2013 NBA Draft Analysis: Philadelphia Wins, Minnesota Loses

A lot of people are going to give out letter grades to the teams that participated in this draft. I’m not going to do that because I don’t KNOW how well each player will perform in the NBA. I just have an idea of how likely it is that each player will succeed. I’m going to separate the draft into three categories: teams that got good value from their picks, teams that got fair value, and teams that got poor value. Let’s get started:

 

TEAMS THAT GOT GOOD VALUE

PHILADELPHIA: Of all the places I thought Nerlens Noel could go, I certainly didn’t envision him landing in Philadelphia. The 76ers gave up point guard Jrue Holiday and next year’s first-round pick to make it happen, which is more than worth it in my opinion. Yes, there are concerns about Noel, but in terms of pure talent and impact on the game, there’s no better prospect this year. I also like Philadelphia’s second round selection of Pierre Jackson, and taking Michael Carter-Williams at #11 isn’t bad.

DETROIT: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a very solid pick at #8, and Detroit followed that up by taking Tony Mitchell at #37. The Pistons got good value in both picks. With a very good frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and a solid point guard in Jose Calderon, I like the direction Detroit is headed.

EDIT: Never mind about Calderon, he was a free agent and has signed with Dallas. I still like Detroit’s nucleus, especially after signing Josh Smith.

UTAH: At first I thought they were the biggest loser in the draft when they grabbed Shabazz Muhammad at #14. Then I found out they traded Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng to Minnesota to get Trey Burke. That’s pretty sweet; Burke fills a huge need at point guard for the Jazz. What makes it even sweeter is they were able to trade for Rudy Gobert late in the first round. That’s two of my top 13 prospects for a team that entered the draft without a top 13 pick. Well done Utah.

OKLAHOMA CITY: Steven Adams is a very solid pick at #12, and should allow the Thunder to get rid of the overpaid Kendrick Perkins. If there’s one thing we know about GM Sam Presti, it’s that he can draft, and he made the Thunder an even more formidable team than they were before by taking Adams.

ATLANTA: By trading with Dallas, the Hawks were able to secure Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira, a player I think has a lot of upside. I also love their acquisition of Mike Muscala in the second round. That’s more than enough to make up for taking the overrated Dennis Schroeder at #17.

NEW ORLEANS: I loved the idea of Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel forming a devastating shot-blocking tandem, but the Pelicans were still able to parlay their #6 pick into Jrue Holiday and a first-round pick next year. That’s pretty good value. They also took Nate Wolters in the second round, who is a player I think has a decent chance to contribute. It was a good night for New Orleans.

MEMPHIS: The Grizzlies didn’t have a first-round pick, but they used their #41 pick on Jamaal Franklin, who was one of my top 13 players and a player I think has a good chance of making a big impact in the NBA. The Grizzlies got insane value with that pick.

 

TEAMS THAT GOT FAIR VALUE

WASHINGTON: Like every team in the top five, I think the Wizards made a big mistake not selecting Nerlens Noel, especially with Emeka Okafor likely to leave in free agency. With that said, I had Otto Porter as my #3 prospect, and the Wizards picked him third, so that’s fair value.

CHARLOTTE: Cody Zeller is a terrific offensive player and a guy I think will do well in Charlotte. It’s not a bust pick at all. I just can’t get too excited about the Bobcats choosing Zeller when Noel was on the board. Good player, but wrong pick in my opinion.

PORTLAND: Getting C.J. McCollum at 10th overall is a solid pick, and almost good enough for me to put Portland in the “good value” territory. He should work well in a backcourt with Damian Lillard. I wasn’t too blown away by Portland’s other picks, but they had a decent night.

MILWAUKEE: The Bucks could have done better at #15 than Giannis Antetokounmpo (I still prefer the shorter version of his last name) but they could have done a lot worse too. Antetokounmpo is a very young player with upside, and I anticipate we won’t see him in the NBA for at least a couple years.

LA CLIPPERS: I don’t think too highly of Reggie Bullock, but he got first-round grades from enough experts that I don’t think the Clippers did themselves a disservice by taking him at #25.

SAN ANTONIO: Livio Jean-Charles is a young prospect who didn’t get much playing time in France, and didn’t score very many points. I don’t see what the Spurs see in him, but the Spurs have such a good track record with foreign prospects that I won’t criticize them for choosing him at #28.

GOLDEN STATE: The Warriors didn’t start out with a draft pick, but they ended up with Nemanja Nedovic. Nedovic had one of the lowest ratings of any draft prospect I looked at, but the Warriors have done so well with finding good players later in the draft that I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

HOUSTON: As brilliant as GM Daryl Morey is, I’ve never been blown away by his performance in the draft (apart from Chandler Parsons). There were a few decent prospects still left at #34 but they ended up with Isaiah Canaan. I could easily see the Rockets trading Canaan as they try to sign Dwight Howard to a contract.

LA LAKERS: Win the award for least exciting draft by taking Ryan Kelly at #48. Kelly was a fairly solid player last season for Duke, but at 22 years old, he’s not an exciting prospect to get behind.

 

TEAMS THAT GOT POOR VALUE

CLEVELAND: I like Anthony Bennett and think he’ll be a good player, but he wasn’t the #1 player in this draft… not even close. Perhaps Bennett can be a huge small forward on a lineup with Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, but when Varejao gets injured again, they’ll wish they had taken Noel. Sergey Karasev at #19 is fair value for a player who can shoot.

ORLANDO: I understand why teams like Victor Oladipo, and I like him too, but he was only #7 on my list. Oladipo is the jack of all trades – good at everything, great/amazing at nothing. I expect him to play well for Orlando, but once again, a team that had the opportunity to grab the draft’s best talent in Nerlens Noel ended up passing.

PHOENIX: Fell into the Alex Len trap. I don’t think Len will be a bust – he was one of the players I had as likely to succeed – but when I look at his statistical profile there’s just nothing that gets me too excited about him. Certainly he isn’t the shot blocking force Noel is. Len will likely be a solid big man, but fall short of all-star status.

SACRAMENTO: Fell into the Ben McLemore trap. At least the Kings didn’t pass on Noel to take him. When I look at McLemore’s numbers I see a good shooter who doesn’t provide much of anything else. The Kings redeemed themselves a bit by getting Ray McCallum in round two. If getting these two guards means they’re moving on from Tyreke Evans, that is a silver lining for them.

BOSTON: Their original pick was Lucas Nogueira, but they traded him to Dallas for Kelly Olynyk. I have nothing against Olynyk except his age. He was a terrific player for Gonzaga but at 22 years old the odds are against him being an impact NBA player. They would have been better off with Nogueira for their rebuild.

MINNESOTA: The biggest loser of the draft. It’s a shame because the Timberwolves have such a good core with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. I don’t trust Shabazz Muhammad to be a team-first player at all. As much as I like Gorgui Dieng, he’s 23 and that stacks the odds against him. This is pretty damning of Flip Saunders as Minnesota GM.

DALLAS: Seemed to be focused on building for the future more than anything. With that said, Lucas Nogueira moved through them and they ended up with Shane Larkin. Larkin’s not a horrible pick but the Mavericks really could have done a lot better.

CHICAGO: When I look at Tony Snell’s numbers I find a player who rates well in absolutely zero categories. Why the Bulls reached to select him is a mystery to me.

BROOKLYN: Obviously what the Nets did in the draft is not the big news of their day. That pales in comparison to acquiring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. With that said I was thoroughly unimpressed by Brooklyn’s selection of Mason Plumlee with the 22nd pick.

INDIANA: Solomon Hill is a reach from bustville, or a bust from reachville. Or perhaps the Pacers know something I don’t. Either way, Hill is my lowest rated player to be chosen in the first round and I’m not a fan of this draft pick.

NEW YORK: It’s always entertaining to watch Knicks fans go crazy when it’s their turn to pick. It was even more entertaining this year when they went nuts for their team’s selection of Tim Hardaway Jr. If they saw Hardaway Jr.’s numbers as a junior at Michigan they wouldn’t be quite so excited.

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2013 NBA Draft Preview: Second Round Hidden Gems

Let’s say I’m Sam Presti, general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I have the 29th pick of the draft. Somehow, Shabazz Muhammad has fallen all the way to 29. Despite all the hype he’s received over the past year, I would pass on Muhammad entirely and instead draft one of the players I’m about to mention.

These players would have received a passing grade as having a high probability of NBA success if the scouts viewed them as first-round prospects. I respect the scouts’ opinion, so I didn’t want to lump them in with the first-rounders, but they deserve special mention.

MIKE MUSCALA – 21 years old, C, Bucknell (+4.78)

If I’m a general manager, Muscala is at the top of my list of potential late first-round or early second-round draft steals. His numbers are remarkable in that he’s good at just about everything.

Muscala was efficient on offense, scoring 1.06 points per possession on 21.3 points per 36 minutes. He was an outstanding rebounder, grabbing 12.6 boards per 36. To top it off, he showed solid defensive metrics as well, with 3.3 blocks and steals per 36.

At the same time, there are some concerns about how well those numbers will translate to the NBA. One is that Muscala is on the verge of turning 22 years old, which makes him the oldest prospect in this draft that I think has a good chance of success.

Another is that Muscala played at Bucknell, which doesn’t exactly play against elite competition on a weekly basis. Muscala’s numbers did dip when he played tougher opponents. Overall, Muscala’s numbers were so good that I’d have to take him in the late first round, but there is bust potential as well.

BRANDON DAVIES – 21 years old, C, BYU (+1.26)

Davies is interesting because he’s currently projected to go completely undrafted. He showed good scoring ability for BYU, scoring 21.8 points per 36 minutes, although he wasn’t particularly efficient at 0.99 points per possession.

What Davies also showed was a terrific ability to draw fouls, and solid rebounding ability as well. His 3.0 assists per 36 minutes is a good number for a big man, and his 2.8 steals and blocks per 36, while not great, isn’t something to scoff at either.

Davies is the guy I’d pick if I had a choice in the middle or late second round. At least, of the players likely to be available at that point, he’s the one I think has the best chance of NBA success.

 

Two other players I think have a decent chance of success are Nate Wolters of South Dakota State and Ray McCallum of Detroit. I initially had both players as having a passing grade, but erroneously had them as 21 years old instead of 22. That one year makes a big difference, and knocks Wolters and McCallum out of the group of players I’ve given a passing grade. Still, they had passed initially for a reason. The talent they’ve shown may be enough to overcome their status as older draft prospects.

Thanks for reading my 2013 NBA draft previews! I’m excited to see how the actual draft unfolds, and will have post-draft commentary on Thursday night. See you then!

2013 NBA Draft Preview: 26-30

These are the final five players in my rankings of NBA draft prospects projected to go in the first round. I will never completely count out any player’s chances of success, but I think these players are the most likely to end up as busts in the NBA.

#26: SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD: 20 years old, SF, UCLA (-2.57)

Over the past couple months, I’ve watched as Muhammad’s draft stock has slowly declined from the top five to out of the lottery altogether. It would not shock me if Muhammad ended up being selected in the second round when the draft actually takes place.

There’s certainly some talent with Muhammad; there’s a reason he was so hyped up in the first place. However, a look at the statistics showed that Muhammad was unable to translate his talent into being a valuable player on the court.

The one point in Muhammad’s favor is that he scored 20.9 points per 36 minutes, but that was on just 0.98 points per possession. After that, there’s nothing about Muhammad’s statistics that suggests he’s ready for the NBA. His defensive metrics in particular are very poor.

What really scares me away from Muhammad is his character. This is a player who’s been known to pout because a teammate made a game-winning shot. His father was caught lying about his age (he’s 20, not 19). Muhammad might have talent, but would you really want to gamble on a player who was not good at UCLA and has all sorts of character questions? It’s possible that Muhammad succeeds, but if I was a general manager, I’d want nothing to do with him.

#27: MASON PLUMLEE – 23 years old, C, Duke (-2.61)

Plumlee joins Kelly Olynyk, Gorgui Dieng, and Jeff Withey as players who turned in excellent senior seasons, but are too old for me to consider good NBA draft prospects. Plumlee certainly showcased a good offensive game for Duke, but falls well short of the standards I’ve set for college players in the draft.

If it seems like an unfair criticism, consider some of the NBA players who are the same age as Plumlee. For example, Paul George, who arrived as a top 20 NBA player this year, is 23. Ricky Rubio is 22. Even James Harden is just 23. Is a player like Plumlee really ready to be compared to these guys?

Ultimately, Plumlee doesn’t score enough points and doesn’t block enough shots to overcome his status as an older prospect. He might carve out a role as a reserve big man on some team, but I highly doubt he’ll be more successful than that as a professional.

#28: ISAIAH CANAAN: 22 years old, PG, Murray State (-3.15)

Canaan is also hurt badly by being a player 22 years old or older, but in his case, he could be 19 and I still wouldn’t regard him as one of the draft’s top prospects. Canaan lacks the efficiency on offense or defense for me to consider him a likely NBA success.

What Canaan does bring to the table is the ability to be a lead scorer, at 21.5 points per 36 minutes. Of course, he did that for a smaller school at Murray State, but it’s not insignificant. Canaan also showed a respectable assist rate.

Unfortunately for Canaan, his other metrics suggest that he’s not prepared to take on the NBA. He didn’t score with great efficiency (1.00 points per possession) and didn’t get very many takeaways either (1.6 blocks and steals per 36 minutes). There are too many good point guard options in this draft for me to endorse Canaan as being worthy of a first-round pick.

#29: DENNIS SCHROEDER: 19 years old, PG, Germany (-3.23)

Schroeder must look fantastic in private and combine workouts, because I can’t imagine why he’s being so hyped otherwise. Schroeder has moved up mock draft boards enough recently that he’s become a fringe lottery pick.

I don’t see it in his numbers. The talk is that Schroeder is similar to Rajon Rondo, but my retort is: if he’s so much like Rondo, why isn’t he getting more assists? Schroeder had 4.5 assists per 36 minutes for Braunschweig, a decent enough number but far shy of Rondo territory.

Where Schroeder is similar to Rondo is that he’s not a terrific shooter. He shot just 42 percent from the floor for a dismal 0.88 points per possession. To make matters worse, he didn’t show much on the defensive end of the floor either, getting just 1.3 steals and 0 blocks per 36 minutes.

There are a couple foreign prospects in this draft that I’m intrigued by and think have a decent chance of succeeding in the NBA. Dennis Schroeder is not one of them. There’s nothing about his stat line that makes me think he’s remotely ready to play in the toughest league in the world.

#30: TIM HARDAWAY JR. – 21 years old, SG, Michigan (-4.05)

While I’m perplexed about the sudden rise of Dennis Schroeder on mock draft boards, I can’t say the same about Tim Hardaway Jr. Don’t get me wrong, Hardaway Jr. is not a good NBA prospect at all… but he is the son of former all-star point guard Tim Hardaway, so up the boards he goes.

I don’t want to be too harsh, but his stat line is completely lacking of anything good I can say. If I had to say something good… his defensive rebounding rate is decent for a shooting guard (4.6 DREB/36). Other than that, it’s slim pickings.

Hardaway Jr. scored 0.95 points per possession, didn’t get many assists (2.5 AST/36), and didn’t show much ability to get to the free throw line. There’s no saving grace in his defensive metrics either – just 1.2 blocks and steals per 36 minutes.

Again, I’m not counting anybody completely out. However, if we’re playing a game of probability… I would guess that Hardaway Jr. has a less than 10 percent chance of success in the NBA. Still, nostalgia reigns supreme, which means it’s likely that some NBA team will spend (and probably waste) their first-round pick on him.

2013 NBA Draft Preview: 21-25

My top 13 prospects, from Nerlens Noel to Jamaal Franklin, are players I think have a better than 50-50 chance of succeeding in the NBA. My players ranked 14-20 are players I think have a less than 50-50 chance of succeeding, but still a decent chance.

I can’t say that about the players I’m going to rank in the next two posts. These players are very likely to be busts in the NBA, for reasons I’ll explain for each player.

#21: KELLY OLYNYK – 22 years old, C, Gonzaga (-1.11)

Let’s be clear about this: Kelly Olynyk was an outstanding college player. He shot 63 percent from the floor and was good at drawing fouls. He grabbed 10 rebounds per 36 minutes. He scored a whopping 24.3 points per 36 minutes in leading Gonzaga to a top seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament.

Olynyk’s biggest problem is simple: he’s 22 years old. All of the players I’ve ranked so far have been 21 or younger. The reason is simple: players who enter the draft at 22 years old or older have a greatly diminished rate of success in the NBA.

To illustrate this, here are the players who were drafted in the first round from 2010-2012 at 22 years old or older:

  • Tyler Zeller
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Festus Ezeli
  • Fab Melo
  • Miles Plumlee
  • JaJuan Johnson
  • Norris Cole
  • MarShon Brooks
  • Jimmer Fredette
  • Nolan Smith
  • Damion James
  • Wes Johnson
  • Trevor Booker
  • Quincy Pondexter
  • Ekpe Udoh
  • Greivis Vasquez
  • Lazar Hayward
  • Craig Brackins

Who is the standard-bearer here? Quincy Pondexter? Greivis Vasquez?

Olynyk could have still graded out as a good prospect if he had shown good defensive metrics, but unfortunately, he was only good for 2.4 blocks and steals per 36 minutes. As great as his offensive output was, I have to stand on the side of Olynyk not making it in the NBA.

#22: GORGUI DIENG – 23 years old, C, Louisville (-1.14)

This one hurts, because I really like Gorgui Dieng as a player. He doesn’t take a lot of shots, but much like Steven Adams, he provides excellent rebounding and defense. He was the anchor for the Louisville team that won the national championship this year.

The difference between Adams and Dieng is that Adams is 19 years old and Dieng is 23. This is a critically important point. If you don’t believe me, find a 16 year old baseball player who’s struggling against his peers. Have him play against nothing but 12 year old kids. Watch as the 16 year old dominates the game.

Age and development matter, and that’s why players like Olynyk, Dieng, and Jeff Withey (who we’re about to get to) don’t rate as good prospects in my system. Four years from now, players like Noel and Adams will have progressed a ton, while the older prospects will probably not have improved much.

With that said, if there’s an older center in this draft who catches on in the NBA, I think it’s most likely going to be Dieng due to the superb defense he showed for Louisville.

#23: JEFF WITHEY – 23 years old, C, Kansas (-1.59)

It’s hard to say bad things about players like Olynyk, Dieng, and Withey, because they really were outstanding college players. Withey was an efficient scorer for Kansas and provided a terrific shot blocking presence. Among first-round prospects, Withey’s 4.6 blocks per 36 minutes is equaled only by Nerlens Noel.

Let’s be clear: it is possible for a player 22 or older to get a passing grade in this system. To do it, though, they need outstanding numbers. If Olynyk, Dieng, or Withey had numbers as good as that of Anthony Davis last year, I’d give them a passing grade despite their older age.

I don’t like counting these guys out, but the evidence against them is pretty overwhelming. There are some really good options at center in this draft, so if a team really wants to draft one, there shouldn’t be a need to go for these guys.

#24: ALLEN CRABBE – 21 years old, SG, California (-1.72)

Finally, back to a player I can criticize for something other than his age. Crabbe did show decent rebounding ability for a guard (6.0 REB/36) and scored 18.3 points per game as a junior. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find nice things to say after that.

Crabbe was not a particularly efficient scorer at 0.99 points per possession. He didn’t show much ability to draw fouls or get assists. To top it off, he only had 1.8 blocks and steals per 36 minutes, indicative of mediocre defense.

When I look for players ready to succeed in the NBA, I like seeing players who dominate at the college level. From his scoring to his defense, Crabbe’s numbers suggest that he was merely a good college player. That’s not good enough for me to embrace him as a first-round NBA draft prospect.

#25: REGGIE BULLOCK – 22 years old, SF, North Carolina (-2.50)

You might expect me to continue ranting about age, but Bullock wouldn’t have had a passing grade at 21 years old either. What makes Bullock a somewhat intriguing prospect is that he was an incredibly efficient scorer as a junior for North Carolina.

He scored 1.13 points per possession despite only shooting 2.4 free throws per 36 minutes. That’s because he established himself as a very good marksman, shooting 43 percent from three-point range.

Like Sergey Karasev, Bullock suffers on the defensive end of the floor, where he only got 1.7 blocks and steals per 36 minutes. What makes him a worse prospect than Karasev in my opinion is the fact that he’s 22 instead of 19. Again, players who can shoot and play good defense are rare. Players who can only shoot are a dime a dozen. (To be fair, Bullock is a good rebounder too.)

2013 NBA Draft Preview: 16-20

#16: PIERRE JACKSON – 21 years old, PG, Baylor (+0.44)

Until just yesterday, Jackson was not projected as a first-round pick by Draft Express. Now, with his inclusion in the group of players projected to go in the first round, Jackson is ranked #16 on my list. (These rankings are for projected first-round prospects only.)

As a player who is only 5’10”, Jackson needs to have good offensive point guard skills. He definitely qualifies in the assists category, as he got 7.3 assists per 36 minutes as a senior at Baylor. He also showed above-average ability to draw fouls, as he shot 6.9 free throws per 36 minutes.

If Jackson was an efficient scorer, he would qualify as one of my prospects likely to succeed in the NBA. Unfortunately, Jackson’s scoring efficiency is average at best. He shot 43 percent from the floor and scored at a rate of 0.97 points per possession. As expected, Jackson profiles as a defensive liability; he got zero blocks and only 1.6 steals per 36 minutes.

I can see Jackson possibly catching on as a reserve point guard in the NBA. He’s definitely shown the ability to run an offense and pile up assists. However, Jackson’s limitations, both as a scorer and defender, prevent him from making the cut as a player I think is likely to do well as a professional.

#17: MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS – 21 years old, PG, Syracuse (+0.43)

Out of all players eligible to be selected in this year’s draft, Carter-Williams had the third-highest assist rate, at 7.4 assists per 36 minutes. That’s a good start, but unfortunately for Carter-Williams, his scoring is too much of a liability for me to grade him as a probable NBA success.

Carter-Williams shot just under 40 percent from the floor for Syracuse, and didn’t show a great ability to get to the free throw line either. Overall, he only scored 0.77 points per possession, a number which serves as an indictment of his ability to score with any kind of efficiency in the NBA.

What Carter-Williams has going for him (and why he’s not lower on my list) is his defensive metrics are actually very good. He got 2.8 steals and 0.5 blocks per 36 minutes, numbers which compare favorably with any other point guard available in this draft.

A team that drafts Carter-Williams will be getting a pass-first guard who can play quality defense. Sadly, his complete lack of ability to score with efficiency is too much of a red flag for me to ignore. I understand why teams would be interested in Carter-Williams, but Trey Burke is the better point guard option in my opinion.

#18: BEN MCLEMORE – 20 years old, SG, Kansas (+0.03)

This is likely to be my most controversial grading. McLemore has often been projected as a top three pick in the NBA draft. I’ve seen arguments that suggest McLemore should be the top overall pick. When I look at the statistical profile, I simply cannot understand what has people so excited.

What McLemore does bring to the table is excellent shooting ability. He shot almost 50 percent from the floor as a guard, including 42 percent from three-point range. He scored 1.10 points per possession, which rates extremely well among the guards eligible for this year’s draft.

The problem with McLemore is that he doesn’t bring anything else to the table. His rebounding, passing, and defensive metrics are all average or worse. Compare McLemore to C.J. McCollum, another efficient scorer who scored more points, had better rebounding and passing metrics, and similar defensive metrics.

For me to give a prospect a grade of likely success, he needs to show me more than one thing. Yes, scoring is the single best thing I can see out of a prospect. However, if McLemore turns out to be Kevin Martin, is that really a player worthy of the #2 pick? I would understand if McLemore was drafted in the late lottery, but I can’t support a team’s decision to draft him in the top three.

#19: SHANE LARKIN – 20 years old, PG, Miami (FL) (-0.11)

Larkin is a point guard whose metrics just don’t get to where they need to be for me to call him a good prospect. Larkin did play 36 minutes per game for a very highly ranked team, but it’s hard for me to see what he brings to the NBA that will help him stand out against the best players in the world.

The one point in Larkin’s favor besides experience is that he did shoot 41 percent from three-point range. If he catches on in the NBA, it will likely be because of his ability to make shots. Overall, Larkin scored 1.01 points per possession, which is a decent rate, but again, doesn’t really stand out.

Larkin’s other metrics are very unexciting. He had 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per 36 minutes. He didn’t show much ability to get to the free throw line (2.3 FTA/36) and also didn’t show the ability to take on a lead scoring role (14.3 PTS/36).

If Larkin was still just 18 years old, I could see him developing into a quality NBA point guard. At 20 years old, it’s hard to get excited about him. Players who can shoot have some value from that alone, but Larkin is likely to face an uphill battle in the NBA.

#20: SERGEY KARASEV – 19 years old, SF, Russia (-0.80)

A common remark I’ve seen made recently is that NBA players who can both shoot and play quality defense are surprisingly hard to find. Players like Thabo Sefolosha and Shane Battier are often unheralded, but play a very valuable role for championship contending teams.

Karasev has the shooting part down. He’s a prolific three-point shooter who scored at a rate of 1.08 points per possession in the Russian league despite shooting 44 percent from the floor. He’s not much of a slasher, but he can definitely shoot.

Unfortunately, my complaint about players like Ben McLemore and Shane Larkin applies here too. Karasev can shoot, but what else does he bring to the table? He only got 3.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, which is a very low rate for a small forward. He also didn’t show much ability to pass, at 2.6 assists per 36.

Most troubling for Karasev are his awful defensive metrics. Karasev only got a mere 0.6 steals and 0.4 blocks per 36 minutes. Players who can shoot and play defense are rare, but players who can only shoot are a dime a dozen. That’s why I can’t get excited about Karasev.

2013 NBA Draft Preview: 11-15

Here are my thoughts on the prospects I have ranked #11 to #15 in this year’s NBA draft.

#11: ALEX LEN – 20 years old, C, Maryland (+1.35)

Len has received a lot of hype in recent weeks. Draft Express recently made Len their #1 overall prospect in the 2013 NBA draft. I understand some of the enthusiasm about Len, but when I look at the statistics, I only see a good prospect, not a great one.

Len’s numbers are fairly solid across the board. He’s a decent scorer at 1.00 points per possession, on a respectable 11.6 shots per 36 minutes. He’s also a very good rebounder and decent shot blocker.

At the same time, there’s nothing about Len that jumps out at me. His scoring is decent/OK. His rebounding is good but not sensational. He’s a good shot blocker, but compare his 3.1 blocks and steals per 36 minutes to Nerlens Noel’s 7.4. There are no glaring red flags, but there’s nothing to get too excited about either.

The one area Len has Noel beat is size. While Noel is a skinny 206 pounds, Len has good size for a starting NBA center at 255 pounds. There’s nothing “wrong” with Len. However, there’s also no one facet of his game that makes me think he’s headed for stardom in the NBA.

#12: RUDY GOBERT – 20 years old, C, France (+1.31)

As a draft prospect, Gobert is very similar to my #10 prospect Lucas Nogueira. Gobert is a huge player at 7’2″ and has a huge field goal percentage to match that, but there are also some concerns about how well he’ll adapt to the NBA.

The two things about Gobert that stand out are his field goal percentage and takeaways. Gobert shot 72 percent from the floor, albeit on just 7.5 shots per 36 minutes. Gobert also got 4.2 blocks and steals per 36 minutes, one of the better takeaway rates among big men in this year’s draft.

The biggest concern I have with Gobert is that he only got 8.4 rebounds per 36 minutes despite being 7’2″. Gobert has been identified as having issues getting pushed around in the paint; not good for a big man who is already limited offensively.

I have Gobert rated as a player likely to succeed in the NBA, but like Nogueira, he’s unlikely to be drafted in the lottery. I understand why; while Gobert certainly has the potential to be a tremendous inside presence, he still has some improving to do.

#13: JAMAAL FRANKLIN – 21 years old, SG, San Diego State (+1.11)

Franklin is one of the strangest prospects in this draft. He is not close to an efficient offensive player. He only scored 0.89 points per possession thanks to shooting 40 percent from the floor, and turning the ball over a lot.

So why do I have Franklin rated as likely to succeed in the NBA? There are two metrics that stand out. One is that Franklin is excellent at getting to the free throw line. This is a very good attribute for a guard to have; the best guards in the NBA are all good at drawing fouls.

The other is that Franklin has an incredible rebound rate. He got 10.3 rebounds per 36 minutes for San Diego State, an absurd number for a shooting guard. In fact, Franklin has the highest defensive rebounding rate of any prospect projected to go in the first round.

If Franklin wants to succeed in the NBA, he’ll need to limit how many shots he takes. His lack of efficiency in college indicates that he’d struggle badly if given a lead scoring role. However, Franklin’s incredible ability to draw fouls and get rebounds should be enough for him to carve out some kind of useful role for an NBA team.

#14: TONY MITCHELL – 21 years old, PF, North Texas (+0.80)

Mitchell is the first of the players I have graded as being unlikely to succeed in the NBA. There are things to like about Mitchell’s game, but his statistical profile shows some limitations as well.

Like Jamaal Franklin, Mitchell only scored at a rate of 0.89 points per possession as a sophomore at North Texas. Compared to Franklin, Mitchell got to the free throw line a little less, got slightly fewer rebounds, but also created more takeaways.

The problem with Mitchell’s numbers being comparable to Franklin’s is that Franklin is a shooting guard and Mitchell is a power forward! The only reason Franklin can get away with poor shooting efficiency is because of his remarkable abilities for his position. For Mitchell, being a good rebounder isn’t remarkable, it’s to be expected.

The one possible saving grace for Mitchell is that he did show good defensive metrics. However, as a 21 year old prospect, good defensive metrics alone aren’t good enough to make the cut as one of my top prospects of this draft.

#15: GIANNIS ADETOKUNBO – 18 years old, SF, Greece (+0.58)

I’ve seen this man’s name spelled as “Adetokunbo” and also as “Antetokounmpo.” I prefer the shorter version, so that’s what I’m going with.

I think Adetokunbo has entered the draft too early. It’s not that he doesn’t have talent – he certainly does – it’s that there’s nothing in his statistics to suggest he’s ready for the NBA.

There’s nothing particularly wrong in the statistics, but there’s nothing particularly right either. He didn’t score too efficiently, he didn’t get to the line a lot, he didn’t get a ton of rebounds or assists, and he didn’t get a lot of takeaways.

Overall, Adetokunbo profiles as a player who was merely decent in the Spanish league. Whoever drafts him is likely to keep him stashed in Europe for a couple years anyway, but I think he might have done better to wait a year and enter the 2014 draft. If I was a general manager, I’d probably pass on what is admittedly a prospect with upside.

2013 NBA Draft Preview: 6-10

Here are my thoughts on the players I have ranked as the #6-#10 prospects in this year’s draft.

#6: STEVEN ADAMS – 19 years old, C, Pittsburgh (+2.02)

Adams is a lot like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in this draft. I had both players ranked in the top ten of this draft class when they were both projected to go late in the first round. Since then, they’ve both moved into the lottery in a number of mock drafts.

Like Nerlens Noel, Adams is a player whose value comes from the defensive end of the floor. He had 3.1 blocks and 1.0 steals per 36 minutes as a freshman at Pittsburgh, numbers which are among the highest for centers in this year’s draft. He also was a very good offensive rebounder – strangely, Adams got almost as many offensive rebounds per 36 minutes (4.3) as defensive rebounds (5.4).

Adams is very limited offensively – he only attempted 8.4 shots per 36 minutes, making 57 percent of them. His points per possession was 0.96, which is low for a draft prospect. Adams makes up for this by not taking too many shots. He doesn’t profile as a me-first player.

What’s most impressive about Adams is his ability to play so well defensively at the age of 19 years old. If your team is looking for a rim protector and doesn’t have the chance to draft Noel, Adams is the next best choice.

#7: VICTOR OLADIPO – 21 years old, SG, Indiana (+1.85)

I see Oladipo probably being successful in the NBA, but I also see some irrational hype of Oladipo in some circles of the Internet. There’s a lot to like about him, but I’d stop short before comparing him to Dwyane Wade or anybody similar.

Oladipo is a very well-rounded player. He’s efficient enough on offense that he scored 1.11 points per possession as a junior. He shot 60 percent from the floor, which is extremely high for any player, let alone a shooting guard. He also has excellent rebounding abilities and a very high rate of steals.

There are a couple things holding Oladipo back as a prospect a little bit. One is that it’s unclear if he can be a consistent three-point threat in the NBA; he shot 34 percent on a career 142 three-point attempts in college. The other is that he’s 21 years old, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but does make his statistics a little less impressive in comparison to some other prospects.

Oladipo’s overall skill set is good enough that I’d call him one of the safer picks in the draft. I doubt he has what it takes to reach Dwyane Wade status, but I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t become a steady and valuable contributor in the NBA.

#8: C.J. MCCOLLUM – 21 years old, PG/SG, Lehigh (+1.61)

If your team needs a scoring boost in the backcourt, look no further than C.J. McCollum. McCollum scored a whopping 27.8 points per 36 minutes in his senior season at Lehigh. He shot 49 percent from the floor, got to the free throw line a lot, and scored at an efficient rate of 1.11 points per possession.

The reason I don’t have McCollum rated higher is that his shaky defensive metrics are a bit of a red flag. McCollum got a combined 2.0 blocks and steals per 36 minutes, which is fairly low for a player expected to be a lottery pick.

Another issue is that McCollum has the size of a point guard (6’3″, 197 pounds) but the skill set and metrics of a shooting guard. He might turn out to be similar to Monta Ellis in that he’s a small guard with terrific scoring abilities but glaring flaws as well. (Hopefully he turns out to be a better teammate than Monta.)

One thing I’m not as concerned about is the fact that he played at Lehigh. Damian Lillard played at Weber State, Kenneth Faried played at Morehead State, and Jeremy Lin played at Harvard… those guys turned out OK. McCollum’s tremendous talent and scoring ability is enough to place him in the top ten despite the questions he’ll need to answer in the NBA.

#9: TREY BURKE – 20 years old, PG, Michigan (+1.53)

Burke is a player whose draft value is probably a bit higher than normal due to a draft very thin on point guards. Other than Michael Carter-Williams, Burke looks like the only pure point guard likely to be drafted in the first round. I think Burke will probably succeed in the NBA, but I’m not quite as enthusiastic about him as a lot people are.

Burke is definitely an impressive floor general. He scored at a respectable rate of 1.02 points per possession, but what’s impressive is that he did so while getting 6.8 assists per 36 minutes. It’s often challenging for a pure point guard to score at high efficiency because of a high rate of turnovers. Burke only turned the ball over 2.2 times per 36 minutes despite his high assist rate.

Burke is likely to struggle a bit on the defensive end due to his relative lack of size (6’1″, 187 pounds). He got a combined 2.1 blocks and steals per 36 minutes, which isn’t bad for a point guard, but it’s not really good either. Burke also isn’t much of a factor on the boards.

Overall, Burke is an impressive prospect due to his relatively polished abilities as a point guard, and the fact that he played that way as a 20 year old for a national powerhouse in Michigan. I think Burke is likely to succeed in the NBA, but he’ll have to battle some limitations as well.

#10: LUCAS NOGUEIRA – 20 years old, C, Brazil (+1.45)

With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Steven Adams rising up the mock draft boards, Nogueira is now my late first-round prospect to look out for. There are legitimate questions about how well his game will translate to the NBA, but Nogueira’s upside is too great for me to ignore.

Some of Nogueira’s statistics are eye-popping. He shot 69 percent from the floor for Estudiantes Madrid last year. He blocked 3.0 shots per 36 minutes to go along with 1.1 steals. He scored at a rate of 1.22 points per possession and got a lot of offensive rebounds.

There are some concerns within the numbers as well. One is that he only played 13 minutes per game and less than 500 minutes overall. His defensive rebounding rate was very low, and very close to guards like Victor Oladipo and C.J. McCollum. He also was charged for too many fouls – a rate of 5.0 per 36 minutes.

I understand why Nogueira is only getting a late first-round grade from draft experts. It’s hard to justify using a lottery pick on a player with as many question marks as Nogueira. At the same time, some of the metrics suggest that Nogueira has incredible NBA talent. Overall, Nogueira lands #10 on my list, but he’s risky.