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2020 Player Breakdowns

Tyrell Terry Breakdown

OFFENSE:

Most likely doesn’t have the burst, size or driving function needed to become an elite all-around offensive threat in the NBA but his shooting ability is the great equalizer.  He’s the type of player that if you sag off his pick-and-roll he’ll make you pay from deep.  He has the potential to command pressure instantly off the ball screen which in turn has a massive effect on spacing and defensive support.  It forces ‘bigs’ to come out of the paint, challenge the defensive identity and expose backline weaknesses.  That one skill alone can drastically guide his career.  He isn’t someone who can just spot up or shoot well out of ball screens but shoot off movement too.  He wasn’t a prolific movement shooter but he would misdirect defenders off ball, round corners off screen, catch-and-release enough times to warrant quality prowess.  Unfortunately his height is a negative in terms of becoming a Duncan Robinson-esque type movement shooter.  That’s why at the next level he’ll have to improve his off the dribble game.  He was pretty average shooting off the dribble and at times settled for 1-2 plant pull ups or floaters.  The lack of strength/pop hurts on floaters and off balance shots since he doesn’t get enough extension and lift.  Becoming stronger and adding more momentum behind his shot should help with off the bounce buckets. 

Even though Terry doesn’t have the greatest of first steps he uses jabs and shot fakes to get defenders to step off.  He can then decelerate and accelerate downhill or use change of direction crossovers to alter his path and finish with off foot, wrong hand lay ins.  His craft off the bounce and gathering ability help draw fouls but his body control needs to be more consistent when bumped on vertical contests.  As for play making he’s a smart passer.  Can anticipate when cutters are about to break open, pass on the margins and pass on the move.  However at times he’ll overpass, jump pass with no plan and take a bunch of risky passes.  Overall still has good passing instincts.

DEFENSE:

His lack of size becomes an even bigger problem on defense.  He can get hung up on screens but shows solid pursuit on the recovery even though he might overcompensate at times and rush with his hands.  He does have the quickness to stay in front of certain ball handlers but can get bumped off pretty easily with lack of strength.  Even if he gets beat at the point of attack he has the quickness to reattach but the problem being he lacks the length to force a truly contested shot.  His stance can be too hunched over and needs a better anchor.  He’ll shade players poorly at times, like shading a player heavily middle giving up baseline with no help.  He has a decent armbar but lack of strength counters the perceived leverage.  Can be too active with hands on closeout, on-ball contests and sometimes will lazily have a hand on the players back while attempting a shot, makes an easy call for ref.  He does a good job off-ball reading passing lanes and intercepting the ball but doesn’t stay coiled ready enough and can be late getting into stance at the mesh point.  At times he’ll be late to recognize his man lifting off-ball but shows good effort returning home.  Overall does do a good job on initial rotations even though if the contest is on someone with size the effectiveness might be lackluster.  Getting stronger and filling out his frame will be a must.

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2020 Player Breakdowns

Obi Toppin Breakdown

OFFENSE:

If you look up the definition of ‘vertical spacer’ in the dictionary a picture of Obi Toppin will be staring back at you.  He has great explosion, massive catch radius around the rim, great body control and soft hands.  His screen setting can be soft at times but that’s because he likes to leave early on his rolls and dive on a tightrope.  Sometimes when he dives off ball screens he’ll waste motion by opening up his body in the wrong direction, as if he’s caught in between wanting to dive or pop.  Most of his offensive possessions  were in the post or transition but displayed some pick-and-pop ability and can be a floor spacer.  When he doesn’t put enough sway into his shot release he can have accuracy issues but for a ‘big’ he has workable mechanics for the next level.  If he’s going to be a floor spacer he’s going to have to be better attacking closeouts; he can ball fake or rip-and-go but typically takes a couple of dribbles with minimal scoring variety.  Really doesn’t attack off the bounce.  He can fake dribble hand-off at the wing, turn, take a couple of pound dribbles, cover space quickly, hop step and finish with off hand.  He can put his head down and drive in a straight line, have wide strides on his gather and finish with touch at the rim.  His driving ability and handle definitely need improving but his gathering ability is pretty verse for someone his size.  One of the better ‘big’ passers in the draft.  Off a short drive he can pass on the move and find baseline cutters with help drawing in.  When he was in the post he would find opposite side shooters, opposite block ‘bigs’ or slot cutters.  Although, at times he’d force the issue and not find open players breaking free and be more zoned into scoring.  The way the NBA is trending being able to pass as a big could be a differentiating factor for Toppin.

DEFENSE:

Toppin’s defense can be summed up pretty easily: too upright.  He has such great athletic ability but relies too heavily on his natural quickness and explosion.  The issue could be how narrow his lower body is, not having wide hips, a strong butt or a stable anchor.  You can see it in the post when he gets overpowered or you can see it when he’s corralling the pick-and-roll with no center of gravity.  He can get away with it because he’s tall with long arms, good athleticism, solid timing and most importantly, quick off the ground.  He’s so quick off the ground and has such a good second jump to the point that he can cover up his low playing style.  And since he doesn’t play defense low enough his angles he’ll take can be off line.  Maintaining a strong armbar was one of the major ways he was still able to funnel any dribble penetration on-ball.  It also helped him stay attached to quicker players and getting blocks from behind.  A lot of times instead of setting up verticality at rim he’ll brace for block or he won’t leave his man unless he sees a clear block/steal opportunity.  Toppin can jump the passing while playing 3/4 denial defense on the post but becomes out of position too easily, happens more than what I like to see.  That need to create on defense puts him in a poor position at times.  Every now and then when he did play on his toes and showed good fundamentals he showed the potential to be a 1 through 5 defender but due to lack of strength and anchor Toppin just might be a 2 through 4 defender.

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2020 Player Breakdowns

Onyeka Okongwu Breakdown

OFFENSE:

Mostly a line of sight passer who rarely passes with anticipation and finds players as a last resort.  He can find fan outs and flares out of post and makes solid high-to-low passes.  When he gets the ball off a ball screen in space he can back action pass to the opposite wing for three.  He garners so much attention in the post or with space that there will be loose ends forming to pass to and needs to sharpen his decision making.  He’s a workable passer with potential but has a ways to go.  Fantastic offensive rebounder; quick off the ground, carves out position, uses swim moves like a defensive end to win the rebound.  He didn’t shoot many long range shots but solid overall touch on his catch-and-shoot spot up midrange jumper; has a high release point but would like to see his lower body shot prep be synced up better with overall mechanics.  Can catch ball at the elbow area, take one dribble and leap from the midpost for a slam; has solid stride length on his gathering.  Can catch the ball off pick-and-roll, dive with a head of steam and side step defender at rim who has position; also likes to use jump stops to throw off defenders rhythm.  When attacking a closeout from the elbow can shuffle feet going downhill.  That’s why a lot of times when he attacks a closing defender who has cut off a straight away angle he’ll just back them down.  Dribbles away from his body, feels like he’s trying to catch up to his dribble and loses balance as a result; getting his handle in tight with a center of gravity will be key.

DEFENSE:

Great paint protector.  Converges on action in a timely manner, makes solid initial rotations and deters shots at the rim.  It’s really tough to execute when Okongwu goes vertical at the rim but unfortunately sometimes instead of establishing position and going vertical he’ll move into the vertical contest and fly into the defender committing a foul.  He’ll also bring his arms down on the vertical contest instead of remaining high and tight.  His good hand eye coordination, timing, length and pop help him be a great shot eraser but that ability comes with a cost as he can be prone to fishing for blocks/steals.  As a result instead of staying sound in his assignment he’ll either be stuck in the mud, take poor angles or bite on fakes.  Sometimes versus on-ball he’ll play with his hands out in front of him trying to tap the ball away but that hurts his balance especially against quicker players.  Needs consistent mirroring but overall has springy toes, strong armbar, a wide base, good anchor and nice lateral slides that serve him well containing dribble penetration.  Has versatility in his pick-and-roll coverages by switching, downing or hedging.  Sometimes though he’ll screw up the communication, like planning ahead without thinking ahead.  While defending the pick-and-roll and playing drop coverage he speculated the zone in which the ball handler would attack.  He cheated over to the right without understanding that help wasn’t in position to back that up and as a result the ball handler took advantage of that mistake.  Does a really good job on rotations closer to the rim but needs to process the perimeter faster if he wants a chance at becoming a true 1 through 5 defender.

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2020 Player Breakdowns

Anthony Edwards Breakdown

OFFENSE:

Overall Edwards is a very talented player but it felt like he wasn’t working as hard as he could.  By that I mean it feels like when he beats the first level defender going down hill off ball or off ball screen he’ll struggle with decision making when the second level comes rotating over.  When met with the second level he’ll tend to shoot pull up mid range jumpers instead of working the defender deeper or threading the play along with instinctive passing.  He has the strength and athletic ability to fend off defenders on his drive then shed them at the rim.  He has a nice low center change of direction move which he uses a between the legs cross or a pull back cross and go.  He’ll in-and-out you out of your shoes, absorb contact at the rim and finish with control.  He has the ability to work the defense deeper middle off live-dribble but when faced with a decision at the second level he gets passive with pull ups.  This may change over time since it’s more of a mental block.  When you’re a good pick-and-roll scorer you should be adept at turning the corner or rejecting the screen but it seems like he’s a far better driver when he rejects the screen.  A lot of that has to do with the fact when he rejects the screen the big help defender is deeper in the paint rather than corralling his drive up close.  He likes to have a runway on his drives.  He doesn’t have an advanced shooting portfolio but is a decent tough shot maker displaying a pull back jumper halting his momentum on a dime and pulling back with a cross.  He’s not really an instinctive play maker but has used the advantages off his scoring ability and leveraged that into creation.  However he’s a better passer in transition rather than half court execution even though he does display fine rhythm off pick-and-roll passing.  He’s decent at reading the first action but any sort of sequence of events and he can struggle to read the court.

DEFENSE:

When Edwards gets his legs underneath his chest, has active feet, sturdy armbar and slides with purpose containing dribble penetration, man, he shows how tough it could be fighting for angles downhill; really good on-ball defense.  Unfortunately he doesn’t show much consistency in his fundamentals.  Sometimes he’ll poorly shade the ball handler, other times he won’t use an armbar and then when he does get beat versus the first step he’ll get handsy and hand check the drive.  Also more than what I would’ve liked to see was Edwards dying midpost after he lost the drive first level, it’s like he’s getting ready to brace for the rebound or maybe he’s getting ready for a quick inbounds play even though he could still funnel the ball handler.  He’ll also have lapses versus early offense and do a poor job matching up.  It’s tough to tell defensive communication 100% of the time just by watching a lot of televised games but a play that stuck out was one of his teammates pointing out an off ball switch early and Edwards didn’t pay it any mind resulting in an easy bucket.  Was it poor communication, was it poor processing speed, was it poor effort or was it a little of all?  Edwards has demonstrated he can play good on-ball defense, he’s shown the ability to rotate on middle drives and add that to his positive hand eye coordination feeding his creation Edwards has illustrated his pro defensive capability.  The issue however might be if he can sustain a full game of that level of defense.

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2020 Player Breakdowns

Aaron Nesmith Breakdown

OFFENSE:

One of the best three point shooters in the class.  It’s a shame his season ended early with an injury but it left his three point percentage at 52% which is absurd.  And it’s not like it was only 4 games, it was 14 games.  The pump fake, side step, re-load pull ups are part of his repertoire but his most interesting shooting aspect is his movement shooting.  He can cleanly round corners off screens, catch on the move and stop on a dime raise up from deep.  His core stability gives him balance when his body is tilting momentum.  At times he’ll do the whole kick out his legs thing when a defender cuts off his landing space on jump shots.  You have to do what you have to do to get the call but it clearly affects his shooting ability for the negative.  He has a high release point on his jumper which helps verse contested shots which happens a decent amount.  On his drives he will lean into the defender forcing the player to put extra weight on the back of his feet then dislodge the player with a slight nudge creating separation in the process.  He has a NBA quality first step, drives mostly in a straight line with little shift or sudden movements, dips his shoulder into defender, holds off defender with arm guard then get to the rim but has trouble consistently finishing over contact.  He has good body control and coordination so he needs to do a better job with off timing his gather, follow his extension through and finishing with his off hand.  As a playmaker Nesmith is a line of sight passer.  Unless the play is unfolding right in front of his eyes it’s tough for him to sense breaking action peripherally.  He would beat the first level defender live-dribble, draw in the second level and will have tunnel vision missing players long corner or short corner.  Even though his decision making ability will be a question mark moving forward he can still play make of his scoring ability and create off those gained advantages.

DEFENSE:

Watching Nesmith on defense is pretty misleading.  You see a player with a wide defensive base and athletic ability and think how tough he is to drive on.  It looks like he’s moving around the court all nimble but the closer you watch the more you see him play flat footed.  He should be playing on his toes and staying coiled but instead plays back on his heels with poor balance.  He’ll have poor foot positioning on-ball and give up too wide of an angle.  He doesn’t leverage his body as much as he needs to and needs more integrity on his slides while funneling dribble penetration.  When he does stay attached he demonstrates a strong arm bar rerouting the drive and long armed mirroring which means he has the ability to be a better on-ball defender.  He’s a mixed bag on team defense.  At times you’ll see him make well timed low man rotations to wall off the drive but then the very next play will slide out of position prematurely and leave the driver with no help middle.  He’ll stay at home and stick to his own when he should be helping the helper.  He’ll also be a step slow on rotations and rarely cycles through assignments.  He can create on defense by getting hand on ball for deflections, steals and blocks but will take unnecessary gambles and lazy swipe down fouls.

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2020 Player Breakdowns

Tyrese Haliburton Breakdown

OFFENSE:

Fantastic off ball player.  Nice backdoor cut when reading teammates dribble push and flashes baseline as soon as help started to crowd ball handler.  Nice relocation off dribble drive passes and climbs to the open spot.  Has great touch around the rim but can struggle at times over height/size due to lack of pop and strength. Can’t really break guys down off the dribble so he attempts a lot of 1-2 plant pull ups.  Not really a tough shot maker but does attempt step backs, off screen and altered momentum shots; has shown some semblance of ability.  Uses his high level long range shooting ability to set up his drives whether that’s attacking a hard closeout or just using pump fakes.  Off ball screens he utilizes acceleration/deceleration moves down hill to get defenders momentum leaning.  Doesn’t have a lot burst but his change of speed game is solid.  The lack of a great first step probably hinders his upside.  Also off ball screens does great job anticipating defenders angles and whether to reject the screen or dribble off it to get down hill.  When he does get into the paint rarely draws fouls.  It could be because he isn’t versed in gathering by relying on his left foot leap, right hand finishes on both sides of the rim or maybe because he shrinks away from contact midair.  Although I will say he isn’t afraid to leap in the muck for an offensive rebound.  One of the best players in this draft when it comes to processing speed.  Reads plays before they break whether that’s off the bounce or pick-and-roll.  Very methodical turning the corner off ball screens and is patient waiting for the right loose end to reveal itself.  Very smart player overall.

DEFENSE:

One of the best at defensive creation for a guard in this class.  He has great hand eye coordination, great timing, and is quick to process the action.  He’s not afraid to leave his man or position to suffocate the action and force a havoc shifting play.  Although when he does leave his man or position his return home can be late.  His lack of closing speed is one of his biggest defensive constraints.  Also another impediment is his lack of fluid hips verse point of attack.  Doesn’t really flip his hips that well and can be susceptible to opening his hips too early.  However he does have great on-ball fundamentals by playing on the balls of his feet, staying coiled, strong armbar and strong balance.  He also has a wide base and solid defensive slide positioning.  The lack of a strong butt and anchor can be troublesome when absorbing offensive blows and controlling a ball handlers hips.  One of his biggest issues on team defense is at times he’ll ball watch and get lost in space.  He’s a heady enough player to reestablish ball-and-man but it feels like every so often he’ll be more interested in getting a steal rather than play sound team defense.  With that said though he’ll make nice low-man vertical contests from the weak side, shrink the court and crash down on third level rotations.

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2020 Player Breakdowns

OldManBasketball’s NBA Draft Grade Sparknotes

The 2020 NBA draft is the first year I’m doing draft grades.  It definitely has been a process for me with a lot of trial and error.  I wanted to be as thorough and impartial as possible with the grades.  There are 30 categories on offense to grade and 15 to grade on defense with sliding weights given to different positions.  It’s taken me time to figure out what value belongs to each category and what markers make up the criteria.  I’ve also incorporated advanced stats and developed formulas to create grades.  For example something like ‘touch’.  

None of this is perfect and not anywhere close to a finished product.  As a result there won’t be as many completed player grades as I was hoping to post.  I’ve scouted over 60 players but unfortunately will be able to grade around 15-30 before the draft.  I technically could keep posting grades after the draft but I’m not sure if that’s necessary.  I want to start focusing on next year’s draft and especially the 2022 draft when hopefully the basketball world will be a little more normal.  I’ve gotten my grading procedure down to a suitable level now and with future drafts should be keeping grades up to date during the season.

For this year’s crop of player grades I’ll have a sortable table with player breakdowns linked.  If you’ve followed me in the past I typically write extensive scouting reports on each player but due to time constraints will be writing brief player breakdowns instead.

OldManBasketball’s NBA Draft Grade Sparknotes

The players will be graded on OFFENSE and DEFENSE.  OFFENSE will be graded on shooting, screen setting/pick-and-roll game (for bigs only), scoring/finishing, driving/handle, feel and creation/passing.  Each category has its own grouping of skills totaling 30 to 35.  For example, drawing fouls on the gather/rim, movement shooting and win rate of drives.  DEFENSE will be graded on team defense, on-ball defense, creation and IQ.  Each category has its own grouping of skills totaling 15.  For example spatial awareness and help defense.  The more markers the player hits the better the grade.  OFFENSE and DEFENSE will be graded on a 1-99 scale:

 

95-99: God Status (generational skills)

85-94: Elite (all-nba skills)

75-84: Great (all-star skills)

65-74: Good (starter level skill)

55-64: Above Average (rotation player skills)

45-54:  Average (bench player skills)

35-44: Below Average (g-league lifer skills)

1-34: Poor (not in league skills)

 

There will also be ROLE POTENTIAL which features a ‘high’ and ‘low’ outlook.  For example, HIGH: swiss army knife big, LOW: rim-running backup big.  There will be STAR POTENTIAL which factors in functional athleticism and physical profile aka athletic ability, height, wingspan, lateral agility, shoulder size, etc.  It is graded on a 1-99 scale.  Just because player x graded better than player y doesn’t mean I project player x to be the ‘better’ player.  Incorporating STAR POTENTIAL can act like a tipping point.  I’ll also try to have SYSTEM DEPENDENCE included which entails the list of teams that will enhance a players skills and which teams could hamper them.  Basically ‘team fit’ potential.  If I do complete ‘system dependence’ it won’t be located on the sortable table and will be with the PLAYER BREAKDOWN (which you can find by clicking the players name).  The more players I grade and more film I watch the grades are always subject to change.  I’ll expand upon how in depth I go into the grades at a later date.

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2020 Player Breakdowns

Kira Lewis Breakdown

OFFENSE:

Really good playmaker.  Can create off pick-and-roll or live-dribble but creating off ball screens was his favorite.  He can throw over the top, pocket pass or wraparound dump off passes to the roll man with foresight.  Sometimes he will drive and kick too early while he has the option to knife through the lane deeper to bend the defense and create more loose ends.  He can pass on the move and with anticipation.  Not terrible passing to the margins either; keeps head on a swivel.  His first step is one the best in the class.  He displays great downhill straight away speed and uses his quickness to get defenders leaning to change direction or shift gears.  Not overly herky-jerky but has solid wiggle.  His combo dribble drives moves can create more separation with an array of crossovers at his disposal.  Doesn’t create as much leverage on his drives and relies heavily on his first step and combo moves.  Needs to gain strength to ward off the physical defenders.  His gathering ability helps him become a solid scorer.  He can high rip a two step gather going downhill at a hundred miles an hour.  He can side step low man help defenders who are in position to take a charge and finish off his wrong foot.  His thin frame really is an issue however when it comes to finishing over contact or winning more drives.  He can get stronger over time but his rail frame is a concern.  He’s more of a spot up three point shooter rather than a movement shooter.  Did well with catch-and-shoot opportunities but a lot of those weren’t off the screen, catch on the move jumpers.  He’s more than just a spot up shooter with his behind the back pull back threes, floating away runners and crossover pull ups.  He needs to turn his tough shot making ability into drawing more fouls at the next level.

DEFENSE:

For a player that’s rail thin he’s better than one would think on defense.  Much of that has to do with his defensive fundamentals.  He can sit in his stance with clean slides and feathery toes.  Sometimes he’ll squat in his defensive stance with poor mirroring, that’s why even though he’s displayed pretty good defensive functionally his inconsistent tendencies can be a downfall.  His defensive anchor will be a problem at times getting overpowered on drives, getting bumped off at the rim or dying on screens.  He also is good enough as a help defender so he won’t be a complete liability.  He can cover for his teammate who gets washed out of the play, can rotate over one man away and chip at the action.  His improved creation might be the best thing about his defensive game.  He has solid hand eye coordination that causes deflections, gets blocks from behind unsuspecting drivers and jumps passing lanes that look open in the moment. 

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2020 NBA Draft Grades

2020 NBA Draft Grades (1st Edition)

Click HERE to get a better idea what these grades mean.

Click on player names for further breakdown (grades are subject to change as we get closer to draft night):


Guards/Wings

NameOffenseDefenseRoleStar Potential
Kira Lewis 70.9462.57HIGH: Lead Initiator
LOW: Backup Ball Handler
68
Tyrese Haliburton69.2568.61H: All-Time Glue Guy
L: Backup 3-and-D combo guard
57
Aaron Nesmith66.6257.22H: Top Tier Scoring Wing
L: Backup Shooting Specialist
70
Anthony Edwards67.7560.59H: Two-Way Wing Initiator L: Microwave Scorer Off Bench81
Tyrell Terry7257.1H: Shot Creating Lead Ball Handler
L: Movement Shooting Combo Guard
65
Devin Vassell62.567.5H: 3-and-D Hybrid Wing
L: Spot Up Shooting Guard
61
Isaac Okoro65.3770.09H: Scoring Wing W/Elite Defense
L: Defensive Specialist
63
Grant Riller74.3756.53H: Lead Initiator
L: Backup Scoring Guard
60
Isaiah Joe62.6261.78H: Two-Way Movement Shooter
L: Defensive Liability Spot Up Shooter
55
Mason Jones69.1256.19H: Shot Creating Wing
L: Matchup dependent Bench Scorer
52
Cole Anthony72.2557H: Primary Ball Handler
L: Bench Scorer
71
Tyrese Maxey70.3760.16H: High Level Secondary Ball Handler
L: Bench Scoring Combo Guard
68

Bigs

NameOffenseDefenseRoleStar Potential
Onyeka Okongwu66.5870HIGH: Elite Two-Way Big
LOW: Backup Rim-Runner
80
Obi Toppin67.3562.33H: Elite Scoring Big
L: Hustle Bench Big
75
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College Draft sports

UPDATE

I just wanted to give an update since it’s been a bit since I posted an article.  I’m shifting my focus towards the NBA draft and scouting rather than NBA topics although I’ll still talk about free agency, the playoffs and events I deem worthy of a post.  For quick hit thoughts on the NBA check out my twitter.  I don’t post on there that much either but I’ll try to do so more usual.  My twitter will just be strictly scouting, NBA draft and NBA topics. (@oldmanbball1)

In the meantime I’ve been doing nothing but taking notes for scouting grades and scouting reports.  I’ve briefly shared some thoughts on a couple of players on my twitter.  I should’ve been sharing my reactions more frequently but I wanted to lock down my grading criteria for my new scouting grades.  No more draft big boards since I think my bias will undoubtedly show through and cloud my judgement.  Read my last article about my thoughts on draft biases.  I also don’t think draft big boards reliably emphasize my true analysis about particular prospects.  That’s why I wanted to minimize bias as much as possible, broaden my assessment and sticking purely to grades was the best option.

I wanted to scout 5-10 games per player before I published anything online and considering I’m at 100 players scouted to date it’s taking me a bit.  Next season I’ll have articles up more regularly once the college season begins, talking about initial impressions and being more engaged.  I was just really focused on making my grading system as legit as possible even though over time changes will inevitably be made.

I wondered if I should grade prospects Pro Football Focus style and grade based on a per play expectancy.  Every play is graded on a sliding -2 to +2 point scale.  I decided against that since so much of basketball is communication driven and a lot of that data could be noisy.  Instead I went with a list of criteria and certain markers to meet.  Over the last four years I’ve taken a substantial amount of notes and have complied a grading rubric.  The players will be graded on “offense”, “defense”, “star potential”, “role potential” and “system dependence” all on a 1-99 scale.  The grading system will have slight differences and weights for ball handlers, combo guards, wings, small ball fours and bigs.

“Offense” will be broken down into these categories: shooting, scoring, finishing, screen setting/roll-man, driving/handle, feel, off-ball movement and passing/creation.  Each category will have certain set markers and the more the player fulfills the better the grade.  For example on “finishing” certain markers include extension around the rim, fast-to-slow two step gather, one step gather, off hand finishes, off foot finishes, euro steps, side steps, body control etc.  Obviously something like screen setting will hold more weight for bigs and creation more for ball handlers.

“Defense” will be broken down into team defense, creation, on-ball defense and IQ.  Just how it was with “offense” the more markers the player meets the better the grade.  For example on team defense certain set markers include communication, how do they defend at the nail, low-man position, overall weak side principles, can they cycle through rotations or do they just make the initial rotation, do they go vertical at the rim or stay grounded etc.  Things like straddling the line between ball handler and roll man on pick-and-roll contain defense will be graded with more weight for bigs rather than ball handlers.  Pick-and-roll defense will fall under team defense.

The next three grades are pretty experimental.  “Star potential” deals with upside but not how likely they’ll meet that upside and “role potential” deals with what NBA role they can attain and how likely they can achieve that selected role.  For example someone like Cam Reddish last year would’ve had a high “star potential” grade with 3-and-D swing forward as their potential role BUT a not too flattering “role potential” grade.  Someone like Matisse Thybulle would’ve had a not too flattering “star potential” grade and a 3-and-D wing role with a high “role potential” grade.  Now someone like Zion Williamson would’ve obviously had a high “star potential” grade AND “role potential” grade as a do-it-all combo big.  

The reason why I wanted to make “star potential” and “role potential” was to give more context to the grades.  Just because a player has a high “offense” and “defense” grade doesn’t automatically make them a candidate to be a star player at the next level.  Someone like Ty Jerome would’ve had high “offense” and “defense” grades but that wouldn’t have met I think he’s some star player in the making.  I think making that distinction was important.  Obviously this is new and something I’m tinkering around with.  It won’t be perfect from the start and errors will be made.  If it ends up confusing a bunch of people then I might second guess myself.  My hope is that in time it will be a nice component to scouting.

The last grade is the one I’m on the fence on.  “System dependence” is all about system fit and situation.  Both factors play such a crucial role in a players success that I thought it needed a grade on it’s own.  It’s one thing to identify system fit and situation as important in terms of scouting, it’s another to approximate a grade.  That was the original plan, to give “system dependence” a 1-99 grade just like the other four grades.  This was partially the reason why I’ve delayed posting.  But the more I thought about it, the more I nixed the 1-99 grade.  Instead I’ll just list the teams I think the prospect would flourish under and the teams the prospect would deteriorate or stagnate under.  For example I would’ve listed Tyler Herro Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta favorably and Orlando, Detroit and Charlotte unfavorably.  “System dependence” is still a work in progress but nevertheless think incorporating situation and fit are vital to a players prosperity.

Switching from a draft big board to a grading scale will hopefully minimize bias, improve clarity, enhance accuracy, and expand on details.  Like with every other test run there will be bugs to fix and things to get better at.  Along the way I’ll give more updates to clarify any irregular matters.  I do have a twitter (@oldmanbball1) account now so if there are any questions contact me there.