Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hill Fails To Impress (& Knick Tidbits)

Knick fans that hoped the 2009 #8 pick would pay immediate dividends are going to be disappointed. Mike D’Antoni said Jordan Hill “got a ways to go” with regards to being NBA ready. A quote like this would be expected if New York grabbed a teenager from Europe like Ricky Rubio or Brandon Jennings. But Jordan Hill is 22, and spent 3 years in Arizona. Shouldn’t he be ready to contribute to the NBA now?

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the Knicks recent power forward draftees. Channing Frye, like Hill, was 22 year old #8 overall pick from Arizona and managed an 18.1 PER in 1500+ minutes his first season. David Lee, taken in the same draft, had a 15.4 PER in 1100+ minutes that same year. The 9th overall pick in 2003, Mike Sweetney, was buried on the IR due to incompetent management. But he still was able to perform on an NBA level with a 17.2 PER his first season. Even Nene Hillario who was traded by the Knicks on draft day put up a PER of 15.4 in 2200+ minutes as a 20 year old rookie for Denver.

Hill’s defenders say he started playing basketball late, and that he’s still learning the game. But 2010 is a win now year, with the Knicks not owning their own pick in the upcoming draft. And Walsh didn’t really seem interested in spending money this summer to improve his team, even on his own players. The only trade they made this summer was for a backup center in Darko Milicic. So with no other avenues to improve the team now why would the Knicks take a player who was a project? Surely there was someone that was more ready to contribute this season (Blair seems the part, and Lawson had a nice preseason). Perhaps Walsh didn’t mind taking someone unpolished, but then he should have aimed for someone that was younger or had a bigger upside.

It sounds rough to be critical of a rookie before the season even starts. I can understand Hill not making the rotation, especially with the veterans ahead of him. But I would have liked to hear the coaching staff speak more positively of him. Maybe something along the lines of “he’s good, but he’s going to have to wait his turn.” Perhaps a better showing in either summer league or the preseason would allow me to look past his current state. I’m sure Hill will get some minutes at some point this year, and I can only hope that he can get some positive reviews for his on the court play.

Other News:

  • You can throw away any chance of Eddy Curry getting into the rotation early in the season to increase his trade value. Curry talked about his offseason conditioning publicly on Twitter, then hurt his foot in the first practice. Although it was initially thought that the injury wasn’t serious and he’d be back quickly, Eddy didn’t play in a single preseason game. The team has told Curry to not come back until he reaches a certain weight, implying that his summer regimen wasn’t as advertised. Curry threw away his 2009 season, and so far he’s on pace to do the same in 2010.
  • Not only are Eddy Curry and Jordan Hill out of the rotation, but it seems that Larry Hughes didn’t make the cut either. Hughes probably didn’t expect this to occur (he started 57 of 68 games in 2008, and 20 of 55 last year), and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds. Although the Knicks could afford to let someone like Stephon Marbury hang in the wind (especially considering Marbury’s actions after the team let him go), the front office and coaching staff could lose serious face if this situation gets that ugly.

    From a simple perspective it seems that Hughes was beaten out by Toney Douglas (and perhaps Danilo Gallinari) who are likely to eat the bulk of his minutes along with Nate Robinson. But it’s more likely that this is just coach D’Antoni going with his youngsters.

  • Looks like the Knicks have a new end of bench guy, for now. Marcus Landry replaces Joe Crawford (and Chris Hunter) as the Knicks rotate in a new 12th man yet again. Sorry if I’m indifferent on this signing, but New York seems to grab these guys and tend to never use them in a meaningful way. The best analogy I can come up with it my 2 year old who’ll snatch a toy the minute another child becomes interested in it, not really play with it, and then casually discard it when the next shiny thing comes along.
  • 43 comments on “Hill Fails To Impress (& Knick Tidbits)

    1. Nick C.

      Maybe he’s trying to light a fire under Hill’s a**? Still that’s not good. And he was a lottery pick no less.

    2. Brian Cronin

      Man, this season just gets more depressing every day, and they haven’t even lost their first game yet!

    3. Caleb

      Who ever could have imagined it would turn out like this ?
      Even Jon might have to return his Hill jersey….

    4. BigBlueAL

      I have a feeling that toward the end of the season Hill will start playing more and show some pretty good progress. He definitely has a long ways to go but you can see the talent (especially his propensity for offensive rebounding) is there.

      Again I dont get so worked up because its not like they passed on players who were no-brainers (again sorry I dont count Jennings and Lawson) and we all know they really wanted Curry or Rubio who were no longer available. Give them credit for Douglas because he looks like a real good pick. For #29 he seems like more than a passable backup PG who can even play a little SG too. I know you all wanted Blair and he has been amazing during pre-season but at least give them some credit for what seems like a pretty good pick in Douglas.

    5. Jafa

      I’m with you BigBlueAL. I wasn’t high on Jennings either (still not, I think the combination of his false perception of his basketball skill level and a tough grinding coach like Skiles could get ugly) and I thought it was too high to draft Lawson, whom I liked.

      Also, we can’t keep crying about the draft. It happened and we didn’t get the guy we wanted (Curry or Rubio) so lets get over it (I am) and focus on the the season and the summer of 2010.

      I’ve been looking at our schedule this season and I’m betting we win 35 games (would love to hear your individual predictions). In my opinion , the only way we get into the playoffs is if one of the middle teams (Chicago, Toronto, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami) has an injury to a star player or badly underachieves.

    6. TDM

      Walsh, for some reason, did not like any of the guards available at that position (DeRozan, Jennings, Lawson). So he went big. After Hill, I can’t think of another PF/C that I would have taken at 8. I know Blair is very popular with some, but he’s undersized and has health issues. I didn’t like him at 8. That said, Blair was a great value where the Spurs got him. Walsh should have traded down, and maybe gotten a pick for next year as well.

      I hope BB Al is right that Hill comes on towards the end of the season. I don’t see him getting any burn until the Knicks are officially out of playoff race. That shouldn’t take too long.

      In case anyone is interested, Sweetney was cut by Boston.

    7. Z

      “In my opinion , the only way we get into the playoffs is if one of the middle teams (Chicago, Toronto, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami) has an injury to a star player or badly underachieves.”

      Doesn’t this happen every year? The only question is which team over-achieves into the vacated slot. Will it be the Knicks this year? Maybe.

      I think that with some normalcy finally instilled in the franchise, these Knicks may do better than expected. My bigger concern is that being on the playoff bubble in February may keep us from making decent long term moves (like trading Harrington, Duhon, or Nate for future considerations).

    8. Z-man

      Nice to see activity picking up, it’s been pretty slow bloggin’ around here recently.

      Preseason wasn’t bad. It’s hard to beat any NBA team 3 straight times, so nice that we did that to the (albeit woeful) Nets. If we play D and shoot less than 30 threes a game, this team is at least watchable.

      The Isiah-Magic feud is weird. I could never stomach Isiah, but Magic seems out of line in this case. Ah, screw ‘em both.

    9. AY

      Everyone regarded this as a weak draft. If the Knicks actually turned down some variation of Jeffries/Chandler to Washington for the #5 pick or some other move that would have allowed them to move up, that’s not so good. But if they’re at #8, you can’t blame them for not getting Rubio or Curry (I’m not sure either of those guys is a sure thing anyway). Among the guys available at #8, to me the question is will Hill work out to be better/more valuable than Jennings or DeRozan? Maybe. Also, even if Hill doesn’t get on the court much this year, he may be ready to contribute next year when, say, Lee and Harrington might not be here because we used all of our cap space to sign 2 new guys (neither of whom is a power forward/center) and Lee/Harrington won’t take the mid-level. Then we’d be glad we had Hill around to be the rebounder.

      The Knicks certainly worked out Jennings and DeRozan. They went with Hill for good reason, I hope.

    10. BigBlueAL

      I know Hahn at least has been vocal about the Knicks never coming close to acquiring the Wizards pick at #5 and that they made the trade with the Wolves because it was a much better deal for them than anything the Knicks were willing to give them. Also its funny because Curry has shot horrible during the entire pre-season.

      If anything yeah the Knicks couldve traded down to the mid-to-late teens and then maybe selected a Ty Lawson but we cant criticize them for not trading down just because we have no idea if they tried but had no takers etc. Even though the stats guys had Hill as a late 1st-rounder almost every mock draft leading up to the draft had him in the Top 10 and many had him gone by the time the Knicks picked at #8 so again to me at least it is pretty difficult to really rip the Hill pick especially before the season has even started.

      Looking forward to Wednesday, although hopefully the Yankees are playing Game 1 of the WS that same night so my full, undivided attention wont be yet towards the Knicks until the Yankees are done and hopefully that wont be til early next week and after they win their 27th championship….

    11. gbaked

      Until we got to pick 5 in the draft, not trading Wil and #8 for 5 looked to be the right move.

      I mean, how many people had predicted that Minn was gonna take 2 pg in a row, then GS (who just inked their pg) will take one as well?

      Had one of those things happened, we would be looking at either Curry, Rubio or Flynn. All three I think better then Hill (for us). But Hill was an adequate lemonade. Dude has some skills, and seems to be the right kind of player to handle the situation. Maybe he does explode later in the season.

      In hindsight its easy to say that trading for the 5 was the obvious move, now it is…

      But going into the draft, Hill was not far down on anyone’s board. Its way too early to be hating on a rookie anyway. Gotta let him play out his first season.

    12. jon abbey

      “Who ever could have imagined it would turn out like this ?
      Even Jon might have to return his Hill jersey….”

      :)

      the thought of this Knicks season is pretty depressing, a better draft would have given me something new to watch (although if Gallinari gets going, I’d be into that). I wasn’t sure if I was going to get League Pass again, but I think I might and just focus on teams like the Clippers and Warriors to keep me occupied basketball-wise until next summer.

    13. d-mar

      I agree with BB Al and some of the other posters – it’s WAY too early to be calling HIll a bust or a wasted pick. The NBA draft is such a crapshoot, a lot of top 10 players end up with mediocre (or worse) NBA careers, and others taken lower (Ginoboli, Rondo, Parker, etc.) become stars. Just for kicks, I went back and looked at the first 10 players taken in 2007:

      1) Oden
      2) Durant
      3) Horford
      4) Conley
      5) Green
      6) Jian Lin
      7) Brewer
      8) Wright
      9) Noah
      10) Hawes

      How many of these guys other than Durant would you consider future All Stars? I guess my point is we need to let this play out a little before we freak out about not taking Lawson, Jennings, or whoever. “All I am saying is give Walsh a chance”

    14. Mike Kurylo Post author

      “Even though the stats guys had Hill as a late 1st-rounder almost every mock draft leading up to the draft had him in the Top 10 and many had him gone by the time the Knicks picked at #8 so again to me at least it is pretty difficult to really rip the Hill pick especially before the season has even started.”

      “Hill was not far down on anyone’s board.”

      Yeah, but isn’t the point to take advantage of all the knowledge that’s out there? If the Knicks are ignoring statistical evidence, then they’re operating from a deficit, or at least an obstructed view. Every team passed on Blair because their doctors gave them medical evidence, even though it was pretty clear that he was a damn good player. So if teams are smart enough to get a doctor’s opinion, and even use that over their scouts’ eyes, then why not take a statistician’s?

    15. Rashidi

      Since when is this a win-now year?

      What difference does it make if the Knicks make the playoffs or finish with the worst record? They are not winning a championship or getting a draft pick either way. THE KNICKS ARE BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference whether or not they’re the 8th seed this season, that’s just what the team is selling you to try and get you to go to games THIS season instead of waiting for 2010 and beyond.

      Jordan Hill is a PF. David Lee and Al Harrington are free agents at the end of the year. Would they have been better off taking Wayne Ellington and then being stuck with no PF in 2010?

      Also, I don’t see how you can leave Michael Sweetney out of the Knick draft pick discussion. The reason why the Knicks got into trading their draft picks during the Ewing era is they never drafted well in the first place.

    16. Rashidi

      “So if teams are smart enough to get a doctor’s opinion, and even use that over their scouts’ eyes, then why not take a statistician’s?”

      Because doctors are “slightly” more credible than statisticians. Were you one of those guys who thought the Nets were dumb for not giving Shareef Abdur-Rahim 5 years and 35 million when they needed a PF to but alongside their big 3?

    17. Rashidi

      Also there’s no point in talking about Lawson or Jennings when the Knicks made it clear that Toney Douglas was gonna be their guy at #29. I don’t think anyone here could stomach another undersized PG anyway, what with the Duhon/Nate tandem that’s already out there for half the game.

    18. Z

      “Every team passed on Blair because their doctors gave them medical evidence, even though it was pretty clear that he was a damn good player. So if teams are smart enough to get a doctor’s opinion, and even use that over their scouts’ eyes, then why not take a statistician’s?”

      That’s an interesting question. I think it is because stats tell a story about a player’s past. Physical evaluations paint a picture of a player’s future. Since the NBA draft is about the future and not the past, the doctors trump the statisticians.

      As investors, teams try to get the most bang for their buck. Statisticians may have said: “Mike Sweetney’s college stats say he’ll be a solid starter in the pros”. Doctors may have said: “Mike Sweetney has a family history of obesity which will see him out of the league in three years”. If the doctors are right, then it doesn’t matter what the stat-men say.

      In the cases of Lawson and Blair, both have physical issues that threaten to compromise their productivity in the pros. The main question isn’t “were the scouts wrong” but “were the doctors right”. Let’s see how Lawson and Blair are doing at this time 2-3 years from now (about the time the Knicks have any chance of contending) to see if the Statmen should have gotten more say than the doctors re: the 2009 draft.

    19. Z-man

      Well put, Z. I wonder, though, how much had to do with the knees. Reattached ACL’s… are they pretty stable or no? Were there also issues with his height, weight, b-ball IQ, attitude, work ethic?

      It is really too soon to evaluate either Hill or Blair. I doubt Hill will be a total bust, he looks like at worst an Antonio Davis-type, which is not a great find at #8 but a definite rotation player who can rebound, block shots and run the floor.

    20. ess-dog

      Hill’s a reach, Douglas is a steal. Let’s split the difference and act like we got the #18 and #19 picks instead of the #8 and #29 and give it a rest already.
      We all know it was a weak draft. So far Curry and Jennings are shooting in the 30% range. Rubio’s somewhere in Barcelona and Kahn’s team is falling apart. Aside from the Clippers, you can’t really say another team picking in the top ten will definitely be better thanks to this draft (maybe OKC.)

    21. Mike Kurylo Post author

      “doubt Hill will be a total bust, he looks like at worst an Antonio Davis-type, which is not a great find at #8 but a definite rotation player who can rebound, block shots and run the floor.”

      AD played 13 years and made the All Star Team (once). He put up a 15.1 PER in 81 games (1700 minutes) his rookie year. I’ll be shocked if Jordan Hill matches any of those.

      “As investors, teams try to get the most bang for their buck.”

      I agree. Hence why it would be silly not to have some serious statisticians in their front office giving their input to factor into these kinds of decision.

      “As investors, teams try to get the most bang for their buck. Statisticians may have said: “Mike Sweetney’s college stats say he’ll be a solid starter in the pros”. Doctors may have said: “Mike Sweetney has a family history of obesity which will see him out of the league in three years”. If the doctors are right, then it doesn’t matter what the stat-men say.”

      I somewhat agree. On the flip side, IIRC a doctor approved the Mike Sweetney trade for Eddy Curry. While a statistician never would have.

    22. Z

      “On the flip side, IIRC a doctor approved the Mike Sweetney trade for Eddy Curry. While a statistician never would have.”

      Not sure what this point proves, even if it was true. A Sweetney for Curry trade, straight up, is a wash at this point. If Isiah had traded Sweetney for Curry, no one would think twice about it, either then or now. The trade, though, was Curry for Sweetney, Aldridge, and Noah. Doctors didn’t get to review the medicals of the future draft picks at the time, so it’s not fair to blame them for trumping the stat guys.

      Besides– doctors didn’t approve the Curry trade. He was forced out of Chicago because of his fragile health and no doctor deemed his contract insurable. No other team was willing to risk investing in Curry– not because their statisticians said not to, but because doctors said not to.

      As it stands, the doctors were right in the case of Curry. He wasn’t worth the investment. (Basically the medical field and the statistics field concurred on the matter, and they were both right. In the cases of Blair and Lawson, the opinions seem to diverge and I am interested in seeing who gets to gloat at the end of the day…)

    23. jon abbey

      “THE KNICKS ARE BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE.”

      which is why they should have drafted a real PG when they had a chance, or signed Sessions.

    24. Z-man

      “AD played 13 years and made the All Star Team (once). He put up a 15.1 PER in 81 games (1700 minutes) his rookie year. I’ll be shocked if Jordan Hill matches any of those.”

      AD was a rookie at age 25. He didn’t post a PER that high again until age 29. He had been playing ball a lot longer than Hill by then. He was never much of a shooter, especially from the FT line. Hill has a chance to be a better offensive player and as good defensively as Davis, and I think he will be the better player when all is said and done.

    25. sj12

      Sorry if this is a little off topic but, I live on the west coast, so no knicks’ games are broadcast on TV out here. What is the best way to watch knicks’ games? I was thinking about ordering NBA League Pass Broadband, does anyone know how that works/if it is good?

      Thanks

    26. BigBlueAL

      If Im not mistaken I believe Antonio Davis played a bit in Europe before his rookie season with the Pacers.

      sj12 I always buy the NBA League Pass since I live in Miami, never have tried it through Broadband though.

    27. Mike Kurylo Post author

      “A Sweetney for Curry trade, straight up, is a wash at this point.”

      A wash? Not only did we give up the draft picks, but also we signed Curry to a 6 year deal that is a major problem with regards to our 2010 free agency plans. Had we kept Sweetney, the team would be much better off right now. So if doctors were the ones that caused the Knicks not to draft Lawson or Blair, then where were they when we mortgaged the future for Curry, a guy with a heart condition AND weight issues?

    28. The Honorable Cock Jowles

      Since the draft, I have seen little mention of the relative cost of taking Blair. A second-round pick is relatively inexpensive and the average career of a second-rounder is far shorter than the high first-round. So if Blair’s knees really are as bad as the doctors said, and he’s out of the league by 2013, is he any more valuable than the average bench-warming second-rounder? As I know that Toney Douglas is ready to do what Toney Douglas do, I’m not ready to write him off quite yet. But taking Blair was a low-risk, high-reward play that could have worked out very nicely. We’re not talking about taking him at #8 here — he was available at the end of the first, and that’s something that I fear will haunt us just like the Rondo pick.

    29. The Honorable Cock Jowles

      An amendment:

      So if Blair’s knees really are as bad as the doctors said, and he’s out of the league by 2013, is he any LESS valuable than the average bench-warming second-rounder?

    30. Z

      “A wash? Not only did we give up the draft picks, but also we signed Curry to a 6 year deal that is a major problem with regards to our 2010 free agency plans. Had we kept Sweetney, the team would be much better off right now. So if doctors were the ones that caused the Knicks not to draft Lawson or Blair, then where were they when we mortgaged the future for Curry, a guy with a heart condition AND weight issues?”

      Yeah, I get that, but I don’t think “doctors” are really to blame for the Curry trade. Not unless Isiah got his PhD in sucking shit…

    31. latke

      Not to change the subject or anything but I read knickerblogger regularly, so I know people here are generally pretty smart, and so that’s why I’m hoping 1-3 people here are interested in jumping into my fantasy league. We’re having a live draft at 7:30pm central time, and we have 11 people. We’d like at least 12, no more than 14. It’s a yahoo league. To join, go to basketball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/nba

      click join a custom league

      the league ID# is 148846 and the Password is happyjoy

    32. Frank O.

      Been very busy lately with work, so I didn’t see the story on Curry’s weight.
      I find it amazing how the new york press was drinking the koolaide on Curry’s weight loss, and now it comes out he is still fat and out of shape. Amazing.
      I kept reading stories about how much weight he’s lost and…whatever. The dude is making millions and he can’t come in in shape? I know he’s had family problems, but come on.
      I wish they would go after his contract. I mean there are so many people out of work and this dude is getting millions for jack.
      Pathetic.
      And Hill comes into camp and has no legs and his fitness stinks? I mean, what are these guys thinking?
      And where is Knicks management? How is it that this team has these kinds of issues?
      I’m getting disgusted and the season hasn’t even started.

    33. latke

      Frank – To me it’s not shocking that a player would come in out of shape despite a multi million dollar salary. Lots of players do. What surprises is me is that Curry is 26 and has had two consecutive awful years. He must know that unless he turns things around THIS YEAR, come the end of 2010/11 season, when his contract expires, he’s going to be looking at a huge pay cut, if he can even find a team. On the other hand, if he gets his ass in shape and shows skills all 2006/07 along with some added maturity, he could conceivably find a team willing to pay him 8+ million.

      Basically, by not getting into shape, he’s likely throwing away 20-40 million dollars over the course of his career. And even if NEXT summer he does finally cut the cheeseburgers, I doubt the knicks will find a place for him in the rotation. Right now is his chance because the knicks want to move him, so they have an incentive, even if it doesn’t fit with their game plan, to show him off. Next season that won’t be the case.

    34. Owen

      My problem with Hill remains that his college stats were very mediocre for a top ten pick. It was a pure phenotype pick rather than a pick based on statistical genotype, the typical “this guy is perfect for 7SOL idea.” Given that the draft has historically been a total crapshoot, when you get the chance to make two picks which are supported by a mountain of statistical evidence, you ought to do it. We easily could have come out of this draft with two of the best five rated stat prospects. Instead we took two total shots in the dark…

    35. Ted Nelson

      Count me among those who highly doubt the Knicks could get the #5 pick.

      I’m not outraged by the Hill pick, but also not thrilled. If he can be the kind of defender that guys he’s being compared to like Kurt Thomas and Antonio Daniels are/were, I’ll be happy with the pick. I think people are taking for granted that Hill can easily be the kind of defender and overall consistent, quality player than Thomas and Davis have been.

      “Because doctors are “slightly” more credible than statisticians.”

      ??? If you look at the historical results of Hollinger and Doerr’s models for evaluating draft prospects I don’t think you would say that. You can also look at the success of teams that do a good job of incorporating statistical analysis into their decision making, like the Rockets.
      There are plenty of examples of guys getting red flagged for medical reasons and never having any problems. On the other hand, doctors have missed plenty of injuries, including Grant Hill’s which first occurred in Detroit before he signed the $100mm plus deal with the Magic. Not saying that was any doctor’s fault, just that it’s not an exact science.

      “Also there’s no point in talking about Lawson or Jennings when the Knicks made it clear that Toney Douglas was gonna be their guy at #29.”

      What happens if Douglas goes #28???
      If Lawson turns out to be a good NBA player and Hill doesn’t (not saying that’s going to be the case), then who cares what position Lawson plays?

      “As investors, teams try to get the most bang for their buck. Statisticians may have said: “Mike Sweetney’s college stats say he’ll be a solid starter in the pros”. Doctors may have said: “Mike Sweetney has a family history of obesity which will see him out of the league in three years”. If the doctors are right, then it doesn’t matter what the stat-men say.”

      ???? I don’t think doctors are very important when it comes to personnel issues, they probably only red flag a small fraction of possible acquisitions.
      When it comes to draft prospects stats are in fact used to predict future performance, and with pretty good results (far better than the actual draft order, at least).
      How many draft prospects every season have medical issues that doctors can diagnose with any foresight??? Most injuries are accidental and unpredictable. Every draft prospect has some sort of statistical history.
      It’s a no brainer to have a doctor check out the players you’re looking at, but it should also be a no brainer to have a statistician. Having those guys doesn’t necessarily tell you what to do

    36. Ecology

      Witht he Knicks history of mid to late round draft picks recently. I dont mind that we dont have a lottery pick this year.
      We’d blow it. lol

      Sweetney.
      Frye.
      Hill [Tho the jury is still deliberating on him].
      2 to the Bulls.
      Gallo: Might be a bust. lol Stay healthy and take your shots D-Gallo!

      Late to Mid-Rounders:

      Ariza.
      Chandler.
      Nate.
      Lee.
      Do What TD Do [Jury still out on him as well].

    37. Z

      “If you look at the historical results of Hollinger and Doerr’s models for evaluating draft prospects I don’t think you would say that [doctors are more credible than statisticians].”

      I didn’t say it, but I looked it up anyway. All I found was Erich Doerr’s 2007 pre-draft analysis. It listed 3 guys as “pick booms”: Nick Fazekas (waived by three teams), Stephane Lasme (played a grand total of 4 seconds in the NBA), and Rashad Jones-Jennings (a guy who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page telling me who he is).

      Of all the players that actually went in the 1st round that year, Doerr seemed to have been highest on Yi Jianlian.

      I wouldn’t say Doctors are necessarily more useful than statisticians when it comes to projecting the futures of players, but even Dr. Giggles could have given more useful advice on that draft…

      (note: my favorite part of the WoW journal entry this came from is in the comments section, where Dave Berri responds to a certain “Owen” with the comment: “I see you fighting the fight over at Knickerblogger. Keep it up. You seem to be more than holding your own.”)

    38. Owen

      Z – That’s a bit of a hatchet job of a post. You can find lots of Erich’s work in the Draft section of the Wages of Wins. Or by googling him. Read enough of him and you will understand that he is very far from thinking he has any kind of a silver bullet or that drafting is anything but a very imperfect science. The same goes for Berri.

      Below I posted what Berri had to say about his research back in 07. And the draft last year produced similar results. The basic point of their research is that Win Score is relatively durable from college to the pros. But so is the belief in scoring. Which is why Renaldo Balkman played 700 minutes last year and Rudy Gay has played 3000. Basically, while WS is a relatively accurate predictor of what a player’s stats will look like, it’s a crappy indicator of what NBA decisionmakers will think. If you want the latter, I suggest you use PER.

      Here is Berri

      “First of all, there is a statistical relationship between what a player does his last year in college and what he does his first year in the NBA. Specifically, from 1994 to 2005 there is a 0.69 correlation between a player’s Win Score per minute his last year in college and his Win Score per minute his rookie season in the NBA. In other words, if we shift from correlation coefficient (or r) to r-squared, about 47% of what a player does on a per-minute basis his rookie season can be explained by what he did the previous season in college.

      To put this in perspective, in The Wages of Wins we report that a baseball player’s OPS last season explains 33% of his OPS this season. This means the correlation coefficient between OPS this year and last year is only 0.57. So college performance in basketball predicts a rookie’s NBA performance better than a veteran baseball player’s performance predicts his future production in Major League Baseball.

      There is an apples and oranges issue in comparing basketball and baseball numbers. Still, I think one could argue that basketball numbers tell us more about the future than baseball numbers. In this sense, basketball numbers are better.

      That being said, the numbers are not a crystal ball. Yes, there is a statistical relationship between what we see in college and the pros, but it’s not a perfect relationship. Or to put it another way… the college numbers tell us something, but not everything.”

    39. Z

      “That’s a bit of a hatchet job of a post.”

      Didn’t mean to misquote or misstate the statistical work of Doerr. Ted said if Rashidi looked up “the historical results of Hollinger and Doerr’s models for evaluating draft prospects” then he wouldn’t say that doctors’ opinions are more valuable to drafters than statisticians’ opinions. So I googled “Erich + Doerr + Draft” to see if I agreed with Ted or Rashidi, and his 2007 draft analysis was what came up.

      “Read enough of him and you will understand that he is very far from thinking he has any kind of a silver bullet or that drafting is anything but a very imperfect science.”

      I think Rashidi’s point was that while statistical analysis of draft prospects is, as Doerr admits, a “a very imperfect science”, X-rays, CT Scans, Blood Tests, Past Injuries, and Family History are a much more perfect science. Therefore, it isn’t much wonder why doctors’ opinions are valued highly at the time of the draft, especially if the best prospects a statistician can suggest are guys that are obviously not going to be drafted or last long in the league.

      “The numbers are not a crystal ball. Yes, there is a statistical relationship between what we see in college and the pros, but it’s not a perfect relationship. Or to put it another way… the college numbers tell us something, but not everything.”

      In many ways a player’s medical is a crystal ball. If a guy is 6’6″, weighs 288 lbs, and has no ACLs, it’s probably as sure a bet that a drafter can make that his college stats won’t translate well to a six month, 82 game season. (At least it’s a less risky gamble than drafting Joey Dorsey over Derrick Rose :)

      Again, sorry to insult Doerr, or Berri, or you with my post. I’m sure Doerr is a smart guy (like I know you are from reading your posts over the years). I’m just not sure if his statistical approach to evaluating prospects is more useful than a doctor looking at a player’s physical evaluation.

    40. Ted Nelson

      Z,

      You have to use a small amount of common sense when you look at the draft rankings. It’s not a substitute for, but a complement to scouting.

      I don’t have them in front of me, but if you take Hollinger’s historical results and compare them to the actual drafts, I remember Hollinger’s being far better. And that’s just one guy, doesn’t mean he’s the end all and be all of statistical analysis.

      On Doerr, I think Owen is correct that WoW clearly values players differently than the average NBA decision maker.

      “I think Rashidi’s point was that while statistical analysis of draft prospects is, as Doerr admits, a “a very imperfect science”, X-rays, CT Scans, Blood Tests, Past Injuries, and Family History are a much more perfect science.”

      Maybe that’s true a small fraction of the time, but how many draft prospects are busts for medical reasons??? On the other hand, how many are busts due to lack of skill? I would guess that the latter out number the former 100 to 1.

      There are plenty of examples of players being red flagged for medical reasons (not just draft prospects, but veterans too) and never having a problem. I’m not a doctor, but projecting someone’s health 5 years down the line does not appear to be an exact science by any means.

      On the other hand, a lot of the guys who have career ending or career altering injuries simply cannot be predicted. What doctor could have told the Bulls that Jay Williams was dumb enough to jeopardize his career by riding a motorcycle and would then proceed to fall off and tear his knee to shreds? Where doctors telling Phoenix about Q’s back before they made a significant investment in him (which they pawned off on the Knicks, of course)? Did doctors know that Grant Hill’s ankle was shot for half a decade due to an injury he suffered in Detroit?
      I’m not ripping NBA doctors or the medical profession, just saying that a doctor can only tell you so much about the average player, while a statistician can tell you a good deal about most players.

      “In many ways a player’s medical is a crystal ball. If a guy is 6?6?, weighs 288 lbs, and has no ACLs, it’s probably as sure a bet that a drafter can make that his college stats won’t translate well to a six month, 82 game season. (At least it’s a less risky gamble than drafting Joey Dorsey over Derrick Rose :)”

      Well, first of all, we’ll get a great chance to test your theory by watching Blair play. I have no idea how he’ll do, just saying that we’ll see.

      Again, the point is not to draft Dorsey over Rose. You do see a general pattern emerge when you look at the rankings. Using stats can increase your odds of making a good pick/decrease your odds of picking a bust, which is all you can really do in the draft. Take a look at the draft steals the Rockets have pulled off in the 2nd round since MIT grad Daryl Morey joined the franchise (which goes back longer than he has been GM).

      I’m not saying that just looking at a players stats and creating some kind of model means you will draft better, I’m saying that if you do it right you will.

    41. Owen

      Doerr is a really smart guy. His Monte Carlo simulations are amazing. Here is a recap of the 2008 draft he did on draft night.

      http://www.draftexpress.com/article/Win-Scores-2008-NBA-Draft-Recap-2953

      “I’m just not sure if his statistical approach to evaluating prospects is more useful than a doctor looking at a player’s physical evaluation.”

      First, not insulted, all in good fun…

      Second, I didn’t realize that’s the conversation I jumped into. I guess I don’t see the sense in worrying too much about injury potential with guys in the draft. First of all, injuries are capricious and random. I don’t care what a doctor says, there is no way to predict which guy will fracture his kneecap or break his wrist etc. It can happen to anyone.

      Second, the time to worry about it is when you sign them to their second and third contracts, when you are actually taking a significant financial risk. If Blair blows out his knees in his second or third year and he can’t play, so what, it’s a low risk high reward gamble that just didn’t pay off, which is basically what nearly every draft pick is anyway, except that the reward is much much higher in Blair’s case.

      Leaving Blair aside. the fact that so many people passed on Lawson is mindboggling given how outstanding his numbers were in college. By any metric you look at, and if you use your eyeballs too, it’s clear that Lawson is going to be much much better than those for instance, Flynn and Holiday, statistically, at every step of their careers. What would have been wrong with taking Lawson at 8 anyway?

      Man, I have to learn to give up on the players that get away…

      Edit: Here is what I just was on True Hoop on small guards, seemed apropos

      “What we see is the biggest offensive advantage for qualified small guards 6-foot-1, while players 6-foot-4 suffer disadvantages. So while players 6-foot-3 definitely struggle at the NBA level, the absolute most you can say is that there is no strong relationship between size and production. We see a similar effect when we look at a variety of measures, including John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating. This speaks well for a lot of players who are often dismissed as being too small to play small guard. This group includes Ben Gordon, Raymond Felton, Jason Terry — all top-notch players who are often considered liabilities because of their size. … I’d think twice before dismissing the “undersized guard.” Because at this level, there’s probably a good reason he’s made it to the NBA.”

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