Kyle Kuzma (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
15. Dillon Brooks (originally chosen 45th)
Box plus/minus is the internet’s most accessible catch-all metric, and it hates Dillon Brooks’ career. Of the 1,001 players who have appeared in an NBA game since 2017-18, Brooks ranks 1,001st in wins over the replacement player (the cumulative variant of the plus/minus box).
Part of the problem is his shooting well below par, which is easy to understand. But this ranking also illustrates the blind spot of the plus/minus box and several other catch-all metrics: a struggle to gauge defensive impact.
Because Brooks’ tenacity on the ball doesn’t lead to a ton of individual scoring stats, these metrics can make the mistake of thinking he’s not doing much. On the contrary, his willingness and ability to hunt down the opposition’s best wing is part of why the Memphis Grizzlies are over 0.6 points per 100 possessions when playing against minus-3.2 when not playing it. is not.
14. Jonathan Isaac (originally chosen 6th)
At this point, taking Jonathan Isaac in the top half of a new draft would be a legitimate risk. A torn ACL sidelined him for more than two full seasons. The last time we saw him play was in the bubble in August 2020.
It’s unclear what Isaac will look like when he returns in 2022-23. But if he plays as well as he did in his 34 appearances in 2019-20, he could crack the top 10 in this group.
In just 28.8 minutes per game that season, Isaac averaged 2.3 blocks, 1.6 steals and 6.8 rebounds while shooting a respectable 34.0% from deep. These are Andrei Kirilenko-type numbers, and that kind of defensive versatility can be a game-changer.
13. Josh Hart (originally picked 30th)
Before Josh Hart was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers last season, the stability compliment given to Monte Morris probably could have applied to him as well. In his first four seasons, he averaged 8.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 threes and 0.9 steals in 26.0 minutes while shooting 34.8 percent from deep.
In Portland, after Damian Lillard was shut down for the season, Hart showed an ability to improve his game. He played 13 games for the Blazers, but that included a 44-point outburst and an average of 19.9 points per match.
12. Kyle Kuzma (originally chosen 27th)
Scoring efficiency has generally been an issue for Kyle Kuzma. He has yet to post an above-average true shooting percentage in any of his five seasons.
But he’s made great strides in other aspects of his game over the past two seasons, especially on defense.
For someone who looked like a guy scoring volume and checking the heat early in his career, Kuzma’s development into multi-positional defense and a strong rebound is encouraging. Over the past two seasons, he’s averaged 8.6 rebounds, 2.3 threes, and 0.9 blocks for 75 possessions.
11. Lauri Markkanen (originally chosen 7th)
For his first four seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Lauri Markkanen looked like a sort of prototypical stretch of the post-Dirk Nowitzki era. He averaged 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.2 threes while shooting 36.6 percent from deep, but he didn’t offer much in the way of play or defense.
Then the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired him in a sign-and-trade last summer and came up with the drastic idea of starting him on the wing, while Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen occupied the 4 and 5 spots. Markkanen more than survived in this formation.
When he shared the floor with Mobley and Allen, Cleveland allowed just 103.2 points per 100 possessions, a mark that ranked in the 97th percentile in the league. Markkanen still isn’t really creating for others, but his shooting and newly discovered positional versatility make him a borderline top-10 pick here.