The NBA lottery is a gamble-literally. The draft is a gamble as well. The two together is the most uncertain parlay in sports. Even if you win the lottery you can go bust with your selection. Even sure thing prospects can bankrupt a rebuild and long odd bets prevail. Winning the lottery is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that you have first wager on the entire draft board. You get to pick the first donut out of the box. You have the best odds for success. The curse is that often the first player chosen isn’t the best player in the draft and that you could have drafted a superstar, but chose not to. No sport is more dependent upon its stars than the NBA. If you miss on the first pick, you’ll never live it down.
Nerlens Noel is the heavy favorite to be the final card in Chris Grants full house. Grant’s plan all along was three tanks and out rebuild. The Cavs desperately need an anchor to defend the post and an above the rim frontcourt player. I see that as more dire of a need than small forward primarily because they need a last line of defense to clean up the perimeter defensive mistakes. Noel paced the draft with 4.0 WARP. The next closest player was Otto Porter with 3.1 WARP (.9 is a lot). Noel’s 6.5 combined steals plus blocks tops the 6.1 that uber prospect Anthony Davis put up last year. The detractions on Noel are his current ACL tear, the fractured growth plate in the same knee during high school and how raw he is on offense.
The two injuries to the same leg worry me, but his rawness doesn’t bother me at all. Most big men enter the league with raw offensive skills. Noel has better body control, coordination and ball skills than most players his age and size. If Noel was a piss poor ball handler and passer, I’d be more worried about him not smoothing out his offensive game.
There is plenty of risk involved in drafting Noel with his history of missing extended playing time twice in four years. There is inherent risk in drafting a center in the lottery as well. Seven of the top 15 WARP’s at center last season were drafted outside of the lottery.
While writing another blog, I noticed a strange correlation of how many frontcourt players have busted in the lottery and the shocking number of solid bigs who were drafted outside of the top 14 selections. Big men take longer to develop than smaller and more NBA ready players.
While shorter position players come into the league with tangible NBA skills, most big men come into the league as mysteries and are drafted purely on potential. Players over 6’9’’ grow so fast that it takes years for them to get acclimated to their bodies let alone refine their basketball skills. There’s no greater success rate at any position outside of the lottery than center. You really don’t know where a big man will be in four years the day you draft him. It could be in the Cavs best long-term interest to wait until the teens to draft a center.
As an avid fantasy football geek, I stack my draft board every season according to where I see value at what pick. I run standard deviation for every player in comparison with their 'average player" at the position. I build my entire board based on how the players available rank as a whole. I've led 8 of the 11 fantasy leagues I've been a member of in scoring. Value based drafting works. Would it apply to the NBA?
This years draft has been panned as the weakest since 2006. Though this draft class lacks franchise-altering talent, it is extraordinarily deep at the center. ESPN draft grand wizard Chad Ford has 10 centers listed as his top 30 NBA prospects. Ford has the center prospects ranked as follows: Nerlens Noel (1), Alex Len (9), Cody Zeller (10), Steven Adams (12) Mason Plumlee (15), Kelly Olynyk (16), Rudy Gobert (21), Gorgui Deng (25), Lucas Nogueira (26) and Jeff Whithey (28). The Cavs have the ammo to move up if they valued a center highly. From a value standpoint it would make sense for them to go with a wing player at #1 and target center next.
Bigs not only seem to bust at a greater rate in the lottery but also handcuff organizations when they sign contracts coming off their rookie deals. The NBA is like any other supply and demand business. There aren’t a lot of people who are over 6’9’’ on the planet. These guys are one in a thousand babies. There’s a reason they get dramatically overpaid and over drafted. Here’s a break down of the 2003-2009 drafts and where the significant bigs went. Some on the list aren't centers but they are all over 6'9''.
Darko is a prime example that you should go big later in the draft. How he never got a Burger King endorsement for the Whooper pre-workout supplement or a Just For Men Eurodouche hair highlight sponsorship, I’ll never know. Sadly, Darko’s actual basketball career has few highlights. I understand why the Joe Dumars took Darko ahead of Melo and Wade. I get it. Dirk was all the rage and they thought they were drafting a more athletic Dirk. You can’t teach someone to be 7 feet tall. Rasheed Wallace’s prime was running out and how much could you really count on batshit crazy Wallace anyway. I get it. Dumars was wrong and it probably cost the Pistons another title run.
If Bosh is your best player, you'll probably never get out of the second round. Pau Gasol was similar in Memphis to Bosh’s time in Toronto. If Bosh is your second best player you are a legit title contender (LEAK: BOSH IS MIAMI’S 2ND BEST PLAYER). I could see Bosh leave in 2014 and sign with Dallas. Honestly Dallas is also my dark horse Lebron location also if Chris Paul signs there this summer.
I’ll call him a hit. He’s never been a star but he has been a solid starter for the majority of his career. He even made an All-Star team, which is a reflection of how weak the center position has been for the last decade. You don’t regret solid draft picks. You just don’t. 2003 was an excellent draft for franchise players, but it was actually pretty shallow after that. Kaman has had a productive and underrated career and could still be a solid backup.
Rotation player on a championship contender. Considering how egregiously big men get overpaid his contract isn’t that bad either.
Better career than Collison and taken 30 picks after him. Zaza was solid for the Hawks for a bit. Also has one of the best names in the league. Any name with two z’s is a winner. He’s still a rotation player a decade into his career.
Stretch 4 and one of the better three point shooters in the league. He’s been a role player on a championship quality team for years and his name mispronounced is among the best in the league.
He’s been a PR nightmare for the past three seasons but he’s been the best big man drafted in the 2000’s. In a strange plot twist, his rookie free throw percentage (.671) was the highest of his career and it has regressed every season since. Big men with back injuries are a dangerous longterm wager. Howard has regressed and already has a lot of miles on him. The team who signs him to his next max contract might regret the last season or two of the deal. Actually the team who signs him might regret the first year of that deal.
Howard going ahead of Okafor wasn’t a landslide decision at the time and could be a metaphor for Chris Grant in his debate of Otto Porter or Noel. Porter is a steady guy who will never be elite like Okafor. Noel has supreme untapped potential like Howard. Okafor has been a solid NBA starter. When you take him ahead of four All-Stars and he’s been overpaid for years, it is kind of regretful. He’s a good rebounder and defender but that’s about it. At a price tag of $14 million he’s drastically overpaid.
He was a promising, progressing player at some point. Chris Mullin wasn’t reliving his blackout drunk days when he signed Bierdins to his contract in 2008. The previous season Bierdins led the league in FG% and had impressive advanced metrics. Bierdins is a starter on the bigs get dangerously overpaid on their second contract team. There are worse contract in the league but no one gives less production for his salary. If you aren’t sure if you should give a guy more than $10 million a year…Don’t.
And now we’re seeing the value of post lottery bigs. He’s been a slam-dunk for the 15th selection. He was the key chip in the Garnett trade that rebooted the Celtics into an elite team. Sadly Jefferson hasn’t had the chance to be a cog on a contender. He’s hitting free agency this year and will command $10 million or more per season. He’s a good third best player. If he’s your best player, you aren’t getting past the first round.
He was a throw in, in a cash dump by the Magic. He’s an All-Star glue guy when he’s actually healthy. His development has been remarkable and extremely unorthodox. In his first few seasons, Varejao had a supreme lack of offensive equilibrium (I used to cringe when he got the ball) and he’s developed into a consistent shooter and exceptional passer. His durability has been deflating. He’s going to be the last living dodo from the Lebron era next season. He’s the sole survivor. Cavs fans probably overate his value because of his fun hair and his reputation as a ladies man. I met some Brazilian girls in LA a few weeks ago and they gushed with national pride that I was wearing a Varejao shersey. I’m assuming that if Andy was in the window period of HIV, there would be a lot of dead girls in Cleveland in the next five years.
I don’t have a power point presentation on how big men are more prone to injury than smaller players, but I just think they are. People aren’t supposed to be that tall. Femur bones aren’t supposed to be that long yadda.
Bogut certainly isn’t a miss (He made an All-NBA team), but it’s hard to call the guy drafted ahead of Chris Paul, and Deron Williams a hit. Centers are overvalued in the draft and that’s probably why there are so many busts at the position. He’s the fourth best player on the Warriors and when you factor in his injury risk and contract you can make an argument that he’s their sixth most valuable asset. He’s not a wasted pick, he just shouldn’t have gone first overall. It can be a curse to be the first pick. He's a prime example.
You can argue both sides if he’s a hit or a miss. He was good enough with Toronto to get a butt-fuck awful contract from the Pistons. Considering his contract is the primary reason the Pistons have been under .500 since his signing I’ll chalk him up as a miss. He is the only person other than Stan Sitwell on Arrested Development with alopecia, so he has that going for him.
Bynum was a late-lottery pick that has had a more meaningful career than the two big men selected in front of him. Even with his injuries, aloof personality and ridiculous hair (ridiculously awesome hair) he’s been a value. The Lakers did trade him for the best center of his generation. Where he goes from here is a mystery. It’s going to take big money to land him. I don’t see a middle ground with signing Bynum. He’s either going to get you a new contract or get you fired. I’d steer clear.
If he’s your third best player you’re in a good spot. Somehow Lee never got that “next Larry Bird” support that Tom Gugliotta and Keith van Horn failed to achieve. Lee is the best draft pick made by Zeke during his Knicks tenure (not a lot of competition there). I’d rather have Lee than Stoudemire or Boozer and Lee makes less than both.
The international waters have been poached for years like the sturgeon of Lake Erie, but like those crazy huge catfish they are making a comeback. Eurostashes can still provide the best value in the draft from pick 15 or so on. If you’re a team with a full roster or a pair of second-round picks go for the Eurostash. If they are still under contract overseas that’s fine. Let them mature. Let them master the Euroflop. When they come over you’ll have a seasoned guy on his rookie-scale contact. If it doesn’t work, who gives a shit? Ilyosova struggled after signing his new contract but took off after Scott Skiles was quit/fired. He can stretch the D and give you length and board work. His per 36 numbers are impressive.
He has talent and actually had a PER of 21.9 this season. I think he’s a perfect example of getting a rotten apple into a better team culture and he’ll thrive. He and McGhee were the problem in Washington. If the Spurs could find a way to get their hands on Blatche he could be a borderline All-Star.
Now that’s some serious value. It took him a few years to figure out how to play in the NBA but he’s become at the very least an average center. The Suns have become one of the worst ran franchises in professional sports. If I ran a center needy team I would at the very least pick up the phone and check out the asking price for Gortat. He’ll never be a star, but you won’t lose a lot of matchups. They’ll mostly cancel one another out. It’s not all about having five guys with 20 PER’s. It’s about not having a guy on the court with a 7 PER.
He’s not garbage, but he’s in the wrong situation and is overpaid by about $5 million per season. This draft class reminds many of the 2006 class because it’s so wide open at the top of the draft. No franchise players, but decent talent and depth. If Bargani was paired with a defensive monster like Tyson Chandler he could be an ideal stretch 4 if he got his confidence back. He’s overpaid either way and the Raptors will have to take on a bad contract to get rid of him. If they amnestied him, I’d be interested…Seriously. I would. You could do a lot worse than a $4 million amnesty claim on him. The scarlet letter of being a disappointment first pick won't be as visible on another team.
He would be a Knick if Isiah Thomas wouldn’t have made the Eddie Curry trade. Aldridge is an All-Star big man who can hit a jumper. If you rated players on a five-star scoring system he’d be a four-star player. I kind of see him as similar to Pau and Bosh. If you had an elite guy and he was your number two you could have something. He could play the Chris Bosh role in another big three, which explains the Cavs interest in pairing him with Kyrie Irving and hopefully Lebron James.
The really terrifying thing about Tristan Thompson was that his NBA comp was Tyrus Thomas. They even have the same initials…Same number of syllables too. The difference being that Thompson is Canadian and Canadians have much better dispositions than Americans. Thomas could have been a star. He’s got the athleticism and size. He’s not because he’s a shithead who probably got beat up by 60 year-old Paul Silas. The funniest part about the Bobcats giving him the contract they did is that they traded their unprotected 2016 first rounder for him. There’s a reason the Bobcats are the worst team in NBA history.
He’s not playing in France because he likes baguettes and rude people. He’s there because he’s not good enough to play in the NBA. It’s sad because he could have be the ugliest guy in the NBA. He could have owned the Sam Cassell Award for most hideous gremlin in the league. How he landed Candice Parker I’ll never know. Her brother is like 38 and is better at basketball than Williams…Shit Candice might be better at basketball than him.
Yeah, I don’t remember him either. Probably because I’ve never seen an Idaho Stampede or an Albuquerque Thunderbirds game. Bust…He had a 7 ft 8 ½ inch wingspan and was drastically over drafted because if it. Let’s hope Rudy Gobert doesn’t follow in Sene’s footsteps.
He’s nothing more than a bench stretch 4, but that makes him a more valuable player than Sene, Thomas and Williams. When you take into account the difference in Novak and Bargani’s contacts, I’d rather have Novak.
Utah let Boozer go and kept a comparable player at WAY less money. He’s a decent 3rd best player and was a borderline All-Star before Favors stared cutting into his minutes. Tremendous value.
You already know. Most of the league would have taken Oden over Durant. It wasn’t a bad pick at the time. He’s like Courtney Brown. Elite talent who justifiably went first in the draft and had his career destroyed by injuries. If he had no health issues, he’d be the best pivot in the league. He’s attempting a comeback and if he can just be a 20 minutes a night guy at half of his original potential, he’ll help you win games.
He’s one of my favorite players in the league. Great disposition. Solid player, on a good contract. If he’s paired with a superstar and the right supporting cast you can at least make the conference finals a couple times. I’d love to see him paired with an elite point guard and yes I would definitely trade the #1 pick this year for him. Danny Ferry owes us one for the Harper deal that may have cost Cleveland a title and his building of the Lebron era Cavs.
It turns out that stationary chairs play less defense than horrible NBA defenders. Utter bust. I get the marketability of him and he appeared to be a SF in a 7 ft body. There’s a reason the Bucks are the Bucks.
Still has potential but hasn’t put it all together. You’d have to think it would happen by now if it was gonna happen. I see him as nothing more than a 4th big no matter what his advanced stats say.
Noah is the best big from the first round of a loaded draft and he was the fifth selected. Imagine if OKC took him instead of Jeff Green. I don’t think Presti ever got enough flack for drafting two SF’s in the top 5 of the same draft. You put him on OKC with Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka and they are a better team than Miami. Noah is proof that giving a shit and dedicating yourself to improving matters more than athleticism.
Hawes is a decent backup big. Considering the guys who came after him in this LOADED draft he’s been a disappointment. He’s overpaid by about $3 million per season.
He’s not a better player than Horford, but he’s a better value this season. Depending on what Splitter gets in free agency that could change in two months. He’ll get a sizeable raise this summer.
Blue light special!! The Grizzlies didn’t lose the Pau trade because of him. He’s the best center in the league at the moment and arguably the best draft value since Manu. The second round of this draft had filthy value. I'm talking hobo manure wresting in an abortion clinic's dumpster filthy.
He’s not a center, but he’s over 6’9’’ so I’ll include him. Character matters. Beasley has top 10 player in the league potential. He’s a Thanksgiving dinner without gravy…Character and work ethic are the gravy. They matter. Without it you have a nearly inedible meal. Rose over Beasley wasn’t a foregone conclusion at the time. He’s been an utter bust and is on his third team and the Suns would love to find a fourth team for him.
Beasley has more natural talent than Love. Love is an insanely better player because he cares. He eats right and strives to improve. The Grizzlies traded an All-Star power forward and drafted another one the following year. They blew it by trading for him. There’s a reason teams want to trade for Love and the Wolves won’t listen for at least another year. He could be your Bosh with boards.
Good player who was a tremendous value in the last two years of his rookie contract. He’s overpaid, but most bigs are and he’s still good so you can live with it. He’s been stellar in the conference finals. It's possible his wrist injury hampered him during the regular season. He also seems to be a great team guy. Fun but focused. Killer value.
See Blactche above. McGee has the physical ability to be a top 5 center. Denver is obviously a better situation for him than Washington. McGee was a cancer in Washington, but the organization was a carcinogen. He needed Denver just like Randolph needed Memphis. Some guys just need a change of scenery and the right coach and locker room. You can still count on him for a little bit of knuckleheadness but it'll be rare enough to be charming rather than catastrophic.
He’s not a star and it probably took him being traded to the Kings then getting cut to make him to realize he was wasting his potential. He’s a solid rotation player, and if you can get a top 7 rotation player after the lottery that’s good value. I still don’t think the Cavs lost that trade. They’ll eventually get the 10th pick in the 2017 draft for him. Hickson is a star-crossed player though. For a big to get over $7 million per season he needs to be able to hit a jumper consistently or defend the rim. If he can’t you’ll regret that contract. Hickson can do neither. He would be an ideal third big off the bench. He’ll probably sign a god-awful contract with the Bobcats this offseason that they’ll regret within two months.
Bargain stretch 4. Anderson has emerged as one of the best stretch frontcourt players in the league and makes $8.5 million per season. He’s appropriately paid, which is rare. When Orlando traded him I thought they got fleeced. They resigned Nelson, a rotting banana for a million less per season and dealt Anderson. It didn’t make sense.
He shares minutes with McGhee but he could be a low-end starter for a number of teams. His per 36 averages are 12.8 points and 11.1 rebounds with 2 blocks a game. That’s inspiring, but it’s also lower than Bierdins comparable numbers before he got his castration contract. Here’s the kicker. Koufos is under contract for $3 million per season through 2014-15. He’s a really underrated trade asset. Denver is over the luxury tax for next season if Iggy comes back. I would make a call about Koufos if I was Chris Grant. I wouldn’t give up #19 for him, but I would offer a pair of second rounder’s to save them from the tax man.
This is one of the draft picks the Suns traded to the Sonics to take on the Kurt Thomas contract. SARVER!?!?!?! If Robert Sarver (Suns cheapskate owner) was murdered, his assassin would be acquitted by a jury of his peers. They should just play the Star Wars Alien Cantina Song throughout Suns games. I get why Presti kept Ibaka instead of Harden, but he was still wrong. Ibaka still has a good contract and room to grow, but he was exposed in the playoffs after Westbrook got hurt. We can only hope that Memphis lottery pick will yield half the caliber of player as Ibaka.
Bigs develop slowly. Are his jump in stats this season from development or from Kevin Love not being in the lineup? He’s a brut of a man and looks like he could have been Rocky’s opponent in Rocky III. I’d still rather trade for Koufos than give Pekovic $12 million per season. His new contract is going to be on that block. Chris Grant and other GMs with cap room can put a gun to Flip Saunders head this offseason. Offer Pekovic over $10 million per season. Make it low enough that they'll match it. If the Timberwolves struggle they will have a tax roster in NBA purgatory. If that happens Love can become available around the All-Star break.
Kind of overrated and overpaid because of the Lob City fluff party, but he can protect the rim and finish above it. He could probably give another team more production. He's worthless in the last two minutes of a game.
Why would you commit $38 million to Taj Gibson and not match $25 million on Asik? You’re stuck with Boozer. He’s your starter for the next couple years. You’re Jerry Krause and you’ll never amnesty Boozer. Noah and Asik could have formed a dominant frontcourt defensively and on the boards. The Carlos Boozer contract seriously prevented the Bulls from winning a title.
I’m not sure if anyone appropriately rates Griffin. He’s either praised as a superstar with the evidence being his long list of NBA senior superlatives. He’s a three time All-Star, was rookie of the year and made the All-NBA Second team by the age of age of 23. The prosecution against Griffin is that he’s a taller Harold Minor and is useless in the last two minutes of a tight game. His production has regressed since his rookie year. So which side is right? Both. He’s one of the few marketable players who can sell out home or away games. He’s also one of the major reasons the Clippers didn’t make it out of the first round after the ESPN fluff machine labeled them as the flavor of the month. Criticism aside he was a worthy first overall selection and is the primary reason the Clippers are hip to be named after a ship.
I would actually go with him as the biggest bust of the past decade. Bargani could work in the right situation. Oden’s failures were entirely due to injuries. Darko has never been sent to the D League. This is one of the more interesting revisionist history possibilities that is rarely brought up…What if the Grizzlies drafted James Harden second overall? Pairing Harden with Memphis’ physical frontcourt of Zebo and Gasol, Conley’s emergence and Tony Allen’s perimeter defense and you have a legit title contender. Thabeet is on the Mount Rushmore of centers who are drafted too high just because they’re centers.
He’s nothing more than a fourth big off the bench. That’s not an insane reach at 20. At 8 it’s a reach.
He’s big bully off the bench. Is that worth a lottery pick? I‘m leaning yes because the best two teams in the league are the finesse Thunder and Heat. Having an intense hockey goon who will beat the shit out of his opponent and make his 6 fouls count is an asset. He has an elite ability to make guys lose their cool. It doesn’t show up on a stat sheet, but it’s an asset. He’s had a better career than Hill or Thabeet. The Pacers will let restricted free agency determine his value.
He’s the reason I think people have overreacted to the Tyler Zeller pick. Bigs need to cook a little longer because they are a little bit longer. It takes less time to bake a cupcake than a loaf of French bread. Ya dig? Mullins will never be a star, but he could be a solid stretch player off the bench for a contender. At the 24th pick in the draft that’s a good enough ceiling.
Kind of torn on Taj. He was a value selection but Chicago blew their wad on Carlos Boozer. They won’t amnesty Boozer for at least one more season and they resigned Gibson for $38 million over 4 years. I’d personally rather have Asik. I like Taj as a player and he could probably be an above average starting 4 for someone.
He’s a versatile combo forward. Jerebko is an above average defender with a lot of length. The interesting thing to me is his per 36 averages of 15.2/7.5. I like him because of his length. If he could improve his jumper he’d be one of the better cost effective stretch 4’s in the league.
It’s still a bit early to pass judgment on the 2010-2012 drafts but the big man outlook on their classes looks favorable already.
I’m not a stat slave by any means. I still value the eyeball test. Center is the most valuable position because of the scarcity of people who are capable of being elite at it. If you draft a big man in the lottery, it’s likely you will pass on better players and you'll have to live with that gamble. If he flashes a miniscule amount of potential by his forth year he will command an eight-figure salary. If you go big, you better be right.
Getting this pick right is the most important thing, regardless of the selection. Grant has always been on the clock, but how he handles the #1 pick will make him a genius or a goon and it could cost him his job. If Noel is healthy longterm he can at the very least become an elite defensive player plus above the rim offensive potential. If he hits his healthy floor his selection will be justified. Having the desire to be better is one of the most important traits a player can have. Kobe Bryant in his prime couldn’t do anything that Vince Carter couldn’t physically. Kobe just wanted it more. Kobe was more driven. The top of Kobe’s mountain was immortality. Carter was content with being a regular season SportsCenter highlight machine and nothing more.
Wanting to be great is important and I think it’s one of the things Chris Grant looks for in players. I think Noel has that. He might never become Kevin Garnett, but he could become Kevin Garnett Lite. If you pass on that, people in Cleveland will spit on you at your daughter’s soccer game. Cleveland doesn’t have the opportunity to land superstars like the more cosmopolitan teams in the league. NBA players value beaches, bitches and bling. They don’t give a shit about grey skies, burning rivers or halushki. If you're Grant and you have a shot at an elite player, you have to take that gamble.
For the Cavs to win an NBA title, Chris Grant will have to hit on the turn and the river. The Knicks, Lakers, Cetics and Heat are all chips bullies at the table. They have an inherent advantage that rust belt cities never will. Joe Dumars’ took a major risk bringing Rasheed Wallace in. He did it because he had to. Nerlens Noel is going all in without looking at your cards. He fits the team better than any other player in the draft and he is the best defensive tool possible for what the NBA has become. Noel is the best prospect in the class with the torn ACL. If Otter Porter had a torn ACL he wouldn’t be going in the top three. Nerlens is a lock in the top three with a torn ACL. He can become an elite player and Porter can’t. Even with the risk involved and even after I wrote a 5,000 word blog on why the Cavs should take a center in the teens rather than roll the dice on Noel…They should still take Noel. You’re gambling on any player and Cleveland’s Horseshoe Casino just celebrated it’s one year anniversary…Chris Grant bet the house on black three…Shit three is red. There goes the theme.