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Post 2020 NBA Draft – 3 & D Wing Players

It’s almost Thanksgiving and I wanted to quickly share some post-NBA draft thoughts for you to chew on before the real chewing happens on Thursday! I know Thanksgiving in 2020 could be weird for some of us, but I truly hope that it’s still one to remember. One thing I’m truly thankful for is you! because you’re a loyal reader who spends 5 minutes out of their day to see some of my analysis and it’s always very appreciated.

That said, let’s dig into it!

For the 2019 NBA draft, I was able to create a regression model that forecasted how college players would translate into the NBA both from a catch-and-shoot 3PT% and defensive rating perspective, basically looking to find your team’s next great 3-and-D wing players. Here are the two posts that looked at this for a refresher:

https://baselinejam.blog/2019/05/16/forecasting-ideal-3-and-d-players-part-one/

https://baselinejam.blog/2019/05/25/forecasting-ideal-3-and-d-players-part-two/

I went back and compared this year’s rookies actual catch and shoot 3PT % to their model forecasted numbers for all the rookies who got meaningful playing time and shot a decent sample size of threes. I also did this with rookies’ actual defensive ratings and their model-predicted defensive ratings. I then used a mean absolute percentage error to calculate how off my model was. For forecasting 3PT %, my mean absolute percent error was 20%, which I don’t consider to be great but not bad by any means as I interpret that as me being 80% confident in my model. My defensive rating model turned out to be pretty accurate with a mean absolute percent error of 4%.

So, my models are onto something and I used it to look at this year’s NBA draft prospects. Here are the results for the drafted prospects:

 Round Drafted (Pick)Drafted byForecasted Catch & Shoot 3PT%Forecasted DEF Rating
Jalen SmithFirst Round (10)Phoenix Suns34.7%N/A
Isaiah StewartFirst Round (16)Portland Trailblazers30.8%N/A
Josh GreenFirst Round (18)Dallas Mavericks36.0%112.2
Precious AchiuwaFirst Round (20)Miami Heat32.0%N/A
Zeke NnajiFirst Round (22)Denver Nuggets35.0%109.6
Immanuel QuickleyFirst Round (25)New York Knicks38.6%108.1
Tyrell TerrySecond Round (31)Dallas Mavericks41.9%112.7
Xavier Tillman Sr.Second Round (35)Memphis Grizzlies31.3%102.9
Tyler BeySecond Round (36)Dallas Mavericks32.8%105.1
Elijah HughesSecond Round (39)Utah Jazz36.8%N/A
Robert Woodard IISecond Round (40)Sacramento Kings32.1%107.7
Jahmi’us RamseySecond Round (43)Sacramento Kings36.0%N/A
Jordan NworaSecond Round (45)Milwaukee Bucks38.3%107.3
CJ EllebySecond Round (46)Portland Trailblazers37.3%109.4
Isaiah JoeSecond Round (49)Philadelphia 76ers37.9%N/A
Skylar MaysSecond Round (50)Atlanta Hawks37.4%110.1
Cassius WinstonSecond Round (53)Washington Wizards38.7%105.4
Cassius StanleySecond Round (54)Washington Wizards36.8%111.0
Grant RillerSecond Round (57)Brooklyn Nets34.8%107.1
Paul ReedSecond Round (58)Philadelphia 76ers34.9%103.8
Jalen HarrisSecond Round (59)Toronto Raptors37.5%109.4
N/A = lack of input data i.e. the player didn’t participate in the combine for certain trials & drills

Based on the available stats and NBA Combine results available, here’s who I like from this year’s draft:

  • Immanuel Quickley: He is projected to be a 39% catch & shoot player from the perimeter and there’s good reason. Take a look at this clip where Quickley sinks the three in transition. I’ve seen many highlights where the pass isn’t necessarily on point but Quickley catches it outside of his shooter’s pocket, quickly adjusts and sinks.

Secondly, he’s very good at moving without the ball—he’s always active and has a motor. Take a look at this clip where he comes off of a down screen (doesn’t actually use the screen as well as he should, to be honest) but gets the three to drop with a quick release.

Defensively, these two clips both show how he uses his 6’8” – 6’9” wingspan to bother ball handlers even if he’s lacking in the height advantage.

  • Jordan Nwora: I was personally disappointed when the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t take a chance on this guy. I think it’s probably due to the fact that we’ve seen his development throughout college and there’s not much potential for him to peak out to i.e. not being a “project player”. That said, I think he’s going to be a solid 3-and-D wing forward for the Bucks. Watch him here where he comes off a double screen, recognizes the defender is under, has a pretty quick release, and sinks the three from range. I personally think Nwora has one of the more fundamentally sound shot mechanics in this draft and with how the Bucks typically surround Giannis with shooters, I think he will translate very well into that system if given the opportunity.

The Bucks are an absolutely amazing defensive team, but there’s definitely an area of opportunity for the Bucks. They were the 13th worst transition defense team in the league last year. Nwora plays with such a high motor, is crazy athletic, and can help in these regards with plays like these:

Best of the undrafted: Although my model shows to be somewhat accurate, I by no means defend that the model is the end all be all for forecasting college players’ success in the NBA. In fact, check out Lu Dort. He was forecasted to have a catch-and-shoot 3PT% of 31.9% and his actual catch-and-shoot was 30%. His defensive rating was forecasted to be 107.0, and his actual defensive rating was 107.8. He went undrafted but became an amazing starting contributor for the Oklahoma City Thunder this past season. There are surely some gems in this draft that also didn’t get drafted. Take a look at this visual done in Tableau

The top left quadrant are going to be your above draft average defensive and catch & shoot 3PT players. You’ll note immediately that Jordan Nwora is in that quadrant. Other players worth noting are Markus Howard, Kaleb Wesson, and Ty-Shon Alexander. I also think Killian Tillie is an interesting undrafted prospect. He is projected to have a catch and shoot 3PT percentage of 42% and has a mediocre defensive rating projection of 108.5.

I’m very excited to see how all of these prospects pan out. I know critics have labeled this draft as a weaker draft, but I definitely think there are some outside-lottery picks that will make noise in the NBA’s near future. Thanks again for the read, and please stay safe as we all battle COVID-19 together through this holiday season.

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