Monday, June 21, 2010

NBA Draft 'steals'. What was right about the most recent good picks?

With the NBA Draft now less than 72 hours away - the debates abound about selecting players. Let's look at what was right about the 15 most recent 'steals' in the annual June event.

1. Tyreke Evans at #4 in 2009 - In the 2009 Tyreke Evans scenario - there was luck involved (Blake Griffin's injury).
The three players picked before Evans included (Griffin), one that was not ready (Hasheem Thabeet), and one that just wasn't as good or as rugged (James Harden). 

2. Stephen Curry at #7 in 2009 - The Warriors were right to peg a skilled player that played at a small school. Elite skill is elite skill. 

3. Brandon Jennings at #10 in 2009 - The Bucks recognized that elite quickness, confidence, and ball-handling ability are a recipe for success among NBA Point Guards. Jennings' numbers in his lone European season were weak but his obvious star ability never left him. 

4. Darren Collison at #21 in 2009 - Another example of a UCLA player with less than stellar numbers due to the Bruins slower pace, Collison was overlooked by about 14-15 teams. The lesson is to never under-value guys with obvious skill that play on college teams that play a slower pace. (Greg Monroe fits this bill in 2010)

Break for effect. 

Noticing a trend above? ...I am. All those players are good with the ball in their hands. All the above players shoot 75% or better from the free throw line. All the above players had significantly more assists than turnovers. 

5.  DaJuan Blair at #37 in 2009 - The Spurs gambled on a guy with red flags from the doctors. While teams did have legitimate concerns (the guy has no ACL's!) - it seems to me in hindsight there should have been a point at about #15 or #16 where teams should have have realized that a questionable kneed Blair was still better than what was left to be selected. 

6. Derek Rose at #1 in 2008 -
You might say, "what makes that a GREAT pick?" It was great because it was correct. Michael Beasley was the guy that was considered the other possibility. (Beasley & Rose are pictured at right)

7. Russell Westbrook at #4 in 2008 - Another UCLA Kid that was slept on. Westbrook makes it six of seven players we have highlighted in this exercise that have been guards. Five of the seven so far are guys with superior athletic ability.

8. Brook Lopez at #10 in 2008 - It seems beyond silly now to think that D.J. Augustin, and Joe Alexander were the picks that preceded the Lopez selection. Alexander came on strong on the workout tour but so far he hasn't achieved squat in the NBA.  

9. Goran Dragic at #45 in 2008 - Dragic took a year to get it figured out but he now is a valuable contributor on a good NBA team. He does not have the elite quickness of  the above "draft steals" but he does have the shooting touch, and the good assist-to-turnover ratio.

10. Kevin Durant at #2 in 2007 - Durant was the better, more efficient player in the battle between he and Greg Oden for the #1 pick. 

11. Joakim Noah at #9 in 2007 - Noah was passed over by at least four and maybe five teams that in hindsight should have grabbed him. The three picks before Noah were Yi Jian Lian, Corey Brewer, and Brandan Wright.

12. Aaron Brooks at #26 in 2007 - Brooks is the fourth Pac-10 player listed in this exercise. Without a television deal on ESPN and with games played late at night on the East Coast of the United States - perhaps all Pac-10 players are slept on to a degree. (This means scouts need to look more closely at Quincy Pondexter, Landry Fields, Jerome Randle.) ...Also trending: another guard that excels due to speed and ball-handling ability.

13. Carl Landry at #31 in 2007 - Landry had efficiency and strength in his college resume. Teams under-valued him due to his lack of height at Power Forward, and a history of injuries. But Landry's shooting numbers and efficiency at Purdue predicted he WOULD be a good NBA player.  

Big players in the 2010 Draft that, ala Carl Landry, shoot over 50% FG, and over 80% FT? There are none. Not one. The closest is probably Miroslav Raduljica who shoots 57% FG, and 77% FT.

14. Marc Gasol at #48 in 2007 - Pau's brother is the rare seven footer that has more assists than turnovers. He should have been a mid-to-late lottery pick in hindsight.

Players in this draft that are seven feet tall and have more assists than turnovers? Only Jeff Foote of Cornell fits that bill. 

15. Ramon Sessions at #56 in 2007 - Again, another West Coast player, another guard that can get where he wants to with the ball in his hands.

You can see the entire 2010 NBA Draft rankings at

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