Hitting the Lottery

Posted on 12/18/2010 by

7



A little more than once a decade.

That’s the answer to a question that we’ll be asking at the end of this piece. The point of this piece is to talk about exceptional rookies.  I’ve done a lot of work on rookies since I’ve started this blog and a few things have become readily apparent to me. It’s rare for a team to truly hit the talent jackpot in the draft. It’s rarer still for them to hit a jackpot that pays off immediately. Why? Because it’s unexpected. Sometimes the team that hits the jackpot is the last to know. Sometimes they get lucky.

This is such a story. First go read the Basics for background.

You might ask just what do I consider hitting the jackpot in the draft. Pretty simple:

  1. Find a Superstar player (>.300 WP48)
  2. Play that superstar player
  3. Have enough talent on your roster for it to make a difference

How often has this happened? Let’s look at all the superstars drafted since 1977:

The Admiral, his Airness, Shaq, Magic, Tim, Buck, Larry, Marques and CP3. These nine players are the top rookie win producers of the last thirty four years (and really Duncan didn’t quite hit the superstar level). So Eight times since 1977 have the condition I set been met. And only twice since 1987.

All very interesting, But why am I writing about this now?

For the first time in five years (and the third in 23 years), a team may have won the lottery. That team? The New York Knicks with the 39th pick in the 2010 NBA draft picked Landry Fields from Stanford. They then had some injuries at key positions and where forced to insert him in the lineup.  Where he proceeded to win the starting job and hover around .300 WP48.  Throw in Felton and Amare and Lo and behold the Knicks , the worst team of the last decade are suddenly a contender.

How have the Knicks dealt with this prosperity? By flirting with the Denver Nuggets to get the overrated Carmelo Anthony.The problem lies in the fact that Fields is everything Anthony is not. He’s not flashy, he wasn’t highly hyped by the media and most of all he helps his team win ball games. How do I know this? I checked the stats (Powered by Nerd Numbers) and apparently I’m not the only one.

The Knicks may have not realized they hold a winning lottery ticket but the Nuggets apparently have.

I'm pretty sure the Nuggets do check the stats

That question I was going to ask: How often does an instant superstar walk through that door?

A little more than once a decade and sometimes his team is the last to know.

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