2016: It’s All About the Game, And How You Play It

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

Hello, and welcome to my first article over here at DEEPish Thoughts.  Thanks to Chris for inviting me.  For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Buster Ducks, aka TheDuckyNinja.  I’ve been writing about the NBA Draft since 2014, and you can find everything I’ve written (including my 2016 Draft Series to date) over on BusterDucks.com.  Now, you may be asking yourself, “hey, doesn’t Kaiser do the draft analysis around here?”.  Kaiser writes great stuff, but for one, we don’t fully agree on everything, and, maybe, more importantly, my approach is much more theoretical – I only spend a few weeks discussing the actual prospects in the draft.  Why?  Well, as I always like to say, projecting prospects is really, really hard. Which means I’m much more interested in the process than the results.  A good process, will, over time, lead to better results.  And so I seek the best process. That’s ultimately what my Draft series is all about.

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Multistat Advanced Comparison (MAC)

Okay, so, not writing a full article or a draft series article this week.  Why?  Well, I got a spreadsheet with a whole lot of cool information and I’ve been messing around with it.  This is very much a work in progress, so by all means, throw suggestions at me.  I have way way way more information on this spreadsheet (pretty much every advanced stat from ESPN, BB-Ref, and 82Games) and plan on working with it more over the offseason.  So take this as a first draft or something.

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Just. Fucking. Take. Simmons.

(This was originally posted on LibertyBallers as a FanPost and is not part of my Draft Series. It is reproduced here for completeness only.)

It’s been awhile since I came back here, and it’ll probably be awhile until I’m back again, but this post isn’t part of my draft series, it’s just a very clear, very straight-forward Sixers-centric rant. Buckle up.

Ben Simmons is a bona fide superstar prospect, a guy who has top 5 NBA player potential, a guy who has legitimately only one weakness, and one that can be worked around very easily. I know that shooting is en vogue these days, but every team has at least three rotation players who can’t shoot, and it’s often the quality of THOSE players who determine the ultimate upside of a team. Ben Simmons can play PG. He can play C. He can play SF or PF in the right lineup. He can pass, rebound, score efficiently, and was an elite perimeter defender when given the chance to showcase those skills. You know who else can do everything but shoot the 3? Russell Westbrook. LeBron James. Tracy McGrady. Magic Johnson. Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s pretty tough to come up with players who can pass, rebound, score, and defend who AREN’T at least some level of star, even if many of them can’t shoot. You know why people compare Simmons to those guys? Because it’s pretty much impossible to find low quality guys with all of those attributes. If you have those attributes, you’re an automatic star.

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2016: The FP System

Back in 2014, I wrote an introduction to the primary “advanced” stat I use to evaluate prospects – FP. Since then, I’ve refined the way I use it to project, but the base stat has stayed the same. FP stands for fantasy points – it’s really nothing more than a way to convert basic statistics in to fantasy points for fantasy college basketball. However, that means it’s also a general effectiveness metric – somebody who gets stats is typically contributing. When I started applying it to the draft and NBA players, I found that FP did a decent job identifying players who were most likely to become superstars. More importantly, it did an even better job identifying overrated players. Knowing who not to draft is just as important as knowing who to draft.

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2016: Everything’s Different in the Adult World

The 2016 draft series rolls on, and as it transitions from the NBA back to the NCAA, it seems like a perfect time for an article about, well, the transition from the NCAA to the NBA.  Some of this may be obvious to those of you who watch both sports, but as there are a lot of people who only watch March Madness (and maybe some who watch a lot of college but not a lot of pro basketball, like Sixers fans, who haven’t seen pro basketball in years), I did want to write about it and point out some of the differences that make projection so difficult. Let’s get to it.

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2016: Judging Players Without Judging Each Other

Welcome back, as I continue the journey from the top down. Last week, I covered roles, formations, positions, etc. in the modern NBA. That provides the groundwork for just about everything else I’m writing, so if you missed it, go back and check it out. I will be writing an updated version of the post at some point in the future (next week?) thanks to the suggestions I’ve gotten from people on reddit and twitter, so thanks to you guys for that.

So, if last week was the NBA on a team level, it only makes sense to look at the NBA on an individual level. Basically, the goal of the draft is to find quality NBA players, right? Well, define a quality NBA player. It’s not easy. Some people default to advanced statistics like win shares or adjusted +/- or on/off. Some people default to more basic stats, like points and rebounds. This is not going to be about the best way to determine player quality, because quite frankly, ultimately, it’s pretty subjective and even I don’t think I have anything close to a decent grasp of it. That being said, I do think there are certain factors that are often lost in player evaluation, especially at a micro level, starting with the one most related to last week’s article. There’s also some lessons to take away here for the draft. This is a draft series after all, right?

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2016: Naming and Necessity

As explained last week, I take a top-down approach to the NBA draft. And this article, at the very top, was by far the hardest to write. The NBA has changed so much recently, but the language used to discuss it hasn’t. Put simply, the positional paradigm used for, well, as long as I’ve been following basketball is no longer satisfactory to describe what players on actual top NBA teams play. And how can we talk about prospects without knowing what positions currently exist?

It is traditionally accepted that there are five NBA positions – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. More recently, a few new positions have entered common parlance – combo guard, combo forward, wing, stretch 4, small ball center, etc. But what about all the other positions? And what does it even mean when somebody says that a player can play a position? To talk about the positions players play in the modern NBA, it is necessary to create a new positional scheme.

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2016: The Four Horsemen of the Argument-pocalypse

Hello and welcome to the brand new BusterDucks.com, where I will be posting all of my draft articles going forward (and all of my draft articles from the past two years are now on here as well). You can also now find me @BusterDucks, because I finally gave in and got a twitter handle. Anyway, we’re about ten weeks from the draft, and my goal is to get up an article every weekend leading up to the draft. We’ll see if that actually happens. Anyway, enough with the introduction, on to the action!

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2015 EP Series – 2015 Big Board

That’s right, it’s the DuckyNinja Big Board! You will disagree with most of these rankings! All I can do is explain them to the best of my ability. Remember, it’s basically impossible to project these guys anyway, so declaring with any kind of certainty where a player should be ranked is a fool’s exercise. These rankings are how I feel, and nothing more. They’re based on a number of statistical formulas I put together, then subjectively ranked based on my personal scouting and feelings. Statements here are all my opinions. This is not a mock draft, I am aware that many of these players will not be taken anywhere near where I have them ranked. Just a note, other than Porzingis, Hezonja, and Mudiay, I did not evaluate any non-D-1 college players. And without further ado!

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