By John Hooper
To access the overall grades from our model for all prospects this year, click HERE
Comparing The Top Big Men
DeAndre Ayton is assumed to be first overall pick in tonight's draft, but our model has him as the sixth best prospect this year. Why? Because he's projected to be a below average defender, and his strengths are no longer as valuable in the current style of play in the league. Here he is compared to Karl Anthony-Towns:
As we can see here, KAT and Ayton are virtually identical prospects, except with Ayton being a far worse defender. The Suns will end up with a great talent who puts up big numbers from day one, but seeing how much KAT has struggled on defense in his career makes us concerned for Ayton's effectiveness there.
When comparing Ayton with the rest of the top center crop this year, we see further evidence that he may not be the slam dunk top prospect that he's currently considered as:
We can see that Ayton's biggest strengths, scoring and rebounding, are not that far ahead of his competition.
Jaren Jackson appears to have similar scoring potential while offering much better shooting and defense, all of which makes him our pick for the best center prospect this year.
Mo Bamba is the leader in both the defense and rebounding categories and projects similarly to Ayton as a shooter, making him an intriguing prospect.
Wendell Carter is the only prospect of the four to be above average in all categories without leading the group in any, further evidence as to why people view him as a prospect with a high floor but without elite potential.
Overall, we like Ayton as a big numbers guy but not necessarily as someone who will lead a team to contention. We have them ranked in order: Jackson, Ayton, Bamba, and Carter.
Bagley dominated in his one year at Duke after reclassifying, and many view him as a lock for the top four tonight. We see him as a very similar prospect to Ayton in that he'll likely put up nice numbers from day one, but will likely not be the type of player who can take a franchise deep into the playoffs. Why? Again, mediocre defensive potential:
Bagley posted below average rates for steals, blocks, and personal defensive rating vs team defensive rating within our database of power forwards, leading us to expect that he won't be the type of player generating deflections nor protecting the rim.
We made the comparison of a more athletic Zach Randolph, but another player to keep in mind as a comp for him is Julius Randle:
The point guards of the draft this year are so different in terms of style. Here's a comparison of the consensus top 3:
The first thing that jumps out to us that Sexton and Young both have max scores as scorers, leading us to believe they'll both average over 20 a game in their primes. Young, however, has a significant lead on Sexton in the shooting, passing, and defensive categories. Young projecting better as a passer and a shooter was to be expected, but we thought Young would score by far the worst as a defender. Despite Sexton's superior size and athleticism, Young had stronger steal and block rates, and had a more positive impact on his team's defensive rating, all while playing against better competition.
And to compare Young against prospects from years prior, he appears to be much closer to Kyrie than to Jimmer, obviously a great sign for his future:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander projects similarly to Wendell Carter in that he's above the positional average in all categories but doesn't have one standout skill. Despite not having a clear specialty, we're high on him as a prospect because of his size, which gives him positional flexibility and makes him unlikely to be targeted on defense the way Steph Curry and other smaller guards are in the playoffs. We also like that all of his shooting accuracy numbers that we factor in (3P%, FT%, and True Shooting) all are above average for point guards in our database, and it's simply that he didn't take them at a high volume that he doesn't have an elite shooting grade. We see him as a high floor prospect who still has shooting and scoring potential to grow into.
Overall, we're ranking the top point guards SGA, Young, and Sexton as a distant third.
- Michael Porter Jr. is the top ranked player in our database this year, but it's based off of 53 minutes of playing time, so we're not drawing any conclusions from his scores
- Luka Doncic is not included since he was an international player
- Miles and Mikal Bridges have nearly identical overall, shooting, and passing grades. It then comes down to whether you'd prefer a player who's going to be a higher volume scorer and rebounder or the efficient defender:
We're siding with Miles since we view him as the higher upside player. Defensively a low steal rate hurt his score, but he had an above average steal rate and a middle of the pack impact of his team's defensive rating, giving hope that he'll be passable as a defender and strong in all other facets
- Robert Williams and Lonnie Walker both appear to be overrated as late lottery talents as well, with overall ratings of 85.2 and 82.2 respectively