According to Advanced Analytics, Which NBA Teams Have the Most to Gain on Draft Night?
What is the value of an NBA draft pick?
Though it is an inexact science, many have tried to quantify that value as best as they possibly could. ESPN has even recently unveiled a new draft pick projection model called SPM, or Statistical Plus-Minus.
It seems like things are definitely headed in the right direction, but the NBA community has still been unable to identify the exact value of a selection.
But that doesn't mean it's a useless endeavor by any means.
The best -- and possibly the most straightforward -- way I've found of getting at least a pretty accurate estimate of the value, and differences in value, for picks 1 through 30 (or 60) is by calculating Win Shares.
I've referenced this before, but in Bryan Mears' piece evaluating the Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins trade talks two summers ago, he did a great job of using Win Shares to show the value of draft picks.
Now, in that article, Bryan decided to use various totals, including career Win Shares, Win Shares in first five years, and yearly Win Shares from the years 1985 to 2009 in order to come to his conclusion. Here, I've deviated a little by producing a total Win Shares Per 48 (WS/48) and average Win Shares Per 48 for each pick, 1 through 60, from the years 2004 to 2013.
The reason I decided to use WS/48 is because it's less dependent upon playing time and speaks more to the player's value on the court, no matter the minutes.
The total WS/48 should help to shed some light on how players at that pick have performed in relation to other draft positions while the average WS/48 puts more emphasis on the quality of the individual prospects typically selected there.
I used the 10-year span from 2004 to 2013 to get an accurate idea of what the production has been like in more recent years. I eliminated the past two draft classes after finding so many players yet to play substantial enough minutes (or even years) in order to get a good gauge of their play and resulting value.
I also discounted those players who played just a single year and those international players who were selected and have yet to make an appearance from overseas.
Having established the guidelines of my research, the following is a table showing the values found.
|Pick||Total WS/48||Average WS/48||Pick||Total WS/48||Average WS/48|
Here are those values (by Total WS/48) in graph format.
The linear decline is easy to see as draft night rolls on. The top five picks are way beyond the rest of the class, and only a few late-first to mid-second round picks come even close before we start seeing small or even negative numbers near night's end.
So, with that being said, the point of this is to determine which team holds the most value going into tonight's draft. Using these calculations, here are the totals for all picks currently held by each team.
|Cumulative Win Shares Per 48 Minutes|
|TEAM||TOTAL WS/48||AVERAGE WS/48|
Well, no surprise here. The Celtics and their eight total picks reign supreme among all NBA front offices. And, as a consequence of their three first-round selections, they hold the highest Average Win Shares Per 48 for their combined picks.
The Sixers and their own three first-rounders take a nearby second, at least for the time being. They're trying to work a deal that would land them the third-overall pick from the Celtics, which would ultimately reverse the order of the top two here.
Phoenix and Denver, with four and five total picks, respectively, hold the third- and fourth-best values. The Suns edge out the Nuggets with the 4th and 13th overall selections in their arsenal.
With a single pick, at number 46, the Mavericks will have a very uninteresting draft, pending a trade. As for Cleveland, Washington, Portland, Oklahoma City, New York and Miami, without a trade, they will all sit back and enjoy (maybe not) the show absent any 2016 selections.