Expansion Draft Analysis - Part 2

  • By Bedouin, Day 1, 2020


In Part 2 of my expansion analysis I will examine the likely protections for the 2nd half of the league, commencing with the Miami Cyclones. As with Part 1 this analysis will also attempt to value each team’s draft assets (based on projected 2020 results) and whether the team’s free agents are likely to have signed extensions. Each team’s analysis will conclude with some general commentary on the choices they face.

MIAMI CYCLONES (9 under contract)

Free Agents
Isaac Blakney (PF)
Joe Goldwire (SG)
Landon Howard (SF/PF)
Quinton Ledoux (PG)
Tyrone Macklin (PG)
Mark Robertson (PG)

Surefire Protections
Antoine Hall (C) (EXT)
Isaiah McCarty (SF)
Jamaine Curry (SG)
Rickey Douglas (SG/PG)
Tyree Chappell (PF)

Under Consideration
Dzaflo Taybron (C)
1st Round Pick (Est. Pick 23)

Expansion Draft Eligible
Tomas Bullard (C)
Peja Djordjevic (SG/PG)
Jason Sutton (C/PF)
Landon Howard (SF/PF)
Griffin Walls (PF/SF)
Quinton Ledoux (PG)

Commentary

The Miami Cyclones will head into the 2021 offseason with 9 players under contract. However, I believe that the franchise will elect to extend the contract of Antoine Hall rather than letting him enter the free agency jamboree. Having extended Hall I would expect that the team will protect him and the remaining four members of the starting five.

I anticipate that the final protection slot will come down to a choice between Dzaflo Taybron and the 2021 1st round pick, which is projected at #23. Taybron is favoured over the other centers (Bullard and Sutton) due to slightly more promising Per 36 statistics and longer more cost-efficient contract. Ultimately if the Cyclones do return to the playoffs, and the estimated value of the pick holds, I believe they will elect to retain Taybron.

NASHVILLE STARS (8 under contract)

Free Agents
Uwem Akedele (C)
Preye Crooks (C)
Brandon Markson (C)
Antoine Peeler (SG)
Ivan Vacendak (C)

Surefire Protections
Tezale Craig (SF) (EXT)
Simon Hartford (PF)
Joe Layton (PG)
Mohammed Shakur (PG)
Obinna Holden (PF/C)

Under Consideration
Kaiser Andersen (C)
1st Round Pick (Est. Pick 30)
Clyde Draper (SF)

Expansion Draft Eligible
Dexter Brown (C)
Brax Gardner (SF)
2nd Round Pick (Est. Pick 59)

Commentary

The Nashville Stars will enter the 2021 offseason with a total of 9 players under contract as I expect the franchise will elect to extend Craig on a supermax contract. Having extended Craig I believe they will allow Peeler to enter free agency where the market will determine whether his is worthy of a max contract. Craig and his fellow superstar Hartford will occupy the first two protection slots. I also anticipate that protection slots will be utilized to retain both Layton and Shakur, to guarantee his PG rotation. Shakur may be the future starter, but Layton has proven himself to be a strong backup. I would also expect that rookie big man Obinna Holden will be protected, although this could change if he underperforms in his rookie year.
The final protection slot could go one of three ways. The first option would be Kaiser Anderson, who may well retire after this season. If he performs solidly and wants to go around again he would be the obvious choice. However, should Kaiser retire then the team would likely face a choice between Clyde Draper, who could provide wing depth or the team’s projected first round pick, currently projected to be pick 30.

NEW ORLEANS HURRICANES (7 under contract)

Free Agents
Jerel Beauford (PF/C)
Reggie Hodges (SG/SF)
Ryan Millard (SF)
Ryan Pierce (PF/C)
Jason Rees (PG)

Surefire Protections
Tyson Kuberka (PG) (EXT)
Leon Bowen (C/PF)
Jermaine Wade (SG/PG)
James Livingston (SF)
1st Round Pick (Est. Pick 7)

Under Consideration
Khalid Wilson (C/PF)
Jared Grace (SF)

Expansion Draft Eligible
Louvon Adams (PF)
Kareem Gaines (SG/SF)
2nd Round Pick (Est. Pick 45)
2nd Round (NY Renegades) (Est. Pick 57)

Commentary

The New Orleans Hurricanes enter the 2020 season with two players who will be eligible for max extensions during the season. Ryan Pierce will be looking for a post rookie max and Tyson Kuberka will be looking for the supermax. The team is unlikely to extend both, and I believe the team will ultimately elect to extend Kuberka who is one of the top 50 JBL players of all time. Given the replication of Bowen and Pierce’s skillset I see the team then allowing the market to determine Pierce’s value. But this pathway is a risky option as a 5-year extension for Kuberka would see the team paying him more than $27M when he’s 37. Furthermore, not extending either player would allow the team to enter free agency with 2 maximum contract slots. So in short, options galore exist for the Hurricanes.

But assuming Kuberka is extended I see the ‘Canes using their first two protections on him and Leon Bowen. I would then expect the team to protect its pocket sized scoring guard, Jermaine Wade and James Livingston to provide some wing depth. The final obvious protection would be the team’s 2020 first round draft pick, which we currently project as pick 7. The final protection slot would then come down to a choice between Khalid Wilson and Jared Grace, providing the team depth either on the wing or in the post.

NEW YORK RENEGADES (6 under contract)

Free Agents
Jackson Glass (PG)
Otis Green (PF/C)
DeShawn Harper (SG)
Kendall Houston (PG)
Linton Hughes (SF)
Tony McLain (SG/SF)
Kyle Northwood (PF)
Jiri Palacek (C/PF)

Surefire Protections
Jerome Bradley (SF) (EXT)
Rashard Stevens (C)
Frashon Lewis (SG/SF)
Quadree Ratliff (PF)
Derek Cousins (PG)

Under Consideration
Zach Ross (SF)
Osazee Ikeakor (PF)

Expansion Draft Eligible

Commentary

The New York Renegades are projected to enter the 2021 offseason with only 6 players under contract, but I anticipate that they will surely extend Jerome Bradley. This means the team will be able to protect it’s 3 stars as well as quality rotation players at PF and PG in Ratliff and Cousins.
The final protection slot will come down to a choice between Ross and Ikeakor, realistically a choice less about the players and more about where depth is required.

OAKLAND TRITONS (8 under contract)

Free Agents
Reggie Fortier (SF/PF)
Keith Humphries (PG)
Eddie Jelcic (C)
Paul Rhodes (SG)
Austin Williams (PG/SG)

Surefire Protections
Marcus Ivory (PF/C)
Cameron Nix (SG)
Zeke Boreczky (PF/SF)
Aikeem Martin (C)

Under Consideration
Mitchell Epps (SF)
Chris Giles (PG)
Seth Knar (PG)
Davor Woolridge (C/PF)

Expansion Draft Eligible

Commentary

The Oakland Tritons will enter the 2021 offseason with 8 players under contract. I anticipate that the first three slots will be used to protect, Ivory, Zeke and Nix. I believe the 4th protection slot will be utilized to protect Aikeem Martin but want to discuss him a little at length. A former 1st pick in the draft, Aikeem is the team’s second-best center option and earns $18M. With Austin likely to retire and Fortier due to a substantial pay bump the question could be asked whether Martin should be left unprotected. I don’t anticipate this to be the case, however should the team take backwards steps during the 2020 season, this option may receive some consideration.

Assuming the franchise does elect to protect Martin, the final two protection slots will come down to a choice amongst their deep bench players. I would anticipate they elect to keep one of their PGs and Epps to protect themselves against the possibility of losing both Humphries and Fortier.

PHILADELPHIA WARRIORS (10 under contract)

Free Agents
Edem Kesper (C/PF)
Rodney Martin (PF)
Jamar Nelson (PG)
Robert Weekes (PF)

Surefire Protections
Alonzo Weaver (SF)
1st Round Pick (Est. Pick 1)
Reggie Coleman (SF)

Under Consideration
Omar Croyle (C)
Isaac Foster (PF)
Cassius Tyson (PG)
Tyler Davis (PG)
Shakiem Fontaine (C)
Akua Frazier (SG)

Expansion Draft Eligible
Cedric Durrant (C)
Tyron Elliot (SF)


Commentary

The Philadelphia Warriors are the last team that has significant decisions to make heading into the 2021 offseason. The team currently has 11 players under contract as well as the what we project to be the 1st selection in the 2021 draft. But the choice ultimately comes down to youth vs experience.

I anticipate that the team will protect Alonzo Weaver and its upcoming 1st round pick as well as incumbent SF Reggie Coleman who on a decent contract and had a career best year in 2019. After these 3 protection slots we return to the youth vs experience choice.

The team may elect to protect 2020 rookies Foster and Tyson as well as young center Fontaine. This would cause the team to crater in the short term but would clear a max contract slot (Croyle and Davis would certainly be selected in expansion) and almost guarantee the team another 1st pick in 2022. The flipside would be the retaining Croyle, Davis and Frazier, who rejuvenated his career in 2019. This would certainly result in more wins now.

However, the likely outcome is that the final protections will be a mix of youth and experience based on the performance of the individual players during the 2020 season. Whilst it will probably be another lost season for the Warriors the players certainly won’t lack for motivation.

PHOENIX VULTURES (5 under contract)

Free Agents
Johan Arden (C)
Jason Barrett (PG)
Karsten Barry (SG)
Dedrick Clayton (C)
Kendrick Minor (SF)
Xavier Russell (SF)
Colin Stafford (PF)
Rich Thompson (PF)
Ben Winder (SG)

Surefire Protections
Rasheem Fisher (PG)
Sasha Vidmar (SF)
Luke Williams (SG/SF)
Dimitri Ilic (C)
Ashanti Brooks (PG)
1st Round Pick (Est. Pick 15)

Under Consideration

Expansion Draft Eligible
2nd Round Pick (Est. Pick 49)

Commentary

The Phoenix Vultures enter the 2021 offseason perfectly positioned for expansion. The team will utilize the first five of its protection slots to lock down its recent draft picks; Fisher, Vidmar and Brooks and will complete a full lineup with Ilic and Williams.
The last protection slot will be utilized to protect the teams’s 2021 first round pick, currently projected to be the 15th pick.

SEATTLE THUNDER (10 under contract)

Free Agents
Devan Carroll (SF/PF)
Ortay Defoe (PG/SG)
Milos Kascelan (C/PF)
Ray McArdle (SF)
Devante Parker (PG)

Surefire Protections
Andre Phifer (SG/SF)
Ainsley Tucker (PF)
Aaron Rowland (SF)
Deangelo Tarver (PG)

Under Consideration
Alonzo Traylor (C/PF)
Ante Bogdanovic (C)
1st Round Pick (Est. Pick 19)
1st Round (Oakland Tritons) (Est. Pick 26)

Expansion Draft Eligible
Jon Agau (PF/C)
Marcus Powell (SG)
Dashon Scott (PF/C)
Rudy Simms (SF/SG)
2nd Round Pick (Est. Pick 51)

Commentary

The Seattle Thunder enter the 2021 offseason with 10 players under contract which is one of the higher counts in the league. However, many of these players are fringe rotation players so the choice facing the team isn’t as concerning as it first appears.

The team will likely use first four protection slots to secure their future core; Phifer, Tucker and the two rookies Rowland and Tarver. For its final two slots the team will most likely secure one of it’s two big men and it’s own 2021 1st round pick, which is the higher projected of the two first round picks it holds. I would ultimately expect the team to retain Bogdanovic over Traylor as it would save the organization almost $6M per year, and Traylor’s ‘terrible athleticism’ doesn’t really fit with the GM’s vision for his team.

ST. LOUIS SKYHAWKS (8 under contract)

Free Agents
Kellen Chambers (SF)
Lucas Dougherty (SG)
Kareem Harnett (PF/C)
Cliff Lofton (SF)
Brian Oliver (C)
Devin Roberts (C)
David Westlake (PF)

Surefire Protections
Jevon Novak (PG)
Donnell Wallace (SF/SG)
Mark Hunter (C/PF)
Trey Astbury (PF/C)

Under Consideration
Marcus Wright (PF)
Chris Jensen (PG)
1st Round (Est. Pick 13)

Expansion Draft Eligible
Shaun Burrell (SG)
Jaylen Barker (PG)
2nd Round (Est. Pick 48)

Commentary

The St. Louis Skyhawks enter the 2021 with 8 players under contract. I anticipate that they will use their first 3 protection slots to lock down Novak, Wallace and Hunter as this will be the core of the team should Oliver not return in 2022. Alongside these three I anticipate the team will also protect rookie Trey Astbury to play alongside Hunter.

With their remaining 2 protection slots I see the team likely protecting it’s 2021 1st round selection, currently projected at 13, as well as one of Marcus Wright or Chris Jensen. On production this is an easy choice but when you factor in the salaries it becomes a little more interesting. Chris Jensen has been productive in limited minutes and carries a cheap contract whilst Marcus Wright may be the first big man off the bench in 2022, earning $14.5M. Given the cap already carries a large deal for Novak and the team will likely attempt to resign Oliver it may be time to jettison this contract now before Hunter comes knocking for a max extension late in the 2021 season.

TORONTO HUSKIES (7 under contract)

Free Agents
Stacey Armstrong (SG)
Damien Dukes (SF/SG)
Gray Erwin (C/PF)
Lasean Hickman (PG)
Mikael Ibister (SF)
Fabrice Masse (SG)
Hakim Randolph (C/PF)
Andre Vrankovic (SG)

Surefire Protections
Bryant King (C)
Darius Barry (SF)
Vionte Houston (SG)
Brandon Terry (PG)
Ruben Wingate (SG)
1st Round Pick (Est. Pick 2)

Under Consideration

Expansion Draft Eligible
Lee Horner (SG)
Moses Wentworth (C)
2nd Round Pick (Est. Pick 42)

Commentary

With only 7 players under contract heading into the 2021 offseason the Toronto Huskies will have no challenges dealing with the expansion draft. It will use the its first protection on its stalwart center, Bryant King and the next three protection slots on its recent draft picks; Barry, Terry and Houston. Having secured 4 members of its likely 2021 starting five I see the team using its final two protections on Ruben Wingate, who can provide productive depth on the wing while Houston and Barry develop, and their 2021 1st round pick, which projects to be the 2nd pick.

Stay tuned for Part 3 where I will project a final expansion draft pool and the commissioner and I will complete a mock draft of the first round.