Quick Takes: Northwest Division Draft Grades

Posted on July 16, 2011 by


Devin Dignam (of NBeh? “fame”) here, with another edition of my quick draft day grades. Today I am starting the Western Conference grades by taking a look at the Northwest Division teams. Previously I’ve looked at:

For those who are forgetful (thanks for the suggestion, mmotherwell), here are the average positional values for PAWS/40:

  • PG: 7.4
  • SG: 8.4
  • SF: 9.95
  • PF: 12.59
  • C: 12.32
  • All players: 10.17

Ranking all players by PAWS gives us a good idea of how well a player performed in their various leagues. A word of warning, though: NCAA PAWS/40 does not correlate perfectly to NBA success, and Euroleague PAWS/40 is even worse. For the most part, though, players with a PAWS of 12 or higher usually end up being good NBA players, and players with a PAWS of under 7.3 end up being below average players.

In order to come up with team grades, my method is as follows: I have a spreadsheet with all the draft prospects, all the draftees, their PAWS/40, and (thanks to Arturo) the expected values of each pick. I also recorded the change in salary and wins obtained through draft day trades involving veteran players. Based on these numbers, I came up with the value that each team stands to gain if PAWS/40 can perfectly predict NBA productivity. Of course, PAWS/40 can’t predict NBA productivity perfectly, so the values I came up with aren’t infallible; I had to offer some subjective alterations to the raw scores. I won’t pretend that my evaluations are perfect, but nevertheless, I much prefer my methods to the vast majority of draft evaluations, which rely almost exclusively on subjective elements.

On to the grades!

Oklahoma City Thunder: B+

With the #24 the Thunder grabbed point guard Reggie Jackson, an NCAA Junior who posted a PAWS/40 of 12.17, which is good enough for 11th amongst all drafted and “nearly drafted” (players who were in mocks, but didn’t end up getting drafted) players. Jackson looks like he’s going to become a good NBA player – so he was a good pick – but OKC is already set at both guard positions (as well as small forward). The team would’ve been better off looking for a centre, given that Nick Collison (WP48 0.027) and Kendrick Perkins (WP48 0.074) struggled somewhat last year. Perhaps OKC wasn’t enthralled with Russell Westbrook’s Derrick Rose impersonation in the playoffs and is hoping Jackson will be a replacement? Probably not, but in the very least, look for the Thunder to try to move backup PG Eric Maynor.

"I can't believe that I was traded for Jeff Green"

Denver Nuggets: A+

Without question, the Denver Nuggets made the best choices on draft night. With the #22, the Nuggets managed to get the NCAA player who posted the highest PAWS/40 (17.28) in the draft, Kenneth Faried. Then they picked up Jordan Hamilton at #26, who posted the 21st best PAWS/40 (at 10.72) in the draft. Of course, the cost of acquiring the #26 was swapping Raymond Felton for Andre Miller, but (ignoring age) that was largely a lateral move, as Felton and Miller produce at about the same rate and are very close matches salary-wise. With a lineup of Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Jordan Hamilton, Faried, Nene, and Andre Miller, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Chris Andersen coming off the bench (or a similar permutation), Denver looks really scary.

Expect to see a lot of this in the future

Portland Trailblazers: C

As mentioned above, the Blazers swapped Andre Miller and for Raymond Felton on draft night. But also included in that deal was the #26 pick, which Portland acquired from Dallas in exchange for Rudy Fernandez. Let’s make a nice table (all money is expressed in millions of dollars):

Player Old Team New Team Expected Wins Value Salary
Raymond Felton DEN POR 8.0 13.6 7.5
Andre Miller POR DEN 9.3 15.9 7.80
Rudy Fernandez POR DAL 4.3 7.2 2.18
#26 Pick DAL DEN 5.1 8.7 4.59

Fernandez for the #26 was an okay deal – slightly in Dallas’ favour, but it had the potential to be a steal if the Blazers made a good draft choice (Denver ended up getting Jordan Hamilton, for example). On the other hand, the Felton deal was bad for Portland because while Miller and Felton are essentially equal, the #26 was also included. Overall, Portland lost $7.03 million in veteran production and $3.41 million that was tied to the draft pick.

But Portland still had some picks, and they used them to select a couple of Seniors: with the #21, the team selected Duke PG/SG Nolan Smith. And with the #51, the Blazers selected Ohio State shooting guard Jon Diebler. Smith posted a PAWS/40 of 9.67; Diebler posted a PAWS/40 of 9.97. Both of these numbers are right around average (10.2), and if Portland’s draft only consisted of taking these two players, they’d get a B. But because they also threw away the #26, they get a C.

The Blazers' season will depend on this man

Utah Jazz: INC

Much like the Raptors, the Jazz used their #3 pick to gamble on a mystery box big man. And although we don’t have any recent stats for Enes Kanter, much like Jonas Valanciunas, he has international experience and seems like he’ll be an above average player. In fact, Kanter and Valanciunas have had some head-to-head battles during international play, and both have played very well. Of the two, I suspect that Valanciunas will become the better player, but I still expect that Kanter will be above average.

The Jazz also had the #10 pick, and they used it on Colorado shooting guard Alec Burks, who posted a PAWS/40 of 11.77 (16th). Burks looks like he’ll be a very good player – Arturo’s models agree. That’s good news for Jazz fans, because the backcourt has been looking pretty thin ever since Deron Williams’ departure. Despite my enthusiasm for Utah’s selections, I can’t give them anything other than an Incomplete until we get our first look at Kanter.

In all fairness, Kanter is probably closer to a boat than a pair of tickets to a crappy comedy show

Minnesota Timberwolves: D

Another draft, another opportunity to laugh at what has become the most dysfunctional franchise in the league. Sure, Derrick Williams (PAWS/40 12.58, 9th) was a good pick, but with Kyrie Irving going to the Cavs, the T-Wolves simply made the safe pick. They also had the #20, which they turned into the #23 and #38…then turned the #23 into the #28 and the #43, and sold the #38…and then turned the #28 into the #31, a future second round pick, and “cash considerations”. The end result is that the Wolves turned the #20 into the #31 and #43 picks, a future second round pick, and an unknown amount of cash. With those two picks the team selected Bojan Bogdanovic (PAWS/40 5.12, 74th) and Malcolm Lee (PAWS/40 5.47, 70th), two players who are far below the cutoff line of 7.3.

If this was all that Minnesota did on draft night, they’d be in for an F. But they also traded away PG Johnny Flynn in exchange for aged centre Brad Miller. Brad Miller is no longer an above average player (his 3-year WP48 is 0.071), doesn’t play very many minutes (5065 over the last 3 years – and trending downwards), and is overpaid ($9.86 million left on his deal), but he is certainly an improvement over Flynn, who is the 38th most overpaid player in the league. This swap of veteran players bumps Minny up to a D.


– Devin