John Hollinger has always been the metrics guy, if you will, for ESPN’s NBA coverage. He developed the Player Efficiency Rating (PER), which seems to be an increasingly popular statistic. And every year at this time, he also has his Draft Rater — an admittedly flawed formula that still attempts to chart future PER based on college statistics and several other factors.
Within the 2011 NBA Draft class, the Draft Rater is agreeing with several prominent ideas about the current set of draftees but they’re also opposing some commonly held notions. Hollinger says it rates Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams at the absolute top of the available players, making it an obvious 1-2 punch atop the draft — at least on paper. However when it comes to every Jayhawk in the draft, the score isn’t so hot.
Specifically, Hollinger calls Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and Josh Selby “overvalued” as the rankings simply don’t support the idea that the big men are well-rounded and ready for the NBA as a starting force. Hollinger admits that the low post rankings are generally off much more so than perimeter players, but it’s worth noting that both Morris twin is placed lower than other players projected much later in the draft.
Even Butler’s Matt Howard is ranked above Markieff specifically, yet both forwards are in the range typically defined as a career back-up. Hollinger writes that David Lee is the only big man to be ranked so low and develop an All-Star caliber career, so it’s not as if Hollinger is spinning a random wheel somewhere or making up numbers from the top of his head (although some KU fans might believe that to be true). Yet it’s difficult to believe that a player like Marcus Morris isn’t mature and well-rounded enough to have a solid starting career in the NBA.
Josh Selby, on the other hand, has already been slipping down mock draft boards in favor of international players with more flair and mystery surrounding them. The list is long of hyped high school players who could never take their game to the next level, and Selby’s collegiate performance certainly hurts him. Of course, all it takes is one team to buy into the hype and believe the system was the culprit, but still Selby is a definite lower-tier option come draft day at this point.
Then again, it’s all smoke and mirrors at this stage and no doubt Hollinger will both hit and miss in the next few days as the draft unveils its order. Yet it’s that unpredictability that makes the pre-draft talk so exciting.