How good would a LeBron/Wade/Bosh combo be?

ESPN’s John Hollinger used his Player Efficiency Rating to estimate the number of games this group would win if surrounded by 10 minimum salary veterans.

Using my preseason prediction model, I plugged in a team with those three players and used fairly conservative estimates for what they might produce in the coming season — a Player Efficiency Rating of 29 for James, 26 for Wade and 23 for Bosh. I gave James 3,100 minutes, Wade 2,850 and Bosh 2,600.

For every other minute played by Team Trinity, I inserted my replacement-level figure of a 10 PER — this is what I input when a team has an empty rotation spot or has it filled by a player projected to produce less than 10. I never go any lower than this and have never felt a need to, as virtually anyone who produces at a lesser rate (once we include defensive value) is quickly replaced.

OK, that’s my methodology; now for the result. This team, believe it or not, projected to win 61 games.

And that assumes all replacement level players. The roster could improve at midseason when a vet is bought out or waived, and next summer when the team would have the various exceptions available to add higher-priced talent.

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What about Patrick Patterson?

John Hollinger revisited his Draft Rater, and put together his personal, “totally subjective” draft board for Thursday’s draft.

There are several big names missing — Ed Davis, Ekpe Udoh — but the one I’m interested in is Patrick Patterson.

Reader “jfountain1523” said the following about Patterson’s absence from Hollinger’s list: “I assume its the poor rebounding and being a bit short for his position that ruled him out in Hollinger’s rater.”

Let’s take the last part first. Is he “a bit short for his position”? He’s 6-9.25 in shoes and has a 7-1.25 wingspan. Looking at last year’s measurements, he’s three-quarters of an inch shorter than Blake Griffin, but his wingspan and standing reach are two inches wider/higher. Was anyone worried about Griffin’s size this time last year?

Now, regarding the rebounding. This is a funny criticism to make and it’s based on his rpg this season (7.4). Yeah, that’s not great for a power forward in college, but digging a little deeper and things don’t look so bad. In his sophomore year, he averaged 9.3 rebounds per game, which is just 0.5 rebounds less than rebound monster DeMarcus Cousins averaged this season. And speaking of Cousins, wouldn’t playing alongside a great rebounder like that only serve to reduce the number of boards available for Patterson? Of course his rebounding numbers were going to dip this season.

In the end, I think Patterson will make some late lottery team in need of a power forward very happy. I don’t think he’ll be a star, but he could certainly average 15-8 in a starter’s role.

John Hollinger’s Draft Rater is back

Last year, John Hollinger’s Draft Rater really liked Ty Lawson and Tyreke Evans, and that turned out well. The year before, it liked Michael Beasley over Derrick Rose, who wasn’t even listed as the top point guard in the draft. It also liked Kevin Love (score) and thought Anthony Randolph was way overrated (fail).

In the past, Hollinger’s system has been pretty accurate, all things considered.

The Draft Rater has yet to miss a lottery pick who became an All-Star in its top 12 collegians list — although that string may end in another year or two thanks to a miserable 2008 performance (Russell Westbrook and Brook Lopez both were overlooked that year). And if it’s blown a couple of picks, look at the actual draft and you’ll find even more mistakes by the pro teams themselves.

On the other hand, the Draft Rater has picked out five All-Stars that the pros missed among the first 12 collegians — Carlos Boozer, Rajon Rondo, Danny Granger, Josh Howard, and David West. No misses, five additions. I like that ratio.

It’s a good read, but to sum up, the Rater thinks DeMarcus Cousins is the top player in the draft, with Evan Turner and John Wall reasonably close behind. Questions about Cousins’ coachability will likely hinder his draft stock, but I think he’s going to be a great player. You don’t rebound like he does and not love the game. He just needs to get into a good, stable situation with a solid coach and grow up a little bit.

It’s going to be interesting to watch how he progresses through the draft process. Do we hear stories about how he’s texting his friends during interviews with NBA teams? Does he dog it in certain workouts? If he acts like a pro over the next month, it could mean he’s picked #2 or #3 instead of #5 or #6.

The Rater also predicts some duds; Cole Aldrich, Patrick Patterson, Ekpe Udoh, Ed Davis and Hassan Whiteside are the big names on that list.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

ESPN’s Future NBA Power Rankings

Chad Ford and John Hollinger tag-teamed a piece [Insider subscription required] where they ranked all 30 NBA teams with five criteria — players, management, money, market and draft — with an eye on the future.

The top three were the Blazers, Magic and Lakers. The bottom three were the Bobcats, Bucks and Kings. Here’s the writeup for the Blazers:

On paper, no other team possesses as bright a future as the Portland Trail Blazers. It all starts with the players. Nobody, not even Oklahoma City, can match the stable of young talent the Blazers have built. Brandon Roy is already a superstar, and joining him are potential stars like LaMarcus Aldridge (24), Greg Oden (21, even if he looks more like 51), Nicolas Batum (20) and Martell Webster (22). That doesn’t even count the other assets the Blazers have that could eventually pan out, such as talented second-year benchwarmer Jerryd Bayless and a veritable farm team in Europe that includes Joel Freeland, Petteri Koponen and Victor Claver.

Portland also gets strong grades in other categories. The management under GM Kevin Pritchard has been rock-solid, with the only minor quibble being the decision to draft Oden ahead of Kevin Durant — a decision, one should remember, that all 30 GMs were prepared to make, even if a lot of fans and analysts weren’t. In terms of money, the Blazers have no cap room to speak of for the foreseeable future, but being owned by one of the world’s wealthiest men in a rabid city where sellouts are the norm means the Blazers can comfortably go into luxury tax and beyond should the need arise.

Portland market didn’t score as highly in the market category — witness Hedo Turkoglu’s about-face — as sad, dreary winters, the nation’s highest state taxes and a relative lack of diversity for a major metropolitan area limit its attractiveness to free agents. They stay in the middle of the pack in this category largely due to Allen’s largesse, with first-rate team facilities, and the fact that a lot of players grow to like the place once they’ve been there — it helped bring Steve Blake back, for instance.

The draft is where Portland scored poorly, but even that is a positive in a sense — with such a bright future, it can expect to pick in the mid-to-late 20s in coming seasons.

The feature does a pretty nice job of evaluating how each team is positioned heading into the next five years.

John Hollinger’s Draft Rater likes Lawson

Earlier in the day, I wrote about how Chad Ford is hearing that Ty Lawson is shooting up some draft boards, and now John Hollinger’s Draft Rater (where he takes college statistics and a few other metrics to predict a player’s production in the NBA) says that he’s the top player in this draft. Yes, he’s even ahead of Blake Griffin.

Lawson, who is coming off an electric performance in leading North Carolina to the championship, grades out highly for several reasons: Although he’s short for a point guard, his shooting numbers (47.1 percent on 3-pointers), strong assist rate and microscopic turnover ratio (9.1, first among point guard prospects) all point to him as an NBA keeper.

The Draft Rater puts Lawson slightly ahead of Griffin for first, but this doesn’t mean a team should take Lawson first. The standard error in the projections for point guards is higher than it is for big men, which means random noise could be putting Lawson ahead just as easily as on-the-court performance. If the consensus is that Griffin is the better player, I don’t think Lawson’s statistical record alone is strong enough evidence to refute it. Additionally, we’ve heard questions about Lawson’s work ethic and injuries.

But the rating is emphatic enough for me to say Lawson should be at the top of the college point guard ladder, ahead of Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague & Co. (If you’re wondering about Ricky Rubio, I’ll have more on him next week.)

Hollinger’s Draft Rater isn’t error-proof but it’s not a bad second opinion when trying to pick a player out of a group of two or more.

Or when you’re trying to avoid a bust…

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