Dion Waiters the big winner in Hollinger's Draft Rater

If the Phoenix Suns’ stat gurus are looking at the same numbers as John Hollinger, the swirling rumors about the Suns promising Dion Waiters make a lot more sense.

In his annual Draft Rater released on Monday, Waiters ranked as the draft’s best perimeter player with a rating of 14.12. The Draft Rater “analyzes college stats to predict NBA performance” in the form of “a giant regression model that gets incrementally smarter as we fill it with more data each year.”

Hollinger ranked Waiters fourth on his board overall behind surefire top-five picks Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, writing that “Waiters projects as the best small wing since Dwyane Wade, and he’d be a steal if somebody got him in the Nos. 8-10 range currently being discussed.”

Hollinger would certainly make a promise to Waiters at No. 13 after writing that wings “with strong Draft Rater marks virtually never fail. Of the eight players to rate above 13 in the past decade, the worst among them was Josh Childress. Five of the players have played in an All-Star Game, and Rudy Gay may play in an All-Star Game soon. The seventh player is [Kawhi] Leonard.”

Before being scared off by Waiters being another J-Chill, consider the upside. In Waiters, they very well may be selecting an All-Star talent at No. 13 if he’s available as he is in NBADraft.net’s most recent mock.

Kendall Marshall ranks just behind Waiters with a 13.84 rating, leading Hollinger to rank him No. 14 overall, just behind the higher-upside Tony Wroten (12.21).

Hollinger wrote of Marshall, “This year, several point guards rate as first-round talents, and there is little to separate them. North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall is the highest rated of the bunch and the safest pick, but he offers the least upside. Often compared to Mark Jackson because of his size, acumen and lack of athleticism, he is a solid mid-first-round pick.”

Marshall surely will be a long-time pro but it’s hard to see such a low-upside player being given the keys to Steve Nash’s kingdom one day. The former Tar Heel seems to work best with lots of talent around him, and we all know he will not find that in the Valley, at least not immediately.

Jeremy Lamb does not rank particularly well down at 10.50 and neither does Austin Rivers at 9.85 nor Terrence Ross at 9.12.

The Suns seem to be zeroing in on a perimeter player, but if they want a big it’s noteworthy to point out that Jared Sullinger is a surprise of the Rater, ranking second in overall rating at 16.86. Hollinger ranks him seventh overall despite being red flagged due to back issues by NBA doctors.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Perry Jones checks in with a disappointing 8.77 to drop down to 28th overall on Hollinger’s board.

The Draft Rater has enjoyed better success than most GMs over the years and gets smarter every season. It surely passes the common sense test this year by ranking Davis far and away the best prospect.

When I analyze the Draft Rater I am on the lookout for surprising shifts in contrast to conventional wisdom, and on that count Waiters may be an undervalued prospect along with a player like Kendall Marshall, and Jones and Ross may be a bit overvalued.

Wages of Wins on overrated prospects

So long as we are talking overrated prospects, Wages of Wins broke down 10 players with “bust” allegedly written all over them.

Lamb ranks ninth on this list put together by James Brocato with an average 7.2 Win Score adjusted for his position. Brocato writes: “Lamb is an above average shooter, relatively good at taking care of the ball, and actually a pretty decent all around player. But, for all his size an athleticism, he wasn’t particularly good at creating possessions – he doesn’t steal the ball or grab offensive rebounds as well as his peers.”

In all, Brocato does not see Lamb as a bad prospect, just not a top-10 selection.

Brocato rags on Wroten, No. 5 on this list, thanks to his abysmal 3.9 Win Score. He writes, “Indeed, he wins in all the athlete categories: he’s good at rebounding, creating turnovers, and blocking shots. But when you take into account his dismal shooting (and it’s really, really bad), his inability to pass, and his extremely high turnover rates, Wroten doesn’t look like a guy I’d want to take in the first round.”

Doesn’t exactly sound like Steve Nash’s successor to me either.

Perry Jones checks in next on the list in fourth after producing a poor 5.7 Win Score adjusted for position and schedule. Brocato’s analysis is so poignant I’ll post it all:

“Before Baylor fans start sending me hate mail, let me start by saying that Quincy Acy is actually quite productive. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, Perry Jones is pretty bad. But, boy does he look like he’s good. Chad Ford praises Jones by saying he “runs the floor like a deer.” That sounds a lot like an aesthetic positive to me. I don’t care if a guy runs the floor like a rhinoceros if he can produce wins. But Jones runs like a deer and is not particularly good at shooting, rebounding, or creating possessions on defense. Yes, he’s super athletic and long. But to reiterate something I said in the comments of Part 1, there is no evidence that athletic guys or guys with great size improve more than their small, non-athletic counterparts early in their careers. The bottom line is that production in college is the best indicator of production in the NBA (not perfect, but the best). I’ll pass on Jones.”

How often have players like Jones flopped in the NBA? Too many times to count just since 2000. Jones sure looks the part of an NBA star, but there have been enough flops who have looked like studs (minus their stats) for me to be leery about Jones if he drops into the Suns’ range. At the same time, the talent is tantalizing enough to think long and hard about him, but if Billy Beane taught us anything it’s not to pick the guy who looks best in a uniform but doesn’t put up numbers.

Finally, there is Rivers and his awful 3.1 Win Score ranking second on this list. After providing a lengthy list of college shooting guards who played more than 500 minutes and were more productive than Rivers, Brocato writes of a Chad Ford scouting report, “Is that list serious? He’s extremely confident? Tupac was extremely confident, but I didn’t want him on my basketball team. He has a ‘sick’ crossover move? That’s analysis? Hot Sauce had a sick crossover move, but I didn’t want him on my NBA basketball team. Rivers can’t be that great of a shooter or he’d have better shooting percentages. He has a nice floater? Great. So why doesn’t he shoot a higher percentage or score more? He has a killer instinct. The list sells itself. If you like watching shows like Ghost Hunters or Finding Bigfoot, take Austin Rivers in the lottery. I’ll stick with guys who are objectively good.”

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Tags: Austin Rivers Dion Waiters Perry Jones

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