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How Productive is the 2010 NBA Class?

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Arturo Galletti, Andres Alvarez, and I were planning on presenting a wealth of material on the 2010 NBA draft. But time has run out and our plans were not realized (but we have high hopes for 2011!!!).  At this point, all there is time to do is to present the Position Adjusted Win Score per 40 minute (PAWS40) numbers for the players Yahoo!Sports think will get drafted tonight. (much of ESPN’s coverage is for insiders only)

Before we get to the numbers, let me note that Wins Score per 40 minutes (WS40) for each college player is tracked by DraftExpress. To calculate PAWS40, one needs to know the average performance at each position. From 1995 to 2009, the players selected out of college at each position posted the following average WS40:

PG: 7.40

SG: 8.40

SF: 9.95

PF: 12.59

C: 12.32

The average player across all position had a WS40 of 10.17. With these numbers in hand, we can calculate each player’s PAWS40. For example, point guard John Wall has a WS40 of 7.2 in 2009-10.  So his PAWS40 would be…

John Wall PAWS40 = (7.2–7.4) + 10.17 = 10.0

A mark of 10.0 is just about average for a player selected out of college from 1995 to 2009. And as I noted back in May, this performance suggests the Wizards needed to put some real thought into the decision to take Wall with the first pick. Yes, the scouts tell us he is clearly a future star.  But he did not perform this way as a freshman. Now maybe that was because he was just a freshman.  Or maybe he isn’t quite as good as people believe.  

Just looking at PAWS40 is not going to give you that answer. As was noted in The Wages of Wins (in the discussion of Wins Produced): “Knowing the value of each player is only the starting point of analysis. The next step is determining why the player is productive or unproductive. In our view, this is where coaching should begin. We think we can offer a reasonable measure of a player’s productivity. Although we have offered some insights into why players are productive, ultimately this question can only be answered by additional scrutiny into the age and injury status of the player, the construction of a team, and the roles the player plays on the floor.

Okay, with that paragraph in mind, let’s look at all the players Yahoo! thinks will get drafted.

Here are the players from the mock of the first round:

And here are the players from the mock of the second round:In Stumbling on Wins (plugged both books in one post!!!), we examine the NBA Draft. What we found is that some factors that don’t impact future performance (i.e. Final Four appearances, relative height, etc…) do impact where a player is drafted. And rebounds (which we looked at a number of different ways), a factor that is related to future performance, is not related to where a player is chosen (and again, we looked at rebounds a variety of ways and the story was the same). 

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So it appears people in the NBA could do better on draft night. In fact, we note that if all you looked at were the college numbers, you would project future performance better in the NBA than you would by just noting where a player is selected. That being said, the link between college numbers and NBA performance is not perfect. Yes, there is a statistical link. Players who do well in college tend to do better in the NBA. But it is possible for players who do well in college to play poorly in the NBA. And it is possible (although this is not a common occurrence) for a player to play poorly in college and then play well in the NBA.

Again, Arturo, Andres, and I hope to do more before next year’s draft. At least, I hope by 2011 we can make more definitive statements about each player. For now, though, hope these numbers help you enjoy the 2010 draft.

- DJ

P.S. Robbie O’Malley – at his blog (which I think has been re-designed) – also provides this analysis.  So one can also go to Robbie’s blog and discuss the 2010 draft.

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