Can Hawthorn succeed while ignoring the elite end of the draft? | BigFooty

Can Hawthorn succeed while ignoring the elite end of the draft?

Discussion in 'AFL - The Australian Football League' started by Bunk Moreland, Oct 18, 2018.

  1. Bunk Moreland

    Bunk Moreland Brownlow Medallist

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    There’s been clubs that have deprioritised the draft before, but Hawthorn really seems to be taking it to the next level.

    The first two rounds of the draft are obviously where the elite juniors are. Throw in a few compensation picks etc, let’s call it the top 40 picks. This is the sum total of Hawthorn’s top 40 draft picks for eight years:

    2011 #33 Brad Hill – traded
    2011 #38 Jordan Kelly – delisted
    2012 #28 Tim O’Brien
    2013 #24 Billy Hartung – delisted
    2013 #38 Dayle Garlett – delisted
    2014 #31 Daniel Howe
    2015 #19 Ryan Burton – traded
    2015 #22 Kieran Lovell – out of contract?

    None in 2016, 2017 or 2018 (their first pick will be #53)

    Now of course it’s not like they have no talent coming onto their list... they’ve nailed some later picks, and brought in top players through trading – though of course with trades, you pay more than you do at the draft, so it makes getting quantities of talent difficult.

    Can they possibly compete for a flag without using the elite end of the draft? Where will this leave their list?

    It’s interesting that some pundits – namely Dal Santo and Johnson last night – have them tumbling down the ladder in 2019. That, in itself, wouldn’t be a disaster – it’s only one year and happens to all clubs. But have they got enough talent to haul them back up if it did happen?

    People point to Clarkson – who is a genius and one of the greatest coaches of all time – but even for him, this is new territory. He won four flags, but look at some of the core of those teams:

    Hodge (pick 1), Roughead (pick 2), Franklin (pick 5), Lewis (pick 7), Rioli (pick 12), Birchall (pick 14), Shiels (pick 34), Mitchell (pick 36).

    Of course they added to it, but that huge core quantity of stars came from the only place you can get them cheaply - the pointy end of the draft.

    Can this current approach work?? It’s fascinating. Since the draft was introduced, I’m not sure there’s a club that has had the balls to sideskirt it so heavily.
     
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  2. mike123

    mike123 Brownlow Medallist

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    They did add Scully and Wingsrd though former top ten picks.
     
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  3. Gralin

    Gralin Super Moderator

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    Don't we already have 20 threads on this topic?
     
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  4. Inspecta Gadget

    Inspecta Gadget Debutant

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    They had a lot of high draft picks in the early-mid 2000's and drafted well. No doubt the bulk of their success came on the back of this, so will be interesting to see how this pans out given they're going in the opposite direction
     
  5. Beauski

    Beauski Team Captain

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    I predict this thread will be bumped for the next 5 years when at times applicable to an event in that period.
     
  6. Wesley2

    Wesley2 Club Legend

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    Lots of teams are following HFC and trading for ready made players instead of going for the draft, the challenge will be dealing with the competition and if the shift in attitude towards contracts changes the trade period in the next few years.
     
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  7. Bunk Moreland

    Bunk Moreland Brownlow Medallist

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    The AFL is nothing if not follow-the-leader.

    If the Hawks pull off a flag doing this, I reckon the value of the draft will plummet.
     
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  8. parsons nose

    parsons nose Club Legend

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    You’re absolutely correct on all counts. Graham Wright when interviewed told the world, that you need a combination of trading and drafting to be successful, however his approach belies this notion. As the old saying goes ‘one in the hand is worth two in bush’ and Hawthorn don’t mind the premium paid on the ‘one in the hand’.
     
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  9. Randy Campbell

    Randy Campbell Club Legend

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    It will seem strange to some, until it becomes the thing you need to do.
    Until the rules change again.
     
  10. HairyO

    HairyO Brownlow Medallist

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    18 of the others are trolls. This is a reasonable premise.

    Could remove Hawthorn and make it more general.

    Dogs won with pretty much no top 10 draftees.

    Clarko has always been happy using draft picks for known entities and having faith in the list managers to find late gems.

    But really, we just got picks 1, 6 and 7 and if everything goes to shit in 2019 we kept our pick so it could be a very good fall back.
     
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  11. Gralin

    Gralin Super Moderator

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    Ah 2011 when GWS had 11 of the first 15 picks, a good year to make fun of a team for their draft strategy. Also we got 3 flags out of Hill before he went home, he'd still be on the list if he hadn't wanted to go back to Perth.

    2011 - First pick (24) traded as part of deal for Jack Gunston also elevated Breust off the rookie list
    2012 - First pick (21) traded as part of deal for Brian Lake, Second (27) for Jed Anderson
    2013 - First pick (17) traded as part of deal for Ben McEvoy, we might have missed on Hartung and Gartlett but our next pick was Sicily
    2014 - First pick (19) traded as part of deal for O'Rourke
    2015 - Our next pick was Hardwick, the kid who came second in our B&F this year
    2016 - First pick (14) traded for Mitchell, 2017 First pick (7) and second Picks (23 and 36) for O'Meara
    2017 - Second Round Pick (33) for Impey
    2018 - First Pick (15) and Second Pick (35) part of deal for Wingard, also got Scully and Scrimshaw for a 3rd round pick
    Anderson was a bust for us but helped get Burton who helped get Wingard
    O'Rourke was a real miss as were Hartung, Kelly, Gartlett and possibly Lovell.

    But at the same time we brought in
    Gunston, Breust, Lake, and McEvoy who were all important parts of the 3 peat as was Hill.
    Now we've brought in genuine 1st round talent in Mitchell, Wingard, Scully (ankle the worry) and O'Meara plus another former top 10 pick in Scrimshaw who at the price was worth the risk.

    Impey, Hardwick and Sicily have all been solid to good and could be a big part of another tilt.

    So over 8 years we brought in players that helped us win 3 flags and have the following still on the list
    Gunston (Pick 29)
    Breust (Rookie)
    Sicily (Pick 56)
    McEvoy (Pick 9)
    Hardwick (Pick 44)
    Mitchell (Pick 21 F/S)
    O'Merea (Pick 1 2011 Mini Draft)
    Impey (Pick 21)
    Wingard (Pick 6)
    Scully (Pick 1)
    Scrimshaw (Pick 7)
    O'Brien (Pick 28)
    Howe (Pick 31)

    are we really ignoring the elite end of the draft or are we just attacking it differently?
     

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  12. GUMBLETRON

    GUMBLETRON Brownlow Medallist

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    Only Bont, Macrae, Stringer and Boyd.
     
  13. HairyO

    HairyO Brownlow Medallist

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    Should have described it better.... players they drafted with top 10 picks.

    They had more players come via Rookie lists than their top 10 picks.
     
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  14. Adelaide Hawk

    Adelaide Hawk Hall of Famer

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    Nah, we never get anything right at Hawthorn, you only have to read Big Footy to understand that.
     
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  15. markr

    markr Premiership Player

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    With the picks we've had in that time we never had access to the elite end of the draft.
     
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  16. Walshawk

    Walshawk All Australian

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    If the perceived value of the draft plummets, then other clubs won't want to give us their players for our draft picks, so the whole thing breaks down and we would go back to the draft.
     
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  17. Turnover

    Turnover Team Captain

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    Yes they can and they will. Still a bunch of ...... though.
     
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  18. hk89

    hk89 Norm Smith Medallist

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    The question you really need to ask is what are the advantages of getting your talent fresh off the rack on draft day versus waiting for it to mature and bringing it in at 22-25 via trading.

    Seems there are quite a few advantages of the wait and see approach, for example:
    - More certainty that you are actually getting a player who can play
    - More impact on the team results right away
    - Related to the first two, but slightly different IMO is that you can more easily pick players that are perfect matches for holes in the list. It is probably easier to spot young talent than it is to see exactly which direction that talent will develop in terms of strengths and weaknesses. If you want someone with attributes A,B,C it is harder to see how they'll develop in all those areas over the next 4 years, and by then your needs may have changed anyway. Holes are hard to fill in general from the draft due to the lag factor.

    The downsides I can think of off the top my head are:
    - Can overpay for top level talent. You don't necessarily always need to target very top end talent, but if you ignore the draft long enough and you will definitely need to. Hawthorn in the past tended to avoid the very top end, in favour of value, but their success with Hodge, Lewis, Franklin and Roughy from the top 10 allowed them that luxury. We are now seeing they are having to pay at the trade table to fill in the equivalent of what they got from the draft at the start of their last bottom out around 14-18 years ago. I still think people way overvalue picks over players because they look at the life time value of say a pick 15 and compare it to the lifetime value of bringing in a gun at 25. The thing is the average pick 15 is not an elite gun, they are just a very good player, and it doesn't matter how long they sit on your list, they are never going to contribute more than 'very good' in any season.
    - Harder to get buy in on club culture. Hawthorn managed to get players that were happy to take unders compared to elsewhere because there was a core group that had been at the club since day 1 and they created that culture and carried it forward. If you don't have that core group, and are bringing in too many players enticed with money, it is hard to create that ethos. It sounds like none of our recent top level buy ins have been on absolute top dollars compared to what some other recruits have had thrown at them, so Hawthorn are trying hard not to blow this aspect, but I think it will be difficult, and if we spend more than a year or two outside the 8, it will become even harder.
    - Don't get to develop the mature recruits within the playing system the coach is trying to use. This is more of a short term issue, but I'm sure it is easier to mould a player into the coaches game plan if you grab them at 18.

    It will be interesting to see how Hawthorn's attempt turns out. As others have pointed out, while we built a lot of the last list on trades and late picks, there was still that Hodge/Roughy/Lewis/Franklin core from the early draft, so it is different this time around, but I don't see a reason why we can't build a Hodge/Roughy/Lewis/Franklin core without using the draft. It has in fact never been easier to do so due to free agency, or perhaps more importantly, the threat of free agency in the year leading up to it. Like any GF list building attempt, we'll need some luck across several areas - we'll need to nail or go close to nailing all of :
    - late picks
    - right trades
    - injury management

    The way I see it, its mostly win/win for the fans. If it doesn't work we've spent a few years off the bottom waiting for a rebuild, and no matter what anyone says, I don't believe hanging around in the bottom 4 with your main excitement being the draft each year is better than not quite making it for the same period of time because you slightly under-built the list. If in the end it fails, you've had a few years of good wins, without the ultimate success, and can do the bottom out eventually when the list truly becomes cactus.

    As a fan I fully endorse what Hawthorn is trying to do, but I also acknowledge the chance of a flag is relatively low, but that is no different to any team chasing their next flag that isn't in the top 2 or 3 teams in the competition in the current year.
     
  19. Bunk Moreland

    Bunk Moreland Brownlow Medallist

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    Of course you are - trading out the picks to secure established talent, instead of drafting it in yourself.

    Nothing wrong with the concept, just fascinating how heavily they’re going with it. Reckon it must be a record for the lowest number of round 1/2 picks across a number of years.
     
  20. master bate

    master bate Brownlow Medallist

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    Trade over draft is fine. Their bigger problem is when you trade multiple assets for 1 player (O'Meara deal, Wingard deal) you have to replace the other spot on your list with a very late pick.

    Effectively they are replacing their stars with new stars - Mitchell for Mitch, O'Meara for Lewis, Wingard for Rioli. But who's replacing the B or C+ graders that you need from 6-20 of a premiership team?

    Over 30 on Hawthorn's list - 6

    Burgoyne, Roughead, Puopolo, Birchall, Henderson, Frawley. With respect to Burgoyne can you rely on quality games against top opponents from any of those guys? That's 6 more who are unlikely to make big impact in finals and could all be retired in 12 to 24 months.

    Over 28 on Hawthorn's list and best 22 - 3

    McEvoy, Stratton, Smith - so 3 of the Hawks best players are only a couple of years from veteran status. How much do they have left?

    24-28 and best 22 - 7

    Breust, Gunston, Mitchell, Wingard, Shiels, O'Meara, Scully - nice group but it's 7 players. 1 in O'Meara will likely never have the perfect healthy season, another in Scully is under a big cloud at least for 2019.

    Under 24 and played more than 40 games - 4
    Sicily, Impey, Howe, Hardwick. 4 players. That's it.

    When the Hawks trade for Wingard they had to send a 1st round pick, Burton and other picks and it keeps them up the ladder. A bottom team like Carlton could've offered up a future first and if that didn't get the deal done maybe thrown in a late pick swap. In this hypothetical Carlton keep Burton, keep the future 2nd round pick and end up with Wingard and 2 more good players.

    The Hawks have to find some absolute bargain trades like Scrimshaw and Scully and/or find some bargain late picks and/or find some state league guns (which they don't seem to like doing looking at their list) otherwise the big deals for stars will leave them in a big hole soon.
     
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  21. Bunk Moreland

    Bunk Moreland Brownlow Medallist

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    Yep, and you can do that once the value proposition flips.

    It’s like punting - anybody can pick winners, the key is extracting value.
     
  22. STPer18

    STPer18 Premiership Player

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    I don't fully understand the criticism. There will always be time to restock at the draft once your club hits the bottom, but if you've got some key players still in their prime and the coaching staff think with a few new additions you're a genuine chance in the next couple of years, wouldn't it be borderline negligent to refuse to improve your list and give it every chance of winning?

    Worst case scenario Scully never properly recovers, Wingard flops and Burton becomes a genuine gun and as a result Hawthorn slide to the bottom 4, what then? Don't they get premium access to the elite draft talent then? You can rebuild a list whenever you feel like it, but you can't put yourself in a position to contend whenever you feel like it, so unless you're a hindsight-hero, why not make the most of what you can when the opportunity presents itself?
     
  23. hk89

    hk89 Norm Smith Medallist

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    The players we develop from our later picks. Good player development and good drafting in later rounds can go a long way to filling out the bottom half of your list. Premiership lists are not built on 15 elite players. If you're lucky you might have 5-7 top level elite players, another 5-7 very good players, and another 5 very decent role players, and then a bottom 3-7 players that hopefully don't let the team down too much. Each layer is important. You can have a few less elite players if your bottom 3-7 is a bit more even.


    Those are mainly issues structurally. None of them were in our top 10 B&F and none of them were in our top 7 super coach average scorers. We finished 4th H&A while the heavy lifting was done largely by players outside that list. That means we don't need to replace those 6 with absolute top level talent, even though some of those were top level elite players at their peak. To stay at 2018 form we just need to replace the level of output those 6 were giving us (or not in Birchall's case), and that doesn't necessarily require elite players to come in. This is an important point, and something a lot of the chicken littles are missing. We've already brought in some of next top level elites. Some of them are replacements for those 6, some are not, but there is nothing to say your elite players need to be of the same type.

    The next tier down in age such as McEvoy, Stratton and Smith, could easily have 4 years left which gives plenty of time to replace them.

    I can see reasons why what we are doing might fail, but I don't think 'replacing the old blokes' is any longer the riskiest part of the puzzle. We've got rid of a bunch of them already, and the others are largely no longer elite, so not impossible to replace while maintaining form.
     
  24. Scotland

    Scotland Hall of Famer

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    Both.
     
  25. hk89

    hk89 Norm Smith Medallist

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    Yup, that's how I see it. Only one team can win the flag each year, so it is unfair to point to clubs that stay in the competitive zone for long periods without winning and say "You really should have dropped way down the ladder and caused your fans an extended period of heartache instead of having the best crack with what you had right now". At the end of the day, if its a total failure, you end up in the position the hindsight-hero's said you should have deliberately propelled yourself into anyway.

    I know the counter argument is "It is all about optimising the time to next flag". I've seen plenty of flags, I'd rather see my club win some games , than take an extended period of pain in the hope (often false hope if you look at recent history) it might be moving us closer to our next flag tilt. Although that attitude might be seen as blasphemy by some Hawthorn supporters.
     
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