As of Wednesday evening, there now have been ten mock drafts posted since Sunday's early entry withdrawal deadline. As has been described here on NetsDaily, Rajon Rondo appears to be the most popular choice by these mocks for one of the Nets’ two selections, followed closely by Hilton Armstrong, Maurice Ager, Paul Davis, Kyle Lowry, and Quincy Douby.
But this is just part of the story. Which players appear to be the most likely to slip in the draft? Which players may be selected higher than expected, resulting in a higher rated player falling to the Nets later in the round? We’ve searched the ten mocks for patterns seeking to answer those very questions. What we’ve done is look at all the players listed on each of the mock drafts, and calculated an "average" projected draft position, as well as a "maximum," a "minimum," and the standard deviation. First, a disclaimer: I don’t know how much stock should be placed on this analysis; some of these mocks could just be by some guy making things up in his basement based on what he’s read in other mocks over the internet. For example, the mock draft posted on About.com shows a striking similarity to the one devised by ESPN’s Chad Ford. In some cases, too, players such as Tiago Splitter and Aaron Gray—who have pulled out—still appear. This analysis also rewards conventional wisdom, and "scoops" predicting that a player will be taken at a certain slot based on inside information will tend to get drowned out by the noise. Still, though, it is an interesting exercise and the results are fascinating.
Now for some preliminary information. The ten mock drafts used for this analysis are from: About.com, ESPN.com, NBADraft.net, DraftExpress.com, InsideHoops.com, InsideHoops.com, three different mock drafts on Hoopsworld.com, and DimeMag.com. NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com contain projections for the second round; I went up to pick #40 in both cases, and randomly assigned any other player slot #40. For the remaining eight mock drafts, if a particular player did not appear, I assigned him a value of #35. While About.com contains a projected second round, it has not been updated in several weeks, and so was ignored.
Here we go:
This is a good place to stop. There seems to be a pretty clear consensus that these are the top players in the draft. Only two of these fourteen players are projected as low as #18, and all are projected in the top ten in at least one mock draft. No other player is projected to be selected in the top ten by any mock. Each of these players also exhibit a fairly low standard deviation, which indicates that there is a pretty high level of consensus among the writers. For these reasons, it appears to be fairly unlikely that any of these players will fall all the way to #22 where the Nets pick.
Hilton Armstrong stands apart, as you’ll see in a minute. Armstrong is a clear mid-first round selection, as he is projected to be selected anywhere between #12 and #23. Not a single mock projects Hilton to get past the Nets, if he is available at that point. Even though Hilton’s average projection is #17, it is certainly possible that he could fall to the Nets a few picks later. We’ll put him on the list of possible Nets selections.
Now everything falls apart. As many as eighteen players have an average projected draft position between #21 and #30. Nine of those players appear in the top 15 picks on at least one mock draft; yet eight of those eight do not appear at all in at least one mock draft. The standard deviation is just through the roof on several of these players. Alex Johnson, for example, appears between #12 and #19 on six mocks, but NOT AT ALL on three others. Many others exhibit similar variability.
Exactly what does this mean?
There appears to be absolutely no consensus as to which players will be selected where in the second half of the first round. With a couple of exceptions towards the bottom of the list, any of these players could be selected in the teens; any could also fall out of the first round entirely.
I call these players the "wildcards." These are the players that could turn the draft on its head by being selected in the middle of the first round, or unexpectedly fall to the Nets at their #22 and #23 selections. Let’s categorize them:
M. Collins, Douby, Rondo, Farmar, S. Rodriguez,
Ager, Sefolosha, Shannon Brown, Shawne Williams, Guillermo Diaz
Sene, Alex Johnson, Pecherov
Lowry, Boone, and Paul Davis are not projected by anyone to be selected higher than #20, so I wouldn’t call them "wildcards," but there's always the chance that the Nets will select one or two of these of these regardless of who else is around. Note I removed Aaron Gray, Tiago Splitter, and Rudy Fernandez. Hopefully, the mock writers will do the same in their next revisions.
So that's who we're looking at as likely Nets selections, assuming that they don’t make a deal. If enough of those "wildcards" get selected in the teens, it could push Armstrong down to #22. From what we've all been reading recently, it seems likely that Sene will be selected in the teens, but I think the rest of the "wildcards" are up in the air. Anyway, it looks like the most likely scenario is two of those 15 or so players, with no more than one in any of the three groupings. About half of them will be gone by the Nets' picks.
Personally, I honestly can't see the Nets selecting Alex Johnson or Pecherov (who apparently couldn't guard Jason Collins), so it will probably be Armstrong or Boone (or possibly Paul Davis), or no big at all. By the way, only one mock lists Pecherov higher than #25, and that is NBADraft.net at #14.
Choice of six PGs: M. Collins, Douby, Rondo, Farmar, S. Rodriguez, Lowry
Choice of five wings: Ager, Sefolosha, Shannon Brown, Shawne Williams, G. Diaz*
Choice of three bigs: Armstrong, Boone, P. Davis (or Alex Johnson if I'm wrong about him).
*I suppose one could argue that Diaz belongs in the PG group; I don't know.
Two of those players likely will be Nets unless a trade is consummated, with no more than one from each of the three groups. The next question is, how might the Nets’ brass rank these players? We’ll use "Rod’s Rules" to predict which of these dozen or so players are more likely to be selected should they be available.
For completeness, here are the remaining players mentioned by one or more of the ten mock drafts. Because many of these players did not appear on most of the mocks, they each received multiple arbitrary "#35" rankings, and therefore their projected draft positions are probably closer together than need be: