Quick Takes: Pacific Division Draft Grades

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 2011 NBA Draft

Today I’ll be reviewing the Pacific Division and how its teams fared in the draft. Here’s a reminder of my previous draft work:

The metric I’ll be using for my evaluation is Position Adjusted Win Score per 40 minutes (PAWS40). The ranks used are for all listed draft prospects not just those drafted. For those who are forgetful (thanks for the suggestion, mmotherwell), here are the average positional values for PAWS40:

  • Point Guard: 7.4
  • Shooting Guard: 8.4
  • Small Forward: 9.95
  • Power Forward: 12.59
  • Center: 12.32
  • All players: 10.17

On to the grades!

Los Angeles Lakers Draft Grade: B

“Meh”

The Lakers had several late second round picks: #41, #46, #56, and #58. The 56th pick was traded to the Nuggets for a future second rounder. The 58th pick was used to select former NCAA player Ater Majok (2.68 PAWS40 in 2009-2010). Those decisions don’t look so hot, but did LA hit it big with its remaining two choices? With the 41st pick, the team selected guard Darius Morris (8.57 PAWS40, 46th). With the 46th pick, they selected point guard Andrew Goudelock (9.47 PAWS40, 36th). It’s not surprising that the Lake show went for a point guard, given that the team has been getting nothing from that position for a number of years. Of the two prospects, Goudelock has a better chance of panning out – although both players are still below average. But with such late picks, I can’t fault LA for picking only one nearly average player.

Phoenix Suns Draft Grade: B+

Draft Picks have worked out for Phoenix before. . .

The Suns had the 13th pick, and with it they selected power forward Markieff Morris (13.68 PAWS40, 3rd). While Kenneth Faried would have been a better choice, the better Morris twin was the next best option. Hopefully the Suns will start Morris next to Marcin Gortat next year, which would keep Channing Frye and Robin Lopez on the bench where they belong. A rotation of Nash, Dudley, Hill, Morris, Gortat, and Childress and Warrick off the bench just might be enough to get the Nashty back into the playoffs. Notice I didn’t mention Frye, Lopez, Vince Carter or Aaron Brooks.

Golden State Warriors Draft Grade: B+

“Trade?!?!? Moi?!?!?”

The Warriors had the 11th and 44th pick, and bought the 39th pick away from the Bobcats as well. The 11th pick was used on guard-forward Klay Thompson(9.10 PAWS40, 41st). The 39th pick was used on Jeremy Tyler ( I don’t have any official stats for him), a well-traveled young forward-center who has been playing overseas since his senior year of high school. With the 44th pick, Golden State selected guard Charles Jenkins (12.17 PAWS40, 11th). Jenkins is an outright steal for the 44th pick and should become a good NBA player. Tyler is another mystery box – I suspect that he’s a project that will not pan out, but he’s taken a very unorthodox route to the NBA, so you never know. Thompson is roughly average and could go either way. By taking Thompson and Jenkins in the same draft, it seems like the Warriors might be preparing to trade away Monta Ellis, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Los Angeles Clippers Draft Grade: B+

Yes…Kyrie Irving should have been a Clipper!

The Clippers had two picks: with the 37th pick the Clippers selected power forward Trey Thompkins(7.38 PAWS40,62nd). With the 47th pick the team took shooting guard Travis Leslie (12.37 PAWS40,10th). Thompkins was not a very good pick, but the Clippers made up for it by lucking into the player with the 10th highest PAWS amongst all draftees. If he gets playing time, Leslie could be an above average NBA player this year. Does it make up for trading away the #1 pick in the draft in order to get rid of Baron Davis’ massive contract? Not quite, but luckily for the Clippers I’m not grading them on that.

Sacramento Kings Draft Grade: C+

Reddick 2.0?

Coming into the draft, the Kings had the 7th, 35th, and 60th picks, but the team traded the 7th pick and Beno Udrih for the 10th pick and John Salmons. Let’s focus on the two veteran players first.

  • John Salmons (3 year contract): 14.4 Expected Wins, $24.4 Million Value, $24.2 Million Salary
  • Beno Udrih (2 year contract): 13.3 Expected Wins, $22.6 Million value, $15.0 Million Salary

Salmons is being paid just about what he should be making, whereas Udrih was actually somewhat underpaid. Based on Salmons and Udrih’s past performances the Kings lost about $7.3 million in value with this switch. When we factor in the value lost by swapping the 7th pick into the 10th pick, Sacramento lost a total of $10.5 million in value in the trade.

The Kings then used the 10th pick on BYU point guard Jimmer Fredette (10.77 PAWS40, 20th). While Fredette did post an above average PAWS40, by my measures he is also the 4th most overrated draft prospect this year, only behind Jon Leuer, Gary Flowers and Troy Gillenwater. Flowers and Gillenwater went undrafted. Kings’ fans are probably going to be disappointed when Fredette turns out to be J.J. Redick 2.0. He’s not a terrible pick, but there were certainly plenty of better options available. Tyler Honeycutt (8.32 PAWS40, 49th) and Isaiah Thomas (9.77 PAWS40, 32nd) were selected 35th and 60th, respectively. Honeycutt probably won’t amount to much, but Thomas is just a hair under average and should surprise a lot of people if he gets the court time.

- Devin

Notes

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 PAWS40 does not correlate perfectly to NBA success, and Euroleague PAWS40 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 PAWS40, 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 PAWS40 can perfectly predict NBA productivity. Of course, PAWS40 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.

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