Sunday, October 31, 2010

AG Standards for Front Offices Audit: Toronto Raptors (Draft History II)

This article uses the Wins Produced metric to discuss the productivity of NBA players. This metric is based on box score statistics that are adjusted for other factors including pace, position and team. A general scale is given for these, and links to advanced explanations are listed at the bottom of the page.

Wins Produced per 48 Minutes (WP48) – The number of wins a player produces in 48 minutes of play. 0.100 is average and 0.250 is considered the “superstar threshold”. A player a WP48 of 0.000 produces no wins, and any player with a negative WP48 produces a negative number a wins (or, if you prefer, a positive number of losses)

For more information on the terms used in this post, please consult the Glossary of Terms.

Last time we looked at the last ten years of Toronto's draft history. The general conclusion? The Raptors are really bad at drafting productive players (or, if you want to put an optimistic spin on it, the Raptors are excellent at drafting unproductive players). But, as bad as they were, maybe some of those draft choices were the best available options? Let's take an individual look at each draft pick and see if the Raptors could have gotten anything better than they did (you might want to follow along with this spreadsheet).

  • 2000: #21 Morris Peterson; #56 DeeAndre Hulett 

As a Raptor fan, I gotta love the man. But looking at the numbers, Mo Pete wasn't so good in his first four seasons; he only managed a WP48 of 0.050. At the 21st pick, you would expect there to be some more palatable options than that, but was that the case? While there were 7 players with higher WP48s selected after him, the only truly useful players available were Michael Redd and Eduardo Najera. Overall, Mo Pete wasn't too bad of a pick.

DeeAndre Hulett never played a minute in the NBA, and neither did most of the players selected after him. While Jason Hart eventually played 5289 NBA minutes, he didn't play enough in his first four years to qualify. I'd give the Raptors a pass on this pick.

  • 2001: #17 Michael Bradley; #46 (traded) 

Michael Bradley was actually a pretty good player in limited minutes. Despite that, he never made much of an impact on the NBA, and after the Raptors cut him in 2004, his NBA career was pretty much over. Instead of Bradley, the Raps could've had Mehmet Okur, Jamaal Tinsley, or Samuel Dalembert. The Raptors didn't do too badly with Bradley - now if only they had had the intelligence to play him more minutes.

The 46th pick was traded. Which was fine, because that year there were no useful players available at that number. So far the Raptors have been pretty good.

  • 2002: #20 (traded); #27 Chris Jefferies; #42 (traded) 

And so begins the trading of useful draft picks. Kareem Rush was not a productive player - and Chris Jefferies didn't last long enough for us to find out how good he was. Trading down from #20 to #27, the Raptors missed out on the opportunity to draft Tayshaun Prince. Useful players available at #27 included Carlos Boozer, Dan Gadzuric, Luis Scola, and Matt Barnes. Given that the other two players involved in the exchange of these draft picks were Lindsey Hunter and Tracy Murray, I have no choice but to fail this draft decision. Drafting Carlos Boozer or Luis Scola would've been much better than Jefferies.

At #42, Scola and Barnes were still on the board. Yes, the Raptors could've picked up Boozer and Scola in the same draft if they knew what they were doing. And that is why you don't trade away your second round picks: when you hit with them, they have the potential to turn your franchise around.

  • 2003: #4 Chris Bosh; #52 Remon Van der Hare 

Chris Bosh was a very good fourth pick - accordingly, Arturo ranks him 144 out of 980 draftees. But there were three players available who were even better than Bosh: Wade, Josh Howard, and Luke Walton. Now, keeping in mind that this ranking only considers the first four years, the only player I would think about drafting instead of Bosh would be (of course) Wade. So the Raptors did very well on this one.

Van der Hare never played in the NBA - and no one else drafted after him was useful. Looks like 2003 was a good drafting year.

  • 2004: #8 Rafael Araujo; #39 (traded); #47 Pape Sow 

Ah, the first monumental Raptor bust of the 21st century! Araujo was such a bad pick that he only managed to last 1585 career minutes. In those minutes, he was very bad (WP48 lower than -0.07). Who could the Raptors have chosen instead? Oh, only Andris Biedrins, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, Kevin Martin, Anderson Varejao, Trevor Ariza, Dorell Wright, Josh Smith, Delonte West, Chris Duhon, Tony Allen, and Jameer Nelson - all above-average (WP48 greater than 0.100) players. It's funny, because the recent development of Bargnani had almost made me forget about Hoffa.

The 39th pick could have been useful - Trevor Ariza and Bernard Robinson were both available. Robinson wasn't all that good, but Ariza certainly was.

Ah, good old Pape. Well, he didn't play enough minutes to get ranked, and he wasn't that productive...but there was nothing after him. Hmmm. Maybe Toronto should have just taken Ariza at the 39th instead of trading down...but they only missed one really decent player, so you can't hold it against them too much. Overall though, 2004 was a bad year.

  • 2005: #7 Charlie Villanueva; #11 (traded); #16 Joey Graham; #38 (traded); #41 Roko Ukic; #58 Uros Slokar 

Busy draft year for the Raptors - let's start with the pick that had so many "experts" laughing: Villanueva. He actually wasn't that bad of a player - he managed a WP48 of 0.072 - and, as a scorer, was overrated, but the biggest problem with picking Villanueva so low was that...there were so many better players available. How many? Only David Lee, Marcin Gortat, Amir Johnson, Andrew Bynum, Luther Head, Danny Granger, Travis Diener, Jason Maxiell, Monta Ellis, Jarrett Jack, Ersan Ilyasova, and Ronny Turiaf. The Raptors could've at least chosen Granger there instead. This pick gets a D.

With Graham, you were never sure if you were getting "good Joey", the player who rebounded well and attacked the basket for easy shots, or "bad Joey", the player who hoisted up silly jumpers and didn't do much else (maybe the twins were playing tricks on us all?). Over his first four years his WP48 was 0.056. Again, instead of Graham, the Raptors could've had David Lee, Marcin Gortat, Amir Johnson, Luther Head, Danny Granger, Travis Diener, Jason Maxiell, Monta Ellis, Jarrett Jack, Ersan Ilyasova, or Ronny Turiaf. This pick gets a D minus.

Instead of seldomly played Roko Ukic, the Raptors could have had Gortat or Amir Johnson. But Ukic is exactly the kind of pick you want to make in the second round: high risk, high reward. All things considered, not a terrible choice.

Uros Slokar: another high risk, high reward pick. This time it didn't pan out, but again, at least Toronto went for it. There were no useful players selected after Slokar either, so this was an okay pick.

  • 2006: #1 Andrea Bargnani; #20 (traded); #35 P.J. Tucker; #56 Edin Bavcic 

Everyone should know by now how badly the Raptors did by choosing Bargnani; I've talked about it several times before. In fact, if you've read those posts you'll know that Bargnani is ranked 970/980 draftees on Arturo's list. Instead of Bargnani, the Raptors could have chosen: Rajon Rondo, Renaldo Balkman, Brandon Roy, Paul Millsap, Ronnie Brewer, Leon Powe, Josh Boone, Kyle Lowry, Thabo Sefolosha, Tyrus Thomas, or Shelden Williams. This pick is an F.

Had the Raptors not traded #20, they could've had Rondo, Balkman, Millsap, Powe, Boone, or Lowry. Instead, the 20th pick was used to sweeten up the Jalen Rose trade, which was simply a correction of a previous mistake...and the resulting cap room led to future mistakes. Dumb.

P.J. Tucker didn't get much of a chance to play in the NBA, but when he did play, he showed promise. And after he left for overseas, he actually managed to achieve some measure of success. So the Raptors took exactly the kind of player they were supposed to, only to cut the guy in favour of Luke Jackson.

As Arturo would say

Edin Bavcic didn't play - and there was nobody useful picked after him - but again, at least the Raptors were looking for hidden gems

  • 2007: #22 (traded); #52 (traded) 

Ah, the year of no picks. Why no picks? Because - years before Colangelo - they needed to get rid of Yogi Stewart and wanted to acquire Lamond Murray and John Wallace. Who could they have picked at #22? Rudy Fernandez, Carl Landry, Marc Gasol, Ramon Sessions, and Jared Dudley. At #52, they still could have had Sessions. Lesson? Don't trade away your picks.

  • 2008: #17 (traded); #41 Nathan Jawai; #45 (traded) 

Really? T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and the 17th pick for Jermaine O'Neal? The only saving grace of the trade was the cap room that it created, and BC did not use it wisely. The returns are still pretty early, but at #17, the Raptors could have had Luc Mbah a Moute, Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan, Bill Walker, J.J. Hickson, Mario Chalmers, Courtney Lee, Goran Dragic, Ryan Anderson, and Sonny Weems. I'd take any of those players over Jermaine O'Neal, and I'd have been happy to keep T.J. Ford for a bit longer, thank you very much.

Instead of Jawai, Toronto could have had Walker or Dragic. Not too bad, and Jawai was an okay gamble. Those same two players were still available at #45 as well.

  • 2009: #9 DeMar DeRozan; #39 (traded); #51 (traded) 

Another lottery pick, another poor choice. DeRozan didn't have good numbers coming out of college, and his first year wasn't very good (nor was his preseason this year). DeRozan is shaping up to be your classic Raptors lottery pick bust. Who could the Raptors have had instead? DeJuan Blair, Ty Lawson, Jon Brockman, Chase Budinger, Rodrigue Beaubois, Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye, Jeff Pendergraph, Taj Gibson, Omri Casspi, or Darren Collison - just to name the above average players. It'll be a few more years before we can fully evaluate this draft class, but it's looking very likely that the Raptors made another poor choice.

Picks #39 and #51 were traded. Remember what I said about trading draft picks? Imagine Jerebko, Budinger, Marcus Thornton, or A.J. Price on the team. At least the Raptors got Carlos Delfino out of, I mean, Amir Johnson (not bad, actually, although I would've preferred to have kept Delfino).

  • 2010: #13 Ed Davis; #42 (traded), #50 Solomon Alabi 

Ed Davis seems like he's going to be a very good NBA player, and eventually we will get to see him in action. Based on nothing other than college numbers, it looks as if the Raptors made good pick. Although it must be said that the fact that there were 12 teams drafting ahead of them was probably a big factor in them choosing Davis.

In dropping down from #42 to #50, the Raptors may have missed out on a man with a sexy name, Devin Ebanks, and a man with a humourously erroneous name, Tiny Gallon. I'm not so sure that Alabi was a high risk/high reward player...high risk, certainly, but given that he played in the NCAA and didn't post good numbers, it's not likely that he will turn out to be too productive.

Draft Verdict?

In the last ten years, the Raptors have hit on a draft pick only once (maybe twice if Ed Davis turns out be as good as we think). That is a terrible, putrid rate. Some of the middling picks (late teens to early 30s) were okay, but the Raptors ended up cutting/trading away the draftee too early. Some of their second round picks were at least adventurous, but none of them succeeded. Any time the Raptors get into the lottery, there is a very good chance that they will select someone who not is very productive. To make matters even worse, Toronto has also traded away a rather large number of picks and hasn't made many trades to acquire any back - except for the occasional forced trade, such as the trades involving Carter and Bosh. So can't blame good players for avoiding Toronto.

Next week I'll post Week 1 team stats (as reader Mattt points out, the Raptors are at 0.500 at the moment!), as well as the final part of this AGS front office audit and suggestions for turning the franchise around.

 - Devin


  1. Rajon Rondo, Renaldo Balkman, Brandon Roy, Paul Millsap, Ronnie Brewer, Leon Powe, Josh Boone, Kyle Lowry, Thabo Sefolosha, Tyrus Thomas, or Shelden Williams.

    Are you serious? Except for Rondo, Roy, and Millsap.

  2. All have been better than Bargnani across their careers - and yes, some of those players haven't made much of an impact yet, but they have been very efficient during their time on the floor. Look at how well Denver is doing with Williams instead of Martin. Brewer was very good during his time in Utah:

    Anyways, even though the 2006 draft class was weak, I really don't have to defend myself. Almost anyone else in the whole entire draft class (other than Adam Morrison) would've been a better choice than Bargnani, which I've talked about before. Go read the links in the Bargnani section above to see all the info.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. So many traded picks. I don't have the memory to know how many of those turned out in the Raptors favour but it seems like at least lately they definitely haven't been helping Toronto much. Not a great draft record I agree. That has to improve this time around. Lots of high picks in the immediate future.

  5. This is why we suck - we do things the EXACT OPPOSITE of what the good teams do, namely trade away picks.

    Time to blow it up, trade everyone now while they still have some value, and field a D-League team. At least that way there is a chance, if you're burning through 10-15 new faces/year for the next 2-3 years, the sheer law of averages tells you that you'll turn over more than a few Jamario's. Add in the 4-8 draft picks, a few select smart signings, and we're on our way to a solid half-decade. Or, we do waht we always do, muddle along, deny our reality, and trade the CB4's of the world for cents on the dollar. Oh, the joys of Raptor fandom.

  6. RaptorsAddict:

    I wouldn't trade EVERYONE away - keeping some of the more reasonable contracts shouldn't be a problem. Jack, Dorsey, Johnson, and Davis are all nice and cheap. And all four happen (or in the case of Davis, are likely) to be above-average players. As Arturo Galletti has mentioned, you don't need low lottery picks to get the most productive rookies, so I don't think the Raptors need to tank completely.

    But you've hit upon a strategy that both Arturo and I endorse: "burn through" a bunch of rookies/ D-Leaguers/undrafted players and keep the gems. That is the way to go. Of course things probably won't go the way we want them to....