[Thanks to an assist from the wonderful Basketball-Reference.com web site, I gathered together the last twenty NBA Drafts (1989-2008) with an array of intended analysis in mind.]
In the first part of this series on "NBA Player Development" I studied the average performance of players by their draft pick number. In part two I will take a look at the specific teams and how they have fared!
To recap a few principles, since B-R provides career games, and then per game points, rebounds, assists and minutes, I have gone with an admittedly highly simplistic look on things with:
Why use this definition? It's the data I have easily on hand, which while not a good player rating system is a decent wag for these purposes. Then I group players as follows:
Now to try and gauge drafting performance it is not enough to simply look at average stats, rather we need to adjust by the expected stats for the pick # -- so from our chart in part one, the #1 pick averages 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, etc and we need to compare that to the actual stats of a team picking at #1 to get a sense of the net...did they over or under-achieve for the pick.
Obviously there are a lot of issues with this approach, such as do you reward San Antonio for taking a consensus #1 in Duncan? The answer to me is yes, because we are talking not only about drafting but about hopefully some measure of player development which is the bigger theme in play.
On account of this, one additional point to mention is in the event of draft day trades, the team winding up with a player after the trade is counted as 'drafting' the player. So for example Dallas gets credit for Nowitzki even though the Bucks actually drafted him (but then moved him on the the Mavericks). It may be I missed some of these transitions as well if they were sometime after the draft, in which case I'll post a corrected version later on.
I was surpised by how this look came out...Milwaukee as the best drafting team of the past twenty years? In looking over the actual picks though it makes more sense: six "stars" taken -- Glenn Robinson, #1 in '94 and a 29 rating... Ray Allen at #5 in '96, also 29 rating... Redd at #43(!) who has a 27 rating... Vin Baker at #8 in '93 who had a 24 rating (yes he had good years before the problems)... Bogut #1 in '05 and a 23 rating... T.J. Ford at #8 in '03 with a 22 rating. Now Bogut is actually an under-achiever to this point (especially since they could have had Paul, etc) but the Bucks also have scored with lots of other second round picks besides Redd like Sessions, Alston, Phills, Snow, Flip Murray, Bogans...all of whom way surpassed expectations for their lowly pick number.
Then you have the Suns who sparkle with their star picks -- Amare (a #9), Marion (#9), Nash (#15), Finley (#21), Stephen Jackson (#42), and Cedric Ceballos (#48).
The Lakers secured Kobe (#13) by trade, but also had stars in Van Exel (#37), Divac (#26), Eddie Jones (#10), and Marc Gasol (#48 but later traded of course...), as well as a slew of solid players like Elden Campbell (#27), Bynum (#10 and climbing in the career averages), and Fisher (#24).
The Spurs have Duncan (#1) as well as Parker (#28) and Ginobili (#57) as the foundation to their multi-title teams. They also nabbed Scola at #55 who is nearing star territory in the career rating, Barbosa at #28, Salmons #26, Udrih #28...
Cleveland is a much more mixed record. A huge lift up for LeBron (no brainer), but they did also tab Boozer at #34, Andre Miller at #8, Ilgauskas at #20, Brandon at #11 for their other stars. Some top ten misses though in Mihm (#7), Wagner #6), Ferry (#2), and Diop (#8).
And for the bottom of the table New York Knicks? Not a single star among the thirty-two picks made, with David Lee at 19.9 rating pushing the envelope to perhaps become the first one soon. Nene was another good pick for them, taken at #7, but their second round picks with the exception of Ariza have been poor performers, and few players who made much noise whatsoever in the NBA.
Then there's the Clippers of the Korolev (#12), Randy Woods (#16), Kimble (#8), Ely (#12), Dooling (#10), Livingston (#4), Olowokandi (#1) horror show. Elgin may want to rethink his discrimination lawsuit, seems like there was some just cause perhaps at work here. The Clippers had 11 top ten picks in the twenty years, and only one of these top ten guys (Odom taken at #4) became a star. Now of course, you could argue and I might that the bigger issue isn't the drafting but the player development once the player gets to the team...more on this later!
Now due to the recency bias (players drafted this year for example have just over half a season as their 'career' stats and will likely improve in some cases considerably on them with a few more years) we must give some excuses for the new to the party teams like the 'New Orleans' Hornets and the Charlotte Bobcats, but you can get a reasonable sense of the distribution of stars/solids/roleplayers/deep bench/busts and DNP's through the years.
I will be formatting a seperate page for the team by team looks so you can see all the hits and misses of your favorite franchise.
Moving on, next I've looked at the best and worst value picks of the last twenty drafts!
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