3 Underrated Picks: a Hinkie-like Draft Strategy

Let's take advantage while everyone's focusing on Wiggins, Embiid, Parker, etc. If Hinkie can grab 3 underrated prospects and add them to the team, then he may not need to worry about his 2015 1st-round pick.

Ever since the Phillies beat the Rays in the 2008 World Series, analytics + sports has been a curiosity to me. Now that Hinkie's in town, seeing it first hand makes it even more fun. So I figured now was a good a year as any to just lurk behind the scenes @ Liberty Ballers, (finally signed up today!), and read up a bit on some analytics before posting.

From what I've seen so far: (most of this will seem like common sense, so...)

Common sense guidelines

  • amortize risk:
    spread it out on multiple players - don't go all in: A good example was the season long carousel of flier contracts (which turned up Sims, Wroten, and Thompson, at the very least).
  • take advantage of asymmetric information: (i.e. part of "buy low, sell high")
    use players that are "traditionally" highly valued, baiting teams into offering concessions for those players, to acquire prospects that analytically project better to the NBA. We may not see a move at the scale of the Jrue trade, but of course, if Hinkie sees the opportunity, he'll "cast the lure". (Taking advantage of desperate management helps. First it was New Orleans. Is Sacramento, Detroit, Minnesota, Chicago, or Phoenix next?)
  • go for the best expected value:
    This means less rentals/expensive free agents, and more production from (very) good players on cheap contracts (cheaper wins = ready cap space for trades, free agents when needed).

with that in mind, let's move on to...

The picks

One last thing: these picks are based on numbers off Layne Vashro's projection models, (otherwise known as "vjl110" of Canis Hoopus fame), and I realized that CH has caught on to the picks well before I wrote this. So to save some time on my end, I'll only list the players they mention. All their weaknesses/strengths have been well documented by now. All numbers are based off that spreadsheet.

Following listings are displayed as: player (mock rank/HUM*, EWP rank/EWP). If the mock is higher than EWP, it's most likely a sign they're overrated, and vice versa.
(For reference, Embiid is 2nd/14.8, 1st/16.1).

*HUM = (EWP + consensus wins expected based on mock ratings)

Since the CH article lists a player that's statistically overrated, Gary Harris, he'll be crossed out (because Hinkie wouldn't be able to target him unless he fell, and isn't a "underrated" prospect to stealthily acquire). Let's see two more underdogs:


I'm not saying we'll use the 3rd and 10th selections to directly pick these players. You'd rather try to:

  • Trade down to get picks closer to their expected selection
    I could see Hinkie dealing w/ Chicago and/or Phoenix to get this done, using some combination of the #10, Thad, the second rounders, and possibly current players to nab multiple mid-first round picks, along with extra compensation. Moar seconds coming? (I only see Hinkie dealing the #3 if he feels the top prospects are overrated, and can get better value elsewhere)

    Of course, this would increase the # of guaranteed contracts. For this reason alone, Hinkie would only move for an underrated player this high if it's really worth it. (hint: Anderson is a better version of Royce White, and even Hinkie gambled. I'll let you draw conclusions).

  • Offer a "better value" when they're picked.
    i.e. the Jrue trade, w/ the assets above.


If we pick at least 3 (or 4!) out of these five (preferably, the top three, Anderson, Adams, and Payton) at the very least, our bench will be OP in the long term, and that's being conservative (Elfrid is the 17th best PG in the last 30 years, according to the model). Barring any chronic injuries/character issues, these should be safe, underrated, high value picks.

No, why these players!?

You'll probably say, "where's Nik Stauskas? Payne? Hood? McDermott? Or LaVine? Why are those players you list worth it? Kyle Anderson is the next coming of Evan Turner! Elfrid can't shoot and is in a weak league! Adams isn't athletic!" etc, etc.

These players I've listed simply have the skills that translate best to the NBA, while the players mentioned for sake of argument either don't project well and/or are overrated (i.e. the "long twos"). See the following below:

I'm being a bit lazy here, but the correlations are more or less the same as fortisanima presented earlier in the season, with NCAA 3P% marginally correlated to NBA, and NCAA steals highly correlated to the NBA. In retrospect, the moves for Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams make sense (granted, Layne admitted that MCW was a "boom-bust" PG, but that's been adjusted now in his retrodictions, since he's been such a success).

On that note, the fact that Wiggins only scores 1st/12.6, 10th/8.0 scares me. I won't lose sleep over it. the Cavs will pick him, and it'll be their problem (or best decision). Either way, Hinkie has better info than all of us :)


I'm not saying we should go all in on these underrated prospects vs the big 4 (or 5). This was, in effect, an exercise to get as many "corner threes, shots at the rim, and free throws" as possible outside the projected top of the class. The more, the merrier.

Really excited for this draft. One month left!

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