The Value of a Draft Pick 2011

Published: June 22, 2011

It’s time for my annual “Value of a Draft Pick” post, where I attempt to crush all your hopes and dreams for a contributor to be selected in the draft.

As always, I’ll start by explaining my methodology and ranking system, and then summarize the value of picks in the draft before getting to the Hornet’s pick specifically.  If you only care about what the 45th pick will do for you, then skip to the last section of this post.

Determining the Value of a Pick

To determine the value of a pick, I assigned an overall career ranking based on a bastardized Wages of Wins Win Score and applied it to all the players who have been taken in the draft since 1984.  I also cut off my evaluation of players after 2007 since most players don’t reach their true level of play until after their third full season.  Finally I jammed those numbers into a simple Grade ranking. Below is what each grade means, and I give an example player the Hornets drafted:

  • N/A – the player never logged an NBA minute. (Tim Pickett, Andrew Betts)
  • F – The player never developed and earned only minor garbage time minutes – or was really, really bad. (Hilton Armstrong, Cedric Simmons. Yay 2006 draft!)
  • D – A substitute – possibly in the rotation, but a 7th or 8th man at best. (Lee Nailon, Julian Wright)
  • C – A fringe starter, sixth man sort. (JR Smith)
  • B – A solid starter (David West, Jamaal Magloire)
  • A – A star (Pre-fat Baron Davis, Chris Paul)

The picks fell rather logically into groups based on their average rating so I’ve collated those groups in the below table and then determined the % chance of receiving each classification of player.

Pick(s) “A” Ranking “B” Ranking “C” Ranking “D” Ranking “F” Ranking “N/A” Ranking
1 57% 13% 22% 4% 4% 0%
2-5 34% 23% 24% 13% 5% 1%
6-10 17% 17% 22% 28% 16% 0%
11-18 8% 13% 20% 28% 30% 1%
19-27 5% 8% 20% 31% 32% 3%
28-37 2% 5% 10% 28% 40% 15%
38-60 1% 2% 10% 19% 29% 40%

So what does this tell us? The 1st pick is worth a lot more than any other pick, period. With the 1st pick of the draft, there is a 70% chance to land a major player.  However, as soon as the pick drops to any of the spots between 2nd and 5th, only a little more than half the players are starter quality, and one out of five will be awful(D ranking or worse). I should also note there is no significant difference between picking 2nd and picking 5th. The players taken in those spots produce almost equally in the NBA.

The next group are Picks 6-10. As you can see, the odds of picking up a starting-caliber player or better has dropped to one in three. Still, with one of these picks, there is a great chance of landing a useful player(54%), and a solid 17% chance you’ll get a star.

Picks 11-18 are where the numbers start bottoming out. While still likely to land a rotation player, the chance of getting a star is small.  You are also more likely to get a total bust(31%) than you are to get a starter.(22%)

19-27 continues the trend, with more players falling into grade D and lower(66%) though it is still possible to land a good player.  The odds are that one(Darren Collison, anybody?) of the nine players picked in this range will at least be a starter, and another two will land in a rotation.  The rest?  Yuck.

Picks 28 through 37 are essentially the last chance to get anyone worth drafting. Almost half the players taken here will only stick with a team for a couple years while a rare few will pan out and be good.(7%) The bad news is a team has the same chance that a draft pick will never play an NBA minute(15%) as it does finding a valuable contributer.(16%)

Players taken after 37 are pretty much throwaways. Almost half will never play in the NBA, and a bare 2% will ever be considered good.  Two teams will probably dig up decent rotation players, but they’ve clearly beaten the odds.

What will the 45th pick do for me?

To wrap this post up, here are the stats specifically for the 45th pick of the draft, which is currently held by the Hornets:

Pick A B C D F N/A
45th 0% 0% 30% 26% 35% 9%

As you can see, the 45th pick has never yielded a good or great player.  However, the pick has yielded a surprising number of mediocre players.  As a result of the large number of “C” ranked players, this pick actually has the highest average rating of any pick in the second round.  Some of the decent players selected 45th that you might recognize are Matt Barnes of the Lakers, Matt Bonner of the Spurs and Louis Williams of the 76ers.(who is on the verge of being a “B” player)

I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to feel that the 45th pick is due a good player, whether we should feel good about all the decent players the pick has generated in the past, or whether we have to be terrified by the law of averages, and expect nothing.


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