Bucks Diary

Monday, June 30, 2008

Timberwolves on the right side of this trade

Minnesota Timberwolves fans are understandably apprehensive about yet another draft day swap of players, having been burned twice before by the same maneuver.

But this time it appears Minnesota is clearly on the right side of the trade and should be the long term winner in the deal.

I've done a Win Score analysis of the 3 deals in question: Marbury for Allen, Foye for Roy, and Love for Mayo. In the previous two deals, the Timberwolves ended up trading away the more productive collegiate player. In this deal, they traded for him.

As you can see from the chart, Ray Allen's college Win Score was much better than Stephon Marbury's, Brandon Roy's was much better than Randy Foye's, and Kevin Love's is much better than OJ Mayo's. Therefore one could project that the player's the Timberwolves gave up in the previous deals would be better professional players than the players they received in return. And that has been the case.

But that's not the situation this time. Kevin Love projects as the far superior professional player. His collegiate Win Score marks him as a potentially large Win Contributor, whereas OJ Mayo's collegiate Win Score marks him as a potential bust.

I've started a data base of past professional players, comparing their final college Win Score to their professional Win Score in their rookie season and over the course of their careers. So far only one player in the 45 I have examined has exceeded his college Win Score in his rookie season (that was Michael Jordan). And only 4 players have exceeded their college Win Score over the course of their NBA careers. Unless my database is so far full of aberrations, that doesn't bode well for Mayo, whose college Win Score is borderline average for the mix of positions he will probably be asked to play in the NBA.

In my database so far, the average NBA rookie puts up a Win Score equal to 59% of his collegiate average, with the median being 58.3%. After their rookie seasons, the players all seem to improve substantially, with the average dropoff from their college numbers improving over the course of their career to about 76.4%, with the median being 77.4%. Again, however, few actually improve on their college numbers, as I stated above.

So, while its far from a certainty that Kevin Love will have the superior NBA career compared to OJ Mayo, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of it. (And I didn't even discuss Mike Miller, who is already an excellent Win Contributor.) So I say this time the advantage in the draft day swap goes clearly to "Sota".

Jefferson struggled with secondary production

If Richard Jefferson wants to get back to being the Win Contributor he was three seasons ago, he needs to improve his defense and get back to hitting the boards.

As I established in the last post, Jefferson's scoring numbers actually increased in every meaningful way over the last season. He was a better shooter, scorer, efficient scorer, free thrower, basket attacker, etc. He has no problem there. What's been slipping from his offensive game is his rebounding. That's tailed off quite a bit in the last two seasons, and has been primarily responsible for his diminished offensive Win Contribution.

As you can see from the chart, Jefferson was below average last season in rebounding, steals, blocked shots, and turnovers. All of which led to him being well below average in Win Score.

The good news is it appears from his career numbers that he is better than he showed last year in all of the deficient areas. If he can shore those things up, and still maintain his improved scoring numbers, he should do the Bucks a lot of good next season.

Jefferson brings reliable scoring to the Bucks

Though scoring in general is overrated by NBA teams, I think there is something valuable about what I call "reliable scoring". I define reliable scoring as "points per minute above average plus points per field goal attempt above average". The formula is (Points per 48 minutes - 19.8 + (Points per attempt -1.22 * attempts)= reliable points per 48).

If you remember, I did a survey of the "reliable scoring" on every NBA roster last January. It turned out the Bucks were 29th out of 30 NBA teams in that category. The Bucks had only 14.4 "reliable scoring" points on their roster, with 11.2 of those points coming from Michael Redd. The average NBA team, according to my January numbers, had 25.5 reliable scoring points on their roster, so the Bucks, as you can see, were woefully below average.

Richard Jefferson should instantly change that. If he scores at the pace he set last season, he would become the Bucks most reliable scorer with 11.5 reliable points per 48 minutes of action. He would also raise the Bucks reliable points on their roster to 26.3, thereby moving the team above the NBA average.

So reliable scoring is something he should add. There are two cautions, however. First, Jefferson's reliable scoring average last season was well above his career average of 6.5 reliable points. Second, when I did my survey in January, Jefferson's relaible scoring average was 15.2 points per 48. So his numbers dipped back somewhat once Jason Kidd left, but they were still quite good, and will still add needed reliable points to the Bucks.

Overall, Jefferson was a very efficient scorer last season for the Nets. He shot the ball well, he shot free throws well, and he attacked the basket like few Milwaukee Bucks did last season (his FTA/FGA was 51.1%, compared to the NBA average of 30.6%, and the Bucks average of 29.3%.) The areas where Jefferson struggled last season, compared to how he's produced over his career, were in the peripherals -- rebounding, steals, blocked shots, and turnovers. Especially rebounding, an area where he's really taken a dip over the last couple of seasons.

I'll go over that in my next post.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Draftexpress gives the Bucks an "A"

Draftexpress posted their grades for the 2008 draft. You can either click on the link, or just read my grades and then negate most of my analysis. They disagreed with me on almost every major point.

Bucks fans will be happy to know they gave the Bucks an "A" (whereas I gave them a "C"). Its a curious grade though, given the fact that they thought the Bucks second round choice "didn't make much sense". I think the "A" mainly reflects their feelings on the Jefferson trade, not so much the Bucks draft choices. When I gave the Bucks a "C" I wasn't considering the Jefferson trade.

Friday, June 27, 2008

2008 NBA Draft Grades

Here's my NBA Draft Grades. Remember, I'm more of a "productive history against good competition" guy, and I don't care much for upside or athleticism except in so far as it adds to or detracts from a player's ability to produce. So some of these opinions might seem a bit skewed to many readers, but that's where I'm coming from.

Chicago Bulls: B
Rose will be a good player, but I really think they passed on a superstar in Beasley. Time will tell.
Miami Heat: A+
I was giving Riley the business the day before. Then he goes out and has a tremendous draft. All signs say Beasley will carry his awesome Win Contribution to the NBA (though he DOES look a little light for a power forward, even though his Orlando weigh-in says he's not). Then they picked up PG Mario Chalmers whom I thought was the second best point guard in the draft -- he brings offense and defense.
Minnesota Timberwolves: A
Did McHale rip Memphis or what? He got Kevin Love AND Mike Miller in exchange for a guy I hold in very light regard, OJ Mayo, and 3 other nonproducers. Outstanding. My only beef with McHale is, why did he trade Chalmers? He would have been a huge upgrade over Sebastian Telfair on both ends of the court.
Memphis Grizzlies: F
So they draft the uberproductive Kevin Love and trade him to Minnesota for the unproductive OJ Mayo and they throw in their best player Mike Miller to boot? Then they pick up the useless undersized Darrel Arthur. What are they doing? First of all, where do you play Mayo? He's too small for the 2, he'll have problems defending bigger players there, and he really won't be able to get his shot inside. But his jumper isn't good enough for him to live outside. So play him at the 1? But you've got Conley at the 1. Besides, Mayo is a turnover waiting to happen... you can't trust him with the point. Basically, if you loved the huge Win Contribution Kevin Durant's wild shooting and volume scoring provided the Sonics (remind me, how many wins did drafting him provide Seattle?), then you should love what Mayo brings to the table. Just a stupid, stupid trade.
Seattle Supersonics: C
They passed on Kevin Love for Russell Westbrook, whom I hate. Westbrook's Win Contribution last year was actually negative, and got worse as the competition got better. So he doesn't look good. Then they picked up Devon Hardin in the second round. He might be alright, though I doubt he makes the team. I think their best move of the night was getting DJ White, a guy with a lot of potential.
New York Knickerbockers: C-
I have my doubts about Gallinari. In my mind, you have to dominate Europe to project well over here. And he really didn't. But he seems like a good shooter, so maybe that will carry him in the NBA.
LA Clippers: D
What do they want with another undersized wingman like Eric Gordon? I doubt Gordon will pan out, in fact all the signs say he will not. His collegiate Win Contribution was a below average -0.029, so how can you expect him to be above average in the NBA? He looks like a wasted pick. Then they got first round hopeful C DeAndre Jordan in the second round, but that's actually where he belonged. He is raw as sushi.
Milwaukee Bucks: C
Maybe Alexander will end up being the next Bobby Jones or Tom Gugliotta. He just hasn't shown any signs of it yet. ESPN claims he's a small forward, but if so who do the Bucks play at the 4? Villanueva isn't the answer. Apparently Moute is a defensive wizard, so maybe he'll be alright, but where's he gonna play too? Just sort of an overall disappointing start for Hammond.
Charlotte Bobcats: C
I don't like DJ Augustin. His assists are too low, his turnovers too high, and he doesn't shoot it well. Kyle Weaver might be alright. He comes out of a defensive minded program at Washington State.
New Jersey Nets: A-
Brooke Lopez has a chance if he commits himself to rebounding and gets a lot stronger. I love Ryan Anderson's productivity. I think he's a steal if they can find a proper position for him. He's much better than Yi. And I also like Chris Douglas-Roberts. I had him ranked near the top of all swingmen in this draft.
Indiana Pacers: B+
I love the trade for Brandon Rush. Apparently I liked him a whole hell of a lot more than anyone else did. But what's not to like? He's a good defender, and though his numbers don't blow anyone away, when you narrow the schedule down to the toughest opponents they look very good. He was very productive in those games. Jarret Jack is a nice pickup too. He's a good defender and a decent Win Contributor. They also picked up Roy Hibbert, who I'm okay with, but Erich Doerr is very high on. I just think he tended to disappear a little, but Erich says the evidence doesn't support my claim. Anyway, good job overall by the Birdman of revamping the Pacers.
Sacramento Kings: B-
Sactown rolls the dice. I actually don't hate Jason Thompson. Great size, tremendous production... but he never played ANYONE. So you don't know how he'll handle the competition. As readers of this blog will know, I like Ewing Jr. But mainly as a free agent pickup. He's a smart player with length and rebounding ability from the 3 position. He kind of discouraged me, though, with his 2 bench reps. What was that all about? Sean Singletary really wasn't that impressive. He doesn't shoot well, and his 0.22 turnovers per possession is just unacceptable for a PG.
Portland Trailblazers: D
At first Portland's draft looked awesome. Then they traded everyone away. Could you imagine a frontline with Oden, Dorsey, and Rush? Would have been highly productive. Instead they trade for the diminutive Bayless who is hot and cold and way too small to play the 2 and inexperienced at the 1. Bayless never gets to the rim, and his stats, as mediocre as they were, were actually artificially bolstered by the college 3.
Golden State Warriors: B+
If anyone can make use of Anthony Randolph its Nellie. Golden State is the one place he might fit in his odd mix of extreme skinniness without a perimeter game just might work out. And I LOVE the pick of Richard Hendrix. Why did so many pass on him? If you consider standing reach, he's actually got excellent size for the 4, and his productivity was off the charts. Great selection by the Warriors.
Phoenix Suns: D-
I do not like this half of the Lopez twins (I'm lukewarm on the other one). He didn't produce at all. His rebound rate of 0.23 is subpar for a big man, and big men rarely improve their rebound rate when they reach the NBA. He also can't shoot and doesn't have a very efficient game... just not a fan of Robin Lopez.
Philadelphia Sixers: A
Awesome pick once again for the Sixers. Why dont teams see the value in guys like Mareese Speights? He's big, he was productive, and strong. I see no downside to him. He crashes the boards like a madman and doesn't take bad shots. He should pair nicely with Dalembert.
Washington Bullets: D
The only thing I like about JaValle McGee is his size. His awesome standing reach 0f 9-6.5" makes him technically as "tall" as Yao Ming. However, he's too light, he can't shoot, and his production was against a weak schedule was only average. I don't foresee good things for him. I did sort of like Bill Walker, although he's awfully skinny, but the Bullets traded him.
Cleveland Cavaliers: B+
I like Hickson. The only thing he lacks is experience. He produced against the good competition, though he faded a little at the end. Great pick, though, especially when the other guy people wanted them to take was the useless Kosta Koufus. They get an extra grade just for avoiding him. I also like the trade for Darnell Jackson. He will fit in well with their tough defense hustle style.
Orlando Magic: C
Courtney Lee looks alright on his face. But if you look at his production at WK's strength of schedule, he should have been much better. That's not a tremendous sign.
Utah Jazz: F
Whoever picked that stiff Kosta Koufus was getting an F from me. If you want to know why I think he is so useless, surf down to my "Overrated Prospects" post and read what I wrote there. I don't feel like wasting thoughts on this guy again.
Houston Rockets: B-
Picking up Joey Dorsey made their entire draft. I love that guy. Great Win Contributor. As for Donte Green, he's basically a tall small forward who sits outside and misses shots. I don't like him. He's 6'10 and he won't go anywhere near the paint. But I didn't like Darrel Arthur either, so the trade was basically garbage for garbage.
San Antonio Spurs: C
George Hill is intriguing. He's really small, but his college production was lights out. Of course, he played against one of the worst schedules in the country, but still he produced no matter who they put in front of him. Intriguing. I don't know how good he'll be, but he's intriguing.
New Orleans Hornets: Inc
Did they even end up with anybody? There were so goddamn many Rube Goldberg trades in this draft, it was impossible to follow.
Los Angeles Lakers: C
I almost did a profile on Crawford, but then I didn't. He was kind of on the edge of my radar, but I never quite got to him, and since I doubt he'll make the Lakers, I'm not going to now either.
Detroit Pistons: D
They had fricking DJ White. Why did they get rid of him? He was exactly the sort of bruiser the veteran Pistons need to spell them. Why?
Boston Celtics: C
I kind of like Bill Walker. But his body is mismatched with his style of play. He wants to work on the interior, but he's rail thin. Maybe a little time in the Dev League will get him where he needs to be. He should have stayed in school.

A simple adjustment that would make Bogut near elite

As I was goofing around with Bucks statistics I accidentally discovered something interesting. There's a simple way for Andrew Bogut to raise his Offensive Win Contribution to near elite levels. And its totally within his control.

Looking over Bogut's "Player Stats" page on 82games.com, I noticed that 20% of his shot attempts were jumpers, which is a low percentage, but not low enough considering he made only 28% of them (he got 10% blocked for Gosh Sakes! That's how pitiful his outside shot is.) So, I've established that Bogut is a horrible jump shooter. But you knew that already.

Here's the interesting thing. If Bogut simply stops taking jumpers all together, his productive value to the team would sore. Let me explain.

By my calculations, Bogut took 210 jump shots and made a mere 51 of them. That effort netted the Bucks 102 points but cost them 210 valuable possessions. Bogut's jump shooting, in other words, cost the team 108 Win Score points. That's a huge loss when you consider that jump shooting is not a central part of Bogut's game by any means. In fact, I think he only attempts jumpers because he feels he has to. Well, he doesn't have to, and he should stop.

Because if he stopped, his Offensive Win Contribution to the Bucks would immediately increase from a slightly above average +0.068 to a way above average +0.372. That would theoretically produce 2.2 extra wins for the Bucks and would increase Bogut's Win Value over Average from his current +0.2 wins over average (which makes him a 42-40 player) to a much more robust 2.4 wins over average (which would make him a 58-24 player). That's a big difference. At 0.2, Bogut is serviceable. At +2.4, he is indispensable.

Now, if you factor in the defensive improvement I expect all Bucks to make this season, suddenly our little Andy is an upper echelon NBA center. All by simply giving up his jumper!

Therefore, if I were Scott Skiles I would threaten Bogut with physical harm if I ever caught him taking any shot outside the lane. I'm serious. There's no need for it, and I've demonstrated how it hurts the team.

I'm sending my findings to John Hammond's email. Does anyone have it?

Bucks fans can expect a dramatic "Skiles Effect"

The overwhelming weight of historical evidence almost guarantees the Milwaukee Bucks will dramatically improve their defense next season.

According to basketball-reference.com, there is only one player Scott Skiles has ever coached whose defense did not improve dramatically under his leadership. That player was Ben Wallace. Wallace did not improve because he did not really have any room for improvement (though I must note that as soon as Skiles left Chicago, Wallace's defensive performance underwent a steep decline, so that in itself can be cited as a "Skiles Effect".)

And it isn't as if Skiles has been picking low hanging fruit, either. Skiles has coached some notoriously bad defenders. See for yourself:


Using basketball-reference.com's "Defensive Rating" as my measurement (D Rtg: pts allowed/100 possessions the opposition had while the player was on the court), I compared the defensive performance turned in by every single player Skiles has ever coached (min: 500 mns pt under Skiles) against those same player's defensive performances without Skiles. The evidence of a "Skiles Effect" was overwhelming and undeniable.

As I said above, all but one player improved his career defensive efficiency under Skiles, and the minimum improvement was 3 points per possession, with the average improvement being 5.5 points per possession.

That means victories, especially in the Eastern Conference. If you project Skiles average improvement effect onto the Bucks roster from last season, and you assume that their putrid offense won't get any worse, then I estimate the "Skiles Effect" alone will add 11 wins to the Bucks record.

But there is good reason to believe the "Skiles Effect" will be even more dramatic than that. If the Bucks only improve by 5.5 points/100 possessions, their overall defensive rating will still be a pretty mediocre 107.1. Scott Skiles has never produced a team whose defensive rating was that bad. The lowest team defensive rating he ever produced was 103.4.

And, no player who has ever played for Skiles has ever had a defensive rating over 104.5, with the average defensive rating under Skiles being 100.0. Its hard to believe he would suddenly consider 107.1 acceptable. You get the feeling he would sooner rip someone's guts out than watch a team he coached surrender that many points per possession.

That being the case, if we assume that Skiles can at least get a 104.0 defensive rating out of any NBA level player (hell, he got 99.0 ratings out of Daniel Santiago and TODD FRICKIN' DAY!! Why couldn't he get at least a 104.0 out of everyone of these Bucks?), then suddenly the "Skiles Effect" becomes 17 games.

Sure, that might be slightly wishful thinking, but I really do not think it is. The overwhelming weight of historical evidence tells me BucksNation can expect to see a dramatic defensive improvement from the Bucks this winter. And after the garbage they've called defense for the previous 16 winters, that will be a truly exotic and wonderful sight.

Jefferson's defense in clear decline

As you know, this site expresses player performance according to their "Win Contribution" on each end of the court and the concomitant "Half Wins" produced as a result. Looking at the site basketball-reference.com, I notice they do a similar thing, with a bit of a twist.

B-R judges player performance according to points produced per possession while the player is on the court, with points scored refered to as the player's "Offensive Rating", and points allowed refered to as the player's "Defensive Rating" . B-R then converts those numbers into what they call "Offensive Win Shares" and "Defensive Win Shares". Each Win Share is worth a 1/3rd of a team win.

According to their system, my assessment of Richard Jefferson's offensive decline is inaccurate, but my assessment of his defensive decline is dead on. (Had we disagreed in precisely the opposite manner I would be worried. That's because my "Offensive Half Wins" system is based entirely on the work of Professor Berri, so I think I'm on solid ground with that. On the other hand, "Defensive Half Wins" are my own creation spun off from that work. Therefore I might have wavered had that been off, but it isn't.)

In fact, B-R says Jefferson had his best second best offensive performance last season, but that he also had by far his worst defensive performance. According to B-R, the Nets scored 112 points for every 100 possessions they had with Richard Jefferson was on the court, but allowed 112 points for every 100 possessions their opponents had with Jefferson was on the court. By those numbers, RJ's offensive performance was 2 points per 100 possessions better than his career average, but his defense was a whopping 8 points per 100 opponent possessions worse than his career average.

And their numbers say Jefferson's defense has been in free fall the last two seasons. In the 2005-06 season he had a defensive rating that matched his career average, 104 pts/100 possessions, then in 06-07 that dropped to 109 pts/100 possessions, and then this year of course it dropped even further to the 112 pts/100 possessions I cited above.

This might not be horrible news though, Antlerheads. In fact, I actually hope their numbers are more accurate than my own. That's because I think Skiles can probably coax a defensive renaissance out of Jefferson, but I'm not sure he can do the same for his offense.

Things that worry me about the Alexander selection

I'll be frank with you. The Bucks selection of Joe Alexander worries -- and somewhat puzzles --me.

My first concern is where they intend to play him. When it became clear the Bucks were interested in drafting Alexander, I thought they were interested in him as a bruising small forward who could periodically fill in at power forward. However, given the simultaneous acquisition of SF Richard Jefferson and trade of PF Yi Jianlian, it seems clear the Bucks want Alexander to play power forward. I don't think that's his best professional spot.

For one thing, he lacks ideal power forward size. His standing reach is 8-10'' and his weight is 220 lbs. According to Draftexpress those measurements are above average for an NBA small forward (8-8''; 213lbs) but below average for an NBA power forward (8-10.5''; 235lbs). Sure, he's got incredible farmboy like strength and he can jump out of the gym, but ask Jason Smith how far that gets you when you're banging in the NBA paint (Smith came into the Association as a strong leaper with a record of collegiate production, but he had a shorter than average standing reach and he was lighter than the average NBA big man. His rebounding production in his rookie season was awful and he had nearly 20% of his inside shots rejected).

My second concern is his productive capacity. Alexander never produced average NBA power forward numbers at the collegiate level (when I did my "Win Contribution" analysis, I did it assuming Alexander would spend the majority of his time at small forward and some of his time at power forward. His numbers would have looked a lot worse if the combination of positions were reversed). Because of his college production, projecting him to be a successful NBA power forward is dicey at best.

Which leads me to this question. If the Bucks were after a bruising power forward who could produce big time numbers in the paint, there were TONS of proven players who fit that bill available in this draft. Why did the Bucks pass on everyone of them (some of them they passed on twice)? Either they don't understand what constitutes winning basketball, or they allowed Alexander's Superman-like workout performances to skew their evaluations of him. (That's the problem with workout testing in every sport... it should never be considered more important than proven gametime perfomance records, yet it often is.)

There is one ray of hope, however. Joe Alexander could follow the blueprint laid out by Philadelphia's 2007 first round selection, Thaddeus Young.

Like Alexander, Young came into the Association having mainly played small forward in college. Nevertheless, he spent 82% of his rookie season at the power forward spot. Just like Alexander, though, Young's measurements were below average for an NBA power forward (8-10'' / 210 lbs.). And just like Alexander, Young's college numbers were below average for the position (Young's were actually lower than Alexander's).

Nevertheless, Young succeeded as an offensive power forward by doing two simple things. One, he crashed the boards better than he did in college. In his rookie year he raised his rebounding rate from a collegiate 0.16 rebounds per minute to an NBA 0.22 rebounds per minute (that's still slightly below average for the 4 spot, but it was close enough). Second, he decided to take only shots he could make. In college he was perimeter oriented, with poor results. In the NBA, 58% of his shot attempts were taken "inside" . Because of his shorter than average reach, he got a Bogut-like 12% of those attempts blocked (actually Bogut only got 8% of his inside shots blocked -- it just seemed like more). But, importantly, he stayed with the interior game and ended up converting an impressive 63% of his shots in the paint.

If Alexander can copy Young's strategy he can really do some good for the Bucks. Remember, however, Young's productive metamorphisis is the exception, not the rule. Most players are unable to outproduce their college numbers. If Alexander is another one of them, the Bucks made a really stupid pick.

BucksNation: Where a billion fewer fans happens

I just thought of something. Remember how last season the Bucks were making such a big deal out of the "one billion" new Bucks fans? Does that mean BucksNation just experienced a population decline of epic proportions? I guess so.

I say good riddance to them. Those "billion new fans" weren't really Bucks fans at all, and anyway, I was a little annoyed at the way the Bucks marketing campaign focused on their Chinese pseudo fanbase at the expense of the hardcore Antlerhead lifers who comprise the heart and soul of BucksNation.

Back to Yesterday's Trade

Yesterday I hastily produced a Win Chart comparing the 2007-08 performance of Richard Jefferson with that of Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. The chart had all the correct information, but I put it together so fast it turned out unreadable. I apologize. Let me reset that with a new and better chart.

Reviewing the Conclusions Drawn

The chart basically outlines the below average contribution made to the Nets by Richard Jefferson and the even further below average contributions made to the Bucks by Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

Technically, Richard Jefferson's play had a slightly more negative impact on the Nets success than either Yi or Simmons individually had on the Bucks success. But that's only because Jefferson played a lot more minutes than either Yi or Simmons. In fact his percentage of Net playing minutes about equaled the combined percentage of Buck minutes consumed by Yi and Simmons. Technically then, if you add Yi's Win Contribution with Simmons' Win Contribution and compare that new number to Jefferson's Win Contribution, you get a better picture of the present value of the trade for each team. (Correction: Bobby Simmons play was actually so bad that even though he consumed half the playing time that Jefferson consumed, he had a larger negative impact on the Bucks than Jefferson had on the Nets.)

As I said yesterday, the ultimate "winner" or "loser" of this trade will be determined by two things: whether Jefferson can get back to his old elite level of play and whether Yi's level of play can ascend. If neither event happens, then the trade will have provided a slight advantage to the Bucks. If, on the other hand, Jefferson can resurrect himself, the Bucks will have made a great trade. But, if Jefferson continues his downward descent and Yi's play ascends in the same manner as Yao's or Dirk Nowitzki's did (each took a huge leap upward in production following their rookie seasons) then the Bucks will have made yet another colossal blunder.

That said, local sports director Joe Schmidt made an interesting point on the radio this morning. If you think about it, Yi was something of a lazy malingerer. Around midseason he came up with a slew of excuses and wussified injuries that he seemed unwilling (rather than unable) to play through. In fact, as Schmidt pointed out, at the time of his injuries Yi made comments indicating he was more interested in getting ready to play in the Olympics than he was in helping the Bucks.

I guess I kind of gave Yi a "cultural differences" pass on that one. I probably would not have if he were an American player. In fact, I know I would not have. Maybe the Bucks are better off without Yi no matter what direction his career takes. Of course, if he becomes an All-Star, however unlikely that will be, no one will remember his malingering attitude, they'll just remember that the Bucks traded him after one season.

Van Grundy hearts the New Bucks

Going around the ESPN post draft table, eliciting opinions on which teams faired the best on draft day, former coach and defensive taskmaster Jeff Van Gundy mentioned the Milwaukee Bucks.

Van Gundy said the Bucks were one of the softest, most divided teams in the NBA (Bucks Diary: "Agreed"). He said they needed to toughen up and start playing defense (Bucks Diary: "Heartily Agreed"), and they went out and hired a coaching staff that will demand intensity (Bucks Diary: "That's what history seems to show").

He went on to say that acquiring Richard Jefferson will bring needed toughness (Bucks Diary:"Probably") and will also shore up the small forward position (Bucks Diary: "That I'm a little more skeptical about because of his recent history. But I'm willing to be patient"). He said Joe Alexander, having been coached by Bob Huggins, would also have the "tougher mindset" (Bucks Diary: "Less sure about that. Didn't Huggins only coach Alexander for one season? But it did seem that Alexander developed a more physical, less perimeter-oriented style of play in that one season, so Van Gundy could be right.").

Finally, he said adding a "Prince" from UCLA capped the night (Bucks Diary: "First of all, BucksNation is a meritocracy. We do not recognize "Princes". The only formal titles we recognize are "Beer Drinkers" and "Win Contributors". So our question is, will his Royal Highness be acquiring rebounds as he did his freshman year?").

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Could Moute be the Bucks' Carl Landry?

I'll be honest. When I first saw the Bucks picked Luc Mbah a Moute with their second round pick, my reaction was "huh"?

Then I looked up his stats. At first I was a bit underwhelmed. His production in his final year was not very good. HOWEVER, if you look back at his two previous seasons, he was pretty productive. His freshman year was particularly impressive, when he provided UCLA with a Win Contribution of around +0.429 (I'm not positive about the exact position he played, so I can't be precise about his contribution... suffice to say it was significant). So what gives with the drop off? Should we be concerned?

Not necessarily. Let me toss out a theory. In the book The Wages of Wins the authors discussed a certain phenomenon they encountered during while analyzing statistical production over the course of ten NBA seasons. I can't remember what how they referred to the phenomenon, but here I'll refer to it as "The Kevin Love Syndrome".

What happens is, when you pair two productive players together there is a tendency for one or both of the players to see their Win Contributions reduced, even though either or both player's has not in fact lost any of their productive capacity. And the net effect to the team is usually enhanced. Its just that the "credit" for the team's success gets spread out. Or, in some cases, the credit is shifted dramatically from one player to another. Perhaps that's what happened here.

The evidence suggests it did. If you look at the numbers you will see that this past season Moute's share of UCLA's overall defensive rebound haul went down dramatically. But that doesn't necessarily imply that he is any less of a rebounder than he was two years ago. Defensive rebounding involves a lot of "gimmes". So it could just be that Moute deferred some of the easier boards to teammate Kevin Love.

If my theory accurately describes reality, the Bucks may have gotten themselves a poor man's Carl Landry here. That would be a bit of a coup. You will recall that Landry came out of nowhere to put up stunning Win Contribution numbers, particularly during the Rockets stunning 23 game win streak.
That might not be all of Moute's value either. UCLA was an outstanding defensive team during Moute's years in blue (for all 3 of his season's, Pomeroy had the Bruins ranked among the top 3 defensive teams in the country). So one can assume Luc brings something to that party as well.

With all of that said, however, I have to air out one beef I have with the pick. Richard Hendrix of Alabama was still on the board at 37 (he went to Golden State at 49). I really wish Bango would have snagged him. His productivity was off the charts and his size and strength are absolutely ideal for the NBA "4" spot (remember I only consider "basketball height", meaning standing reach). If he has some flaw, I just completely missed it. I think Golden State got another huge Win Contributor for their growing stable of talent. Chris Mullin has really impressed me (Brandon Wright shows signs that he will be quite productive as well).

But, all in all, I think Bango had an okay draft day. He may have upgraded the 3 spot, depending on how much Richard Jefferson has in the tank. The Joe Alexander pick is somewhat intriguing, he's a big mountain boy who certainly seems to have the right attitude (plus his Joe Atlas like strength will be a considerable physical upgrade over Yi's "wimpy, wimpy, wimpy" approach), and as I said, our new mystery man Moute just might turn out to be a hidden treasure.

On the downside, our enemies had good days. Which will be the topic of my next post.

Thoughts on Alexander, the draft

I've been doing that analysis of the Jefferson-Yi trade and have missed half the draft. Plus Google Docs is pissing me off its so damn slow. Sorry about how the Win Chart looks, but I think the information is interesting nevertheless.

Let's see, my thoughts so far. Well, for the first time ever I agree wholeheartedly with Dick Vitale. Things would have been looking up big time for the Sonics had they selected Kevin Love. Instead they go for the overrated Russell Westbrook. That guy won't help. Huge mistake by Seattle.

I guess the Bucks took the best guy available to them. The big question with Joe Alexander is: Does he finally get it? The reason I ask that is, he improved his numbers from his sophomore to his junior seasons because he ditched the three point shooting and moved his game closer to the basket. Was that a permanent change or will the big boys in the NBA scare him back outside? That's the question. He definitely has the power and the explosiveness to play inside. The question is whether he has the will.

Also, I was a little bit discouraged by his poor performances against the better defenses he faced. If you click on my "Mixed Bag" post, you will see that his worst games tended to come against the better defenses. Is that a bad omen? I don't know.

Other Random Thoughts

- the NBA talent scouts had more sense than Draftexpress or Nbadraft.net. Bayless and Randolph were high on each of those sites mock boards all season, but neither ended up in the top ten.

-- the best draft days being had thus far are being had by the Heat and the Grizzlies. Old Riles was playing possum with us, that sly fox. He made noises like he wanted Mayo over Beasley but that made no sense at all.

-- the Timberwolves should have selected Kevin Love. He and Al Jefferson would have made a huge Win Contribution front line. Wow, they missed a big opportunity there. By selecting Mayo, they've basically cornered the market on overrated perimeter players (Telfair, Mayo, Brewer, McCants)

-- Has Jay Bilas lost his mind? He seems like a smart guy, but everything out of his mouth regarding NBA prospects is stupid. He just called that stiff Koufus a good player, and he is one of those annoying guys who way overrates "athleticism". Why not draft some decathletes instead of basketball players then?

My proposed word addition to m-w.com:

-- "Upside" , noun
1. A quality which, if sought after, tends to gets coaches and general managers fired.

-- Bilas just said he loves Koufus again. He's proof that a nice suit and a good degree does not necessarily make you smart.

-- New Jersey just made the pick of the draft: Ryan Anderson. Remember that name. He will be the steal of the draft. He is a Win Contributor extraordinaire.

Bucks Trade Instant Analysis: Which Jefferson are the Bucks getting?

The outcome of the Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian trade will hinge on two questions. One, can Richard Jefferson get back to the elite small forward level he played at three seasons ago, or is he damaged goods stuck in a permanent decline? Two, was last year a truly representative example of Yi Jianlian's ability, or did he merely scratch the surface of what he can do? Once we have the answer to those two questions we will know.

Three seasons ago Richard Jefferson was a way above average offensive Win Contributor and an above average defensive Win Contributor. The two elements combined to add 10.3 wins to the New Jersey Nets, with 13.3 offensive half wins and 7.3 defensive half wins. That's lower elite production. The next season, however, his defense held steady, but his offensive production and his minutes played went into free fall (I believe he injured his knee). So did his win production, as he added 3.0 wins to the New Jersey Nets, with 4.3 defensive half wins and 1.7 offensive half wins.

Last season the trend continued. Even though Jefferson played a full season, his offensive production was below average, and his defensive production slipped below average as well. As a consequence, even though he played many more minutes than he had the previous season, he was only able to add 4.3 wins to the Nets total, with 3.2 offensive half wins and 5.5 defensive half wins.

The really troubling thing about that is Jefferson's defense at his normal spot, small forward, was way below average whereas his defense at his secondary spot, power forward, was actually above average. What's so troubling about that? Well it suggests his defensive decline was not caused by disinterest in a losing cause. If he was playing above average defense at the 4 and yet poor defense at the 3, it suggests his effort was there, but perhaps his athleticism has left him... similar to the way Hank Aaron got stronger in the home run department as he aged but could no longer play the outfield. Aging athletes tend to get stronger even as their elite reflexes fade away.

So Jefferson's trajectory is a concern. But what have the Bucks given up when they traded Yi? Well, a week or so ago I was trying to argue that Yi had the tools to be a Mandarin version of Kevin Garnett. But there were a lot of "ifs" in that proposition. I argued essentially that Yi needed to change his entire demeanor and approach to the game.

Is that likely to happen? I don't know. Erich Doerr and others have told me they still see potential in Yi, but speaking candidly, I didn't hold out that much hope that Yi would transform himself. He was nearly 22 years old, he was receiving substantial playing time... I think what we saw was what he is going to give. Glimpses of offensive production, occasional rebounding, a bit of surprising defense, and overall middling statistics.

I could be wrong and Yi could indeed transform himself into the next great thing. But I kind of doubt he will.

As for present value, here is my "Win Chart" comparing the performances of Richard Jefferson and Yi Jianlian/Bobby Simmons. As you can see, Jefferson was the best player, but technically because of his percentage of playing time, his below average play did more damage to the Nets than Yi's below average play or Simmons way below average play did to the Bucks.

Bucks acquire Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian


In a huge predraft move, the Bucks have traded Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian to New Jersey for Richard Jefferson. On its face it seems like a great trade. Yi and Simmons were not providing much whereas if I remember Jefferson was above average.

This would seem to take Joe Alexander off the radar screen. It must mean the Bucks are serious about drafting Randolph from LSU. He's basically Yi with a little more inside game.

Let me look at the numbers and gather my thoughts and I'll have something within the hour.

Please Bucks, not Randolph

I received some revolting news with this morning's breakfast. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is saying that the Bucks are considering using their 8th pick in tonight's draft on LSU PF/SF Anthony Randolph.

I know I get carried away a little with the statistical evaluations I do on this blog, and sometimes I'm not even sure if the conclusions I reach are all that valid. But Antlerheads, you must trust me on this one... if the Milwaukee Bucks select Randolph with their pick, they will have simply wasted the pick. And we will also have a strong clue who the genius was behind the Detroit Pistons' ridiculous selection of Darko Milicic with the second pick in the 2003 NBA Draft: John Hammond.

By productive measures, Randolph probably should not even be drafted in the first round. Even Draftexpress.com has turned against him (and they are usually infatuated by lanky "upside" players with no history of productive play). I've already gone over how poor his projected Win Contribution would be, and how poorly he produced against his best competition last year, so let's put that aside for a moment and just concentrate on his pure statistical per minute numbers.

The Randolph Positives

Here are the things he does fairly well. In college, Randolph rebounded at a decent rate (.25 rebounds per minute). But that's only slightly above the NBA average for power forwards, and he's so skinny and weak that you really have to expect a significant decline in his production when he joins the NBA (look at what happened to Kevin Durant -- he was about the same size as Randolph and his college rebounding rate dropped by almost 200%).

He also had an above average Basket Attack ratio (42.6%, versus the NBA average of 35.1% for PFs and 29.8% for SFs). But, he was a below average free throw shooter, so that somewhat mitigates the benefits of his aggression. Moreover, players who lack decent NBA frames tend to lose their aggression when they start to get bopped around a little by the big boys. So I would be skeptical whether he would continue to attack with such vigor at the next level.

Finally, his blocks per minute in college were much higher than the average among NBA power forwards. While blocks are a mixed bag in my book (they often represent bad fundamental defense and they often unnecessarily risk giving the opponent free throw attempts), the fact that he got them at such an impressive rate is an encouraging sign. It shows he takes defense seriously. And, combined with his Basket Attack ratio, his blocked shots per minute provide evidence of an aggressive approach to the game that I like. I am also impressed by his above average steals per minute, for the same basic reason: perceived defensive aggression (But that perceived aggression may be a facade. Apparently Randolph's college coaches are telling NBA personnel that Randolph has "motivational issues". If that is true, and if Randolph's coaches do not in some way have an "axe to grind" against the player, then that is a very disturbing bit of information.)

The Randolph Negatives

Randolph was not a good shooter at the college level, especially for a big man who took mostly "close" shots. Randolph averaged only 0.93 points per shot (the NBA average at PF was 0.98 and at SF was 0.482) and exhibited no range on his jump shot whatsoever. Indeed, he barely shot any jumpers (which I would normally love, but Randolph's skinniness almost demands that he have perimeter skills to be effective). Randolph averaged less than one college 3 point attempt per game, and connected on only 28.1% of those attempts. Those are just medium range shots in the NBA, so his perimeter shooting skills have to be questioned. That, combined with his below average free throw percentage, tells me he is not going to be able to rely on outside shooting at all in the NBA.

Randolph was also a very poor ballhandler. His 0.19 turnovers per possession is alarmingly high. And he rarely passed the ball. His 0.037 assists per minute represents half the average rate for the NBA's notoriously ball hoggish power forwards.

So he seems to be way to skinny and weak to play power forward and he seems to utterly lack the shooting and ball skills needed to play small forward. Which raises the question: where do you play him in the NBA?

If you read this blog, you know I'm usually in favor of longer small forwards (in fact I want the Bucks to try Yi there), but that is provided the longer player has the requisite skills the position demands, particularly shooting skills and rudimentary ballhandling skills. You can't just stick a tall guy at the 3 when he doesn't have perimeter skills -- you're asking for an onslaught of turnovers. That would defeat the entire strategy, and that's likely what would happen if you put Randolph at the 3. (And I haven't even discussed whether Randolph could guard the 3 spot on the other end).

So, for the foregoing reasons, I would be very disappointed if the Bucks selected Randolph. Which means, more than likely, they will select Randolph.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Could the Heat really be that stupid??

Oh my Lord. The Heat are actually considering drafting OJ Mayo or Jerryd Bayless over Michael Beasley! People, that would be a mistake of biblical proportion! It would make Bowie-over-Jordan look like a reasonable selection. (I'm being serious. People forget that Bowie was actually an excellent Win Contributor -- though not Jordan, obviously. His career just happened to be derailed by injury.)

Mayo and Bayless, by contrast, were not Win Contributors in college. There is no precedent for expecting them to transform into Win Contributors in the pros. I'm not saying they won't be entertaining players, I'm just saying they won't contribute to very many victories. If, in fact, that is still the goal down in Miami (Riley's "scouting trip" puts that into question).

Tomorrow I am going to post a chart featuring last year's lottery choices. In it I will compare each player's production in college to their rookie production. You will see that even the best among them (Horford, Noah, Wright) experienced a 60% decline -- and that's after adjusting for minutes played! And, to repeat, Bayless and Mayo begin their careers in the red... they produced below average NBA numbers against college competition (not to mention both guys will have to play point guard in the pros because each of them has a below average standing reach for an NBA shooting guard).

Meanwhile, Michael Beasley's numbers are lights out, and I cannot find any "red flags" that might suggest his production will not transfer to the NBA in a normal manner (meaning he can expect a decline, but a decline that is only in line with the average and should still leave him way above NBA average). He is the one player in this year's draft whom I think could be a "main cog" in an championship team.

My brother is a Twolves season ticket holder. He may be seeing a substantially improved product in the very near future if Pat Riley is really stupid enough to select Mayo or Bayless.

What the Brewers can teach the Bucks about drafting

The Brewers are rocking their way back to prominence. They may not get there this year or even next year, but with the flood of prospects they have already hit on at the major league level, the next wave that's knocking the cover off the ball at the Double A level, and the tractor haul of high prospects they just got in this June's draft, they will get to the promised land sooner rather than later.

And they will do so primarily because of prudent drafting. Particularly the way they ignore consensus opinion when its their turn to choose. That's the thing the Bucks can learn from the Brewers success: DON'T DRAFT YOUR SLOT!! Once you've identified talent, go get it, no matter where that talent was "slotted" or where you happen to be picking on draft night. That's the philosophy the Brewers followed when they selected Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and their latest phenom, Matt LaPorta... and it looks like its working.

But what do I mean by "Don't draft your slot"? Let me use last year's Brewer draft to illustrate.

If I remember correctly, the Brewers had the 7th pick in last year's June free agent baseball draft. When their turn came up they identified a player still on the board whom they believed could help their team -- a slugger out of Florida named Matt LaPorta -- and they made him their choice at that spot.

In the minds of draft experts, LaPorta had some flaws. He was a player with a big bat but not a lot of "upside" as draftologists like to say. Instead he had that awful characteristic that all good Draft Geeks loath... a history of solid production!! Because of those two traits, the baseball Draft Geeks had LaPorta "slotted" as a second round pick. The Brewers chose him at number seven anyway.

Oh my God, the "Draft Geeks" went nuts!! LaPorta at 7!! Are they crazy!! Don't the Brewers understand the draft?!! He wasn't supposed to go that high!! The Brewers...oh, my God... "OVERDRAFTED"!!

Oh, no! The Geeks dubbed LaPorta an "overdraft"! That's bad. You see, ever since the original Draft Geek, Mel Kiper Jr., excoriated one of the Irsays for "not understanding the draft" back in the mid 1990s when he selected some linebacker higher than Kiper thought the linebacker should have gone, all good Draft Geeks have considered "overdrafting" the most mortal of all sins... something like not going to church every Sunday if you are a Catholic.

But what the Brewers realized -- to their credit -- is that Draft Geeks who believe in that kind of stuff are living in little fantasy worlds where trading partners are readily available, and where everyone agrees absolutely upon the value of every draft pick and is therefore willing to trade slots with you in accordance with your common understanding. But that is not an accurate reflection of the real-life situations general managers are faced with on draft night.

In real life, sports drafts are, as John Hammond famously said, time-compressed "crapshoots". In the actual moment, general managers are asked to make snap judgments based upon the limited options in front of them.

Therefore, the goal of a general manager going into a draft cannot be to "maximize the efficiency" of his pick. That's a fantasy. His goal should be to identify talented players, rank them, and corrall the highest one left on the board when he picks... regardless of where he picks and regardless of where everyone else thinks the particular player should be drafted.

Now, if a general manager sees a player he thinks will be productive, and if that GM believes he can draft the player lower than his particular spot, and if he can simultaneously find a team who agrees with him at that very moment and is also willing to facilitate him in a "trade down"... then by all means he should do it. But that's a lot of "ifs".

More likely, the GM will not find any snap offers to move down to a spot that is still high enough to insure the GM's coveted player will still be on the board. In that case, the GM should not forego picking the player just because the GM's draft spot is well above where the "Consensus Mock Drafts" say the player should be selected. That is stupid. After all, there are only a handful of players in every draft who will pan out and become contributing pros. If a GM is confident he has identified one of them, he has to pick him... regardless where the player is "supposed" to be picked.

That's how the Brewers draft. If they see value, they snatch it and let the Geeks carp all they want about where the player "should have gone". After all, in the long term no one remembers where the player "should have gone" anyway. They just know whether he sucks or not. And Matt LaPorta happens to not suck.

That's why a year after the draft, I'm driving around listening to the same sports radio fans who aped the Draft Geeks the day after the draft ("LaPorta was a second rounder!! What the hell is Melvin doing picking him at 7?!!") insist that the Brewers "have to hold onto LaPorta" at the trade deadline (that's actual fan dialogue I heard this morning!!).

You see how sports fans can change their minds? They are wonderful that way. Time and success tends to heal all their wounds, trust me. You just have to have the guts at the moment your pick comes up to take productive talent over the consensus "slot pick".

NBA Draft Preview: 3 Sure Things (but is Beasley the surest of them all?)

Both Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose look destined to be big time Win Contributors. But based on my predraft Win Contribution analysis, and on the physical measurement testing completed at the beginning of the month, Beasley looks like a potential superstar, more so than does Rose.

Now, I have no doubt Rose is going to be a player. But he only emerged as a big Win Contributor at the end of the season. Prior to that he was actaully struggling. By contrast, Beasley was smokin' from Day One, and his overall numbers and his numbers against the best competiton both dwarf Rose's numbers.

Moreover, the battle of the tape measure also goes to Beasley. If player's "effective basketball height" is considered, and Bucks Diary defines "effective basketball height" as the player's standing reach (head height is irrelevant to the game of basketball), then Beasley is an above average sized power forward, because he possesses a standing reach of 8-11'' and the average power forward can reach onl 8-10.5. And if Beasley's bench press of 19 reps is condsidered, Beasley has tremendous strength as well, a vital asset needed to produce at his particular position.

On the other hand, Rose, whom I had once considered a "big" guard in the mold of a Jason Kidd, turned out to be much closer to average size PG size. His standing reach is only 8'2.5, which is just above the average for a point guard of 8'1'', and is actually well below fellow first round prospect Russell Westbrook of UCLA, whom I would have sworn was at least a bit more diminutive than Rose.

All of which, once again, is not to say Rose is going to flop. He won't. His numbers were skyrocketing at the end the season, and I expect his rise to continue unabated when he joins the professional ranks. I'm just saying he may not be quite as special as Beasley will be, and the Bulls should take that into consideration.

To illustrate the point in detail, please click on the names of the players below. You will be linked to each player's "Win Contribution analysis", all of which are similar to the ones I did in the previous NBA Draft previews I posted in the preceding days. Also included is the WC analysis for the third player in this draft whom I consider a "Sure Thing", Kevin Love of UCLA.

Please quickly glance at this link if you aren't familiar with the Win Contribution metric. Its pretty easy to read, and tells you generally what WC is and, more importantly, how to interpret a WC score. Oh also, I need to mention that the "SOS" you see by the first "Win Contribution season average" in each analysis refers to the Strength of the player's college Team's opposition's collective defenses, as determined by Ken Pomeroy on basketballprospectus.com. And the "10 best defenses" each player faced are determined "adjusted defensive efficiency" rankings done also by Pomeroy.

Coming tomorrow or later today: Some final predraft words on whom the Bucks should select, or (hint) what I think they should do with the pick. I may or may not do a mock draft. I'm not sure what that would do for anyone, so i probably won't. but who knows.

NBA Draft Preview: The Underrated Prospects

This is part 3 in my four part NBA draft preview. Today's prospects are the ones I think should be up much higher on people's Mock draft boards, but for some reason they are not.

I expect each one of these players to produce in the NBA if they are given a fair shake. The fact that the player's listed here are so lightly regarded, while nonproducers such as OJ Mayo and Anthony Randolph and Donte Green, et al, are considered top 10 picks illustrates the bizarre, illogical system of evaluation used by the NBA. I won't go into a whole discertation on it today, but suffice to say I think the whole "draft only guys with upside" philosophy ranks up there in the pantheons of managerial stupidity with "Let's Build the Edsel!" or "Let's change Coca-Cola's formula".

Anyway, this whole preview is taking too much time already, so I give you my list:

The Underrated Prospects (click on each name to get each prospect's individual assessment)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

2008 NBA Draft Preview: The "Mixed Bag" Prospects

This is the second part of my NBA Draft preview. Yesterday I discussed the overrated prospects. Those were guys who were, by and large, underproductive in college, but yet are still somehow highly regarded across the internet draft boards. I don't expect those prospects to pan out.

Today's prospects are what I call "mixed bags". They all look good in some way, but have one or more lingering question marks about them that still make them risky investments to me. Unlike yesterday's prospects, though, I believe some of these guys could very well exceed expectations, if the lingering doubts I point out are satisfactorily answered.


I used the same methodology in evaluating these prospects that I used in yesterday's post, meaning I evaluated each prospect's performance using the Win Contribution metric (What is Win Contribution and how do you interpret it?) and came up with a season average as well as an average compiled during the 10 games each played against the 10 toughest defensive opponents on their schedules. I also looked at each prospect's size and strength as recorded at the Orlando predraft camp (if they went to Orlando).

Tomorrow or later today I will have a list of "Underrated Prospects" for you. Those will be prospects who are down a way on everybody's draft boards, but whose profile suggests they can be Win Contributors (some of them huge Win Contributors) at the next level. Finally I'll finish out my previews by listing the 3 "Sure Fire Prospects" in this draft and why I consider each of them guaranteed Win Contributors. Any prospects I ultimately don't mention at all I either overlooked or will have decided they were not worth mentioning.

Anyway, here's today's list:

The Mixed Bag Prospects (click on each player's name to read their individual evaluations)