Devin Dignam (of NBeh? “fame”) here, with another edition of my quick draft day grades. Today I am finishing off the Eastern Conference by taking a look at the Southeast Division teams. Previously I’ve looked at:
- Winners and Losers of the 2011 NBA draft
- Atlantic Division Draft Grades
- Central Division Draft Grades
For those who are forgetful, here are the average positional values for PAWS/40:
- PG: 7.4
- SG: 8.4
- SF: 9.95
- PF: 12.59
- C: 12.32
- All players: 10.17
Ranking all players by PAWS gives us a good idea of how well a player performed in their various leagues. A word of warning, though: NCAA PAWS/40 does not correlate perfectly to NBA success, and Euroleague PAWS/40 is even worse. For the most part, though, players with a PAWS of 12 or higher usually end up being good NBA players, and players with a PAWS of under 7.3 end up being below average players.
In order to come up with team grades, 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 draft evaluations, which rely almost exclusively on subjective elements.
On to the grades!
Miami Heat: A
Miami entered the draft without a first round draft pick, but managed to re-acquire their old draft pick from Chicago (it was traded to Toronto in the Chris Bosh deal, and Toronto then sent it to Chicago in the James Johnson deal, and then the Bulls sent it back to Miami via Minnesota for the #31 pick). What did the Heat do with their pick? Oh, they only happened to draft Norris Cole, a Cleveland State point guard who posted a PAWS/40 of 12.77 – the 7th highest of all drafted players. Given that Miami’s weakest position was at centre, perhaps they should’ve gone with a centre (like Jordan Williams, who ended up going to the Nets at #36) over a point guard, but point guard was the team’s second weakest position. Not too shabby. I expect that Cole will be at least a serviceable backup next season, and will probably end up being a good NBA player. For the Heat to nab a player of his caliber given the cards they were dealt, I’m giving the Heat an A.
Orlando Magic: B+
The Magic only had the #53 pick going into the draft. Given their flame-out in the playoffs against Atlanta, it’s not surprising that the team decided to move up; Orlando acquired #32 pick Justin Harper from the Cavs, a power forward who posted a PAWS/40 of 10.08 (28th) last year. The Cavs likely didn’t want another forward on their roster, and the Magic’s forward combo of Hedo Turkoglu and Brandon Bass wasn’t exactly overwhelming last year (Ryan Anderson, on the other hand, was very good – too bad he didn’t get much playing time). Justin Harper may be able to play small forward in the NBA, and if he does, he’ll be a much better prospect (from being ranked 28th amongst drafted players to 19th). Now all that Orlando has to do is go out and find a starting shooting guard….
Atlanta Hawks: B
The Hawks had only one pick, the #48, which they used to select Oakland University senior Keith Benson, who had a PAWS/40 of 12.82 last year (6th amongst drafted players). Benson is rather skinny – 6’11”, 220 lbs – and is better suited to playing power forward right now, but I expect him to play some minutes as a centre. His numbers likely overstate his potential given his age (to put it into perspective, he’s as old as Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin and was playing against NCAA players). Accordingly, Arturo’s models have him just barely above positive – of course, that is if he only plays centre next year. His selection strengthens an already strong frontcourt; the Hawks probably should’ve gone after some swingmen instead of another big man.
Charlotte Bobcats: C+
Charlotte was one of the teams involved in the big draft day deal. In exchange for the #19 and Stephen Jackson, the Bobcats received the #7 and Corey Maggette. According to my methods, this swap of veterans cost the Bobcats about $9 million in value, roughly equal to the expected value they added by turning the #19 into the #7. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they used the #7 to draft Bismack Biyombo, a PF/C who posted a PAWS/40 of 8.72 while playing in Europe last year. Biyombo’s PAWS/40 rank is 42nd amongst drafted players, and although his numbers are likely understated due to the quality of the competition he faced, I doubt he’ll amount to much more than an average player, if that. But Charlotte also had the #9 pick, and with it the Bobcats managed to get PG Kemba Walker, who posted a PAWS/40 of 11.67. Walker looks to become a good NBA player – certainly much better than the player he was largely compared to, Brandon Knight. The Bobcats better hope that Biymonbo turns out well for them, because as it stands their frontcourt is incredibly weak.
Washington Wizards: F
With the #6, #18, and #34 picks, the Wizards had a chance at a huge draft haul. Instead, they walked away with Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack. Vesely posted a PAWS/40 of 6.76 overseas, which was only good enough for 66th place among all the players who were drafted (clarification: includes players who were expected to be late second round picks, but remained undrafted). Singleton (8.50, 47th) and Mack (8.67, 43rd) weren’t much better, but at least they were somewhat close to average (PAWS/40 of 10.2) and not below the cutoff line (PAWS/40 of 7.3). Even if Vesely sees his numbers understate his performance, I do not believe he will make it to an average level next season. I can’t in good conscience give the Wiz anything other than an F for their choices this year.