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Should teams consider more current NBA Playoff trends when evaluating prospects?

Vaseline 3 months ago

During every design process the individual is central – and that is understandable. Teams are eager to discover what a guy can do, how he projects long-term and what kind of role he could fill.

But perhaps lost in all this individualism is a larger, overarching question: How does this man conduct himself as a playoff performer?

Let’s use the Boston Celtics as a point of discussion.

That team put a tremendous amount of effort into building a team with as few weak links as humanly possible. Their top six players are all two-end players, who – in various capacities – can move up and down the attack as they see fit.

Such a roster structure is created solely for the purpose of going far in the play-offs, where minimizing weak links is of utmost importance regardless of the type of team you are.

As such, perhaps identifying players in the draft process who could play in a Celtics-like template could be a way to gauge future usage.

For example, would a 175-pound Rob Dillingham, who is best known as an offensive creator, be a player you’d like to put in a system that places a high level of defensive reliability on his shoulders?

On the other hand, can a guy like Donovan Clingan be trusted to consistently perform offensively, to the point where he can go long stretches as the main option?

(Both guys are extremely talented and could get there eventually, but as of now the questions above are fair to ask.)

This isn’t meant to be a “If you can’t play for the playoff Celtics, you have no future in the NBA.”

Because that’s not how basketball works. After all, the Celtics haven’t won the title since 2008, so there are clearly alternative paths to winning a title.

However, the NBA Playoffs clearly have a history of making life difficult for players who can’t compete on both ends and for long periods of time. And considering the ultimate goal of good drafting is to one day reach the finals… this seems relevant.

In a class like this, without clear levels of talents, the above could be a way to measure talent, even if it is extremely simplified.

It’s also partly why I want to keep Alexandre Sarr at the top of my Big Board. His two-way upside absolutely positions him to be that kind of playoff performer, assuming he pops.

However, during this thought experiment, I realized that there are actually a fair number of players in this class who could ultimately fit the “Boston Celtics Archetype.”

Cody Williams and Zaccharie Risacher are two wings with such great upside that it doesn’t take a genius to see how they would fit on a team that takes a similar approach to Boston.

Stephon Castle, assuming he improves his outside shot, is another name to use in that conversation. Just like Matas Buzelis, who faces the same challenge.

So while we don’t know yet if there’s a hidden superstar in this class, there should be guys emerging who could eventually play on ESPN into the month of June.

Unless otherwise stated, all statistics are via NBA.com, PBPStats, Cleaning the glass or Basketball reference. All salary information via Spotrac. All opportunities thanks to FanDuel Sportsbook.

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