Revisiting Draft Rater

With the draft a couple days away, it’s time for a quick update on my Draft Rater, which we had introduced a month ago. Normally at this time the last bit of business left over is to rate the prominent internationals, but since none in this draft played any significant minutes in the Euroleague last season, I have absolutely nothing to add on that topic.

Instead, I wanted to provide a mini-update on the rankings of collegians and, for posterity’s sake, share my own “board.”

First of all, I updated all the Draft Rater rankings based on the official heights and weights from the league’s pre-draft camp. In a lot of cases this didn’t move a player’s rating at all, but some players -- most notably Fresno State’s Paul George -- moved up, and a couple moved down.

Additionally, there was one technicality that escaped me last time -- apparently my spreadsheet wasn’t tracking Wesley Johnson’s pre-transfer years. Adding those to the mix lowers his rating to 16th, taking him out of the prized top 12 positions where the vast majority of star talent has come from.

Here’s the updated top 12:

Obviously, Cousins comes with a lot of question marks about his maturity and conditioning and that’s what prevents him from being a home run as the top pick. Additionally, the difference between Wall and Turner is small enough as to be negligible, and one-and-done players are notoriously difficult to project with this system.

Given those differences, my personal board would have Wall first, Turner second and Cousins third.

I would put the next five players in the same order -- Monroe, Favors, Aminu, Henry and Babbitt.

After that I would put George 9th and Landesberg 10th (though he’s probably a late second-rounder in real life on Thursday). The other two players in my Draft Rater’s top 12, Vasquez and Samhan, are different cases -- the Rater may very well be correct that they can play well enough offensively, but defensively they’re so weak that it may not matter. As a result I wouldn’t look hard at those two players until later in the first round.

Speaking of which, here’s the next tier:

These five players occupy spots 11 through 15 on my board: I’d argue Johnson should be a couple spots higher, but otherwise leave it intact.

After the top 15 is where its gets interesting. Once past this point we don’t have to pay quite as much attention to Draft Rater in evaluating talent; historically a lot of decent players have come from lower ratings, even if virtually no stars have.

So from 16 on down I would focus a lot more on decent players with size. As a result, my board at this point would fill in with a lot of the big men the Draft Rater isn’t so hot on ... starting with Larry Sanders (23rd) and continuing to Cole Aldrich (41st) and Ed Davis (50th), but passing on Ekpe Udoh (52nd) and Hassan Whiteside (61st) until early in round two.

At 19th I’d put Avery Bradley. He’s only 48th in the Draft Rater but the system tends to be less accurate with one-and-done players and subjectively I think it’s underrated him; additionally, a lot of his value is at the defensive end, which won’t show up in his stats.

After that I’d fill the next eight spots on my board with a series of perimeter players with good-but-great marks from the Draft Rater. Those would be Manny Harris, Darington Hobson, Eric Bledsoe, Jon Scheyer, Jordan Crawford, Quincy Pondexter, Armon Johnson and Dominique Jones.

I’d also lump in Vasquez and Samhan with that group, bringing us to 29 first-rounders.

For a 30th? Clemson power forward Trevor Booker. He’s 45th in Draft Rater, but undersized, athletic 4s have been spectacular values in recent drafts and he’s cut from the same mold.

My completely subjective draft board

1. John Wall, Kentucky

2. Evan Turner, Ohio St.

3. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

4. Greg Monroe, Georgetown

5. Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

6. Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

7. Xavier Henry, Kansas

8. Luke Babbitt, Nevada

9. Paul George, Fresno State

10. Sylven Landesberg, Virginia

11. Wesley Johnnson, Syracuse

12. Damion James, Texas

13. Daniel Orton, Kentucky

14. James Anderson, Oklahoma State

15. Gordon Hayward, Butler

16. Larry Sanders, VCU

17. Cole Aldrich, Kansas

18. Ed Davis, North Carolina

19. Avery Bradley, Texas

20. Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky

21. Greivis Vasquez, Maryland

22. Manny Harris, Michigan

23. Darington Hobson, New Mexico

24. Jon Scheyer, Duke

25. Jordan Crawford, Xavier

26. Quincy Pondexter, Washington

27. Omar Samhan, St. Mary’s

28. Armon Johnson, Nevada

29. Dominique Jones, South Florida

30. Trevor Booker, Clemson