How to Read Chad Ford (And Other Draft Experts)

Exhibit G's parodied Chad Ford 1984 mock draft was, as you know, hilarious. But I wanted to get a bit serious for a minute, and communicate how (and why) I hang on Ford's every word. It applies to other draft experts (like DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony, for example). But since Ford is the most linked to and discussed expert around, he deserves the attention of this piece.

Anyone who has read Ford the past few years knows he is not the best basketball analyst. He has touted the skills of numerous blatantly unskilled players, Darko Milicic being the most infamous example. Ford has a poor grasp of team needs, and frankly he seems to fail to understand the vagaries of NBA analysis in general. There are times when Ford can say something about a team's or NBA player's performance that is completely wrong. He has done this with the Kings a number of times. He fundamentally misjudges the NBA often enough for it to be noticed, discussed, and parodied.

But he's a damn good one-man rumor mill. Geoff Petrie is a notoriously shrewd and silent personnel boss, so Ford rarely nails the Kings picks. But writing for FanHouse the last few years, I've intently followed Ford's rumors. And he nails so much. Every year, he probably breaks more than half the trades, promises or ranges he reports. He nails a good portion of the draft ... and he's one guy. He's already been all around the country this month, seeing Blake Griffin and James Harden and DeJuan Blair and Jrue Holiday. And he has five weeks left to firm up his sourcing, to refine his points. I imagine he talks to everyone in the business. There's no other way he could do what he does (report the draft) as well as he does.

So we have Good Chad Ford, and Crap Chad Ford. There's a method to cutting through the crap, and it is this: cut through the crap! Let's take the Kings entry in Ford's latest mock draft as an example.

[Jordan] Hill would give them toughness and energy in the frontcourt, and they could use that.

This is crap! We don't trust Ford's unsourced player evaluations. We just don't. Other sources (DX, for one) laud Hill's toughness. I see bad rebounding numbers, which indicates to me what we'll call "useless toughness." Further, Chad Ford has no clue what we need. Nothing in that statement says anything about the Kings' interest about Hill. It reads as logical to Ford, based on his read of Hill and his read of the Kings. But it means nothing.

But don't be surprised if UCLA's Jrue Holiday sneaks in here. The Kings will bring him in on Wednesday. Point guard is their biggest need and the Kings are high on Holiday.

Now we have something! "Don't be surprised" is a nice Ford rejoinder. Another way of saying "YO! Peep this ..." And saying that "the Kings are high on Holiday" means Ford has talked to someone out there that Ford believes should reasonably be in a position to know that, yes, the Kings are high on Holiday. Did he talk to a Kings source? Holiday's agent? Danny Ainge? Petrie's gardener? I don't know. But Ford's record overall is too good to assume he makes things up wholesale. Sure, maybe someone lied to him, or is playing him. That will happen, that is unavoidable.

But this is a nugget you can store in the back of your noggin. "The Kings are high on Holiday." Hmmm. Thanks, Chad. Repeat ad infinitum.

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