The other day I posted my quick take on the winners and losers of the 2011 NBA draft. Today I will be continuing with quick takes for each of the five Atlantic Division teams, a division that conveniently features my favourite team, the Raptors, as well as perennial contenders like the Celtics and the Nets (just kidding).
My method is as follows: I have a spreadsheet with all the draft prospects, all the draftees, their PAWS/40, and (thanks to Arturo) the expected values of each pick. I also recorded the change in salary and wins obtained through draft day trades involving veteran players. Based on these numbers, I came up with the value that each team stands to gain if PAWS/40 can perfectly predict NBA productivity. Of course, PAWS/40 can’t predict NBA productivity perfectly, so the values I came up with aren’t infallible; I had to offer some subjective alterations to the raw scores. I won’t pretend that my evaluations are perfect, but nevertheless, I much prefer my methods to the vast majority of evaluations, which rely almost exclusively on subjective elements.
On to the grades!
Boston Celtics: B
The Celtics started out the night with the 25th and 55th picks and ended up with the 27th and 55th picks, as well as a 2014 second round pick. With the 27th pick the team selected JaJuan Johnson, a power forward who posted a PAWS/40 of 9.78 in the NCAA last year. With the 55th pick they selected E’Twaun Moore, an NCAA shooting guard who posted a PAWS/40 of 9.77 last year. These two players are right around the average PAWS/40 and are good additions to the team, but the Celts really need some help at the centre position. A 9.78 power forward should help take away minutes from Glen Davis, but there were still a couple of good centre prospects on the board at #27 that would’ve been better bets than Johnson. Netting two average players starting from a #25 pick gets Boston a B.
New York Knicks: B+
The Knicks had one pick on the night, #17, and also traded the ever-popular “cash considerations” for the Hornets’ #45 pick. With their own pick, the team selected an NCAA guard named Iman Shumpert (a name that has to be under consideration for the best name of the draft), who posted a PAWS/40 of 11.27 last year. Although the New York contingent of the live audience did not like the pick, Shumpert was another example of the Knicks’ good drafting ability; in terms of PAWS/40, he was ranked 19th overall among all drafted players. With the #45 the Knicks got Josh Harrellson, who played centre for Kentucky and posted a PAWS/40 of 12.15, good enough for 13th among drafted players. Two above average players, and one who plays centre – the team’s weakest position! Starting Harrellson would allow the Knicks to shift Amaré Stoudemire back to his natural power forward position, which would make him more productive. Of course, the Knicks may not want to start someone who was drafted #45, but they started Landry Fields (taken with the 39th pick) in 81 games last season, so you never know. Very good selections; the Knicks actually might end up making some noise in next year’s playoffs after all.
Philadelphia 76ers: B
Philadelphia had the 16th and 50th picks this year, and came away with Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen. Vucevic posted a PAWS/40 of 10.72 while playing PF/C for the Trojans last year and looks to have what it takes to become an above-average NBA player. Allen, on the other hand, posted a PAWS/40 of 8.08 and also plays power forward. While there were still some decent prospects available at #50 – and this is true almost every year – it’s hard to dock the 76ers any points for missing them. Overall, the solid first pick is enough to make me hand out a B.
New Jersey Nets: A
The Nets started out with the 27th and 36th picks, but ended up trading the #27 and a 2014 second round pick for the #25. With the #25 New Jersey selected shooting guard Marshon Brooks, who posted a PAWS/40 of 12.07. With the #36, the Nets picked Maryland centre Jordan Williams, who posted a PAWS/40 of 12.65. Both players are excellent prospects, and both play positions that the Nets need to improve. Now all that New Jersey needs to do is to make sure that they resign Kris Humphries-Kardashian, and they should be in the running for most improved team whenever the next season begins.
Toronto Raptors: INC
With the 5th pick, the Raptors selected Lithuanian centre Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas didn’t play very many minutes last year and his stats are from overseas, so it’s hard to say what kind of a player he will turn out to be – but the stats that he put up were impressive. As far as PAWS/40 goes, he was the highest rated international player and had the 5th largest PAWS/40 of any player in the entire draft, at 12.95. Valanciunas was indeed a mystery box option, but he was the best mystery box option. Given that all signs were pointing towards Brandon Knight, Bismack Biyombo, or even Tristan Thompson, the Raptors certainly could’ve done worse. As a bonus, centre is the position that the Raptors desperately need to improve, and this pick points towards a Bargnani trade in the near future. Unfortunately, Valanciunas won’t make it here until the 2012-13 season. Given that bit of news and his small sample size, I have no choice but to give Toronto an Incomplete grade, even though I am a fan of the pick.
Coming up next time: Central Division Draft grades.