McDonald’s All-American Game Quick Observations

The following are my quick player notes on guys who popped from last night’s McDonald’s All-American game. I’ve seen some of these players in person before (Porter, Ayton etc.) but for some guys like Robinson this was my first exposure. Thus, keep that latter point in mind with a limited sample. I’ll provide far more in-depth analysis after the week of Hoop Summit practices.

Fives

Mo Bamba

 

Bamba shined with his combination of mobility and now infamous go-go-gadget 7-foot-10 wingspan. He erases the sun in the paint, as evidenced by the possession where he blocked Ayton effortlessly on the baseline and then used his insane arm length to reach around Ayton’s post up attempt plucking the ball away on the entry pass (he also literally took the ball away from Porter on a dunk attempt).

We knew about his size and length combination, but Bamba impressed with his coordination and mobility on the floor. He moved well in space and showed plus hands offensively. While he airballed a 3 undershooting it by about a foot, his range shot didn’t look as raw as expected. He’s a inconsistent but capable mid range shooter, and if he ever becomes consistent in that area or extends his range we’re looking at a potential game-changing talent (he probably already is).

Pardon the somewhat lazy outlier tools comparison, but Bamba looks like a more mobile version of Rudy Gobert. This big class is loaded.

Wendell Carter

I was very high on Carter entering this game after watching high school film, and I’m even higher on him now. The biggest thing that stood out to me is how well he moved defensively in space. A defensive possession at the end of the game really illuminated this, where he sat down in his stance and walled off Preston, and then switched onto Bowen and contained him as well. He’s very comfortable sinking down and sliding showing very good feet, a rarity for someone with his weight. He combines nimbleness with legitimate strength at the 5 (he’s definitely a 5 but usually plays the 4 in these all-star events), and when you factor in his 7-foot-5 wingspan there is a lot to work with.

Carter is also lowkey very skilled. You could see his vision on display, like on the wrap around pass to Bamba in the first half, as well as on a high-low attempt to Bamba where he didn’t put enough on it. He didn’t make a jumper but he looked comfortable and coordinated on the dribble pull-up he missed. The left hand jump hook he made was very impressive.

Overall, Carter adds a playmaking element at the 5 that both Ayton and Bamba can’t match right now. He’s going to shine at Duke.

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Initial Player Archetypes: 2017 Draft

*This is a  fluid list of the player archetypes comprised of those who I have watched most and feel comfortable projecting initially. I’ll provide updates and more in-depth breakdowns as the season progresses.

Lead Guards

Category 1: Generational Two-Way Scheme-Changers (Prototype: Chris Paul)

  • Markelle Fultz Ceiling

Category 2: Outlier Athleticism/Tools (Prototype: Russell Westbrook)

  • Dennis Smith

Category 3: Offensive Scheme-Changers (Prototype: Damian Lillard)

  • Lonzo Ball Ceiling
  • Markelle Fultz Floor

Category 4: Two-Way Skilled + Shooting Threats (Prototype: Kyle Lowry)

  • Frank Ntilikina Ceiling

Category 5: Defensive Tools + Non-Shooters (Prototype: Ricky Rubio)

  • De’Aaron Fox

Category 6: Dribble-Drivers (Prototype: Goran Dragic)

  • Jawun Evans

Category 7: 3&D Plus Initiation (Prototype: George Hill)

  • Frank Ntilikina Floor

Wings

Category 1: Two-Way Primary Initiators (Prototype: LeBron James)

  • Josh Jackson Ceiling (Very Small % Outcome)

Category 2: Primary Scorers/Self Creators (Prototype: Kevin Durant)

  • Josh Jackson Likely Ceiling
  • Jayson Tatum Ceiling
  • Jonathan Isaac Ceiling

Category 3: Two-Way Swiss Army Knife Playmakers (Prototype: Gordon Hayward)

  • Josh Jackson Floor

Category 4: 3&D Plus (Prototype: Klay Thompson)

Category 5: 3&D Versatile (Prototype: Jae Crowder)

  • OG Anunoby Ceiling

Category 6: 3&D Perimeter/Point of Attack (Prototype: Danny Green)

  • Terrance Ferguson Ceiling
  • Mikal Bridges Likely Ceiling

Category 7: Two-Way Secondary Handlers (Prototype: Avery Bradley)

  • Malik Monk Ceiling (Low % Outcome)
  • Mikal Bridges Ceiling (Low % Outcome)
  • Josh Hart Ceiling
  • Donovan Mitchell Ceiling

Category 8: Offensive/Scoring Secondary Handlers (Prototype: CJ McCollum)

  • Lonzo Ball Floor
  • Malik Monk (Median Outcome)

Category 9: Defensive Versatile (Prototype: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist)

  • OG Anunoby Floor
  • *Mikal Bridges Floor

Category 10: Offensive Skilled Combo-Forwards (Prototype: Danilo Gallinari)

  • Jonathan Isaac Floor
  • Jayson Tatum Floor
  • Miles Bridges Floor

Category 11: Wing Fours (Prototype: Harrison Barnes)

Category 12: 1 Position Defenders + 1 Skill Shooters (Prototype: JJ Redick)

  • Malik Monk Hypothetical Floor

Fours

Category 1: Two-Way Playmakers (Prototype: Draymond Green)

Category 2: Offensive Playmakers (Prototype: Kevin Love)

  • Miles Bridges Ceiling
  • Lauri Markkanen Ceiling (Small % Outcome)

Category 3: Skilled + Stretch (Prototype: Patrick Patterson)

  • Lauri Markkannen Floor/Likely Outcome
  • TJ Leaf Ceiling
  • Tyler Lydon Ceiling
  • Alec Peters Ceiling

Category 4: Face Up Handlers With Low Defense/Feel Floors (Prototype: Markieff Morris)

Category 5: Energy + Motor (Prototype: Kenneth Faried)

  • Ivan Rabb Floor/Likely Outcome

Fives

Category 1: Two-Way Playmakers (Prototype: Karl Towns) 

Category 2: Outlier Athleticism/Tools (Prototype: Anthony Davis)

  • *Harry Giles

Category 3: Unicorns (Prototype: Kristaps Porzingis)

  • Robert Williams Ceiling (Very Small % Outcome)
  • Justin Patton (Very Small % Outcome)

Category 4: Defense + Passing/Non-Scorers (Prototype: Joakim Noah)

Category 5: Defense + Energy/Lob Catchers (Prototype: Tristan Thompson)

  • Robert Williams Floor
  • Justin Patton Floor
  • Bam Adebayo
  • Ike Anibogu

Category 6: Traditional Offensive Bucket-Getters (Prototype: Brook Lopez)

 

CBA Changes Overview

*I’ll add to this overview as more information trickles in

Apron

  • $6M above tax line now instead of $4M (applies to hard-capped teams)

2017/18 Cap Projection

  • $103M (up from $102M)

MLE (Non-tax, Tax, Bi-Annual, Room)

  • 17/18: Increase by 45%
  • 18/19 (and beyond): will rise and fall at same rate of salary cap

Veteran Minimum

  • 17/18: Increase by 45%
  • 17/18 Rookie Minimum EX : $815,615 (Also the Minimum Roster Charge)
  • Minimum exception: potential increased length from 2 years?
  • 18/19 (and beyond): Will rise and fall with cap

Future Rookie Scale

  • 17/18 Rookie Scale: Climbs by 15%
    • Second Year: increases by 5% raise (over 4.5% previously) and then additional 30% increase
    • Third Year: 45% increase
  • Adjusts with cap

Existing Rookie Scale Increases

  • 2017/18: 15%
  • 2018/19: 30%
  • 2019/20: 40%

*Team will be responsible for paying additional salary, they’ll be reimbursed by NBA and this will trigger no player salary as it pertains team salary/the cap implications

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Lessons Learned and Top 9 Pre-Conference Play Big Board

If you read this site consistently from a draft evaluation perspective I think it is best characterized holistically as a work in progress. I really just started seriously digging into the draft last year, and most of that work came April and beyond, which even then left out critical pieces to the puzzle. Before that it was mostly just getting my feet wet with the elite prospects in 2014 and 2015.

This is really the first year where I’ve seen most of the elite prospects in person at the Hoop Summit, and have watched college basketball consistently from the off to measure eye-test improvement. Before I was mostly an avid NBA League Pass watcher who retroactively went back and watched YouTube college film.

Each year I’m trying to push back the evaluation clock to earlier stages. I attended Adidas Nations in August to get eyes on the 2017 high school class, extending my in person sample back beyond just Hoop Summit practices the year prior and the Hoop Summit game only the year before that. I still believe that college is the *best* sample to project prospects to the NBA, but there are multiple steps in the analysis process, and seeing guys in-person is crucial.

This is not meant as any kind of event name drop or setup for making excuses. It’s just the honest truth. When I read draft-related content I like to know context and what the evaluator’s framework is. Are you an analytics guy? Intel-based? Eye-test? How highly do you rate off-court “intangibles”? What skill-sets do you value? Without that context I have no idea why you’re ranking things the way you are, and it’s meaningless to me.

At the very least I think my rankings last year divulged my overall philosophy of valuing two-way players with feel floors who can operate in read-and-react settings. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my player archetypes work done in time to really give full context to why I did what I did. I have learned a lot since June, and that’s kind of what’s great about draft work and basketball overall: you can never learn enough, and you’re never going to be right about everything.

I really enjoy the draft and being self-critical over time, partly because it’s at least in part a crapshoot. Everyone likes to be right, but with so many variables at play (team fit, opportunity, not having access to players directly etc) all you can really do is make “educated guesses” on how players will turn out. This uncertainty is immensely enjoyable and challenging, especially when paired next to the similarly challenging but more certain salary cap/CBA work.

I’ll never delete anything on this site, even some ridiculously ludicrous shit in hindsight. I’d rather explain in-depth why I thought the way I did, even if the reasoning turns out to be overtly wrong. Part of me wishes I would have held off on a big board last year until the foundation was fully created, but the fallout is probably more useful to have on record than not.

I don’t pretend to be a seasoned NBA scout. I’ve met multiple scouts and have a great deal of respect for those who spend a majority of their time on the road traveling around the world seeing a ridiculous amount of games in person. Those guys do so much more than merely evaluate: they are diligent information-collectors who put in long hours because good information wins in this game. Talent evaluation, especially that which comes not in person, is such a small part of the equation that it’s almost absurd to self-proclaim scout status at a bird’s-eye view, even though it’s *technically* what those who write about the draft do.

Anyways, the following includes lessons I learned (some obvious, some perhaps not so much) since the 2016 draft. I also included an initial top 9 pre-conference play “big board” for this draft class. You’ll probably notice more conformity with national rankings, and that’s due to this class having more easily identifiable top-level talent than the previous class, the latter which was full-blown pandemonium after the top 3.

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Champions Classic Prospect Recap

Lacking the normal luster of Classics past without Giles, Tatum and Bolden for Duke, and missing the rare opportunity to see two elite wings match up in Jackson and Tatum, the Classic didn’t blow anyone away this year.  It was still a prime gathering of multiple lottery picks in the ’17 draft however, and is definitely worth exploring in deeper fashion than most games considering the competition level and stage.  The following are my prospect observations from Tuesday night. Continue reading

2017 NBA Draft Preseason Big Board

This goes without saying, but take any preseason big board in terms of precise order with a grain of salt.  This is better utilized as an initial purview into players and a general outline of my thoughts on this class overall.

I view this draft as incredibly strong at the top with an elite first tier filled with potential all-stars.  You can make a legitimate case for 4 or 5 guys at the #1 overall spot, and that is rare for a draft class.

I feel most strongly about the top 4, which is why they comprise tier 1.  Some players in tier 2 can easily vault into that top tier; I’m just not as confident in their translation at this juncture.

Tier 2 is comprised of the other 3 players I’m confident have a high level floor with legitimate translatable high-level skills, rendering there a top 7 right now on my board that I feel best about.

Tier 3 is comprised of 13 players that I need to see improvement from in various capacities to feel more confident in their respective floors.  I ranked those I feel more strongly about in the lottery range, but the precise order is very fluid.

Overall, this is a tremendously strong class at the top in terms of potential all-stars, but might not have the same level of depth as last year.  Guys almost always emerge onto the scene unexpectedly and of course players improve, so commenting with any kind of authority on the depth of the class is somewhat premature.  That being said, this is my first stab at projecting this class.  For a description of what constitutes the various NBA position titles, click HERE.

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