In the days leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft, I will be examining the top 30 picks of the draft over the past 20 years. We begin today with picks 21-30. Picks 11-20 will be covered on Tuesday, and picks 1-10 will be profiled on Wednesday.
For many teams, Thursday’s NBA Draft is the most important night of the offseason. While teams are constrained by salary cap restrictions in free agency, the draft presents an opportunity to add youth and talent to a roster. Teams at the top of the lottery seek to add talent to a team that is most likely dismal, fringe lottery teams look for talent that can get them into the playoffs, and playoff teams are looking for that diamond in the rough that could put turn them into title contenders. While fans spend time looking at mock draft after mock draft and develop their dream scenarios, it is important to understand the type of player that a team can expect to get at various stages. Over the next three days, I will be examining the past 20 years worth of the draft by looking at some information associated with each of the first 30 picks.
For each pick, you will see four pieces of data presented. All stats were pulled from Basketball-Reference.com:
- Per 36 minute stats: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks, and Turnovers. Per 36 numbers are used rather than per game stats in an effort to normalize the data. Average stats for both the individual pick and the average stats of the last 10 picks of the draft are displayed.
- Advanced stats: True Shooting %, Total Rebound %, Assist %, Steal %, Block %, Turnover %, and Player Efficiency Rating. Definitions for these stats can be found courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com glossary here. Average stats for both the individual pick and the average stats of the last 10 picks of the draft are displayed.
- Rank (out of 30) of each of those stats allowing us to see how that pick compares to the other 29 picks in the first round.
- Categorized breakdown, based on career PER, of the type of player using the following definitions:
- Superstar: 22.0 or greater
- All-Star: 19.0-21.9
- Solid Starter: 16.0-18.9
- Role Player: 12.0-15.9
- Bench: 9.0-11.9
- Bust: 8.9 or below
- DNP: Players who never logged a minute in the NBA
It is important to note that these categories are to be used as a general guide only. One person’s definition of a Superstar is subjective and may be different than another person’s definition. PER was used as an objective measure as it is the most complete, single number assessment easily available for the purposes of this analysis.
Additionally, the upper right hand corner of each picture will contain the logo of the team holding that pick for the 2012 draft.
I will be counting down the picks over the next three days beginning with the 30th pick.
All-Star: Gilbert Arenas (2001), David Lee (2005)
Solid Starter: Gheorghe Muresan (1993)
Role Player: Sean Rooks (1992), Othella Harrington (1996), Marko Jaric (2000), Anderson Varejao (2004), Jimmy Butler (2011)
Bench: Howard Eisley (1994), Ansu Sesay (1998), Roger Mason (2002), J.R. Giddens (2008)
Bust: Lou Roe (1995), John Celestand (1999), Maciej Lampe (2003), Christian Eyenga (2009), Lazar Hayward (2010)
DNP: Mark Sanford (1996), Joel Freeland (1996), Petteri Koponen (1997)
Unless it has been traded, as it has this year with Golden State having obtained the Spurs pick as part of the Stephen Jackson-Richard Jefferson trade, this pick has been reserved for the team with the best overall record in the league since the NBA expanded to 30 teams in 2005. While some teams opt to stash this late first rounder overseas, others have been relatively successful in finding solid contributors. The Warriors, oddly enough, have had the pleasure of employing the two of the best picks to come out of this slot in the past 20 years: Gilbert Arenas and David Lee. They will hope for similar production this time around.
Solid Starter: Josh Howard (2003)
Role Player: P.J. Brown (1992), Cory Alexander (1995), Nazr Mohammed (1998), Leon Smith (1999), Alando Tucker (2007), D.J. White (2008), Toney Douglas (2009), Daniel Orton (2010)
Bench: Travis Knight (1996), David Harrison (2004), Wayne Simien (2005)
Bust: Antonio Lang (1994), Mark Madsen (2000), Trenton Hassell (2001), Mardy Collins (2006), Cory Joseph (2011)
DNP: Sherron Mills (1993), Serge Zwikker (1997), Steve Logan (2002)
If a team is looking for flashy players that are going to put points on the board and dish out assists, the 29th spot is not the place to be. Ranking 30th in points per 36 minutes, 28th in assists and AST%, and 27th in TS%, offense is not the strong suit of 29th overall picks. However, a number of defensive contributors have been found here with the 29th pick producing top 10 averages in both STL% and BLK%. If the Bulls could get a P.J. Brown type player to come off the bench in spot roles, they should consider this draft a win.
Solid Starter: Tony Parker (2001), Tiago Splitter (2007)
Role Player: Marlon Maxey (1992), Lucious Harris (1993), Greg Ostertag (1995), Scott Padgett (1999), Dan Dickau (2002), Leandro Barbosa (2003), Beno Udrih (2004), Ian Mahinmi (2005), Greivis Vasquez (2010)
Bench: Priest Lauderdale (1996), Erick Barkley (2000), Donte Greene (2008), Wayne Ellington (2009)
Bust: Keith Booth (1997), Corey Benjamin (1998), Maurice Ager (2006), Norris Cole (2011)
DNP: Deon Thomas (1994)
There is a good reason that the San Antonio Spurs have had such an extended run of excellence and developed the reputation of having a terrific front office. Their ability to find sleepers such as Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter late in the first round is unparalleled. The fact that the Thunder have already made an NBA Finals appearance with their core players all under the age of 25 is scary enough; adding a Tony Parker caliber player with their pick this year could be a devastating knockout blow to the rest of the Western Conference for the foreseeable future.
Solid Starter: Mario Bennett (1995)
Role Player: Malcolm Mackey (1993), Brooks Thompson (1994), Vladimir Stepania (1998), Jumaine Jones (1999), Primoz Brezec (2000), Jamaal Tinsley (2001), Kendrick Perkins (2003), Linas Kleiza (2005), Sergio Rodriguez (2006), Arron Afflalo (2007), Darrell Arthur (2008), Jordan Crawford (2010)
Bench: Byron Houston (1992), Brian Evans (1996), Jacque Vaughn (1997), Sasha Vujacic (2004), DeMarre Carroll (2009), JaJuan Johnson (2011)
Bust: Chris Jeffries (2002)
For the 94% of you that just did a collective “Who?” when seeing Mario Bennett as a Solid Starter, Bennett bounced around the league playing for the Suns, Lakers, Bulls, and Clippers for four seasons in the mid-90’s. During this time, he played in 68 games, yet put up a PER of 18.2 during his limited minutes. Though he appears as a Solid Starter for consistency and data’s sake, feel free to classify him as a Bench or Bust player due to his limited playing time. That being said, the good news for people that hate the Miami Heat is that no one selected with the 27th pick in the draft over the past two decades really jumps off the page at you with relation to being a game changing player; Kendrick Perkins at his peak defensively probably comes the closest. The bad news for those same people is that Miami does not necessarily need to add a piece like that to an already stacked squad. The 2012 draft is one of the deeper ones in recent memory; maybe this will be the draft to break the run of ultimately unimpressive draft selections to come out of this spot.
Solid Starter: Sherell Ford (1995), Kevin Martin (2004)
Role Player: Geert Hammink (1993), Charlie Ward (1994), Jerome Williams (1996), Mamadou N’diaye (2000), Samuel Dalembert (2001), John Salmons (2002), Ndudi Ebi (2003), Jason Maxiell (2005), Jordan Farmar (2006), Aaron Brooks (2007), George Hill (2008), Taj Gibson (2009), Jordan Hamilton (2011)
Bench: Charles Smith (1997), Sam Jacobson (1998), Vonteego Cummings (1999), Quincy Pondexter (2010)
Bust: Dave Johnson (1992)
For being a low pick, the 26th pick has turned out to be one of the better value picks in the later part of the first round. The pick rated no lower than 20th in any of the Per 36 Minutes or Advanced Stats categories analyzed for this study with its players turning in the second lowest TOV% of any pick. This is the ideal place to find a role player as 65% of players selected here have posted a career PER between 12.0 and 15.9. Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers selecting in this spot, they are currently a team primarily consisting of role players. Ultimately, adding another player of this caliber is not going to get them over the hump to beat a team like Miami; they would be better served in packaging this pick with a current rotation player in order to get someone is going to have more of an impact.
Solid Starter: Gerald Wallace (2001)
Role Player: Greg Minor (1994), Martin Muursepp (1996), Al Harrington (1998), Carlos Delfino (2003), Tony Allen (2004), Shannon Brown (2006), Nicolas Batum (2008), Rodrigue Beaubois (2009), MarShon Brooks (2011)
Bench: Elmore Spencer (1992), Corie Blount (1993), David Vaughn (1995), John Thomas (1997), Jake Tsakalidis (2000), Frank Williams (2002), Johan Petro (2005), Dominique Jones (2010)
Bust: Tim James (1999), Morris Almond (2007)
The 25th pick is dangerous territory. Over the past 20 years, 50% of those selected went on to become bench players or were total busts. On the other hand, a team would be thrilled to land a Gerald Wallace type player this late in the round, and satisfied with adding a player like Nic Batum. Overall, 25th picks rate in the top 10 in all steal and block categories analyzed; no doubt, current Memphis lockdown defender Tony Allen aided in that fact. The Grizzlies would be fortunate to add another defensive presence in this slot.
All-Star: Sam Cassell (1993), Andrei Kirilenko (1999)
Solid Starter: Serge Ibaka (2008)
Role Player: Latrell Sprewell (1992), Monty Williams (1994), Raul Lopez (2001), Nenad Krstic (2002), Brian Cook (2003), Delonte West (2004), Luther Head (2005), Kyle Lowry (2006), Rudy Fernandez (2007), Byron Mullens (2009)
Bench: Derek Fisher (1996), Felipe Lopez (1998), Reggie Jackson (2011)
Bust: Loren Meyer (1995), Rodrick Rhodes (1997), Dalibor Bagaric (2000), Damion James (2010)
Within the past two years, the en vogue thing to do for small-market, rebuilding teams is to follow the “OKC Model.” That is, make smart trades, don’t overpay for free agents, and most of all, hit on every draft pick you are given. It is a model that the Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to pursue beginning with last year’s selections of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson and the addition of the 4th and 24th picks this year. Fittingly enough, one of the cogs of the Thunder has been Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City’s selection in this spot four years ago. While the addition of an Ibaka type player would be a home run, the addition of any type of quality rotation player like Sam Cassell or Andrei Kirilenko in this spot paired with a running mate for Irving selected at 4 will go a long way in getting the Cavs back into the postseason.
Solid Starter: None
Role Player: Ervin Johnson (1993), Wesley Person (1994), Travis Best (1995), Bobby Jackson (1997), Tyronn Lue (1998), Tayshaun Prince (2002), Travis Outlaw (2003), Francisco Garcia (2005), Josh Boone (2006), Wilson Chandler (2007), Kosta Koufos (2008), Omri Casspi (2009), Trevor Booker (2010)
Bench: Lee Mayberry (1992), Efthimi Rentzias (1996), Devean George (1999), DeShawn Stevenson (2000)
Bust: Brandon Armstrong (2001), Sergei Monia (2004)
DNP: Nikola Mirotic (2011)
It is fitting that the Atlanta Hawks possess the 23rd pick. The Hawks are the walking definition of former Portland GM Kevin Pritchard’s so-called “Treadmill of Mediocrity”; they are a constant playoff team that has almost no chance of being a serious title contender in the near future. As an essentially average to above average team, they match perfectly with the 23rd pick. This pick has produced good ball handlers as they have posted the lowest number of turnovers and TOV% of any top 30 pick. As far as everything else, things have been decidedly average with stats ranging from 17th to 27th ranked in all other categories. Trevor Booker, Bobby Jackson, and Tayshaun Prince are the only players selected 23rd to post PERs at 15.0 or above, generally used as the standard for “average.” Expect more of the same from the ATL in the years to come.
All-Star: Kenneth Faried (2011)
Solid Starter: Elliot Williams (2010)
Role Player: Oliver Miller (1992), Chris Mills (1993), Roy Rogers (1996),Brian Skinner (1998), Kenny Thomas (1999), Donnell Harvey (2000), Jarrett Jack (2005), Jared Dudley (2007), Courtney Lee (2008)
Bench: Ed Gray (1997),Casey Jacobsen (2002), Zoran Planinic (2003), Viktor Khryapa (2004), Marcus Williams (2006)
Bust: Bill Curley (1994), George Zidek (1995), Jeryl Sasser (2001)
DNP: Victor Claver (2009)
This pick is a classic case of solid numbers, but little name recognition among those selected here. The average stats coming out of this pick rank better than 22nd in all categories outside of those related to scoring (points per 36, TS%) and assists (assists per 36, AST%). However, there statistics do not always tell the full story as guys like Elliot Williams, Oliver Williams, and Roy Rogers, despite decent PER numbers, aren’t going to sell tickets. On the positive side, Kenneth Faried’s outstanding rookie season surprised even those who were bullish on him and pegged him as a terrific value pick when it was made last year. With the future of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett up in the air, Boston will need to build for the future and infuse some youth into their lineup with their back-to-back picks here.
Solid Starter: Michael Finley (1995), Rajon Rondo (2006), Ryan Anderson (2008)
Role Player: Jon Barry (1992), Anthony Parker (1997), Ricky Davis (1998), Jeff Foster (1999), Morris Peterson (2000), Boris Diaw (2003), Nate Robinson (2005), Darren Collison (2009)
Bench: James Robinson (1993), Dickey Simpkins (1994), Qyntel Woods (2002), Daequan Cook (2007)
Bust: Dontae’ Jones (1996), Joseph Forte (2001), Pavel Podkolzin (2004), Craig Brackins (2010), Nolan Smith (2011)
Can the Celtics strike gold twice? Six years ago, they found their franchise point guard by selecting Rajon Rondo in this spot. This year, they will attempt to duplicate that feat, if possible. Of course, even a “consolation prize” such as Michael Finley, Ryan Anderson, or Darren Collison would not be bad for Boston. Of course, as long as Boston doesn’t draft the 2012 version of Pavel Podkolzin, he of the -2.8 career PER which rated as the second lowest PER of all 600 draft picks analyzed, they should be OK.
Come back tomorrow as I break down picks 11-20.