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Draft Preview Blowout
By Kevin Pelton
for HOOPSWORLD.com
Jun 25, 2003, 13:30
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I think as a fan and now a semi-journalist, the NBA Draft remains possibly my favorite day of the year. Throughout my life, I’ve always been a sucker for drafts and countdowns. You probably saw picking sides before games on the playground as something to be gotten over before playing. I, as an armchair GM, have always seen it as just as important as the game itself. My brother, a friend, and I used to get together and hold a couple of drafts of baseball players a night, entering them into Baseball Simulator for use on the Super Nintendo. And when we got older, the three of us and my cousin enjoyed the heck out of our private fantasy baseball league – but really, the only thing that made it worthwhile was the draft, each of us plotting our strategies, trying to conceal our intentions, discussing trades, and looking for that one sleeper pick that would make us look like a genius. (Never mind the four busts we picked as well.)

Of course, things are slightly different for NBA teams. The draft is a year-long process . . . well, no, actually longer. Players like Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich have been watched since the time they first set foot on college courts, giving four years to find out everything good – or bad – about them. The stakes are also much higher. A steal, like Amare Stoudemire last year, can be worth millions of dollars just over the life of his rookie contract because of the NBA’s restrictive rookie scale deals that ensure good players are overpaid. At the same time, missing on a top pick can doom a franchise.

Of course, given the importance and the difficult of projecting the draft, it honestly does surprise that more teams haven’t started making college statistics a larger part of the process. There is a lot we don’t yet understand about the transition from college to the NBA, and many stats do not necessarily translate well, but I’m quite confident that two of the most important metrics – field goal percentage and per-minute rebounding – translate rather well.

For field goal percentage, the translation may not be linear. What we seem to see is the gap decreasing. While Carlos Boozer outshot rookie teammate Dajuan Wagner last year, as their college numbers would predict, they were much closer in the NBA. During the 2001-02 season, Boozer outshot Wagner by a remarkable 25.5%. Because Boozer lost 19% of that percentage in the transition to the NBA, Wagner just 10%, the NBA gap was 53.6% to 36.9%, or 16.7%. Still, Boozer stayed one of the most efficient scorers in the league, and Wagner’s efficiency was below par. While statistics couldn’t have told us that would happen for certain, they could give us a pretty good expectation of it.

Frankly, a lot of mistakes I’ve made in my own ‘scouting’ make a lot more sense now that I’ve looked at the numbers. I thought Eddie Griffin would be a franchise player coming out of Seton Hall; while that still may be the case, it’s extremely likely after two up-and-down seasons. Griffin’s awful 42.9% shooting at Seton Hall could have told me – and NBA GMs – that Griffin was going to have to make major strides in his shooting to reach that level. (Of course, in the interest of fairness, I must note that the only guy whose college stats I’ve ever really looked much at was also in that draft, and I made a big mistake on him too. Toronto’s Michael Bradley remains one of the highest-rated players I’ve looked at, but his NBA impact thus far has been close to nil.)

Sonics General Manager Rick Sund backed up my thinking about rebounding the other day in a pre-draft press conference while talking about Georgetown’s Mike Sweetney. “Averaged double figures in rebounds, and I’ve always felt that if you can average double figures in college – good rebounders in college for the most part, historically and traditionally, are good rebounders in the NBA,” Sund said. A-freaking-men.

Saying stats aren’t everything is so ridiculously obvious that I don’t even feel the need to say it. After all, what we see in the statistics as a projection is essentially the baseline expectation, from which a player can deviate a great deal. Scouting tells us whether the player will exceed that line, fail to meet it, or not even get the chance because he’s playing in the NBDL. When the process becomes really valuable is when you have the marriage between the two – when the stats confirm the opinions of the scouts. That’s when you know you have either a keeper or a reject.

After the success of Moneyball and witnessing the gradual shift towards college players in this month’s MLB Draft, I’m even more convinced that statistical analysis will and must be a larger part of the NBA draft process in coming years. While high-school and international players in the NBA are not inherently as risky as in baseball because of things like the smaller effect of injuries and provide a greater expected return because they are a self-selected group, the cream of the crop, I truly believe that the biggest competitive advantages to be found in the draft will come from college players. Extensively scouting them by spending the resources currently used overseas, and adding to this the value of statistical analysis could yield the next Carlos Boozer.

Consider me the anti-Chad Ford. Instead of searching the European countryside for a talented 7-footer (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I’m trying to find the players we saw but didn’t really see, who’ve slipped through the scouting cracks. I’m excited for this season to begin to see if there really is anything to this. And if there is, you can guarantee I won’t be giving my stats away for free next year.

To wrap up my ongoing discussion of the draft, I’ll start with a set of links to the articles I’ve written analyzing prospects for both Hoopsworld.com and Supersonics.com. Next up is a complete set of statistics for all 49 draft prospects whose stats I’ve translated to their NBA expectations (the method, for those of you reading for the first time, is explained in detail in my Big Ten breakdown), along with untranslated stats for other college players. (Note on the other players that the far right column is Jeff Sagarin’s ranking of the team’s strength of schedule, an important factor when considering these players - higher numbers are worse.) I’ll conclude by giving my top college picks at each position. I’m conscientiously ignoring foreigners and high school players because I simply don’t have enough information about these players to make an informed judgment.

Hoopsworld.com

  • June 13 - ACC Prospects
  • June 12 - Big 12 Prospects
  • June 11 - Big Ten Prospects
  • May 22 - A-10/WAC Prospects
  • May 20 - C-USA Prospects
  • May 19 - Pac-10 Prospects
  • April 7 - Big East Prospects
    (You may notice the SEC conspicuous in its absence here . . . I hope to do the conference for tomorrow.)

    Supersonics.com

  • June 18 - 2003 Draft Preview: Point Guards
  • June 19 - 2003 Draft Preview: Shooting Guards
  • June 20 - 2003 Draft Preview: Small Forwards
  • June 22 - 2003 Draft Preview: Power Forwards
  • June 24 - 2003 Draft Preview: Centers

    Name COL POS G MPG FG% FT% 3P% TS% RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PPG Eff VORP
    Mike Sweetney GEO PF 34 32.4 0.459 0.725 0.000 0.533 7.6 1.5 1.1 2.1 1.5 14.4 0.512 90
    David West XAV PF 32 36.5 0.445 0.796 0.331 0.528 8.3 4.5 0.7 1.8 1.9 12.3 0.487 67
    Troy Bell BC PG 31 38.6 0.358 0.805 0.368 0.553 3.2 2.7 1.6 0.1 1.9 16.4 0.483 63
    Dwyane Wade MAR SG 33 32.1 0.424 0.754 0.272 0.508 4.6 4.2 1.9 0.8 3.1 14.0 0.480 53
    Chris Massie MEM SF 23 29.9 0.528 0.652 0.000 0.563 8.1 1.5 0.6 0.3 2.5 11.2 0.474 31
    Joe Shipp CAL SF 31 35.4 0.438 0.757 0.289 0.528 4.9 2.1 1.1 0.7 1.4 13.8 0.471 45
    Nick Collison KU PF 36 32.4 0.481 0.622 0.251 0.516 7.8 2.3 0.9 1.1 2.2 11.8 0.469 45
    Jarvis Hayes UGA SF 27 32.3 0.434 0.741 0.410 0.545 2.9 1.9 0.9 0.4 0.9 12.0 0.467 32
    Josh Howard WF SF 31 32.3 0.392 0.781 0.293 0.504 6.5 1.9 1.4 1.5 2.4 11.9 0.461 31
    Reece Gaines LOU SG 32 32.2 0.384 0.701 0.327 0.543 2.1 4.6 1.5 0.1 2.9 11.9 0.457 28
    Matt Bonner FLA SF 33 31.4 0.440 0.692 0.456 0.567 4.1 1.4 0.8 0.5 1.0 10.0 0.456 27
    Chris Bosh GT PF 31 31.0 0.465 0.692 0.372 0.546 7.1 1.3 0.7 2.1 2.1 9.5 0.454 23
    Luke Ridnour ORE PG 33 35.4 0.347 0.834 0.296 0.507 2.7 6.0 2.2 0.1 2.8 13.7 0.454 28
    Matt Carroll ND SG 34 33.9 0.362 0.809 0.377 0.532 3.6 1.2 0.8 0.1 1.2 13.0 0.452 25
    Hollis Price OU SG 33 33.5 0.401 0.899 0.320 0.553 2.2 3.1 1.2 0.1 1.9 11.7 0.452 24
    Brian Cook ILL PF 29 31.1 0.414 0.726 0.263 0.503 6.8 2.0 0.6 0.3 2.5 12.5 0.450 18
    Marquis Estill KEN PF 35 23.7 0.519 0.541 0.165 0.532 4.1 1.1 0.4 1.5 1.0 7.2 0.450 17
    Marquis Daniels AUB SG 34 33.8 0.440 0.632 0.293 0.498 4.1 3.2 1.7 0.2 1.9 11.5 0.449 22
    Brian Polk TEM SG 28 27.1 0.352 0.618 0.354 0.519 3.1 1.3 0.8 0.2 0.5 8.9 0.449 14
    Carmelo Anthony SYR SF 33 36.4 0.370 0.678 0.297 0.466 7.1 1.6 1.1 0.6 1.6 14.2 0.447 21
    Kirk Hinrich KU PG 35 33.7 0.420 0.661 0.303 0.525 3.1 3.7 1.4 0.2 2.1 11.2 0.447 20
    Ron Slay TEN PF 29 34.2 0.417 0.749 0.368 0.515 5.3 2.0 0.6 0.1 2.3 13.3 0.441 11
    Ronald Dupree LSU SF 32 33.2 0.471 0.660 0.349 0.515 5.3 2.4 0.5 0.2 1.2 10.0 0.437 7
    Keith Bogans KEN SG 35 29.6 0.385 0.684 0.361 0.519 2.4 2.6 0.9 0.1 1.4 10.0 0.437 7
    Jason Kapono UCLA SF 29 33.4 0.382 0.868 0.321 0.521 4.2 1.9 0.7 0.0 1.5 11.6 0.436 6
    Mario Austin MSU PF 24 32.8 0.496 0.658 0.365 0.531 5.4 1.2 0.8 0.6 1.5 9.9 0.436 4
    Brooks Hall DAY SF 30 32.5 0.364 0.714 0.366 0.552 4.6 3.1 0.5 0.3 1.4 8.5 0.431 1
    Dahntay Jones DUKE SG 32 30.5 0.401 0.716 0.320 0.504 4.3 0.9 0.8 0.6 1.8 11.0 0.430 0
    James Jones MIA SF 28 34.2 0.373 0.815 0.376 0.505 4.4 1.3 1.2 1.2 1.8 11.0 0.428 -2
    Marcus Hatten SJ PG 34 35.4 0.347 0.698 0.279 0.438 4.0 3.0 2.1 0.3 2.8 14.2 0.425 -6
    Quinton Ross SMU SG 30 35.2 0.374 0.742 0.245 0.493 4.3 0.9 1.3 0.5 2.1 12.5 0.423 -8
    Erwin Dudley ALA PF 29 34.0 0.475 0.719 0.341 0.512 6.7 1.1 0.3 0.7 1.3 9.4 0.420 -9
    LaVell Blanchard MICH SF 30 32.0 0.352 0.709 0.358 0.489 6.0 1.0 0.5 0.1 1.7 10.3 0.417 -13
    Jason Gardner ARI PG 32 34.9 0.315 0.735 0.257 0.467 3.2 4.5 2.1 0.0 2.1 10.3 0.415 -17
    T.J. Ford TEX PG 32 33.7 0.343 0.762 0.185 0.426 3.1 7.9 1.4 0.1 3.0 9.0 0.410 -22
    Marvin Stone LOU PF 24 26.6 0.456 0.603 0.296 0.507 5.3 1.4 0.4 0.9 1.7 6.9 0.409 -13
    Luke Walton ARI SF 28 27.6 0.339 0.645 0.299 0.437 4.5 4.6 1.1 0.2 2.0 7.4 0.406 -19
    Josh Powell NCST PF 30 27.0 0.483 0.708 0.282 0.538 4.2 1.1 0.4 1.3 2.1 7.4 0.405 -21
    Kirk Penny WIS SG 32 35.0 0.369 0.649 0.327 0.479 5.2 3.1 0.6 0.1 2.3 10.3 0.404 -29
    Rick Rickert MIN PF 32 30.8 0.371 0.597 0.305 0.452 5.4 1.1 0.6 0.5 1.9 9.9 0.399 -30
    Mo Williams ALA PG 29 35.8 0.349 0.782 0.301 0.472 2.6 3.7 0.9 0.1 1.9 10.4 0.398 -33
    Tommy Smith ASU SF 32 29.1 0.405 0.556 0.220 0.447 5.0 2.4 1.1 2.1 2.2 7.5 0.397 -30
    Justin Hamilton FLA PG 33 32.2 0.489 0.719 0.389 0.593 2.2 3.4 1.2 0.3 1.0 5.2 0.396 -37
    Steve Blake UMD PG 32 31.5 0.325 0.734 0.312 0.474 2.7 6.7 1.0 0.1 3.0 6.8 0.393 -37
    Brent Darby OSU PG 31 38.0 0.317 0.710 0.290 0.460 3.5 4.3 1.4 0.1 3.3 11.1 0.392 -44
    Marquee Perry STL PG 30 36.2 0.373 0.790 0.226 0.464 3.5 3.1 0.9 0.1 2.7 11.5 0.392 -41
    Carl English HAW SG 31 35.9 0.351 0.680 0.321 0.489 3.6 1.0 0.6 0.1 2.7 12.4 0.391 -43
    Earl Barron MEM C 26 21.3 0.344 0.816 0.089 0.450 4.1 0.8 0.3 0.7 1.0 5.3 0.387 -24
    Doug Wrenn UW SF 27 30.6 0.334 0.516 0.175 0.380 4.7 1.7 1.2 0.9 1.9 8.3 0.362 -56

    Name COL POS G MPG FG% FT% 3P% TS% RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PPG Eff VORP Sched
    Chris Kaman CMU C 31 34.0 0.622 0.750 - 0.677 12.0 1.3 0.6 3.2 4.4 22.4 0.596 175 108
    Marcus Banks UNLV PG 32 36.1 0.514 0.757 0.336 0.614 3.4 5.5 2.8 0.1 3.9 20.3 0.549 137 99
    Travis Hansen BYU SG 32 32.0 0.441 0.799 0.340 0.568 4.8 2.4 0.9 0.6 2.6 16.8 0.511 83 68
    Uche Amadi WYO PF 27 32.5 0.529 0.641 - 0.567 9.6 1.3 0.6 1.1 1.9 14.3 0.512 72 109
    Theron Smith BSU SF 31 33.0 0.515 0.738 0.353 0.615 11.0 1.5 1.1 0.7 2.5 19.9 0.585 158 91*
    Brandon Hunter OHIO SF 30 38.3 0.523 0.594 0.297 0.573 12.6 2.6 0.8 1.2 3.6 21.5 0.539 125 87
    Chris Marcus WKU C 31 29.5 0.547 0.639 - 0.582 12.1 0.9 0.6 3.1 2.0 16.7 0.583 140 141^
    Kyle Korver CRE SG 34 31.8 0.468 0.908 0.480 0.680 6.4 3.1 1.5 0.7 2.0 17.8 0.602 186 152
    Jermaine Boyette WEB PG 32 32.0 0.544 0.803 0.348 0.670 2.5 3.3 1.8 0.0 2.4 20.5 0.597 171 191
    Jason Keep SD C 30 26.4 0.604 0.562 0.500 0.614 9.1 1.1 0.6 1.2 3.5 18.0 0.567 108 103
    *2001-02 stats (schedule strength for 2002-03 season)
    ^2000-01 stats (schedule strength for 2002-03 season)

    Point Guards

    1. Luke Ridnour, Oregon
    I’m probably going to take some flak for this, and that’s okay. If you look at the top three collegiate point guards in this year’s draft, each of them could be said to have two of the three attributes necessary to be a great point guard. Ridnour’s missing defense, T.J. Ford can’t shoot, and I question Kirk Hinrich’s playmaking ability. Which is the least important? To me, defense. I’m still not convinced Ridnour’s that terrible defensively, honestly. I’ve seen him play regularly, being a Pac-10 fan, and had never noticed him to be anything but average defensively. I think that the bad defensive rap may, in part, be a case of a couple guys saying he’s not very good defensively, legitimately, then having it snowball out of proportion. There’s little question in my mind that Ridnour is going to be a great offensive player, and he was considered the best player in his conference. Doesn’t that count for anything?

    2. T.J. Ford, Texas
    I’m no big Ford fan, and I probably wouldn’t take him in the top ten, but if he could develop a consistent jumper, Ford would be one of the best offensive players in the world. At worst, he’ll be the NBA’s answer to Ticha Penicheiro of the Sacramento Monarchs (for those of you who know who she is), able to create despite her inability to consistently score.

    3. Kirk Hinrich, Kansas
    Like Ford, I’m not sold on Hinrich, but I don’t want to go too far. Hinrich will certainly be a quality NBA player . . . I just don’t think he’s top five material. I also don’t think he’ll be the kind of instant contributor many expect, a la, say, Mike Dunleavy.

    4. Reece Gaines, Louisville
    Intriguingly, Gaines actually has the best translated efficiency of any of the college point guards in the draft. He’s got good size, his translated assists (4.6 apg) are very solid, fifth-best amongst the players I’ve done. I still put him below the top three guys, but only by a hair. Really, I don’t think there’s a huge difference one-four.

    5. Marcus Banks, UNLV
    Really, Banks’ numbers are pretty unimpressive considering the level of competition he was playing against. I mentioned Ridnour winning Pac-10 Player of the Year . . . the same experts didn’t feel Banks was the best player in the lesser Mountain West Conference, giving that honor to New Mexico’s Ruben Douglas. Banks wasn’t considered a top prospect until the workout process began, and players like that always concern me. I find the two years of Banks’ work at the D-1 level more important than a good month worth of workouts. At the same time, Banks’ defensive ability will make him a contributor even if his offense does fall off at the NBA level.

    6. Troy Bell, Boston College
    Again, I don’t think there’s much of a drop-off from Banks to Bell. They are very different players, however. Bell will be an excellent offensive player from the moment he gets into the NBA. The question is whether he can play point guard well enough to harness his scoring ability. The downside is Shammond Williams, but I think Bell will be better equipped to deal with a situation where he’s not the go-to guy.

    7. Justin Hamilton, Florida
    The NBA found time to write profiles of 126 players for its 2003 Draft guide, including Arizona forward Rick Anderson (huh?) . . . but somehow missed Hamilton, who NBADraft.net projects as a second-round draft pick. Hamilton’s translated efficiency is pretty poor, but sometimes you have to look beyond that. He can be successful in this league because he doesn’t make mistakes. His field goal percentage is good, as is his assist/turnover ratio. He’s also a quality defender. That adds up to a solid second-round pick in my book.

    8. Mo Williams, Alabama
    After surprising some by staying in the draft, Williams is considered a potential high second-rounder. The numbers don’t justify it. Untranslated, Williams shot a putrid 40.9% last season. Assuming he shot the same in the NBA, it would still be adequate. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. Williams isn’t much of a playmaker either, so I don’t ever see him being a contributor at the NBA level.

    Shooting Guards

    1. Dwyane Wade, Marquette
    Okay, I’ll spare you the “switch a’s and y’s” ploy I found so humorous at both this site and Supersonics.com. What I won’t spare you is praise for Wade. I don’t doubt Wade’s ability to play point guard at the NBA level – though he’ll have to cut his turnovers – and I’m also not certain he’d be so overmatched at shooting guard. Guys who can do a lot of things well often tend to get underrated, and Wade fits that profile perfectly – except for that whole maybe going to go fifth thing.

    2. Jarvis Hayes, Georgia
    At the same time, guys who get the reputation of being one-dimensional also sometimes get underrated. Hayes is a perfect example. Yeah, he’s not going to be a great ballhandler, rebounder, or defender. Neither are most players in this draft, and most can’t score as well as Hayes can. To me, the big question with Hayes is how well he can learn to create his own shot. That will determine whether he can be a 20-point per game scorer along the lines of Allan Houston, or just a complementary shooter/scorer. At worst, I think Hayes would make a killer sixth man.

    3. Dahntay Jones, Duke
    A quality defender at shooting guard, Jones surprised everyone by taking a lead scoring role for the Blue Devils last season and averaging 17.7 points per game. If Jones can continue to make his shots from the perimeter (39.8% from three-point range), he’ll play in the NBA for quite some time.

    4. Marquis Daniels, Auburn
    After Hayes, the college quality at the two guard drops off dramatically. That does give me the chance to hype a guy I believe is a potential shooter. Daniels had an excellent season for the Tigers, and was particularly impressive in their NCAA Tournament run to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to the eventual champion Syracuse Orangemen. Daniels does a lot of things. He’s a good rebounder, played some point, can create his own shot, and has excellent size. Worth a late second-round pick, at least.

    5. Matt Carroll, Notre Dame
    Carroll is prepping for a career as a zone/double-team-busting shooter on the perimeter in the NBA. He averaged an excellent 19.5 points per game last season in the Fighting Irish’s perimeter-based attack, and is a decent rebounder for a shooting guard.

    6. Keith Bogans, Kentucky
    I’m not really sure what to say about Bogans. I think he can play in the NBA, but I doubt he’ll ever be even a rotation player.

    7. Kirk Penney, Wisconsin/Carl English, Hawaii/Travis Hansen, BYU
    All overrated, in my humble opinion. Penney has a lot of things going for him, but when you get down to it he just didn’t perform all that well in a pretty weak Big Ten conference. English is a big-time scorer, but not that efficient. You have to wonder how much playing for Hawaii helped out his numbers. Peja Savovic put up far better ones a year ago, but he still tanked for the Nuggets as a rookie. Hansen’s numbers were pretty ordinary against weak competition, and he didn’t shoot all that well from three-point range for a guy who’s supposedly a shooter. He is a quality defender – sharing Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Mountain West Conference with Banks – but he looks like another workout/PIT inflation.

    Small Forwards

    1. Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
    Anthony’s field-goal percentage was a tad low last season, but he’s still a tremendous prospect who’s been unfairly getting a bad rap in some circles. Denver Post columnist Woody Paige defamed Anthony by writing, “Anthony has an ordinary vertical leap, is not quick off the dribble, can't rebound, isn't effective inside, won't play defense and hasn't shown a strong work ethic.” To show you how ignorant this is, on the one objective category, Anthony averaged 10 rebounds per game last season. Only one small forward and nine players overall had better translated rebounding marks than Anthony.

    2. Josh Howard, Wake Forest
    If he goes in the second round, I think Howard will be the steal of the draft. That one small forward with a better rebounding rate? It’s Howard. His translated shooting percentages are unimpressive, but I think Howard is polished enough to beat them and be a rookie contributor.

    3. Ronald Dupree, LSU
    Again, the talent drops off after the top two, but there are some sleepers. Dupree is a probable mid- to late-second-round pick, but he might be worth a higher selection. Dupree is the kind of player I like. He shoots a high percentage (47.1%) and is a solid rebounder (5.3 rpg). He can play on the perimeter, with a solid assist rate. Electrical engineering major, which is probably a good sign.

    4. Luke Walton, Arizona
    Ballplayer. As a fan of a Pac-10 opponent, I’m naturally obligated to dislike Walton, but it’s hard to dislike how he plays the game of basketball. If we write off his senior-year performance to injury, he becomes a lot better pick. His junior year performance was much better, maybe first-round-worthy. I wouldn’t take Walton that high, but he’s a solid pick early in the second round.

    5. Jason Kapono, UCLA
    This becomes a Pac-10 reunion after Walton. Kapono’s stock has risen quite a bit lately, despite the fact that his name is not “Vladimir Kaponovich”, as he lamented. Kapono struggled with a lead role at UCLA, but certainly won’t be asked to play that in the pros. As a complementary guy, he should be much more effective.

    6. Tommy Smith, Arizona State
    I’m going to keep making the comparison to a young Robert Horry until demonstrated otherwise. Smith can be a serious defensive presence at small forward with his size, long arms, athleticism, and shot-blocking ability. He’ll have to improve his perimeter shooting to make the best use of those defensive talents, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.

    7. Joe Shipp, California
    Widely considered the second-best player in the Pac-10 last year after Ridnour, Shipp is deserving of a flyer in the second round (or, better yet, a training camp invite). None of his translated numbers, save perhaps for the 13.8 ppg, is overwhelming, but they are all solid. Whoever invites Shipp to camp will have done their homework.

    Power Forward

    1. Chris Bosh, Georgia Tech
    If I hear one more person refer to Bosh as “a project”, I’m going to scream. DeSagana Diop was a project. Travis Outlaw is a project. Bosh can play. He was one of the better players in the difficult ACC last year as a freshman, an while his skinny frame might cause us to downgrade his excellent translation a little, Bosh has all the makings of a superstar. Weight isn’t everything, and Bosh certainly plays like a power forward. His rebound rate, blocked-shot rate, and field goal percentage are all terrific. I expect that Bosh will start right away and will only get better.

    2. Mike Sweetney, Georgetown
    Easily the best value in the draft, if I’m to be asked. Sweetney was the only player in the NCAA to finish in the top ten in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. Yet still questions persist because of his height. It’s a concern, yes, but with his wingspan and weight Sweetney plays much bigger than he actually is, as his excellent blocked shot numbers indicate. Sweetney might be the most NBA-ready player in the entire draft – statistically, that’s true amongst college players – and he has great upside as well.

    3. Nick Collison, Kansas
    Next season, Collison will most likely shoot a high percentage, have a solid rebounding rate, and play solid defense. Then, all the fans and experts who wondered how many successful white big men there are, or whether his performance would translate will be praising whatever team picked Collison. That’s how I see it, at least.

    4. David West, Xavier
    Your opinion of West probably depends on a pair of things – how difficult you consider the caliber of play to be in the Atlantic-10, and how important you think height is. Xavier’s strength of schedule was a paltry 88th in the nation, and West’s untranslated efficiency would rank him in the middle of the group of mid-major players without translations above. Still, A-10 players fared very well in the NBA last season. I also don’t find height all that important. That’s why I’d take West over a number of guys who will probably go ahead of him.

    5. Chris Massie, Memphis
    As I wrote in the C-USA breakdown, Massie is my top sleeper of this draft. There are two major concerns with him. The first is his height. Officially, Massie’s listed at 6-9, but he’s almost certainly shorter than that – though I’ve explained how much that means to me. The other big concern is his age, which will be 26 by opening night. I don’t want to downplay that – age is hugely important to determining a player’s future. Still, I think Massie can be a rotation player in the NBA immediately; only Sweetney and West have better translated efficiencies.

    6. Brian Cook, Illinois
    Cook’s been rising up the draft boards recently, and I just don’t get it. Granted, Cook was Big Ten Player of the Year, but in this case I think that says more about the conference than the player. Statistically, his translated performance was still not near that of the power forwards ahead of him on this list. His rebounding is merely adequate, and it’s tough to see him shooting a high percentage in the NBA. At 22, he’s not particularly young, and he’s never been known for his motivation, so I’m not certain I believe Cook will get a lot better.

    7. Mario Austin, Mississippi State
    The efficiency is the obvious thing I look at with these players, and probably you do to. Often, it’s not the most meaningful stat. In the case of Austin, you have to look first at his strong translated field goal percentage, near 50%. Austin’s rebounding (translated 7.9 rebounds per 48 minutes) will have to improve, and he’s not a major defensive presence, but he should be a good pick early in the second round.

    8. Matt Bonner, Florida
    Bonner can back up both forward positions as sort of a neo-Matt Bullard. His rebound rate is poor at 6.2 translated rp48, but Bonner should be a strong offensive player. His 45.6% translated three-point percentage is the best of the entire group, and his 56.7% translated true shooting percentage is right up there. It’s never a bad thing to get a guy who can score off the bench in the second round, as some team could with Bonner.

    Center

    1. Chris Kaman, Central Michigan
    The efficiency is terrific, the level of competition is not. Kaman is as tough to project as any prospect in this draft. Even in his highly-touted games against strong D1 teams (namely Michigan and Duke), he wasn’t going up against top big men prospects – not that there are any other first-round center prospects in the NCAA. The track record of centers selected in the lottery is poor, and it’s hard to believe Kaman is going to change that.

    2. Chris Marcus, Western Kentucky
    Marcus makes me think of my center theory, which I don’t think I’ve shared in this space. As I was watching then-Warriors center Marc Jackson, a second-round pick, outplay a pair of lottery picks (Erick Dampier and Adonal Foyle) with big contracts in a Sonics-Warriors game in December 2000, it occurred to me that the situation wasn’t all that uncommon. Though I haven’t looked at this statistically, I’m quite certain that there is less correlation between pay and performance at center than any other position. My solution? Only have centers making the minimum, be it as second-round draft picks or free agents plucked from the scrap heap. That frees up more money for you to spend on the other positions, and I think you could find some solid centers out there. Marcus would be perfect in my theory. If he returns to health, you’re getting basically lottery-pick value in the second-round. If he doesn’t . . . it’s only a second rounder. It certainly isn’t a terrible loss.

    3. Jason Keep, San Diego
    Keep’s numbers are shockingly similar to Kaman’s, considering the wide disparity in draft positioning. At 25 after five years of college, Keep isn’t going to get much better, but he’s already a solid third center. There’s always room for someone with his physical style of play on my roster, and the conditioning and foul trouble problems he faced in college won’t be a concern playing spot minutes in the pros. Definitely worth a second-rounder. (Which, you may note, brings us to at least 30 college players I think are worth a second-rounder.)






  • Kevin Pelton is an intern for the Seattle SuperSonics and is responsible for original content on Supersonics.com. He writes "Page 23" for Hoopsworld.com on a semi-regular basis.





     
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