Jun 26, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
Draft for need or take the best player available?
It’s the question as old as drafts themselves.Personally, I favor the middle-of-the-road approach – the tier system.I judge prospects on three attributes:
- Current ability
- Likelihood of meeting that potential
Obviously, assessing those attributes is not easy. It’s really hard.
That’s why I don’t like taking the best prospect – based on all three criteria – available. It’s just too difficult to split hairs between players with so many variables
.But overly considering fit is problematic for the same reason. Rosters churn, and it’s foolish to pass on a clearly better prospect – in the cases that becomes clear – just because he doesn’t fit the current version of the team.
So how does the tier system work?
Divide players into tiers based on their value regardless of fit. Don’t worry about differentiating prospects with nearly identical values. Find natural cutoffs.
Then, within each tier, rank the players based on fit for the specific drafting team.
Theoretically, a draft could have anywhere between 1 and 60 tiers. A 1-tier draft would mean every prospect – from the top pick to Mr. Irrelevant – holds the same value. A 60-tier draft would mean every prospect is clearly distinguishable based on value. Obviously, neither is likely.
The size of tiers should be organic, and therefore, the number of tiers is also organic. Naturally, tiers tend to be smaller near the top of the draft, where lines between players are sharper.
Here’s how I see the 2014 draft prospects splitting into tiers – at least through the first round. Within each tier I rank prospects as if they were being drafted by a team with a blank slate, but the order should be customizable by team.
3. Joel Embiid
4. Dante Exum
5. Noah Vonleh
6. Marcus Smart
7. Aaron Gordon
8. Julius Randle
9. Gary Harris
10. Nik Stauskas
11. Tyler Ennis
12. Elfrid Payton
13. James Young
14. Adreian Payne
15. Jusuf Nurkic
16. Kyle Anderson
17. Dario Saric
18. Zach Lavine
19. Doug McDermott
20. Shabazz Napier
21. Clint Capela
22. Rodney Hood
23. Cleanthony Early
24. Jordan Adams
25. P.J. Hairston
26. K.J. McDaniels
27. Mitch McGary
28. Jarnell Stokes
29. Nikola Jokic
30. T.J. Warren
31. Jerami Grant
33. Glen Robinson III
34. Walter Tavares
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