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Visualization of Success in the NBA Draft

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US Presswire

A vision of mine has been how to track success of different NBA players taken in the draft throughout the years. I have wondered, “Who is the best player taken with the No. 13 pick in the draft? Can you draft a franchise player outside the top 10 picks? Is being a low-seed playoff team really the worst long-term result for a team? Will the Kings ever make the playoffs again?” As you can see, this has taken up quite some time, and are really important questions for me.

Thanks to basketball-reference.com, and their extensive database, I was able to create a database of information that helped visualize the information I was looking at.

Here is the result of my research, with some details:

  • I only have data from the years since the lottery was instituted. That means no Michael Jordan, as the lottery was instituted in 1985, the year after MJ was drafted.
  • All players are listed under the team that drafted them. Draft day trades weren’t accounted for, ie Jimmer Fredette is under the Milwaukee Bucks, despite being traded to the Sacramento Kings, but Kyrie Irving is under the Cleveland Cavaliers, because the Los Angeles Clippers had traded the pick prior to the draft.
  • If you notice something, comment below and I’ll see if I can fix it. 

Play around with the filters, and see what you learn yourself. Here are some of the things that were most interesting to me:

  • Steve Nash is the most successful non-lottery pick since 1985.
  • The NBA tier of teams that are “mediocre,” meaning they make the playoffs, but don’t advance past the first round, have not yet produced many franchise players. These teams pick most often between 15-23, and only one player taken in those picks would be considered a franchise player – Nash. The most notable players so far are Nash, Mark Jackson, Shawn Kemp, A.C. Green, and Michael Finley. Players like Josh Smith, Zach Randolph, Kawhi Leonard, Roy Hibbert, and Ty Lawson may get there, but more time is needed.
  • Andre Miller has had a really great career, and no one has noticed. For comparison, Allen Iverson played 13 seasons, and finished with a win share of 99.0. Andre Miller is in his 14th season, and has a win share of 96.1. Miller hasn’t had the MVP’s, All-Star games, sponsorship deals, or Finals appearances, but steady consistency may end up in a tremendous career.
  • Steph Curry and Ty Lawson have nearly identical win shares with the same number of years experience. Their careers will be interesting to track, as they seem to have separated from the rest of the ’09 draft class.
  • Not including the franchise players from 2003, but 2000-2005 hasn’t exactly produced a lot of fantastic players. It may explain why the NBA players seem so young (at least to me.)
  • If your team doesn’t get the top pick, it seems like ending up with pick No. 5 hasn’t turned out poorly for many teams. Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Scottie Pippen, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love – that’s an elite team, all taken with the fifth pick. I left out Vince Carter, Devin Harris, Jason Richardson, Jeff Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Jonas Valanciunas, and Mike Miller. Not too shabby, five.
  • LeBron James is really good. Like, really really good.

If you find something interesting, say so in the comments. I may update the table later, with information like “franchises played for,” and “All-Star game appearances.” If you have suggestions, again, please say so in the comments.

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