2017 Draft Player Archetypes Final

Lead Guards

*Lonzo Ball doesn’t fit anywhere cleanly, because of course not

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

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

  • Dennis Smith

Category 3: Offensive Scheme-Changers (Prototype: James Harden)

  • 3 Level Playmaking Initiator
    • Markelle Fultz Ceiling
  • 3 Level Scorer
    • Markelle Fultz Median Outcome
    • Dennis Smith Alternate
  • 2 Lever Scorer
    • Malik Monk Ceiling #2

Category 4: Two-Way Initiators (Prototype: Kyle Lowry)

  • De’Aaron Fox Ceiling

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

  • De’Aaron Fox Floor

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

  • Markelle Fultz Floor
  • Jawun Evans

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

  • Frank Ntilikina Ceiling

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2017 Draft Big Board: Tiers 3-6

One Last Disclaimer: This isn’t as in-depth outside of some of the rationale with Fox. The Ntilikina organization is also a formatted differently. Enjoy!

TIER 3

8. FRANK NTILIKINA

NBA Position Range: Category 6 Wing 3&D Perimeter/Point of Attack->Category 7 Wing Two-Way Secondary Handler -> Category 7 Lead Guard 3&D Plus

Age (At Time of Draft): 18

Positional Size/Tools: Versatile size at 6’5″ with an insane 7’1″ wingspan. Underdeveloped frame at 170 pounds but looks to have some athletic upside via strength acquisition and potential to add explosion.

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2017 Draft Big Board: Tiers 1 and 2

Disclaimers:

  1. This is the first year I’ve “fully committed” to draft evaluation throughout the entirety of the process, meaning seeing most of these prospects pre-college at the Hoop Summit in 2016 as well as following the college season for the duration of the year instead of retroactively going back and watching tape after the NBA regular season. As such I went *a touch* more in-depth at the top of the draft in effort to transparently get my ideas in detail on paper, both as a reference point for myself and for whoever reads this. The remainder of my board wont be this long or detailed.
  2. As for what philosophically constitutes (or should constitute) a big board that isn’t team specific, that’s clearly up for debate. I don’t see a ton of value in “in a vacuum” rankings that can’t take into account highly important variables like team fit and player development, but I try my best to build in components such as opportunity ( I reflected on this in December) and rank in general tiers that afford some flexibility for unknown outcomes.
  3. My scouting philosophy is mostly covered in the above link, as well as on both my own podcast (WhatsonDraftNBADraftShow) or the Ode to Oden podcast (just listen to my guest appearance episodes, this is a primary market competitor after all). But I rank in general on three levels: 1) star talent within valuable archetypes (such as primary initiators, two-way primary wing scorers etc)  2) superstar role players/starters who project to contribute to winning basketball and 3) players who fill a role in the league.
  4. If you aren’t familiar with the archetype system, it’s probably best to have a cursory understanding of my methodology prior to reading this. A few pivotal points here: this is not a precise system. It is merely a tool to help identify valuable skills and traits that project into various roles in the league by understanding what specific skills and roles are actually valuable in the league. I’m obviously big on being able to fit a player into a conceptual framework and view player roles, especially on a title caliber team, as more important than rudimentary (PG, SG, SF etc or “ability to create his own shot!) thinking. This system can really be a bias creator however, especially comparison wise, if the intent is not understood. It is not meant to be a mass player comparison tool. It’s simply a way to understand stylistic, skill and role similarities that help me evaluate and process how prospects will translate to the NBA. This framework also doesn’t capture everyone (we’ll see this with Lonzo), and just because someone doesn’t fit into the framework cleanly doesn’t mean they don’t project in a positive way to the next level. Again, it’s best to interpret the player comparisons below as similar “archetypes”, not precisely the same player (though I do try to modify).
  5. Just for transparency in terms of my process: I watched probably 10-15 games of each of the following players this year after seeing most in person before college, and went back to re-watch possessions on Synergy after the season. I included a lot of my scouting notes in tiers 1 and 2 to again put precise thoughts on paper.
  6. I don’t have a lot of strong takes on this class, as you’ll see by the second tier. I’m not one to offer takes if I don’t have them, and to me this a flawed class after Fultz that I don’t have a precise enough read on to really segment between especially the second tier (I of course have stronger leans if certain players go to specific teams).  I gave order estimates within each tier just for retroactive assessment purposes, and justify my thought-process. I’ll also re-rank these players post draft based on destination.

Without further ado.. (grab some coffee)

Tier 1

1.MARKELLE FULTZ

16 hsum fultz01

(USA Basketball)

NBA Position Range: Category 6 Dribble-Driver (Floor) -> Category 3 Offensive Scheme-Changer 3-Level Scorer (Median Outcome) -> Category 3 Offensive Scheme Changer Outlier 3-Level Playmaking Initiator (Ceiling Outcome)

Age (At Time of Draft): 19

Potential Blue Chip Skills: 3-level scoring playmaking initiator, pick-and-roll creation, pull-up shooting.

Positional Size/Tools: Ideal measurables for a modern lead guard at 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and strong/burgeoning 195 frame that looks capable of strength addition. Late bloomer.

Shooting:

Spot Up: Fluid mechanics with angled feet. A bit of a longer gather with a ball dip. Prefers to catch off the 1-2. Usually holds his follow-through. Has to be guarded.

Off the Dribble: Fluid, one-motion mechanics with a high release point and can elevate comfortably over contests. Strong core and lower body aids upward motion and allows for greater range with plus arc. Only 2/10 from NBA 3 but has the strength and mechanics to extend out. Solid footwork hopping into his pull-up going right and utilizing the 1-2 going left. Creates airspace with ease with his step-back. Threat of and the suddenness of his pull-up jumper going either direction aids his handling and driving ability. Profiles as a difficult shot-maker who can make fadeaways going either direction. Can sometimes shoot on the way down.

Off Screen/Motion: Shows the ability to square up on flare screens. Can catch on the hop moving to his left and shoot from distance fluidly. Looks to have shooting off pin-down potential with his size and ability to square up quickly.

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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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