1. SF Otto Porter, Georgetown Hoyas
Comparisons: Kawhi Leonard, Gordon Hayward
2. SG, Victor Oladipo, Indiana Hoosiers
Comparisons: Andre Iguodala, Tony Allen
3. C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Wildcats
Comparisons: Tyson Chandler, Larry Sanders
4. PF Cody Zeller, Indiana Hoosiers
Comparisons: LaMarcus Aldridge, David Lee
5. PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV Rebels
Comparisons: Derrick Williams, Ersan Ilyasova
6. SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia Bulldogs
Comparisons: Michael Redd, Kerry Kittles
7. PG Trey Burke – Michigan Wolverines
Comparisons: Mike Bibby, Jameer Nelson, DJ Augustin
8. SG Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks
Comparisons: Jason Richardson, Vince Carter
9. G C.J. McCollum, Lehigh Hawks
Comparisons: Damian Lillard, Mo Williams,
10. PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
Comparisons: Darren Collison, Devin Harris
11. C Lucas Noguiera, Brazil
Comparisons: Samuel Dalembert, Larry Sanders
12. C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh Panthers
Comparisons: Meyers Leonard
13. SG Sergey Karasev, Russia
Comparisons: Kyle Korver, Steve Novak
14. SG Reggie Bullock, North Carolina Heels
Comparisons: Danny Green, Jimmy Butler
For the record, I think large draft boards are a ridiculous activity. Why rank your top 100 players when maybe five of those will make a significant impact and five more will be good role players. The rest will be journeymen or roster filler. This happens every year. I feel uncomfortable even making a top 30 because on some level I think that gives the impression I think there are thirty players that are draftable (it just depends on your teams circumstances which players works best for you). I don’t think this. I think the majority of players drafted, not just this year but any year, won’t have a career worth writing about.
With that said I’m going to rank the players that I would be at least moderately happy (some level above indifference, at least) having on my team if I were an NBA GM. I’m not sure on a specific number, I’ll just go until I can’t find players I’d draft regardless of the circumstances.
1. Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
Kyrie Irving is the best player in this draft. What are his NBA comparisons? A lot of people have suggested Chris Paul. I’m not entirely sold on this for a couple of reasons. First, Chris Paul is all-world amazing. When healthy, I think he is easily the best point guard in the NBA. Irving could end up being very good but being the best in the game is probably not going to happen. Another thing is that his college resume is short. He played most of his games before in-conference competition, which inflates his numbers a bit. Though, when he played he was no doubt outstanding.
What we know about Irving is that he has no major flaws and is an elite shooter. Elite shooters who have an assortment of other skills are much harder to find than draft guru’s lead you to believe.
Comparison: If his foot is healthy I think Irving could be more like a Detroit Pistons era Chauncey Billups. While not Chris Paul, is still damn good.
2. Enes Kanter, PF/C, Turkey
As short as Kyrie Irving’s body of work is, Kanter’s is even shorter. The NCAA ruled him ineligible last season, as such he was not allowed to compete with the Kentucky Wildcats. He also didn’t really have an opportunity to play anywhere, so he has been twiddling his thumbs for a while now.
He does have some things we can look at though. He played for Turkey in the FIBA U18 championships in 2009 and 2008, dominating the competition both times. He averaged over 18 points and 14 rebounds during both tournaments. Along with the U18 games, Kanter also took part in the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit against the best high school players in America, including Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, and Jared Sullinger. In that game he dominated, breaking Dirk Nowitzki’s points (33 points) record with 34 points (Video: HERE). So it’s not exactly conclusive but he has dominated when he has played.
Comparison: I’m comfortable saying he could end up being a Kevin Love type player (probably not as good, but similar styles).
3. Jonas Valanciunas, C, Latvia
Like Kanter, Valanciunas has performed very well in the FIBA U18 championships in 2009 and 2010. He has also played very well in the Euro league this past year. He is not as offensively skilled as Enes Kanter but is a very efficient finisher in the post. He is more known for his defense and rebounding, which has been compared to Joakim Noah. I like him because he is a legit center that produces in games. If he’s anything like Noah then he is worth selecting very high in this draft.
Comparison: Joakim Noah (possibly lesser version).
4. Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
I already made an entire post regarding my opinion on Derrick Williams, you can read it here.
Comparison: Rich man’s Antawn Jamison
5. Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State
Faried has an “elite” skill, that is his rebounding ability. In fact, Kenneth Faried ended his college career as the NCAA’s all time leading rebounder. I find it baffling to consider that he is by far the best in his class at an important basketball skill but he still is so underrated. Elite shooters like Klay Thompson, who has no other skills, are flying up draft boards. We need to consider other factors in the game other than scoring. When you consider how hard he plays, how good his character is, and how he projects to be at least good defender, you have to consider him as a very solid selection.
Comparison: A DeJuan Blair/Trevor Booker type but better. A defender/rebounder role player that all teams need.
There you have it, the five players I’m comfortable going out on a limb and writing paragraphs about how they should be good in the NBA. Here are five more players I’m intrigued by but am not yet comfortable completely backing them up yet. I still would be happy or at least content if they ended up on my Wizards…
6. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State (Comp: Poor man’s Gerald Wallace maybe?)
7. Alec Burks, SG, Colorado (Comp: Better version of John Salmons)
8. Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee (Comp: Shane Battier)
9. Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas (Comp: Rasheed Wallace)
10. Jordan Williams, PF, Maryland (Comp: Sean May if he hadn’t gotten injured so much.)
There you have it, ten guys I am at least intrigued by in this draft. I really stretched it too, I don’t think I could have gone longer than ten. If I didn’t list someone above it doesn’t mean I think they will be bad, just that the pluses of a certain player may not outweigh the negatives. I’m also considering their projected draft positions as well. Jordan Williams in the top 5 doesn’t interest me as much as late first.
Here are five guys I would really stay away from, especially when considering their projected draft position. I would be upset if any of these players became a Washington Wizard, regardless of how they were acquired.
1. Jan Vesely (Joe Alexander/Andrei Kirilenko with no skills)
2. Klay Thompson (Marco Belinelli, shooter and nothing else. Plays much worse against good competition.)
3. Donatas Motiejunas (Poor man’s Andrea Bargnani…ouch. Not interested)
4. Jordan Hamilton (Poor man’s Stephen Jackson. Head case who takes terrible shot after terrible shot.)
5. There is not actually five, but I really don’t like the four above at all.
I’ve heard it several times during coverage of this years NBA draft that Derrick Williams is an elite rebounder. This really baffles me because it is something that is very easily verifiable. You look up his statistics under the category of rebounding and it’s right there in front of you. It is important to put his numbers in context by accounting for pace, minutes played, level of competition, etc. Derrick Williams just isn’t an elite rebounder, he’s just a good one.
Adjusting for pace and minutes played Derrick Williams averaged 10.9 rebounds per 40 minutes, good for eighth in this draft class. When we look at rebounding rate, which I think is a better measure, Williams ranks 123rd nationally in offensive rebound rate and 113th in defensive rebound rate. So Derrick Williams was an average, maybe slightly above average, rebounder at the college level.
It really doesn’t seem like a big deal that Williams is only an average rebounder at the college level when you consider his ability as a scorer. During his sophomore season Derrick Williams was insanely efficient – he was fourth in the nation in true shooting percentage (69%!). When you consider his high usage and high true shooting percentage I think it is fair to say that Williams was the most elite scorer in college basketball last season.
However, a few things bother me about Derrick Williams transition to the NBA. Derrick Williams thinks he will be a small forward at the NBA level, most scouts think he is best utilized at the power forward position. This worries me and ESPN’s Chad Ford. This is because transitioning from a college PF to an NBA SF doesn’t translate as easily as other positions. Other players who have made this same transition – Wesley Johnson, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Marvin Williams, and Carmelo Anthony have seen their rebounding, as well as other non-scoring numbers, drop considerably from college to the NBA. I predict a similar thing happening to Derrick Williams if he tries to play on the wing in the NBA. He is already non exceptional as a defender and passer, if he becomes a lesser rebounder his production will be entirely tied to his scoring ability.
But this is still okay because Derrick Williams was the best, most efficient scorer in the college game, right? I’m a little wary. Statistically he was the nations best scorer. He made an insane 60% of his two point shots and an even more incredible 57% of his three pointers. He also got to the line over eleven times per 40 minutes. This production is due to come down just by the simple fact that NBA defenses are better. But this scoring production was so astronomical it has to be at least a minor fluke. I still think Williams will be a very, very good scorer in the NBA but I don’t think he’ll match his college production. And when his production rests almost entirely on that elite scoring, this worries me.
While I believe Derrick Williams will be a good NBA player and arguably worthy of the second overall selection, I am not as certain of his future stardom as others. I have my doubts about his abilities transitioning evenly from the college level to the pro’s. In my view Williams should become something like a more talented, efficient, and aggressive Antawn Jamison. In essence, a rich mans Antawn Jamison. That’s not too bad, Jamison made a few all-star teams.
This is the first NBA draft in a while where there is only one realistic scenario that would make me less optimistic and happy about being a Wizards fan than I was going into the draft. Literally every other rumored scenario makes me at least a little happy and enthused. Unfortunately for me, and for Wizards fans everywhere, this scenario seems to be the most likely outcome for the sixth pick on Thursday night. What I’m talking about is if the Washington Wizards select Partizan combo forward Jan Vesely.
I say this because the focus of his scouting report by almost every source is all that is wrong with player evaluation in the NBA. The reason is his scouting report relies entirely on his perceived level of elite athleticism. Athleticism is fine, but only when it gets you something. There have been plenty of ridiculously athletic players through the years who give you nearly nothing on the court (See: Nick Young). There have also been plenty of not exceptionally athletic players that give you everything on the court (See: Kevin Love). Athleticism can help a player produce on the court but they must have basketball skills to go with that athleticism. I’m pretty sure Kevin Durant rated as one of the worst athletes in his draft, but man does he have skills. The question that Ty Willihnganz asked over at his blog The Courtside Analyst still needs answering, “When will people learn that athleticism wins track meets, basketball skills win basketball games?”
The top three traits Chad Ford has under Jan Vesely’s draft profile on ESPN are “Leaping,” “Size,” and “Motor.” All of these things are physical measurable’s. When we look at his statistics you see that he is a poor rebounder, terrible shooter (especially from the free throw line), he isn’t a passer. I just don’t see any real on the court production by Vesely. All I hear is that he gets minutes playing at a high level in Europe and has elite athleticism. None of this necessarily means anything on the court. You don’t get extra point for fancy dunks and highlight reel plays. At 21, he is also two years older than other options in Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas, Alec Burks, and Kawhi Leonard. Age should be taken into consideration, according to this study.
Who is my player comparison for Jan Vesely? Joe Alexander. That doesn’t excite me in any way. Joe’s an athletic freak, but he couldn’t actually play the game. His best case scenario is probably a Thad Young type.
P.S. I don’t always agree with John Hollinger but for whatever it’s worth his Player Rater agrees with me.
UPDATE: ESPN’s Chad Ford has reported that the Wizards may be trying to trade up with the Cavaliers (have also heard rumors about trading with the Jazz). If they manage to trade up and draft Enes Kanter I will be elated. It’ll be possibly my happiest Wizards fandom moment ever.
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. The amount of Wizards fans that believe Andray Blatche is a good player astounds me. I don’t understand how anyone can watch a Wizards game and come to this conclusion. Just from watching the games you can see he’s a horrendous basketball player. He makes a mistake nearly every time he touches the ball. I think it’s self evident but I guess I have to provide conclusive evidence that Blatche has no business being a starting power forward in the NBA. This will be easy.
Now, how “good” someone is at some activity is relative. Andray Blatche is obviously a good basketball player relative to the average person. He would beat me pretty handily in a game of one on one. But if we’re talking about whether he is “good” in terms of being a starting power forward for the Washington Wizards then we should compare him to other starting power forwards. Unfortunately, the database I’m going to use for this write up (hoopdata.com) doesn’t allow me to organize players by games started. So my expanded definition is power forwards who are heavily depended on by their teams (20+ games played, 25+ minutes per game). I think this is reasonable and still will show my point that Blatche shouldn’t be considered good (better than average) relative to this group of players. Many times it’s easy to think of a player as good in the abstract sense because not everyone realizes just how many quality players there are in the NBA. Once you just see his name among his competition then I’m confident you’ll realize where he ranks, if not I’ve provided further evidence of his terrible production.
Here is the list of players Blatche is being compared to…
Al Harrington, Amare Stoudemire, Amir Johnson, Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison, Blake Griffin, Boris Diaw, Carl Landry, Carlos Boozer, Charlie Villanueva, Chris Bosh, David West, DeMarcus Cousins, Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand, Glen Davis, Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kris Humphries, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge, Luis Scola, Marcus Camby, Michael Beasley, Pau Gasol, Paul Millsap, Rashard Lewis, Serge Ibaka, Zach Randolph.
That’s 30 players who have played 25 minutes per game in 20 or more games this season. Including Andray Blatche we get to 31 players. There are 30 starting power forward spots in the NBA. This is a close enough approximation for me.
Is Andray Blatche above average for this group? An easy personal test is if you can find sixteen players on that list that you would trade Blatche for. If you can then he is by your own evaluation process (whatever that may be) a below average player. My whole point of this post is to prove to you he is a below average big man. So if you find yourself already realizing this then you really don’t need to read further. Of this list there are three, maybe four players I wouldn’t trade Blatche for. So in my personal eyeball rankings/opinion he’s around ~26th/31. If you threw in some Olive Garden bread sticks, cash and a few second round picks then he’s yours regardless of who you give me. But that’s just me. I’m pretty confident almost everyone’s eyeball rankings will have him below average even if they didn’t consider him that in the abstract sense before reading this.
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers. When we look at his true shooting percentage (This takes into account three’s and free throws. It demonstrates his ability to make the shots he takes, a really important part of winning a basketball game) his 47.9% ranks a horrendous 29th out of 31. The average true shooting percentage is 55.2%. Clearly, Blatche is far below average. This season is the lowest TS% Blatche has had since his rookie year. So you might be saying he’s just having a bad year. If we took his career best season (51.9%, last year) he is still far below average. So Dray isn’t “good” at making shots this season and has never once been above average (or even close to average) at this in his career. This is because he takes a lot of long jump shots and they very rarely go in. He is actually below average in FG% from all distances on the floor.
Making shots is a very important part of winning basketball but it’s not the only component. You also need to gain possession of the basketball and avoid losing possession. Otherwise known as rebounding, avoiding turnovers, and forcing turnovers. Blatche’s rebound rate of 13.4 ranks 21st/31, again significantly below average (average =14.9). Rebound rate is defined as the percentage of total rebounds grabbed by a player during his time on the court, just so you know. Blatche ranks 29th/31 in turnover rate, as in the third worst. His turnover rate is 12.99 (average = 10.32) so he is far below average. Turnover rate is defined as the percent of a players possessions that end in a turnover, just so you know. Forcing turnovers helps balance out this discrepancy. He is actually second best in the group in this department, so it helps a little but doesn’t bring him back to average here in terms of possession of the basketball.
He ranks 17th/31 in blocked shots per game, again below average. His assist rate (percentage of possessions used that end in an assist) is 23rd/31, way below average again. His PER is 14.22, ranking 26th/31 – way below average. His win score is also 26th/31 – way below average. His win shares per 48 minutes is a horrendously bad .025 (average is .100), again way way way below average.
I mean I could go on, the clearly evident theme here is that Andray Blatche is a far below average player across the board. He is not a good basketball player, there is simply no evidence to back that statement up. He has never really produced at a high level for an extended period of time in the past either. You might say he’s young and will improve but the soonest he can redeem himself is next season, he will be 25. At some point you have become the player you’re going to be and Blatche is close to that point, if not there already. I haven’t said much about his individual defense but I don’t think anyone actually believe’s he’s a good defender. The last thing to consider is that he has played the most minutes on the Wizards and therefore has had the most impact on their record, they are 13-32.
Give me evidence that suggests Andray Blatche is a good player, I beg you.
On my blog, when I attempt to describe the contributions of an NBA player, I use something called Wins Produced. It’s a metric developed by professor David Berri. It is derived from efficiency differential, a teams offensive efficiency minus its defensive efficiency. Efficiency differential is typically the best single statistic to go by when determining which team is the best. If you want to read more about Wins Produced, you should read this book.
Now, a lot of people don’t agree with this metric because it doesn’t always agree with popular perception. This is mainly because popular perception (and NBA salary) is almost entirely dependent on a players points per game. This is often regardless of how many shots it takes a player to earn these points. It is important to make the shots you take because there is a finite amount of possessions available in a game (In the case of the Wizards – 94.1 possessions per game). That is why there is a big disconnect between Wins Produced and popular perception, especially in regards to high volume scorers like Allen Iverson.
There is another reason, I think, for why people don’t like to talk individual players being “good” or “bad.” It is because regular NBA fans have trouble separating the performance of an individual player from the performance of his team (Ex: Kobe = 5 rings, LeBron = 0. Therefore Kobe > LeBron). Anyone can see, for the most part, which team is the best. They do this by looking at Win/Loss record and, to a lesser extent, efficiency differential. So there is a stat that is widely available and, more importantly, widely accepted tool for judging how good or bad a team is. This makes discussion of which team is the best much more common, and much more accurate than discussion on individual performance.
Unfortunately, there is not a widely accepted tool that is used to describe the ability of an individual player, independent of his team. While Wins Produced is not as widely accepted, cited, or used as John Hollingers PER, I think it is the best tool for determining an individual players worth. It measures players in “Wins produced” because winning is the definition of being productive in the NBA. It is accurate because it is derived from efficiency differential (offensive minus defensive efficiency), which is the best tool for explaining wins and the strength of a team.
I think I would do better explaining Wins Produced in general terms than from an individual player perspective, at least right now.
In WP, players are judged relative to the average at their position. The average player has a Wins Produced per 48 minutes of .100. Why is this? Let’s start with the average team. Every team plays 82 games over the course of an NBA regular season. A perfectly average team wins 50% of the time, or 41 games. In other words, an average team earns (or produces) a half a win or .5 wins every game they play. During each game an NBA team plays 5 players at a time. There are 5 positions – PG, SG, SF, PF, and C. Therefore you do the math of .5 wins divided by 5 positions and you get .100. So, as you can see, the average player produces .100 wins per 48 minutes (an NBA game is 48 minutes long).
Now that it has been established, indisputably, that an average NBA player produces .100 wins per 48 minutes (because an average team produces .500), I think it is necessary to note another aspect of explaining wins of an NBA team called The Pareto Principle.
“Pareto’s contribution to economics, as the History of Economic Thought website indicates, extends beyond the concept of Pareto Optimality. But despite all he did for economics, Pareto is perhaps best known for the Pareto Principle, a concept rarely discussed in economics (at least not in my classes). Pareto observed that 80% of the income in Italy came from 20% of the population.This observation led to a general rule of thumb: 80% of outcomes come from 20% of the people. So for businesses, 80% of sales come from 20% of clients, or 80% of your problems come from 20% of your workers, etc…
Although outside of economics the Pareto Principle seems fairly popular, I have always thought the 80-20 rule was far too simplistic. And yet, much to my surprise, it seems to apply to the NBA. In 2006-07 there were 1,230 regular season wins. When we look at Wins Produced, we see that 80% of these 1,230 victories were produced by 22.4% of the players.
Looking at a larger sample, since 1990-91 there have been 18,355 regular season wins in the NBA. Across these 16 seasons there have been on average 431 players per season, or 6,907 player observations across the entire time period.When we look at the data we see that 1,507 player observations, or 21.4% of all players, produced 80% of all victories. So it’s not quite 80-20, but it seems close enough to me.” – David Berri referring to the work of Vilfredo Pareto.
The Pareto Principle states that, on average, just 20% of NBA players are responsible for 80% of team wins. This makes intuitive sense when thinking of how important players like LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard are to their teams. 20% of an NBA team (with a roster of 15 players) is 3 players. So, typically, 80% of a teams wins are generally due to their top 3ish players.
Wins Produced and The Washington Wizards
Let me put what I explained in terms of my team – The Washington Wizards. The Wizards ended the season with a record of 26 wins 56 losses. Their team produced 28.4 wins, so they were slightly better than their record suggested. This is because Wins Produced matches up with efficiency differential which doesn’t always match up exactly with the wins/loss record. Because efficiency differential is a better predictor of how good a team is, I will go with the 28 wins.
So the Washington Wizards were as good as a 28 win team. The teams winning percentage is 34%. That means during an average game the Wizards, as a team, produced .34 wins. If you take .34 and divide it by 5 (the number of players on the floor) you get .068. The average Wizards player had a Wins Produced Per 48 minutes (WP48) of .068. This mark is significantly below average, just like the team. I’d like to think that idea makes intuitive sense to most people – If you are a below average team, you employ below average players.
Going back the The Pareto Principle – we find that the Wizards top 4 players were responsible for 80% of the teams wins. The top 4 players were Mike Miller (.219 WP48 / 8.24 Wins), Brendan Haywood (.200 / 6.73), Antawn Jamison (.103 / 3.42), and Caron Butler (.79 / 3.05 wins). Together they combined to produce 21.44 wins. Their average WP48 between the four of them was .150. That means the rest of the team produced an amazing total of 6.95 wins. Their average WP48 was .026. If the team had just employed these remaining players all of last season their winning percentage would have been about 13%, totaling around 10.55 wins. None of the Wizards top 4 producers will be returning next season. Even if you don’t trust wins produced, those four players are generally considered by everyone’s “eyeball” tests as being the best on the team this past season. We know the players left are not as productive as the ones that are gone. This would mean that the team most likely will not be better than last season. The team did add some players (Arenas, Wall, Hinrich, Booker, Yi, Seraphin) but they will most likely not out perform what the top four players did last season. Therefore, they should win more than 11 games but less than 26. I’ll go optimistic, split it down the middle, and predict 18 wins right now.
Summary: The Wizards were a far below average team last season. Therefore, the typical Washington Wizards player was below average. The Wizards will not bring back their four best players. Therefore the team leftover (and the players that said team is composed of), not only have to be below average, but far below average. Otherwise, they would have won more games last season. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to make the claim that the players the Wizards retained from last season (Nick Young, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, and Al Thornton) are good (above average) players. Knowing what we knew about how the team performed last season (26 wins) and the previous season (19 wins), they almost necessarily have to be considered very bad. I know many Wizards fans who have convinced themselves that Blatche, McGee, and/or Nick Young are relatively good players but (based on the team performance) it just isn’t really possible. The main reason I wrote this is to drive that point home.
They lost their best players. They added some new players. They have some players who could improve. They likely will be worse in the 2010/11 season relative to the 2009/10 season. Predicting < 18 wins.
TL;DR: For a shorter, more specific explanation see this post.
IndyStar.com’s Mike Wells has reported that the Denver Nuggets are trying to acquire a top 10 pick in the draft and are offering Ty Lawson in return. The Indiana Pacers hold the 10th selection and are said to be interested in Lawson. Also, according to Wells, the Pacers have reached out to the New Orleans Hornets about acquiring Darren Collison. The Pacers were an awful 32 – 50 last year, so changes are needed. Indiana has been a bad team for a while now, so it is clear they could use some help evaluating their options.
As you can see, Ty Lawson was the most productive player (per minute) of these four players. To add some context Darren Collison was a rookie and TJ Ford struggled to stay healthy, with either of these factors you can expect a player’s WP48 to be lower. However, Ty Lawson was also a rookie and struggled with injuries (missing 17 games). Despite this, overall Lawson was still more productive than the other three point guards (He was even better in the 8 games in which he was the starter). The difference in production is mainly attributable to Lawson being above average with respect to shooting efficiency and avoiding turnovers. Collison was above average in regards to shooting efficiency but struggled mightily in protecting the basketball. Watson and Ford were below average in both areas. It doesn’t take a genius to note that making the shots you take and avoiding turnovers are two of the most important aspects involved in winning on the court (Actually, one genius made such an observation – HERE).
It is clear that acquiring Ty Lawson is the path the Pacers should take but is he worth the 10th selection in the draft? John Hollinger rated Lawson as the best player, statistically, in the 2009 draft (insider access required). WoW had Lawson ranked 3rd behind DeJuan Blair and Blake Griffin.
Did this turn out to be the case? It did. According to wins produced Lawson was the second most productive rookie (per minute) of anyone who played at least one thousand minutes (Behind only DeJuan Blair, Blake Griffin didn’t play a game). His college numbers predicted Lawson would be worth a top ten pick in last years draft and he produced like one. The reason he slipped in the draft was that many teams felt he was injury prone and that his short stature and short arms would diminish his effectiveness at the NBA level. So far the injury prone label has turned out to be valid, he did miss 17 games as a rookie. The height and wingspan critiques are overblown but might have some validity as well. Lawson was average in regards to rebounding, as well as below average in generating steals and blocking shots, these three things can logically be linked to size and wingspan. So maybe those physical measures are not “optimal” for a point guard but he does other things well enough to make up for any “shortcomings.”
But what about this years draft? Coming out of North Carolina as a junior Ty Lawson sported a fantastic 15.6 PAWS40 (Position adjusted win score per 40 minutes). In PAWS40 terms he would be considered the best point guard available in the 2010 draft (Yes, that includes John Wall). His PAWS40 is essentially the same as DeMarcus Cousins who was the most productive player in college basketball last year. It is clear that Lawson was worthy of a top ten selection last year and the same is true this year. It also helps that we’ve actually seen Lawson be successful in the NBA. So if you are the Indiana Pacers and are in need of a quality point guard, trading the tenth pick to Denver for Ty Lawson should be the easiest decision you make this off-season. Now if someone could convince them to stop playing Danny Granger at power forward they could be looking up for next season.