Lessons Learned from the 2018 NBA Draft

I do something that I've never done before... grade my old draft evaluations...

Below are the grades I gave myself based on the ranking and evaluations of the top 20 players on my 2018 NBA Draft Big Board:

  1. Doncic A
  2. Bamba B-
  3. Ayton A
  4. Young A
  5. Bagley B
  6. Carter B+
  7. Walker IV INC
  8. Jackson Jr. C
  9. Porter Jr. INC
  10. Miles Bridges B-
  11. Mikal Bridges A
  12. Knox A-
  13. Z.Smith INC
  14. Okobo C
  15. Sexton C
  16. Gilgeous-Alexander C-
  17. Robinson INC
  18. Hutchison INC
  19. Huerter B+
  20. Rob Williams INC

Cumulative Grade: B

Before I started my 2019 NBA Draft scouting reports, I wanted to first take a look back at my big board from last year’s draft and see what I got right and wrong. This is an impossible exercise as for a lot of these players, it won’t be until several years that we can have an accurate assessment of their skills. But anyways, I felt good about accurately projecting Luka Doncic, Trae Young, DeAndre Ayton, and Marvin Bagley III as four of the top five players in the 2018 NBA draft. You’d be surprised at how more often than not that the top five of most drafts are evaluated incorrectly. I’m glad our site recognized Doncic as one of the best European players to come out in the past few decades. Ayton was a safe choice based on college production and due to his man-child size. We were also believers in Trae Young’s shooting ability translating to the NBA along with his plus vision. I still roll my eyes at those who had the gall to compare Trae to Jimmer Fredette.

I did however give myself a B- on ranking Bamba as the second best player in the draft. His talent still has me believing but it looks like I may have overestimated his immediate offensive ability based on workout videos showing an improved three point shot. I still believe Bamba has the intangibles to become a very good NBA player. Perhaps my biggest miss in the top ten was ranking Jaren Jackson Jr. as the eighth best player. Clearly, he was a top-five talent and All-Rookie team member. For JJJ, I undersold his offensive impact as I didn’t love his jumper but it clearly worked for him this season. No, he didn’t have a great midrange shot but he did find multiple ways to score.

I was also high on Lonnie Walker Jr. and Michael Porter Jr. but gave these incomplete grades as they both didn’t play enough games to judge them fairly. I look forward to seeing what Year 2 brings for both players. Mikal Bridges was a fairly easy player to evaluate as his role in college mirrored his NBA role as a 3&D wing. Evaluating both point guards, Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, wasn’t particularly successful for me. Although Sexton did play all that efficiently, he still was an adept scorer and shot fairly well from three and the FT line in his rookie season. Similarly to JJJ, I may have been too quick to judge the form of his jumper. Gilgeous-Alexander was ranked criminally too low on my board.

Before my final board, he was ranked 13 and I described him as a “steady point guard who gives me kind of a Jeff Teague vibe.” I may have just followed the trend of ranking him outside the top 10 as he wasn’t a player who wowed you with one particular skill but rather had very few weaknesses. SGA was certainly an important part of the Clippers overachieving this season. Similarly,  I liked Kevin Huerter as I wrote this time last year: “The sophomore might be the best shooter in this draft class outside Trae Young. Combine that with his great height for a two guard and offensive as well as defensive versatility and you have one of my favorite prospects in this draft class.” However, I didn’t rate higher on my board as I should’ve due to concerns about his floor and maybe once again following the larger trends of where certain players are supposed to go in mock drafts.

As for evaluating this year’s talent, I don’t know if I will do any better of a job but I will keep these lessons in mind. I’m also going to be more critical of how many moves/skills a player possesses as the NBA does a very good job of limiting a player’s strengths and having them constantly improve weaknesses. Inevitably, I won’t be perfect in all of these evaluations but hopefully I can have fewer regrets in not valuing a certain player’s talent as much as I should’ve.






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