The challenge with the draft is that there are limitless perspectives on each prospect to balance to attempt to discern the truth. It is common for me to completely overhaul my perspective on a player once viewing them in a new light. In 2014 I went from perceiving Aaron Gordon as an overrated and worse shooting Josh Smith to an underrated stud near the top of my big board after watching him play regularly. It is rare to precisely analyze a prospect at first glance, which is why I am perpetually updating my perspectives.
Honestly I don’t think my analysis this draft was particularly good. It was a last minute attempt to piece everything together, and I feel like I missed a number of key perspectives in a hasty attempt to resemble a respectable big board.
I ranked Jamal Murray 12th on my final big board on the premise that he is a one dimensional shooter who will be a defensive liability. This is a popular narrative in the draft contrarian world, but I have underrated players as one dimensional shooters such as Devin Booker and Rodney Hood in the past.
The key factor that separates Murray from Buddy Hield (aside from his youth) is his court vision. He did not have the burst or shake to regularly beat opponents off the dribble, and deferred PG duties to Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe, but he clearly has some level of PG skills and decent vision as he posted a solid assist:TOV rate for a young high usage SG.
He also was able to get to the rim at a reasonable rate, and posted a better ORB% than Jaylen Brown. His athleticism is not great, but it is also not bad, and his youth gives him plenty of time to develop into a complete offensive player.
Further his catch all NCAA statistics were strong as he beat Brandon Ingram in PER, WS, and BPM while only being 6 months older.
He likely will be a defensive liability who struggles to switch onto bigger and quicker opponents, but he is not necessarily going to be a disaster. And either way it is easy to envision how he has the upside to become an offensive star to outweigh his defensive shortcomings.
So after a full season of Murray skepticism, I will finally acknowledge that he was likely the best player available at #7, and may even be better than Jaylen Brown or Kris Dunn. It was a massive error for New Orleans to draft Hield ahead of him.
The most surprising slider on draft night, Davis was expected to go lottery and ended up dropping all the way to the 2nd round. My speculation was that he may have injury flags, but on second thought it is more likely that he just is not that good.
He was largely a garbage man on offense for Michigan State, and was the beneficiary of many lobs from the best passer in NCAA basketball. He had a frighteningly low FT rate, which could flag any number of flaws from toughness, to creation, to basketball instincts.
Defensively he had a good block rate, but he did so anchoring Tom Izzo’s worst defense since 2004. His steal rate was a flag and he simply might not be much more than a Skal type who tries to sway everything on that end.
But unlike Skal he is not 7′ tall, he is only a good but not great athlete, and he does not have a 3 point shot. His tools are good but not good enough to amount to much without much in the way of feel for the game or basketball instincts. He is a better rebounder than Skal and may have less broken instincts, but between the two of them I would rather gamble on Labissiere and his more unique strengths.
I had Davis ranked as 6th on my final big board, but after perceiving him through a negative lense he seems to be have been picked where he deserved to go. I drop him big time on a re-rank. Skal I would drop from 14th, but I nevertheless believe was a solid gamble at 28th overall.
I had him ranked 8th on my final big board, and he slid to 24th. There are logical reasons- he is 21 and his Adriatic stats are underwhelming. I had likened him to a poor man’s Jaylen Brown, but his tools are clearly inferior and he is not more productive at 1.5 years older. There is still reason to find him as good value in the late 1st, but there is good reason to temper expectations.
I had LeVert ranked 31st on my final big because he had no hype on DX and ESPN, and I assumed his medical flags scared teams off. But when the Nets reached for him at 20th, I took it as an indication that his medical records cannot be bad. I definitely like him as a 1st rounder if health is not a big concern, so I am bumping him up my board.
I had him ranked 25th and he ended up going 14th to Chicago. If I could re-rank, I’d slot him even lower as I missed the concerns about his knee injury. This pick reminisces of the Bulls taking Doug McDermott in the lottery as they were desperate for a shooter ready to contribute now and instead took a shooter ready to contribute never. Valentine is a more dynamic offensive threat than McDermott with elite passing, so I rate this pick as slightly better. But he shares the same concerns with no slashing game and major defensive vulnerability, so with the knee injury as a cherry I’d grade this is a big reach by the Bulls.
These were my 3 super value picks who I maintain are super value. Onuaku and Qi were expected to go late for bad reasons, and statistical wizard Daryl Morey recognized this and wisely snatched them up. Onuaku is especially good value as he less of a mystery box and just blatantly good– there is absolutely no excuse for him sliding out of round 1.
Dejounte Murray is a boom or bust pick that I felt warm toward, and the fact that the Spurs took him re-affirms that notion for me. I had him 13th on my final big board, and he did slide all the way to 29th so perhaps I slightly overrated him. But more likely he was great value for the Spurs like always.
I Have No Idea What These Guys Are
I rated all of these players as early 2nd rounders, and they all went in the top 16. I really have no definitive conclusions for any of them, but I do have guesses!
Thon Maker looked like a disaster sharing the floor in the Nike Hoop Summit, as he was badly outshined by Skal Labissiere, Cheick Diallo, and Stephen Zimmerman. If you had told me he would be drafted 18 slots before any of them a year later, my face would have melted off. He is 7’1″ with a decent skill set, but is unathletic and uncoordinated and does not seem teeming with upside. I cannot fathom that he would have drastically outshined any of the aforementioned three as an NCAA freshman, the laws of statistics and probability suggest that he likely would have been just as bad or worse. Further there is the concern that he is much older than 19 years old.
But here we are with Maker going 10th. I strongly suspect that Maker is benefitting from lack of statistical proof of badness, and is getting a big benefit of the doubt from good intangibles and interviews and that this was a terrible pick. But with only one game of watching him more than a year ago I cannot state this with extreme confidence, and it is possible that his skills have developed well and the Bucks have good reason for gambling this high.
Papagiannis is just a huge mystery box but he is super young and super large, and it sounds like his stock skyrocketed into the 1st round at the last minute. That said he was drafted by the most dysfunctional franchise, so the safest assumption is that he is a fair selection in the first round but likely belonged somewhere in the 2nd half with the Kings reaching. But that is pure guesswork.
Juan Hernangomez is one of the weirder prospects in the draft. He is a combo forward who seems to lack the ball skills to play offense on the perimeter, and the rim protection to play defense in the paint. My gut instinct is that he is a pick overrated on motor, intangibles, and teams valuing shooting too heavily over ball skills. But he has potential as a perimeter defender, and apparently his ACB coach is to blame for a number of his shortcomings. So this may be a perfectly decent pick after all, even if it feels meh to me from afar.
Guerschon Yabusele seems like a dud due to his inability to defend anybody whatsoever. On one hand, Danny Ainge tends to highly value defense in the draft and it is possible that he is less of a disaster on this end than the scouting report suggests. On the other hand, the Celtics were constraining themselves to players willing to be stashed, which made this pick unlikely to be good value to begin with. I only feel inclined to bump him up marginally from his 44th overall rank.