Talking heads have provided endless debate on who will go first in the 2020 NBA Draft, how the Lakers could add a third superstar, and why James Harden-to-the-Nets scenario wouldn't work out if Houston gave in to Harden's desires.
As opinion pieces and hypothetical debates saturate the media, Mike and I wanted to provide something unique for the intellectual basketball fan - a critical thinker's primer for the 2020 NBA Draft.
In this podcast, Mike discusses how variance and the negativity bias will play roles in Draft Night decision making while I provide my analysis of some of the first round's most intriguing prospects. We also discuss various approaches to the Draft as well as the terminology commentators are sure to inundate fans with on Wednesday.
There's so much more to the NBA Draft than trade rumors and the first pick.
Explore the 2020 NBA Draft's nuances in this episode:
Explore the 2020 NBA Draft's nuances in this episode:
Mike Lewis 0:17
Okay, welcome, everyone. Welcome to the Fanalytics podcast. My name is Mike Lewis. I am joined by Mr. Doug Battle. We are as always brought to you by the Emory marketing analytics Center. Today is our well Doug what is what is today's episode about today is the NBA Draft primer, which I'm very excited about. I'll say a couple things here. Just out the gate today. Officially NBA trades can happen as of Monday, the 16th when we are recording this, and the draft is coming up later this week. And the season starts in December so everything's kind of coming up but for for NBA fans, the offseason is almost as fun as the season. Some people like it more enjoy it more. And so, so it's an exciting time. Well, let me tell you this. The NBA Draft used to be my favorite offseason event I mean, so I'm going back in time to the to the mid to late 80s which was probably the height of my college basketball fandom. For those of you who started age, you know, the we had things like big Monday, where we would have a big East big 10 doubleheader, you know, your love hate relationship with Dick Vitale, the time when Coach K was really becoming a dominant figure in college basketball. And why I say, you know, this is really the the Doug Battle show today is, I mean, if I go back to like, 1987 8889, I had an opinion about, you know, I don't know, 100 college basketball flickers. And yeah, I suspect that you are kind of walking in my footsteps in terms of paying a lot of attention to that, to that level of competition.
Doug Battle 2:08
Yeah, I keep up with it. It's funny, I'm not the I can be honest and say I'm not the biggest college basketball fan. I'm more of a like NBA prospect fan, where I like following these guys and trying to project who's gonna be the steel and who's going to be a bust and watching them in college for those purposes. college basketball to me has become more of like an AAU league like the U 19. AAU League, for the guys that go to the NBA. And then the lesser players stick around and keep playing, you know, and one other thing that's happening this week is free agency starts November 20, free agency starts, which is just crazy. But normally, in the summertime, this is the big talk on ESPN when it's just baseball season and no other sports. All they're talking about is NBA draft and be a free agency who's going where, and right now it's kind of an afterthought, in the grand scheme of things, but I do want to draw some attention to it. Because to me, it's very exciting. And I do think there's a lot of implications in the analytics world as far as like what players teams are acquiring and what strategies they're using. Well, let me you know, let me comment on something you know, so the idea that college basketball is now just when you call it kind of a you see the senior Leia, you you 19 au, I think that's an important part of the story in terms of how fans are going to look at college basketball in the NBA Draft over time. I mean, when I came of age, this was the era where Michael Jordan played three years and Patrick Ewing played four years, I believe. So this was a time when the folks being drafted were legitimate household names. They they had, they were brand names, they were stars. And so, you know, this happens a little bit with Zion last year, but you have to understand it, you know, for our biggest stars, the high end was, it doesn't compare to the level of stardom. Some of these past players were these guys were on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and that used to be a big thing truly, you know, truly part of the sports landscape for multiple years. And so you would see things where, oh, you know, we drafted a Keem Olajuwon and suddenly we're selling three or 4000 season tickets. So the NBA Draft back in back in back in time was less speculative, and again, talking about the role of analytics and some of this less risky and much more about, you know, fundamentally changing teams. And so I suspect that that's, that's what drives a lot of our difference in perspectives in terms of college basketball in the draft. I will also say this, that
Mike Lewis 5:00
I used the one of the things that made the NBA Draft so special. I mean, I will never forget the Jalen Rose purple suit. And I think that kind of highlights just the level of, you know how things were different in terms of, you know, the Michigan Fab Five, these guys were legitimate stars, and coming out dressed in a suit that the Joker would proudly own. You know, this was, this was great stuff. This was theater. This was you know, kind of epic TV.
Doug Battle 5:32
Yeah. So I with college basketball, I wish it was more of a you get Michael Jordan for three years at UNC kind of deal like I, early in my fandom of basketball. I think the first team I really loved where it was North Carolina with Tyler hands, bro, and Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. And those guys were all there for several years. And it really felt like a team, whereas now it feels less so that way. But I will say the one thing I love about the one and done format, is that these prospects are so intriguing in so many ways, but part of it is that, like this year, for example, and this is the case many years, obviously not last year with Zion and john Moran, everyone knew those two would be studs. But there's a lot of years, where you have a handful of prospects that have tremendous upside potential to become something great. But they have these flaws in their game because they're so young and raw. And it's very difficult to project who's going to develop beyond those limitations or beyond those flaws, and who is going to always kind of have that as their Achilles heel. And so this year's draft is a great example of that, where you've probably gotten 15 guys in the draft that have Hall of Fame ceilings, but that also could be out of the league in two years due to their insufficiencies on defense or in decision making.
Mike Lewis 7:03
Ok, so let me add some analytics words to that. This is kind of a gray, you know, the terminology you're using high ceiling is very, very much kind of sportscaster, your guy rephrasing. to the analysts, what those words really mean is, what they suggest is the concept of variance and sort of some players being low variance, and some players being high variance. And so, you know, like, you're a big fantasy football guy, you know, you go into the ESPN, they're their models, I don't know if they call them models, but they're projections. And they give you a point estimate, right? Which means they say, hey, this guy is going to be worth this number of points.You know, the reality is, when you're forecasting player performance, it's, it's not really about forecasting a single point, right? Oh, you know, this guy is going to throw, sorry, this guy is going to score switching sports in my head. But you know, this guy is going to score 17 points a game, it's more like, well, we think this guy is going to score between, you know, 12 and 19 points a game. And so what's what's happened as you have less information about these players, less of a track record, and the track record is generated against inferior opposition, right? They're not playing, you know, Michael Jordan is not playing against Patrick Ewing, and in college for multiple seasons, that the forecast just become far less certain. And this is always gonna be the fascinating thing for me in terms of especially the NBA, you can imagine that the analytics people are really trying to maximize that upside potential, right, that they're trying to draft these stars of stars. And so variants, this variability actually becomes a selling point for these players, which might explain some of the love for European players in the draft. Like, we don't know what we're getting, but maybe it'll be great.
Doug Battle 9:11
Yeah, you talk about variants for a guy like Anthony Edwards, who is maybe gonna be the number one pick, maybe somewhere I mean, he I don't see him falling outside of the top three. But Anthony and Edwards or Ant Man, as you call them, I would imagine if they had some kind of variants, projection for him for points per game. Five years into his career, I'd imagine it's somewhere between eight points per game, and 32 points per game. I mean, he's really got that kind of upside. But he's also at a point in his development right now. Where he, you are counting on quite a bit of development for him to reach his potential. And the same can be said for James Wiseman. I think lamella ball.
Unknown Speaker 0:01
analytics with Mike Lewis, the podcast where we talk about everything you need to know about sports analytics. here's your host, Mike lewis, marketing professor at Emory University.
Doug Battle 10:01
Definitely Isaac Okoro from Auburn.
Mike Lewis 10:04
Well, hold on, hold on, I want to put some structure here and I want to put you on the spot, you're going over some of the top prospects. And so what let's make this more concrete. How do you see the top of the draft? playing out the the top three picks? Let's say?
Doug Battle 10:20
Yeah, I mean, it's always tough to project what these teams are going to do is why
Mike Lewis 10:25
you get Mo Money. My friend project. Yeah,
Doug Battle 10:29
yeah. So looking at the Timberwolves with the number one pick, they've got DeAngelo Russell at the point, he's more of a scoring point less of a facilitating point. But he's obviously had all pro caliber seasons. They've got Karl Anthony towns at center. So James Wiseman, I don't know how he fits in is he's kind of another dominant big I guess they could go with like a twin towers type look with him and towns. And James Wiseman's a seven foot one center out of Memphis, for those of you who are unfamiliar, but I do see either Anthony Edwards or lamella, ball falling here. lamella would be a little bit more of a facilitator, but I'm gonna go with I'm gonna say Ant Man goes, number one. I think he's got the high ceiling in the draft. He's elite when attacking the basket. And his numbers were not great shooting the basketball from three or from two. And if you watch if you watched him at all, it's purely due to his shot selection. So he's got a great shot. He takes some bad shots, though. He chooses to take some bad shots. And that's one of those things where it's like, Can he develop beyond that? I like that he has a shot, unlike marquel foltz, who went number one a few years ago, or Ben Simmons, for example. Edwards can shoot the basketball. But But shot selection is a huge issue for him. He He also was very lazy on defense at times last year, but again, he's very capable on defense. And we saw that and as someone that kept up with Georgia basketball specifically, he had his moments where he was dominant on defense, but it was pretty rare for that happen. So I think his flaws like I said, all these players are flawed. I think his flaws are more fixable than teaching a guy how to shoot a basketball at 20 years old. Coaching is gonna be huge for Anthony Edwards.
Mike Lewis 12:26
Let me ask you a question. So in I think, you know, you and I have both watched many drafts over the years and there's some consistent themes. One of which is you got to compare the guy to some guy that's already played. And so yeah, for Ant Man, what's the what's the comparison? How do you see him fitting into an NBA roster? or potentially a winning or championship NBA roster? What role does he What role does he play?
Doug Battle 13:00
Yeah, I love player comparisons and you'll hear I mean, every player that gets drafted will be compared to another player they will usually be compared to an all pro or Hall of Fame caliber player although only a handful at most will will pan out to have that kind of career. And then one other note as far as comparisons are concerned is that you'll notice that European players will be compared to other European players guys with certain hairstyles will be compared to other players it almost becomes a look alike game. white guys are always compared to white guys, very rarely Will you see a white guy compared to a black guy or to you know, someone of a different ethnicity so it is always kind of comedy to me when they start comparing guys purely based off looks it seems but Anthony Edwards and again, this is gonna sound like one of those because he played under Tom crean Guess Who else played on your timeframe? Victrola depot and Dwayne Wade, but I think all the depot in Edwards have a lot in common and that they are elite attacking the basket. They're good. driving to the basket. They're great athletes. You know, dunk competition type athleticism. So I think that's probably how I see him fitting into a team. I think another one that could be the case if he really reached a ceiling would be James Harden. Because Edwards can really shoot the rock from from deep and he's bigger, like harden. He's built really big for shooting guard real I mean, he looks like a football player when you see him in person. And so I think those two is when you're talking about his upside but again, I like I said before, I could see this guy being eight points a game five years into his career, or I could see him being 32 points per game and it's just a matter of his development. Okay, so
Mike Lewis 14:51
I'm gonna, I'm gonna do a small defense of player comparisons. I know exactly where you're coming from coming from. It is Little bit comical that, you know, where they do kind of light. Like if you had if there was a seven foot five white center in this in this draft, they would compare him to Shawn Bradley, right. I mean, it's, it's just how they work. And it is a little bit ludicrous speed because it feels a little bit, it feels a little bit lazy. I think the value of it though is it is. It's kind of a shorthand, it's a way to do something efficiently, right? where it's like, Hey, you know, cuz you just, you know, list off a bunch of statistics. And that gives someone sort of a, well, it gives people too many pieces, too many facts, too many pieces of information. And so putting it to a single player and name. That's helpful. It's a way to organize things very quickly. But the downside to it have is right. Rather than give someone 10 statistics on a player, you're giving one comparison, one imperfect comparison. So there's some value to it. But I think there's, I agree with you that there's a real tendency to get sloppy with it. And then when you do do the thing of Oh, you know, this guy's coming out of BYU, or this is a white guard out of Duke, so I got to compare them to you know, john, Shai or Bobby Hurley it does get a little ridiculous.
Doug Battle 16:19
Yeah, absolutely. So then, the next player that I would see getting drafted and this is contingent upon the Golden State Warriors using their pick and not trading it, there's a lot of speculation that they may trade the number two pick because the warriors have a championship window with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, late in their prime and Draymond Green while we're at it, and so they may want to trade this pic for maybe a piece that isn't a developmental piece, but a piece that is already there, and that can immediately contribute on a championship caliber team. However, if they do use the number two pick, I would definitely project them to take James Wiseman out of Memphis. So this kid is 19 seven foot one 240 pounds and he is a freak athlete. You know, obviously great size but he runs the floor extremely well and he's more agile than your average seven foot or more coordinated one of the quicker seven footers you'll see. That's not to say that he's going to be out guarding threes. Because he's not I mean, he's, this was this was tough with Wiseman, he's 240 pounds. So he's not the biggest guy at seven foot one. And he's not quite quick enough to guard on the perimeter. So he's really built like a five but he's not the strongest five. So I think there's concerns about his defense and the pain. I would argue that if you look back at even guys, like Wilt Chamberlain, a lot of these guys come into the League of sticks and really fill out nicely. And I would expect him to put on some weight and some strength, some muscle but his his deal is he's got a nice touch on his shot. So he looks like he could have a and this is again flare comparison for the sake of communication. I don't think he's Chris Bosh. But I do think he's he's got that kind of shooting types that Chris Bosh had where he can shoot in the mid range tendencies. Bad tendency would be for him to shoot too often in the mid range and settle. But I think he's got a lot of potential and I think a team like the Golden State Warriors would be perfect for James Wiseman. Because they don't need someone to come in and lead the team in scoring. They don't need someone to come in and take over the offense. What they need is a stretch. They like to play small ball. He's perfect for small ball because he's actually big and he can protect the rim still better than most small guard small ball centers, but he can run the floor and he can spread it out and he can shoot in the mid range. space it out a little bit better than most centers can. So I think Wiseman can come in and be a pick and roll Dunker slash rebound and dunk pullback guy. rebounder shot blocker in a big piece for a Golden State Warriors team that is looking to not rebuild but retool and retool what they have to become a championship team once again. Okay, some follow up questions.
Mike Lewis 19:18
So seven foot one, you know, I think the conventional wisdom and I do have an analytic story about big athletes. strange story does doing some work related to the W NBA Draft. And so we're looking at female well, obvious point right? Power forwards going into the W NBA and we're looking at guards and power forwards and centers that you do a pretty good job of predicting how guards were going to perform. But for the bigger players, you really did it in the W MBA and basically they're all playing four years of college basketball. They You really do need to wait till about year two or three to see where these players are going to develop. So I think the conventional wisdom that the big players you know do need time to mature I think what you're alluding to with some of the comments that they need time to grow into the body is very true it it does potentially make drafting bigs more high variance now in the end, so I think you know, there might be a tendency to avoid that but the overwhelming factor right is the fact that I think you mentioned that he was seven foot one and once the old saying can't teach seven foot one
Doug Battle 20:41
you can't teach that
Mike Lewis 20:42
so it part of it though, I mean, do you think there's a you know, as you were describing the situation and I'm coming at this as a naive fanboy today almost reminded me a little bit of like the Jerry Krauss idea so does Golden State go with a developmental prospect starting the process of reloading for when the next window opens?
Doug Battle 21:04
Yeah, I mean, you could look at it that way. What Kraus wanting to do with Tracy McGrady and was any unable to do I could see Wiseman being that type of piece. I do think he has all pro potential down the road. And I think he could be a contributor right away just not you know, not at his full potential. But yeah, I think he could see that I also think you could see Bob Myers pressured to trade this pic to increase their odds of competing now maybe to get even a player like Myles Turner who's maybe maybe we know he doesn't have the same ceiling as Wiseman but he's a fully developed some footer, rim protector, same type of player but more in his prime unable to play meaningful minutes and the NBA Finals right away without a whole lot of doubt of what he can or cannot do or where he might hurt your team. Whereas Wiseman's more of an unknown with obviously greater potential but obviously more of a risk as well. So I think I think that's a great point that you bring up they could use Wiseman to to compete now with Steph and clay and Draymond and then as those guys age out to you know maybe bring on one more star player to pair with Wiseman and have Steph is kind of an old three point Ray Allen figure and transition into you know, another dynasty. I'm sure that thought has crossbar Myers mine and I'm sure that's something they're considering. Okay,
Mike Lewis 22:32
pick number three,
Doug Battle 22:35
a three on my list. So, I mean, it gets tricky here. I'm gonna go with the next guy that could go number one, in my opinion, and that's lamella ball. The interesting thing to me about lamella is that I mean, he's obviously he's gonna be compared to his brother Alonzo. But there's a little bit of a of a hesitancy with lamella because of Lonzo because Lonzo was the number two pick to the Lakers in front of Jason Tatum. And he has been fine in the NBA, but he wasn't as good as some had hoped he didn't become I mean, they thought he was going to be the face of the Lakers. You'd be the face of the Lakers right now. That's obviously not the case. He was discarded by the Lakers and in their efforts to become a championship team. So Lonzo it's like you would think it's almost like the opposite of the Peyton Manning effect with Eli, like with Peyton. Ely benefited greatly from that name. Because people thought Wow, he could be Peyton, with lamella people are a little bit hesitant, whereas they're like Wow, he looks amazing, but so did Lonzo. And Lorenzo has just been okay in the NBA. He hasn't been anything great. So, I don't know I think we'll melos better than Lonzo kid is six foot seven real skinny though 180 at that height, so he's a skinny playmaking point guard. And we've seen viral videos of this kid since he was in middle school. Super flashy player got really good vision. Just like Lonzo he's got an unorthodox shooting form with a pretty quick release and but he doesn't always jump on his jump shot. So it's just it's funny looking and you kind of wonder is that gonna work in the NBA? Is it gonna get blocked. So his I guess his issues or takes too many low percentage shots. This is the case with a lot of top prospects is that they're overconfident and they'll take shots that aren't good shots, maybe when they could pass it up and and create a better look for their offense. Defensively, he's not the best but has a lot of potential with that six foot seven frame super long. And he it's just a matter of effort on defense. And like I said he can be overly ambitious on offense, not just scoring the basketball, but passing he tries to force passes sometimes and create things and this is the case again with a lot of the great point guards coming into the draft every year where the They try to force passes, that they want to get a guy open or they want to squeeze the ball and thread the needle and they tend to turn it over that way. I know even Luca Don church had that issue and still does in the NBA.
Mike Lewis 25:13
Okay, so there's your, you know, the guys that all soak up the majority of the press coverage on draft night. Yeah, they're fun stuff to look for. Who is the top European prospect in the draft?
Doug Battle 25:31
There's a guy named Gosh, I I'm gonna probably butcher his name, Danny, dia, or deja denee of deja he's from Israel. So I guess the top form Guy 19 year old playmaking for, you're gonna hear they're gonna compare him to and this is always the case with the top European guys that if they're, if they're a one, two or three, they're going to be compared to Manu ginobli or Luka dodge. So and I mean, the bigger guys tend to get compared to kristaps porzingis. Or as someone of the like, so this guy's these, you know, European players are always tricky, or I guess foreign players, for that matter. And with that said, lamella ball isn't foreign, but he has been playing overseas, so he skipped college, to play professionally overseas. And that's the case for RJ Hampton as well. He's a little further down in the draft board. But But Dejah great passer really sees the floor well at six foot eight. And he's really well developed. This is again, often the case with these European players, they play really fundamentally sound basketball. As far as their your steps, spin moves off foot layups, I mean just a great offensive skill set for this guy. He's crafty, and this is where they're going to compare to Manu ginobli. And that he's a little unorthodox in his approach to the basket, when he's trying to score. And it often works just like it did with Manu. off the ball, he's good. So again, he sees for streaming well, concerns with him, or he doesn't have the strength to defend in the post. So he's maybe got the body but not the strength to get the fit to defend in the post and tends to get bullied on the glass as well. So he's, he's a tricky one, because he's big enough to play in the post, but he's not quite strong enough. I don't know that he's quick enough, defending the perimeter. So he's out on the perimeter, he tends to get blown by just not that quick laterally. So I think some other foreign guys, he might or I guess, another foreign guy he might get compared to his boss to who was really a Swiss Army Knife player, in that he could do a lot of things, but doesn't fit a traditional basketball role. He's not a traditional four, or three or five, but he could kind of play all of those positions in the right offense. And I think San Antonio was was one of his last stops where you really got to see him contribute even though he wasn't quite the traditional four. So one other interesting thing about Danny of deja is he shoots extremely well from the floor and poorly from the foul line. I don't know what that's about. I know that's been
Mike Lewis 28:20
fun, though. That's a fun thing. That's a fun look.
Doug Battle 28:22
Yeah, yeah, I know. That was the case with Lonzo ball, Lonzo ball marquel folds, all their faults couldn't really shoot anywhere, but ball shot, decent percentages from the floor and college and a poor foul shot. And that was always a little bit of a concern with him at point guard. But yeah, so that's always interesting to me. And I think, obviously, the whole playing overseas against a different level of competition, and there's not a whole lot of clarity as to how that league compares to college basketball in the States, and then to NBA basketball as well. So he's the top perceived player, I'll say this. There's a kid named Kilian Hayes from France. He's a point guard, I think. I think you'll see him compared to maybe Jamal Murray, who's another non American, although not European. He's from Canada, but they like to compare guys that aren't from America to be guys that aren't from America, as if they're all the same. So it's like, honestly, I think people that want to pull the race card on everything could have a field day watching the draft with their comparisons and stuff because it is honestly like, there's a lot of stuff here it's solely on race and, and appearance. But Kilian Hayes, I like this guy. He's He's six foot five 185 point guard. He's a lefty, and he's got really phenomenal vision and passing ability. just throws lasers like he'll throw a full court pass with his left hand and it gets there so fast. But as good of a passer is good division he has he's also got a nice game nice step back shot, nice floater game and the mid range. And that's the kind of stuff that's going to remind people of Jamal Murray, but also a great touch from deep and the foul line. So his issue like, again with many of the elite point guard prospects over the years is that he struggles with turnovers by trying to force plays gets a little overly ambitious. And hit another issue with him is he's a lefty, but he relies too heavily on his left hand. So he tends to go to the left all too often and can become predictable in that way. So that's always interesting to me. I remember Justin Anderson at UVA 40 years ago, like that with I think it was his right hand. But he almost had no left hand or no offhand, I don't think that's the case with Kilian Hayes, I think he's just, he just has the tendency to go left too much. And it'll be interesting to see his development if he's able to develop more of a ability to go both ways and, and break himself of that tendency at the next level. Okay,
Mike Lewis 30:57
so this is clearly a topic of passion for you. We're just sort of letting you. Yeah, letting you roll on these. These guys with these full on scouting reports? You know, so, you know, for you NBA GM out there, all I'm gonna say is you are you are welcome for today's episode. Let's switch directions here a little bit. So, you know, outside of Pharrell, you know, we can even sort of go back to some of the teams drafting at the top, switching from the player side to the team side, anything that you're interested in terms of what different teams are gonna try and do?
Doug Battle 31:41
Yeah, I think obviously, that Golden State Warriors, having the number to pick and being probably a top five projected team going into next year is really interesting. Something to keep an eye on, I'm always interested in. And this goes for a lot of people. The San Antonio Spurs have traditionally had a fantastic front office, and almost any player, they draft every year, people will start saying, Okay, this could be the steal of the draft, because the Spurs drafted that player. And if it's a foreign player, they'll compare it to Manu ginobli. You know, that's just how it works with the Spurs or if it's a foreign guard, they'll compare him to Tony Parker, I think, which I now that I say that I think killing killing Hayes could get compared to Tony Parker, if if people remember him, but yeah, from a team perspective, it's just always I think the interesting to me, especially a little bit later in the draft is what teams go for. The Sure thing so there's there's a few sure things in the draft. And the problem with the sure things is that they don't have that same ceiling. There's not a sure thing zei on this year, there's not a sure thing where you know, this guy is gonna play at all pro level as a rookie. The Sure thing, players tend to be guys that are consistent on Yeah, consistent from three and can play defense and don't have much of a game nor do they have the explosiveness or athleticism to really emerge as an elite scorer, attacking the basket or creating off the dribble. So there's a handful of guys and you'll often hear the term three and D. at during the draft. They'll say okay, this is a good 300 D player. I was kidding. Aaron Nesmith from, I believe he's from Vanderbilt as a kid named Sadiq Bay from Villanova. They'll say, all right, yeah, he's a three and D guy in that. And what they're saying is they know he can come in, he can shoot threes. And then on the other side of the court, he can probably guard one of the better offensive players for the other team and be an asset there, he's not going to be asked to emerge as a star as a score to create off the dribble. So some teams will go for those guys. And then on the flip side, some teams will go for really high upside guys. I mentioned RJ Hampton earlier out of all he's he played in New Zealand this last year and MBL. But he was a top five player in high school last year. So this time last year, if they'd had a draft, and they were allowed to draft high schoolers, probably would have been a lottery pick. But he goes and has a pretty rough year playing professionally overseas, and his draft stock drops dramatically. But the end of the day with him. He's the same player, same athlete. He's got phenomenal athleticism. And he looks like well, this guy could be he could end up being the best player out in the draft. And he's going to go and probably the 15 to 25 range. And so sometimes you're going to take Go ahead.
Mike Lewis 34:40
That's an interesting, that's an interesting little side note, right? Because you know, this idea of a negativity bias, which is something that will always come up when we're talking about drafts right where there's some behavioral issue often or some injury then in teams. You know, shy away, when you talk about a saw, you know, I, I've got a couple of kids that just started college this year. And you know, I think sometimes people don't, you know, may over interpret a single data point. So can you imagine when you are going to your freshman year at Georgia dog? If instead you had skipped that and gone to where do you say New Zealand? Yeah, New Zealand and played professional basketball, right? I mean, you almost have to take that as, you know, how many kids screw up their freshman year of college. And so that's kind of a really dramatic change. And so that that is an interesting one to look at is like, Will people look at this fairly? This kid goes on the adventure of a lifetime. And will people disregard or, you know, lower their forecasts of his potential based on that data point. Now that being said, you know, every piece of information is going to be scrutinized over so um, but you know, that's an interesting one to watch.
Doug Battle 36:07
Yeah, and I think another one like that is Cole Anthony at UNC. I think he was the number one player in high school buy by quite a few ranking services. And he honestly if you watch his highlights at UNC, you think he's this guy's probably going to be the best player of the draft. It's is not so good place when when people dive into the film that that expose him and raise a lot of concerns about how he's going to perform in the next level. But he's another one where it's like, there's going to be teams that are deciding between do we take a three indie Sure thing guy that can come in and contribute but does doesn't really have all pro potential? Or do we take this kid that could end up being the best player in the draft, but he also could be out of the league in three years. There's quite a few prospects like that. My favorite, I will say is you dhoka as Kabuki, played Center at Kansas, I did watch him play in high school in person. And a basketball tournament that I was actually in thankfully, did not have to play the kid. He was a at the time, a eighth grader, and he was six foot 11 and 240 pounds. And he could jump out of the gym. But he recently had the highest recorded vertical of any center ever. And I've seen mock drafts with him going in the second round. So you got to now I think he's like, 277 foot tall, and he jumps 44 inches. And he's got a pretty well developed postgame. His thing is he can't shoot a free throw. So he's basically I think, 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, kind of the Shaq era, he would have been a number one pick type in basketballs changed so much that people were concerned, you know, he's not gonna be able to shoot the three he can't, can't spread it out and stretch the floor. Yeah, you can defend inside. But how many true centers are there in the NBA today? And so he's really interesting prospect to me, because he's kind of like yesterday's top 10 pick. And today's second rounder.
Mike Lewis 38:06
Okay, Doug, I'm looking at, I'm looking at the clock. And let's move this one to the end. So let me get your last couple of observations going into the draft this week.
Doug Battle 38:16
Yeah, one thing I mentioned was, you'll hear the term three and D. And I explained what that was. Another one you'll hear is draft and stash. And when they say that, it'll be for the same teams do it all the time. And that's some of the Spurs used to do, I think, the Utah Jazz or know the Denver Nuggets, oil nuggets in the jazz, both have done this in the past. This is where you draft a player that's playing often euro League, but playing in some foreign Basketball League that's definitely got NBA potential, but is on a contract where he has another year or two or three to play for his team over there. And so you draft and stash, you draft him and he's obligated, or I guess he has the option to play for your team whenever he can get off his contract. And sometimes the players will finagle their way out and join the team that season and sometimes it's three years and sometimes they'll they'll never end up playing for the team. And so it's a little bit of a risk move. But also, oftentimes, teams will feel like they'll really really love the potential of the kid. And think that, you know, kind of had that Tony kuko vision the Jerry Kraus had where they he thinks this kid in coach may have been an example. He may have been a drafted stash guy. But this kid could be the centerpiece in a couple years and we're gonna invest in him now. And we don't necessarily need a rookie on our roster at the moment, but we're investing for the future with a draft and stash player.
Mike Lewis 39:49
Okay, I'm going to come back to you one more time because I want to give you I want to give you full opportunity to you know, put, you know put put all the opinions and the insights out there. I'll I'll tell you as I go into this draft and like I said, used to love the NBA Draft one of my favorite moments in the in the sports calendar. I've, you know, I've developed kind of a little bit of a different relationship with college basketball and in some ways it kind of perfectly coincides with how you initially set this up. You look at college basketball, almost as the farm system for the NBA basketball. I think, you know, over time when you know in my team has fit the line, I have faded the fighting line I out of Champaign, Illinois have faded a little bit. But you know, going into this year, Illinois is ranked number eight in the preseason poll. And a lot of that is because of two players good recruiting class as well, but a massive senator named Kofi Cockburn and, you know, a point, sort of a hybrid kind of combo garden, Al. And both of these players, I think, put in if memory serves put in to be evaluated for the NBA Draft. And we're told they needed a nother another season. And so one of the things that has definitely happened over time with the draft, and it sort of the draft remains fascinating, but in a little bit of a different way. Right. So now there's more emphasis on the upside, you will often hear players talk about being afraid of staying in college too long, right? where it's like, if you stay too long, maybe your draft prospects diminish, right? Because they know what they're going to get that that variance that high end variance is gone. But it's an interesting thing, how it was as the draft changes and what they're looking for changes how that affects the college basketball landscape, to the point where, you know, can you imagine you're building teams around not so much the one in Dunn's but the fringe kind of wonder when DUNS, and so like is that the blueprint for success? So as the MBA changes, does that have a downstream effect on programs like Illinois, where frankly, maybe, you know, everyone wants Zion? Right, but maybe you don't want the guy that's ranked? 15th third, yeah. where you want the guy that's ranked 25 to 30 because they're gonna stay several years and then you have the situation I'm you've got slightly lower rated men play against younger boys that they Dukes in the Kentucky's.
Doug Battle 42:28
Yeah. And you mentioned Zion, people forget Zion didn't win a national championship. UVA did who were their better players, Kyle Guy. You know, try to think of, of others from that team that that were household names. They didn't have his eye on when they had a guy named Jerome, who I believe was drafted. Like that was his last name. He's a white white guy with the last name Jerome drafted in the second round, so they had a couple second rounders, but those guys were in their third and fourth years. at Virginia, a lot of the key contributors on that team who won the national championship that year. You look at last year, I thought Dayton Dayton was going to be my pick at March Madness. They were a top 14. But man, they were they were something else. And Obi toppin who's one of my favorite prospects in this draft, partially because he gets people count his age against him because he's 22. And therefore, you know, maybe the 19 year olds that you don't know what they can do yet are more enticing than the 22 year old who you already know how good he is. But Obi toppin is a guy that I think I would imagine he probably didn't have the opportunity to play at a UNC. But he goes to date and end date and had a much better basketball team than UNC last year because they had ob top in it at age 21. And if they'd played UNC, it would have been 22 or 2122 year old ob top and playing against 1819 year old Cole Anthony. And it does give you an advantage in that way. So it does change college basketball. And I think that's why a team like Dayton was able to have a top five team last year. And it is interesting to see what teams take advantage of that while I'm on the subject of top and now I will say if you watch his offensive highlights, you will think this guy is a steal the draft number one pick, like how is nobody taking him and his defense. His defenses is really concerning. So that's the deal with him. One other note for me, there's gotten the draft named onyeka okongwu. I hope I didn't butcher that. I will be shocked if he is not compared to BAM at a by you. Purely due to the fact that they're both six foot nine and have Nigerian heritage. I will be shocked if they don't make that comparison. If they compare this kid to like Zach Collins for the Portland Trailblazers or something that would be shocking but just keep an eye out for that one because I can it's it's much easier to make these predictions and then To predict where players actually get drafted and which pics get traded.
Mike Lewis 45:03
Okay, and so I'm gonna I'm gonna wrap it up here. But I know like I said, obviously you got you got a lot to he got a lot of insights on these topics. You got any This is your last opportunity otherwise we'll close it out here.
Doug Battle 45:21
Yeah, no I'm I'm set here I'm just excited for the draft, I'm excited for free agency as well. And to see kind of you look at the Lakers Lakers roster from last year as much as we build up the draft, the Lakers won a championship with I believe is starting five where they drafted none of those. So the trades and the free agency are just as if not more important for some of these teams. I tend to like the teams that are built through the draft the Golden State Warriors of the world. So, I mean, on the one hand, you've got teams like the warriors who did build a dynasty through the draft, you've also got the Lakers who built it by trading draft picks and by signing guys in free agency. So we've got both the draft and free agency this week. Exciting times name. Yeah,
Mike Lewis 46:10
absolutely. And so I mean, and I think that's a nice way to end because this really is just the beginning, right, so the draft takes place. And then NBA teams, you know, based on what they get in the draft or don't get in the draft will start to fill in to construct those rosters for a December 22 start date. And so with that, we are out