telling people to believe things that they have never seen, and telling people to believe that he may grow both his offensive and defensive games like no one ever has before, he would be a potential late first round, early second round pick.
How nbadraft.net can say he has “arguably the highest ceiling of anyone in his class based on his rare physical attributes” is beyond me. He simply hasn’t shown the tangible abilities, or at least building blocks of skills expected of a player that would make me “love Drummond’s NBA potential” (link).
So who do I like?
Well as I’ve said, there is a difference between players I think will help this team win the most in the short term and players I think the team should draft. In no particular order.
would love to trade up and get Barnes, simply because I (edited) feel he has shown the tangible skills and fundamentals, that require only tinkering to bring him to the level of a 20+ PPG player, who plays solid defence. In a league based much more around screens and off the ball movement with man coverage defense, he will likely get a lot more room to attack the basket, and will likely put up great numbers in his rookie season if he comes to a team like ours.
The solid starters minutes he will get, as well as the fact that (due to the media’s painful obsession with creating story-lines) he will be partly credited for the dramatic improvement in our W-L record will see his value (rightly or wrongly) soar, whilst players like MKG see their values deteriorate on poor teams.
He will likely have a positive impact on both ends of the floor (although nowhere near the levels one might expect with the ludicrous levels of hype around him) and could be a great trade asset.
This is probably the guy I want the most. And if the Bobcats are thinking of trading their second pick, I would seriously consider trading any combination of our four picks that left us with their pick and one of the 30th and 35th picks at the end as being a worthwhile investment. He would fit perfectly into a 3 guard rotation at the 1 and 2 spot with Steph and Klay, would play good defense, and would score a lot. Perceived value... check.
He’s also one of the youngest players in the draft and has a lot of room to grow from his really solid foundations. That he could play for us right away would make a huge difference to his abilities, and his value.
In many ways this guy is perfect for us. Not only is he likely the second best player in the draft right now, his abilities match up with what is perceived to be valuable in the NBA (grabbing rebounds, scoring solid amounts of points). Furthermore he could come in and play 25-30 minutes a game consistently right away, at our weakest position on the floor (backup big man).
While he is seen as having a limited potential, and is a ‘safe’ pick, I feel that misrepresents him, in a draft where one of the most untalented lottery prospects I have ever seen has a 'high potential'. While he is older (relatively), and only has average size, but good ‘athleticism’ (seriously one day could someone please explain to me what Americans mean by athleticism, assuming that it actually has a consistent meaning? It seems to be a value judgement that applies sporadically to practically any player at any time), he has a solid base of skills with which to build on, and is one of few big men I can imagine seeing some sort of smooth progression from towards being an all-round offensive player.
His defence isn’t great, barely getting any blocks, but as perceived value and potential is the most important aspect to me, I feel good about this guy.
This guy shares many of the same attributes as Bradley Beal in how he would fit in for us, getting solid minutes behind Steph and Klay. Judging by his game, I think he’s exactly the kind of guy who could be perceived to succeed in the NBA and is someone I am very comfortable with the team picking.
As with Beal, he has the basics of a really solid offensive game, with great ball handling and ability to get to the basket and hopefully with some work, the free throw line. His shot is fundamentally sound (though not as good technique wise as Beal), with the major floor being that he seems to fade back slightly as he takes it. Luckily this is one of the more fixable flaws a shooter could have, and bodes well for some modest improvements with work.
As the primary ball-handler, his decision making appears to be fairly poor, but as I’ve said before, this is one of the more controllable aspects of a players game in the NBA, as it doesn’t require him to learn more skills. Coming in as a rookie on a well balanced roster would really give him a chance to learn how to hone what are some exceptional skills into a good all round package.
I feel like he is in the Brandon Roy mold of prospect. He may not appear to have the highest potential, but he has a solid base of skills, with some exceptional ones, that can get him game time straight away. When coupled with the fact that only modest all round improvement would make him a solid starter, he seems like a great pick (especially considering he would be likely to score a lot of points and have a very high perceived value).
If people are really hyped by Harrison Barnes and his relatively one-dimensional scoring, I have no idea why people aren’t hyped by this guy, and his multi-dimensional abilities and even better scoring efficiency. One of them is good at attacking the basket, the other is average. One showed significant improvement from his 1st to 2nd college season, the other didn’t. Barnes didn't even shoot the three pointer as well as Waiters. I really don’t understand how there can be such a huge gulf between them.
I could go over the entire draft, but at this point I’ll stop going over the picks in detail as hopefully everyone understands where I’m coming from. After the main group of players I think the best prospects are Henson, and Leonard.
I’m with Evanz on this one. Henson is right now a great defender, both in the fact that he gets lots of blocks, and in that he has good defensive fundamentals (unlike Drummond IMO). He is also a good rebounder with a fundamentally sound offensive game. He has a nice looking shot to build upon (unlike MKG and Drummond), though this is no guarantee that he becomes a good shooter, and is a fine finisher.
He could come in to our team, get good minutes, and put up really solid numbers (high rebounds, high blocks, average to below average points).
I’m glad Evanz has consistently hyped this guy, because he’s easy to forget, as for all the talk of how MKG is a ‘winner’, I feel this guy has just as high a potential. He plays a position on the floor where defense is even more pivotal than SF, and has the fundamentals of a decent offensive game. If he put on some muscle he could be really special.
Why am I putting Leonard here? Because he’s a very 'athletic' center, with some actual basic fundamental skills. The main problem with drafting him is that he isn’t a good enough prospect to mitigate the fact that he would get little playing time behind Bogut (around 16-18 MPG). Thus his value would be
very limited, regardless of whether he becomes a very good player. If I was convinced he was going to be a star, I would have him high on my list, but I feel we can get more value from other picks.
Beyond this it is basically a crapshoot. I don’t particularly care for Austin Rivers, mainly because while he seems to be talented, I can’t see him having such scoring success with a relatively weak body, and being on a team where he can’t be allowed to dominate the ball.
I don't feel that Damian Lillard is even the BPA at our position. Assuming Curry gets healthy (which we should assume if we want to maximise the value of the roster when thinking about draft permutations) he will barely play. Thus considering the myriad of other options for us, I just don’t think he’s worth considering.
I really really don’t want Tyler Zeller, as I just can’t imagine him putting up the numbers of some of the other prospects available to us, and he’s much nearer the finished product.
But honestly, I love this draft. The whole 10-20 zone is filled with players who would likely have all gone in the top 5-8 picks last year or higher. Most have either really solid all-round games (T Jones), or have high potential and some solid skills (Lamb, Moultrie, Perry Jones). Considering that if we were to move down in the draft and be in a position to pick one of them we would have acquired other assets, there is a lot to tempt the team down there.
EDITED ADDITION: My draft board
1. Anthony Davis
2. Bradley Beal
3. Thomas Robinson
4. Dion Waiters
6= Harrison Barnes
(I really can't decide if the extra perceived value I think a potentially high scoring Barnes will have next year, is made up for by the fact that MKG will clearly be a much more positive player)
7. John Henson
8. Meyers Leonard
Looking at the mock draft I think we are in an excellent position. I would love to see us pick up any of the (consensus) top 7 players except Drummond and Lillard, although I would only trade for 2 of them (Beal and Robinson). After looking in depth I feel really great about potentially drafting Waiters or whoever falls to us if Portland picks Lillard (still not Drummond).
Honestly for all I’ve said about MKG I would not be devastated if the team picked him if he fell to us, because he does just fit our team too perfectly. While I’m aware that a few years down the line his value will likely have diminished significantly (as compared to the other offensive players that I feel will leapfrog him in perceived value), if he comes in, and the team makes the playoffs, the ‘winning’ perception around him may be maintained, and he would likely end up a lot more valuable than he would on another team. Furthermore, except for maybe Henson (assuming all the other top 7 players I would pick were off the board), he likely would do the most to help the team win on the court, which in the end is the most important thing.
If the player that falls to us is Drummond, and the team decides it doesn’t want to take Waiters (although he is my first choice at this point), I really hope they find a good way to trade down in the draft. However to be worth it, it would have to bring two good first rounders, or one and a young prospect, which is hard to imagine. Trades I would consider are things like a pick swap with the Bucks, but we get a Top 10 protected pick one of the next few years, or a swap for both of Houston’s picks, which I feel is very much on the cards if Drummond potentially falls to us. That is because there really is so little difference between the best players, that a choice of two of the lower ranked ones has a good chance to lead to a better outcome than a choice of one of the (slightly) higher ranked ones. In fact just thinking about this is making me very jealous of teams like Houston, New Orleans and Portland, who could literally rebuild their teams with this draft.
Please, please, please, if Quincy Miller (a player who if he hadn’t had knee surgery would almost certainly be a lottery pick) is available, just draft him. If he’s really perceived to have the ability to be a top 10 pick next year if he shows that he’s recovered from his knee injury, just draft him at 30 this year. This shouldn’t be an issue, there's just too much promise to not take a risk on it at that end of the draft. He’s one of the most skilled prospects in the draft, and has the length of Kevin Durant. Literally his only major flaw is that his elbow is a bit crooked on his jump shot.
Consider how almost no-one in the main sports sites questions whether Derrick Rose is going to be the player he was before his identical injury, why does the same surgery suddenly put such a talented player (Miller) into relative obscurity?
SO THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT ARE:
1. This is the last significant chance to improve the team in the next 2-3 years
Thus I would really refrain from packaging the pick for a veteran, who won’t have much trade value come the end of this period, but won’t get this team near the Conference finals. Further I would advocate trying to draft the most valuable player, with the highest potential available.
2. Don’t get too attached to the player we draft
If history is anything to go by he won’t be here by the end of his rookie contract. Thus the most important thing is to grab the player that either has the most value, or you can put in a position to get the most value out of in the immediate future.
3. Perceived value does not equal actual value. Yet it is more important
Be aware of what the media, and GM’s care about when talking about and trading for players. Not all GM’s work their teams like Daryl Morey to get the most from what little they have. Most are interested in marketing their teams as best as possible. Thus a year into players careers, people don’t really care about ‘intangibles’, ‘winning’ mentalities, ‘intensity’ anymore. They care about PPG, rebounds (whether they’re actually good rebounders or not). Thus in my opinion, it is important if you agree with point 2, not to get caught to caught up in which player will contribute the most to playing winning basketball, because that is likely to not be what the other 28 GM’s in the league are primarily concerned with.
4. Do not resort to ‘I trust ownership to make the best pick, ‘I trust Jerry West’ etc
Sure they are most likely infinitely more knowledgable than me, and have much more information with which to make these decisions. But just remember: their objectives may not align with yours. Maybe the most important thing for them is to guarantee playoff basketball next season, and thus they don’t mind if it leaves the team (likely) significantly worse off in 3 years time. Maybe that’s your main objective too. Maybe they share their same objectives as me, and will draft what they see as the best player available, with the most potential value.
But importantly we don’t know their objectives. So never suspend rational judgement and replace it with trust. It will almost certainly come to leave you disappointed in the end.