Rod's Rules Revisited

Now that a week has passed since the NBA draft, and we’ve all had a chance to reflect on all the changes to the team (including the trade of Richard Jefferson), perhaps this is a good time to review how well the Nets complied with "Rod’s Draft Rules" in 2008. For the uninitiated, these are a series of preferences towards specific types of players that the Nets appear to use, either consciously or subconsciously, when making their ultimate draft decisions. They range from physical attributes and maturity to certain skills such as the ability to play defense.

First, to reiterate what has been said before in this space, we do not believe that these are necessarily hard-and-fast rules, but just preferences and tendencies. I have no doubt that if an extraordinary talent was available (such as if the Nets had the opportunity to draft LeBron James when he entered the draft years ago), they wouldn’t hesitate to violate these "rules" if the player’s potential and other attributes just outweighed the other considerations. With that said:

Factor (1): The Selected Players are tall for their position.

What happened:
The Nets drafted a 7’0" center, a 6’10" PF, and a 6’7" SG/SF.

Analysis:
We nailed it.

Factor (2): The Selected Players have usually attended a major school, were coached by a well-respected coach, in prominent conferences.

What happened:
The Nets drafted two players from the competitive Pac-10—one from Stanford, and one from Cal. The third player was selected from Memphis, a school that spent most of the year ranked #1 in the nation, and was coached by former NBA (and Nets) coach John Calipari. During this decade, prior to this year, seven Stanford players, four Cal players, and four Memphis players have been drafted by NBA teams. Don’t shoot me if I’ve miscounted.

Analysis:
We couldn’t have scripted this one better.

Factor (3): The Selected Players are not a freshman or a high school senior (the latter no longer an issue).

What happened:
In a draft that set the all-time record for the most college freshmen selected, the Nets held true to form, selecting two sophomores and a junior. In all fairness, though, had Brook Lopez been off the board, the Nets would likely have selected Jerryd Bayless, who was coming off his freshman year.

Analysis:
Three for three.

Factor (4): The Nets do not overvalue hyper-athletic kids with "potential," preferring instead to select players that may be less athletic but have more highly developed basketball skills.

What happened:
You’d be hard pressed to find any scouting report describing any of the three draftees as "athletic."

Analysis:
Guys, if you’re reading, I think you’re athletic. Really, I do. But, let’s face it, you’re not likely to win the Olympic decathlon, or even a dunk contest among your new teammates, even if we forbid Sean Williams and Vince Carter from competing.

Factor (5): The players selected tend to be strong defensively, especially with regard to on-ball defense.

What happened:
We’ve noted that the Nets appear to be less stringent about this factor than the ones that I’ve listed previously. In part, that may be that defense often takes longer to develop, and that it is a weakness for many college players—and thus it is harder to find a strong defensive player that complies with a majority of the other rules. This year, they selected one player that has a reputation for being a strong defensive player (Chris Douglas-Roberts), and two guys without that kind of reputation, but for whom early indications appear to be that they are dedicated to improving their defensive play.

Analysis:
About what we expected. With only a handful of players with strong defensive reputations, the Nets came away with one out of three, and two guys with the potential to not embarrass themselves.

Factor (6): The players selected have a high basketball IQ, if not a high IQ, period.

What happened:
All three players have been lauded by DraftExpress for their basketball IQ and intelligence. You needed only watch the recent press conference, and hear their thoughtful (and often humorous) responses to agree with that assessment.

Analysis:
We nailed this one as well.

Factor (7): The players selected do not always have the ability to hit a mid-range jump-shot.

What happened:
To be honest, I’ve gone back and forth on this factor. Obviously, the team is seeking shooters—heck, they’re always seeking shooters. However, past drafts have suggested that this factor takes a backseat to some of the others listed here. Among the players selected this year, as expected, there is a mixed bag. CDR has a reputation for a poor outside shot, although it did improve during his junior year. As such, his situation may be comparable to Antoine Wright, whose shooting improved in his third year before he entered the draft. There’s no need to remind anyone what happened once Antoine went pro. Regardless, the Nets have long expressed interest in big men that can shoot, and it looks like they picked one up in Ryan Anderson, who could eventually fill the role that Keith Van Horn held during the beginning of the decade. As for Lopez . . . the reports are that his range extends to about seven feet from the basket. Let’s leave it at that.

Analysis:
This ended up about what I would expect: One shooter, one non-shooter, and one question mark.

Factor (8): The players selected are not necessarily the top option on offense for his team.

What happened:
Each player led their team in scoring. Anderson led the Pac-10 in points per game; Lopez was fourth. Douglas-Roberts was sixth in scoring in Conference USA.

Analysis:
We couldn’t have been more wrong.

Factor (9): The players selected are known for their team-oriented play.

What happened:
DraftExpress wrote about Douglas-Roberts that "[h]e has a strong work ethic, is an excellent teammate, is very well-spoken, and has a will to succeed and win that can’t be taught." Although Anderson and Lopez led their teams in scoring, they appear to be unselfish as well. Although there’s more to this than just assists, we note that both big men averaged nearly one and a half assists per game.

Analysis:
Douglas-Roberts certainly fulfills this factor to a "T." As for Anderson and Lopez, the prospects look good, but we’ll have to wait and see how reliable they are at setting screens, boxing out, going after loose balls, etc.—the little things that have been epitomized by the play of Jason Collins and Josh Boone.

Factor (10): The Nets do not draft two players at the same position in the same draft.

What happened:
They drafted a center, a PF, and a swing man.

Analysis:
Check.

Conclusion:

The results of this draft leave no doubt: Rod Thorn is still making the decisions.

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