I’ve invented a game called Beat the Draft.
I will present actual (anonymized) scouting reports of two past NBA players from right before their draft. Your goal is to draft the better player or to pass on both. In a couple of days, I will tell you the actual identities.
Now, you could ruin the game and win this by guessing the secret identities. That’s no fun. You should try to guess just from the scouting reports. I will delete any comments that correctly name the players or give any hints.
I put the answers to Game #3 at the end. Here are the games in case you haven’t played them yet.
James Wiseman Types
For our first few rounds, I decided to focus on past draftees that had similar mystery profiles to James Wiseman.
I looked up every NBA draft pick that was:
an American high school student (thus with similar lack of college track record)
an NBA first round draft pick (since the Lottery was introduced in 1985)
6’ 11” or taller
You can choose:
Pass on both, explain why
Height: 6-11, Weight: 225 lbs
Senior Season: 22.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per game. (Junior year: state title.)
First Team All-State, Player of the Year and "Mr. Basketball". USA Today's All-USA Basketball Team, McDonald's All-American Game.
C is a very athletic forward, with skills both of a small forward and a power forward. He reminds me a little of Cliff Robinson, an athletic big guy who can play at three positions, can score inside but also able to step outside and take big forwards off the dribble (he's very quick for his size, and is also a great runner).
C has long arms and great leaping ability, which makes him a force defensively. Offensively, he has ways to go: his jumper isnt good at the moment, he'll have trouble scoring on the blocks since he's not strong enough to pound people into deep post positions (even NBA small forwards can outmuscle him)…
He's very weak physically at this stage, and will never have Shaquille O'Neal's frame, but he has great body, with potential to be very strong and muscular.
C is awaiting the results of his college exams. Therefore, he may withdraw from the draft. C has good skills, but he needs time to mentally and physically mature.
C is likely to be selected in the 15-25 range of the first round.
Height: 7-1, Weight: 237 lbs
Senior Season: 25.8 points, 14.8 rebounds, and 5.5 blocks. State runners-up, 24-8 record.
Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, McDonald's All-American, Jordan Brand Classic, Nike Hoop Summit, State Mr. Basketball
RSCI National Ranking at end of HS: #1
Strengths. Elite measurables with long arms and a strong frame. He runs the floor like a gazelle, and he explodes vertically when he has space to launch. Active rebounder. He displays a high motor and great instincts tracking the trajectory of missed shots on the offensive glass.
His best offensive role is as a screener who rolls hard to the rim since he can finish lobs or with touch. But he can also mix in pops to generate shots from the perimeter and keep defenses honest. Strong post-up potential. Displays a rare blend of power and finesse and does a nice job of sealing off his man. But he currently lacks advanced power moves, instead defaulting to fadeaways.
Shooting upside: He has good mechanics and soft touch. But he lacks range and doesn’t have a track record of success shooting from midrange and 3. Athletic rim protector whose mere presence can deter opponents. He’s good at assessing what’s in front of him. If his positioning and court awareness improves, he has elite potential.
High-character person who works hard on and off the court. He’s intelligent, too; These are positive personality traits that could aid his development.
Weaknesses. Poor shot selection in high school; he played like he thought he was the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki. He’s an all-world athlete in an open gym, but he slows down in games when he has to read the floor. Simplifying his role will be vital early on. He has a weak handle, which limits him off the dribble. And as a playmaker, he misses open cutters and delivers inaccurate passes. He’s best suited to finish rather than create.
Chases too many blocks and ends up falling for pump fakes. Sluggish lateral movement on the perimeter due to a lack of quickness and shoddy footwork. Defenders blow by him too often. At this stage, he’s not switchable. Shaky team defender who tends to find himself in the wrong position or a beat late when rotating. He reads the floor slowly, so his pick-and-roll defense is particularly underwhelming.
If those skills never come around, H won't offer exceptional value as a likely top-five pick. That said, he won't be a bust, either. His physical tools are off the charts, and he could slide into a rim-running role tomorrow.
The upside comes from the possibility H will build onto this foundation. If he's a pick-and-roll terror who can also hit outside shots, anchor a defense and survive the occasional perimeter switch on defense, he could have the best career of anyone in this class.
Your Choices: Pick Player C, Pick Player H, or Pass on Both
Put your choice in the comments… and for more fun, put your reasoning. But DO NOT GUESS WHO THE PLAYERS ARE. Have fun.
If you PASS on Both, you have to say which of the two players you think will be better.
Answers to Game #3
we actually had a little disagreement on this one in the answers. That’s a good thing. I thought you all were going to get the idea that projecting big guys is just a piece of cake.
E. Kwame Brown (2002 #1). Report 1. Report 2. He was such a legendary bust, he gets brought up as the Worst Case Scenario in any discussion of a high school to pro prospect. He managed to play a lot of NBA minutes for a bust. 607 NBA games, 281 starts, even got the Warriors to throw $6.75M at him in 2011, so we’re not talking about a Hasheem Thabeet level bust. Also, he famously came into the league under the psychological torture, I mean mentorship, of Michael Jordan. One wonders if his career could have gone differently if he’d been drafted late lottery to a team that nurtured him.
F. Tyson Chandler (2002 #2). Report 1. Report 2. 1x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive. An excellent player, but didn’t really come on-line until his fourth season. To be fair, he was drafted onto the post-Last-Dance Chicago Bulls with newbie coach Tim Floyd and chaos all around.