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Chad Ford Draft Tiers

Discussion in 'NBA Draft' started by J.R., Jun 22, 2012.

  1. J.R.

    J.R. Member

    Jun 30, 2008
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    Every time I put up a new mock draft (Mock Draft 8.2 was updated on Thursday), I get a lot of feedback from readers who wonder how I put it together and how it differs from the Top 100.

    This is how it works: Both pieces are reported. In other words, I talk with NBA scouts and executives to get a sense of:

    A. Which teams like which players (mock draft).

    B. What the consensus is among all 30 NBA teams about who the best players in the draft are (Top 100).

    I use the word "consensus" lightly. Often, even GMs and scouts employed by the same team can't agree on rankings of players. As hard as it is for NBA draftniks to believe, there is very little consensus within teams, let alone between them, on draft night.

    Obviously, the draft is an inexact science. NBA teams watch prospects play thousands of hours of games. They go to practice. They go to camps. They work out players, give them psychological tests, do background checks and conduct personal interviews. All of this factors into the process and can change opinions.

    Factor in the ranking wars with another age-old debate -- do you draft for need or for the best player available? -- and it's no surprise the draft can be so volatile. Many teams take into account holes at certain positions (i.e., the team has no small forward) or coaching/system preferences (i.e., the Spurs draft players who can fit into coach Gregg Popovich's system) when making their decisions.

    To make sense of disparate rankings and debates over team needs, the past few years I've chronicled a draft ranking system employed by several teams that have been very successful in the draft, what I call a tier system. Instead of developing an exact order from one to 60 of the best players in the draft, these teams group players, based on overall talent, into tiers. Then, the teams rank the players in each tier based on team need.

    This system allows teams to draft not only the best player available, but also the player who best fits a team's individual needs.

    So what do the tiers look like this year? After talking to several GMs and scouts whose teams employ this system, I put together these tiers. (Because the teams do not want to divulge their draft rankings publicly, the teams will remain anonymous.)

    (Note: Players are listed alphabetically in each tier.)

    Tier 1

    Anthony Davis

    Note: This category is usually reserved for guys who are sure-fire All-Stars/franchise players. Last year, we didn't have anyone here. In 2010, John Wall was the only guy in this tier. In 2009, Blake Griffin was the only one. This year Davis is the only player in the draft to get the nod.

    Tier 2

    Harrison Barnes
    Bradley Beal
    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
    Thomas Robinson

    Note: Tier 2 is reserved for players who are likely locks for the top half of the lottery and are projected as either very good starters or potential All-Stars by scouts. Robinson, Beal and Kidd-Gilchrist got the nod for Tier 2 from every GM I spoke with. Barnes, who has been rising on draft boards the past few weeks after some stellar athletic testing numbers at the NBA combine, was on 75 percent of the lists.

    Tier 3

    Andre Drummond
    Damian Lillard
    Dion Waiters

    Note: This is a smaller than usual Tier 3. These are the only three players (outside of the five mentioned already) that were consensus top-10 picks among the GMs I spoke with. Of the group, Drummond and Lillard had every vote. Waiters was on most of the ballots. Drummond is the toughest guy to peg. One team has him No. 2 on their draft board. Others are much more nervous about him and see a high bust potential. He barely missed the Tier 2 cut. Interestingly, a few teams had Waiters in Tier 2, while a few teams had him in Tier 4. That's a pretty big spread.

    Tier 4

    John Henson
    Perry Jones III
    Terrence Jones
    Jeremy Lamb
    Meyers Leonard
    Kendall Marshall
    Austin Rivers
    Terrence Ross
    Jared Sullinger
    Tyler Zeller

    Note: After Tier 3, it's very difficult to find a real consensus here. There are 10 players here for a total of five spots left in the lottery. A few players, like Jeremy Lamb and Austin Rivers, got a few votes in Tier 3. A few others, like Kendall Marshall, got some Tier 5 votes. But in general, this group makes up the 10-20 range of the draft. (We should note that I received some of these responses before GMs had a chance to review Sullinger's physical. He is in Tier 5 on some teams' boards now.)

    Tier 5

    Moe Harkless
    Fab Melo
    Quincy Miller
    Arnett Moultrie
    Andrew Nicholson
    Marquis Teague
    Royce White
    Tony Wroten Jr.

    Note: This next group looks like locks for the first round, but most likely won't make the lottery. A few teams had Harkless, Melo and Moultrie in Tier 4, but not quite enough for them to make the cut. Wroten and Miller were borderline picks here. Both players dropped out of the top 30 on at least one NBA team's draft board.

    Tier 6

    Furkan Aldemir
    Will Barton
    Jared Cunningham
    Festus Ezeli
    Evan Fournier
    Draymond Green
    John Jenkins
    Orlando Johnson
    Doron Lamb
    Kyle O'Quinn
    Kostas Papanikolaou
    Miles Plumlee
    Jeff Taylor
    Tyshawn Taylor

    Note: This is what I would call the first-round bubble group and where the consensus really started to break down. A few teams had Fournier, Green, Jeff Taylor and Barton in Tier 5, but many did not. Overall there are just four spaces left in the first round ... so most of the players on this list are falling to the second round.

    So how does the tier system work?

    A team ranks players in each tier according to team need. So, in Tier 3, if shooting guard is the biggest need, a player like Rivers or Ross is ranked No. 1. If center is the biggest need, Leonard or Zeller is ranked No. 1.

    The rules are pretty simple. You always draft the highest-ranked player in a given tier. Also, you never take a player from a lower tier if one from a higher tier is available. So, for example, if the Pistons are drafting No. 9 (Tier 3 territory) and Damian Lillard (a Tier 3 player) is on the board, they take him regardless of positional need. If they have Meyers Leonard ranked No. 1 in Tier 4, they still take Lillard even though center is a more pressing need.

    This system protects teams from overreaching based on team need. The Pistons won't pass on a clearly superior player like Waiters to fill a need with Perry Jones. However, the system also protects a team from passing on a player who fits a need just because he might be ranked one or two spots lower overall.

    The Pistons actually followed this model last year at the draft. While the consensus was they needed a big, when Brandon Knight, who they had ranked in a higher tier fell, they took him anyway.

    My all-time favorite historical example is from the Atlanta Hawks. GM Billy Knight took Marvin Williams ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams in 2005, and Shelden Williams ahead of a guards such as Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo in 2006 because of positional needs.

    Like every draft system, the tier system isn't perfect. But the teams that run it have found success with it. It has allowed them to get help through the draft without overreaching. Compared to traditional top-30 lists or mock drafts, it seems like a much more precise tool of gauging which players a team should draft.
  2. JD88

    JD88 Member

    May 24, 2012
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    Please give us Sullinger.
  3. ivenovember

    ivenovember Member

    Nov 3, 2007
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    So I guess the question is, "which two tier 4 players would you like to draft?"

    Assuming no trades as that just complicates things.
  4. True Rocket

    True Rocket Member

    Aug 6, 2009
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    Paterson, Scola, Morris, Monnie aren't enough at the 4?
  5. MrButtocks

    MrButtocks Contributing Member

    May 29, 2005
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    It's amazing how much Waiters' stock has climbed in the past two weeks. Mocks had him in the 20's and now most GMs have him going top ten. Is he blowing everyone away at workouts?
  6. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

    Dec 9, 2000
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    At 6'9" 260lbs Sully will play center. I just don't think he has the athleticism to play the 4.
  7. Bearius Jones

    Bearius Jones Member

    Mar 1, 2011
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    My picks Tier 4

    Perry Jones 3
    Meyers Leonard
    Terrence Ross if one of them isn't there
  8. dreamshake97

    dreamshake97 Member

    Jun 13, 2011
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    this is why we will continue to be mediocre.. when your drafting Tier 4 players EVERY year the last 3 years then you will understand why we are constantly #14.. Tier 4 guys are nothing more than 6th and 7th men.. If you are lucky you can draft a HIGH risk guy and hope he pans out like maybe Perry Jones 3.. i honeslty don't like his game but i will admit at of all the Tier 4 guys he has the most upside or potential ceiling..
  9. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
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    In January, Ohio State lost to Illinois. Myers Leonard didn't go crazy or anything, but watching him matched up with Leonard, it was pretty clear that Sullinger won't be able to match up with NBA centers defensively. They will just hold the ball high, turn around, and shoot right over him unimpeded.

    If Leonard had had any semblance of a polished offensive game, he could have gone off for as many points as he felt like.
  10. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

    Dec 9, 2000
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    Kind of like tall centers could do against Chuck Hayes? I remember a game against the Wizards when I think it was Andre Blatche that had been just turning and shooting over Chuck all night to the tune of about 25 pts. But in the 4th quarter and the game on the line, Chuck just pushed him about 10 feet out of the box and he couldn't hit another shot. Houston won.

    Be careful how you grade a player in one game. As I recall Leonard could not stop Sullinger during that game and it was Brandon Paul not Leonard who won that game for Illinois.
  11. lionaire

    lionaire Member

    Feb 16, 2010
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    I think he's been in most top 10's for quite some time now
  12. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
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    I love Sullinger as a PF. I can see him as a go to guy along the lines of Zach Randolph. just don't think he can play center. Nothing wrong with that.

    There aren't too many people with Chuck Hayes' skill, physical tools, and desire when it comes to post defense. Using him as a model for what other people can potentialy do will result in disapointment every time.
  13. JMAD21

    JMAD21 Member

    Jan 14, 2010
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  14. Yung-T

    Yung-T Member

    Apr 16, 2009
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    Start Scola and Sullinger together. Most unathletic big duo eveeer, would be hilarious to watch.
  15. Sydeffect

    Sydeffect Member

    Sep 6, 2010
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    He was wrong not putting Irving last year. Irving is going to be a stud in a few years.
  16. RocketsFan11

    RocketsFan11 Member

    Jun 16, 2006
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    I watched some of the NBA Draft combine today while waiting at SportsClips to get a haircut. The commentators said Sullinger looks "different" doing the drills. He moves like a 50 year old man so yeah, that's one way to put it. This guy is "anti-athletic".
  17. Marsarinian

    Marsarinian Contributing Member

    Apr 21, 2006
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    Very good point. If Sullinger is available at 14 or 16, I think we should by all means take a long hard look at the guy. Again, BPA is the way to go. Just a month ago, Sully was a tier 2 guy (top 6-7 in most mock drafts). As we have seen in the past (DeJuan Blair), medical "redflags" are sometimes exaggerated. I think according to Ford's tiers, where we will be drafting (tier 4) the players I would really want Morey to pick are, in order:

    - Jared Sullinger
    - Tyler Zeller
    - Kendall Marshall

    I value coachability, character, motor and work ethic tremendously, so that really makes a difference for me. Also, I think Marshall has an elite skill (distributing) that's really valuable in this league. He's obviously not Rubio (Rubio has more defensive potential and is a better finisher at this point), but I'm really high on him.
  18. plutoblue11

    plutoblue11 Member

    Dec 13, 2006
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    Sullinger doesn't fit with the Rockets, right now with the team as is, especially not to be a center or power forward.

    He's not suited for center, what is so hard to understand about that and why is that problem? A good fit for Sullinger would be Orlando, Denver (if they let Al Harrington go), Philadelphia, Detroit, or Boston.

    He'd instantly start for most of those teams and could be an effective starter.
  19. darkknight001

    darkknight001 New Member

    Apr 27, 2012
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    I‘m really curious what offer did Morey turn down~

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