Maybe the web’s worst kept secret is the fantastic NBA analysis done at HoopsAnalyst.com. Recently Ed Weiland and Harlan Schreiber did a 7 part series statistically inspecting this year’s draft crop. (The links to each section: PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C). Since they did such a wonderful job pre-draft, I decided to ask Ed some questions post-draft.
KB: You had Rose as the top prospect in the draft while both Hollinger and Doerr had Beasley over Rose. What did you see in Rose that gave him the edge over Beasley?
EW: Rose was a more complete player. There were really no weaknesses when I compared his stats with great PGs of the past. With Beasley and Love the defensive numbers were a little low when compared to great PFs. My rating system looks first at whether a player performs at a high enough level in certain statistics that are important for his position. For a PG that would be points/40, assists/40, fg%, and the sum of rebounds, steals and blocks per 40 minutes. Also important for a PG is an ability to get to the line and keeping his A/TO above 1.5 or so. If a player falls short of levels successful prospects have historically hit, I will penalize them regardless of how well their other numbers look.
There was nothing in Rose’s numbers that were eye-popping, as there were with Beasley and Love. He comfortably hit all the levels successful PGs needed to hit in every important statistic. Additionally I was also impressed with how well Rose cut down on his TOs late in the year. From what I’ve seen, the ability to play an all-around game is more important for a prospect than the ability to pile up great numbers in a couple of categories.
Beasley and Love were both penalized for substandard defensive numbers. Combine that with Rose’s obvious speed, strength and athleticism and the fact that a good PG is rarer than a good PF and the decision to put Rose at the top was pretty easy. Nothing against Beasley or Love. Both are great prospects who should become great NBA players. I would have been happy to get any one of the 3. If the Hornets, Celtics or any other team that appears set with a good, young PG had been choosing first, obviously they should go for Beasley.
KB: Just about all statistical analysts had Marreese Speights ranked pretty high, but he wasn’t drafted until 16th (the 6th big man taken). Why do you think there was such a disparity in his value?
EW: Us stat guys look at his per minute stats and see a player who has performed at a level comparable to all-time greats. But we’re not the ones whose jobs are on the line if we take him with the 5th pick and Marreese can’t keep himself in good enough shape to play hard for 35 minutes a game.
My logic on ranking Speights high is this: I’d rather bring in a player like him who might be great, as opposed to someone like Jason Thompson or Robin Lopez who I’m certain won’t be. Teams can usually find a adequate fill-in for the exception. Any chance a team has to land a great or all-star caliber player should not be blown. Speights has that potential.
KB: Roy Hibbert was another player who did well by statistical standards. Do you think his glacieresque crosscourt speed will be a bigger hindrance in the NBA than it was on the college level?
EW: Yes, just about any weakness will be magnified in the NBA. I still feel Hibbert can be an effective role player. He’s tall enough to make the transition and he’s always been a very effective defender in college.
There are some matchups where he’ll need some help, but he can be an effective grinder for 20-25 minutes per game and as a center that makes him a valuable player.
KB: The biggest post day draft news was the Love-Mayo swap. Who do you think got the better of the deal?
EW: Minnesota and this one isn’t even close. Love was a better prospect than Mayo to start with. That they were able to get a player as good as Mike Miller thrown in is amazing. Chris Wallace has clearly filled the void left by Isiah Thomas as the go-to GM when a lopsided trade is needed to boost a team to the next level. I can’t see Mayo replacing Miller’s numbers for at least a few seasons, if ever. The most puzzling thing about the trade was that Love seemed like a perfect fit in Memphis.
KB: There are concerns that Mayo and Westbrook might be too short to become the great defenders at shooting guard that they were in college. What position do you see them playing and how do you see their defense translating in the pros?
EW: Westbrook is a 1 and Mayo is a 2. Westbrook doesn’t score often enough to think he could play the 2, Mayo doesn’t pass well enough to think he could play the 1. Neither is so short, like say Mario Chalmers, that I’d worry about their defensive numbers not carrying over. I think both will be OK there.
Mayo impressed me with his hustle on defense whenever I watched him play. He’s raw and that probably means he’s going to occasionally get beat and look bad from time to time as a rookie, but long term he should be fine. Westbrook also looks like a strong defender. He’s the hard working type who will do what it takes to get the job done defensively at the next level. I worry more about his offense and ability to run the point than his defense.
KB: Between yourself, Doerr, and Hollinger, only Doerr included a statistical analysis of international players. What is the biggest hurdle from analyzing them?
EW: I just don’t have enough data on foreign players where I can compare a player like Gallinari with previous successful and unsuccessful prospects. What I do with foreign players is try to get stats for as many years as a I can and try to make the best call I can using that information. The big guys are fairly simple, just see that they’re good rebounders, shotblockers and high pct. shooters. The biggest difference that I’ve seen between the NCAA stats and international are the scorers don’t hand out as many assists in Europe and the younger players who are pro prospects often aren’t big time scorers.
KB: Danilo Gallinari: great pick, or the greatest pick of all time?
EW: The greater a pick he becomes, the bigger a threat he is to America. I don’t think he’s in the class of Nowitzki or Gasol, but he could be pretty good. In general I would say put your trust in Walsh and D’Antoni. These guys have a good track record of success and given a year to sort through this mess, figure out what of the remaining roster is salvageable and bring their players and system in I think things will start to look pretty promising.
KB: Which team(s) did the best with regards to pick/talent?
EW: Using the theory that one superstar is worth a roster of mediocrities, Chicago, Miami and Minnesota made the biggest scores. The best bargains for when they were drafted would be Speights, Chalmers, Chris Douglas-Roberts, DeAndre Jordan and Richard Hendrix. Best players not drafted were Mark Tyndale and Shawn James.
KB: The worst?
EW: There were 4 players I felt were taken way too high: Eric Gordon, Joe Alexander, Jason Thompson and Robin Lopez. Lopez at 15 was the most ridiculous pick of the day.
KB: Five years from now, we’ll look back on this draft and say…
EW: Damn that Weiland guy nailed it. Seriously the thing that strikes me most about this draft is how even the pool of players were after the top 3 of Rose, Beasley and Love. After that group there were 20-25 players who were closer to each other in ability and potential than any of them were to the top 3. Because of that we’ll see more first round busts and 2nd round and free agent successes than usual.