Historical Musings, Part Two

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on June 25, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment


As the the draft is three days away, it is still up in the air in regards to what the Mavs will do with the 13th pick. Television play-by-play voice of the Mavs Mark Followill broke down the recent history (and relatively lack of success) in making the 13th selection in the draft. In addition, he posted his results over the  first half of the draft over the last 15 years and displayed the “hit rate” with his designed system. Today. Followill examines the second half of the first round. The research shows you that there might be a surprising spot in the draft that leads to the most success when it comes to finding at worst a rotational player in the draft.


If you missed Part 1 and don’t want to read through it, the upshot of the NBA Draft is as you would expect: a top-10 pick has a 75-85 percent success rate of at least a five-year rotation player. (Note: read it because it’s a strong read)

There is a fall off though in the range of picks 11-15 where the Mavs sit as of now. Not a single player taken at those picks from 1997-2010 has made an All-Star or All-NBA team. Rumors have persisted about the Mavs shopping the 13th pick and even Mark Cuban himself has hinted in interviews that the pick has value as a trade chip and they may very well look to move it for multiple lower picks or a future pick in an expected stronger draft like 2014. Maybe a trade down could net picks just as likely to hit as the 13th selection, at least history shows that to be the case. Continuing on with my research of the NBA Draft from 1996-2010.

Mid First-Round Success:

The selections made between picks 16-20 have produced rotation players at a slightly higher rate actually than picks made in the 11-15 range. Picks 11-15 are developing into five-year rotation players at a 52 percent clip from 1996-2010, meanwhile the 16-20 range is producing five-year rotation players 60 percent of the time in that same 15-year stretch.

Of the players selected 16-20 range, there have been 10 players taken that have made at least one All-Star team, another 35 players who have been (or will clearly be) rotation players for five-plus seasons, while 30 of them have turned up as busts.

All-Star type players selected in that range include Roy Hibbert, Jrue Holiday, David West and Zach Randolph. Some years have been deep, for example, the 2000 draft is panned by many draft analysts as one of the worst in recent memory. However, the selections made in the 16-20 range in 2000 made it to where it wasn’t a bad spot to be. The picks: Hedo Turkoglu, Desmond Mason, Quentin Richardson, Jamaal Magloire (a one time All-Star) and Speedy Claxton. However, 2006 was not the year to have a choice there with Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams, Oleksiy Pecherov, Quincy Douby and Renaldo Balkman being the very forgettable group of players picked from 16-20.

It is possible that better players are sliding to that 16 to 20 range because teams are too focused on high risk, high reward picks late in the lottery. Maybe the difference isn’t statistically significant enough to draw any conclusions and you just chalk it up to a little bit of luck. I guess that is for someone smarter than me to figure out.

Hope at the end of the first round:

When I went into this, I logically expected that the picks in the 20’s would be significantly different than the teens when it came to the success rate of picks but the reality proved otherwise.

Picks 21-25 over the 1996-2010 timeframe broke down as follows: three players made at least one All-Star team (Rajon Rondo, Andrei Kirilenko, and Gerald Wallace), another 37 were rotation players for at least five seasons, and 35 of them saw the careers fall short of the benchmark of 350-400 games. So the player-to-bust ratio there was 53 to 47 percent. Some years have been all hits like 2008: Ryan Anderson, Courtney Lee, Kosta Koufos, Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum. However, the 2001 draft only produced of note Gerald Wallace while the other four all flamed out quickly: Joseph Forte, Jeryl Sasser, Brandon Armstrong and Raul Lopez.

Moving on, picks 26-30 have also produced five-year rotation players at a rate that is a statistical dead heat with the range of picks at 11-15. Those five are the final picks of the first round now but for the first several years of my research that stretched a pick or two into the second round. Looking at the 75 players taken from 26-30 over the 1996-2010 range, there were four players who made an All-Star squad (Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas, former Maverick Josh Howard, and David Lee). There were another 34 players who were, or are, or who look like they will be rotation players for at least five seasons and 37 of the 75 picks did not pan out. So the hit rate is about 51 percent. Looking back, 2001 stands out as an example of a fantastic year for 26-30 with Samuel Dalembert, Jamaal Tinsley, Tony Parker, Trenton Hassell and Gilbert Arenas being the choices.

A brief thought on Round 2:

Second round NBA draft selections have value in that they are not-guaranteed contracts and the ones that are selected early in the second round have more than just a shot-in-the-dark hope of success.

With my research, it shows that picks 31-45 stand on one tier then there is a drop off encompassing picks 46 to the end. In the picks made between 31-45 over the 15-year study, about 30 percent of them hit into at least five-year rotation players, and even a few players reached All-Star status like Carlos Boozer, Rashard Lewis and Michael Redd. Hopefully the Mavs found themselves a rotation player for a few years in a pick at 34th overall last year in Jae Crowder. He did play the most minutes for any Mavericks rookie since Josh Howard in 2003-04 and appears to be penciled in for a larger role this upcoming season.

After you pass 45 then we really are talking a crap shoot. The success rate of players is around 12-13 percent with a few All-Stars in Mo Williams, Manu Ginobili, and Marc Gasol plus some very legit players like Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, Ramon Sessions and Amir Johnson. But, by in large part, it’s a collection of forgotten names, some of whom never made it, some had a cup of coffee in the NBA and others are just foreign players whose draft rights are occasionally fodder in trades

So here is how it all looks in the big picture. The draft, over a long range examination, shakes out into four tiers based on probability of finding a player. Picks 1-10 hit around 75 to 85 percent. Then Picks 11-30 are, by my very broad definition, a success around 50 to 60 percent of the time. You still have about a 30 percent chance of finding a player at 31-45 and after 45 odds are a paltry 10-15 percent.

If an elite All-Star caliber player is what you need, and truthfully who couldn’t always use that, then it better be a top 10 pick. Now, once you get out of the top 10, in a typical year, one to two of the remaining first round picks will develop into an All-Star caliber player.

It bears repeating, every draft is different. This year is thought to be a weak draft and everyone points to next year as a very strong draft. Perhaps there is an argument to be made for a trade out of this year’s draft and into next year’s if you are the Mavs. If odds are just as likely that you can find a good player later in the first round as you can at 13, maybe a trade down for a lower pick and more assets or picks has merit. I guess it’s still possible that a talent deemed special surprisingly falls to the Mavs at 13. That is just one of many possibilities and factors that influence the thought process in the war room on a draft night.

If what personnel people have suggested is true and in any given draft there is a large group of players that are hard to distinguish between the teens and twenties, then maybe one lesson to take from this is that the selection of the player on draft night is but one very small part of the process. A host of factors determine the outcome of the players career like player development, work ethic, physical and psychological maturation, positive or negative influence of particular teammates, team system and so on.

In regards to the uncertainty of this summer for the Mavs, the best news is that the some of the unknown will soon cease to be as we start finding out some pieces to their puzzle with the draft on Thursday and free agency to start soon after.

NOTE: If you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and are looking for Mavs-centric NBA Draft talk and analysis, Mark will be co-hosting with well respected sports, and especially draft, guru Norm Hitzges on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket starting at 6:30 on Thursday night.