Hollinger's new methodology concerning the draft has all been released. Regression analysis predicting third year PER seems cooler than just a three digit number like 500 or 600, but actually I don't see it as much of an upgrade. While the new system might improve some aspects of Hollinger's draft order, it undermines the ability to see who is supposed to be very good; the calculated third year PER's of stars like Paul, Wade and Boozer do not come close to their actual output - the three digit number better indicated the eventual dominance of each year's best players. In itself this is not a big deal, but I like the old way better. It made it clear that Chris Bosh was a better prospect than Nick Collison. Anyway, enough of my griping, it's still an excellent prognosticator, better than any other draft tool I have come across. So, let's look at Hollinger's Top 15, with their projected third year PER's:
1. Michael Beasley - 19.19
2. Kevin Love - 17.80
3. Darrell Arthur - 15.82
4. Marreese Speights - 15.02
5. D.J. Augustin - 14.88
6. Derrick Rose - 14.69
7. Joe Alexander - 14.58
8. Brook Lopez - 14.21
9. Mario Chalmers - 14.03
10. Jerryd Bayless - 14.03
11. Roy Hibbert - 14.02
12. Kosta Koufos - 13.32
13. Donte Greene - 13.17
14. Darnell Jackson - 13.17
15. DeAndre Jordan - 13.17
It's really not that shocking a list (which is something I think Hollinger was looking for when he revised his data analysis.) Noticeable absences are O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Randolph. An argument Hollinger makes is that the popular belief of this being a draft deep in guards is fraudulent, and it is actually the bigs that will be higly regarded down the road. He may be right. Personally, I'm having a hard time getting a good read on this draft, but my suspicions are that it might not be as deep as some are saying. Hollinger's number's back this theory.
Beasley certainly looks to be the best prospect. If Miami is lucky enough to nab him at #2, they should pounce. If Chicago is smart they'd take him first. He is the one undeniable All-Star this draft has to offer. I agree with Hollinger (and WoW's) data that Kevin Love is the second best prospect. It will be interesting to see if Minnesota goes for him at #3, because as devastating a combo as Big Al and Love would make offensively, you could be looking at a defensive quagmire. If I were McHale I would probably take the risk. While Love doesn't appear to have Beasley's upside, he is an extremely safe and quality pick; words I never thought I would utter in Love's regard at the beginning of last season.
And after the Beasley-Love combo we get to what everybody wants to talk about: The Freshman Guards! The Freshman Guards! The babble over Rose, Mayo, Bayless, and Gordon (not to mention Westbrook, who might as well have been a freshman)has been endless, and it is probably undeserved hype. I will go on record (as quite a few have) in saying that I doubt Gordon and Westbrook will be noteworthy pros. Mayo has more promise, I see him as being similar to Larry Hughes; but in no way does he deserve to be picked in the top three. That leads us to the Rose/Bayless debate, where I stand in the significant minority in favoring Bayless, who is supposedly going to drop on Thursday night. Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my top ten prospects:
1. Beasley - I agree wholeheartedly with what a GM said in Chad Ford's article today - Beasley easily appears the best prospect in the draft, and people are sweating Rose way too much. When will we start to see how stupid it is to value "good character" over clearly superior talent?
2. Love - This guy will become a dominant rebounder and passer in the league for years to come. The question is whether he will be able to raise his game another notch and become a perennial All-Star. It's not as high-falutin' an idea as it sounds - Love's numbers are that good.
3. Bayless - He's been in most mock drafts' top 5 the entire year, but I feel like he is still underrated. Jerryd's Hollinger and WoW stats don't stand out, but this guy can just flat out play. Of all the hyped freshman guards, Bayless is the only one in my eyes who can potentially become a #1 scorer on a good team. I mean, offensively Bayless can basically get wherever he wants. Rose can do this too, but Bayless is under control, and seems to have more of an attack mentality. There's nothing to dislike about him offensively; his talent should alleviate concerns about whether he is a point or shooting guard. Defensively there might be issues, but Bayless could be athletic enough to make up for his average measurements and (relatively) short wingspan. All in all, I still don't feel right putting Rose ahead of him.
4. Rose - Derrick is the most hyped player in the draft, and while he has the talent to make an All-Star game or two, the inferences to Chris Paul and Deron Williams need to end. My biggest qualm with those comparisons is that Rose has not shown himself to be nearly that kind of a passer. Yes, he's incredibly explosive, but it's not clear if he knows how to harness that power fully. That makes him totally different from Paul in college (as the numbers attest.) He also is not as big as people think; Bayless is actually taller than him. Nonetheless, he's a heck of a prospect, and probably the last of the four player on this list who have the potential to turn into a big time star - although you never know.
5. Roy Hibbert - Whoa, baby. Before you switch your website, listen to my logic. Roy plays the most important position on the floor, has incredible size, solid numbers, and could become excellent defensively. Now that the potential stars are off the board, what more could you want? Plus Hibbert has all those intangibles that everybody goes ga-ga over. Make no mistake - Roy has talent, and his position predicates a slot this high. He's superior to Brook Lopez, who looks like Chris Mihm all over again.
6. Marreese Speights - A banger with great numbers (7.2 PAWS/40) deserves to be picked this high. It seems inevitable that Speights will produce a solid PER for years to come. We are looking at an underrated gem.
7. Darrell Arthur - This is a straight Hollinger pick. His WoW is negligible, and he has never really stood out when I have watched him play. But if he's ranked third on Hollinger's board he's good enough to go here.
8. Mayo - This spot seems about right for O.J. I didn't mean the Hughes analogy disparagingly - Larry used to be very good. Alas, I don't know if O.J. will ever achieve 2004 Hughes-level output. Anyway, whoever drafts him will probably be slightly disappointed down the road.
9. D.J. Augustin - At this point I'd like to say I don't know enough about Danilo Gallinari to put him on my list, but that's just ignorance on my behalf. Augustin, somewhat surprisingly, was the highest rated guard on Hollinger's list. Dude is a "pure" point, which gives him a different quality than his more hyped brethren. D.J. should be in the very least a fun player to watch. You have to be worried about him defensively blah, blah, blah.
10. Joe Alexander - Alexander has the potential to be very good because of his athleticism, so he belongs here. But it wouldn't be shocking to see him disappoint. I was more excited with the tenth spot last year - there seems to be a faster talent drop this year, with less future starters available to be picked. Still, some interesting (bench) pieces will remain through the second round. We'll examine those bits of mild intrigue later in the week, and try to figure out if any of it could work for the Celtics.