Placing 2014 NBA draft prospects into tiers

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Draft for need or take the best player available?

It’s the question as old as drafts themselves.Personally, I favor the middle-of-the-road approach – the tier system.I judge prospects on three attributes:

  • Current ability
  • Potential
  • Likelihood of meeting that potential

Obviously, assessing those attributes is not easy. It’s really hard.

That’s why I don’t like taking the best prospect – based on all three criteria – available. It’s just too difficult to split hairs between players with so many variables

.But overly considering fit is problematic for the same reason. Rosters churn, and it’s foolish to pass on a clearly better prospect – in the cases that becomes clear – just because he doesn’t fit the current version of the team.

So how does the tier system work?

Divide players into tiers based on their value regardless of fit. Don’t worry about differentiating prospects with nearly identical values. Find natural cutoffs.

Then, within each tier, rank the players based on fit for the specific drafting team.

Theoretically, a draft could have anywhere between 1 and 60 tiers. A 1-tier draft would mean every prospect – from the top pick to Mr. Irrelevant – holds the same value. A 60-tier draft would mean every prospect is clearly distinguishable based on value. Obviously, neither is likely.

The size of tiers should be organic, and therefore, the number of tiers is also organic. Naturally, tiers tend to be smaller near the top of the draft, where lines between players are sharper.

Here’s how I see the 2014 draft prospects splitting into tiers – at least through the first round. Within each tier I rank prospects as if they were being drafted by a team with a blank slate, but the order should be customizable by team.

Tier 1

1. Jabari Parker

2. Andrew Wiggins

Tier 2

3. Joel Embiid

Tier 3

4. Dante Exum

Tier 4

5. Noah Vonleh

6. Marcus Smart

Tier 5

7. Aaron Gordon

8. Julius Randle

Tier 6

9. Gary Harris

10. Nik Stauskas

Tier 7

11. Tyler Ennis

12. Elfrid Payton

13. James Young

14. Adreian Payne

15. Jusuf Nurkic

16. Kyle Anderson

17. Dario Saric

18. Zach Lavine

Tier 8

19. Doug McDermott

20. Shabazz Napier

21. Clint Capela

22. Rodney Hood

Tier 9

23. Cleanthony Early

24. Jordan Adams

25. P.J. Hairston

26. K.J. McDaniels

27. Mitch McGary

28. Jarnell Stokes

29. Nikola Jokic

Tier 10

30. T.J. Warren

31. Jerami Grant

32. Spencer-Dinwiddie

33. Glen Robinson III

34. Walter Tavares

Former NBA player OJ Mayo to sign in China

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When the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association return to play, they’ll have a familiar face to NBA fans suiting up for them. Liaoning announced they are signing former NBA player O.J. Mayo to a contract for the remainder of this season.

Mayo has been out of the NBA since the end of the 2015-16 season. The scoring guard was banned from the NBA due to a violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. He was eligible for reinstatement at the start of the 2018-19 season.

Since being banned from the NBA, Mayo has signed to play with various clubs in Puerto Rico, Taiwan and with a team in China’s second division.

During his eight-year NBA career, Mayo played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks. The 32-year old guard holds a career average of 13.8 points per game on 43/37/82 shooting splits.

With Liaoning, Mayo may suit up alongside former NBA players Lance Stephenson and Brandon Bass. The club announced that Mayo will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, after which they expect him to back up Stephenson.

Neither Stephenson nor Bass have returned to China following the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s unclear when either player will return, as the CBA has delayed their return to play until May.

Alabama’s Herbert Jones declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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University of Alabama junior forward Herbert Jones announced via Instagram that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft:

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All Glory to God 🙏🏽

A post shared by Herb Jones 🛸 (@yung.ch0) on

Jones says he’s declaring while maintaining his eligibility.

In his third campaign with the Crimson Tide, Jones turned his best collegiate season. The six-foot-seven forward scored 7.9 points on 48.4% shooting. He also grabbed 6.4 rebounds per game. Jones was also one of Alabama’s best defensive players.

Alabama has also seen starting guard Kira Lewis and John Petty Jr. declare for the draft.

Lewis is expected to be a first-round pick, while Petty and Jones are considered to be late second-round talents.

Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji, DePaul’s Paul Reed declare for NBA draft

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Nobody knows when the NBA Draft is going to take place — like everything with the NBA calendar, it is up in the air — but for college players whose season has ended now is the time to declare and throw their hats in the ring.

Two possible draftees did that Saturday.

Arizona center Zeke Nnaji was one.

The 6’11” Nnaji averaged 16.1 points per game on 57 percent shooting, plus grabbed 8.6 rebounds a game his freshman season at Arizona. In a good sign, he shot 76% from the free throw line, meaning he should be able to space the floor and hit midrangers (and maybe someday threes). He brings a lot of energy to the court, but is considered raw still on both ends of the floor and not an elite defender.

Nnaji is a bubble first-round pick.

The other player coming out is DePaul forward Paul Reed.

A projected first-rounder is a generous description by Charania, Reed is seen more as a second-round pick (and without a Draft Combine or workouts with teams it will be difficult to move up). He’s a 6’9″ power forward who averaged 15.1 points and 10.7 rebounds a game this season. Reed shot the three well as a sophomore (40 percent) but regressed this past season. He’s athletic but needs to get stronger, and he needs to be able to fit into a role at the NBA level to last.

That said, he will likely get a chance somewhere to prove he belongs.

Knicks owner James Dolan tests positive for coronavirus

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The good news is he remains healthy and shows few symptoms.

Knicks owner James Dolan has tested positive for the coronavirus, the team has announced.

Dolan, 64, lives in New York, which has become the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the United States. New York State alone has more than 52,000 cases and more than 700 deaths tied to the coronavirus.

Earlier in the day on Saturday, the Dolan Family Foundation announced it would donate $1 million to Madison Square Garden’s event staff who have not been able to work because the coronavirus has shut down events at MSG.

There have been 10 current NBA players and four members of team support staff that have tested positive for the coronavirus. Dolan is the first owner to test positive.

Our thoughts are with him and his family and hopefully he can stay healthy through this.