Now that the draft has happened I have new info! I know how various front offices of varying sharpness chose to expend their picks, and I’m going to critique my big board rankings based on the outcome and my sharpness predictions.
Let’s start with internationals. By looking at statistical projections and cross referencing them with scouting reports, I tried to make my best thin slice assessment of the international class. I decided that the class was largely underrated due to the strong statistical profiles, and rank the internationals rather aggressively.
I pegged Dante Exum, Jusuf Nurkic, Clint Capela, Damien Inglis, Nikola Jokic, and Vasilije Micic as underrated. All of them slid considerably lower than my big board ranking, and the quality of FO who took them was pretty much random based on my pre-draft ranking. Micic and Capela were taken by top 3 FO’s, Nurkic and Jokic were taken by my 9th worst FO, Exum was taken the slightly above average Jazz (11th) and Inglis was taken by the slightly below average Bucks (17th). So the quality of team that took stabs on these guys was close to random, and all of them went right about where they were slotted to go in mocks.
To make matters worse, I had Dario Saric as the lone overrated international and he was taken by my #2 GM Sam Hinkie 12th overall when I had him 23rd on my big board. My #1 FO the Spurs took Nemanja Dangubic who I didn’t bother with because his stats are so bad in the late 2nd. My #3 FO (Houston) took Alessandro Gentile who I barely bothered with because his stats are mediocre. Bogdan Bogdanovic who I was neutral on was taken by my #8 FO with both Inglis and Jokic on the board. And my #7 FO Toronto took Bruno Caboclo who I did not realize existed, although based on limited information seems like my type of gamble. Artem Klimenko who seemed like an OK gamble went undrafted, and Walter Tavares was taken by my #6 FO 43rd overall, which I deem to be good value.
So overall there were a lot of teams that I rated highly dipping their fingers in the international pie, but they were looking at the guys that I had not pegged as sleepers as opposed to the ones I did. I still think this is a good class, and I still think that internationals were underdrafted. But for better or worse I feel like I was far too aggressive in ranking international players that I never actually scouted myself or analyzed in any sort of meaningful way.
The bottom line is that the international players were a part of the draft, and I had to do my best to interpolate them with the NCAA class in spite of my lack of familiarity. I went out on a limb trusting statistical indicators, and the early returns are that smart teams don’t completely agree with me. I’m still happy with the draft outcome if I’m a Nuggets fan, and I do believe that it’s insane how far Clint Capela slid. But I am nevertheless feeling highly unconfident in my international hypotheses, even though I don’t think the logic that went into them was bad or anything. I was just working with a super thin slice and perhaps should have proceeded with more caution in my final ranking.
I signed up for this to evaluate NCAA prospects, so this is where I expect to knock most of the stuff out of the park. First let’s start with my players I had earmarked as overrated:
|My rank||Actual slot||Team rank|
These are the 9 players whose hype I flatly disagreed with and wrote about in a decidedly one way tone for all or most of the season (with Jabari as the exception as I didn’t cool too much until the home stretch). None of them were drafted by a top 10 team, 8/9 were drafted by a below average team, and 6/9 were drafted by bottom 10 teams in my draft rankings or not at all. Honestly I can’t outright brag that I knocked all of these out of the park: for all I know Philly would have taken Wiggins over Embiid if they had the chance and I got lucky that they ended up with the #3 pick instead of #1. And I assume at least one or two of these guys will become quite a bit better than I expect and make me look semi-bad. But I feel good about my hypotheses on all of these players, and based on the teams that pulled the trigger I have no reason to alter my opinions of any of them.
Now let’s look at the guys I ear-marked as underrated:
|My rank||Actual slot||Team rank|
Once again, all above average teams picked these guys up. And the 4 guys I pegged as possible superstars all went in a row after the bad teams cleaned Parker and Wiggins off the board.
In fairness, I might have overrated Javon McCrea and Kendrick Perry who I tabbed as late 1st rounders based on statistics when they went undrafted. Isaiah Sykes went undrafted too, although he will be playing summer league for Philly which pleases me. And I could also claim small credit for Nick Johnson who I ranked ahead 42nd (54th DX, 60th ESPN) who was scooped by Morey.
Of course I wasn’t perfect with my NCAA stuff, as a few smart teams believe I underrated some players:
|My rank||Actual slot||Team rank|
So I may have underrated these guys a bit. I also may have underrated them a lot. In my defense the top 3 guys were players who I agonized over quite a bit and never felt comfortable placing. TJ Warren I barely scouted and honestly I had no idea where to place. I probably erred too heavily on the side of negativity with respect to his consensus ranking since I don’t believe he necessarily has a fatal flaw and he likely has his own form of upside by being so funky.
Payne was a headache for me to solve as I just couldn’t get the draft models hatred of him out of my mind. I think his passing and age are probably a bigger deal than draft narratives suggest, but I can easily see him becoming a solid role player. If Ferry likes him, I was probably a bit too bearish in my final ranking. I had him as the #18 prospect on my first big board before I knew statistical models were a thing.
James Young was actually a player who I felt carried some subtle edges, and I quite like him as a personality and I am excited to root for him. I just don’t get the sense it’s a priority for him to become good on defense, but that’s not a hypothesis that I insist carries a ton of weight in his draft stock. The funny thing is that I almost posted “if I’m badly underrating one prospect, I hope it’s James Young.” Since I’m a Celtics fan that is now super true.
Huestis I hadn’t even considered as a legit prospect because his stats were just so bad for his age. But if Presti likes his defense enough to take him in round 1, that’s enough for me to skyrocket him up my big board. I still think his offense is so limited that it may have been a mistake anyway, but I legitimately invested about 2 seconds of thought in Huestis’s draft stock so why would I get his ranking right?
I mentioned in the prelude to my mega board that I inevitably incorrectly processed some information, and I would much rather it be on these types who I was torn both ways on than the guys I was selling as definitively overrated prospects. I’m probably going to humblify my big board at some point in light of actual outcome, and these guys and Saric are all getting moved up the most.
I feel like there were plenty of weaknesses in my analysis. My hyper extrapolation of internationals may have been a fool’s errand. I don’t regret trying, and I’m still interested to see how my rankings actually look when all is said and done. But without my actual scouting the rankings are obviously worth far less.
As for everything else, I think my rankings from 12 and onward are going to be shaky. The NCAA talent curve became somewhat flat outside of the top 10, and even though I feel somewhat validated that GM’s I like took my sleepers, players like McDaniels, Dinwiddie, Stokes, etc don’t have crazy high upside that make it a big time mistake to take the players I liked less over them.
I would say I probably veered too far from consensus and perhaps suffered from information overload with all of the statistical modeling that I referenced. I’m OK with that, I need to overdose on information before I learn how to interpret it with maximum efficiency.
In summation: I’d say I took some risks that will eventually enhance my perception, but probably made the overall quality of my mega board weaker. I’m most happy that the bold stances I took for/against NCAA prospects strongly aligned with the quality of team that drafted them, as I believe that is a strong early check mark in favor of the meat of my analysis. Unfortunately my lower confidence rankings that I went overboard on are going to be judged just the same, so my mega board overall likely lacks the edge over DX/ESPN/actual outcome that I was hoping for. That’s OK, I may fail to meet the technical definition of my goals, but I feel like I refined my process quite well overall and it will be even better next year.