After a lot of messing around with the numbers and regressions, I finally have something that I feel comfortable releasing. Of course, I’m obsessive by nature, so this certainly won’t be the final iteration, but I’m pretty happy with it at this point. I posted on my methodology a couple of weeks ago, and the changes have been relatively minor, with the biggest ones being a) using all college players drafted regardless of whether they actually played minutes (bigger sample size – I gave the guys who never or barely played a -5), and b) separating point guards from wings from bigs. But this has helped tremendously.
The results are far from perfect as they probably always will be – remember what we’re doing here, we’re taking stats from college kids playing against varying levels of competition in a very limited sample size and trying to project their careers. But I feel pretty confident that we can make educated guesses with this data – and do a much better job than what we’ve actually seen in the past.
When I observe the results (again, I have the data for all drafted players who played in college from 2002 to present), the thing that stands out the most is that players who project as +2s are pretty much can’t miss. 23 players over the eleven year time span have projected as +2 or better. Of the 23, thirteen have been all-stars (Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Luol Deng, Danny Granger, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, and Kyrie Irving), five have been at least solid NBA starters (Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Andrew Bogut, Ronnie Brewer, and Raymond Felton), and three are still under 23 years old and all have a good shot at being all-stars before their careers end (Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Derrick Favors).
That leaves one. Easily the most enigmatic of the bunch, this player is either the one lemon on a pretty solid list or could have been a great NBA guard. Ever heard of Nick Calathes? He played two years at Florida (averaging 17-5-6 his sophomore year), then opted to go pro in 2009. But not the NBA. He committed to play in the Greek league before the NBA draft and signed a three year-2.4 million euro contract. He was still drafted, but hasn’t made it to the league yet. It seems that the Mavs have his rights. He’s still young so maybe we’ll hear something from him. Or maybe he was just a lemon. It’s hard to know at this point.
When you look at the projections, I think there are a few general rules that you should follow in decision making (always keeping in mind that nothing is for sure here):
- if a player is worse than -1, you probably shouldn’t waste your pick on him. Very few of these players have had NBA success – it’s not impossible, but the risk in taking these guys rarely pays off.
- if a player projects between -1 and 1.9, take him, but with caution. You want to make sure this guy fits your system and what you want. These guys have the highest variance – most are decent, but some will fall short.
- if a player projects at 2.0 or better, take him. He’s as close to a sure thing as you’ll see.
So that brings us to this year. I have posted the rankings here. You’ll notice the permanent link at the top of the site. Some early observations. If I need a point guard, and even if I don’t, I’m looking hard at Marcus Smart right now. The guy does everything, he’s a brick shithouse, and he’s 18 years old. He could be scary good. If I need a big, I’m taking Nerlens Noel first chance I get. Most analysts agree that Trey Burke is the best point guard in the NCAA right not, but few have him as a lottery pick – I disagree, maybe his draft stock will rise as time passes, but this guy has got to be taken in the lottery when it’s all said and done. I’m really scared of Shabazz. He doesn’t project well and I’m beginning to think he’s just overhyped. I could be wrong, but I don’t know if I would take this guy top 5 at this point. Other than that, I’m sure there are a million stories to be told in there. Keep coming back, I’ll update these rankings weekly. Enjoy!