2011 Draft Update

February 24th, 2012 by Kevin Hetrick

As the Cavs:the Blog draft expert in 2011, I thought a lot about the eligible group of incoming players. Now that half of their rookie seasons are complete; it’s interesting to see who is meeting expectations or struggling. Below, I offer a ranking of all the drafted players.

It’s “Subjectively objective”, I use three numbers that attempt to quantify total player contribution.  Though not perfect, Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Win Shares per 48 minutes (WS/48), and Adjusted plus –minus (Adj +/-) each have value.  As a broad overview:

  • PER – As developed by John Hollinger of ESPN, this number strives to define a player’s per-minute, pace-adjusted performance.  It is calibrated so that 15 is average.  Below ten is poor, above twenty is excellent.
  • Win Shares per 48 minutes – Basketball-reference.com calculates this number using Offensive and Defensive ratings developed by Dean Oliver.  Average equals 0.100.  I’ll say that below 0.05 is bad and above 0.150 reflects exemplary performance.
  • Adjusted plus / minus –The outcome of every lineup matchup that takes place in every NBA game is represented as an equation.  Tens of thousands of these, summarizing the actual result of each lineup matchup, are solved for 400-ish variables.  The variables are each NBA player.  The value derived for each player represents their value in points per 100 possessions, compared to an average player.  An average player has adjusted +/- of zero.  Positive values are good.  Also included (in parentheses) is the standard deviation for each player’s adjusted plus-minus.  Players with a (U) have not logged enough minutes to qualify, and the net change of their team’s scoring margin per 100 possessions with them on the court is included instead.

Some players worth noting:

Kyrie Irving – His 18 points and 5 assists per game on 57% true shooting definitely provide early justification for selecting him first.  His defense must improve though, an issue that the adjusted plus / minus is likely picking up on.

Nicola Vucevic & Jon Leuer – Vucevic provides an anchor at center for the 76ers “night shift” (second unit); scoring efficiently and rebounding for the first place team in the Atlantic Division.  He’ll be a very solid contributor for a long time.  From the 40th pick in the draft, Leuer has exceeded expectations, shooting well and rarely turning the ball over.

Isaiah Thomas – An emerging trend involves NCAA juniors and seniors springing to the top of my list. Obviously more seasoned, the older players’ impact is more immediate.  At 23 years old, Thomas is making 29 NBA teams regret letting him slip to “Mr. Irrelevant” status.  He’s only 5’9”, and there aren’t alot of shorter player that have played much better than he is right now…this could be his ceiling.

Chandler Parsons – Despite going #38, he’s fourth in minutes played, as the starting small forward on an 20 – 14 team.  His box score numbers don’t jump off the page; in 26 minutes per game, he’s averaging 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Offensively and defensively though, the Rockets have been better with him on the court.  He doesn’t make mistakes, evidenced by fewer turnovers than steals, and he frequently defends the opponent’s best offensive wing.  I recall commenter’s suggesting that the Cavs should pick Parsons at #32; those astute readers were right.  Parsons is 23 years old and doesn’t have “upside”, but he’s helping his team win basketball games.   That’s a successful 2nd round draft pick.

Marshon Brooks – Another “old” rookie; for perspective on the seniors discussed here, the NBA’s reigning MVP is only four months older than any of them.  Despite not having the potential of younger players, I count at least six seniors drafted 25th or later (5 after 38) that are already NBA contributors.  Though not terribly efficient, Brooks shows ability to create shots and score at a decent clip.

Josh Harrelson – He hasn’t been active since late January.  When playing though, he stretched the floor, hustled and played error free (21 steals + blocks vs 20 fouls).  Adjusted plus – minus loved what he had to offer.

Lavoy Allen – Another young big man that’s rebounding, finishing easy looks, and not making mistakes (1 turnover per 37 minutes).

Shelvin Mack – Per 36 minutes he’s notching 11, 5 & 5.  He’s knocking down a few threes and playing tough defense.  Every year, there are six or seven second round picks that become valuable contributors; he’s one staking an early claim this year.

Tristan Thompson – It’s still hard to tell exactly what the Cavs have with Thompson.  He may never develop into more than a solid defense & rebounding big man that pitches in points on o-rebounds & from other’s assists.  Is there anyone above him on my list, that I would definitely rather be on the Cavs?  Actually no.  When all is said and done, do I think he’ll end up as the second best player on the list?  No to that, too.  Like everyone else, I’m waiting to see where TT’s career goes.

Bismack Biyombo – He’s very young and not quite ready.   He’s an athletic freak though and did have 7 blocks in a game last week.

Jan Vesely – My worst case draft day scenario involved the Cavs talking themselves into Vesely at #4.  So far, he’s justified that sentiment.  He’s committed more fouls than scored points.  He rebounds as poorly as advertised, and none of this is encouraging from a player that will be 22 years old at the end of the season.

Jimmer Fredette – Not good for the Jimmer.  His sieve like defense is not compensated for by his offense.  The Kings 28th ranked defense is 8 points per 100 possessions worse with him on the court; the man he’s guarding rings up a 20+ PER.  His eight points and two assists per game (in 21 minutes)…not enough.

Josh Selby – Two years ago as a prospect, he was considered equal with Kyrie Irving.  Leading up to last year’s draft, a few teams were linked as potentially drafting him late in the first round.  He’s followed his poor play at Kansas with abysmal play for the Grizzlies, resulting in recent demotion to the D-League.

Marcus Morris – Morris was largely regarded as a top 10 pick until draft day, when he slipped to 14th.  Prior to the draft, he was viewed as the more refined Morris twin, with an array of post moves and a tough defender / capable rebounder.  In the week leading up to the draft, he started talking about playing small forward in the NBA.  This was confusing; maybe he was getting bad advice.  He’s becoming more and more a perimeter player:

  • Sophomore year – 11% of his field goal attempts were from three
  • Junior year – 18% taken from long range
  • In limited NBA time – four of ten shots are from the even deeper distance.  He missed all four.

Most of this season has been spent in the D-League, where he’s been solid with 21 points and 8 rebounds in 30 minutes per game; 25% of his shots are from NBA 3-pt range though (he’s only making 26%).  Draftexpress.com suggested his best-case was “David West with 3-pt range” and his worst-case was “Udonis Haslem”.  He needs to get back to his basics and break out the three-point range when it’s game ready.

Jonas Valanciunas – How could I provide a 2011 draft update without mentioning the player that many Cavs fans wanted at #4?  In 38 professional games this year, he’s playing 23 minutes and averaging 12 points, 8 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks.  He’s still an amazingly efficient shooter, at 65% on field goals and 82% on free throws.  Looking solely at his 11 Eurocup games, the numbers are similar but generally slightly worse.  He’s still foul (almost 5 per 36 minutes in Eurocup games) and turnover prone (would rank 48th of 60 NBA centers), but this seems excusable from a 19 year old.  At one year younger than TT, he’s still the one player I definitely would rather the Cavs had selected at #4.

I continue to hope that Thompson makes me look stupid for that.

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Here are my rankings.  The actual draft order is in parantheses.  Minutes played are also included.  Take these rankings with a grain of salt.  Its one-half of a condensed, accelerated season, based on a non-defined balance of four numbers.  The rankings do not forecast who is the best future prospect, only the most effective this season.  All numbers are through 02/22-ish.

Player Min PER WS/48 Adj +/-

  1. Kyrie Irving (1), CLE                                 868         20.7        0.141     -4.16 (8.77)
  2. Nicola Vucevic (16), PHI                        425         18.4        0.185     4.78 (9.39)
  3. Jon Leuer (40), MIL                                 428         17.2        0.149     10.16 (8.22)
  4. Isaiah Thomas (60), SAC                        626         16.8        0.106     -0.6 (7.08)
  5. Derrick Williams (2), MIN                      627         13.9        0.094     4.13 (7.29)
  6. Chandler Parsons (38), HOU                  856         12.5        0.083     4.84 (6.97)
  7. Marshon Brooks (25), NJ                      761         16.3        0.065     -4.4 (9.70)
  8. Josh Harrellson (45)                               296         12.4        0.107     20.3 (9.35)
  9. Lavoy Allen (50), PHI                             367         15.1        0.168     2.37 (9.86)
  10. Alec Burks (12), UTA                               324         14.7        0.071     11.84 (12.85)
  11. Kawhi Leonard (15), SAS                       791         15.0        0.128     -13.78 (6.46)
  12. Markieff Morris (13), PHX                    698         13.7        0.078     -5.8 (9.74)
  13. Enes Kanter (3), UTA                             463         16.0        0.093     -15.98 (16.19)
  14. Kemba Walker (9), CHA                         934         15.5        0.024     -12.64 (7.22)
  15. Brandon Knight (8), DET                        1113       11.9        0.021     -6.18 (7.22)
  16. Kenneth Faried (22), DEN                     233         22.5        0.222     -3.75 (U)
  17. Shelvin Mack (34), WAS                        337         12.6        0.042     8.8 (15)
  18. Tristan Thompson (4), CLE                  465         13.7        0.032     -5.84 (9.76)
  19. Norris Cole (28), MIA                              705         11.2        0.055     -16.42 (9.43)
  20. Iman Shumpert (17), NYK                    844         10.1        0.032     -5.46 (6.84)
  21. Klay Thompson (11), GSW                    496         12.3        0.042     -12.56 (8.12)
  22. Bismack Biyombo (7), CHA                   520         11.8        0.025     -8.42 (8.11)
  23. Jan Vesely  (6), WAS                                402         7.5          0.012     0.74 (8.68)
  24. Tobias Harris (19), MIL                           213         18.7        0.141     6.35 (U)
  25. Jimmy Butler (30), CHI                           151         16.8        0.219     -6.95 (U)
  26. Jordan Williams (36)                                193         13.7        0.073     13.78 (U)
  27. A. Goudelock (46), LAL                          288         10.6        0.058     -1.62 (U)
  28. JaJuan Johnson (27), BOS                     181         16.2        0.109     -9.11 (U)
  29. Jimmer Fredette (10)                             600         11.0        0.02        -14.89 (7.39)
  30. Reggie Jackson (24), OKC                    322         10.2        0.023     -12.30 (10.62)
  31. Chris Singleton (18), WAS                     621         7.7          0.029     -8.56 (7.65)
  32. Jordan Hamilton (26), DEN                   73           20.6        0.115     13.69 (U)
  33. Vernon Macklin (52), DET                     71           19.4        0.159     29.25 (U)
  34. Julyan Stone (Un), DEN                         124         10.0        0.048     -2.99 (U)
  35. Charles Jenkins (44), GSW                    156         10.7        0.058     -23.5 (U)
  36. E’Twaun Moore (55), BOS                    219         8.7          0.029     -2.09 (U)
  37. Jeremy Tyler (39), GSW                         65           13.2        0.099     -14.23 (U)
  38. Darius Morris (41), LAL                         133         7.4          0.030     -13.34 (U)
  39. Cory Joseph (29)                                      191         7.2          -0.004    -17.79 (U)
  40. Trey Thompkins (37), LAC                    89           11.7        0.006     -21.91 (U)
  41. Travis Leslie (47), LAC                            39           13.7        0.041     -33.51 (U)
  42. Josh Selby (49), MEM                             186         5.0          -0.094    -9.8 (U)
  43. Nolan Smith (21)                                      135         4.8          -0.077    -11.99 (U)
  44. Tyler Honeycutt (35), SAC                    9              32.2        0.345     57.15 (U)
  45. DeAndre Liggins (53), ORL                    14           22.7        0.250     19.25
  46. Marcus Morris (14), HOU                      17           -4.0        -0.244    -18.65 (U)
  47. Justin Harper (32)                                    17           -7.5        -0.295    -55.83 (U)
  48. Kyle Singler (33), DET                              0              0              0              0
  49. Keith Benson (48), ATL                            0              0              0              0
  50. Jon Diebler (51), POR                               0              0              0              0