August 16, 2022

The results from my statistics-based lead assessment tool β€” Ye Olde Draft Analyzer (YODA for short) β€” are nearly definitive. YODA includes production from each prospect, along with adjustments for competitive level, age, position, and measurable physical and sporting tools.

All the information I use in YODA is publicly available. The basic formula: points + 0.7 x offensive rebounds + 0.3 x defensive rebounds + 0.5 x assists + 0.5 x blocks + steals – 0.7 x missed basket attempts – baskets scored – 0, 44 x free throw attempts – 0.5 x fouls – turnovers.

I’ve made some changes to the position adjustment for 2022. The NBA continues to move toward an emphasis on skill, agility, and IQ over size. Size still matters, of course, but traditional inside-based big men are increasingly being targeted and played on the floor in the biggest games.

As Kyle Kuzma tweeted a few days ago, the game is moving away from specialists and more towards players who can perform on both sides of the court. For example, take a look at Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Draymond Green is one of the greatest defensemen of all time, yet he was benched in the fourth quarter – then replaced on offense/defense – because his offensive play regressed to the point of self-control.

The other change to the stance adjustment was to perform a deep-six on the PG, SG, SF, PF, C spread. These designations may have had meaning in the past, but that doesn’t reflect really the way the game is played in the NBA now.

This is how I define positions in YODA:

  • Guards β€” This designation includes traditional PGs and combo guards. Typically, these prospects have a combination of ball handling, play, and three-point shooting, but lack the size to play SF in the NBA. For the Wizards, the “guard” would include guys like Ish Smith, Raul Neto and Bradley Beal. In this year’s draft, guards include guys like Kennedy Chandler, Dyson Daniels, Jaden Ivey and TyTy Washington.
  • wings β€” These are prospects who plan to be SG and SF in the NBA. Concretely, there is little functional difference between SG and SF at the highest level. Probably the biggest differentiator is size, and even that gets blurry. Generally, an “SF” in the NBA can play “SG” (think Jaylen Brown) and an SG might play SF (think Kentavious Caldwell-Pope). Typically, these prospects would be expected to shoot well and defend, but would have less developed playing skills than pure guards. In this year’s draft, the wings include guys like AJ Griffin, Kendall Brown, Bennedict Mathurin, Jalen Williams, David Roddy and Dalen Terry.
  • Attackers – NBA teams used to crave stretch-fours. It’s already archaic. Increasingly, teams are playing on multiple wings. Prospects in the β€œforward” bucket could theoretically play three or four (SF or PF) in NBA lineups, but may be too slow or unskilled (think ball handling and play) to take on guards . Think Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija. In this year’s draft, forwards include Keegan Murray, Chet Holmgren, Tari Eason, Jabari Smith and Paola Banchero.
  • Centers β€” There is still a place in the game for big men, even if it is shrinking. As the game emphasizes skill rather than size, smaller players are progressing in position, and we’re going to see more teams using big center forwards. Probably not all the time (at least not yet), but for long periods of time. For example, I could see Washington using Kuzma as five skill balls in certain situations. A player with Hachimura’s physical tools could theoretically play in the middle, although in Hachimura’s case he showed no inclination to offer the defense and rim protection help needed in the role. For the Wizards, the central prototype most comparable to my YODA position definition is Daniel Gafford. In this year’s draft, centers include Mark Williams, Christian Koloko and Walker Kessler.

This year, YODA has 20 players with first-round ratings and another 18 in the draftable category. Six more are borderline draft, and usually one or two decent players emerge from that group. For example, Garrison Mathews was a hit for the Wizards (now the Rockets) of this borderline group.

For today, here’s a quick rundown of this year’s custody outlook with a note to write (this may not be the final order):

  • Dyson Daniels, G-League Ignite – Tall and athletic, Daniels was 6-6 without shoes, and he has an 8-9 standing reach and a 6-10.5 wingspan. He’s big enough to play forward in the NBA, but he has guard skills like ball handling and play. He defends and plays hard. Its stat line is filled with effort and athleticism indicators. The problem? His shooting is atrocious. Just 27.3% from three in the G-League last season and 52.5% from the free throw line. Wizards think they can teach marksmanship, and they will have to if they are able to recruit him.
  • Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee – A PG with a serious game who thinks he’s going late in the first or early in the second round because he’s small. At the combine, he was just under six feet tall without shoes. He’s also been tested as an elite athlete, and the athleticism shows in his numbers – over 50% on twos and plenty of clean steals. He also shot 38.3% from three, but only 60.6% from the FT line. He’s unlikely to end up with the Wizards barring trades. Still, YODA thinks he has a chance to be a good NBA guard.
  • Jaden Ivey, Purdue β€” Almost certain to enter the top 5, Ivey does not jump in the numbers. His shot was correct, he finishes well around the basket and reaches the FT line. His game didn’t impress (3.9 assists per 40 minutes), he committed plenty of turnovers (3.2 per 40) and defensive effort didn’t seem like his thing (just 1.9 steals + blocks per 40 minutes – Daniels produced 3.4 and Chandler 3.1).
  • Ty Ty Washington, Kentucky – A number of fictional drafts earlier this year brought Washington to the Wizards. The consensus now selected it later. He’s a decent enough prospect to think he could be a long-term starter, although he has enough yellow flags to suggest he could be a decent replacement. Much will depend on how hard he works on his body and his game. Pros: Big enough to play either guard position, solid play and low rotations. Yellow flags: 49.6% at two, only 35.0% at three and 12.0% body fat at the combine.
  • ryan rollin, Toledo – Combo guard who rebounded well (7.3 per 40 minutes) and made play (4.4 assists per 40) while also scoring 23.1 points per 40. He shot just 31, 1% out of three, and the competition he faced in Toledo was on the weak side, but his FT shooting was excellent, and his size and athleticism measured at least adequate at the combine. He figures to be a second-round pick, which is also where his rating falls in YODA.
  • Wendell Moore Jr., Duke – Considered an SG by most preliminary ratings, YODA sees potential in the PG. He has a good size (6-4.25 without shoes) and athleticism, and his shooting has been exceptional this season (54.4% at two, 41.3% at three, 80.5% at FT) . He rebounded well (6.3 of 40) and also showed some play (5.2 assists). Don’t get too excited β€” he’s still considered a second-round pick β€” he was a junior and filming was low volume. Even so, he’s someone who could provide real value in the second round.
  • Johnny Davis, Wisconsin – Mock drafts generally put it in the 10-12 range. YODA has it lower than that, largely due to his ineffective offense – mediocre two- and three-point shooting and more turnovers than assists. He had a high number of defensive rebounds (8.1 per 40 minutes), although his interceptions and blocks were low. Eye Test analysts love it more than the numbers.
  • John Montero, Overtime Elite – This rating is more speculative than anyone else’s because Overtime Elite is a new producer of draft prospects. The figures available are impressive in the abstract, although it is difficult to assess the level of competition. His height and athleticism have been tested at least adequate at the combine, and he has a chance to provide second-round value.

Guards with limit notes in YODA:

  • Andrew Nembhard, Kansas
  • JD Davison, Alabama
  • Trevor Keels, Duke

Next time: wings.