I'll readily admit I'm not much of a draft guy. Well, that's a bit off, I guess. I feel like I evaluate talent decently, about as well as most Joe Schmo NBA fans. I just haven't watched much college hoops recently, particularly this year with all the stuff going on at school.
So perhaps I'm missing something here. But there are two power forwards in this draft who have caught my eye because of the Wizards' need for a tough guy.
(Data's from Draft Express situational stats, the players' DX pages and KenPom).
Player one averaged 18.1 rebounds per 40 minutes and a ridiculous 8.2 offensive boards/40. He shot 59 percent around the basket and had a true shooting percentage of 60%. He averaged 1.12 points per possession and 23 points/40 minutes. His PER was 38.9. He anchored a team who finished 35th in the NCAA in defensive efficiency.
Player two averaged a not-so-bad 12.7 rebounds/40 minutes and 4.8 offensive boards/40. He shot nearly 54 percent from the field and had a true shooting percentage of 56. He averaged only 0.94 points per possession and 21 points/40 minutes. His PER was 27.2. He anchored a team who finished 142nd in defensive efficiency.
Player one doesn't really shoot jumpers, but Player two shot just 29 percent on them. Player one is 20; player two is 21. Player one's team was in a better conference and got further in the NCAA Tournament than Player two.
One of these men is appearing in the top five of most mocks, sometimes next to the Wizards' name. The other is in the late lottery and even as far down as the middle of the first round. Which is which?
It'll probably surprise you to know that Player one is DeJuan Blair, while Player two is Jordan Hill. Yet it is Hill that is appearing higher in most mock drafts, even sometimes next to our own team's name.
My question is, why?
It goes without saying that Blair's college productivity is simply impossible to ignore. Luke Winn of SI.com did a look into the DX database and found that Blair was not only the best offensive rebounder in college basketball this past year, but he was actually the best offensive rebounder in the last eight years of college basketball. And as the DX situational stat article mentioned, despite his height, Blair finished pretty well around the basket. Most importantly, for this team, he's not a skinny jump-shooter that will operate outside the paint. No, this guy is an absolute moose who could potentially change games off the bench, if not more.
Obviously, the issue with Blair is his height and weight, but I'm not too concerned about either. He's supposidely dropped 15 pounds already working at the IMG academy, and he looks like he's in really good shape. As far as the height problem, I don't think I need to list all the recent successes of smaller forwards that were stocky in build, but Paul Millsap, Big Baby Davis, Leon Powe, Carl Landry, Kevin Love, Udonis Haslem, Brandon Bass, Jason Maxiell, Udonis Haslem, David West, David Lee and Elton Brand were pretty good despite their height. Besides, Blair has unbelievably long arms, so I'm sure he'll measure pretty well at the pre-draft combine. Rebounding translates better than any stat
But this is just as much about the problems with Jordan Hill than it is with Blair's exploits. For two years, Hill was a lot more like Blair; a big guy who stuck more inside. But in his last year in college, his percentages went way down as his shot attempts rose. We mentioned how he only shot 29 percent on jumpers; the discouraging thing is that he shot over 2.5 of them a game, higher than the average power forward prospect. His free throws per shot attempt number has gone down for three straight seasons. He's a decent rebounder, sure, but he's not amazing like Blair is. There's also a lot of talk about Hill's defensive potential, and maybe there's something there, but his team was pretty awful defensively (though that may have more to do with Chase Budinger than Hill).
So am I missing something? Why is Hill a top-five prospect and Blair isn't? I'm not sure Blair is worth a top-five pick. I am sure, however, that Hill isn't. And if we draft Hill for the attributes he supposidely possesses -- defense, rebounding, interior toughness, energy -- then it's borderline criminal to pass on Blair when Blair does all those things better than Hill.
Blair>>>>>>Hill. So if we're looking for interior toughness with our fifth pick, what's so bad about "reaching" for Blair?