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Pistons wisely used tier system to draft Brandon Knight

If I were running an NBA team, I would use a tier system for the draft. Rather than trying to differentiate prospects with similar value (ability times potential times likelihood of reaching potential), I would group all similar prospects into tiers. Then, within each tier, I would rank players based on how they fit with my team. It’s just too difficult to separate certain players, and at that point, fit is more important.

Apparently, the Pistons used the same or a similar strategy to draft Brandon Knight last year. Chad Ford of ESPN:

This system protects teams from overreaching based on team need. The Pistons won’t pass on a clearly superior player like Waiters to fill a need with Perry Jones. However, the system also protects a team from passing on a player who fits a need just because he might be ranked one or two spots lower overall.

The Pistons actually followed this model last year at the draft. While the consensus was they needed a big, when Brandon Knight, who they had ranked in a higher tier fell, they took him anyway.

This is how I’d group players if the draft were today. Players within each tier are sorted by how I view their fit with the Pistons.

Tier 1

1. Anthony Davis

Tier 2

2. Thomas Robinson

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Tier 3

4. Andre Drummond

5. Harrison Barnes

Tier 4

6. Bradley Beal

Tier 5

7. John Henson

8. Myers Leonard

9. Terrence Jones

10. Damian Lillard

Tier 6

11. Tyler Zeller

12. Arnett Moultrie

13. Perry Jones

14. Kendall Marshall

15. Jeremy Lamb

16. Dion Waiters (probably should have been on my initial list, but I’m on the fence about him)

(I didn’t include Jared Sullinger, because I don’t have nearly enough info about his medical issues.)


  • Jun 22, 201212:37 pm
    by Birdman84


    I’m glad that the Pistons use a tiered system. That said, the Knight pick shows how the tier system can fail.

    • Jun 22, 20122:08 pm
      by Mike Payne


      Fully agreed.  I’d prefer they use a system that actually analyzed and rated players properly (instead of really poorly)

    • Jun 22, 20127:51 pm
      by tarsier


      And who should they have picked (bearing in mind that nobody was gonna take Faried in the top 10)? The only other particularly good option, who was a real candidate at 8, was Kawhi Leonard. And it is way too soon to tell which of those will be the better player.

  • Jun 22, 20121:32 pm
    by Quick Darshan


    I’d slide Zeller up a Tier.  I know his strengths and weaknesses mirror Monroe’s.  But, I don’t entirely think that’s a bad thing.  Having two bigs that excel in running the floor and have versatility offensively being able to post-up and knock down jumpers would really make the Pistons tough to deal with.  Plus, they’d be adding another smart, hard-working young man to join Monroe and Knight.

  • Jun 22, 20122:11 pm
    by djunak


    The tier system fails when the person creating the tier is just plain wrong. Last year I think Faried was missed placed in the rating system by many teams. Plus I don’t see Waiters listed but PJlll is.

  • Jun 22, 20123:35 pm
    by bugsygod


    LOL!  Dan would use a tier system??  So you STEAL CHad Ford’s idea and say you would have the same system??  LOL  Why dont you give the Pistons or Chad Ford props for creating and using a tier system???  Even Chad in his article says he got the idea from the nba teams.  BUT Dan gives no one no credit… SMDH! 

    • Jun 22, 20123:46 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Man, really? Your third different screen name just to troll here?

      Also, do you think Chad Ford invented the tier system? Because he didn’t. Here’s his description:

      “To make sense of disparate rankings and debates over team needs, the past few years, I’ve chronicled a draft ranking system employed by several teams that have been very successful in the draft”

      Tier systems are fairly commonly used in drafts in all sports. Keep up the trolling effort, though. You’ll get better at it one of these days. We’ll catch you next time, hopefully with your fourth different screen name.

      • Jun 22, 20123:54 pm
        by bugsygod


        LOL!  You made my point excatly —> “To make sense of disparate rankings and debates over team needs, the past few years, I’ve chronicled a draft ranking system employed by several teams that have been very successful in the draft” 

        Where is Dan’s mention of getting the system from other teams or giving other Successful teams credit???  THERE IS NO MENTION IN DAN’S FIRST PARAGRAPH OF OTHER TEAMS!  If i didnt no any better i would think Dan created something new! 

        The NFL started the tier system, btw!   

        • Jun 22, 20124:02 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          Steve From Battle Creek’s Bygdygod’s bugsygod’s previous comment: “So you STEAL CHad Ford’s idea and say you would have the same system?”

          So, in fact, your original comment was incorrect when you said that it was Chad Ford’s idea?

          “If i didnt no any better i would think Dan created something new!”

          Then you would be pretty stupid, since anyone who remotely follows the draft knows what a tiered system is and knows that several teams use them and some teams still don’t. Feldman was obviously advocating for the use of a system that is pretty common knowledge, not claiming that he invented it. But whatever, trolls gonna troll.

          Please refer to Mojo Drew for my responses to any of your future trolly comments.

          • Jun 22, 20124:50 pm
            by bugsygod

            Pat your the emontial stupid one, i would rather talk with Dan.  He doesnt resort to silly name calling. 

          • Jun 22, 20125:01 pm
            by bugsygod

            I do apolige for the different screen names, I log on sometimes from work and screen names dont always transfer.  But it should always be BUGSYGOD

          • Jun 22, 20125:03 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            I don’t resort to name-calling to commenters who:

            A. Offer counter-points in a constructive way (which you have never done here since you started commenting)

            B. Don’t do things like register for and post under multiple screen names, which you have done, so it looks like more people share your viewpoint than actually do.

            C. Actually want to come here for honest dialogue. You don’t. Your purpose has always been to come here to troll. Your first comment directed at Dan on this post was dickish. Your posts since you’ve started commenting here have all been similar. That, my friend, is the definition of an internet troll. You don’t like the site, you’ve insulted both mine and Dan’s credibility, qualifications and knowledge in the past, and now you are expecting to be treated reasonably when you comment here? Please. No one is going to ban you or anything for being annoying, but don’t expect to have the red carpet rolled out for you and to be treated like your comments are valued. They aren’t. There are plenty of smart, reasonable, funny commenters who populate the comments section here and whose contributions Dan and I both appreciate immensely, even when those people disagree with us. You, on the other hand, are not a valuable contributor here, you’ve been hostile from the start and now you want to be treated decently? No way. You’re a nuisance.

          • Jun 22, 20126:29 pm
            by bugsygod

            Furthermore, on your troll comments, Im sorry for being “mean” and/or you not liking my harshness in my comments.  I am a LOOONNGGG time Pistons fan and you two seem to think the organization has no clue what there doing.  When in fact they are one of the 5 most successful franchises in the NBA!  Outside of the prior 2yrs with the ownership change, they have been very aggressive in trying to build a winner! They do have 3 Championships…!

    • Jun 22, 20124:03 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      So, if I write that I think the Pistons should use a zone defense, I need to explain I didn’t invent zone defense?

      • Jun 22, 20124:46 pm
        by bugsygod


        My point is that many people may not be aware of a Tier system, so it would be good to reference that this is a system used by successful nba teams.  As this is what Chad Ford did in his article.  Man, you guys cannot take a lil constructive critism…smh.  There are always  improvement ideas, all i was doing was giving you an improvement idea. 

        • Jun 22, 20125:08 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          May I remind you of what you initially wrote: “So you STEAL CHad Ford’s idea and say you would have the same system?”

          So, please explain to me how that’s constructive? You ridiculously accused Dan of stealing an idea from Chad Ford and attributing it to himself, neither of which Dan did. An idea that wasn’t even Ford’s in the first place. (Where is your apology, by the way, for getting that fact incorrect? If you’re going to accuse other people of being inaccurate or unreliable, I would hope you would hold yourself to that standard and apologize for your own errors).

          • Jun 22, 20126:24 pm
            by bugsygod

            AGAIN.. My point, if you look at my FIRST comment, i said Chad Ford AND the Detroit Pistons.  In Dans first paragraph, he says he would use a Tier system if he was running an NBA team.  NOoo mention of other successful nba teams or chad ford, just Dan’s idea to use Tier System.  So im just saying reference where you got the idea for Tier system!  As i added my second comment of suggestions for better wording below.  So if someone did not know about the tier system, they may think that Dan came up with this idea from that first paragraph. 

          • Jun 22, 20128:00 pm
            by tarsier

            If I were a coach, I would have players practice shooting free throws at a particular angle because it can really help them improve their form, even though ti feels unnatural at first. This is not my original idea, but I don’t have to give anyone credit for it because it is just me saying that I would do things such and such a way. I am not claiming to have invented it.

            And the zone defense was also a great analogy. Because probably a comparable percentage of people have heard of zone defense and tiered draft boards.

  • Jun 22, 20123:39 pm
    by bugsygod


    Maybe say something like, ” I like how the Pistons and other NBA teams use a tier system for the draft.” ”In my tier system i would have the players in the following tiers…”  Give credit to where credit is do.

    • Jun 22, 20128:06 pm
      by tarsier


      Do you understand when it is and isn’t appropriate/necessary to give credit to/cite someone? Common knowledge need not be cited. And this is friggin’ sports site. Most people who like the Pistons enough to find PP and read it will know and understand the concept of tiered draft systems.

      But, Dan, if you post this article in Better Homes and Gardens, then it may be worth considering the advice of bugsygod. It would still be unnecessary, but at least his comment would have a modicum of merit.

      • Jun 22, 20128:35 pm
        by Bygdygod


        Lol! Thanks for the support dude!

  • Jun 22, 20125:51 pm
    by DoctorDaveT


    Patrick & Dan,
    since it’s your site, do what you want: ban him. Most of the rest of us don’t like it either.

    • Jun 22, 20126:40 pm
      by bugsygod


      LOL! thanks for the support dude!

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