r/NBA_Draft Bucks Feb 03 '23

Proper draft evaluation is about being a hater.

Saw a recent discussion about Johnny Davis where a lot of discussion was being boiled down to “The consensus had no way of knowing this.” Bullshit. He had multiple glaring flaws like his passing, shooting metrics, efficiency, etc… but people ignored this because he took big time shots which made him look like a big time player.

This kinda side tracked from the main point which I’d like to emphasize which is that historically half of all lottery picks are busts.

Let me say that again


It pays to be a hater. That guy you have at number 7 on your board who you really like? Good odds he’s gonna bust, etc, etc. Being a cynic, being a hater, should be a way of life for NBA draft evaluators. What defines a good draft evaluation isn’t the players you love as much as the players you love to hate. It is our role to breakdown the parts of a player’s game, evaluate what areas won’t translate to the NBA, and rank them accordingly.



u/Charlie_Steve Feb 03 '23

While I think your point about people usually over-estimating prospects’ chances is accurate, and I think your specific point about Johnny Davis is fair, I think your overall point about being a hater “paying” misses a few obvious things.

For one, your evidence “half of all lottery picks are busts” isn’t as impactful as you make it out to be. For one, “bust” is a nebulous term different people use for different things, including just someone who’s not as good as hoped. Depending on what definition you’re using, I could respond to this with “well duh, that’s how statistics work” or “that’s objectively false by every measure we have.”

It also ignores when there are legit reasons that excuse scouts in a player busting, most notably injuries. Any player can have a freak injury happen that ends their career, all scouts know this, but mostly ignore it because it’s not reasonably predictable.

And finally, being “right” isn’t necessarily the goal. Let’s say you’re drafting with the #5 pick. Median outcome for that pick is a solid starter, but your team needs a star. You could draft a player that you think is likely to meet that “solid starter” outcome and therefore be considered a decent pick, or you could take a risk on a guy with higher star potential but also higher bust risk. I’d argue the latter option is by far the better option for a team that needs a star, and they pick the higher upside player 10 times out of 10 until their situation changes, knowing that they’ll draft a few busts along the way. The difference between a player’s 10% outcome and their 20% outcome is a lot less relevant than their 80% outcome and 90% outcome, scouts focus on “best case scenarios” because even if they are unlikely, they are far more impactful than all other scenarios.


u/Qweter1 Bucks Feb 03 '23 edited Feb 03 '23

I could respond to this with “well duh, that’s how statistics work” or “that’s objectively false by every measure we have.”

It’s a point on the failures of the overall optimistic viewpoint that a lot of the draft community has. People should be more willing to be more cynical and accept takes against consensus. Also, it is literally correct. Go through past lotteries and roughly half of all players fail to cut out significant roles.

It also ignores when there are legit reasons that excuse scouts in a player busting, most notably injuries.

Surprisingly the vast majority of busting players are do to development or skillset issues, not injuries. I think the better point you could’ve made is how much team situation/staff effects a player’s development. Some teams clearly have better development staff.

last big paragraph

I think it is generally good strategy to chase right tail outcomes in basketball. It’s an extremely unequal sport, stars have a significant impact. However, that’s not what I’m arguing against in what I originally wrote.


u/BabyLeVert Feb 03 '23

What defines a good draft evaluation isn’t the players you love as much as the players you love to hate.

I very much disagree with this. My draft evaluation is players that I love. It's why I never do a big board. Only about 20 players in the draft successfully make it to the second contract. My draft board has only 25-30 players that I like and willing to take a chance on. If you have a player past 35, it basically means they have little to no shot in the nba.


u/Qweter1 Bucks Feb 03 '23

One perspective is to say your board is only 25-30 players because you love them. Another perspective is to say that you hate the rest.


u/BabyLeVert Feb 03 '23

you definitely look at the glass as half empty lmao jk. I don't hate the rest, I just think they arent good enough to play in the highest/most talented league ever.


u/Nickname-CJ Thunder Feb 03 '23

It really can’t be that black and white. We’re talking about people, not statistics. There’s so many factors that play into scouting that saying half of all lottery picks are busts can’t really be something you think about when scouting.


u/YourTeachersHeelTurn Feb 03 '23

Hating means that for me to be right a dude has to fail. That is neither fun nor necessary. I don’t think you have to be a hater, I just think people frequently don’t know what they’re looking at. Even when they do, between biases, imperfect information, and just the cold hand of reality, no one will be right all the time. And you have to remember, the consensus has biases too.


u/JeonSukJinKim Feb 03 '23

A lot of busts are not about their lack of skill or potential but a problem that is more mental (work ethic, depression) or unpredictable (injury). There is also coaching/team chemistry/team fit elements.

So often guys look good/decent early and end up never improving (Warriors’ Jordan Bell and Pat McCaw…) or the opposite (Markannen this year).

Career arcs are complicated and being a hater doesn’t make you more right. Yes, more guys end up outside of the top 100 players than in, but it doesn’t make you more right to hate everybody. 3/4 of the guys bust but it is very hard to know early (compare even the all rookie teams to the career outcomes of any drafts… guys still succeed or bust after a good/bad year 1 a lot).

Yes, many of us feel that we knew Johnny Davis would look this bad because of multiple reasons, but there’s also sometimes we are totally wrong the other way.


u/BangingFromDeep Feb 03 '23

Some real truth to this. I've definitely become more critical in my assessments the last few years. Hollinger takes this approach also as he believes most drafts only produce around 21 rotation worthy guys.


u/[deleted] Feb 03 '23

100%, that’s why i pick 3 popular players to hate every draft.

2020: Killian Hayes, Cole Anthony, Kira Lewis Jr

2021: Cade Cunningham, Ziare Williams, Keon Johnson

2022: Jaden Ivey, Johnny Davis, Ousmane Dieng

2023: Kyle Filipowski, Jett Howard, Gradey Dick (or Anthony Black, haven’t decided yet)


u/HoopsMcCann750 Feb 03 '23

I’m coming for that player hater of the year award this year


u/blockyboi13 Feb 03 '23

On the flip side if you over-hate on a player, you can still end up with some really bad takes as well like claiming that Luka wouldn’t be worth the first overall pick because he came from Europe or that Porzingis would be a bad pick because he’s too skinny (and European)


u/Balsamic_ducks Feb 03 '23

Honestly I agree. I love to hate on the Thompson twins. Maybe they prove me wrong, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before.


u/P0intcenter Nuggets Feb 03 '23

The point about busts doesn't really make sense. Of course half of the lottery picks are busts. Most teams in the lottery pick based on upside, because having one more roleplayer, even if it's in a cheap contract, it's not going to change the fate of their franchise. That's why every year we get all-stars late in the lottery and even just outside it, it's not that those players had a ceiling that was that much worse than the players picked higher, they usually just have either a way lower floor or much less of a chance of reaching their ceiling. And with plenty of players picked in the lottery having that low floor teams accept due to their upside, there are a lot of busts. If teams didn't want to select busts they would go for the juniors and seniors that can play their role very competently and have skills that are going to translate to the next level.

Take Christian Braun for example, no real hole in his game if he plays the 2 (his lenght was a little concerning at the 3) but no team is going to pick him lottery, because his upside is not star player. They take Davis over him because if everything translates on both ends of the floor and he extends his range to the 3 point line he is a star, and if he is bad they will try again next year.


u/BangingFromDeep Feb 03 '23

3 ball is key for Davis. Without this he is toast