2016: The Big Board

(This article initially appeared at DeepishThoughts and is reproduced here for completeness only.)


I lied. Before I get to the Big Board, I’m going to include here a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve written over the course of this draft series and some other information so that this is at all understandable.

NCAA Division 1 College Players Only

I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t have a system for translating anybody who didn’t play a statistically significant number of minutes in NCAA D1 this year. Therefore, I do not rank internationals, HS players, non-D1 players, injured/suspended players who barely played, etc. I just have no way to do so, and my attempts in the past were poor, so rather than provide an unqualified opinion on those players, I’m offering none at all.


The full article is here. These are the positions I’m going to refer to. They are reproduced here for quick reference, although you may want to just keep it open in another tab for easier reference:


Position Ballhandling Shooting Finishing Picking
Leader Primary Good+ Passable+ N/A
Driver Primary Passable- Good+ N/A
Baller Secondary Passable+ Passable+ N/A
Sniper N/A Good+ Passable- N/A
Corner N/A Passable+ Passable+ Passable-
Gapper Secondary+ Passable+ Passable+ Passable+
Popper N/A Passable+ N/A Passable+
Roller N/A N/A Good+ Passable+


Position Defends
Guard Leader, Driver, Baller, Sniper
Wing Baller, Sniper, Corner, Popper, Gapper
Forward Corner, Popper, Gapper, Roller
Protector Roller, the rim


Number TRB%
6 18+
5 15+
4 12+
3 9+
2 6+
1 5.9-


Each player will have both FPg and FPm listed. The full article is here. FP is calculated as follows:

1 FP per point
1 FP per rebound
2 FP per assist
3 FP per steal
3 FP per block
-2 FP per turnover

FPg is per game, FPm is per minute.


In this article, I stated that each prospect has a range of outcomes from A (worst) through E (best).  To keep things simple, I stipulated that each prospect has a 30% chance of A value, 35% chance of B value, 15% chance of C value, 15% chance of D value, and 5% chance of reaching E value. While this system is far from precise, it gives a framework to project players a little more finely. This is just a rough framework, do not hold me to these exact percentages!

For this Big Board, I’m going to add corresponding numbers: 0 for undeserving of regular NBA minutes, 1 for 9th-10th man, 2 for solid bench player, 3 for average-mediocre starter/6th man, 4 for good starter, 5 for top 3 on a championship team, and 6 for top 10 NBA player.

The way I’m going to display this will be a fiveslash – 0/1/2/3/4 for example, moving from A to E.


Tiers will reflect roughly equal players. Some of these players will have higher upside, while others will be more of a sure thing. As a general rule of thumb, all players in a tier should be taken before all players in the next tier, however, players will be close, and teams should definitely factor in team needs when drafting, especially in the later tiers. Players are not sorted within the individual tiers. Additionally, I am splitting out “non-elite, non-3-shooting bigs”. Put simply, there are a ton of them and very little need for them – teams have typically been more successful with foreign bigs anyway. So I am not putting them in with the regular tiers, as they can be skipped by many teams inconsequentially.

Also note that I do not factor in medical issues because I am not a doctor nor do I have access to medical records. Same with off-the-court issues and “intangibles”. I don’t know these guys, I don’t get to interview them, and I’m not going to make snap judgments based on what some media outlet reports.

Where is X?

If you don’t see a specific player, first, remember that this is just for NCAA D-1 players.  I have also removed players who I did not feel provided a large enough college sample for me to use.  By request, I am posting the raw FPg and raw FPm data, you can find it here.  If they appear on there and are not on here, it’s because after objective and subjective adjustments (as discussed in the FP System article), they failed to appear on my final list.


Tier 1

Ben Simmons – D/R G?/W/F/P? 5 (PG/C) – 42.1FPg/1.21FPm – 3/4/5/5/6 – I have written about Simmons here. Simmons is far and away the best prospect in this draft and has true top 5 NBA player upside.

Tier 2 (Note – there is only a minor distinction between Tier 2 and Tier 3)

Denzel Valentine – L/B/S W 3 (SG/SF) – 40.6 FPg/1.23FPm – 2/3/3/5/5 – I have written about Valentine here. Valentine’s do-it-allness makes him a safe pick with high upside. I think he has just enough ability on D to make it work on that end. At the very least, his athletic measurements other than his vert at the combine were great.

Kris Dunn – L?/D/B? G 2 (PG/SG) – 36.5FPg/1.11FPm – 1/3/3/4/5 – I’ve had Dunn in Tier 3 for most of the season, and maybe he should be there, but the talent is there, the tools are there – the question is can they be harnessed and focused.

Thomas Walkup – D/B/G? G/W 3 (PG/SG/SF/PF?) – 38.3FPG/1.30FPm – 1/1/4/5/5 – Every now and then, when I’m putting this together, I am working on the write-up for a player and realize I was seriously misevaluating a player. I had Walkup in Tier 4 initially and have not previously mentioned him in my top group. This was simply wrong. For one, he has the most WS/40 of any college player since 09-10…by a lot. The gap between him and second (Kelly Olynyk) is bigger than the gap between second and tenth. The gap between him and third (Anthony Davis) is bigger than the gap between Anthony Davis and 20th (Jared Sullinger).

So who is Thomas Walkup? A guard/forward from Stephen F. Austin who you may vaguely remember from their upset of West Virginia and very near upset of Notre Dame. What does he do? Everything. He shot 59% from the field, including 48% on midrange jumpers, which is actually down from last season, when he was over 49%. He gets to the line at a very high rate. He scored 18.1 PPG on just 10.9 FGA. He rebounds like a PF. He had an A:TO over 2.5:1. He generated steals. The only hole in his game is his 3P%, and his midrange 2% and FT% and his massive improvement from year to year give all indication that he can improve on that. He even played well at the Portsmouth, which his team won.

So why isn’t he getting more than a few workouts and a hopeful Summer League look? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Let me put it this way: if he was “strong and athletic” instead of “gritty and tough”, I think there would be much more interest.

Tier 3

Kay Felder – L/D G 1 (PG) – 46.8FPg/1.27FPm – 0/2/3/3/4 – I have written about Felder here. His lack of size will prevent him from ever being a true superstar and may end up tanking him completely, but he’s so good and so athletic that he should be at least a bench player.

Jarrod Uthoff – S/C/P F 3 (SF/PF) – 35.8FPg/1.14FPm – 1/2/2/3/4 – I have written about Uthoff here. Uthoff is safe, if unspectacular. While teams at the top will probably want more upside, Uthoff can provide glue for those teams who already have the stars but need a guy who can fill in the gaps.

Marquese Chriss – C/P/R F/P 4 (SF?/PF/C) – 24.3FPg/0.97FPm – 0/0/2/5/5 – How lucky do you feel? He’s probably going to bust. He may have enough raw athleticism to find a spot on a bench anyway. If he puts it together, he’s an elite player. It’s pretty much that simple. If you’re a gambler, move him up a tier.

Brandon Ingram – B?/S/C W/F? 3 (SG/SF/PF?) – 31.5FPg/0.91FPm – 0/1/3/4/4 – I have written about Ingram here. Put simply, I don’t think he has the athleticism, defense, or handling ability to ever be an elite player, but he has a chance to become a valuable contributor nonetheless.

Tier 4

A.J. English – L/B/S G 3 (PG/SG) – 39.0FPg/1.09FPm – 0/0/2/3/5 – He’s a sharpshooting son of a former NBA player who dominated a lower level of competition in college. I’m not saying he’s the next Stephen Curry, but I am saying that some team should probably find out, juuuuust in case.

Isaiah Whitehead – B/S G 1 (SG) – 32.8FPg/1.02FPm – 0/1/2/3/4 – Whitehead averaged over 1 steal and 1 block per game, showing very nice defensive skills. May fit well at the next level in a more pure 3-and-D role instead of as a secondary creator.

Patrick McCaw – B/S G 2 (SG) – 32.0FPg/0.95 FPm – 0/1/1/4/4 – McCaw has prototypical SG size and can play the D to go along with it. His offensive game took a big leap from his freshman to sophomore year, and if he has another leap in him, he can be an ideal 3-and-D guy.

Buddy Hield – S G 2 (SG) – 33.5FPg/0.95FPm – 0/1/2/3/4 – I have written about Hield here. I find it funny that most seniors who show massive improvement their senior year get automatically discarded for being too old, yet Hield is treated appropriately.

Dejounte Murray – D G 2 (PG) – 30.9FPg/0.92FPm – 0/0/1/4/5 – – I have written about Murray here. I still have no better idea. Stick him in whatever tier makes you happy.

Tier 5

Andrew Andrews – L/B/S G 2 (PG/SG) – 35.1FPg/1.04FPm – 0/1/1/3/4 – Besides having a fantastic name, Andrews got to the line and shot the 3 and did both at a high rate and percentage. He has some red flags in his 2P% and his potential lack of any real defense.

Nathan Boothe – G/P F/P? 4 (PF/C?) – 35.7FPg/1.13FPm – 0/0/1/3/4 – Boothe has a very interesting profile featuring 3 point shooting, stocks, and passing.

Gary Payton II – D G 3 (PG) – 38.3FPg/1.12FPm – 0/1/1/2/4 – Payton has the tools, especially on defense and the boards, but his lack of offensive ability is glaring.

Derrick Jones – ? G/W 3 (SG/SF) – 21.9FPg/1.02FPm – 0/0/2/2/4 – Jones got screwed by NCAA shenanigans – another year in school showing improvement and he could have really shot up draft boards. The tools are there, but he needs time to develop them. He would rank much higher if he had a clear offensive role.

Fred VanVleet – L G 1 (PG) – 28.7FPg/0.99FPm – 0/1/2/2/2 – Want a backup PG? Here’s a backup PG. Too limited in too many ways to be more, too skilled in too many ways to be less.

Wade Baldwin IV – L?/B/S G 2 (PG?/SG) – 27.7FPg/0.91FPm – 0/0/2/2/4 – Unlike many, I look at Baldwin as primarily a SG. He needs to really improve his consistency more than anything else.

Stefan Jankovic – C/P/R F/P 4 (PF/C) – 26.5FPg/1.07FPm – 0/0/1/3/4 – He’s a 6’11 PF/C who can shoot from mid-range and beyond the arc and might be able to defend .

Tyler Ulis – L G 1 (PG) – 35.1FPg/0.95FPm – 1/1/1/2/3 – I have written about Ulis here. Ulis will likely top out as an average backup PG, and his ceiling is capped due to his size and athletic limitations, but Ulis can ball, and there’s value in a guy who can keep an offense humming like he does.

Caris Levert – L/B/S W 2 (PG/SG/SF) – 31.9FPg/1.03FPm (injury shortened) – 0/1/2/3/4 – His projection would normally put him in Tier 4, but that projection doesn’t factor in injuries. Unlike most players, however, Levert has had two straight seasons injury shortened with known injuries.

Michael Carrera – B?/S/C W 4 (SG/SF/PF?) – 27.0FPg/0.97FPm – 1/1/1/2/3 – If he was 2 or 3 inches taller, he’d be much more interesting, but Carrera has gotten consistently better. He can shoot, rebound, and if he can defend enough, I may be underselling him here.

Dorian Finney-Smith – C/P F 4 (SF/PF) – 28.6FPg/0.90FPm – 0/1/1/2/4 – DFS has had an inconsistent college career, but he can shoot, defend, and rebound. We’ll see if he can keep improving at the next level.

Tier 6 (No individual ratings – all players either project unlikely to make an impact but have at least 3 upside or project somewhat likely to make an impact but no more than 2 upside)

Josh Adams – B/S G 2 (SG) – 37.0FPg/1.02FPm – Good shooter, not sure he can do it at the next level.

Kyle Collinsworth – D W 3 (PG) – 39.2FPg/1.16FPm – Odd skillset, not sure where it fits in the NBA, but worth a look.

Marvelle Harris – D G 1 (PG) – 38.2FPg/1.04FPm – Good defender, needs to develop offense.

DeAndre Bembry – D?/G? W 3 (PG?/SF/PF?) – 36.8FPg/0.99FPm – If only he was a little bigger, or a little better handler, or a little better passer, or a little better shooter, or a little…

Jamal Murray – B?/S G 2 (SG) – 28.7FPg/0.82FPm – I have written about Murray here. There’s really no indication that he can play PG. Or defense.

Malik Beasley – B?/S G 2 (SG) – 23.7FPg/0.80FPm – Beasley is basically the same as Murray. Haven’t seen anything convincing as to why one is top ten and the other is projected 15 picks deeper.

Georges Niang – C/G?/P F 3 (SF/PF) – 32.7FPg/0.99FPm – I don’t think Niang can guard anybody at the next level and his rebounding is suspect, but he has size and a nice offensive game.

Taurean Prince – C F 3 (SF) – 21.1FPg/0.89FPm – Prince was wildly inconsistent in college. He has the skills to fill a clear role in the NBA if he’s good enough.

Isaiah Miles – C/P F 3 (SF?/PF) – 30.4FPg/0.88FPm – Miles exploded his senior season, showing suddenly elite shooting skills. Rest of his game needs to follow.

Yogi Ferrell – L G 1 (PG) – 30.6FPg/0.88FPm – A step below a player like Ulis, Ferrell projects more as a 3rd PG than anything else.

Malcolm Brogdon – B/S G/W? 2 (SG/SF?) – 29.3FPg/0.86FPm – He’ll probably never be a starter, but he should make for a fine backup wing filler if nothing else.

Big Tier 1 (These players all profile as R on offense and F and/or P on defense (PF/C). These players are roughly equivalent to Tier 3/4)

Jameel Warney – 42.9FPg/1.30FPm – Warney often looked like a man among boys, and performed well even against higher level competition.

John Brown – 38.1FPg/1.29FPm – Brown would have made my big board even after his freshman year, and it’s a bit disappointing that he never attempted to transfer up.

Brice Johnson – 34.4FPg/1.23FPm – Johnson would have been great like…10-15 years ago. The game is moving away from players like him, but he still can provide value.

A.J. Hammons – 29.9FPg/1.21FPm – If a team can get Hammons to play consistently and with consistent motor, he may end up being the best C from this draft.

Jakob Poeltl – 32.5FPg/1.07FPm – Want an average C? Draft Poeltl! Little upside, little downside.

Chinanu Onuaku – 25.8FPg/1.05FPm – Onuaku is arguably the best defensive C in the draft, so some team that wants Biyombo or Ezeli for cheap can just grab Onuaku.

Deyonta Davis – 18.9FPg/1.02FPm – Davis put up a fantastic freshman season and a team willing to be patient could find him to be worth the time.

Henry Ellenson – 32.4FPg/0.97FPm – Ellenson has a lot of good indicators and a lot of bad indicators, and it’s anybody’s guess how he will develop.

Big Tier 2 (These players all profile as R on offense and F and/or P on defense (PF/C). These players are roughly equivalent to Tier 5/6)

Pascal Siakam – 41.1FPg/1.19 FPm – Siakam has a good body and athleticism, but I’m not sure the offensive skills are there enough to put him in the higher tier.

Egidjius Mockevicius – 37.7FPg/1.19FPm – Mockevicius is an incredible rebounder and even puts up great defensive numbers, but he literally had 9 assists all season. That’s a problem.

James Kelly – 34.8FPg/1.14FPm – Kelly gets much more interesting if he can extend his range out to the three point line, and it may be worth a pick to try to find out if he can.

Shawn Long – 35.8FPg/1.17FPm – Long is a solid player, but you need to be more than solid to be higher than this.

Daniel Ochefu – 25.2FPg/1.08FPm – Ochefu put up some amazing numbers, but never played a lot of minutes.  Could be a quality backup big at the next level.

Domantas Sabonis – 32.2FPg/1.01FPm – Why is Sabonis in this tier and not the Big Tier 1? He’s not really a stretch or a rim protector. What’s his NBA role?

Diamond Stone – 22.0FPg/0.97FPm – If you like Jahlil Okafor, Stone is the prospect for you. He’s a back to the basket bully with weak rebounding and questionable defense.

Robert Carter – 24.9FPg/0.95FPm – Another guy who is a lot more interesting if you think he can develop consistent NBA 3 range.

Stephen Zimmerman – 24.2FPg/0.93FPm – Zimmerman would be a shot for the stars. He’s not ready now, but he could develop in to something nice.

Best of the Rest (These players are worth a look, especially as second rounders or Summer/Development Leaguers, but lack upside and are unlikely to be even average bench players)

Guards: Alex Hamilton, Juan’ya Green, Kevin Punter, Stefan Moody

Forwards: Joel Bolomboy, Cedric Kuakumensah, BaeBae Daniels, James Webb, Perry Ellis, Michael Gbinije

Bigs: Chris Horton, Adrian Diaz, Damian Jones, Matt Costello, Mamadou Ndiaye, Skal Labissiere


Well, we’ve come to the end of my draft series. Thanks to all of you for reading and for all of your comments and discussions. I have three people I need to credit. First, I couldn’t do this without @rflash13, who provides the spreadsheet I use for my analysis and who made the spreadsheet that I used for MAC. I also need to give a special shout to my overly humble editors (who both asked why I wanted to credit them!), @BryanMcWethyOCS and @scottgrauer, for reading over all of these first and providing feedback and generally making it better for the rest of you to read.

At this point, I anticipate taking a couple of weeks off, maybe throwing up a few quick hitters if the inspiration strikes. If you want to know the next time I write something, just follow me @BusterDucks, I’ll always give a heads up there. May your team’s draft be awesome!