June 21, 2017
NBA Draft Big Boards
Written by: Ben Steinmetz, Jordan Dant, Matt Sawyer
With the NBA draft this week, we take our shot at putting together a draft board and asking the critical questions surrounding the top prospects. Each of us have picks that are polarizing, so we took to a Q&A format that allows both ends of the spectrum to explain their analyses of the player and selection. Once we looked beyond the top end of the draft, we chose 5 picks that did not align with each other and gave our endorsements for each player. Hopefully, you can see why the NBA draft selection process is so complicated and gain insight about the prospects we discuss.
Draft Board Philosophy:
Jordan: Shooting is obviously at a premium but I was looking for guys I thought could either be a solid two-way player, or an offensive player that would create mismatches for an opponent. Frankly though, I just thought about if I could see myself playing any of the prospects in the NBA finals or conference finals. The way those games were played is the way that the league is heading. Will a prospect be Tristan Thompson, relegated to the bench for the series, or Andre Iguodala, who becomes infinitely more important?
Ben: Shooting, shooting, shooting. Every single team in the league could use more of it, and in the pace and space NBA the ability to spread out the defense allows every player on the floor to function at or near their offensive potential. The NBA has started to chew up and spit out the types of players who can’t shoot the rock. What I looked for was guys who were consistent shooters at high volume in college, or athletic guys who showed promise in their form and consistency by shooting solid or better percentages on free throws. On the defensive end, I prioritized length, the ability to defend multiple positions, and positional fit in terms of body type. Length and athleticism as it relates to defense in the NBA is a lot like a pitcher with a 95 mile per hour fastball; you can be successful at the highest levels without it but having it sure helps.
Matt: Versatility has become increasingly important in the NBA. Thus, my draft board is high on people who aren’t limited to a single skill. If they do possess one strong skill, the pick will need to fill a hole or area of weakness on a particular team. In the end, you want to have a roster full of people who can contribute in the playoffs and, more importantly, help you contend for a title. While I agree with the sentiment that prioritizing shooting has taken the league to a new place, I don’t contend that it should be a single indicator of success for an prospective NBA player. That said, it doesn’t hurt.