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The Boxscore Geeks Show: Cleveland's Draft Love

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Listen to the podcast and then answer our weekly poll. Or you know, don't listen and answer.

Thanks to Trapped in Golden State for the photoshopped Love image.

Kevin Love

Kevin Love wants out of Minnesota. As his team is questioning his "leadership", that's not very surprising.

We think Love would do well on a properly-run team. After all, he's been on some historically bad teams. But as Patrick has pointed out before, the Wolves have all the leverage in the negotiations. Which is why we shouldn't be surprised by Kevin Love's actions.

The Cavaliers and the Draft

The Cavaliers have been lucky. Well, lucky at getting top picks:

To put this in perspective, there have only been 23 drafts in the current format, so don't expect to see this again. Unless you think there may be a "Hand of Silver" in play.

This definitely seems to be a hit against the "draft helps parity" argument.

A number one pick is worth a ton of money. In fact, the value of draft picks in general is just absurd. Arturo's written about this in depth. The same story was recently done by 538.

If you want to see Arturo and me completely baffled, watch last year's livecast of the NBA draft. Arturo nails the point that NBA teams fall for the sunk cost fallacy too much.

Arturo's shifted his views a little. You should not waste number one picks or max contracts on point guards (barring Chris Paul, of course!). To sum up the problem with the Cavs: "If you've had three number one draft picks and don't have a franchise big, what the heck are you doing?"

Of course, part of drafting well is being in good drafts. That excuse doesn't help the Cavs much though.

Some were mad we've been calling John Wall overvalued. Arturo calls Kyrie Irving overvalued on the podcast. Get your pitchforks!

The Spurs picked up DeJuan Blair, who fell because he had no knee ligaments. It took Arturo and me a while to remember, even though Blair was Arturo's top value for that draft! Also, we wonder if the Spurs have an advantage with late picks. Unlike the "winners" of the draft lottery, few care if you buck conventional wisdom with late picks.

Fun bit of trivia: this will be the only time in NBA history that three number one picks on their rookie contracts are playing on a team together. Previous experiments with two number one picks have not panned out.

Indiana vs. Miami

What happened in Game 1? Arturo sums it up quickly: "Miami missed a lot of threes." Although the bad news for Miami is that this is the weakest Heat team since LeBron came to town.

Is Paul George healthy? Concussions matter, and he did not play well in game two.

Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio

We talk a lot about the Thunder, including an odd reference to a terrible Disney Show. Also, Arturo's Arsenal squad has finally started winning. Something Kroenke teams don't like to do.

We sound like a broken record. The Spurs look to win, Kawhi Leonard is a star, and the Spurs will fleece the draft.


Arturo gives some shout outs to some amazing fans: @shawnintheflesh, glorioushubris, @reallyseamus, and @racmontalvo526. Also, you're following @HickoryHigh and @wagesofwins, right?

My shoutouts go to @mattyglesias for his shoutout to Arturo on his great recent piece on how the draft is exploitative. Also, thanks to @oon2ooo for the heaty debate on John Wall being a max salary guy.

We'll see you next week!

Also, There is a limit on my salary so going to a situation where I can enjoy the city and succeed is more appealing. Now if there were no limits, I would go to the highest bidder with weather being a non factor.
If Eric Weiss has taught us anything, opportunity and situation are key factors with players so with that I would have taken Beasley number 1 over Rose. With players, you almost need a manager of personalities to distinguish how to treat certain players and give them ideal roles.
Ok last comment, but last year's draft was an all-time draft according to arturo. I agree that was a deep draft so giving that players are young and going to bad spots, don't be surprised. People have been asking me to get back on twitter but i don't see the upside.
At risk of asking a really obvious question: before seeing the picks, would you rather have whoever the Cavs take #1 or whoever the Spurs take #30?
"God trolling Cleveland" - I like it

BPS - that's a really tough call. I'd easily take my chances with Spurs pick over Wiggins or Parker, but Joel Embiid pick by the Cavs would be tough to beat at #30. My draft system right now has it as 1. Bogdan Bogdanovic 2. Joel Embiid 3. Nik Stauskas 4. Dante Exum 5. Damien Inglis and yes I know that may appear to be insane. Still knowing the Cavs and Spurs the picks will probably be Wiggins 1st Bogdanovic 30th
Oh and I agree about the OKC "hate", I've wanted them to lose all playoffs so their dumb play gets its comeuppance, plus I also have some RWB is overrated stock

I wanted to say something about RWB. My opinion if that his talent is a little overrated. I would go as far to say he's more OVERACHIEVER than underachiever, because he plays like a maniac (My #1 "overachiever" by my talent rating system in the league is Joakim Noah, for the exact same reason). The thing about RWB is there's literally only two things stopping him from being the perfect basketball player: 3pt shooting and decision making. He's otherwise flawless. And I'm of the opinion that his flaws in these areas are innate and not improving, I have my way of rating feel for the game for draft prospects by looking at their fluidity (especially on drives or post ups) and RWB... does not have it. The issues it that 3 point shooting and decision making is a HUGE F'ING WEAKNESS. You can be a lower level starter player the NBA doing nothing except hitting 3s and making decisions. So the fact that RWB is a great player and all-star despite how weak his decision making/3 combo is, to me is impressive. It proves just how amazing the rest of his talent is (athleticism, strength, length, ballhandling, passing, midrange shooting) and how hard he plays.
Some rather gratuitous Cleveland hate here...I don't believe WP particularly liked anyone in the 2013 draft. I agreed at the time Oladipo was the better choice, but Bennett certainly wasn't the worst of the top 10 prospects per WP. You accuse them of overvaluing their drafted players, causing them to miss Oladipo, but of course Bennett plays the same position as Thompson, so you can't have it both ways. In 2012, don't rewrite history. WP actually liked Dion Waiters, and did not like Drummond. In 2011, who would you have taken at #1 over Irving? OK, so now you say don't draft PG at #1 as a general rule. Seems reasonable. But you need to provide a name of someone at that time likely to be better. I think Irving projected fine under WP, and you actually like Thompson (picked at #4 in 2011), who was a WP draft favorite, as I recall. So really Cleveland hasn't drafted against WP recommendations that dramatically -- Bennett was a partial exception, but that 2013 draft was a crapshoot (at least once Noel got hurt), everyone knew it, and this time everyone was right. And this year a new guy is GM in Cleveland. I'm thinking he goes for Embiid if his back checks out. And then hires a decent coach. We'll see...
I wonder if there's a development issue with taking a point guard with the #1 pick.

Do teams featuring point guards that went later in the first round perform better overall because the point guard isn't as important as we think, or is it because they drafted reasonably talented point guards and were able to surround them with talent that allows them to learn to play the game?

Maybe the problem with players like Wall and Irving is that those first couple years on terrible teams has taught them to shoot first and not trust their teammates; if you draft a facilitator without the pieces to facilitate, you end up teaching them bad habits that stick with them even as the team improves.
The problem with drafting a point guard at 1 is the same problem with having a shooter as the point guard in a pickup game. Everyone knows they are good, so when they take bad shots none of the players on the team are in a position to demand more passing. Since they start with the ball and run the plays, they end up Bogarting the shots

The exception to this rule would be any point guard who values their assists stat over their points stat. This would leave you with players like Magic (known for amazing passes), Stockton (all time assist leader), Kidd (below average scorer), and Paul.
I actually agree with Fat_Lever; we hated Drummond, and Irving was the guy that, as a GM, you "had to" draft because if you pick by conventional wisdom and it's a bust, your franchise's owner says "oh well", but if you buck conventional wisdom and it's a bust, the owner says "WTF were you thinking?".

But let's be clear that we were totally high on Kenneth Faried and Kawhi Leonard. You can argue that taking them at #4 would have been crazy, but then I can argue that trading down is a thing that you can do.

And the real problem with drafting a point guard is not that they are never great players -- it's that it's (comparably) easy to get a great point guard, and VERY easy to get a competent/decent/good point guard. Think of the salaries that guys like Rondo and Calderon get. So it's far more valuable to use your picks on guys that might become dominant big men, because those are almost never cheap/available as free agents.
Are some of you guys suggesting that the Spurs would pass on Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker if they were in a position to draft either player? C'mon. Contrarianism is fine but that is absurd.

There is generally a consensus top five or ten or so players overall, at which point it turns into a crapshoot.

If you are sitting at #2 overall, and Cleveland has just taken, say, Joel Embiid at #1 overall, BUT your management team has identified, say, Nik Stauskus as the best player in the draft, you DO NOT draft Stauskus at #2 overall, you auction the #2 pick off to the highest bidder and move down five or so slots, and then draft Stauskus, and Wiggins or Parker or whoever the consensus #2 overall pick turns out to be goes #2.

Also, I tend to doubt San Antonio would pass on Wiggins/Parker/Exum. In which case San Antonio might draft a future bust.

Every team in the NBA would have taken Greg Oden #1 overall that year, including Oklahoma City, and San Antonio. Portland wasn't stupid, or at least they weren't any more stupid than everybody else.

I will say that the well managed teams are going to do much better once the draft turns into a crapshoot than the poorly managed teams will.

Finally, please keep in mind that many of the former diamonds in the rough on the Spurs roster were not drafted by the Spurs. Also don't forget that the Spurs soured on DeJuan Blair, and let him walk last summer; Dallas' metrics identified him as a nice scrap heap pickup.
Pop would draft internationally, Robbie. He doesn't like the culture surrounding these hyped american players like Wiggins and Parker. But he wouldn't have passed on Anthony Davis so there's that.
Can't speak for everyone, but I'm saying that of those top 5 guys, it's likely that 2 of 'em will bust, and 3 of 'em wouldn't be surprising at all. I don't give them better odds than picking randomly of figuring out which of those guys is the best; throw in the off chance that they do something strange again this year, and I give them around a 40% chance of hitting with the #1 pick.

That's probably better than whoever the Spurs would get at #30, but it isn't immediately obvious to me. If the Spurs trade up to the middle of the first round to pick a guy, I'd take that guy over whoever the Cavs took without hesitation.
What matters more: FA cup or Champions league title?
Drafting Leonard at #4 in 2011 would have been considered a reach, but not much more than Tristan Thompson. Leonard was projected as a possible top 10 pick, and for some reason fell at draft day far enough for the Spurs to trade for him. I agree you have to have the courage of your convictions and not fall victim to conventional thinking -- otherwise, why bother even looking at Wins Produced? You can just follow the conventional wisdom offered up by Chad Ford. That said, saying you should trade down in order to maximize value is fine in theory, but in practice it is apparently difficult to execute. At least it is rarely done. Or is it because teams are risk adverse and afraid of looking bad? There's probably a fair amount of that, and in an odd way San Antonio, by picking late, is liberated from potential second guessing (in that no one much cares who is picked at #27 or whatever). I also am puzzled by the level of assurance in this discussion -- Wages of Wins/Wins Produced hasn't been particularly good at projecting college player's performance in the NBA, especially for 18/19 year old freshmen. I've not seen your 2014 projections yet. Also worth mentioning that Cleveland did draft a second round WP darling last year in Carrick Felix -- who ended up hardly ever playing either because he was hurt or because Mike Brown preferred playing (bad) veterans.
"Wages of Wins/Wins Produced hasn't been particularly good at projecting college player's performance in the NBA, especially for 18/19 year old freshmen."

Nothing is particularly good at predicting college players to the pros, especially when they are only 18/19yr old. There just isn't a lot of data to go on for guys that only play a single year of college, especially if they played against questionable competition.

For every miss (Michael Beasley) there are several hits that are massively underrated by the general population (Kenneth Faried, DeJuan Blair). While I wouldn't go so far as to say that WP is a better predictor than any other system, it's much better than just trying to eye it.
If the Spurs had a pick in the 4-8 range, SA would almost surely trade down, hoping to exchange 1 high-risk, high-reward player for a cache (4?) of extra top-40 picks in the next 2-3 drafts.
I think the Spurs are just really good at managing and raising players. Think about it, why do they consistently get a lower draft pick yet that pick blossoms into a 'good' player? Do you think any other franchise would do as well with Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili or Kawhi Leonard or Tiago Splitter? Its the way the Spurs manage their players. Their collective team work ethic. If they had a Kyrie Irving or a Anthony Davis, no doubt they would have turned them into the best players in the league.
arturo, how can you say pop figured it out when it's a 14 point deficit?
xitongzou, the Spurs certainly have a good system and target players who will fit in that system. Having said that, I'm not sure anyone disagrees with the idea that the Spurs are simply better at targeting talented players than virtually every other team in the league, whether those players are highly regarded or not. In retrospect, regardless of where they draft they seem to know who the best player is left on the board.
Spurs player development is pretty renown (especially their shot doctor), but they also know how to pick players they know they can develop.
xioton, I certainly do think the Spurs are better at evaluating talent than everyone else. I agree they develop their players to be better, but really the tools are all there for people to see with these guys, especially with the TP, Manu, Kawhi picks.

What I think the Spurs get more than everyone else drafting wise, is each individual attribute is just one piece of a large puzzle. What i mean is say you break it down like this. There's physical tools, then within physical tools there's length, strength, athletic explosiveness, moving well laterally. There's skill, then within skill there's dribbling, shooting 3s, shooting midrange, finishing at the basket, passing, posting up. There's IQ, then within IQ different ways to see the game better than others. There's hard work and psychological factors, on and off the court. If all those are important variables, there's a LOT of them. What it means is that some individual talents may be worth less than people realize. Think about length and explosiveness which are OBSESSED with in the draft, and what proportion of the above group of jigsaw pieces they come up with. Now that big of a proportion right? They were a proportion of the physical tools category which was in itself a proportion of the larger framework of physical tools, skill, IQ, hard work, etc. If you cut a pie in 4 and then cut each piece in 2-3 more pieces you don't have that big of a piece of pie left to eat. I really think the Spurs think about this stuff when making their picks. I've used that "piece of a piece" hypothesis to decide that athleticism and length combined at

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