Early Returns on the 2010 NBA Draft

Posted on 06/21/2011 by

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It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it. If you were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find some difficulty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact.

-Sherlock Holmes  “A Study in Scarlet”

You may have heard that a draft is coming.

No. A draft not The Draft.

And you already know I’m fascinated by the NBA draft and of course I’m going to say some words about it.

But before we get to this year’s draft, let’s talk last year and review some of the historical work.

We are going to woolgather a bit

Let’s talk origins and background people.

Specifically we are going to get you nice and caught up with all the pertinent draft work and do a nice early review of the the draft picks made in this space last year.

Before we start sling tables and numbers, if you’re a rookie here yourself go read the Basics. Let’s give some background:

Background(in green, fell free to skip)

With this series I will rank and review rookie performances during this NBA season. This will be one of the lynchpins of my blog for this season (and however long we continue to inhabit this space). As longtime readers of this blog know, nothing inspires me like the NBA draft and rookies. To illustrate and provide some background, here are a few of my pieces.

The Draft:

Part 1: Finding Elite Rookies in the NBA Draft or How the NBA Draft is a Lottery

Part1a: The Top 33 Rookies in the Past 33 Y ears

The WSJ Piece: Arturo Galletti Evaluates 30 Years of the NBA Draft for the Wall Street Journal

Part 2: Ranking 30 Years of Draft Picks

Part 3 :A Sunday Kind of Piece: Return of The Draft

Where I ask How good are GMs at finding talent?

(The answer: Not Very)

Part 3a: The Draft,The Draft,The Draft………

Where I concluded that:

  • Talent is always available in late in the first round.
  • The trick is finding it with some accuracy (which I postulate we can do).
  • Given that the identification is risky a later,cheaper pick is better.

This lead to a lengthy draft strategy segment in my guide to running an NBA franchise (Build me a winner rev.2). Which you can go read for detail (it’s really good I swear 🙂 )

Based on my findings I wanted to see if I could build a model to predict rookie performance. So I did.

The Rookie Models:
I built two models (go here for the model build parts 1 & part 2 ). I called them : Yogi and Booboo.

This is a totally legit picture

To give you an idea of the value of the models I decided to look at:

  • The probability of landing a better than average player (>.090 WP48) for his first four seasons
  • The probability of landing a good player (>.150 WP48) for his first four seasons

I also decided to show this for:

  • Any qualifying pick (>400 MP in his rookie Year)
  • Any Top 5 pick
  • Any Top 10 pick
  • Any 1st Round Pick
  • And Both models.

And this was done for 1995 to 2009. The table is here:

The best performing scenario is both models calling for you to draft the player, followed by Yogi then Boo Boo then having the Top five picks. Yogi is more picky, Boo Boo casts a broader net and is more accurate.

So with a good model in hand, I got to work on evaluating the incoming rookie class.

The Rookie Projections for 2010-2011:

The full rookie projection is here

For the reader’s digest version, It took all the player data, fed it into the models and got this (ranked by projected wins):

Only Griffin projected out as a difference maker for his team based on the model and his college numbers.

At reader’s requests, I then added some of the undrafted players:

The final component in this recap is rookie performance for the preseason:

One final note (and it’s been previously noted here). I miss assigned the Talented Mr. Fields position to SF and not SG. The corrected model is the one that will be shown.

Still here? Good. Now that you’re all caught up on all my silly little stats about rookies and the draft from the preseason we can talk about how the rookies actually performed for their rookie season

2010 NBA Rookies


How I do? Much like the playoff model, we did pretty darn well. Let’s summarize:

Greater than .080 WP48?
Picked by Outside Top 10 Top 10 Pick All Players
All Players 24% 55% 31%
No Models 17% 43% 22%
One Model 50% 50% 50%
Both Models 100% 100% 100%

If we compare the top 10 picks versus model selection and set our benchmark for success at .080 WP48 for rookies, one model picks performed identically to top 10 picks and two model picks were can’t miss prospects in this draft. Only 30% of all picks were successful contributing rookies and the models clearly outperformed that mark.

The GM’s and scouting thus get fairly trounced by the math.

The takeaway? Math always wins and it’s worth doing this again.

And I will for 2011.

In Part 2 of course.

Ain’t I a stinker?

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