Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Full 2011 NBA Draft Prospect Overview

New readers, please check out the basics before leaving any comments.

**(Note: the images are too large to be properly uploaded into Blogger, so I will be moving them into Google Docs format)**

About a month ago I posted my numberless preview of the NBA draft. The draft is coming up this Thursday, so now's the time to put out the full version of the post (it's been ready for a whole month, I swear!).
In case you've been stuck under a rock for the past few months, you'll know that the NBA draft is coming up shortly. My team of choice (for now....) is the Toronto Raptors; the Raptors will have the fifth pick this year. My question is, according to the numbers, which players should the Raptors (or any other team, for that matter) target?

In order to determine this, I've turned to Position Adjusted Win Score (PAWS). PAWS takes Win Score per 40 and adjusts it by position, because each position has different average values. To calculate this, take the WS/40 of a player, subtract the average positional value, and then add the average value for all players. The average values that I'm using are the same ones used by David Berri, who is one of the brains behind Win Score and Wins Produced. With players who are listed as playing two positions, I use a simple average of the two positional values in question. For those who are curious, the values are as follows:

  • PG: 7.4
  • SG: 8.4
  • SF: 9.95
  • PF: 12.59
  • C: 12.32
  • All players: 10.17

Ranking all players by PAWS will give us a good idea of how well a player performed in their various leagues. A word of warning, though: NCAA PAWS does not correlate perfectly to NBA success, and Euroleague PAWS are even worse. There are players with historically good NCAA PAWS (like Michael Beasley) who don't turn out to be good players, just as there are players with poor or mediocre NCAA PAWS who turn out to be pretty decent players (John Wall and Derrick Rose come to mind). For the most part, though, players with a PAWS of 10 or higher usually end up being good NBA players, and players with a PAWS of under 7 end up being below average players. Euroleague PAWS are far less reliable due to the way basketball is played overseas, and to my knowledge, no one has examined how well Euroleague PAWS correlate with NBA productivity. Remember this information while using this data.

I've also included a few other things in my table, like Player Efficiency Rating (PER), "Overrated Percentage", and "Highest Expected Draft Number". PER is a method developed by John Hollinger to measure productivity; unfortunately, it is inherently flawed for determining productivity. However, the reason I'm including PER in these charts is that PER is a very good measure of people's perceptions of productivity. Players with low PER but higher PAWS are underrated players who should be easy to grab in the second round, and players with high PER but lower PAWS are overrated players that are to be avoided at all costs (unless you pick an overrated player - like, say...O.J. Mayo - and then trade that player for an underrated player - like, say...Kevin Love - but that's risky).

Overrated percentage is calculated by taking a player's PER, dividing by the average PER (15), and subtracting the result of the player's PAWS divided by the average PAWS (10.17), which gives us what I've called RATE (which isn't an acronym for anything; I just like to shout). The average RATE is then subtracted from each player's RATE to determine Overrated Percentage.

I used Draft Express,, and to determine "Highest Expected Draft Number". The statistics are from Draft Express. Rather than taking an average, I simply took the earliest projected selection for each player. This method suggests that 72 players will be vying for the 60 available draft slots. In addition to the players who have actually declared for the draft, I've also included players who have explicitly removed themselves from the draft, as well as a number of player about which I have no information (I assume that most of them are NCAA seniors, but some of them aren't).

With all that out of the way, here is the chart for the prospective 2011 NBA Draft class, sorted by expected draft position (spreadsheet here

And here it is again, this time sorted by PAWS (spreadsheet here):

By PER (which should be used to assess perception of productivity, not productivity itself) (spreadsheet here) :

And finally, as sorted by overrated percentage (spreadsheet here):

So, which players should be avoided?

  • Of the players who look like they might be drafted in the top 10, Brandon Knight is the only NCAA player who doesn't look very good, with a PAWs of 6.97. I really hope that he doesn’t end up on the Raptors....
  • Canadian Tristan Thompson is also not looking too good here either, but at least he makes it past 7 - his PAWS is 8.18
  • Of the other NCAA players, Tobias Harris, Trey Thompkins, Josh Selby, Kyle Singler, Malcolm Lee, Scotty Hopson, Vernon Macklin, and Justin Hurtt don't look like they will provide good value at their best case spot.
  • Of the international players who might go in the top 10, Donatas Motiejunas looks absolutely atrocious, with a PAWS of 4.6 Even worse, here's what draft express has to say about him: his "best case" is Andrea Bargnani, and his "worst case" is Channing Frye. Ouch. If the Raptors pick him, I will no longer be following the team.
  • Jan Vesley also looks even worse than Knight, with a PAWS of 6.76
  • Bismack Biyombo is a bit low, with a PAWS of 8.72. Still, it's close enough to average that he might surprise, and his sample size was small.
  • Of the other international players who might get drafted, Bojan Bogdanovic looks pretty bad.

Which players look promising?

  • Kyrie Irving posted a PAWS of 15.07, which is really good. Of course, he only played in 11 games, so who knows how the small sample size will hold up.
  • Kenneth Faried - who, it looks like, won't be drafted until 17th or later - has the highest PAWS of any player on the list. If you're looking for the likely steal of the draft, Faried's your man.
  • Keith Benson, Charles Jenkins, and Marshon Brooks all look like they will be bargains.
  • Iman Shumpert, Nikola Vucevic, Ben Hansbrough, Malcolm Thomas, Chandler Parsons, Justin Holiday, Willie Reed, and Matthew Bryan-Amaning also have the potential to be steals.

Which look overrated?

  • Jon Leuer and Gary Flowers are ranked 15th and 16th, respectively, in PER amongst players likely to be drafted, but both post PAWS that are under 8. Leuer is thought of more highly because he is taller and younger (Flowers is 25)
  • Troy Gillenwater doesn't look like he's going to be selected, but he's the next most overrated of the players who have declared for the draft.
  • Jimmer Fredette is the fourth most overrated player due to the fact that he takes so many shots.
  • A few good players are overrated: Derrick Williams is 7th, Charles Jenkins is 9th, Marcus Morris is 13th, and Kemba Walker is 15th.

Which look underrated?

  • DeAndre Liggins is the most underrated player amongst players likely to be drafted. Unfortunately, his PAWS is just a shade under 8 and so he's not necessarily a player you would want to pick. The same is also true for Canadian Cory Joseph, who is the third most underrated player who is likely to be selected.
  • Justin Holiday and Chandler Parsons are the only above-average players who are significantly underrated (2nd and 4th, respectively).

Which players are "the mystery box"?

  • Enes Kanter may go as high as the 3rd overall pick, but I don't have any stats for him. He has played internationally, so he's not a complete unknown, but I don't know if I'd take a chance on him at #3. He's also only 18 years old, which could be either a good thing or a bad thing.
  • Jonas Valanciunas may go as high as the 4th overall pick, but he only played 14.9 minutes per game across 14 games over in Europe. While his PAWS is good, his sample size is small and possibly unreliable. He's 19 years old.
  • Lucas Nogueira may go as high as the 21st pick, but he doesn't have any stats either. He's an 18 year old Brazilian centre who I've never heard of before.

Given all this, who should the Raptors go after? Well, it would be nice to know what position the Raptors will have on draft night, but we won't find that out for a few more days now. Since that is the case, I would like to offer two scenarios:

  1. With the top 5 pick, the Raptors should draft any of the following players (in no particular order): Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Markieff Morris, Kawhi Leonard, Derrick Williams, Alec Burks, and Marcus Morris. If the Raptors are feeling risky, the mystery box options are Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas, but that could end badly.
  2. The Raptors could trade down and pick Kenneth Faried, Travis Leslie, Jordan Williams, Reggie Jackson, or Charles Jenkins.
  3. If the Raptors somehow acquire a second round pick (right now they have none), they should go after Keith Benson, Norris Cole, Marshon Brooks, Iman Shumpert, Nikola Vucevic, Ben Hansbrough, Malcolm Thomas, Chandler Parsons, and Justin Holiday. There may also be some draft eligible players amongst the question marks on these tables; if any of them have high PAWS, these players are the type that teams should draft in the second round.

I'm of the opinion that you always take the best player available, rather than to try to fit a need. That means that even though the Raptors should be looking for a C or a SG/SF, they may have to draft another PF. Of course, the team might have to trade away some of its unproductive players to make this strategy work, but I would hope that no one would have a problem with that.

Hopefully that's exhaustive enough to keep everyone occupied! Once the draft is over, I'll be offering a run down of the moves made by each team, so stay tuned.

- Devin


  1. Re-upload the images. They are way too small to read.

  2. Devin,

    For whatever reason, even after saving the images, I can't read them. They come out too grainy to read.

    Looks like you've done some awesome work, I'd love to see it :)

  3. Weird - I've made them as big as I can. Perhaps the file size is too large?

    I'll figure something out.

  4. Can you use Google Docs instead? That way, we can look at the data and stats for ourselves. It even has an upload option for excel:

  5. Thank U for your articles!

    cheap basketball shoes

  6. I love the stuff that you always share !!! it is fantastic!! learn about working out