Damian Lillard is definitely getting drafted in the first round. But nobody seems to have a consistent opinion about where.
ESPN.com's statistics and player rating guru John Hollinger has an interesting new piece up, just in case you thought player evaluation and likely draft prospects did not change whatsoever in the weeks leading up to the draft.
He has done his latest ranking of the draft prospects and it has some news that is less shocking, like the fact that Anthony Davis is the best player available by a wide margin.
He also goes on to discuss the fact that while PER is admittedly friendly to skilled offensive players (he mentions Michael Beasley and Charlie Villanueva as players who ranked highly despite defensive shortcomings - ones that have cost them stardom in the NBA), it is still useful in assessing offensive value (and subsequently overall value for players who don't have glaring defensive issues).
There are also some interesting mid-major points.
- Will Barton is rated as the tenth best wing player, right behind UNC's Harrison Barnes.
- Previously mentioned bigs Garrett Stutz (Wichita), Robert Sacre (Gonzaga) and Mitchell Watt (Buffalo) rank 9th, 11th and 14th among available bigs, with UAB's Cameron Moore showing up at 12th. And yes, we will certainly have a profile of him in place soon.
- Most interestingly, Hollinger has Damian Lillard (Weber State) ranked seventh among guards. To wit:
One player that Draft Rater isn't crazy about is Damian Lillard of Weber State, who compiled strong numbers but did so against a weak schedule and is much older than most of the prospects at his position. He not only failed to outrank the top point guards above but also rates behind the less-heralded Tyshawn Taylor of Kansas. No. 6 clearly seems a stretch for Lillard, who looks more like a mid-to-late first-rounder in this analysis.
This is a bit of a weird description. First of all, the main reason Lillard is one of the oldest guard prospects is because he actually went to undergrad for all four years - crazy notion, I know. Not really a legitimate criticism. Also, Austin Rivers is ranked immediately above Lillard (and behind Taylor), and the conversation about him as a mid-to-early first-rounder hasn't changed a bit.