Analyzing the Draft

Alright, it’s time to drop a full stat-pack on you.  Over the weekend I’ve been collecting various stats we can use to evaluate the value of the picks traded and the players and their production in college.  So let’s get rolling.

The Draft Pick Swap

The Hornets traded the 11th pick and Mo Pete’s Veteran Towel Waving skills for the 21st and 26th picks.  So, before we even get to the players selected with those picks, let’s simply evaluate how the picks historically perform.  In other words, is 11 for 21 and 26 worth it? 

The following chart shows the historical results for each pick to obtain a class of player. I.E. the 11th pick gets you a 13% chance at a Star(A ranking), a 9% chance at a starter(B ranking), 22% at a solid rotation player(C), a 43% at bench filler(D), a 9% chance at crap(F), and a 4% chance your guy won’t ever play for you.(N/A)  Then I follow with the peak from each pick, the bottom from each pick, and the salary a player taken at that pick would make.

Draft Position A B C D F N/A Peak Bottom Salary
11th 13% 9% 22% 43% 9% 4% Andris Biedrins, Reggie Miler Todd Fuller $1.77 Million
21st 4% 22% 22% 22% 30% 0% Rajon Rondo, Michael Finley Pavel Podkolzine $1.09 Million
26th 9% 13% 13% 26% 35% 4% Kevin Martin, Vlade Divac Ndubi Ebi $899K

So mathematically, the chance of getting ONE good player(an A or B) is now about 45%.  Compare that to the 22% from the 11th pick, and I’m good with the trade already.

Now we shouldn’t get carried away.  The chance that both players will be good is only 5%, and to illustrate just how much of a crapshoot every draft is, I should point out that there is a 34% chance that both players will end up as a D, F or N/A, and be completely useless.  Yes, that’s a one in three chance.  And yes, that sounds horrible, but we still must go a little further and note that if the Hornet’s had kept the 11th pick, they’d have a 56% chance the one player they got would be useless.

To summarize, the trade essentially doubled the Hornets’ chances at getting a good player, and almost doubled their chances that the draft won’t be a complete waste.  So even if Mo-Pete’s cadaver hadn’t been included in the trade, this was a good move for the Hornets.  Now let’s move on to the players actually selected:

The Selected Players

The Hornets, of course, took the two picks detailed above and selected Craig Brackins at 21 and Quincy Pondexter at 26.  On most draft sites, Brackins was estimated as a mid-30 pick, and Pondexter a 25-30 pick.  I’m not particularly upset with Brackins being picked so soon, since once the draft gets past 20, everything goes wonky with the estimates.(For example, Thornton was supposed to be a 25-35 guy and went 43) 

Now, I mentioned what I thought about these players briefly in my post immediately following the draft, but here is a more in-depth take on each of those players.  As you’ll see below, it looks like the Hornets may be trying to improve their defense with these selections – something that is in line with statements made by Jeff Bower – and what we should be expecting considering how bad our team was defensively last year.

Craig Brackins

I make no bones about the fact that I’m a stats guy.  I am aware that there are plenty of things that current advanced basketball metrics cannot tell you about in detail.(Defense, Hustle, Screen-setting)  There are, however, a lot of things that advanced basketball metrics CAN tell you.  Unfortunately, one of those things is last year Craig Brackins took a bunch of shots – and didn’t produce a lot of points compared to other players in the draft.  Below, I created an advanced stat table to give you an idea of where he ranked in the draft class.    For your reference, there were 38 big men available to be drafted.

Craig Brackins True Shooting % 2pt FG% 3pt FG% FT% Free Throw Rate Pts/ 100 Pos Ast/ 100 Turn/ 100 Blk/ 100 Stl/ 100 Off Reb % Tot Reb % Usage
Stats 50.31% 44.6% 31% 76% 25.6 28.5 3.73 3.67 2.05 1.35 6.6% 26% 25.4%
Draft Rank(out of 38 Bigs) 38th 38th 5th 4th 34th 20th 6th 8th 32nd 16th 37th 31st 15th


So as you can see, other than as a passer, he ranked pretty poorly across the board – and those that claim he took an inordinate number of shots for Iowa State aren’t accurate.  He took about a quarter of the teams’ shots while on the court, and that’s only good for 15th in this group of bigs.  Still, I wanted to know why his scoring stats were so poor for a man who was reportedly a very skilled offensive player.  It didn’t take long to figure it out.

Craig Brackins took 64% of his shots from mid-range last year.  That is, of course, the least efficient shot in basketball, and since he didn’t hit it that well, it hurt his efficiency.  Brackins also compounded his problems by taking another 20% of his shots from three-point range, and he was only mediocre from there, dropping his numbers even further.  In the end, Brackins only took 15% of his shots as dunk attempts or in the paint, a horrendous number matched only by shooting-specialist point guards.  Sadly, I do wish I could say he was awesome at finishing in close, in the hopes that playing with CP3 might greatly increase his efficiency by getting him buckets at the rim – but I can’t.  His eFG% when finishing from close was well below average.

Now, we can look to his sophomore year and we see a little bit better numbers than this year, particularly with defensive rebounding.  He was still, however, not an efficient scorer.

Defensively, though Brackins’ steal and block numbers were not incredible, you can see why Iowa State played their big man so much.  Despite his team losing a shocking 9 points per 100 posessions offensively with him on the court, his team’s defense gave up an amazing 11.3 points per less per game.  That number ranks as the 4th best in the draft.

In the end, if Brackins can contain his urge to fire up lots of mid-range shots and bring that defensive intensity, he’ll quickly find a position on the team.  We’ll see.  I want him to succeed, but I’m not optimistic.

Quincy Pondexter

Quincy already has one of the best nicknames of any Hornet, as he was called Q-Pon by his teammates at Washington.  Something about that is really catchy, and considering where we got him, I hope he really is a quality product at a discount. 

As above with Brackins, I put together a table for him with a bunch of advanced statistics and his ranking in the draft among the other available swingmen.  There were 37 swingmen in this Draft Class.

Quincy Pondexter True Shooting % 2pt FG% 3pt FG% FT% Free Throw Rate Pts/ 100 Pos Ast/ 100 Turn/ 100 Blk/ 100 Stl /100 Off Reb % Tot Reb % Usage
Stats 61.7% 55% 35.3% 83% 40.3 34.7 3.14 3.39 1.0 2.3 10.3% 25.3% 25.1%
Draft Rank (out of 37 Wings) 5th 6th 19th 8th 9th 9th 32nd 7th 18th 26th 4th 16th 23rd

Pondexter’s shot selection wasn’t particularly discriminating either, as he took the third most long 2-pointers among wing players.  Unlike Brackins, however, he was better than average at hitting those shots.  He also complimented his jumper by taking efficient shots in the paint 30% of the time.  Since he managed to draw a free throw every other shot on those forays to the basket, his efficiency numbers end up being very solid. 

I’m also rather pleased with the fact that he only took 10% of his shots from downtown, clearly recognizing that while his deep shot is adequate, it’s not a major strength.  His ability to hold on to the ball and not turn it over is also something that the Hornets will appreciate.

Defensively, Washington gave up 8.3 points less per game when Pondexter was on the floor. That’s the 5th best number among wings, and the 14th best in the entire Draft.

In the end, Pondexter has the potential to be a nice dual threat on the perimeter, both as a Paul-Pierce like driver,(using size more than speed) and as an adequate spot-up shooter, particularly from the shorter distance in the corners.  If he can translate his defensive talents to the NBA, he could be the perfect defensive compliment on the wing with Marcus Thornton.

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