FanPost

A statistical look at the draft

I’ve been thinking about how the Bulls should approach the upcoming draft, and now that Ricky’s opened the floodgates by posting some of his thoughts, it seems like a good time to share some of mine.

This past season—and particularly the playoffs—reinforced that the Bulls are severely in need of players who can regularly create their own shot, break down a defense off the dribble, and/or present a credible outside shooting threat. With Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Jimmy Butler seemingly holding down three starting spots and contributing 100 minutes or so of elite defense per game (not to mention Thibs and his legendary defense-imbuing dust), the Bulls should want to get about as much offense as possible out of the rest of the roster.

When it comes to the draft, I think the Bulls should target not only offensive-minded players but also the more advanced, ready-to-contribute ones, for a couple reasons. First, recent history has shown that the Bulls have much more success with mature prospects than with the more raw prospects selected based on potential. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler have thrived under Thibs, whereas James Johnson and Marquis Teague floundered. Second, the Bulls hope to contend for a title now, so ideally they’d end up with a couple guys who could help immediately and take some of the strain off the players Thibs might otherwise overwork. An 8-man rotation can succeed in the playoffs, but in order to get to the playoffs healthy, they’ll need at least 10 guys Thibs can trust enough to use substantially during the regular season.

With all of this in mind, I created a Bulls-centric draft rater, based purely on college stats. It contains the following four statistical categories, which I tried to weigh approximately equally:

(a) SCORE. This is a measure of scoring ability, calculated as USG% x (TS% - 0.4). The low baseline of 40% True Shooting is designed to prioritize shot creation over efficiency.

(b) 3. This reflects a player’s outside shooting ability. Like SCORE, it has both a quantity and an efficiency component, as higher-volume shooters not only space the floor better but also tend to take more difficult shots and have more translatable shooting skills. It is calculated as 3PA/40 x (3P% - 0.3). Here, a higher baseline prioritizes efficiency. Unlike the other stats, this one uses career numbers rather than only the most recent season because, given the small annual sample sizes and frequent one-season anomalies, I believe career numbers are somewhat more reliable on the whole in gauging 3-point shooting ability. I’ll try to note where the use of single-season numbers would make a sizeable difference in the rankings.

(c) BOSS. BLK% + ORB% + STL% + STL%. These are the athleticism and effort stats that tend to translate fairly well, particularly for big men. Centers and forwards tend to rate better than guards by this metric, which counterbalances the outside shooting category skewing the other way.

(d) TI. TI stands for Total Impact, which I calculate as BOSS + USG% + AST% + DRB%/2. Even specialists in the NBA tend to have been very active all-around players in college (Kyle Korver averaged 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks per 40 in his last year at Creighton!), so players who fare particularly poorly in this regard may struggle to be useful as pros.

The end result is an Adjusted Average, which combines these 4 measures with a conservative age adjustment of 5% per year of college. Most draft boards consider long-term upside more strongly and would be better reflected by a 10+% annual adjustment, but given the Bulls’ player development tendencies and desire to win now, I think a lower number is appropriate (and even this more conservative approach results in 9 of the top 10 prospects being underclassmen).

Without further ado, here is the draft rater, which started with 50 prospects and ultimately extended to 61 as certain players declared later and others emerged based on mock draft placement. Please keep in mind that the weighting is somewhat arbitrary and could be tweaked any number of ways, so I view this board in terms of tiers and who might be underrated or overrated as opposed to a precise ranking.

Tier 1

Rk

Player

SCORE

3

BOSS

TI

Adj AVG

1

Joel Embiid

5.97

-0.30

29.00

77.55

99.87

2

Jabari Parker

5.17

2.26

19.60

72.45

91.08

Embiid and Parker are consensus top-3 picks for good reason. Embiid in particular looks like a beast. Doesn’t matter for the Bulls, as there’s no chance they’d trade up that high.

Tier 2

Rk

Player

SCORE

3

BOSS

TI

Adj AVG

3

Doug McDermott

8.83

8.22

7.70

64.30

89.80

4

P.J. Hairston

5.02

5.54

16.10

59.90

87.54

5

Noah Vonleh

4.37

3.15

20.00

59.95

86.68

6

Mitch McGary

3.83

-0.30

26.70

64.90

84.41

7

Nik Stauskas

5.90

8.88

4.50

52.10

83.15

8

T.J. Warren

6.18

0.39

18.80

69.25

82.02

9

Jordan Adams

5.38

1.77

18.10

65.85

81.62

10

Gary Harris

4.31

5.47

12.40

61.10

80.88

11

K.J. McDaniels

4.83

0.59

22.30

72.15

80.06

This draft is very deep with respect to wings, including 6 or 7 of the 9 guys in this second tier depending on your opinion of McDermott. The Bulls would seem to prefer a player with shooting guard skills over a pure forward given the present state of the roster and rumored potential acquisitions. PJ Hairston, Nik Stauskas, Jordan Adams, and Gary Harris could be good fits, though Stauskas likely won’t fall to the Bulls and Harris might not either.

Tier 3

Rk

Player

SCORE

3

BOSS

TI

Adj AVG

12

Marcus Smart

4.44

-0.28

17.00

83.75

77.85

13

Kyle Anderson

4.00

1.28

13.40

84.55

77.15

14

Shabazz Napier

5.25

4.50

10.80

76.60

77.00

15

Khem Birch

3.13

0.00

27.20

63.45

75.81

16

Andrew Wiggins

4.29

1.80

15.70

57.35

75.13

17

Jarnell Stokes

4.33

0.00

21.00

70.85

74.76

18

Russ Smith

5.40

2.93

11.30

78.40

74.17

19

Isaiah Austin

2.66

0.29

22.90

63.50

73.47

20

C.J. Wilcox

4.87

7.39

8.50

53.80

73.42

21

Lamar Patterson

4.92

3.52

10.60

76.80

73.12

22

Julius Randle

4.24

-0.80

17.90

65.65

72.70

23

Cleanthony Early

6.54

3.17

12.80

57.30

72.30

24

Spencer DinWiddie

5.61

3.96

8.40

60.50

71.46

25

Elfrid Payton

4.17

-0.45

16.00

82.35

71.24

26

Adreian Payne

5.98

2.40

12.60

63.15

70.39

27

Aaron Gordon

2.39

0.84

17.40

63.25

70.32

The biggest surprise for me is seeing Wiggins here. I certainly wouldn’t rank him this low, but perhaps he’s more raw than commonly perceived. As a Jayhawk he had a worse assist rate than Embiid and he tended to disappear for long stretches on offense; it might take him some time to develop. Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon also could disappoint out of the gate.

As for the Bulls, there are several possible picks here, like Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Napier, and Adreian Payne in the first round and Russ Smith in the second. Adreian Payne fans, be encouraged that he was hurt the most by using career 3-point shooting rather than the most recent year. He’d vault to the top of this tier by substituting stats for 2013-14 only. Kyle Anderson would also benefit greatly from limiting the analysis to this year only; he would jump to the middle of Tier 2 alongside Stauskas if we ignored his 8-for-38 freshman year.

Tier 4

Rk

Player

SCORE

3

BOSS

TI

Adj AVG

28

LaQuinton Ross

4.12

3.33

12.70

57.05

68.97

29

Joe Harris

3.84

6.74

8.00

54.30

68.29

30

Rodney Hood

4.52

5.18

6.30

49.15

68.17

31

Jabari Brown

5.79

5.68

4.10

48.15

67.39

32

Tyler Ennis

2.43

1.48

11.10

69.80

66.93

33

Kendall Williams

4.46

3.84

8.20

64.25

65.56

34

Jordan Bachynski

3.55

0.00

21.90

54.40

64.15

35

Jordan McRae

5.02

2.92

8.50

61.50

63.91

36

Melvin Ejim

5.02

0.16

15.10

61.55

63.60

37

DeAndre Daniels

3.85

1.96

14.30

50.55

63.54

38

Patric Young

3.60

0.00

20.00

57.80

63.32

39

Nick Johnson

3.92

2.83

9.20

58.65

63.29

40

Cory Jefferson

3.70

0.32

17.90

60.00

62.93

41

Johnny O'Bryant

3.59

-0.31

15.70

64.00

62.68

42

Zach LaVine

2.91

4.28

7.40

44.85

62.52

43

Xavier Thames

4.49

1.87

9.20

65.75

61.74

44

James Young

3.18

3.58

7.10

46.80

61.50

45

Jahii Carson

3.74

1.73

4.80

70.60

61.35

46

Roy Devyn Marble

3.64

1.60

10.70

67.00

60.68

47

Dwight Powell

3.30

-0.14

14.90

69.95

60.61

48

Deonte Burton

4.62

1.85

7.50

67.00

60.56

49

Jerami Grant

3.10

0.00

15.00

54.10

60.24

I view this as the "project" tier, meaning that some of these guys might be good eventually, but they probably wouldn’t be good picks for the Bulls. This includes multiple players floated as possibilities at 16 or 19, most notably Rodney Hood, Tyler Ennis, Zach LaVine, James Young, and Jerami Grant.

Tier 5

Rk

Player

SCORE

3

BOSS

TI

Adj AVG

50

James Michael McAdoo

2.14

-0.30

17.70

61.65

59.88

51

Markel Brown

4.41

1.93

9.80

56.25

58.99

52

DeAndre Kane

4.12

0.05

9.20

73.80

58.37

53

Semaj Christon

3.87

0.53

6.90

62.80

57.55

54

Jordan Clarkson

4.10

0.88

7.30

63.15

57.39

55

Glenn Robinson

3.70

0.38

10.80

46.45

54.98

56

Akil Mitchell

2.34

-0.21

16.30

54.65

53.86

57

Josh Huestis

1.98

0.48

16.70

50.70

53.84

58

C.J. Fair

2.48

0.73

12.90

56.35

53.68

59

Aaron Craft

2.85

0.76

10.40

60.50

53.45

60

Keith Appling

2.97

1.33

7.60

58.75

51.60

61

Le'Bryan Nash

4.13

-1.26

10.70

52.70

51.22

This is the "bust" tier. I question whether any of these guys can be useful. I’m hoping the Bulls stay away from them.

As you probably know, the Bulls have the #16 and #19 picks in the draft, along with #49. They might not keep both of those first round picks, however, as their draft strategy may be influenced by the following considerations:

(1) To maximize cap space for free agency, the Bulls could trade down, draft a foreign prospect and stash him abroad, or trade a current first rounder for a future first and/or second rounders.

(2) If the Bulls are hoping to use their first round picks to compel a sign-and-trade, trading one or both for future picks may be the best option. Draft picks are like new cars: they lose a big chunk of their market value the second you use them. Much of a draft pick’s value is tied up in a team’s ability to select whomever it wants, and that value is lost when the draft pick is converted into a particular player.

If no one the Bulls covet (presumably Stauskas and perhaps McDermott) slips to 16, I think they should strongly consider trade possibilities. Some of the better offers might include (a) #23 and #35 from Utah, (b) #33 and a 2015 1st rounder from Cleveland, and (c) #34 and a 2015 1st rounder from Dallas. Plenty of teams would offer the Bulls a protected future first rounder, but the Bulls should be able to get more given the perceived strength of this draft. I believe there’s potentially a lot of value in the early part of the second round this year, especially considering that those guys are dirt cheap, so this could be a good way to satisfy multiple objectives at once (i.e. maintain flexibility).

With that said, here are my impressions of several non-lottery prospects the draft rater ranks more highly than the scouts. A couple of these guys might be available at #49, but most are projected to be drafted in the 20-40 range.

Wings

PJ Hairston (#4). NBA Comp = Wes Matthews. Based on his time at UNC, Hairston is the highest-volume outside shooter in the draft and rates at the 6th best shooter overall. His D-League performance this year confirmed that he has NBA range, and he should be ready to contribute as a long-range sniper immediately. Hairston is strong, with the size and athleticism to guard either wing spot, and he won’t be intimidated by NBA competition. He should be able to sustain an average usage rate with solid efficiency, though he’s neither smooth nor crafty as a ballhandler. Hairston is the only player on this list I’ve seen in the top 20 on a mock draft or prospect ranking.

Jordan Adams (#9). NBA Comp = Michael Redd. Adams is a scorer with excellent instincts offensively. His outside shot was a bit inconsistent in college, yet his true shooting percentage still exceeded 60% this year, as he converted a very high percentage around the rim with smart cuts and a surprising ability to finish through contact. In the pros I expect him to refine his jumper and quickly become a very good shooter as he seeks out the best scoring opportunities against a higher level of competition. His 84% free throw shooting is reason for optimism, as is his young age for a sophomore and apparent willingness to work on his supposed flaws. Adams could be a defensive liability, given his slow feet and relatively soft body, but he showed up at the combine down to 209 pounds after a season in the 220-230 range, and his long arms and quick hands make up a bit for his subpar overall athleticism.

CJ Wilcox (#20). NBA Comp = Danny Green. Wilcox rates as the #3 shooter in the draft behind Stauskas and McDermott. He’s at his best in catch-and-shoot situations and coming off screens, and as a pure floor spacer, Wilcox is about as good as it gets. Don’t expect him to contribute much more offensively or on the glass, however. His high efficiency should come with below-average usage, most likely in the 14% - 18% range. Wilcox is also a fairly good athlete with long arms who could develop into a plus defender on the wing.

Point Guards

Russ Smith (#18). NBA Comp = Jason Terry. If there’s one player I want the Bulls to draft this year, it’s Russ Smith. I believe he’s massively underrated, as scouts wrote him off a couple years ago as a too-small, out-of-control shooting guard. Since then he’s been arguably the best player on the best team in the country two years in a row, and his outside shooting and decision-making have improved considerably. In this Bulls-centric draft rater he has relatively high marks in all 4 categories, and it seems to me that he would be a great fit as a high-usage backup point guard who brings energy and defensive intensity. Plus, if the Clippers can make a big late-game run against OKC with a lineup of CP3, Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, Danny Granger, and Blake Griffin, there’s no reason to think that an occasional backcourt pairing of Derrick Rose and Russ Smith would be too small to be effective. Even at 160 pounds, Russ Smith fights through screens better than the average guard. Will he be available at #49?

Bigs

Mitch McGary (#6). NBA Comp = Anderson Varejao. Like Varejao, McGary dominates the offensive glass and brings an insanely high activity level for a big man when healthy, but there’s always the question of whether he’ll be healthy. McGary missed all but 8 games this year with back problems. As a result, his #6 ranking is based on his freshman stats, when he played just 20 minutes a game but emerged as Michigan’s second most important player in its run to the NCAA championship game. His injury issues may present too big a risk in the first round, but he could be a second round steal.

Jarnell Stokes (#17). NBA Comp = DeJuan Blair. Stokes is another guy whose biggest contribution comes in the form of rebounding. He’s a close 2nd to McGary in ORB%, as they’re the only players in the draft pool to exceed 15%. Stokes led the SEC in that category each of the past 2 years, adding the TRB% crown this season. Though Stokes is short for the position, he’s by no means small. He has a 7’1.25" wingspan and weighs more than 260 pounds. Stokes uses his strength and reach to control the low post, and he passes well from that position (3.0 assists per 40 in conference play this year). It’s also worth noting that Stokes must have skipped a grade at some point, as he is extremely young for a junior and actually younger than half the sophomore class. If he were rated as a sophomore, he would jump from #17 to #12 overall. Nevertheless, his lack of a jumper may cause him to fall into the second round.

Khem Birch (#15). NBA Comp = Ekpe Udoh. Birch is a guy who I might target with the 49th pick if everyone listed above is off the board. He really has no offensive game outside 3 feet, and his scoring repertoire basically consists of put-backs, layups, and finishing alley-oops. However, players who can defend the rim and rebound are useful, and Birch can do those things. He’s also one of the best athletes in the draft, especially among big men, so there’s a chance he could become another truly elite defender if everything breaks right.

That’s all I got. Any thoughts?

FanPosts are user-created posts from the BlogABull community, and are to be treated as the opinions and views of that particular user, not that of the blogger or blog community as a whole.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Blog a Bull

You must be a member of Blog a Bull to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blog a Bull. You should read them.

Join Blog a Bull

You must be a member of Blog a Bull to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blog a Bull. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker