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A Historical Reminder of the Hits & Misses by ESPN's NBA Draft "Player Rater"

ESPN’s John Hollinger puts together a “player rater” each June before the NBA draft. The goal: “project NBA PER from college stats.” [If you love college hoops/NBA but don’t have ESPN Insider, sorry.] It is statistically-driven. As with anyone’s pro projections for college players, there are hits and misses.

[Note: I loved Hasheem Thabeet! I liked Michael Beasley more than Derrick Rose!]

Hollinger revealed his 2012 draft projections Monday and a few bizarre rankings prompted this post. Hollinger had Baylor’s Quincy Miller 6th (preposterous!), Moe Harkless of St. John’s 35th (absurd!), and Michigan State’s Draymond Green (16th) ahead of UConn’s Jeremy Lamb (17) and Duke’s Austin Rivers (18). Anyone who watched college basketball this season or has spoken to NBA scouts/front office-types probably has some strong thoughts on those rankings.

Let’s look back at Hollinger’s recent history with the “player rater.” With Hollinger’s “PER” ranking/projection in parens:

2011
Misses
Tobias Harris (8) – Could barely get on the court in Milwaukee, but he only turns 20 this summer.
Kenneth Faried (29) – The 22nd pick was a monster for the Nuggets. In Hollinger’s defense, plenty of people missed on Faried. He was so good, they traded Nene Hilario.
Marshon Brooks (56)
Isaiah Thomas (57) – 2nd Round pick made 2nd team All-Rookie and played much better than their 1st round pick, Jimmer Fredette.
Hits
Kawhi Leonard (5) – A steal as the 15th pick.

2010
Misses
Xavier Henry (6)
Luke Babbitt (7)
Hits
Greivis Vasquez (10) – Late 1st round pick had a very good sophomore season.
Ekpe Udoh (50) – Udoh was a lottery pick by the Warriors, but has been a bust and is now in Milwaukee.

2009
Misses
Nick Calathes (6) – He’s a star … in Greece. Has yet to play a minute in the NBA.
Jonny Flynn (9) – Bust. Three teams in three years.
Paul Delaney (16) – Who?
Aaron Jackson (17) – Huh?
DeMar DeRozan (54) – Perhaps his worst miss. DeRozan has been very good (17.2 ppg two years ago; 16.7 ppg last season) for the Raptors.

Hits
Ty Lawson (1) – Fell all the way 18, but he’s been terrific. Not the best player in the draft, but very, very good.

2002-2008
Hollinger collected all the data from those drafts into one spot. The “player rater” Hollinger came up with loved Joe Alexander, the West Virginia forward with a 40-inch vertical leap. Alexander, taken in the lottery by Milwaukee, played in 67 games for two teams, and hasn’t been in the league since 2010. How much did Hollinger love Alexander? He was rated ahead of Derrick Rose. (Then again, so were George Hill and Mario Chalmers.) But in 2006, Hollinger had his best hit – Rajon Rondo 2nd. (Unfortunately, in that same draft, he had Shawne Williams rated 3rd, ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge.)

If you feel like going back to 2005, Rashad McCants, Julius Hodge, and Nate Robinson were ahead of Deron Williams.

Consensus: Nobody knows anything, but it’s really, really fun to throw darts and speculate.

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