Is there a consensus No. 1 prospect in this year's draft? Is there a consensus anything in this year's draft?
Of course, the word "consensus" is a bit of a joke. We are a week away from the draft, and there are still major debates running internally within every front office in the league. If teams can't agree, internally, on the order of draft prospects, how can we create a "consensus" ranking? As hard as it is for NBA draftniks to believe, there is little agreement within teams, let alone between them, on draft night.
This year is especially difficult. There aren't any elite players at the top of the draft, and there is enormous parity from the late lottery to the early second round. Many prospects are all over the board. I've been doing this a long time, and I've never seen so little agreement so close to the draft.
The draft is an inexact science, despite concerted attempts to create analytical models that are more predictive of a player's future success. I've read through a number of those models, and they don't agree on anything either.
NBA teams watch prospects play thousands of hours of games. They go to practices and camps. They hire guys from MIT to create statistical solutions. They work out players, give them psychological tests, do background checks and conduct personal interviews. And still, there is little consensus.
Factor in the debate between taking the best player available versus filling team needs and the situation muddies itself further.
To make sense of all this, the past few years I've chronicled a draft ranking system employed by several teams called the tier system.
In the tier system, teams group players, based on overall talent, into tiers. Then the teams rank the players in each tier based on team need. This system allows teams to draft not only the best player available but also the player who best helps the team.
So what do the tiers look like this year? After talking to several GMs and scouts whose teams employ this system, here is how the tiers look:
(Note: Players are listed alphabetically in each tier.)
Note: This category is usually reserved for guys who are surefire All-Stars and franchise players. Since 2009, only Blake Griffin, John Wall and Anthony Davis have been ranked in this slot. This year, there just isn't anyone who looks like a "surefire" anything.