In which we discuss the Timberwolves at the midseason point, Ricky Rubio trade rumors, how the Wolves’ young core compares to others, and potential 2017 draft prospects.
Tag Archives: nba draft
In which we look ahead at the Wolves options in the NBA Draft.
Eds. Note: We decided to watch two of the highest touted players in this year’s upcoming NBA Draft, LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram. We basically flipped back and forth between the games and did ad-hoc eye tests of the two players. Be warned: This is not an analytics piece, it’s a fun comparison piece. Your mileage may vary. Have fun.
After last season’s stank tank, the Wolves got lucky in the lottery for the first time in their history. With the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Karl Towns of the University of Kentucky (Adam Silver voice).
The Wolves got their man. They gave the people what they want. The celebration is on. Enjoy the moment.
(Eds. Note: This is the second part of a three-part series of guest posts from friend of the blog Jon Wallace (@jonwallace3), a Duke graduate, current Washington, DC resident, great American, and die-hard Blue Devils fan.)
Draft Notes from a Dookie
Hi again, I’m Jon W. You might be familiar with me from Part I of this series, on Jahlil Okafor’s NBA prospects, or from the post I wrote here a while back in which I compared and contrasted John Wall and Ricky Rubio.
Please excuse my brief indulgence into the draft and NBA career prospects of the Duke early entry candidates from an unabashed Duke homer. This team has been one of my favorite sports teams to follow in my lifetime so there is no way I can be unbiased in the evaluation of these three players. That said, I will try to give you my honest and candid opinions as to the strengths, weaknesses, and NBA prospects of Jahlil Okafor, rising prospect Justise Winslow, and Minnesota native Tyus Jones. There’s bigtime interest in these guys in Timberwolves circles–and for good reason.
I’ll spend this post on Winslow–who is the most athletic of the three and is projected to go as high as fourth overall. Part III of this series will be on Tyus Jones. Read on below the fold for more on Justise Winslow.
(Eds. Note: This is a guest post from friend of the blog Jon Wallace (@jonwallace3), a Duke graduate, current Washington, DC resident, great American, and die-hard Blue Devils fan.)
Draft Notes from a Dookie
Hi, I’m Jon W. You might be familiar with me.
Please excuse my brief indulgence into the draft and NBA career prospects of the Duke early entry candidates from an unabashed Duke homer. This team has been one of my favorite sports teams to follow in my lifetime so there is no way I can be unbiased in the evaluation of these three players.
That said, I will try to give you my honest and candid opinions as to the strengths, weaknesses, and NBA prospects of Jahlil Okafor, Minnesota native Tyus Jones, and rising prospect Justise Winslow. There’s interest in these guys in Minnesota.
This is for good reason. I’ll spend this post on Okafor–who is the most realistic future T-Wolves player, and the best prospect of the three. My next two posts will be on Jones and Winslow.
Punch-Drunk Podcast, Episode 10: Wiggins and the Rest (Plus GERALD GREEN!, Injuries and Tanking, and the NBA Draft)
In which we discuss Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, Mo Williams, Zach LaVine, Gerald Green’s performance, injuries and tanking, and some NBA Draft prospects who intrigue us.
Check out the podcast below the fold.
I blame Kevin Love.
Anyway, we’ll dig into what we feel are the big questions facing the Wolves, and Wolves fans as we head into another NBA Draft – a draft that doesn’t promise to be memorable for the franchise, but certainly could be.
I recently read an interesting paper, entitled “Profiting from Machine Learning in the NBA Draft (paper available here).” The author of the paper is Philip Maymin, Assistant Professor of Finance and Risk Engineering at the NYU School of Engineering. Maymin has written several articles applying machine learning techniques to NBA basketball.
Here’s the study’s abstract: I project historical NCAA college basketball performance to subsequent NBA performance for prospects using modern machine learning techniques without snooping bias. I find that the projections would have helped improve the drafting decisions of virtually every team: over the past ten years, teams forfeited an average of about $90,000,000 in lost productivity that could have been theirs had they followed the recommendations of the model. I provide team-by-team breakdowns of who should have been drafted instead, as well as team summaries of lost profit, and draft order comparison. Far from being just another input in making decisions, when used properly, advanced draft analytics can effectively be an additional revenue source in a team’s business model.
Based on The Machine’s* projections, we’re going to discuss some choice decisions the Wolves made in past drafts.
Bill Simmons’ ever-intriguing “Trade Value” series of columns has begun over at Grantland. He has lots of provocative, interesting opinions, whether or not you agree with any/many of them. Simmons, tongue-in-cheek as can ever, also talks a lot of sense from angles that matter: player potential and history, team cap situation, and team need. It makes for a good read.
There are a bunch of guys I’d flag as worth checking out to see if Simmons’ idiosyncratic ratings comport with your own. But none more than DeMarcus Cousins, the almost-Wolf who was passed over in favor of Wesley Johnson.
I found what Simmons had to say – both the goods and the bads – remain revealing about what a team might be getting in Cousins. This isn’t directly Wolves’ related except insofar as he easily could’ve been a Wolf and probably still would be had we drafted him at #4 instead of Wes Johnson, but Simmons makes a fairly credible case both about what’s wrong (and right) with Cousins, what’s wrong in SAC, and how we might come to see this behemoth talent realize at least a good part of its massive potential.
It’s March. Spring is (officially) here.
Flowers are blooming and the air is warm. There’s still piles of snow on the ground and it’s cold as hell. But NBA and NCAA tournament basketball is being played. Basketball fans are in a state of full receptivity, like a f*cking lightning rod.*
Me, I’ve been traveling the last week, first to Minnesota, then to Chicago. Catching games when I could. But travel is disruptive, especially for someone who’s usually planted in his lounger in front of a 60-inch TV with the full suite of League Pass and cable options, and two(!) laptops, one usually dedicated to picking up a second NBA game on League Pass Broadband and the other to NBA Twitter. While on the road I’ve been catching games when possible. But it hasn’t been the same as my home base in The Hoops Junkie’s Blogger Lair. But now I’m back in the captain’s chair, and it’s on.
Anyway, here’s some stuff I’m thinking about.
The Wolves Remain Intriguing In Spite Of Everything
The NBA Draft is tonight. What’s going to happen?
Andy G and I look into Punch-Drunk Wolves’ crystal ball (an old fishbowl with a goldfish floating belly up) and weigh in on the prospects. Let us know which ones we’re wrong on in the comments.
Andy G: Chad Ford posted his Mock 8.0 today. Wolves take Fab Melo of Syracuse (!!!) at Number 18, immediately followed by the enigma from Baylor, Perry Jones III.
If you know anything about David Kahn, and if you know anything about Perry Jones III, you know that it would absolutely crush our POBO–perhaps to the point of tearful pouting–to have this type of LENGTH AND ATHLETICISM suffer the Adelman Family Veto.
What do you think? (more below the fold)
Jay Bilas had a nice piece (Insider) yesterday on NBA Draft prospects who have star potential. Bilas isn’t perfect, but (1) he has a good feel for the draft by virtue of actually having seen most players play multiple times, and (2) he sees the forest for the trees on this issue–the draft is all about identifying potential impact players – stars – which is correlated, but not synonymous, with college advanced stats.
It’s a deep draft, but beyond Anthony Davis it isn’t clear who will break out as the kind of player teams later regret passing on.
Bilas sees five potential stars in the draft–maybe more.
Royce White burst onto the national scene last night with an eye-opening performance against the NCAA Tournament-favorite Kentucky Wildcats. White and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, who matched up against each other for much of the game, were the two best players of the floor. White ended the night with 23 pts on 9-12 shooting, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block. He did have 3 turnovers, but had the ball in his hands almost constantly during the 34 minutes he played.
On Iowa State’s first possession of the game, White showed what kind of night it was going to be, taking Davis to the left block, receiving the entry, and making a strong hop move into the middle of the lane and curling in a lefty flip beyond Davis’ outstretched arms. White outmuscled UK’s entire front line several times, using a variety of drop steps and nifty moves to create space and score the ball. Davis was no slouch either, putting up 15, 12, and 5 blocks, but Royce White was the story.
The question is, why hasn’t Royce White been the story– or, at least, a story–all season long?
The Timberwolves will face Jonny Flynn and the Houston Rockets for the first time since cutting bait with the 2009 1st-round pick on draft night in June.
We all remember how bad Flynn’s Wolves tenure was.
This was arguably only partly Jonny’s fault.
Kurt Rambis, whom Wolves POBO David Kahn hired AFTER he drafted PGs Ricky Rubio and Flynn with the 5th and 6th picks, implemented the point-guard unfriendly triangle offense–the kiss of death not only for Flynn, but also for Ramon Sessions, whose career non-Wolves PER of 17.6 dropped to 12.9 under Rambis.
Flynn also suffered a hip injury that required surgery during the summer after his first season. He missed the season’s first six weeks and never regained whatever explosiveness he occasionally showed in his rookie year. Flynn’s lack of basketball ability also hindered his development.
It’s hard to erase the memories of Flynn’s ball stopping and thrown-away passes and ill-advised heat checks that are etched into Wolves fans’ collective psyche, and it’s hard to forget that Kahn could’ve drafted Stephen Curry or Demar DeRozen or Brandon Jennings or Jrue Holiday or Ty Lawson (oops, he did!) instead of Flynn. And it’s hard to forget that picking Flynn immediately after he had picked Rubio was what ignited so many KAAAAAAAAAAAHHHN! refrains heard over the past two and a half years.
What The Numbers Say
Statistics were consistent with what Wolves fans witnessed on a nightly basis: Flynn was historically bad during his sophomore season. (More on this below.)
So it was interesting when Houston Rockets GM Daryl “Dork Elvis” Morey–a man-god among NBA stats geeks who is a living symbol of the evidence-based movement–traded for Flynn on draft night. Morey has shown signs of eschewing statistics in making other decisions, including hiring former Wolves vice-president Kevin McHale as Rockets coach, but one year earlier Morey would’ve been the last GM Wolves fans would’ve thought might take a flier on Flynn.
The statistics aren’t encouraging.
First, consider how analytics rate Flynn’s 2010/11 season with the Wolves.
How bad was it?
The 4th worst in the past 26 years, according to one estimate.
In more than 800 minutes, Flynn sported a 7.1 PER, an offensive rating of 85, and a defensive rating of 114. He had negative win shares.
There is little evidence that a fresh start with a new franchise and a point guard-friendly coach are resuscitating Jonny’s career prospects. Flynn has only played 70 minutes over 5 games in 2011/12, but his 9.8 PER remains abysmally low and his WS is 0.0.
Jonny’s TS percentage and eFG percentage have dropped from .444 and .417 to .383 and .325, respectively, and his 90 offensive rating is closer to last season’s abomination than his rookie rating of 97.
This despite the fact that, albeit a limited sample, Flynn has been playing with better teammates in a point-guard friendly offense.
Kyle Lowry, who is physically similar to Flynn, is sporting a PER of 22.3 and a WS of 2.0; Lowry’s TS percentage is .570 and his eFG is .506.
After fewer than 5 games in Houston, Rockets writers have already written Jonny off. This pretty much sums it up:
Yet Flynn believes he’s now in a better situation. He clearly does not miss playing for Rambis.
“That’s not my style; I don’t think that’s anybody’s style,” Flynn said about Rambis’ > triangle offense. “Most coaches, they play to the style of their players. You
never hear of a coach going out there and doing something totally opposite to what his > players do best.”
So far Flynn has failed to crack McHale’s rotation. He’s stuck behind Kyle Lowry, who’s having an All-Star season, and Goran Dragic, another solid point. So it’s safe to assume Jonny won’t be playing much this season unless the Rockets’ backcourt suffers a rash of injuries. (TONYA HARDING ALERT!)
Still, Jonny remains optimistic:
“In this league, you just have to wait sometimes,” Flynn said. “Wait for things to turn around in your direction. When it does, it’ll be good finally to show everybody the
Somewhere out there, Jonny’s smiling that toothy grin Kahn found so seductive, smiling because somehow he’s still on an NBA roster.