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Drafting Away 
What the heck is really going on in the NBA Draft?

The NBA Draft is a lot like getting a new alarm clock radio.  First, you have a shitload of products to choose from.   There are canít miss prospects (The DVD player, AM/FM/TV with Sound Soother and aluminum cone driver technology speaker by Sharper Image is the Lebron of clock radios) and there is way too much hype surrounding the entire process (why do people give alarm clocks for presents anyway?)  After you make your decision it doesnít really have that big of an impact, but you still end up second-guessing yourself for years!

I love the draft.  I crave draft coverage.  I followed the Chicago Pre-Draft camp as much as I did the NBA finals.  When that huge Russian Pavel opted out of the draft I was almost as shocked as when i heard about Jordanís first retirement.  My sister loves the draft. She makes me commit to go witness the event with her at the Garden as soon as Spring rolls around. 


If there is a sure thing, your looking at 'em

Everybody seems to be loving the draft and have caught the fever, because Lebron, Darko, the Chrisís of Bosh and Kaman and a black Greek dude dubbed Baby Shaq have become household names before they officially have a team or an NBA contract.  Most of these guys have reached fame solely because of pre-draft coverage.

All this draft talk has left LittyHoops in a state of bewilderment. Doesnít it seem that after the lottery selections are made the rest of the draft is arbitrary?  How the heck does anybody know when it's the right time to draft a European? I have friends arguing the ball handling talents of Delfino or Barbosa (these guys sound like midfielders for Boca Juniors).  Does anybody else realize that one out of every 15 second round picks work out for a team?  And how do you know who is the next Kobe and who is the next Lenny Cooke?  AM I ON CRAZY PILLS!!!

In a valiant attempt to alleviate my suffering to these omnipotent issues, I motivated myself to do a bit of research.  Iíve boldly attempted to figure out the value of a draft pick, and where a team should be looking for a player (the Big East, the Far East, or East HS).  So I have analyzed the last seven drafts going back to Ď96 (that being the year Kobe was drafted as well as the start of the basketball immigration to America).

Assumptions

 There are 3 kinds of draft picks
1) Lottery picks (1-15)
2) Regular first round picks (16-30)
3)  Second round picks.

 There are 3 places to find players
1) College
2) High School
3)  Internationally

  LittyHoops Draft Analysis
(SCOTT LAYDEN: PLEASE READ, THIS PART IS FOR YOU)

After years of tedious research and lengthy interviews with GMís, international super scouts, and multi doctorate statisticians hereís what we got.

Lottery Picks are gold
Almost all All-stars and NBA starters come via the lottery. Of course there are still busts, (Rodney White í01, Mosio í00, Trajan Landgon í99, Tractor Traylor í98) but thatís why GMís get paid the big bucks, and then get fired a year later. 

The lottery is where teams can change their manifest destiny.  Last year the Knicks, sitting at pick seven, could have had Hilario, Stoudamire, or Caron Butler but ended up trading the pick for One-Knee McGhee (a.k.a Antonio McDyees).

The Second Round is a worthless crapshoot
I counted 26 players drafted in the second round that contribute to their teams in the NBA since í96.  The only starters are Gilbert Arenas, Manu Ginobili, Rashard Lewis, and Cuttino Mobley ( not going to count Stephen Jackson because he was cut off the bat). 

Basically there is about one player on each team that was drafted in the second round.  That means the other annual second round picks a team had are playing in the NBDL, overseas or collecting splinters like my boy Lavor Postell of the Knicks (via the Johnnies).

Over this period there are as many undrafted successes as there are in the second round.  Of course Big Ben has become a superstar but this list also includes Chucky Atkins, Raja Bell, Adrian Griffin, Aaron Williams, Earl Boykins, Eddie Robinson, Bruce Bowen and Kevin Ollie.

High School Players are good investments

Surprisingly drafting players directly from high school has been effective for NBA teams.  There have been 16 players drafted since Kevin Garnett started the trend of skipping higher education in í95. Of these players five are stars or on the verge of stardom (Garnett, Jermaine OíNeal, Kobe, T-Mac, Amare).  Rashard Lewis, Al Harrington, Jonathon Bender, DeShaun Stevenson, Curry and Chandler, and Kwame Brown all are still with their original teams and are developing into productive NBA players.  The book is still out on a few others, but the only total flop has been Leon Smith.  Big Leon thought life was a hip-hop video.

International Players come with perks

Drafting international players appears to be easier for teams as the players are more accessible and more widely scouted.  But now that the secret is out that foreign players have more superpowers than the X-men, itís hard for a team to get great bargains as they did a few years ago (Ginobili at 57, Giriceck 40, Turkoglu 16, Tskalidis 25, Parker 28, Okur 38).

Besides their size and skills, NBA teams like foreign players for two main reasons.  First, hey are extremely experienced for their age.  Many of these guys have been playing pro since 16 or 17 so they are often more mature than high school players.  Another benefit of drafting international players is that a NBA team can keep them overseas until the player is more seasoned, ready to fit into team, or willing to come to the NBA.  The Blazers waited over 5 years before they eventually signed Sabonis.  Last season the Nets felt comfortable with their 2003 squad so they used their first round pick on Nenad Krstic, a big guy from somewhere out there who will come to the swamp lands of Jersey when needed.

LittyHoops Recap


A team doesnít build through the draft they build through the lottery.  A second round pick is pretty worthless and should be used as trade bait or to draft an international player for the future.  There are always gems in the rough with players that go undrafted.  High School picks are actually pretty sound as long as they are not asked to contribute right away.

 

 


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