10 Draft Commandments

Written by Matt Weiss

  1. Never believe what you hear/read-in essence this is the only time a team can add a player without another team knowing about it (trades involve a partner). Why would a team tip their hand to the media? If it really was known that you coveted a player what stopping a team ahead of you from taking them? Most of the time these rumors feel like they are fueled by agents looking to keep their clients names in the press. Don’t believe them, the other part of this is that most reporters claim teams are interested in 15 different players, meaning odds are they get it “right” but I could guess and predict who most teams will take and that doesn’t mean I have inside info.
  2. Workouts should be meaningless-with virtually every player in the draft having played at least one year of college NBA teams have 30+ games of film to watch on them, for some seniors teams have 120+ games of film. I don’t care how good your three hour workout was, it shouldn’t change how a team views you.
  3. Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds-the advanced numbers people will tell you that no stat translates like rebounds. If you are an elite rebounder in college, you can board on the next level. Conversely, if a player has a really low rebound rate and they aren’t a 5’11’guard, you should run from them. This year’s scary candidate is Tony Snell of New Mexico who rebounded very poorly in college, and now projects as SF on the next level (side note, most of the 5’11” point guards rebounded better then he did). Even if you aren’t trying, you should get more rebounds then he gets.  Conversely, Arsalem Kazemi from Oregon isn’t even projected in most mocks, but rebounds at an insane rate. I would much rather have the less skilled player that works his ass off.
  4. Who you are as a player in college is who you will be in the NBA-players can refine and improve skills (shooting or defensive positioning for instance) but if you are player that lacked focus, or played selfishly in college, odds are you will in the NBA. Ben McLemore seems like a nice kid, but he would terrify me if I was at the top of the draft. He was a passive player both in the team sense (deferred to lesser teammates) and in a playing sense (very low FT rate). How will this magically change on the next level? I am skeptical of anyone changing who they are.  For the opposite reasons Shabazz Muhammad would not be high on my list (shooting percentage and assist numbers)
  5. Defense is a skill-defense is 50% of the game. Seriously, I know that sounds crazy, but players spend half the time they are on the floor playing defense. It’s hugely important and routinely undervalued. This years defenders that seem to be falling more then they should are Victor Oladipo, Jeff Withey and Gorgui Dieng. All three of these guys played on elite defenses and anchored them for their teams. Kansas and Louisville funneled everything to the rim, where Withey and Dieng did an amazing job at defending, and Oladipo was a terror on the perimeter.
  6. Drafting Potential is Okay, sometimes-its fine to draft potential if there is a reason the player hasn’t shown his full potential. A young player, and or someone who hasn’t played a ton of basketball for example. However, if a player has incredible physical gifts and is a junior/senior and hasn’t used these gifts to dominate in college, then how much “potential” is there? This years potential guys that scare me are Tony Mitchell and CJ Leslie. Both are physical specimens and both should have asserted themselves much more in college. They now enter a league full of players just as physically gifted who play hard every night. I would be wary. Conversely, Archie Goodwin is only 18, and though he had a rough year at Kentucky, if he goes to the right team and gets developed he is a player with potential worth the risk.
  7. Don’t overvalue to tournament-Sure enough every year I fall in love with a player or two in the tournament. While these games matter, they shouldn’t outweigh the rest of the season. Be skeptical of anyone who was a different player in those few games then they were the rest of the season.
  8. Efficiency is a skill-probably the most undervalued aspect of basketball is efficiency. Sure Carmelo led the league in scoring this year, but the runner up Kevin Durant scored just .3 fewer points a game on 5 fewer shots a game. That’s a huge difference in efficiency. In essence to score the same amount of points the thunder also got 5 extra possessions. It’s the same thing in the draft; I don’t care how good your numbers are if you weren’t efficient in college, I don’t want you. It’s easy to use Kawhi Leonard as an example now, but he is a perfect example of a player that was wildly efficient in college, but lacked an “elite skill” and dropped to 15. In reality his elite skill was that he was one of the most efficient players in the draft and has seamlessly become a key member of the Spurs.
  9. Draft the best player available-lots of times you hear teams talk about drafting needs or drafting BPA. With very few exceptions you want to take the best player, you don’t want to pass on a guy you really like because you have someone at that position. Given what is going on in the league now positions are more amorphous than ever, so playing two 3’s or two 4’s is fine. Thus, if you have a player you love, just draft him. Don’t take the guy you only like because he fits a need.
  10. Second round picks are really valuable-Using BBall Reference I plotted career win shares for players drafted late first round and all of the second round, and as you can see there isn’t a huge difference. The lesson here, if your team snags an extra pick or two in the second round, they can be just as valuable as pick late in the first, regardless of is they are pick 31 or 57.

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