Pro or No, Episode 4: Pac-10 Volume 1

Here comes our fourth edition of Pro or No and now we are looking at some Pac-10 (or do we now start calling it 12?) prospects. I reached out to one of my good friends who lives on the West Coast and is a HUGE basketball fan for these previews. Trusted his judgement and he didn’t disappoint. Some pretty comical best/worst case scenarios.

Isaiah Thomas, Washington, Jr. – PG

No doubt this shot was COLD BLOODED!

Overview: Isaiah Thomas is an interesting case to open the Pac 10 Pro or No series.  He has said he has no intention to return to Washington for his senior season, but he has not hired an agent.  The multi-talented Thomas faces an uphill battle to become a professional.  The main hurdle he must overcome is convincing NBA teams that his height (listed at 5’9”) is not a detriment to his game.  Beyond that, Isaiah must continue to improve his jump shot, which was markedly improved this season but is still not NBA caliber.  Despite these two knocks, Thomas brings a lot to the table.  As someone who watched every game this year (biased Husky fan), I can say that Thomas plays the game at 110 MPH an hour with one intention: winning basketball games.  Look no further than his play in the Pac-10 tournament this season.  Washington entered the tournament mired in a second-half slump, partially attributable to the loss of fellow PG Abdul Gaddy (actually a blessing in disguise for Thomas who got to play a ton of point and showed NBA minds what he can do) and the suspension of G Venoy Overton.  All Thomas did was play every minute but 2 in a 3-game in 3-day stretch while averaging a red-hot 19.6 points and 10 assists.  By the way, he ended the tournament with a shot for the ages, hitting a step-back, fadeaway jumper as time expired in overtime to deliver his ultimate goal: a win and the Pac-10 tournament title.

Best Case:  Isaiah Thomas’ best-case scenario is that a general manager falls in love with him during the pre-draft process and wants him on his team.  Thomas possesses the personality to accomplish this.  His passion for the game and will to win could find its way to an old-school GM who wants to take a chance.  If this happens, I fully expect Isaiah Thomas to become a fan favorite.  It’s easy to fall in love with a diminutive guard, but fans will really come to love his style of play.  Thomas has the ability to make a mid-December home game against the Raptors exciting.  Isaiah can come off the bench and score 15 points in 8 minutes, combining fearless drives with timely jumpers as he whips a lifeless crowd into a frenzy.

Worst-Case: Thomas fails to show any improvement in his jumper in the next two months and gets outplayed at pre-draft events.  In this scenario, Thomas could potentially go undrafted and face a much tougher road to fulfilling his hoop dreams.  I’d argue his game has too much upside for him to go undrafted, but experts seem to disagree.

A Wazzu Cougar and the potential number 1 pick after the jump!

Klay Thompson, Washington State, Jr. – SG

Can Klay become more than just a scorer?

Overview: Undoubtedly gifted and the son of former Number 1 Overall pick Mychal Thompson, Klay Thompson is next in line for this series.  Undecided on the draft, Klay has improved his game year after year yet still has plenty of questions to answer.  First and foremost, he needs to somehow prove he can be counted on.  Missed buses and a marijuana arrest mid-season have littered his scouting report with the dreaded two words “character problems.”  While he isn’t dealing with NFL standards, Klay’s actions have opened the door for lots of questions.  Beyond all of that lies a player that can be totally lethal from long range and is capable of scoring at the NBA level.  Thompson needs to look for his teammates more often off the dribble.  He could stand to add some more size to his frame for the 82 game schedule and this should also help his rebounding, which is merely average, and his defense, which leaves you wondering if he only cares about scoring.  Herein lies the great Klay Thompson question: is he just a great college scorer who doesn’t realize he needs to round his entire game to become a star? He has shown all the flashes, but he hasn’t shown the will to go score 30, guard the other teams best wing player, all the while collecting his fair share of boards.

Best Case:  Thompson’s dad whips his butt all spring and he gets drafted in the middle to late first round.  From there he erases concerns of only being a gifted scorer while committing to improving his weaknesses.  He has a Landry Fields-esque rookie year by exceeding expectations.  It all culminates in Klay knocking down big shots in a first round playoff series for a team like the Mavericks or Nuggets.

Worst Case: General Managers league-wide humble Klay and let him slip to the second round pick. Thompson is drafted into a young, immature locker room in Sacramento/Anaheim.  He never attempts to improve his defense and rebounding while gunning non-stop in blowout losses.   Tyreke Evans attacks him in front of reporters over a weed debt the same night DeMarcus Cousins walks off the court in the second quarter after Klay freezes him out.

Derrick Williams, Arizona, So. – PF

DWill could have a Blake Griffin-like impact.

Overview:  What is left to be said about Derrick Williams? A surefire top-3 pick, Williams has athleticism to complement a refined inside-outside game replete with superior rebounding and consistently tough defense.  Williams can take over games by attacking defenses relentlessly.  Once he wears them down and gets them in foul trouble, DWill finishes it at the Free Throw line.  If a team has plenty of bodies to throw at him, Williams will step out to the 3-point line where he shot an otherworldly 57% this season.  The next step to his progression is becoming a better passer from the 3-point line.   Pair him with smart and athletic guards and this part of his game will come naturally.  It will also be a lethal combo to defend because respect for his 3-point shot will leave plenty of lanes for his guards to work without the ball.

Best-Case: Williams goes number 2 overall and resurrects the Cavaliers franchise.  The franchise will get a genuinely exciting young player that will have moments of freakishness that will have even the most beatdown Cavs fans excited.   The franchise begins improving post-LeBron and drafts the next John Calipari PG in the 2012 draft.  Williams and unnamed PG lead them to a 6 seed in Year 2.  The Cavs are on their way back.

Worst-Case: DWill goes number 2 to the Cleveland Cavaliers and suffers the unknown virus that effects roughly half of all number 2 picks since the Sam Bowie Pick (see Simmons column in the NBA Power Poll where he explains as he best can).  The Cavs struggle again next year and have the worst record in the league.  Fans resort to calling him Darko Williams because they passed on Kemba Walker (who ends up playing like Dwayne Wade and wins Rookie of the Year



Filed under NBA Draft

24 responses to “Pro or No, Episode 4: Pac-10 Volume 1

  1. Thank you for making it clear you know very little about how to evaluate talent and/or actual contributions to team success.

    • Okay Jerry West, please explain to me how Mr. Thompson is going to dominate the NBA. A marijuana arrest wouldn’t have GMs concerned? Klay has elite athleticism so GMs shouldn’t be worried about his defensive abilities or if he can have any impact on the boards?

      The evaluation was fair and stated that Klay has a skill-set that could be useful to some NBA teams, but if he is put in a bad situation- he could have a tough go at it.

      • Huh. That’s weird. I don’t see where I said “Mr. Thompson is going to dominate the NBA.”

        You state your evaluation was “fair,” and that’s fine if you think that, but I’d lean more toward your evaluation was “uninformed.”

        You: “First and foremost, he needs to somehow prove he can be counted on. Missed buses and a marijuana arrest mid-season have littered his scouting report with the dreaded two words ‘character problems.'”

        Me: On the court, the guy was the most dependable player in the Pac-10 outside of Derrick Williams, and that’s what teams will look at most heavily. Yes, he was late for a bus. And yes, he got popped for a small amount of weed. Those aren’t good things, but they’re hardly the stuff of character assassination. He’s had no prior issues, he comes from a good family — I doubt it will impact any team’s view of him in terms of draftability. To suggest that it would is just a little silly.

        You: “Thompson needs to look for his teammates more often off the dribble.”

        Me: He led the team in assist rate of 24.8 was highest on WSU, ninth in the Pac-10 and 238th nationally. If you prefer counting stats, his 3.74 assists per game were seventh in the conference. And if you don’t trust me, how about Chad Ford? “He’s got a very high basketball IQ and is an excellent passer.”

        You: “his rebounding … is merely average”

        Me: His defensive rebounding percentage of 14.0 was 27th overall in the Pac-10, but fourth among guard/wings (behind Tyler Honeycutt, Allen Crabbe and Trent Lockett). If you’re more into counting stats, his 5.2 rebounds per game were 20th in the conference, but again only behind those three players among guys who play in the backcourt. Quite the contrary to your assessment, he’s an excellent rebounder for his position.

        You: “his defense, which leaves you wondering if he only cares about scoring”

        Me: This is probably your least informed statement of all. First off, if you want to measure his defense from a purely objective standpoint, his steal percentage ranked 8th in the conference last year, while his block percentage ranked 12th — and both ranked in the top 400 nationally. And again, the counting stats were fifth and eighth, respectively

        Subjectively, as someone who watched him play every game, I can tell you he was our most consistent defender. The only times he really had issues are when he got into foul trouble trying to do too much — reaching, covering for a teammate who blew an assignment, etc. I will concede that lateral quickness could cause him some problems at the NBA, but he’s hardly the no-defense liability you seem to imply.

        All of which leads me to this: “but he hasn’t shown the will to go score 30, guard the other teams best wing player, all the while collecting his fair share of boards.”


        You’re right that if he “is put in a bad situation- he could have a tough go at it,” but who isn’t that true of? Thompson may not be destined for superstardom, but your evaluation misses the mark on so many fronts that it calls into question how seriously you thought about this piece.

      • Some GMs will look at these mishaps more than others, but to think they won’t have an impact on a GMs decision is just silly.

        I’ll give you we might not have given him enough credit for his passing. But who cares if he is the most consistent defender on an non-tourney team. Bilas reported that he is doing well at the Nike Camp, but being a consistent defender and turning it on for a pre-draft workout are completely different things. I question if he can be a dependable wing-defender in the NBA- if he can, I think he’ll have great success.

        Pointing out inconsistencies of a fringe-first round pick and wondering if he can overcome them…that’s usually what an NBA evaluation is all about. Rattling off top 400 national statistical rankings and thinking that answers the questions about his potential weaknesses when going up against basketball’s elite…not so much.

      • If I’m a GM, and I’m thinking of drafting Klay Thompson, and there’s nothing more to those two stories than has been reported … I’m not downgrading my draft grade because of these two incidents. He’s been a great teammate in every other possible way – ways that are much more important to an NBA than a 21-year-old kid making a dumb mistake which appears to be isolated.

        “Who cares if he is the most consistent defender on an non-tourney team.” Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the red herring argument that inevitably surfaces when the person has no actual “facts” to back up their arguments. Are you evaluating the team or individual skills? I was under the impression it was the latter. And if that’s the case, it makes no difference if the team was in the tournament or not. He can defend. That’s becoming clear this week.

        It’s fine if you want to question some elements of his game; however, I would argue that you’re missing the forest for the trees when you allow that to cause you to underplay the things that he IS good at. Klay Thompson is one of the most efficient perimeter scorers in the country, and you don’t get that way by merely being a jump shooter. His scoring ability will land him a spot in the NBA – period. The other stuff will determine whether he becomes a 35-minute-a-night fringe All-Star, or a simply a 20-minute-a-night microwave off the bench. Either way, he’s going to be in the league, and he’s going to be in the league a while.

      • When your argument is he was the top perimeter defender on the team, you kind of have to look at who he plays for. If he was the top defender on the NCAA champs or a team like Florida State this past year, it actually means something. Granted WSU was ranked top 50 in adjusted defense so it counts for something but not much. And like I said, proving it against other fringe prospects is great and all but let’s see how he actually does when he plays against an actual NBA player.

        He’s good at scoring, we already acknowledged that. But you know how many elite college scorers have flamed out in the NBA? Too many to count. That’s why we said Klay has to prove he can do other things besides just score which will inevitably decided how his career pans out.

      • “When your argument is he was the top perimeter defender on the team, you kind of have to look at who he plays for.”

        No, you really don’t. A good defender is a good defender. Let’s say the best defender in the country, in terms of pure one-on-one skills, plays for the 150th ranked defense in the country. How in the world does that make him any less good of an individual defender than if he played for Florida State? It doesn’t.

        But, if you really want to go there with your flawed logic … you’re again underselling how good 46th is. That’s in the top 15 percent of all Division I basketball teams and was 4th in the Pac-10. They might not have been the defensive juggernaut the Bennett teams were, but they certainly were pretty damn good. So, either way, your counterargument just holds no water.

        “He’s good at scoring.”

        No. He’s GREAT at scoring. And, as I’ve clearly laid out and you’ve done nothing to refute, he does enough other things well enough that he’s going to be selected in the first round.

      • The funniest part to me of all of this, by the way, is that you’ve been reduced to simply clinging to arguing the only subjective part of any of this. If all you can do at this point is argue that he may or may not be a good defender at the NBA level because he may or may not be able to translate his good defense against other potential draft picks … that sounds to me like a tacit admittance that you really screwed up the initial evaluation.

      • The subjective part being the biggest weakness in his game and the one he would be exposed at the next level. Can he figure out how to defend at the next level? I doubt it. But don’t worry, I’ll always know he got more steals than 90% of the Pac-10 and was better than at least 2500 other NCAA players at block effective %.

        And their have been plenty of “GREAT” scorers who had almost their entire offense run for them in college who don’t make it in the NBA, first round pick or not. We pointed out some flaws in his game and as a WAZZU fan you can’t seem to acknowledge that they could detract from his ability to have a sustained career in the NBA.

    • Interesting that you now say the subjective part of defense is the biggest weakness in his game and is so critical when it was only mentioned in passing in the original piece. I’ve provided both statistical and anecdotal evidence that he’s, at the VERY least, a solid defender. Like, for example, the fact that Thompson had more blocks this year than your “consistently tough” defender, Derrick Williams.

      I have yet to hear any kind of actual breakdown of Thompson’s defense — or any other of the supposed “flaws” in his game that you have “pointed out” — other than “he’s not good at it.” It’s just weak, and it’s invalid.

      Here’s what I’d like to challenge you to do: Name a “GREAT” scorer from college in the last six years who has flamed out in the NBA. Let’s see how their college peripheral stats compare to Thompson’s.

      • I’m not going to go stat-digging through the NBA’s D-League and such and start looking at a guy’s effective steal %. Not wasting my time.

        Listen, the point of my buddy’s article was that Thompson was a deadly college scorer who has some other questions about his overall game and whether it can translate to the next level. Most players that are late-first round/early second have some questions about their game. Otherwise they would be lottery picks. Every single concern we (and every GM) have had about Klay’s game at the next level you have defended tooth and nail by citing how he ranks nationally in the NCAA. It’s the only statistical evidence you can find to defend your boy. I can respect that, but there are certain attributes like athleticism and defensive ability that you can’t rely on numbers.

        If the inconsistencies/flaws/concerns that we have laid out are so wrong, why isn’t he considered a lottery pick? Are we and all NBA GMs just missing something? Maybe they have concerns about how his “GREAT” scoring in college will only be average? Maybe its his defense. Maybe its his athleticism. Maybe his mishaps.

        His best cast scenario- we have him starting for a playoff team and being a solid role player during his rookie year. Is that unreasonable? I don’t think so. The worst case is clearly a joke and I can understand a WSU fan kinda get pissed about it. His worst case he probably does flame out because his scoring abilities aren’t good enough to keep him in the league for long. Again a WORST case. The likely scenario- probably ends up in the middle- 9th guy in a rotation who plays against the other team’s second unit and his weaknesses aren’t as exposed as much. Nothing wrong with that type of career and one a lot of people would be envious of.

  2. Patrick

    Why so sensitive? There wasn’t anything unfair about any of the 3 players outside of the Klay Thompson worst case, which was clearly a joke. Look, there’s no doubt Klay can play, but there is concern about moving to the next level. If you think his game is ready, fair enough. But to act like success is a foregone conclusion and that his game is NBA ready today, well I would argue that your biases are affecting your judgment.

    • “If you think his game is ready, fair enough. But to act like success is a foregone conclusion and that his game is NBA ready today, well I would argue that your biases are affecting your judgment.”

      None of which I actually said, right?

  3. mays1850

    If you think NBA GMs don’t take things like getting caught with weed or having a reputation for being late or other things like that seriously, you’re crazy. They might not be deal breakers, but you get enough of them associated with you, and you see your draft stock fall–simple. Because there are other guys who are squeaky clean when it comes to that stuff.

    The only other thing I’d say is you threw out some things about him being “238th nationally” in this and “in the top 400 nationally” in that. I mean, is that good? I’m not sure what you’re saying there.

    • Patrick

      Exactly: if you’re a lottery guy you’re elite in more than one category, and not one of the 300 best people at it. It’s Coug logic at it’s finest. He is merely average at everything but scoring, yet we are being sold BS from their fans. Top 300 in any category is supposed to mean something? Sure, just like being the best at something on a non-tournament team is supposed to somehow mean something too when we are talking about the top 60 draft picks in the WORLD here.

      • “I mean, is that good? I’m not sure what you’re saying there.”

        Let me go ahead and walk you through it. There are 345 teams in Division I. Let’s say the average number of players who play regularly for each team is 8. That means, for all intents and purposes, there are 2,760 players in Division I to compare any player to. If you’re in the top 400, you’re in the top 15 percent of all players at that particular statistic. And that’s damn good.

        When you’re 232nd? You’re better than 91 percent of the other players in college basketball.

        Klay Thompson is in the top 15 percent of players in six different meaningful stats: effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, assist rate, block percentage, steal percentage, and fouls drawn per 40 minutes. I challenge you to find 20 college players who are in the top 416 (Thompson is 416 in eFG%) in any six of these categories:

        — offensive rating
        — effective field goal percentage
        — true shooting percentage
        — offensive rebounding percentage
        — defensive rebounding percentage
        — free throw rate
        — assist rate
        — block percentage
        — steal percentage
        — fouls drawn per 40 minutes
        — 2-point field goal percentage
        — 3-point field goal percentage

        Guess how many categories your beloved Isaiah Thomas is in the top 416 in? Or Derrick Williams?

        Four and seven.

        I’m not trying to argue that Thompson is on Williams’ level. That’s obviously not the case. I’m just saying that ELITE players (your word, not mine) aren’t doing much more in their all-around game than Thompson is. When you combine that the fact that while he’s not an “elite” athlete (although I would argue he’s a lot more athletic than most want to give him credit for) he does have good measurables with his height and wingspan that allows him to shoot over most anyone without being bothered, he’s right up there with just about anyone you want to point to as a candidate for the second half of the first round.

  4. fightfightfight

    I think maybe, just maybe, the person who wrote this is an idiot. I know the guy is lazy, because a simple google search for Klay’s stats shows a completely different story than the fable he wrote here. Here are Klay’s stats for every game he scored 30 or more points in.

    11/23 vs. Portland: 35 pts, 6 rbs, 3 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk.
    12/25 vs Butler: 31 pts, 5 rbs, 1 ast. 2 stl, 1 blk.
    1/6 vs Oregon State: 29 pts (close enough), 10 rbs, 5 ast, 2 stl, 2 blks
    1/13 vs Cal: 36 pts, 3 rbs, 5 ast, 2 stls
    2/17 vs Arizona: 30 pts, 4 rbs, 2 ast
    3/10 vs UW: 43 pts, 6 bds, 1 ast, 2 stl

    So your friend who wrote this… did he write it last year, when Klay was more exclusively a scorer? Even then, this evaluation would have been laughable. Maybe his Freshman year, when he was just a spot up jump shooter?

    Frankly, to question Thompsons defensive game while giving Thomas a complete pass is a joke, almost too backwards for even the internet. Thomas is 5’9. He can guard Nate Rob, and that is it. Everybody else will do what everybody in college did against Thomas: Shoot over him. It’s easy. Klay is 6’6 with long arms and is a TIRELESS defender. I cannot tell you how many times throughout his career where his scoring hasn’t been there (mostly down the stretch last year) that I have sat in AWE at his defensive effort. He chases loose balls, keeps his man in front of him, contests the shot and rebounds. What else do you want?

    • Let’s compile his 6 highest scoring games with some side stats and call that an evaluation. Right…

      • Patrick

        Nobody but you compared IT and Klay. It’s clear from the best/worst case for both players that the author thinks Klay has a much higher ceiling. IT is a fringe prospect, and Klay is a fringe lottery pick, so the author clearly is harder on Klay because there is a much bigger risk in using a first round pick on Klay than grabbing IT late in the second round.

        As for Klay’s character concerns, you guys are giving him quite the pass. He was benched for a half in his sophomore season for missing the bus, was late for a bus this year, and got arrested a couple weeks later. Oh yes, he got arrested the week of the team’s biggest game of the year. So that’s not isolated incidents, that’s a track record of dumb decisions. How can your best player consistently fail his team? His game has gotten better and better as the author suggests, but has he gotten dumber and dumber off the court?

        Who has he guarded that is NBA caliber from the wing this year? Honeycutt? He had 14 their only meeting this year (because Klay was suspended for their second meeting) while their other supposed NBA guard Malcolm Lee had 21. Who else on their schedule is NBA caliber that he has defended? It’s one thing to lock down a Justin Holiday or Kyle Fogg, but can he stick with legitimate NBA players? The fact is, he hasnt done it yet.

      • fightfightfight

        Firstly, it wasn’t I that set the parameters at 30 points in a game, you did. And it seems that in almost every game where Klay scored 30, he did exactly you asked, getting boards and also distributing and playing defense. mgib3, I suggest you take a look at Klays game by game box score, there were definitely games where he was much more well rounded and played better games. If I wanted to point out just his best games, I definitely would have added the first games against UW and ASU, as well as the first game against UA, even though he struggled to score the whole game. The only conclusions I can come up with are that you are A. lazy and didn’t event take the time to gather evidence for your “article” or B. even worse, you looked at the numbers and came out with this drivel.

        Patrick, you’re right, the author didn’t compare IT and Klay and I didn’t intend to either. It just seems that the author goes out of his way to rag on Klay for his alleged shortcomings on defense, but IT is all roses and sunshine. I understand a little home cooking, but I can write rationally and logically discuss IT, as well as Klay. Sorry for that misunderstanding, they are obviously different players with different expectations of success in the League.

        As for Klays character concerns, I don’t think we are giving him a pass, I think we are viewing the matter like scouts and owners do. No violence, a couple of missed or late buses and a misdemeanor arrest for marijuana. Horrible timing, stupid decision. But hardly a concern over ones character. Here’s a dirty little NBA and NCAABB secret: Basketball players often smoke pot. I know, it’s shocking. But how many players go out on halfcourt and publicly apologize in front of 10,000 fans? Not many. So while I do understand somebody questioning his character after hearing about these incidents, a look AT ALL deeper than the surface shows that his character is strong, he is a hard worker and truly feels remorse over his mistakes.

        As for your final point, I do not think that the Pac-10s lack of elite wing players over the last couple of years (outside of Thompson) should be a knock on his defense. Not to compare him to Derrick Williams, but Williams gets the nod as a consistently tough defender, but he is a horrid post defender and when he’s out on the wing, we get back to your question. Who is he guarding? Regardless, Klay has played consistent and frequently dominant defense against every teams best outside player. While those may not be lottery picks, they are still Pac-10 basketball players.

        I’m sorry to be so snarky, but the reason Klay has a “rep” as a one dimensional or limited player is because morons without any kind of evidence rag on him because they think he looks pouty or whatever other reasons they make up.

  5. Oh, and one more thing. Derrick Williams is a TERRIBLE post defender. Positively awful.

    • Calamander-Weez

      Oh, and one more thing. WSU is still the most pathetic sports school in the Pac-Whatever, is is evidently full of losers! college gameday woo hoo!!!!

  6. conormu

    I haven’t been a part of this debate from the start, and I think it’s great to see some fire lit under this topic. That said, I tend to agree with the majority of the crowd here. I think Klay will be a good pro. Not a great pro, but a solid role player in the NBA for years to come. I don’t think he is worthy of lottery status, nor does any expert I’ve come across. Maybe I haven’t dug deep enough, but I don’t think anybody of repute in NBA circles is considering Thompson an elite NBA talent.

    Moreover, I realize that statistics are one method to measure one player versus another, but NBA GMs do NOT use statistics as their primary method of evaluation. That’s the reason you’ll see guys like Perry Jones and Tristan Thompson (Klay isn’t even the best Thompson in the draft) in the lottery, while their stats are relatively middle of the road compared to most of the players selected behind them. HOWEVER, since you brought up statistics, I’m happy to entertain them. And since one of your comments serves me on a silver platter, I’ll select that comment to refute.

    “If you’re in the top 400, you’re in the top 15 percent of all players at that particular statistic. And that’s damn good. When you’re 232nd? You’re better than 91 percent of the other players in college basketball.”

    I’ll ignore the fact that 25% of college basketball players never see the court, and, by a totally inexact estimate (probably an underestimate), I’d say 60% more have no realistic aspirations to play in the NBA, so I’m not sure why you’re bothering to compare Thompson to those guys. But instead of discrediting your statistics, I will 100% agree that they are valid (Only for argument’s sake. In reality, they’re bogus stats that prove nothing).

    Being in the top 15% of all college players in ANY statistic is damn good. But it takes so much more than being “damn good” in college to make it to the NBA. While we didn’t put an exact number on where Klay will be drafted, I think it would be fair to say we’re thinking somewhere around #25. If we’re going completely by statistics, being in the top 15% of college players in a statistic doesn’t get you into the NBA. It doesn’t get you into the D-League. It doesn’t get you into a Euro league. Being in the top 9%, while “damn good”, also does not get you into the NBA, D-League, or Euroleague. Let’s say, because most experts expect 5 international players to be drafted in the top 20 of the draft this year, that we are arguing there should be 20 players from college drafted ahead of Klay. Those players represent the top .7% of college players. Not the top 7%, but the top 7%…divided by ten. To be ranked in the top 400 in any statistical category cannot and should not be viewed as a positive for an NBA prospect. I PROMISE Klay’s agent won’t be citing any statistic in which he ranks outside the top 30 to bolster his client’s status. Top 400 is an unfathomable reach.

    I’ve watched this kid a lot, too. I like his game, and I think he will make it in the NBA and be a contributor on an NBA team. But I don’t see any reason, based on statistics (which should hold very little weight in NBA draft conversations to begin with), to regard him as a top tier talent.

    • Boy, you sure read what I wrote closely. It’s this kind of attention to detail that got this started in the first place.

      I didn’t say Thompson’s worthy of lottery status. I didn’t say he’s an elite NBA talent. What I DID say was that the assumptions the author made about Thompson’s passing, rebounding and defense were woefully uninformed and erroneous, leading to this: “he’s right up there with just about anyone you want to point to as a candidate for the second half of the first round.”

      I understand NBA scouts don’t use stats that much — but if he really was as bad of a passer, rebounder and defender as your author wants to make him out to be, would he rate as highly in those stats as he does? Of course not. The whole point of this, from start to finish, was to point out that your author really had no idea what he was talking about.

      As for the “top 400” stuff, while I appreciate the fact that you’re so generous to “ignore the fact that 25% of college basketball players never see the court,” you’d see — if you’d actually, you know, read my comment closely — that I already did that, smart guy.

      And while we’re on the topic of fuzzy math, let’s go ahead and tackle your “20 players from college drafted ahead of Klay (who) represent the top .7% of college players” as some sort of mathematical justification that being in the top 15 percent of anything just isn’t that special. You know how many guys are about to be drafted who are in the top 1 percent of any statistical category — meaning the top 27? Derrick Williams falls into that category (eFG%, TS%, FTR). Kemba Walker doesn’t, which means all those draft projections that have him going in the top 5 must be wrong, huh? Brandon Wright, only ranks in the top 400 in one meaningful category, Terrance Jones doesn’t, and Tristan Thompson and Alec Burks each have one.

      The point isn’t that these guys stink. The point is that you have to take everything in totality. All of these guys, save for Knight — who will be drafted mostly on potential — rank in the top 400 in a number of categories. An NBA player is expected to be able to do a number of things well, so it’s natural that performing well across these categories would be an indicator of NBA potential, especially for a player who is likely to be in the back half of the first round.

      Which leads us to: “But I don’t see any reason, based on statistics (which should hold very little weight in NBA draft conversations to begin with), to regard him as a top tier talent.”

      And neither do I. Which you’d know if you’d read what I actually wrote.

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