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Divining 'Rod's Rules'...Ed's too

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As June approaches, our thoughts turn to the NBA draft. NetIncome has already done a terrific job identifying and describing some of the top international prospects, and tracking the players that some internet mock drafts project for the Nets’ selections.

I’m going to take a slightly different approach. After six years on the job, there are indications that Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski have certain definite preferences when selecting players to draft. That is, they prefer players that fit a certain profile. I’m going to call these "Rod’s Rules," with the understanding that a player need not meet all these requirements to be considered draftable. For example, as you'll see, Kenyon Martin didn’t meet the Rules' height requirement, but fulfilled the remaining requirements. Generally, then, the more "rules" that are satisfied will increase the probability that a particular player may be selected by the Nets. This is what I’ve come up with:

(1) Draft a junior or senior.
(2) The player selected should have above-average height for his position.
(3) The player should have a reputation for playing strong defense
(4) The player should be able to hit a mid-range jump shot frequently
(5) The player should be a good passer regardless of position.
(6) The player doesn't have to come from a top-20 program, but definitely must come from a Div. 1-A school that plays in a strong conference.
(7) The player shouldn't be a nut job or have a criminal record.

[As for the Euro-Stash route, there seems to be two rules, although there is very limited data. (1) age doesn't matter; (2) the player should be exceedingly tall for his position. I’m not going to address these international players here.]

As far as the height rule goes, I’ll set an arbitrary guideline of 6’2" and taller for PGs; 6’5" and taller for SGs; 6’7" and taller for SFs; 6’10" and taller for PFs; and 6’11" and taller for centers.

Let’s see how these rules worked in action at last year’s draft. When the Nets’ pick came up, they had to choose between Joey Graham, Danny Granger, Gerald Green, Hakim Warrick, and Antoine Wright, who they ultimately selected. In addition to being widely discussed in the forums as the Nets’ pick approached, the other four players in that group happened to be the next four players actually selected. Let’s also add Jason Maxiell and Wayne Simien into the pool as the next two PFs selected in the draft.

Joey Graham: Sr. 6’7" SF. Big West. "Mastered" the mid-range jumper. Defense is "up and down." Passing ability unknown.

Danny Granger: Sr. 6’9" SF. Big 12. Perimeter shooting "a big concern." Difficult to evaluate defense. "Very good passer with nice court vision and a knack for putting the ball exactly where his teammates like it."

Gerald Green: HS. 6’7" SG: (No draft profile available)

Jason Maxiell: Sr. 6’6" PF. Big East. "Range out to 16-18 feet." "Rotates well on help defense." "Unselfish, and a good passer out of the double team."

Wayne Simien: Sr. 6’9" PF. Big 12. "Physical post defender." "Midrange jumper is improving." Passing ability unknown.

Hakim Warrick: Sr. 6’9" PF. Big East. Shooting "has a way to go." Defense unknown. Passing ability unknown.

Antoine Wright: Jr. 6’7" SG. Big 12. "Pesky defender." "Deadly perimeter shot." "Very nice passing skills from both static position and on the drive and dish."

I used the scouting reports on Draftexpress.com to determine each prospect’s defensive and shooting skills, and quoted them when appropriate.

Based on the minimal amount of information set forth here, applying "Rod’s Rules," we can see that Antoine Wright earned the highest score. All players came from major conferences. All but Green was a junior or senior. Maxiell, Simien, and Warrick failed the height requirement. Granger, Simien, and Warrick failed the shooting requirement. All players were considered good passers, when that information was available. It was hard for Draftexpress to evaluate defense for several players. Anyway, as seen above (with an assist from Draftexpress), Antoine Wright satisfied every single rule, which would have led us to predict that he was the most likely player to be drafted from this group.

To reiterate, these aren't rules per se, but more like preferences. The optimal picks would seem to meet all these requirements, such as Antoine Wright in the above example, but there are of course other considerations that cannot be so easily condensed into such simple terms. Anyway, we can sum up "Rod’s Rules" as ways to identify those players that are most likely to contribute NOW, as opposed to three years from now.

So, based on the foregoing, who might the Nets select?

Until the identities of the players in the draft becomes settled, it is hard to narrow down the likely pool of candidates, but we see the following as current strong candidates:

Hilton Armstrong
Josh Boone
Ronnie Brewer
Rod Carney
Mardy Collins
Quincy Douby
Thabo Sefolosha.

As undergraduates make their intentions clear, and certain players start to establish themselves as lottery picks, we’ll start to get a better sense as to which players are the most likely to be selected by the Nets. For instance, it is probably unlikely that Ronnie Brewer and Rod Carney will be available in the second half of the first round, but at this point in the process, anything is still possible. In a few weeks, when the draft starts to become a little more settled, and the players remaining in the draft gets whittled down, we’ll take another look at Rod’s Rules and see just how good of a job it will do at predicting the Nets’ draft.