In our love for the NBA Draft, we often develop inflated expectations for draft picks. We hope to find franchise players in the top 5, all stars in the lottery, solid starters in the first round and occasional gems and role players in the second round. But are these expectations realistic? A draft study done by 82games.com helps to give us a more realistic perspective for draft positions.
Rating = points per game+rebounds per game+assists per game
Star: 20+ Rating
Solid Player: 15-19.9
Role Player: 10-14.9
Deep Bench: 5-9.9
Complete Bust: Below 5
DNP: Never Played in NBA
The list is not perfect in the way it breaks things down, at least in terms of "Stars" only having to have career averages in combined points per game/rebounds per game/assists per game over 20. You essentially only have to average 14 pts, 3 reb and 3 ast, which aren’t generally considered star totals, but it gives a general barometer.
And keep in mind that these are career averages. You will find currently on basketball-references database that there are 231 players that qualify for All-Time ppg leaders that have averaged over 14 ppg. 45 are still playing in the league. 34 of these players were All-Stars at one time or another, with the others probably being considerations at least a few times.
The labeling and rating system isn’t perfect, but it gives a broad way of viewing the output for each position. So, lets see how the rookies of 2011 stacked up to these expectations. Very few met them, as they are obviously developing and these "expectations" are career statistical averages. It still gives an interesting look into how they fared in general and how one can maybe expect them to perform.
I will list the Expected Averages and Ratings of the 82Games.com cumulative averages from the 1989-2008 Drafts (up until this study was done, obviously) and then list the 2011 rookie averages. It is way too early to know if they were good rating picks, though with some they seem to be well on their way. I am limiting the list to top 20 picks and players that averaged over 6 ppg, leaving out of course those who have yet to come to the NBA. Also going to include the 2009’s draft’s very own Ricky Rubio, who was a 2011 Rookie.
Statistics were taken from the 82games.com "NBA Draft Picks: Expected Performance" chart and from basketball-reference.com.
1. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Expected Averages of a #1 pick (1989-2008): 16.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.8 apg
Average Rating: 27.0 (ppg+rpg+apg)
Highest Rating (1989-2008 Draft): LeBron James (2003), 41.7
Lowest Expected Rating (1989-2008 Draft): Kwame Brown (2001), 13.3
Kyrie Irving’s Rookie Averages: 18.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.4 apg
Kyrie Irving’s Rookie Rating: 27.6
Kyrie Irving obviously is off to a fantastic start. Averaging over the expected rating in his rookie season, as a number 1 pick, is incredibly impressive. One would expect Kyrie to improve, particularly in assists as he gains more fire power around him. Still, he had an excellent rookie season and appears to have a bright future. If these are any indications of what Kyrie might average over his career (one would expect more), he looks like a very nice #1 choice for Cleveland.
The #1 pick, as expected, has the highest expected rating and one of the lesser margins for error. 13 out of the 20 players chosen first from 1989-2008 made at least one All-Star team, many of them making multiple appearances. Nonetheless, only three players in this draft period have won NBA championships as a first overall pick, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan and LeBron James.
Despite lottery conspiracy theories running rampant, only two players have won rings with the teams that originally took them first in the lottery era, San Antonio teammates David Robinson and Duncan. The first pick is definitely largely impactful, though not always a necessity for championship teams.
The perfect median for this pick seems to be 1991’s Larry Johnson. LJ’s Rating added up to 27.0 and he was a multiple All-Star, not to mention a dynamic player. If you get more than Grandmama, you should probably be quite happy with the selection. Expectations will always be enormous for the first player taken in any draft, just know that not every #1 pick is going to carry a franchise over the top.
2. Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves
Expected Averages of a #2 pick (1989-2008): 12.9, 5.9, 2.8
Expected Rating: 21.6
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Kevin Durant (2007), 35.7
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Danny Ferry (1989)/Darko Milicic (2003), 11.1
Derrick Williams’ Averages: 8.8, 4.7, 0.6
Derrick Williams’ Rating: 14.1
Derrick Williams was in a position with sort of a log jam for Minnesota, with the issue never really addressed. If you go by the 82games.com scale, his rating this season would be considered as a "Role Player". Have to say that was an accurate description of his rookie season. One would of course expect improvement and more minutes as he progresses. He did not really blow people away with his rookie performance, but he definitely seems like he could live up to second pick expectations over time.
The #2 pick has given us Bob Pettit, Jerry West, Rick Barry, Dave Bing, Earl Monroe, Bob McAdoo and Isiah Thomas. Gary Payton and Jason Kidd look sure to join these players in Springfield shortly. Kevin Durant of course crushed the expectations of a first pick and looks to be gunning for these players spots in the All-Time rankings eventually.
Unfortunately, this pick has also had quite a few misfires and flat out misses. Darko Milicic comes to mind as the most recent, Pistons fans might not want to look at who has the highest rating at the 3rd and 5th picks (not to mention Chris Bosh only slightly behind Chris Paul at 4th). As far as All-Stars are concerned, it drops to 7/20 (35%) being chosen to the game who were drafted in the second slot.
Expectations for the pick should still be high, just tends that the 2nd pick tends to be much less impactful than most 1st’s. Amazing enough, 7/20 from 1989-2008 have won NBA championships, though not all played major roles during the ring run. If one were to think of a median for the expectations of this pick, think of Antonio McDyess or Mike Bibby who are right around the average expected rating.
Recent has not been exceedingly positive. The past three #2 picks averaged under 10 ppg in their first season, with Hasheem Thabeet posting a rating of 5.0, lower than Darko’s through his first three seasons. This pick still gives teams a lot of optimism, especially with the incredible success of Kevin Durant. Just make sure to realize that he is more of the exception than the rule.
3. Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz
Expected Averages of a #3 pick (1989-2008): 15.2, 5.1, 3.5
Expected Rating: 23.8
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Carmelo Anthony (2003), 34.1
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Adam Morrison (2006), 11.0
Enes Kanter’s Averages: 4.6, 4.2, 0.1
Enes Kanter’s Rating: 8.9
Another player with even more of a log jam at his position with a lack of minutes to go around. In the minutes Kanter did play, he seemed like a possible force as a rebounder. His offensive game needs time and he more than likely will have another year as an understudy before starting. Still, was around a 50% FG shooter and his best is in front of him. Definitely a solid first year of development, though.
The year before the lottery began, the Greatest Player of All-Time was chosen behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie in 1984. Michael Jordan is not the only great #3 pick; he is joined by Bob Cousy, Pete Maravich, Kevin McHale and Dominique Wilkins. Still, Michael is that player everyone hopes for at the 3rd spot. To say the likelihood of this happening is slim is a major understatement.
This pick still has seemed to have some pretty decent luck. 11 out of 20 players from 1989-2008 have made at least one All-Star team, with Sean Elliott, Chauncey Billups (2004 Finals MVP) and Pau Gasol all playing solid roles on title teams. This pick has had incredibly few bad misses, with Adam Morrison standing out as the one real glaring exception.
While the average expected rating for this pick is higher than the 2nd, it almost seems more like dumb luck rather than a sign of anything concrete. For teams with this pick, take pride in knowing the numbers tend to be on your side. As far as guards around that average mark, think Chauncey Billups and Jerry Stackhouse. For big guys, Al Horford and Christian Laettner average out right near the median. Again, all of these players were All-Star’s and solid contributors, just not every third pick is going to be Carmelo, Pau, Penny Hardaway or Grant Hill.
4. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
Expected Averages of a #4 pick (1989-2008): 13.7, 5.5, 3.1
Expected Rating: 22.2
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Chris Paul (2005), 33.1
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Antonio Daniels (1997), 12.8
Tristan Thompson’s Averages: 8.2, 6.5, 0.5
Tristan Thompson’s Rating: 15.2
Many people loved Thompson’s upside and energy his rookie season. The only 2011 Top 5 pick to be over a "Solid" rating besides teammate Irving, he showed upside as a rebounder and defender. Many still question as to where his ceiling may be, with some considering it a possible mistake to have drafted him ahead of Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas. It is still safe to say that Thompson surpassed the first year expectations of most and will hopefully work his way to a possible double-double threat with extended minutes.
Not too many glamorous names at pick #4, besides of course Chris Paul. You can add Russell Westbrook to the list of great 4th picks as well, considering his role on a young Thunder Finals team, as well as Chris Bosh playing 3rd banana for the Heat. This pick also produced more All-Stars than the #2 pick from 1989-2008 with 9.
Still, expectations for this pick should be tempered. You have had some great scorers at this pick in Glen Rice, Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, Stephon Marbury and Antawn Jamison, though none of these players averaged over 20 ppg for their career. In fact, Lou Hudson is the only player ever to average over 20 ppg during his career after falling to 4th.
This pick still packs a definite punch with Paul, Bosh, Westbrook and 2009 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans. The contributions of Rice, Rasheed Wallace and Lamar Odom to championship teams also are a highlight. If you are looking for what the #4 may look like as far as statistical rating, Dikembe Mutombo, Jim Jackson and Rasheed Wallace are all right around the pick average.
5. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (2009)
Expected Averages of a #5 pick (1989-2008): 13.4, 4.9, 2.7
Expected Rating: 21.1
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Dwyane Wade (2003), 36.5
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002), 5.4
Ricky Rubio’s Averages: 10.6, 4.2, 8.6
Ricky Rubio’s Rating: 23.4
With Jonas Valanciunas still playing in Europe, Ricky Rubio came in as the only #5 pick in the 2011 rookie class. He did not disappoint, bringing flashy play, creative passing and stellar defense. Rubio actually helped the Timberwolves move above .500 (an amazing feat)! That is, until he tore his ACL, an event that bummed out NBA fans and Spanish National Team fans alike. Hoping that Ricky comes back healthy next year, he seems to be an absolute spark plug and a player the T-Wolves are banking on as a franchise building block.
The future definitely appeared bright for the Rookie of the Year runner-up as he beat the expected rating of a #5 pick with his rookie averages. He most definitely needs to work on his shooting, but that was expected. Rubio lived up to the hype and surprised numerous fans; he makes the Wolves worth a watch. Fellow former 5th pick Kevin Love also helps make the T-Wolves a sight to see.
Teams can find definite gems at the #5 pick, they just should not expect them. The pick history is a little flashier than even #4, as Billy Cunningham, Walt Frazier, Sidney Moncrief, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen and Mitch Richmond were all drafted in this spot pre-1989. Post 1989, you have 8 All-Stars chosen fifth, including Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love.
The pick also has a few relatively major misses, with Niko Tskitishvili posting the lowest rating of any top 5 draft selection. Jonathan Bender and Shelden Williams also had statistical ratings under 10. Tony Battie may have been a reach at #5 in 1999, as GM Dan Issel called him "El Busto" after his rookie year. Still, despite his underwhelming rating, his career has spanned an impressive 15 seasons.
This pick has a number of players near the average career statistical rating, including Kendall Gill, Steve Smith, LaPhonso Ellis, Juwan Howard, Mike Miller and Devin Harris. As a matter of fact, Jeff Green of the Draft of 2007 adds up to 21, pretty much right on the money. This pick has produced some incredible quality, but if you get an occasional or fringe All-Star, that would be something to be pretty happy about as well.
6. Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards
Expected Averages of a #6 pick (1989-2008): 10.2, 4.6, 1.7
Expected Rating: 16.5
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Brandon Roy (2006), 28.0
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Robert Traylor (1998, RIP Tractor), 9.2
Jan Vesely’s Averages: 4.7, 4.4, 0.8
Jan Vesely’s Rating: 9.9
Vesely is a skinny combo forward with incredibly solid athleticism for his size. The thing he seems to be missing is bulk to be a true PF and the shooting ability of a SF. Jan is an exciting player, who was one of the leading rookie dunkers, but it is still unknown if that will lead to his being an effective winning influence.
If you notice, after pick #5, expected rating takes a pretty major free fall. No longer are you expecting a "star" (labeled as a player with an statistical rating over 20), but you are expecting more along the lines of a "solid" player (someone with a statistical rating over 15). So, getting an Adrian Dantley or a Larry Bird seems about as likely as Steve Nash winning an NBA dunk contest.
5 out of 20 of the players chosen #6 since 1989 made All-Star teams, with only Antoine Walker and Brandon Roy having multiple selections. This pick seems to be the ultimate spot of where draft expectations lower. 1989-1991 saw a string of 6 picks that averaged under 8 ppg for their career. They were joined by Robert Traylor, DerMarr Johnson and Yi Jianlian. In fact, only three out of the last 10 #6 picks have career scoring averages above 10 ppg.
If you want a possible expectation of what to expect at #6, Shane Battier might fit the description. Battier’s role goes beyond his statistical production, as he does all of the little things to help teams win. Still, while he is slightly under the average expected rating, he is a great example of a role player one might usually want at this spot according to the history of the pick.
Josh Childress is another player right around the average expected rating. So, if your team does not draft an All-Star here, do not be surprised. Expectations should be looking at a solid role player, with hope for a second or third option as a usual best case scenario.
7. Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Bobcats
Expected Averages of a #7 pick (1989-2008): 10.9, 4.3, 2.6
Expected Rating: 17.8
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Richard Hamilton (1999)/Eric Gordon (2008), 24.2
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Bobby Hurley (1993), 8.2
Bismack Biyombo’s Averages: 5.2, 5.8, 0.4
Bismack Biyombo’s Rating: 11.4
After a string of three great rating picks at #7 in Eric Gordon, Stephen Curry and Greg Monroe, Biyombo had pretty big shoes to fill. He played solid minutes for the Charlotte Bobcats and would be classified as having "role player" rating according to his statistical rating in the 82games.com measurement scale. The problem is, with the amount of minutes Biyombo played; his quality was definitely less than stellar. He averaged 8.1 ppg and 9.1 rpg per 36 minutes, not exactly a sign of a future star. Bismack is still very raw and was on one of the worst teams in NBA history, but for all of the skeptics of Charlotte’s 7th selection, his first year silenced very few doubters.
There has been better average luck with this pick as opposed to the one before it, but still expectations should not be too high. Richard Hamilton and Luol Deng are the only All-Stars picked 7th since 1989, Rip having three appearances and Deng making it this past season. The recent infusion between 2008-10 definitely have a chance of joining them, though they are not exactly in the class of past seventh picks such as John Havlicek, Bernard King, Chris Mullin or Kevin Johnson.
This pick has been surprisingly solid, with Bobby Hurley (whose career ended prematurely due to complications from a car accident) being the only 7th pick from 1989-2008 to average less than 7 ppg. Lamond Murray and Tim Thomas were never known as major players, but they are right near the average rating for a 7th pick. Jason "Whit Eboy/White Chocolate" Williams also posted just above expected rating.
8. Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons
Expected Averages of a #8 pick (1989-2008): 9.3, 3.9, 1.9
Expected Rating: 15.2
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Rudy Gay (2006), 25.5
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Rafael Araujo (2005), 5.9
Brandon Knight’s Averages: 12.8, 3.2, 3.8
Brandon Knight’s Rating: 19.8
After being a rumored favorite of the Utah Jazz at the #3 pick last season, Knight slid to the Detroit Pistons. If his first year is any indication, the team has found itself a likely steal. Knight put up really solid numbers, showed his expected defensive acumen and seemed to improve as the year went on. Entrenched as the Pistons PG of the future, Knight looks like a steady hand to guide the franchise. Detroit is still in a rebuilding stage, but with Knight and Greg Monroe as building blocks, they seem to be on the rise.
Sam Jones, Willis Reed and long time Sacramento Kings GM Geoff Petrie are all former #8 picks. Beyond those players, it is not a huge hot bed for All-Star performers. Vin Baker is the only All-Star picked at the spot since 1989, with Rudy Gay being the closest thing without having made the team. From 2007-2010, the pick has had a pretty rough patch. Brandan Wright, Joe Alexander, Jordan Hill and Al-Farouq Aminu all have statistical ratings below 11 as of current date.
Larry Hughes, Andre Miller and Jamal Crawford are well above the average expected statistical rating, with Brandon Knight seeming likely to exceed them. The schematic seems to be heavily skewed towards one extreme or the other. For every Brian Grant and Kerry Kittles, there appears a Bo Kimble and DeSagana Diop. If you looking for those around the expected rating, Chris Wilcox, Channing Frye and Todd Day are right around that range.
9. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
Expected Averages of a #9 pick (1989-2008): 10.2, 4.9, 1.6
Expected Rating: 16.6
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Dirk Nowitzki (1998), 33.8
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Patrick O’Bryant (2006), 3.8
Kemba Walker’s Averages: 12.1, 3.5, 4.4
Kemba Walker’s Rating: 20
After the Bobcats record level of futility, I felt a little disappointed in Kemba Walker not making more of an impact. Little did I know, his statistical rating of 20 would technically make him a "star" by 82games.com’s chart. Is he a potential star? This is where the numbers can be misleading. His shooting percentage was poor even for a rookie (36.6%), not to mention his not exactly being a defensive stalwart. With the team setting a record for futility, it remains to be seen if Kemba can make it as a long term starter in the league.
If you had to choose a holy trinity of 9th picks, it would be Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki and Amare Stoudemire. Throw in Shawn Marion and Andre Iguodala, this pick has had a much brighter history than picks 6-8. There have still been some duds in the form of Eric Montross, Ed O’Bannon and Tom Hammonds.
Mike Sweetney, Rodney White and Ike Diogu did not exactly light the league on fire, fighting for roster spots for a great deal of their NBA careers. Some current 9’s, such as Joakim Noah, DeMar DeRozan and Gordon Heyward, show a great deal of promise. The former pick closest to the average is Rodney Rogers who had a solid if unspectacular career.
10. Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings
Expected Averages of a #10 pick (1989-2008): 10.2, 4.4, 2.2
Expected Rating: 16.7 (Guess they rounded one of the averages up)
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Paul Pierce (1998), 31.8
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Mouhamed Sene (2006), 3.8
Jimmer Fredette’s Averages: 7.6, 1.2, 1.8
Jimmer Fredette’s Rating: 10.6
Jimmer fans did not exactly have as many moments as they might have expected from the BYU scoring sensation. His minutes were inconsistent and his PG spot was usurped by fellow rookie Isaiah Thomas. Jimmer also shot a pretty poor percentage, especially by his standards. Plus, no one has been won over by his ability to defend NBA PG’s as of yet. Was definitely not a flawless transition to the NBA, Jimmer even lost the NBA’s Tim Tebow crown to Jeremy Lin (did not see that coming). His rookie year was forgettable, though knowing Jimmer, he can still redeem himself.
Much like the 9th spot, this has had some gems. Eddie Jones, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Caron Butler and Andrew Bynum all have been All-Stars picked #10. Jason Terry was the 2nd leading scorer on the Mavericks 2011 Championship team and Brook Lopez has been a great rating find as well. Recent picks Brandon Jennings and Paul George also seem to have been possibly underratingd in where they were chosen. Forwards such as Bison Dele (aka Brian Williams), Kurt Thomas and Danny Fortson are all really close to the average expected rating at this pick.
11. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Expected Averages of a #11 pick (1989-2008): 7.5, 3.5, 1.4
Expected Rating: 12.4
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Terrell Brandon (1991), 22.9
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Jerome Moiso (2000), 5.7
# With 0 NBA Games (1989-2008): 1
Klay Thompson’s Averages: 12.5, 2.4, 2
Klay Thompson’s Rating: 16.9
You have to go all the way back to "Big Shot" Robert Horry 20 years ago for the last time an 11th pick averaged double figure scoring as a rookie. That has to be a good sign for the Golden State Warriors, who seemingly traded star Monta Ellis to make more room for Klay Thompson. Thompson should combine with Stephen Curry to be an absolute deadly shooting combo (both are over 40% 3PT shooters). The issue will be whether they give up as much as they score. Klay also seems a tad one dimensional and will need to work on his overall game. His rookie season was still incredibly encouraging for the Warriors, this seems like an excellent rating selection at 11.
After the top 10, expectations should take a MAJOR nosedive. Yes, 11-14 are lottery selections. Yes, they have produced a few fantastic players. The thing is, they have produced a lot more average to below average players as opposed to stars. Only 4 out of 20 players chosen at #11 from 1989-2008 averaged double figures. 12 drafts went by without one doing so.
Once we get past the 10th pick, the expectations steer towards that of a role player (10-14.9 statistical rating). Terrell Brandon and Allan Houston were both multiple All-Stars, with Tyrone Hill making a game as well. Still, one is much more likely to be around a Mikeal Pietrus or JJ Reddick on average.
Reggie Miller is probably one of the few 11th picks you could call a true star. If you get a spot starter on strong role player here, that tends to be very strong rating.
12. Alec Burks, Utah Jazz
Expected Averages of a #12 pick (1989-2008): 6.6, 3.7, 1.3
Expected Rating: 11.6
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Mookie Blaylock (1989), 24.3
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Yaroslav Korolev (2005), 2.0
Alec Burks Averages: 7.2, 2.2, 0.9
Alec Burks Rating: 10.3
The second lottery pick of the Utah Jazz in 2011, Burks was brought along slowly. Buried behind players such as Raja Bell, Gordon Heyward and CJ Miles, he gave a solid scoring push off of the bench. Has ideal size for the 2 guard spot, though he still needs work on his All-Around game and outside shooting. Still very young, he had a statistical rating very close to what was expected and should look to be part of the Jazz’s plan at the wing.
Most people think that lottery picks are made to grab future starters. Ideally, that would be the case. Still, once you get past the 10th pick, additional depth might be the right course of action. An example I bring up at the 12th pick is Nick Collison.
With a statistical rating of 14.1, Collison is a high level role player who helps with all of the little things on the floor. Whether it is rebounding, defense or taking a charge, Collison has been an under the radar key to the Thunder’s success. In my mind, this type of player would be almost all one could hope for at this pick compared to the norm.
Players such as Mookie Blaylock and Thaddeus Young greatly exceed expectations of a typical 12 pick. Jason Thompson (2007) and Gerald Henderson (2008) both have played larger roles than expected, though both are on teams that have struggled to win. If you want someone right around the median of what you might expect at 12, think of George Lynch or Austin Croshere.
13. Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns
Expected Averages of a #13 pick (1989-2008): 9.8, 3.7, 1.9
Expected Rating: 15.4
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Kobe Bryant (1996), 35.7
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Marcus Haislip (2002), 5.2
Markieff Morris’ Averages: 7.4, 4.4, 1.0
Markieff Morris’ Rating: 12.8
The first Morris twin taken had a nice opportunity to play some minutes. Showing some outside range, he still ended up shooting a fairly low percentage for the season. Markieff will hopefully improve as a rebounder with time and needs to cut down on his fouls as well. The expected rating for this pick is elevated by a few players, but Morris is off to a pretty strong start to be around the median of what is expected.
When a team has a late lottery pick, the ultimate dream is for them to select either a Karl Malone or Kobe Bryant. Both players were 13th selection, both averaged over 25 ppg for their careers and were MVP caliber players for a majority of their career. One can dream, but they more than likely will be disappointed if they expect either of these players.
You have to go back 10 years to find a 13th pick who has averaged double figures for his career in Richard Jefferson. Tyler Hansbrough is right at the average of what might be expected here, with Dale Davis also being an example of exceeded expectations for the 13 slot. Jalen Rose, Corey Maggette and Richard Jefferson all were fantastic rating for this selection, just know that it has been quite a while since anyone has produced at their level that was picked here.
14. Marcus Morris, Houston Rockets
Expected Averages of a #14 pick (1989-2008): 8.8, 3.0, 1.9
Expected Rating: 13.7
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Tim Hardaway (1989), 29.2
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Rich King (1991), 3.2
Marcus Morris’ Averages: 2.4, 0.9, 0.2
Marcus Morris’ Rating: 3.5
It was a truly forgettable rookie season for Marcus Morris. Thought to be the more polished of the Morris twins, he was stuck in an absolute log jam at PF for the Houston Rockets. Kevin McHale apparently did not trust him at the SF slot, using fellow rookie and 2nd round pick Chandler Parsons instead of the 14th selection. Spending time in the D-League and only playing in 17 games, Marcus has little place to go but up.
Tim Hardaway and Peja Stojakovic would be dream selections at 14. What one is far more likely to expect would be either Ronnie Brewer or Kris Humphries. For the time being, even Anthony Randolph appears to be right around the average expectations one might get at this pick, though his inconsistency as far as games played is less than ideal.
There was a Rich King, Scott Haskin and Yinka Dare were 3 centers selected at this spot during a 4 year stretch. All had forgettable careers, as did William Avery and Mateen Cleaves. If one remembers the role player Eric Williams, he is someone who is right at the average expected rating for a 14th selection. As glamorous as his name, but effective.
15. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Expected Averages of a #15 pick (1989-2008): 6.6, 2.9, 1.4
Expected Rating: 10.8 (Same as 10)
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Al Jefferson (2004), 26.5
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Reece Gaines (2003), 3.1
# With 0 NBA Games (1989-2008): 1
Kawhi Leonard’s Averages: 7.9, 5.9, 1.1
Kawhi Leonard’s Rating: 14.9
He was .1 away from a "solid" ranking, but Leonard was all of that and more as a rookie for the San Antonio Spurs. With huge hands and a massive wing span, Leonard possessed almost a presence well beyond his years. His potential as a defender is fantastic and he even flashed surprising offensive ability. A complete steal at the 15th pick, my guess is a few teams are kicking themselves for passing on Kawhi Leonard.
Once we leave the lottery, another relative nose dive occurs in expectations. Steve Nash would be the dream, with Al Jefferson and Rodney Stuckey also performing well above what one should expect at this slot.
While he was not seen as a glamorous player, Matt Harpring was yet another 15th pick who performed well beyond the average expected rating. You might hope for more than Eric Piatkowski or Kelvin Cato, but they are right around the average rating for 15.
16. Nikola Vucevic, Philadelphia 76ers
Expected Averages of a #16 pick (1989-2008): 7.2, 2.8, 1.6
Expected Rating: 11.7 (sort of a trend, not going to bother explaining anymore, lol)
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Ron Artest/Metta World Peace (1999), 21.9
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Kirk Haston (2001), 2.5
Nikola Vucevic’s Averages: 5.5, 4.8, 0.6
Nikola Vucevic’s Rating: 10.9
Skilled if not remarkably athletic, Vucevic found himself getting spot minutes for a solid Philadelphia 76ers team. He provided solid rebounding and some ability to stretch the floor, also giving the 76ers ideal center size. With increased time, he appears to be a very strong 16th selection.
John Stockton is the gold standard of 16th selections. Beyond Metta World Peace and Hedo Turkoglu, you will see a lack of heavy contributors from this spot. Marreese Speights is above the expected rating in his first few years in the league. If you can get specialists along the lines of Alan Henderson or Tony Delk, that might be a good way to spend this selection as well.
17. Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
Expected Averages of a #17 pick (1989-2008): 8.1, 3.9, 1.4
Expected Rating: 13.4
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Josh Smith (2004), 26.1
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Cal Bowdler (1999), 5.1
Iman Shumpert’s Averages: 9.5, 3.2, 2.8
Iman Shumpert’s Rating: 15.5
After exploding off the charts with his NBA Draft Combine results, Shumpert found a top 20 spot with the Knicks. Needing help at SG, he played big minutes and established himself as a strong defender. His season came to an unfortunate end with a torn ACL in New York’s first round series with Miami. Shumpert’s shot selection could use work, but he performed well above what one might expect when chosen 17th.
This spot has been incredibly lucky with some absolute gems. Shawn Kemp, Jermaine O’Neal and Danny Granger were All-Star caliber forwards. Josh Smith, Roy Hibbert and Jrue Holiday also are complete rating steals. Still, the average player here more than likely will be along the lines of Aaron McKie, Rasho Nesterovic or Juan Dixon.
18. Chris Singleton, Washington Wizards
Expected Averages of a #18 pick (1989-2008): 6.6, 3.1, 0.9
Expected Rating: 10.6
Highest Rating (1989-2008): David West (2003), 25.2
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Luther Wright (1993), 2.0
Chris Singleton’s Averages: 4.6, 3.5, 0.7
Chris Singleton’s Rating: 8.8
Singleton was chosen as a defensive specialist, so offensive production was not necessarily expected. Nor was it received. Singleton’s per minute averages are far below the production one would want from a player receiving his type of PT. The Wizard’s will probably not give up on Singleton, just hope that he improves greatly on his rookie year. Still, without making a big defensive impact, he might receive even less time next season and move to more of a back-up role.
Not a ton of luck here, though David West was a great selection in 2003. JR Smith, JaVale McGee and Ty Lawson also trump expectations by quite a large margin. More likely scenarios would be along the lines of Tracy Murray, John Wallace and Marco Belinelli.
19. Tobias Harris, Milwaukee Bucks
Expected Averages of a #19 pick (1989-2008): 6.5, 2.9, 1
Expected Rating: 10.4
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Zach Randolph (2001), 28.1
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Randolph Childress (1995), 3.9
Tobias Harris’ Averages: 5, 2.4, 0.5
Tobias Harris’ Rating: 7.9
Harris played sparingly, but showed potential as a scorer and rebounder at the SF slot. It seems like the Bucks might be wise to play him more often next season. Seems like strong rating potential at the 19th slot.
Zach Randolph is the definite standout. Avery Bradley and Jeff Teague both seem like very solid rating selections here as well. If one wanted to see a 19th pick personified, it would more than likely be along the lines of Pat Garrity or Hakim Warrick.
22. Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
Expected Averages of a #22 pick (1989-2008): 5.6, 3.0, 1.2
Expected Rating: 9.8
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Chris Mills (1993), 18.0
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Bill Curley (1994), 5.1
Kenneth Faried’s Averages: 10.2, 7.7, 0.8
Kenneth Faried’s Rating: 18.7
Faried was an absolute steal. With tremendous energy and rebounding ability, the dreadlocked rookie out of Morehead State finished with the 5th highest statistical rating in the 2011 class. He appears to be destined to be a Paul Millsap type starter and is well on his way to being the best 22nd pick since Reggie Lewis in 1987.
Around the 20’s, we are getting into the "deep bench" range (5-9.9 statistical rating). Kenny Thomas, Jarrett Jack, Jared Dudley and Courtney Lee were all excellent value selections here. Faried might be off the charts in comparison. Once you get past the twenties, you can expect shorter careers as well. A 22nd pick with a long career who is right around the average rating is Brian Skinner.
25. MarShon Brooks, New Jersey Nets
Expected Averages of a #25 pick (1989-2008): 5.2, 2.7, 0.9
Expected Rating: 8.8
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Gerald Wallace (2001), 21.9
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Tim James (1999), 3.0
# With 0 NBA Games (1989-2008): 1
MarShon Brooks’ Averages: 12.6, 3.6, 2.3
MarShon Brooks’ Rating: 18.5
His rating was indeed excellent for this selection, yet it is hard to be as high on MarShon as a player like Kenneth Faried. He received far more minutes and played on a much worse team. Definitely needs to improve his range, MarShon shows value as a scorer. Has definite room for improvement, though it is still unknown as to whether he will become an actual star SG. Still an incredible value pick at 25.
Some scrappy players who proved excellent value here were Al Harrington, Gerald Wallace and recently Nicolas Batum. Carlos Delfino, Tony Allen and Shannon Brown also would surpass expectations normally associated with this pick. A couple of players right around the average mark for 25 are Corie Blount and Johan Petro.
28. Norris Cole, Miami Heat
Expected Averages of a #28 pick (1989-2008): 5.1, 1.9, 1.4
Expected Rating: 8.4
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Tony Parker (2001), 25.7
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Maurice Ager (2006), 2.9
# With 0 NBA Games (1989-2008): 1
Norris Cole’s Averages: 6.8, 1.4, 2
Norris Cole’s Rating: 10.2
Cole definitely surpassed expectations associated with a 28th pick. He started off as a spark plug, though cooled a bit as the season progressed. While some were calling for Cole to take the reins as the Heat’s starting PG, he seems great right now in the role that he holds. He seems to have a bright future and should improve given time. Was everything Miami could have hoped for at 28.
Well, if Miami really wanted to be greedy, they could have hoped for Tony Parker. He crushes what one would expect at this point in the draft. Leandro Barbosa was another steal at 28. Scott Padgett, Donte Greene and Wayne Ellington are right along the lines of meeting expectations of a 28th pick.
38. Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets
Expected Averages of a #38 pick (1989-2008): 3.2, 1.4, 1.1
Expected Rating: 5.7
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Doug West (1989), 14.0
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): DeMarco Johnson (2000), 2.6
# With 0 NBA Games (1989-2008): 5
Chandler Parsons’ Averages: 9.5, 4.8, 2.1
Chandler Parsons’ Rating: 15.4
As I stated earlier, Marcus Morris took a major back seat to Parsons. This turned out to be for good reason, as Parsons had a great All-Around rookie season. It is yet to be determined as to whether he will keep receiving these sort of minutes, but Kevin McHale obviously saw something in the rookie. Was a great second round steal for the Rockets.
Steve Blake (2003) and Chris Duhon (2004) were back-to-back steals at the 38th selection. Eduardo Najera also played well beyond expectations at this spot. Two players chosen here right around the average are Laron Profit and Jon Brockman.
60. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings
Expected Averages of a #60 pick (2005-08): 0.8, 0.4, 0.4
Expected Rating: 1.7
Highest Rating (1989-2008): Semih Erden (2008), 7.0
Lowest Rating (1989-2008): Will Blalock (2006), 4.1
# With 0 NBA Games (2005-2008 Draft): 3
Isaiah Thomas’ Averages: 11.5, 2.6, 4.1
Isaiah Thomas’ Rating: 18.2
The 2011 Mr. Irrelevant was as far from it as possible. He earned the starting spot at PG for the Sacramento Kings, taking it from a player chosen 50 positions higher in the draft. Isaiah makes up for his lack of height with terrific speed and upper body strength. He is an absolute Warrior and be it on the Kings or somewhere else in the league, should find a niche that offers him a long career. The value steal of the draft, bar none.
Was reintroduced as a pick in 2005 with the inclusion of the Charlotte Bobcats as an expansion team (not to mention Minnesota finally having a 1st round pick in 2005 after going without one in 2004). Drazen Petrovic and Michael Cooper were two for the history books here. More often than not, if a player actually plays in the NBA, they were a fantastic value pick at 60.
12 rookies out of the 24 profiled here surpassed the average statistical rating of the 82games.com expected performance breakdown. While the 2011 was considered a relatively weak draft, there was still quite a bit of value. One would assume most of these players will raise their career statistical rating with time, though it in a large way will depend on whether their team expands their role.
Most expect improvement, which is what often happens. However, there are times when one plays an expanded role as a rookie that decreases with time. While rare, this might indeed happen to a few of the later picks. This rookie class certainly did surpass expectations and had a number of strong late selections making it much deeper than expected.
As far as statistical value is concerned, it gives a good idea of what to expect. It is not to say there will not be players who far exceed it. The counterpoint is, there will be players far below it as well to balance it out. My belief is, one should look at this as a way to not expect too much from a draft pick. The odds are, if you are choosing past the lottery, you will have to draft very well to land a starter.
Statistical value may not be the best way to measure draft picks as "steals" per se. A player could go well beyond what is expected of them at a given pick, yet still be chosen in front of a similar player who provides even more value. Getting a draft steal is in measurement to the actual draft itself, over a long period of time, not by only statistical value compared to one’s pick.
This is more about getting the most bang for your buck wherever one picks in the draft. I believe this list should give fans some idea of what to expect and that will likely be less than you would have thought.
In my mind, if a player exceeds these average values, they more than likely were a good pick, obviously with some exceptions and conditions (team success, shooting percentages, etc). There will be occasions where a team could maybe have done better by selecting a different player, but having knowledge of a player surpassing pick expectations should still serve as some sense of gratification.
Hopefully this article gives a realistic outlook for expectations at each draft position.