Devin Dignam (of NBeh? “fame”) is the Toronto Raptors writer for the Wages of Wins Network. He’s also an avid enthusiast of the draft (helped by being a Raptors fan). This post continues his comprehensive review of the 2011 draft.
Reviewing the Draft
Today I am continuing the Western Conference grades by taking a look at the Southwest Division teams. Previously I’ve looked at:
- Winners and Losers of the 2011 NBA draft
- Atlantic Division Draft Grades
- Central Division Draft Grades
- Southeast Division Draft Grades
- Northwest Division Draft Grades
For those who are forgetful (thanks for the suggestion, mmotherwell), 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!
San Antonio Spurs: A
There were a lot of potential second round steals this year, but to me, the team that had no business getting what it got was the San Antonio Spurs. In exchange for George Hill- an average guard still on his rookie contract – the Spurs got Kawhi Leonard, who posted a PAWS/40 of 13.02, which was good enough for 4th amongst all drafted players. The really amazing part about the trade is that they still have a strong guard rotation (Parker, Ginobili), it shores up the Spurs’ weakest position (small forward), and takes minutes away from the unproductive Richard Jefferson. Now the Spurs can trot out a starting lineup of Parker, Giniobili, Leonard, DeJuan Blair, and Tim Duncan, and try for one last ring before Duncan retires.
Dallas Mavericks: B
Dallas traded their picks (#26 and #57) away in order to obtain Rudy Fernandez. As far as value goes, Fernandez is a little bit more valuable than your typical #26…but there is always the potential to pick up a decent young player at #26. But I suppose Dallas is in a ‘win now’ mentality at the moment, and Fernandez is still only 26 years old, so this was an okay move. Fernandez was unhappy in Portland and had seen his productivity decline, so there is also a chance that the change of scenery will help him to perform even better than expected.
New Orleans Hornets: F
The Hornets had only one draft pick – #45 – and they sold it! While most second round picks don’t amount to much in the NBA, every now and then a team will strike it rich. And because you can’t make a shot you don’t take (please keep this info away from the Raptors), New Orleans gets an F.
Memphis Grizzlies: D
With their only pick – the #49 – the Grizzlies selected Kansas shooting guard Josh Selby. This is notable because Selby posted a PAWS/40 of 3.77 – the lowest of any NCAA player who was drafted. Not only that, but he posted the 12th smallest PAWS/40 of any NCAA prospect in this year’s database, just ahead of such notables as Trey Zeigler, Lamont Jones, and Mfon Udofia. In defense of the Grizzlies, most teams aren’t expected to pick a useful player so late in the draft anyways, and there is always a chance that Selby will play better than his past performance indicates. For this reason, I am giving the Grizzlies the lowest possible non-failing grade: D.
Houston Rockets: C
Houston was involved in some draft day trades. They obtained the #20 and Johnny Flynn in exchange for the #23, #38 and Brad Miller. They then bought back the #38 from Minnesota, leaving them with the #14, #20, and #38 picks, as well as Johnny Flynn. At #14, the team selected Marcus Morris, a power forward who posted a PAWS/40 11.48 (18th). The player they obtained with the #20 was Donatas Motiejunas, a player who posted a PAWS/40 of 4.60 (75th – just ahead of Josh Selby). At #38, the team obtained Chandler Parsons, who posted a PAWS/40 of 10.32 (25th). Motiejunas was not a good pick, but Parsons and especially Morris look like they could become decent NBA players. Why am I being so hard on the Rockets if this is the case? Because of Johnny Flynn. While Brad Miller is no longer an above average player, doesn’t play very many minutes, and is overpaid, he is certainly better than Flynn, who is the 38th most overpaid player in the league. This more unfortunate Flynn effect drops Houston down to a C.