Earlier this week, Chad Ford penned his annual draft tier column
. Basically, Ford breaks the draft into tiers of players, and the golden rule for teams which use this strategy is that you draft the player from the highest tier without exception. If there are several players remaining in the top tier, then you rank by position of need. I won't be using the tier approach, basically because I think the need for guards is too great to mess around with any of the bigs in the draft, other than Blake Griffin, and he's going to the Clippers.
If I was running the war room, we'd put these names on the board in this order, and draft the highest name when it was our turn, maybe we'd even trade up if one of them fell.
- Stephen Curry - Best shooter, best basketball IQ, ideal fit next to Iguodala at the point in this offense.
- Ricky Rubio - I debated this spot for a while, but Rubio's international experience and star potential were hard to ignore. I would love to see his measurables, but the kid represented Spain very well against the U.S. team in the Olympics, at 17 years-old.
- James Harden - Probably the most-complete SG in the draft. Excellent size, enormous wing span. Potential to be a lock-down defender at the 2 guard, and he can stroke the jumper.
- Jrue Holiday - Size, speed, strength and defense at the PG position. None of the other guys really offer that, and I'm a defense first kind of guy.
- Ty Lawson - Maybe too short, maybe an injury risk, but you just can't ignore his college stats. He dominated against the best teams in the league, and the fact that he played with great players at UNC should mean that he can step in and play his role with the starters right from the get-go. There won't be any adjustment from being the man in college to being a facilitator in the pros. Plus, he takes care of the ball. Possessions are always at a premium.
- Eric Maynor - He just strikes me as a steady guy who could step in and help you right away. He may never be a great pro, but he could be a solid starter for this team in the long run.
- Darren Collison - Everything about this kid screams solid pro to me. He's quick, he's fast, he's a tenacious defender, he can hit the jumper, he can run a team, and he's humble. If he didn't spend the past two seasons in the shadow of Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday I think he'd be much higher on everyone's list.
- Jeff Teague - The Lou Williams comparisons scare me, but I can't help but think Teague has a chance of being Lou with a solid jumper. He's definitely a step below the points I listed above, and I don't really see how he would wind up being my pick, but this is where he belongs on the list.
- Brandon Jennings - I view Jennings as a Teague clone, possibly with more explosiveness, but we really just don't know anything about his jumper. Had he gone to college and dominated, I think he'd be in the mix for a top-five pick, but he chose Europe and now he's a big unknown.
- Wayne Ellington - Smooth two who can shoot the lights out.
- Jodie Meeks - Good size for a two, excellent jumper. Could be a steal late in the first.
- Jack McClinton - Eddie House type who can also shoot the lights out. He shot over 45% from three last year.
As you can see, it's a short list, and there are some notable guys missing: Tyreke Evans, Gerald Henderson, Jonny Flynn and Demar Derozan. Simply put, I don't think these guys can shoot one bit and I've had my fill of guys who can't shoot. I don't care if one of them drops, I want to avoid them at all costs (Holiday doesn't make this list because I think his excellent size and defensive potential at the point make him a worthwhile shooter project).
So, let's pretend it's next Thursday night, this is how I envision my war room working. First, we're on the phones trying to trade up for one of the top four on my list. It's going to take a lot to get up for Curry, Harden or Rubio, but there's a chance Holiday starts to slide a little and you could possibly trade up with Toronto and grab him at number nine.
If those four guys are all off the board early and we couldn't swing a deal to get up for one of them, it's time to cross your fingers that Lawson falls to you. Most mocks have him going to us at #17 or lower, so this isn't out of the realm of possibility. I'd consider moving up a spot or two if we need to. At this point, Lawson is the clear target.
If someone snags Lawson before we can grab him, it's time to start working the phones again, this time, we're looking to move down, and my target is Darren Collison. The plan is to move into the 20s, pick up a second rounder, and draft Collison with that pick. I have Maynor ranked higher than Collison on my board, and if I'm forced to pick at #17 and choose between those two guys, I'm going with Maynor, but I really believe the difference between those two guys isn't that great, so my first option is to improve the team somehow with a trade down and get Collison.
Once I've drafted my guy, whoever it is, I'm going to start watching this list very carefully, especially the last three names on it. When the second round starts, if any of them are left undrafted it's time to start working the phones again. I don't want to buy a pick in the first round, because those contracts are guaranteed and let's face it, each one of these guys has washout potential. But when we start getting into the 30s, picks will be for sale and I'm going to be buying if it means landing one of these guys on the cheap.
So with less than a week to go, that's my war room strategy. Thoughts in the comments, as usual.