Author Archives: Eric Maroun

RTOE: BRITTNEY GRINER AND THE NBA

“If she is the best on the board, I will take her. I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about it already. Would I do it? Right now, I’d lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it. You never know unless you give somebody a chance, and it’s not like the likelihood of any late-50′s draft pick has a good chance of making it.” – Mark Cuban on the possibility of drafting Brittney Griner 

It’s the topic that has been blowing up Twitter all day. Could Brittney Griner, fresh off arguably the most dominating career in women’s college basketball history, make it in the NBA? What would happen if she was selected? I enlisted the help of Steve, Jared, Amin, and Derek to answer these questions and more.

1. Make your best case for why she could succeed in the NBA.

Eric: Basketball wise, she’s 6’8″ with an 88″ wing span, possesses great timing on the defensive end, is a fantastic shot blocker, can rebound the ball, and shot 60% from the field this season. Intangibles wise, she would come in to the league with a chip on her shoulder with no shortage of people telling her that she’s going to fail spectacularly. The extra motivation of wanting to prove people wrong could conceivably push her game to the next level and allow her to be successful in the NBA.

Steve: Although the league as a whole is growing ever more athletic, the emphasis is more on finesse and flexibility than brute strength. Sure, there are players like Pekovic who bang inside, but he seems like the exception instead of the rule. As such, a very athletic woman player seems like she could find a place on the right team with the right scheme. The scheme is the second important part of this; deployed in a disruptive way to change the complexion of the game, Griner could be effective as a small-ball power forward in spots.

Jared: She’s 6’8 and presumably has some basketball skills, which is more than you can say for a bunch of NBA bench players.

Amin: She’s a fantastic basketball player, and gender segregation is fucking stupid.

Derek: Well, if you’re the NCAA’s all-time leader in blocks (men’s or women’s) then you clearly have some instincts, and being 6’8 with a 7’1 wingspan which makes her an NBA sized perimeter player, and MAYBE a small ball four at best. And of course shooting 60% isn’t bad either.

2. Make your best case for why this could fail.

Eric: She’s never faced anything remotely close to an NBA level of competition before. While her height allows her to be dominant at the women’s level playing against opponents who are, on average, shorter than her, she will be simply average height when going up against NBA players on a nightly basis which should, theoretically, diminish the number of shots she will be able to block. As with any other rookie in the league, she’ll be adjusting to an 82 game schedule as well, complete with back to backs. Add in the media scrutiny and taunts she will surely receive on the road, and it becomes easy to see why the odds are stacked against her.

Steve: There are very few teams that could do this right. You need a team whose culture is stable enough that the trust of the players in that system would not be questioned over this, over whether it was just a PR move. The Spurs come immediately to mind, maybe the Heat. But with a team like Dallas where Cuban seems to be casting around for attention, I think it weakens the internal structure of the team. And not because she’s a woman, but because it’s too easy to view it as a stunt.

Jared: While she’s an overpowering, overwhelmingly athletic center for her college team, she’d likely be an underwhelmingly (in comparison to NBA players at her position) athletic small forward with a weight disadvantage against nearly every opponent in the NBA. She’d need to develop skills I don’t know if she has (cards on the table: I’ve never watched her play a full game. I’ve only seen SportsCenter highlights). And then there’d be the whole media circus thing, which can throw off anyone, man or woman.

Amin: Two reasons: A) She’d likely be playing out of position, and that would take some getting used to (a time period for which many teams might not have patience). B) She’s a woman entering a male-dominated profession who will likely face discrimination by players and fans. That seems pretty hard to deal with to me.

Derek: Well, at 6’8 and 200 pounds she would not be an NBA center, meaning she would have to learn an entirely new position while going against players with athleticism she has never seen before. As Kelly Dwyer pointed out, Mavs center Brandan Wright is 6’9 or so and 210 pounds and he has struggled to get much burn in the NBA, and Griner is smaller than he is. And then there’s just the physical differences between men and women which would be difficult to overcome at this level. That’s not sexist or saying in any way that women aren’t as good as men, or that her achievements are lesser because she’s a woman; it’s just scientific fact given the way our bodies are.

Let me change direction for a moment and remind ourselves that we’ve also seen tons of players that were terrific college players, but struggled to adapt to the speed of the NBA and adjust to facing more talented players that are also more athletic than they were used to. We’re talking about the NBA, where even the less-talented players can be ridiculously athletic. You don’t think the learning curve for Griner would be even steeper here when you take into account everything I mentioned above?

3. Hypothetically, your favorite team is picking in the middle of the second round in the draft. Would you be OK with taking her?

Eric: As a Cavs fan who has seen Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, and Dion Waiters struggle with injuries all year thereby weakening an already suspect bench by thrusting usual bench guys into starting roles, I would be fine with taking anyone who could add even a modicum of depth to the team. I don’t care whether they come from the Harlem Globetrotters, the AND1 Mixtape tour (BRB guys, ordering a Professor jersey), or women’s college basketball. For every Daniel Gibson that the Cavs have taken in the second round in the past years, I swear to you Gibson used to be at least semi-productive, there are the Milan Macvans and Ejike Ugboajas of the world. Would I take Griner over those guys who will never see the light of day on an NBA court? Sure.

Steve: I’m not okay with David Kahn drafting anyone ever period.

Jared: No. The Knicks are win now. All rookies need to have at least 10 years of NBA experience. (Don’t check my math on that.)

Amin: I’ll answer for both of my teams: If the Cavs draft her, I don’t think there’s any problem. All the guys on the Cavs are young (about her age), and they’ll have grown up in a more gender-neutral era. They could be pretty welcoming. If the Wizards draft her, then Ernie Grunfeld will probably find a way to stash her overseas, like so many of the 2nd-round Wizards draft picks before her. He’ll get really confused when she pleads that she’s from America, and she’ll still probably play ahead of Jan Vesely and Cartier Martin anyway.

Derek: If it were the Timberwolves, I’d say no because I could do without the draft day sideshow and jokes. And much of the reason why I would only want to see it is if they were going to give her a serious chance to make the team, and not just a PR stunt, because she is talented and deserves to have a legitimate shot at utilizing those talents. As Cuban himself said, what’s the difference with taking her with the 50th pick or taking someone else if the success rate is about the same? Either way, I’d only like to see her selected or invited to camp if someone was going to give her a real chance. I have no problem with her being selected, or invited to camp because she’s a woman, and I’d like to see her be successful at it, but I would want to see it done right. Regardless of gender/race/orientation/religion, if someone thinks they could help the team, then bring ‘em in, but don’t do it thinking, “Hey, look! We got a girl on our team!”

4. What would the general reaction be among players on the team that drafted her? 

Eric: I think it goes without saying that at first, there would absolutely be some trepidation. Any time that a barrier (racial, gender, or otherwise) is broken, you are going to have differing opinions in the locker room. Some will be staunchly against it, some will go out of their way to embrace it, and some will reserve opinion for a later time. At the end of the day though, athletes in any sport are about winning. As Charles Barkley put it when he was asked about his opinions on playing with a gay teammate, “I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.” If Griner proves to be better than any other option that would be considered for that position, eventually her teammates would accept her.  

Steve: I think there are layers to the reaction. I think our assumption that they would have a problem with it is a very surface-level reaction that treats all jocks as misogynist assholes—which is not to say that some of them will have that reaction. Overall, I think NBA players have a very deep appreciation for their fellow players, whatever their gender. In some ways, professional women basketball players are a lot closer to NBA pros than male college players. I’d like to think there’s a mutual understanding there among a lot of players in the NBA and WNBA right now. But on the other hand, no matter their genuine opinion, you’re going to have a hard time getting a good read on it because they’re so good at toeing the line of saying the right thing while saying absolutely nothing.

Jared: Would probably depend on the team. The Spurs (players) would welcome her with open arms, even though the front office would never take her because they hate media attention. The Kings coaches would manage deploy her wrong and playing with Reke and Boogie would ruin her spirit. Her and Jimmer would be fast friends, though. The Nets would put her on every billboard in America and Kris Humphries would try to get her into his commercial with James Harden for next season. Brook Lopez would take her to a few comic book shops in Brooklyn. Kobe would take her under his wing and give her a nickname, like he did for Pau (Swan) and Nash (Gatsby) but hasn’t done for Dwight (Dwight).

Amin: I think it depends on the age of the players on the team. If the core of the team is young, then they’ll be more welcoming, just by virtue of being raised in a less discriminatory era. I don’t know how welcoming, but it’s a pretty common phenomenon that discrimination biases tend to get weaker generation by generation.

Derek: I’m sure it would be a different dynamic than they were used to, especially for veterans. Really, all of the basketball stuff is the same, but they may treat her differently, I don’t know. I’m sure that as far as the locker room stuff went, if the WNBA can have male coaches with a female team, a male team and male coach could make it work with a female player on the roster. Now that I think about it, it is interesting we’re discussing the possibility of a female player before we are discussing a female general manager or head coach. It would seem to me that having a female general manager or head coach would more likely set the precedent for having a female player, but this is where the discussion has come first. Just a thought.

5. What’s the ratio between the decision to take her because she helps your team vs the decision to take her because it drives interest (Marketing, PR, etc.)?

Eric: In an ideal world, this would be a 100/0 ratio with helping the team on the court being the only reason she would be selected. Unfortunately, I think it’s closer to a 30/70 blend league wide. Of course, it’s going to depend on the team that takes her. Mark Cuban and Co. might take her both for the marketing opportunities and because they rank 28th in the NBA in rebounding rate this year. For the most part, however, I see a team taking her in an effort to sell more tickets, be the topic of discussion on PTI, and set the blogosphere ablaze. I hope I’m wrong.   

Steve: I feel like this ratio has to be as close to 1:1 as possible for it to make sense for the above stated reasons. If it doesn’t make sense from a basketball perspective, any marketing or PR gain will quickly dissipate. But it’s equally true that no rational person could buy taking her as a strictly basketball decision. At best, any rookie requires time and acclimation to the league, and you can bet on that being even more fraught for Griner.

Jared: Again depends on the team. If a team took her specifically to drive interest, that would suck. I’d hope any team spending a draft pick on her would value draft picks enough not to spend one solely for PR purposes.

Amin: That’s gotta depend on the team. You’d like to think that teams draft only to try to help get better, but I guess that’s not the case. If she’s drafted in the 2nd round, the earlier she’s drafted, the more likely she is to be used (because those teams are worse and have rotations that need players). The later she’s drafted, the less likely she’ll be used (better teams, deeper rotations).

Derek: That’s the thing considering she’d be learning a new position and going against far better athletes, I’m not sure just how much NBA people would actually think she could help a team. She would certainly have to prove a lot in exhibition play, and that leads me to believe that it would mostly be a PR stunt.

6. Why not take her? Seriously, what’s the harm in this?

Eric: The biggest drawback is if a GM takes Griner, she turns out to be completely overmatched, and someone selected after her goes on to be a rotation player or, in the worst case scenario for that GM, a starter in the league. That GM will have to go through the rest of his career with the equivalent of a scarlet letter on his chest and forever be branded as the guy that took a woman over [Insert rotation player/starter's name here]. Do we hold every other GM in the league accountable for allowing 56 picks to go by before Manu Ginobili was selected in 1999? No, of course not. Will that stop people from criticizing the GM who took Griner? No, of course not.

Steve: I think the greatest risk it poses is to the idea of building the culture of the team, something that Stan Van Gundy alluded to numerous times when he spoke at the Sloan Sports Conference. A team is not made simply by making the best decision at every opportunity. I know: that sounds weird. But we—all of us—are the products of both good and bad decisions. It’s both impossible and undesirable to only make the right choices. It’s paralyzing, first of all, and secondly, it leads to a sense of instability when you’re talking about an entire organization. This is why I think a team like the Spurs can deal with this: their culture is rock solid, and it says, “We can take anyone who has skills and make him (or her, I guess) a Spur.” For a team that has principles of how they grow the team, this could work so long as it’s seen as something that grows the team according to those principles. If a team doesn’t have those principles, it risks being seen as a shot in the dark.

Jared: Because she would probably be available as an undrafted free agent.

Amin: The only harm in it would be psychological to her because of the very-likely-ignorant crap that’ll be flung at her. But if she can play, and she wants to play, and she’s picked up, there is zero harm.

Derek: Well, you probably figure out a way to sell more tickets to those preseason games that you just can’t move, and season ticket holders may be more inclined to attend them instead of giving them away or letting them go unused. And they probably could sell some merchandise off of it, of course. However, the harm that I could see coming from a franchise’s standpoint is if you make it look like a PR stunt or a cash grab if you didn’t play your cards right. As far as basketball reasons I don’t see much harm at all, though. I would really hate to see more of the current dialogue continue of, “Is she a woman?” and ignorant stuff like that, and I don’t see that going away even if she were successful. But as Amin mentioned above it would be a reality she would have to face, and she would have to be mentally strong to deal with that possibly intensifying in the NBA.

2013 All-Star Profiles: Russell Westbrook

Photo by Telstar Logistics via Flickr

In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man,
Now I’ve reached that age, I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can.
No matter how I try, I find my way into the same old jam.

-          Led Zeppelin, Good Times Bad Times

Coming out of UCLA while still in the days of his youth, Russell Westbrook was told, and taught, very quickly how to be a man. As part of a draft class with Serge Ibaka, Westbrook joined Kevin Durant as the Oklahoma City Thunder laid the blueprint for what would eventually lead to OKC’s emergence as one of the premier franchises in the NBA. Westbrook’s ability to “man up” and play through the rigors of an NBA season has been nothing short of impressive thus far into his career. Much like his high school and college days, Westbrook has yet to miss a game since coming into the NBA. It’s the type of consistency that Oklahoma City has come to both rely and depend upon on a nightly basis.

Now that he has reached the age of 25, Westbrook has tried to do everything possible to be the best that he can. It’s hard to argue that he’s not succeeding. So far this season, Westbrook has racked up 22.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per 36 minutes. Throw a PER of above 23 into the mix as well, and it’s clear that Westbrook has firmly entrenched himself as a top 10 player in the league not just today, but for the foreseeable future. While Westbrook has not reached the level where you can count on him for a guaranteed highlight every night, he remains one of the few players in the league that always seem on the cusp of doing something that is capable of taking your breath away.

Unfortunately for Westbrook, no matter how hard he tries, he finds himself in the same old jam. Criticism that he still takes too many shots and isn’t a “true” point guard, whatever that means, comes from far and wide. His 42.7% shooting, down a full 3% from last year, isn’t good enough to crack the top 20 in field goal percentage among point guards in the NBA this season. And perhaps most of all, he is prone to behavioral outbursts such as throwing a mini tantrum in the middle of a game in which the Thunder were leading by 18 points…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_wLTGvp5ctU

…or responding to, admittedly, less than intelligent, clichéd questions by reporters…

…but just when you think he couldn’t possibly be any more immature, he goes and does something like this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF3eEZHabvQ

…AND COMPLETELY REDEEMS HIMSELF.

Despite the extracurricular shenanigans he chooses to engage in during timeouts or off the court, it’s his on-court talent that makes him a perennial All-Star. More importantly, it is going to be his ability to continue to perform at an All-Star level for the duration of the season and throughout the playoffs that will determine whether good times or bad times are ahead for Oklahoma City.

15 Footer 11/28/2012: Arrested Preview Edition

Another night, another slew of games on the NBA schedule tonight. With eleven different contests on the docket this evening, let’s briefly preview each of them. And for no real reason whatsoever, I’m assigning an Arrested Development quote to each game.

Portland at Washington, 7:00 PM (CSNN, CSNB)

Narrator: [Tobias is covered in blue paint and is walking at dusk] Tobias went to a tryout for the Blue Man Group hoping to be seen.
[Tobias is run over by Barry]
Narrator: Unfortunately, it was dusk, and he wasn’t seen.

The Washington Wizards have perpetually been dressing up in blue paint, wandering the streets of the NBA as every team they have played thus far, 12 of them to be exact, has run them over. We knew John Wall being out was going to be bad, just not this bad. And with no timetable set on his return coupled with a demanding schedule over the next two weeks, the Wizards could be staring an 0-20 record in the face very shortly. Luckily, at least they’re not holding players only meetings to air their grievances Festivus-style about Randy Wittm…oh, they did that today? Welp.

San Antonio at Orlando, 7:00 PM (FxSW)            

Annyong: Okay, Mom want someone to come with her to my soccer game. She don’t want other soccer moms think she single. She old school.

It doesn’t get much more old school than the Spurs, a team that seemingly rolls out of bed every season and cruises to 50 or more wins. They enter tonight having won five of their last six and Tim Duncan continuing to play at a level we thought he’d drop off from years ago. At some point, this team is going to break down for good, but early on it appears that they still may have one more run left in them.

Brooklyn at Boston, 7:30 PM (CSNN)

GOB: Zero hour, Michael. It’s the end of the line. I’m the firstborn. I’m sick of playing second fiddle. I’m always third in line for everything. I’m tired of finishing fourth. Being the fifth wheel. There are six things I’m mad about, and I’m taking over.

For years, the Nets played second fiddle to the Knicks in the New York/New Jersey area. However, that was then and this is now. Monday’s game against the Knicks set against the backdrop of an invested, lively Barclays Center crowd provided some of the best drama of the season with the Nets finally prevailing over their cross-town rivals in overtime. Less than fifteen games into the season, it’s premature to say that the Nets are officially taking over, but it’s rapidly becoming clear that this is not your slightly older brother’s Nets team anymore.

Charlotte at Atlanta, 7:30 PM (FSCR, TSOH)                        

Michael: Are you serious?
Wayne Jarvis: Almost always. I was once voted the worst audience participant Cirque Du Soleil ever had.

24 points in the first half. A 40 point deficit at intermission. 29.1% from the field shooting. A leading scorer that scored 10 points. The Bobcats managed to pull all of that off in their last game against Oklahoma City. Are you serious, Charlotte? We’re voting all of you as the worst basketball participants the NBA has ever had. Well, at least so far this year.

Phoenix at Detroit, 7:30 PM (FAHD, FxDt)                           

George Sr.: You should have seen the face he made when – well, he’s my twin brother, I’ll show you.

Much like the aforementioned Bobcats, prior to the season, the Suns were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA and possibly find their way into a top pick next year’s draft. Also like Charlotte, they have surprisingly gotten off to a decent start, coming into tonight’s game with a record of 7-8. Not world beaters by any means, but also not Wizards-bad. If they keep this up, they will be picking at the lower end of the lottery which in hindsight makes perfect sense because of their perpetual infatuation with selecting the less heralded brother of basketball families like Taylor Griffin, Robin Lopez, and Luke Zeller. A top pick in the draft could present the opportunity to select Luke’s brother Cody, and we just can’t be having that now, can we?

Dallas at Chicago, 8:00 PM (FxSW, CSNC)                             

Michael: Bottom line is, we’ve got two weeks to build a house. Doesn’t have to be good. Just has to look good.
Thomas Jane:
I just want my kids back.

In the same way that Jane wants his kids back, Chicago and Dallas both need their superstars back ASAP. If nothing else, the return of Derrick Rose will hopefully stop the cycle of HOLDING ONTO HIS KNEE. HOLDING ONTO HIS KNEE AND DOWN commercial that has taken the Western Hemisphere by force in the early part of the season. From a basketball perspective, the Bulls are just flat out more watchable when Rose is in the game. Under no circumstances should Nate Robinson be leading a team in per 36 minute scoring like Robinson is doing on this year’s Bulls. On the other side, Dirk Nowitzki’s absence has already put the Mavs 4.5 games behind the Grizzlies in the Southwest Division, and honestly, they are fortunate to not have a worse record given the relatively average-at-best schedule they have played.

New York at Milwaukee, 8:00 PM (MSG, FSN-WI)                           

Tobias Fünke: That Funke is some kind of something. Boy, this Funke is all anybody’s ever talking about. So sick and tired of hearing about how brilliant that Funke is. Overrated.

The Knicks started out the season as the NBA and media’s darling with a blistering 6-0 record and quickly became what everybody was talking about. Then, just as people outside the Mecca were getting sick and tired of hearing about how brilliantly they were playing, they dropped four of their past seven games including Monday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Raymond Felton may be strangled by the New York faithful if he ever decides to post another 3-19 shooting performance in a Knicks uniform causing every Knick fan to have a violent flashback to John Starks. Can they recapture that early season magic and execution? Or were they, like Tobias, overrated?

Toronto at Memphis, 8:00 PM (TSOH)                   

Lucille: I heard about the banana stand and now there’s been a break-in. But I have a surprise for whoever it is if he comes back.
[holds up an air horn and a fire poker]
Lucille: First I blow him, then I poke him.
Michael: Guy has no idea what he’s in for.

Just like a burglar breaking into the Bluth home, Raptors fans have no idea what they are in store for on a nightly basis. They’ve won a game where they scored five points in the fourth quarter, but lost a game by seven when they scored 133 points. They managed to play in the closest game in history and lose in double overtime to San Antonio. They hold a victory over a team that held a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals on Miami last year, but lost to a team that went 7-59 a season ago. Will they find a new way to lose tonight? Tune in!

Utah at New Orleans, 8:00 PM (FxRM)                                  

Michael: Really? What kind of job?
Lindsay: Beads.
GOB: Bees?
Lindsay: BEADS.
GOB: BEES?
Michael: GOB’s not on board.

Number one pick Anthony Davis! Top ten pick Austin Rivers! Eric Gordon once he gets healthy! This team was going to recover from Chris Paul so quickly and be watchable again! Unfortunately, the NBA karmic gods were not on board. Gordon has yet to take the court this season due to lingering knee issues that have plagued him his entire career. Davis has only appeared in six games as a result of a concussion and now a left ankle injury. And Rivers has been disappointing shooting 32% from the field and ranking dead last in win shares on the 4-9 Hornets. Maybe they should change their name to the Beads Bees instead.

Houston at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM (FSOK, NBATV)       

Tobias Fünke: [footage of Tobias trying on a Speedo with his cut-offs on] Excuse me, do these effectively hide my thunder?

The matchup of the night takes place in OKC as James Harden makes his return to the city he called home for three seasons before being dealt the weekend before the season began. Though Harden says that this is just another game, everyone in the NBA universe knows that it’s not. Whether he admits it publically or not, you have to think that this is his chance to show Sam Presti up close and personal that Presti made a mistake in trading him. In defense of Presti however, and despite Harden’s torrid start,  Harden and Kevin Martin have been pretty freaking even stats-wise.

Minnesota at LA Clippers, (10:30 PM, (FxNo, FSW2)

Lucille Austero: Today at lunch, you were ashamed to be with me.
Gob: No. I was ashamed to be seen with you. I like being with you.

Ah, the Timberwolves and Clippers. Two fan bases who for the past few decades have been ashamed to be with, or be seen with, their respective teams. Thankfully for them, both of these teams are now no longer the laughingstocks of the league. Minnesota successfully managed to tread water long enough and not bottom out prior to Kevin Love’s return from his hand injury which means that the eighth seed in the playoffs is still a realistic possibility for them. And speaking of injuries, it was announced this afternoon that Chauncy Billups will be making his season debut tonight for the Clippers, Mr. Big Shot’s first game since tearing his Achilles tendon back on February 7.

Enjoy the games!

NBA Election Day Primer

DISCLAIMER: There are many, MANY places to discuss and debate politics on the Internet. Hardwood Paroxysm is not one of them. This piece is merely meant to serve as an observation is statistical trends and should not be construed as an endorsement of either presidential candidate. Comment on and discuss this piece as you wish, but please take discussion of policies and the candidates themselves elsewhere.

It’s called the Redskins Rule, and if you have been paying attention to Twitter/the Internet/America over the past week, there’s a pretty good chance that you have seen it pop up. For those that are unfamiliar, the rule is as follows:

If the Redskins win their last home game before the election, the party that won the popular vote in the previous election wins the next election. If the Redskins lose, the challenging party’s candidate wins.

Keeping in mind that correlation does not necessarily equal causation, if you look hard enough, you can find a plethora of similar occurrences throughout history. Being that it’s Election Day (I’m sure you’ve seen a commercial or 600 alerting you to this), let’s take a look and see how the NBA fits into this quadrennial event.

The Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls are REALLY freaking good in election years

It’s been said that the best teams in any sport don’t rebuild, they reload, and the NBA is no different. I suppose it shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise seeing as how Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago have combined to win 39 NBA championships, but doing research for this post really put things in perspective. From 1960-2008, those three franchises won every single NBA title in election years aside from the Pistons victory in 2004. Of course, even then we saw the Lakers make the 2004 Finals. Throw in the fact that 1968, 1984, and 2008 Finals saw a Celtics-Lakers matchup, and we’re left with the Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls securing 92% of NBA championships and 65% of all Finals appearances in a 48 year timeframe.

The Washington franchise is REALLY freaking bad in games before Election Days

While the Redskins performance the game prior to the election may, for whatever reason, be an accurate bellwether as to predicting who takes the White House, the Washington basketball team does not discriminate one way or the other; they’re equally dreadful no matter who is in office. As a franchise, things initially looked promising for them; when dubbed the Baltimore Bullets, they won all three games immediately preceding the 1964, 1968, and 1972 elections. However, since moving to Washington prior to the 1973-74 season, the Bullets/Wizards have seen 10 elections take place, and in the games immediately prior to these elections, they are a pitiful, winless 0-8. The 1992 and 2004 seasons began after the presidential election took place and therefore are not a factor in this.

An Eastern Conference defending champion is crucial for Democrats

Though he is known as the most powerful Chicago Bulls fan on the planet, President Obama should be thankful that the Miami Heat prevailed back in June over Oklahoma City. Why? Because of the six victories by the Democratic Party in presidential elections since 1960, every single one of them has followed an Eastern Conference team winning the title months earlier. Four times, the Celtics were the ones that brought home the title while Obama’s Bulls multiple three-peats in the 90’s coincided perfectly with two terms of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Republicans, however, are much more balanced with five of their wins coming following a Western Conference team taking home the Larry O’Brien trophy and four taking place after an Eastern Conference team was crowned champion.

***

As far as predictions to make for tonight’s outcome based on the data, I predict that someone will be elected President tonight, and I will leave it at that. No matter your political leanings, let’s just all agree to remember to bet the money line against the Wizards in early November 2016. Now get off the Internet and go exercise your right to vote.

15-Footer 10/30/12: NBA BACK

The NBA is back and tipoff is just hours away. Our long four month wait for the NBA to return is finally over as of 7:00 PM tonight. If tonight was a concert, the Wizards and Cavs would be the opening act that only fans of the band, or in this case teams, really care to see. Millions more eyeballs will be devoted to our featured act of the evening, a rematch of last year’s thrilling Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. For those willing to hang around for the encore, the new look Los Angeles Lakers play host to the Dirk-less Dallas Mavericks to cap off the first night of the 2012-2013 NBA campaign. A quick look at the games tonight (All times are Eastern because EAST COAST BIAS):

Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers. 7:00 PM. Comcast SportsNet (WAS), Fox Sports Ohio (CLE)

From the moment the schedule was released, this was an attractive matchup for the residents of C-town and DC. The possibility of renewing a rivalry, albeit a one sided one, that that manifested itself through the Cavs eliminating the Wizards from the postseason in 2006, 2007, and 2008 was a fun thought. Then John Wall suffered a stress injury in his right knee in late September and was ruled out for eight weeks. What once was a tasty matchup featuring Kyrie Irving and #4 pick Dion Waiters going head-to-head with John Wall and #3 pick Bradley Beal now features AJ Price in place of Wall which is…less appealing. Add in the fact that Hurricane Sandy is making getting to the game in downtown Cleveland a chore, and this game could be unwatchable in various ways. But still! Basketball! It’s officially back!

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat. 8:00 PM. TNT

If nothing else, those that complain that basketball has gotten too “buddy-buddy” in the AAU era of basketball where seemingly everyone gets along with everyone can take solace in knowing that these two teams absolutely loathe one another. LeBron James has either been ousted or been the ouster of Boston in four of the past five postseasons, and both teams seem to know that the road to the Finals most likely goes through each other yet again this season. As an added bonus, Ray Allen joining the Heat in the off-season conjured up memories of Macho Man Randy Savage turning heel and joining the New World Order. We’re talking about two guys that past their prime who joined a group featuring guys that were younger looking to make an impact. Will Allen get his wish and be used as more than just a decoy, even with the likes of LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh on the team? Will Rajon Rondo just throw the ball directly at Allen after receiving the opening tip? Will Kevin Garnett snap and eat Ray Allen’s soul? Who knows! As always, any game featuring potentially seven future Hall of Famers is an absolute must watch.

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers. 10:30 PM. TNT

After getting taken out in five games at the hands of the Thunder during last year’s playoffs, the Lakers went out and made a huge acquisition which they thought would help them get back to the top. A player that can provide a scoring punch to pair alongside Kobe Bryant.  A player that has previously been seen as the missing piece to a team’s run at a title. Yes, Antawn Jamison gets his first real action tonight in a Lakers uniform. Oh, and they got Steve Nash and Dwight Howard too while giving up Andrew Bynum and I think a $5 coupon to the Staples Center concession stand. Speaking of concession stands, after not re-signing Tyson Chandler last off-season with the intent that they would try and land Dwight Howard, Dallas starts Eddy Curry at center tonight.

The NBA is back and tipoff is just hours away.

 

Hardwood Paroxysm Celebrates A 5-Year Paroxy-versary: RTOE – Basketball Twitter Edition

It’s that time again for everyone’s favorite running HP feature, Roundtables Over Everything! If you’re reading this, chances are you have a Twitter account, and you are an NBA fan. Assuming you meet those two criteria, you are almost certainly part of the culture (phenomenon? community? cult?) known collectively as “Basketball Twitter.” If you don’t meet that criteria, you are really missing out on having your NBA fanhood experience enhanced. Though all of us here at HP are a part of it, rarely is Basketball Twitter discussed directly. Sean, Jared, Scott, Jordan, and I decided to tackle this topic in today’s RTOE.

1) Explain, in your own words the term “Basketball Twitter” to someone who has never heard the phrase. 

Eric: It’s a collection of experts and novices interested in basketball who are some combination of observant and blind, intelligent and clueless, rational and irrational, biased and unbiased, rude and considerate, funny and serious. It’s where memes are created and spread, where inside jokes are born and beaten into the ground. And it has helped NBA fans transition from being part of a group to being part of a community.

Sean: It’s an extended circle of friends, virtual colleagues, and oddballs who are basketball nuts and attack the game from their own perspective, 140 characters at a time. Some of them (like @CardboardGerald and the Basketball Jones guys) are about the jokes. Some (like Tom Haberstroh and Kevin Pelton) are stat freaks. Others still (like the sadly departed-from-twitter Sebastian Pruiti) see things from an X’s and O’s standpoint that are several dimensions beyond what I’m capable of. Most are just fans of one team or another with unique, insightful things to say about their teams and the league at large. I learn from all of them, and I laugh at all of them.

Jared: An insular, yet somehow also inclusive group of people tweeting at and to each other on a constant, nightly basis in a way that only they seem to understand. Lots of inside jokes, #LeaguePassAlerts, #TeaguePassAlerts and fawning over unselfish teams with lots of athleticism. At its heart, really just a place for lonely people who love basketball to hang out and talk hoops.

Scott: I’m gonna go to the sports cliche basket and call it a family, because sappiness aside that’s what it really is. It’s a bunch of anti-social people who like to talk and share a love for the NBA. It’s a really fun, quirky and interesting place to be. Everything that happens there is so random and organic, you really never know what’s going to happen, but you know it’s going to keep you engaged. It’s like the JR Smith of the Internet. In a good way.

Jordan: An micro-community within twitter comprised of bloggers, writers, fans and trolls. It’s a forum for discussion, debate, and Photoshops.   

2) How has Basketball Twitter changed the way you watch or understand the NBA?

Eric: For starters, it got me this gig writing for HP which was pretty swell. But really, it has added so much to the in-game experience. When I used to watch sports, I would just chill on my couch or bed and simply take in the game. Now, I have to have a game on my TV, the Daily Dime Live chat up on my laptop, and Twitter refreshing automatically on my iPad. Rather than passively consuming the game at hand, I’m now actively generating content and interacting with others.

Sean: Well, I owe the fact that I’m even participating in this roundtable to twitter, so there’s that. But beyond that, watching games is so much more fun when you’re cracking jokes, making observations, and throwing out obscure stats with people all over the world. And I see articles worth reading all the time that I wouldn’t have seen if they weren’t linked by people I follow.

Jared: It’s given me more access to great basketball-related content than I ever thought imaginable. It’s given me more understanding of NBA players’ outside-the-game lives, and it’s given me more to do when I’m bored than any other activity I can think of.

Scott: It’s definitely changed my views on a lot of things, and made me more informed in a number of ways. But probably the biggest effect it has had, is it’s made essentially impossible for me to enjoy watching basketball with “normal” people. The second someone opens their mouth and says “You gotta give the ball to Kobe here” or “LeBron just doesn’t have that killer instinct” I immediately lose interest in anything these people have to say. That’s probably more on the negative side, but it’s also, to me at least, the most interesting development I’ve noticed.

Jordan: It’s like watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, only in real time and with sports.

3) The most frustrating part of Basketball Twitter is…

Eric: The idea that either you’re A. a stats nerd or B. a “watch the games/eye test” type person with no option C. So many people are quick to pigeon hole others one way or the other that they become focused on that rather than creating any type of logical argument that even considers entertaining another person’s point of view.

Sean: How cliquish some parts of it can be, and how personally some people take it when you unfollow them. The social aspect of it is awesome, but after a while, if you aren’t adding anything of value to my timeline, I’ll probably unfollow. It’s never personal, but it always makes me feel like a dick, and I don’t like that.

Jared: The near-universal man crush on JaVale McGee and Jonas Valanciunas.

Scott: The ridiculous anti-Rondo campaigners.

Jordan: If you’re looking for advice, or want a serious answer, ask at your own risk. For the Twitter is dark and full of trolls.

4) If there was one thing you could change about how the NBA community (fans, players, and/or media) interacts, what would it be?

Eric: I wish we could stop having the exact same arguments in the same ongoing cycle. You can almost set your watch to when LeBron v. Kobe or “Could (Awesome College Team X) beat (Awful NBA team Y)?” debates are going to break out for the umpteenth time. You can only make the identical point for so long. What’s the definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results? Unfortunately, that’s applicable to way too many Basketball Twitter arguments.

Sean: If athletes and big-time media people stopped obliging when fans asked for a retweet or a shoutout, people would stop asking for them.

Jared: Either counting the ringzzzzz or everything about clutch discussions.

Scott: I wish fans could remember that the players are people too. It’s really easy to think of these guys as superhuman, but it’s easy to forget all these guys are multidimensional. They all have stresses, they all make bad decisions, they all have insecurities. They all get scared at times, they might feel lonely at others. They might be unbelievably sad, they might be heartbroken. They are human, and we’d be well served to remember that more often.

Jordan: For bloggers, at any level, to be taken more seriously by the “old guard”. 

5) Give your predictions for Most Valuable Tweeter this year. One for a media member, one for a player, and one for a blogger/fan. 

Eric: For the media, I’m going with ESPN.com’s own Marc Stein. While I feel like I can get analysis and funny takes from a ton of differently people on Twitter, Stein is on the short list of those who are ridiculously connected enough to break big news consistently and accurately throughout the year. Player wise, it’s Kendall Marshall. As I’m typing this, he’s tweeting about eating bourbon chicken and rice in the food court. Fittingly haven’t we all BTB? For the MVB, it’s @CardboardGerald. Few people genuinely make me laugh with about 90% of their tweets; Ben Swanson is one of them.

Sean: Media: Not for nothing do I set up text-message alerts for Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Stein every year in the week leading up to the trade deadline and the first couple weeks of free agency every July. Player: RT @shighkinNBA: I THINK JAVALE MCGEE’S SELF-RETWEETING STYLE WILL BE INFLUENTIAL THIS SEASON #TEAMPIERRE. Fan/blogger: I don’t think people were ready for the insights @YucciMane was dropping last season. I’m expecting 2011-12 LeBron numbers from him this year.

Jared: Media: Matt because his feed tweets all the HP articles and those new Co-Editors in Chief are awesome dudes. Player: 3-way tie – Kendall Marshall, Tony Allen, JR Smith. Blogger/fan: The incomparable @netw3rk. Other: RIC_THE_LEGEND.

Scott: Media Member: Ken Berger. Player: JR Smith. Blogger/fan: Nick Flynt.

Jordan: Media: @KevinArnovitz. Funny, insightful, and gives great analysis. Player: Tony Allen, and it”s not! Even !Close”" Blogger/Personality: @Netw3rk. Leads Basketball Twitter LP (Laughs Produced).

The Provisional Blessing Of Amnesty

Photo by PianoWow via Flickr

“Amnesty is a one-time opportunity for teams to release one player via the waiver process and remove him from their team salary and luxury tax computations. For a player to be eligible for the Amnesty provision he must be on his team’s roster continuously from July 1, 2011 to the date he is amnestied, without any new contract, extension, renegotiation or other amendment to his contract in the meantime. Players who were waived prior to July 1, 2011 and are still receiving guaranteed salary are also eligible. Teams cannot amnesty players they sign, receive in trade, extend, renegotiate, or otherwise amend after July 1, 2011.” – Larry Coon‘s CBA FAQ

Sometimes, we need to be reminded to count our blessings, no matter how small they may be. It was one year ago right now that we as a basketball community were in the true dog days of summer. While this past month alone has been a whirlwind from the coronation of the Miami Heat as champions to the NBA Draft merely a week later to the beginning of free agency only days after that, not to mention summer league games and Olympic competition heating up, we had absolutely nothing at this point last year. Questions from fans shifted from the usual “Who will we be able to sign in free agency?” and “Do you think we can pull off this trade?” variety to pondering “Are we even going to have a 2011-12 season?” and “What the heck is Basketball Related Income anyway?” As the lockout dragged on and the dispute was framed classically as Millionaires v. Billionaires, those in the negotiating room were tasked with saving the future of the league.  Ultimately, one of the core themes which quickly emerged and remained throughout the process was that the owners needed to be saved from themselves.

For years, front offices had been handing out outrageous salaries to players only come up well short of getting their money’s worth out of the contract. It went far beyond the usual trend of having to overpay a little extra for a rare commodity like a true seven foot center or for the chance to lure someone away from their hometown; no, there were more than few salaries that drew “Is that a typo? Are you sure that extra zero is supposed to be there?” reactions from around the league. Luckily for owners, the grueling 161 day lockout managed to produce the amnesty clause, a life preserver of sorts for front offices that had signed off on bad at best, egregious at worst contracts in the past. After two rounds of the amnesty clause being in place, there is still an ongoing debate as to whether or not the provision has been a blessing or a curse for the league.

To recap, the list of the 15 teams to have taken advantage of the amnesty clause and players involved is as follows:

2011 Amnesty Cuts
Cleveland Cavaliers
– Baron Davis
Golden State Warriors – Charlie Bell
Indiana Pacers – James Posey
Brooklyn Nets – Travis Outlaw
New York Knicks – Chauncey Billups
Orlando Magic – Gilbert Arenas
Phoenix Suns – Josh Childress
Portland Trail Blazers – Brandon Roy

2012 Amnesty Cuts
Dallas Mavericks
– Brendan Haywood
Denver Nuggets – Chris Andersen
Houston Rockets – Luis Scola
Los Angeles Clippers – Ryan Gomes
Minnesota Timberwolves – Darko Milicic
Philadelphia 76ers – Elton Brand
Washington Wizards – Andray Blatche

All said and done, it calculates to a grand total of $342,534,339 worth of guaranteed money that has been sliced off of team payrolls counting toward the salary cap ever since Gilbert Arenas became the first amnesty casualty on December 9, 2011. This has provided a varying degree of additional cap flexibility for those that have used it so far enabling them to, theoretically, chase a free agent or swing a trade that they otherwise would not be able to complete prior to the establishment of the amnesty provision.

Upon examining the above list, there is something particular that jumps off the page. Of the 15 teams to have utilized the amnesty clause, only the Mavericks, Pacers, Clippers, and 76ers have won a playoff series in the past two seasons. Taking it one step further, the Pacers are the only ones who utilized their amnesty and won a playoff series since using it. This is far from a coincidence. A cursory look at the list practically reveals a number of teams that would make up a “who’s who” of questionable front offices over the past few years. Billy King had earned the reputation of one of the worst general managers in the league prior to this offseason in Brooklyn, the Knicks propensity to overpay for players with little results has been well documented, and the Clippers are, well, the Clippers. Teams conspicuously absent from this list include the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs; of course, one may recognize those teams as having accounted for seven of the eight spots in the conference championship series in the past two years. There is a reason that they found themselves playing for a spot in the Finals; they are, for the most part, well run franchises that did not need to use the amnesty because they put themselves in a position to succeed through smart free agent signings, trading for favorable contracts, and drafting well. In the mindset of these types of teams, the ability for competitors to amnesty players is perceived simply as a get out of jail free card. After all, if the amnesty provision was a life preserver for drowning teams, how does that benefit teams perfectly capable of swimming on their own? In the context of today, it doesn’t; however, the amnesty provision is not necessarily a short-term oriented clause.

Since the amnesty can be used through the 2015-16 season, it is crucial to keep in mind how long of a timeframe three years can be in the NBA. To wit, in the 2009-10 campaign, the Knicks, 76ers, Pacers, and Clippers, all playoff teams from this past postseason, were a combined 94 games below .500. On the flip side, the 2010 playoffs featured teams like the Charlotte Bobcats (7 seed then, worst team in the league last year) and Phoenix Suns (3 seed then, lottery team this year). While it is easy to look at the cream of the crop now, there is no telling what the future holds. Tony Parker’s eye injury as a result of being caught in the crossfire of a Drake and Chris Brown fight could cause long term issues thereby making him an amnesty candidate next year. Derrick Rose may never recover from his knee injury in the 2012 playoffs sending the Bulls into full rebuilding mode which would include amnestying Carlos Boozer. As unfathomable as it is to picture for Kobe Bryant not to wear purple and gold forever, his $30.4 million contract in 2013-14 may be too much for even the Lakers to bear. The point is, while some teams may be opposed to the amnesty provision on July 25, 2012, the outcomes over the course of the next three years may change their perspectives. If we have learned anything over the years, it is that nothing is guaranteed. There is an old golf saying that you can’t win a tournament on Thursday, but you can absolutely lose one. The same principle applies with regards to the amnesty provision. Teams aren’t going to win titles solely by exercising it, but they absolutely could lose out on one if their past decisions have prevented them from making a move to put them over the top. At the end of the day, every team in the league would rather have the provision in their back pocket and not use it as opposed to needing it and not having it at their disposal.

In the past, the collision of agents’ shark-like tendencies to secure the best deals for their clients with various front offices’ inability to see the big picture helped drive the league to a lockout and, in turn, created a number of sunk costs throughout the association. The amnesty clause didn’t solve all of the issues, but it at least is a step in the right direction toward getting a number of teams back on course. And let’s face it, the more teams that are able to hold their respective heads above water, the better it is for everyone involved.

NBA Draft Analysis – Picks 1-10

Photo by Paulo Carrillo via Flickr

Throughout this week in leading up to tonight’s NBA draft, I have been examining the top 30 picks of the draft over the past 20 years. Click here for Part I which contains the explanations for the study and classification of players. Click here for Part II. Today we’ll conclude the series by covering picks 1-10. 

Superstar: None
All-Star: Paul Pierce (1998), Andrew Bynum (2005), Brook Lopez (2008)
Solid Starter: Eddie Jones (1994), Danny Fortson (1997), Jason Terry (1999), Joe Johnson (2001), Brandon Jennings (2009)
Role Player: Adam Keefe (1992), Lindsey Hunter (1993), Kurt Thomas (1995), Erick Dampier (1996), Caron Butler (2002), Mouhamed Sene (2006), Spencer Hawes (2007), Paul George (2010)
Bench: Keyon Dooling (2000), Jarvis Hayes (2003), Luke Jackson (2004), Jimmer Fredette (2011)
Bust: None
DNP: None

If there is a player to emerge as the 2012 draft class’s version of Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson, New Orleans is going to be a ridiculously fun team to watch not only this season, but in many years to come. If they go with the 2012 version of Luke Jackson, it could be another long, long season on the Bayou. Pierce and Andrew Bynum’s TS% numbers both rank in the top 10% of all players analyzed which is partly responsible for the #10 pick’s high rating in this category. Nothing particularly jumps out as a poor area statistically out of this spot meaning that, theoretically, the Hornets should land a  running mate alongside Anthony Davis for years to come.

Superstar: Tracy McGrady (1997), Dirk Nowitzki (1998), Amare Stoudemire (2002)
All-Star: Shawn Marion (1999)
Solid Starter: Andre Iguodala (2004), Joakim Noah (2007)
Role Player: Clarence Weatherspoon (1992), Rodney Rogers (1993), Samaki Walker (1996), Joel Przybilla (2000), Rodney White (2001), Mike Sweetney (2003), Ike Diogu (2005), D.J. Augustin (2008), DeMar DeRozan (2009), Gordon Hayward (2010), Kemba Walker (2011)
Bench: Eric Montross (1994), Ed O’Bannon (1995), Patrick O’Bryant (2006)
Bust: None
DNP: None

Oh hey! Your first Eric Montross reference in about a decade! Aside from Montross who was one of the worst selections to come out of this spot, there is serious value to be had here. Golden State’s selection of Adonal Foyle allowed Toronto to scoop up Tracy McGrady in 1997, Larry Hughes went one spot before Nowitzki, and the Clippers deemed Chris Wilcox as their big man of choice over Amare Stoudemire in 2002. All, of course, went on to have multiple All-Star appearances throughout their careers. This group is balanced offensively and defensively rating sixth or better in shooting, rebounding, and block categories along with PER.

Superstar: None
All-Star: Brandan Wright (2007)
Solid Starter: Vin Baker (1993), Kerry Kittles (1996), Andre Miller (1999), Rudy Gay (2006)
Role Player: Todd Day (1992), Brian Grant (1994), Adonal Foyle (1997), Larry Hughes (1998), Jamal Crawford (2000), Chris Wilcox (2002), T.J. Ford (2003), Channing Frye (2005), Jordan Hill (2009)
Bench: Shawn Respert (1995), DeSagana Diop (2001), Joe Alexander (2008), Al-Farouq Aminu (2010), Brandon Knight (2011)
Bust: Rafael Araujo (2004)
DNP: None

The aforementioned Foyle, Hughes, and Wilcox selections in this spot are merely a sampling of the pu pu platter that the 8th pick has resulted in over the past two decades. No one is mistaking Brandan Wright for an All-Star anytime soon, but his surprisingly strong career PER of 19.0 in four seasons has him classified there for the purposes of this analysis. For being the 8th pick, this slot is filled with a tremendous number of misfires including Joe Alexander who rode a Sweet Sixteen appearance at West Virginia into this spot only to find himself out of the league after 67 games over the course of two seasons. Andre Miller and Rudy Gay are the primary contributors of preventing this pick from being a historically awful place to land.

Superstar: None
All-Star: Greg Monroe (2010)
Solid Starter: Richard Hamilton (1999), Nene Hilario (2002), Luol Deng (2004), Charlie Villanueva (2005), Stephen Curry (2009)
Role Player: Walt Williams (1992), Lamond Murray (1994), Damon Stoudamire (1995), Lorenzen Wright (1996), Tim Thomas (1997), Jason Williams (1998), Chris Mihm (2000), Eddie Griffin (2001), Kirk Hinrich (2003), Randy Foye (2006), Eric Gordon (2008)
Bench: Corey Brewer (2007), Bismack Biyombo (2011)
Bust: Bobby Hurley (1993)
DNP: None

For teams looking for a role player to complement their roster, the 7th spot is as good as spot as any in the top 10 to be with over half of the players selected here over the past 20 years posting a PER between 13.0 and 15.9. Golden State, who holds the 2012 pick here currently, actually made one of the better selections out of here in the past few years with its pick of Stephen Curry. Someone like Dion Waiters could be chosen Thursday night as a backcourt teammate of Curry’s at a spot that is relatively average historically. Both assist categories are the only ones where the 7 pick has outperformed its position with those selected here generally being weak rebounders rating 23rd overall among the 30 picks.

Superstar: None
All-Star: Brandon Roy (2006)
Solid Starter: Antoine Walker (1996), Wally Szczerbiak (1999)
Role Player: Tom Gugliotta (1992), Sharone Wright (1994), Bryant Reeves (1995), Ron Mercer (1997), Robert Traylor (1998), Shane Battier (2001), Chris Kaman (2003), Josh Childress (2004), Danilo Gallinari (2008)
Bench: Calbert Cheaney (1993), DerMarr Johnson (2000), Dajuan Wagner (2002), Martell Webster (2005), Yi Jianlian (2007), Jonny Flynn (2009), Ekpe Udoh (2010), Jan Vesely (2011)
Bust: None
DNP: None

While there is obviously differences from the quality of draft class to draft class, the names at the 6th spot alone should serve as a reminder that there tends to be a talent drop off after the top five selections. Only 15% (or 3 total) of players selected here went on to rate as a solid starter or better which is the lowest of any top 10 pick. Brandon Roy was the best pick to come out of this spot in 20 years, and he finds himself out of the league six years later due to injuries. Overall, the numbers aren’t pretty with the players taken 6th having rated 20th or worse in rebounds, assists, and steals per 36 minutes. Every year we see teams vying to jump into the top 5; now we know why.

Superstar: Kevin Garnett (1995), Dwyane Wade (2003), Kevin Love (2008)
All-Star: Ray Allen (1996), Vince Carter (1998)
Solid Starter: Jason Richardson (2001), Devin Harris (2004), DeMarcus Cousins (2010)
Role Player: LaPhonso Ellis (1992), Isaiah Rider (1993), Juwan Howard (1994), Tony Battie (1997), Mike Miller (2000), Raymond Felton (2005), Shelden Williams (2006), Jeff Green (2007), Ricky Rubio (2009)
Bench: Jonathan Bender (1999)
Bust: Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002)
DNP: Jonas Valanciunas (2011)

Among the top five picks in the draft, the 5th pick wins the “Forrest Gump Box of Chocolates Award” for the fact that you don’t know what you’re going to get. A franchise player like Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, or Kevin Love? Maybe. A perennial All-Star at their peak like Ray Allen or Vince Carter? Perhaps. The poster child for a bust in Nikoloz Tskitishvili who has the lowest PER of any top 11 pick in the past 20 years? It’s in play. A seas0n’s worth of acquiring ping pong balls via losing and the lottery process which results in the fifth pick can be both a blessing and a curse depending on the scouting job done by the front office. The star power at the top end of the spectrum of the 5th pick carries it to high rankings in points, rebounding, assist, and PER categories among the 30 picks studied.

Superstar: Chris Paul (2005)
All-Star: Chris Bosh (2003), Russell Westbrook (2008)
Solid Starter: Donyell Marshall (1994), Rasheed Wallace (1995), Stephon Marbury (1996), Antawn Jamison (1998), Lamar Odom (1999), Eddy Curry (2001), Drew Gooden (2002),  Tyreke Evans (2009)
Role Player: Jim Jackson (1992), Jamal Mashburn (1993), Antonio Daniels (1997), Marcus Fizer (2000), Shaun Livingston (2004), Tyrus Thomas (2006), Mike Conley (2007), Tristan Thompson (2011)
Bench: Wesley Johnson (2010)
Bust: None
DNP: None

In Monday’s post, I discussed how rebuilding teams everywhere are trying to emulate the OKC Model in order to go from laughingstock of the league to serious title contender. The 2008 draft put the Thunder on the fast track to recovery when they were able to net Serge Ibaka at 24 and Russell Westbrook with the 4th pick. As luck would have it, the Cleveland Cavaliers, also in the midst of a massive rebuilding process, hold those exact same picks this year. Three of arguably the top 15 players in the league currently were selected in this spot in Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, and Westbrook which bodes well for Cleveland. Paul’s unbelievable AST% of 46.3 led all players over the past 20 years; therefore, it comes as no surprise that the 4th pick ranks number one in both assist categories. Strong PER numbers among the rest of the selections have helped to make the 4 hole great place to be for rebuilding teams looking to add a piece that will get them to the playoffs sooner rather than later.

Superstar: None
All-Star: Grant Hill (1994), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1996), Chauncey Billups  (1997), Pau Gasol (2001), Carmelo Anthony (2003), Deron Williams (2005)
Solid Starter: Christian Laettner (1992), Anfernee Hardaway (1993), Jerry Stackhouse (1995), Raef LaFrentz (1998), Baron Davis (1999), Al Horford (2007), James Harden (2009)
Role Player: Darius Miles (2000), Mike Dunleavy (2002),  Ben Gordon (2004), O.J. Mayo (2008), Derrick Favors (2010), Enes Kanter (2011)
Bench: None
Bust: Adam Morrison (2006)
DNP: None

Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, and Deron Williams highlight a group of stellar draft picks to emerge from a group far more known for their offense than their defense as the statistical rankings indicate. James Harden’s .605 TS% ranks tied for 7th best with Steve Nash among the top 600 draft picks over the past 20 years which helped drive the 2nd pick up to 2nd overall in the TS% category. Unless someone trades up for Brad Beal at 2, the Wizards will almost assuredly make the Florida shooting guard the pick here; as long as he doesn’t turn into Adam Morrison, he of the career 7.4 PER and deplorable -0.126 Wins Produced per 48, the Wizards will have an exciting starting back court for the future.

Superstar: Kevin Durant (2007)
All-Star: Alonzo Mourning (1992), LaMarcus Aldridge (2006)
Solid Starter: Shawn Bradley (1993), Jason Kidd (1994), Antonio McDyess (1995), Marcus Camby (1996), Keith Van Horn (1997), Mike Bibby (1998), Steve Francis (1999), Stromile Swift (2000), Emeka Okafor (2004)
Role Player: Tyson Chandler (2001), Jay Williams (2002), Darko Milicic (2003), Marvin Williams (2005), Michael Beasley (2008), Derrick Williams (2011)
Bench: Hasheem Thabeet (2009), Evan Turner (2010)
Bust: None
DNP: None

The 2012 draft class is being billed as the strongest in years, and Charlotte has quite the decision on their hands: keep the #2 pick and select Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or Harrison Barnes, or trade the pick for additional pieces and/or selections. Interestingly enough, with Anthony Davis almost assured of being a future All-Star, history is not on the Bobcats’ side. Fun fact: only three times in the past 20 drafts have both the #1 and #2 picks gone on to become All-Star selections: 1992 (Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning), 1994 (Glenn Robinson and Jason Kidd), and 1999 (Elton Brand and Steve Francis). While its extremely doubtful that any of the aforementioned potential #2 selections this year will bottom out to the level of the Darko-Swift-Williams triumvirate, the past 20 years have not been especially kind.  The dearth of point guards selected with this pick help explain the low assist and steal rankings coming from this spot while the tendency to draft big men have propelled the #2 slot to rank highly in blocks, rebounds, and points categories.

Superstar: Shaquille O’Neal (1992), Tim Duncan (1997), Yao Ming (2002), LeBron James (2003), Dwight Howard (2004), Blake Griffin (2009)
All-Star: Chris Webber (1993), Allen Iverson (1996), Elton Brand (1999), Greg Oden (2007), Derrick Rose (2008), Kyrie Irving (2011)
Solid Starter: Glenn Robinson (1994), Andrew Bogut (2005), John Wall (2010)
Role Player: Joe Smith (1995), Kenyon Martin (2000), Kwame Brown (2001), Andrea Bargnani (2006)
Bench: Michael Olowokandi (1998)
Bust: None
DNP: None

Earlier this season, I wrote about the myth of the #1 pick. Last week, LeBron James became the third #1 overall pick since 1990 to win an NBA championship (Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal), while Duncan remains the only to do so with the team that drafted him. In fact, Duncan is the only player drafted since 1992 in the top three to win a title with the team that drafted him. With increased pressure on small market teams to win as soon as possible, general managers are forced to build with superstars rather than around them. The #1 pick is as good as a place to start though as this pick, as expected, has combined to rank #1 in points, TS%, rebounds, TRB%, and PER while also ranking second in both block categories analyzed. Given that the top pick is expected to have the ball in his hands as often as possible, the fact that they place 30th in turnovers should come as no surprise.

The draft is Thursday night at 7:00 Eastern. Tune in then to see if your team will simply become part of history or choose to make it.

NBA Draft Analysis – Picks 11-20

Photo by Paulo Carrillo via Flickr

In the days leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft, I will be examining the top 30 picks of the draft over the past 20 years. If you missed Part I (Picks 21-30 plus an overview of the objective of these posts and explanation behind the data, click here). Today we’ll be covering picks 11-20. The series concludes tomorrow with picks 1-10.

Superstar: None
All-Star: None
Solid Starter: Zydrunas Ilgauskas (1996)
Role Player: Scott Burrell (1993), Jason Caffey (1995), Dion Glover (1999), Speedy Claxton (2000), Brendan Haywood (2001), Jameer Nelson (2004), Renaldo Balkman (2006), Jason Smith (2007)
Bench: Hubert Davis (1992), Roshown McLeod  (1998), Kareem Rush (2002), Dahntay Jones (2003), Julius Hodge (2005), Alexis Ajinca (2008), Eric Maynor (2009)
Bust: B.J. Tyler (1994), Paul Grant (1997), James Anderson (2010)
DNP: Donatas Motiejunas (2011)

Big Z checks in at the 20th spot as the only player to post a career PER above 16.0 in what turned out to be a largely underwhelming group from this position. Players coming out of this slot have combined to rank 24th or worst in every non-assist or steal related category analyzed. The low point of the 20th pick came in 1997 as Paul Grant was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves and went on to post a PER of 4.0 in 111 career minutes spread across two seasons and three teams. Denver will simultaneously hope that the 2012 draft is as deep as experts claim it is and hope to buck the trend in doing so when they are on the clock on Thursday night.

Superstar: None
All-Star: Zach Randolph (2001)
Solid Starter: None
Role Player: Don MacLean (1992), Tony Dumas (1994), Scot Pollard (1997), Jamaal Magloire (2000), Dorell Wright (2004), Hakim Warrick (2005), J.J. Hickson (2008), Jeff Teague (2009), Tobias Harris (2011)
Bench: Acie Earl (1993), Walter McCarty (1996), Pat Garrity (1998), Quincy Douby (2006), Javaris Crittenton (2007), Avery Bradley (2010)
Bust: Randolph Childress (1995), Quincy Lewis (1999), Ryan Humphrey (2002), Sasha Pavlovic (2003)
DNP: None

With Danny Ferry recently being hired yesterday by the Atlanta Hawks, it is interesting to note that the 19th pick contains two of the hallmarks of Ferry’s moves while in Cleveland. J.J Hickson was selected by Ferry in 2008 to be a running mate of LeBron James; however, this dream never materialized as Hickson remained as raw as sushi on the offensive side of the floor up until the day that he was traded for Omri Casspi. Sasha Pavlovic, on the other hand, was swapped to Phoenix along with Ben Wallace and a second round draft pick to bring in Shaquille O’Neal in another attempt to satisfy LeBron’s desire for more star power. Since then, Pavlovic has bounced around the league from Minnesota, Dallas, and New Orleans before joining the Celtics in 2011. Zach Randolph remains as the clear cut best choice out of the 19th spot unless you have an unhealthy obsession with Jamaal Magloire’s 2004 All-Star campaign.

Superstar: None
All-Star:  None
Solid Starter: David West (2003), JaVale McGee (2008), Ty Lawson (2009)
Role Player: Tracy Murray (1992), Theo Ratliff (1995), John Wallace (1996), Chris Anstey (1997), James Posey (1999), Quentin Richardson (2000), J.R. Smith (2004), Gerald Green  (2005)
Bench: Eric Mobley (1994), Mirsad Turkcan (1998), Curtis Borchardt  (2002), Oleksiy Pecherov  (2006), Marco Belinelli (2007), Eric Bledsoe (2010)
Bust: Luther Wright (1993), Jason Collins (2001), Chris Singleton (2011)
DNP: None

If a team is in the market for a below average to average foreign player or guys that end up playing in Europe once they leave the NBA, the 18th slot is the place to be. Turkcan, Borchardt, Pecherov, and Belinelli all fit the bill here. On the positive side, David West emerges as the cream of the crop of this group with the highest career PER (18.9) and second in points per 36 minutes (18.0, second to J.R. Smith’s 18.6). JaVale McGee leads those who played more than one NBA season in this spot in both rebounding stats and BLK%, two categories in which the 18th picks perform admirably.

Superstar: None
All-Star: None
Solid Starter: Jermaine O’Neal (1996), Josh Smith (2004), Danny Granger (2005), Roy Hibbert (2008)
Role Player: Doug Christie (1992), Aaron McKie (1994), Bob Sura (1995), Rasho Nesterovic (1998), Desmond Mason (2000), Juan Dixon (2002), Sean Williams (2007), Jrue Holiday (2009), Kevin Seraphin (2010)
Bench: Greg Graham (1993), Cal Bowdler (1999), Michael Bradley (2001), Zarko Cabarkapa (2003), Shawne Williams (2006), Iman Shumpert (2011)
Bust: Johnny Taylor (1997)
DNP: None

One of the reasons that the Pacers found themselves as the third seed this year in the Eastern Conference is their ability to find value in the 17th pick of the draft. With their selection of Danny Granger in 2005 coupled with trading Jermaine O’Neal (another 17th selection) for Roy Hibbert less than two weeks after Toronto had picked him in 2008, the Pacers built the foundation of a contending team on the rise. Over the past 20 years, the 17 pick has established itself as the point to find a defensive presence with these picks ranking in the top four of Steals, STL%, Blocks, and BLK%. If history is any indication, the eighth ranked team in Defensive Rating (Points per 100 Possessions) last season, the Dallas Mavericks, are in good shape to add someone that will fit right in to their system.

Superstar: None
All-Star: None
Solid Starter: Marreese Speights (2008)
Role Player: Alan Henderson (1995), Tony Delk (1996), Brevin Knight (1997), Metta World Peace (1999), Hedo Turkoglu (2000), Kirk Snyder (2004), Nick Young (2007), James Johnson (2009), Nikola Vucevic (2011)
Bench: Randy Woods (1992), Rex Walters (1993), Clifford Rozier (1994), Bryce Drew (1998), Jiri Welsch (2002), Joey Graham (2005), Rodney Carney (2006), Luke Babbitt (2010)
Bust: Kirk Haston (2001), Troy Bell (2003)
DNP: None

Marreese Speights is a nice enough player, having started 54 games this past season for a injured Zach Randolph, but when a career 7.6 PPG scorer is one of the highlights of the group selected with the 16th pick, it is not exactly a ringing endorsement. That’s going to happen when the 16th pick is home to Troy Bell who managed a -4.5 PER in six games with the Grizzlies in the 2003-04 season.  However, that’s not to say that there is no value to be found here; Metta World Peace has arguably the best lockdown wing defender in the league in his prime, and Hedo Turkoglu’s sharp shooting helped carry the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009. Aided by guys like World Peace and Brevin Knight, 16th picks can generate turnovers as they check in with the third best STL% of any of the top 30 draft picks.

Superstar: None
All-Star: Steve Nash (1996), Al Jefferson (2004)
Solid Starter: Rodney Stuckey (2007), Kawhi Leonard (2011)
Role Player: Anthony Peeler (1992),Eric Piatkowski (1994), Brent Barry (1995), Kelvin Cato (1997), Matt Harpring (1998), Steven  Hunter (2001), Robin Lopez (2008), Larry Sanders (2010)
Bench: Jason Collier (2000), Bostjan Nachbar (2002), Austin Daye (2009)
Bust: Doug Edwards (1993), Reece Gaines (2003), Antoine Wright (2005), Cedric Simmons (2006)
DNP: Frederic Weis (1999)

It is incredible to think that two players who were drafted in the teens of a draft held when Tha Crossroads by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was topping the charts are still not only playing in the NBA, but performing at a high level as well. We will get to Kobe Bryant later, but Steve Nash’s Fountain of Youth knows no bounds, and he is far and away the highlight pick out of this spot which has produced quality players. Al Jefferson flourished in Minnesota after being part of a trade package for Kevin Garnett in the 2007 offseason. Rodney Stuckey has played well despite being stuck on a dismal Pistons team. Kawhi Leonard fit well with the Spurs organization. And Frederic Weis is still recovering from getting dunked on by Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics. All in all, the 15th spot is not a bad place to be for the 76ers as they look to add to a team which took the Celtics to seven games in the playoffs this year.

Superstar: None
All-Star: None
Solid Starter: Peja Stojakovic (1996), Anthony Randolph (2008)
Role Player: Malik Sealy (1992), Maurice Taylor (1997), Michael Dickerson (1998), Troy Murphy (2001), Luke Ridnour (2003), Kris Humphries (2004), Rashad McCants (2005), Ronnie Brewer (2006), Al Thornton (2007), Patrick Patterson (2010)
Bench: Scott Haskin (1993), Eric Williams (1995), Fred Jones (2002)
Bust: Yinka Dare (1994), William Avery (1999), Mateen Cleaves (2000), Earl Clark (2009), Marcus Morris (2011)
DNP: None

Any expert will tell you that you want to either bottom out so you get a high lottery pick or make the playoffs which basically means that the 14th spot is the last place you want to be. Now you see why. Peja Stojakovic and Anthony Randolph lead a decidedly average group of role players, for the most part, who are not going to be appearing on billboards around town any time soon. Throughout the past 20 years, picks here have routinely found themselves performing below average in rebounding, assist, steal, and PER categories across the board. The 14th pick is best utilized to select a player who specializes in a particular skill such as Stojakovic’s sharp three point shooting or Kris Humphries’s rebounding which rates in the top 25 of REB% among the 600 picks studied.

Superstar: Kobe Bryant (1996)
All-Star: None
Solid Starter: Corey Maggette (1999)
Role Player: Bryant Stith (1992), Terry Dehere (1993), Jalen Rose (1994), Corliss Williamson (1995), Derek Anderson (1997), Keon Clark (1998), Richard Jefferson (2001), Marcus Banks (2003), Sean May (2005), Julian Wright (2007), Tyler Hansbrough (2009),  Ed Davis (2010), Markieff Morris (2011)
Bench: Courtney Alexander (2000), Marcus Haislip (2002), Sebastian Telfair (2004), Thabo Sefolosha  (2006), Brandon Rush (2008)
Bust: None
DNP: None

Now we come to what could easily be viewed as the best pick made in the past 20 years: the Charlotte Hornets selection of Kobe Bryant at 13 in 1996. Of course, they promptly turned Bryant into two years worth of Vlade Divac, and the rest is history. Bryant’s unbelievable career almost single handedly propels the 13th pick into top 10 rankings in Points and PER as Bryant currently ranks seventh on the all-time scoring list, and his PER (23.4) is one of only two players, along with Corey Maggette, to rate above 15.5 to come out of the 13 hole.

Superstar: None
All-Star: None
Solid Starter: Thaddeus Young (2007)
Role Player: Harold Miner (1992), George Lynch (1993), Khalid Reeves (1994), Cherokee Parks (1995), Austin Croshere (1997), Etan Thomas (2000), Vladimir Radmanovic (2001), Nick Collison (2003), Jason Thompson (2008), Gerald Henderson (2009),  Alec Burks (2011)
Bench: Vitaly Potapenko (1996), Michael Doleac (1998), Melvin Ely (2002), Robert Swift (2004), Hilton Armstrong (2006)
Bust: Aleksandar Radojevic (1999), Yaroslav Korolev (2005), Xavier Henry (2010)
DNP: None

Vitaly Potapenko is more known for being the answer to the trivia question, “Which player was selected directly before Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, and Steve Nash in the draft?” than he is for any on court performance; one has to imagine Wayne Embry, Cavaliers general manager at the time, still has his regrets about that selection. This is yet another late lottery pick which has disappointed over the past two decades. Players selected here have combined to rank dead last in assists per 36 minutes, AST%, steals per 36 minutes, and STL% among all draft picks, and they rank in the bottom three of points per 36 minutes and PER. Not even Harold Miner living up to his “Baby Jordan” moniker could save this group.

Superstar: None
All-Star: None
Solid Starter: Bonzi Wells (1998)
Role Player: Robert Horry (1992), Allan Houston (1993), Carlos Rogers (1994), Gary Trent (1995), Trajan Langdon (1999), Jerome Moiso (2000), Andris Biedrins (2004), J.J. Redick (2006), Jerryd Bayless (2008), Cole Aldrich (2010), Klay Thompson (2011)
Bench: Todd Fuller (1996), Tariq Abdul-Wahad (1997), Kedrick Brown (2001), Jared Jeffries (2002), Mickael Pietrus (2003), Acie Law (2007), Terrence Williams (2009)
Bust: None
DNP: Fran Vasquez (2005)

Though I am partial to Bonzi Wells as a fellow alumnus of Ball State University, Robert Horry and Allan Houston should be viewed as the top picks to come out of 11th selection over the years. The mediocrity of the statistics produced by the 11th pick are actually somewhat alarming. When you’re bordering on the edge of a top ten pick, you want a little more value than what this slot has produced. It only ranks better than 11th in two categories: turnovers and TS%. The rest of the stats are pedestrian to the point that they are almost identical to the average numbers of all picks ranging from 11-20. Luckily for the Blazers, even a slight misfire on this pick does not completely sink their franchise…provided they are able to get a quality player with their other selection in the sixth spot.

Come back tomorrow as I conclude with a breakdown of picks 1-10.

NBA Draft Analysis – Picks 21-30

Photo by Paulo Carrillo via Flickr

In the days leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft, I will be examining the top 30 picks of the draft over the past 20 years. We begin today with picks 21-30. Picks 11-20 will be covered on Tuesday, and picks 1-10 will be profiled on Wednesday.

For many teams, Thursday’s NBA Draft is the most important night of the offseason. While teams are constrained by salary cap restrictions in free agency, the draft presents an opportunity to add youth and talent to a roster. Teams at the top of the lottery seek to add talent to a team that is most likely dismal, fringe lottery teams look for talent that can get them into the playoffs, and playoff teams are looking for that diamond in the rough that could put turn them into title contenders. While fans spend time looking at mock draft after mock draft and develop their dream scenarios, it is important to understand the type of player that a team can expect to get at various stages. Over the next three days, I will be examining the past 20 years worth of the draft by looking at some information associated with each of the first 30 picks.

For each pick, you will see four pieces of data presented. All stats were pulled from Basketball-Reference.com:

  • Per 36 minute stats: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks, and Turnovers. Per 36 numbers are used rather than per game stats in an effort to normalize the data. Average stats for both the individual pick and the average stats of the last 10 picks of the draft are displayed.
  • Advanced stats: True Shooting %, Total Rebound %, Assist %, Steal %, Block %, Turnover %, and Player Efficiency Rating. Definitions for these stats can be found courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com glossary here. Average stats for both the individual pick and the average stats of the last 10 picks of the draft are displayed.
  • Rank (out of 30) of each of those stats allowing us to see how that pick compares to the other 29 picks in the first round.
  • Categorized breakdown, based on career PER, of the type of player using the following definitions:
    • Superstar: 22.0 or greater
    • All-Star: 19.0-21.9
    • Solid Starter: 16.0-18.9
    • Role Player: 12.0-15.9
    • Bench: 9.0-11.9
    • Bust: 8.9 or below
    • DNP: Players who never logged a minute in the NBA

It is important to note that these categories are to be used as a general guide only. One person’s definition of a Superstar is subjective and may be different than another person’s definition. PER was used as an objective measure as it is the most complete, single number assessment easily available for the purposes of this analysis.

Additionally, the upper right hand corner of each picture will contain the logo of the team holding that pick for the 2012 draft.

I will be counting down the picks over the next three days beginning with the 30th pick.


Superstar: None
All-Star:
Gilbert Arenas (2001), David Lee (2005)
Solid Starter:
Gheorghe Muresan (1993)
Role Player:
Sean Rooks (1992), Othella Harrington (1996), Marko Jaric (2000), Anderson Varejao (2004), Jimmy Butler (2011)
Bench:
Howard Eisley (1994), Ansu Sesay (1998), Roger Mason (2002), J.R. Giddens (2008)
Bust:
Lou Roe (1995), John Celestand (1999), Maciej Lampe (2003), Christian Eyenga (2009), Lazar Hayward (2010)
DNP:
Mark Sanford (1996), Joel Freeland (1996), Petteri Koponen (1997)

Unless it has been traded, as it has this year with Golden State having obtained the Spurs pick as part of the Stephen Jackson-Richard Jefferson trade, this pick has been reserved for the team with the best overall record in the league since the NBA expanded to 30 teams in 2005. While some teams opt to stash this late first rounder overseas, others have been relatively successful in finding solid contributors. The Warriors, oddly enough, have had the pleasure of employing the two of the best picks to come out of this slot in the past 20 years: Gilbert Arenas and David Lee. They will hope for similar production this time around.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star: None
Solid Starter:
Josh Howard (2003)
Role Player:
P.J. Brown (1992), Cory Alexander (1995), Nazr Mohammed (1998), Leon Smith (1999), Alando Tucker (2007), D.J. White (2008), Toney Douglas (2009), Daniel Orton (2010)
Bench: Travis Knight (1996), David Harrison (2004), Wayne Simien (2005)
Bust:
Antonio Lang (1994), Mark Madsen (2000), Trenton Hassell (2001), Mardy Collins (2006), Cory Joseph (2011)
DNP:
Sherron Mills (1993), Serge Zwikker (1997), Steve Logan (2002)

If a team is looking for flashy players that are going to put points on the board and dish out assists, the 29th spot is not the place to be. Ranking 30th in points per 36 minutes, 28th in assists and AST%, and 27th in TS%, offense is not the strong suit of 29th overall picks. However, a number of defensive contributors have been found here with the 29th pick producing top 10 averages in both STL% and BLK%. If the Bulls could get a P.J. Brown type player to come off the bench in spot roles, they should consider this draft a win.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star:
None
Solid Starter:
Tony Parker (2001), Tiago Splitter (2007)
Role Player:
Marlon Maxey (1992), Lucious Harris (1993), Greg Ostertag (1995), Scott Padgett (1999), Dan Dickau (2002), Leandro Barbosa  (2003), Beno Udrih (2004), Ian Mahinmi (2005), Greivis Vasquez (2010)
Bench:
Priest Lauderdale (1996), Erick Barkley (2000), Donte Greene (2008), Wayne Ellington (2009)
Bust: Keith Booth (1997), Corey Benjamin (1998), Maurice Ager (2006), Norris Cole (2011)
DNP:
Deon Thomas (1994)

There is a good reason that the San Antonio Spurs have had such an extended run of excellence and developed the reputation of having a terrific front office. Their ability to find sleepers such as Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter late in the first round is unparalleled. The fact that the Thunder have already made an NBA Finals appearance with their core players all under the age of 25 is scary enough; adding a Tony Parker caliber player with their pick this year could be a devastating knockout blow to the rest of the Western Conference for the foreseeable future.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star:
None
Solid Starter:
Mario Bennett (1995)
Role Player:
Malcolm Mackey (1993), Brooks Thompson (1994), Vladimir Stepania (1998), Jumaine Jones  (1999), Primoz Brezec  (2000), Jamaal Tinsley  (2001), Kendrick Perkins  (2003), Linas Kleiza  (2005), Sergio Rodriguez  (2006), Arron Afflalo  (2007), Darrell Arthur  (2008), Jordan Crawford  (2010)
Bench:
Byron Houston (1992), Brian Evans (1996), Jacque Vaughn (1997), Sasha Vujacic (2004), DeMarre Carroll (2009), JaJuan Johnson (2011)
Bust:
Chris Jeffries (2002)
DNP:
None

For the 94% of you that just did a collective “Who?” when seeing Mario Bennett as a Solid Starter, Bennett bounced around the league playing for the Suns, Lakers, Bulls, and Clippers for four seasons in the mid-90’s. During this time, he played in 68 games, yet put up a PER of 18.2 during his limited minutes. Though he appears as a Solid Starter for consistency and data’s sake, feel free to classify him as a Bench or Bust player due to his limited playing time. That being said, the good news for people that hate the Miami Heat is that no one selected with the 27th pick in the draft over the past two decades really jumps off the page at you with relation to being a game changing player; Kendrick Perkins at his peak defensively probably comes the closest. The bad news for those same people is that Miami does not necessarily need to add a piece like that to an already stacked squad. The 2012 draft is one of the deeper ones in recent memory; maybe this will be the draft to break the run of ultimately unimpressive draft selections to come out of this spot.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star:
None
Solid Starter:
Sherell Ford (1995), Kevin Martin (2004)
Role Player:
Geert Hammink (1993), Charlie Ward (1994), Jerome Williams (1996), Mamadou N’diaye (2000), Samuel Dalembert (2001), John Salmons (2002), Ndudi Ebi (2003), Jason Maxiell (2005), Jordan Farmar (2006), Aaron Brooks (2007), George Hill (2008), Taj Gibson (2009), Jordan Hamilton (2011)
Bench:
Charles Smith (1997), Sam Jacobson (1998), Vonteego Cummings (1999), Quincy Pondexter (2010)
Bust:
Dave Johnson (1992)
DNP:
None

For being a low pick, the 26th pick has turned out to be one of the better value picks in the later part of the first round. The pick rated no lower than 20th in any of the Per 36 Minutes or Advanced Stats categories analyzed for this study with its players turning in the second lowest TOV% of any pick. This is the ideal place to find a role player as 65% of players selected here have posted a career PER between 12.0 and 15.9. Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers selecting in this spot, they are currently a team primarily consisting of role players. Ultimately, adding another player of this caliber is not going to get them over the hump to beat a team like Miami; they would be better served in packaging this pick with a current rotation player in order to get someone is going to have more of an impact.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star:
None
Solid Starter:
Gerald Wallace (2001)
Role Player:
Greg Minor (1994), Martin Muursepp (1996), Al Harrington (1998), Carlos Delfino (2003), Tony Allen (2004), Shannon Brown (2006), Nicolas Batum (2008), Rodrigue Beaubois (2009), MarShon Brooks (2011)
Bench: Elmore Spencer (1992), Corie Blount (1993), David Vaughn (1995), John Thomas (1997), Jake Tsakalidis (2000), Frank Williams (2002), Johan Petro (2005), Dominique Jones (2010)
Bust: Tim James (1999), Morris Almond  (2007)
DNP: None

The 25th pick is dangerous territory. Over the past 20 years, 50% of those selected went on to become bench players or were total busts. On the other hand, a team would be thrilled to land a Gerald Wallace type player this late in the round, and satisfied with adding a player like Nic Batum. Overall, 25th picks rate in the top 10 in all steal and block categories analyzed; no doubt, current Memphis lockdown defender Tony Allen aided in that fact. The Grizzlies would be fortunate to add another defensive presence in this slot.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star:
Sam Cassell (1993), Andrei Kirilenko (1999)
Solid Starter: Serge Ibaka (2008)
Role Player: Latrell Sprewell (1992), Monty Williams (1994), Raul Lopez (2001), Nenad Krstic (2002), Brian Cook (2003), Delonte West (2004), Luther Head (2005), Kyle Lowry (2006), Rudy Fernandez (2007), Byron Mullens (2009)
Bench: Derek Fisher (1996), Felipe Lopez (1998), Reggie Jackson (2011)
Bust: Loren Meyer (1995), Rodrick Rhodes (1997), Dalibor Bagaric (2000), Damion James (2010)
DNP: None

Within the past two years, the en vogue thing to do for small-market, rebuilding teams is to follow the “OKC Model.” That is, make smart trades, don’t overpay for free agents, and most of all, hit on every draft pick you are given. It is a model that the Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to pursue beginning with last year’s selections of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson and the addition of the 4th and 24th picks this year. Fittingly enough, one of the cogs of the Thunder has been Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City’s selection in this spot four years ago. While the addition of an Ibaka type player would be a home run, the addition of any type of quality rotation player like Sam Cassell or Andrei Kirilenko in this spot paired with a running mate for Irving selected at 4 will go a long way in getting the Cavs back into the postseason.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star:
None
Solid Starter:
None
Role Player:
Ervin Johnson (1993), Wesley Person (1994), Travis Best (1995), Bobby Jackson (1997), Tyronn Lue (1998), Tayshaun Prince (2002), Travis Outlaw (2003), Francisco Garcia (2005), Josh Boone (2006), Wilson Chandler (2007), Kosta Koufos (2008), Omri Casspi (2009), Trevor Booker (2010)
Bench:
Lee Mayberry (1992), Efthimi Rentzias (1996), Devean George (1999), DeShawn Stevenson (2000)
Bust:
Brandon Armstrong (2001), Sergei Monia (2004)
DNP:
Nikola Mirotic (2011)

It is fitting that the Atlanta Hawks possess the 23rd pick. The Hawks are the walking definition of former Portland GM Kevin Pritchard’s so-called “Treadmill of Mediocrity”; they are a constant playoff team that has almost no chance of being a serious title contender in the near future. As an essentially average to above average team, they match perfectly with the 23rd pick. This pick has produced good ball handlers as they have posted the lowest number of turnovers and TOV% of any top 30 pick. As far as everything else, things have been decidedly average with stats ranging from 17th to 27th ranked in all other categories. Trevor Booker, Bobby Jackson, and Tayshaun Prince are the only players selected 23rd to post PERs at 15.0 or above, generally used as the standard for “average.” Expect more of the same from the ATL in the years to come.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star:
Kenneth Faried (2011)
Solid Starter:
Elliot Williams (2010)
Role Player:
Oliver Miller (1992), Chris Mills (1993), Roy Rogers  (1996),Brian Skinner  (1998), Kenny Thomas  (1999), Donnell Harvey  (2000), Jarrett Jack (2005), Jared Dudley  (2007), Courtney Lee  (2008)
Bench:
Ed Gray (1997),Casey Jacobsen (2002), Zoran Planinic (2003), Viktor Khryapa (2004), Marcus Williams (2006)
Bust:
Bill Curley (1994), George Zidek (1995), Jeryl Sasser (2001)
DNP:
Victor Claver (2009)

This pick is a classic case of solid numbers, but little name recognition among those selected here. The average stats coming out of this pick rank better than 22nd in all categories outside of those related to scoring (points per 36, TS%) and assists (assists per 36, AST%). However, there statistics do not always tell the full story as guys like Elliot Williams, Oliver Williams, and Roy Rogers, despite decent PER numbers, aren’t going to sell tickets. On the positive side, Kenneth Faried’s outstanding rookie season surprised even those who were bullish on him and pegged him as a terrific value pick when it was made last year. With the future of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett up in the air, Boston will need to build for the future and infuse some youth into their lineup with their back-to-back picks here.

 

Superstar: None
All-Star:
None
Solid Starter:
Michael Finley (1995), Rajon Rondo (2006), Ryan Anderson (2008)
Role Player:
Jon Barry (1992), Anthony Parker (1997), Ricky Davis (1998), Jeff Foster (1999), Morris Peterson (2000), Boris Diaw (2003), Nate Robinson (2005), Darren Collison (2009)
Bench:
James Robinson  (1993), Dickey Simpkins  (1994), Qyntel Woods (2002), Daequan Cook (2007)
Bust:
Dontae’ Jones (1996), Joseph Forte (2001), Pavel Podkolzin  (2004), Craig Brackins (2010), Nolan Smith (2011)
DNP:
None

Can the Celtics strike gold twice? Six years ago, they found their franchise point guard by selecting Rajon Rondo in this spot. This year, they will attempt to duplicate that feat, if possible. Of course, even a “consolation prize” such as Michael Finley, Ryan Anderson, or Darren Collison would not be bad for Boston. Of course, as long as Boston doesn’t draft the 2012 version of Pavel Podkolzin, he of the -2.8 career PER which rated as the second lowest PER of all 600 draft picks analyzed, they should be OK.

Come back tomorrow as I break down picks 11-20.