One of my favorite days of the NBA Calendar is finally upon us!
For the first time ever, I went deep on the crop of first round talent, and built out a big board ranking for this draft class.
Here are my rankings:
My philosophy is typically to go with best player available as a baseline. Talent wins out in the NBA and even if that talent doesn’t fit the roster or the timeline, it can still be the most valuable trade asset.
Within that ethos, there is some room for maneuverability. Best talent available has different meanings for different positions. In the NBA, many players can be elite scorers, but only the elite of the elite of the elite can be offensive engine on a good team. On the other hand, every team needs elite two-way wings, so even if those players aren’t “as talented” their position can increase their overall value.
The NBA has a strong bias toward wing players that can defend and shoot threes, so anyone with that skillset who is between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-9 has best player available equity, whereas a really talented big man, like Mark Williams for example, would be a bit more marginalized in the NBA unless he turns into Rudy Gobert. Not to say he won’t be a really good player, but he’ll need to hit some high-end outcome to justify his draft position, whereas a player like Jake LaRavia could hit a middle-end outcome and spend way more time on the court in higher leverage minutes.
The same is true for smaller guards like Jaden Hardy, Kennedy Chandler and TyTy Washington. All very talented players, but their limitations are magnified because they are smaller, less versatile defenders and off-ball players.
The vast majority of my top-20 players are wings who provide at least two, if not more, quality skillsets. Players like Chet Holmgren and Jalen Duren are the exceptions to the big man rule, for me. They’ll have the ability to playmake, defend in space and switch, even if their highest end upside doesn’t hit.
At the end of the day, the draft is a talent grab. You have to nitpick to find your guy and I think there are some great options in the Bulls range (should they pick at 18).