Thursday, May 3, 2012

Draft Dreams Part 2: Playoffs?!?!

In the last Draft Dreams, I measured the success of recent top 5 NBA draft picks by the ultimate yardstick – winning a championship.  This time around, I’ll look at the whole gamut of playoff outcomes.

To recap, I looked at the top 5 picks chosen in the 10 NBA drafts between 2000 and 2009 and examined how those players’ teams fared.[1]  Team performance was measured by how far a given player’s team went in their most successful playoff run with that player; a player had to average at least 15 minutes per game during that season or playoff series in order to get credit for their team’s progress.[2]

1 in 4 of the players studied (26.5%) were total busts in terms of their team impact.  They never were a significant contributor on a playoff team; I call these guys zero-impact players.  This includes obvious draft busts such as Darko Milicic and Adam Morrison, in addition to some guys you don't immediately think of, like Marcus Fizer, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Jay Williams (sorry Jay, bad luck and/or stupidity don't get you off this list).  This category also includes Kevin Love, who is obviously a great player, but hasn’t had much help thus far.

3 out of 4 (73.5%) of these top 5 picks made the playoffs at least once.  Just over half (51%) won at least 1 playoff series.  1 in 3 (32.7%) made it to the conference finals.  As reported in Draft Dreams Part 1, about 1 in 5 (18.4%) players reached the NBA Finals, and roughly 1 in 16 (3 of the 49 players) won an NBA championship.

This short article is only meant to provide a broad overview of the playoff progress of the 49 players in the study, the next couple of posts in this series will break down playoff impact by position.

Sources:, Wikipedia (info retrieved 4/15/2012-4/21/2012)

[1] Ricky Rubio was a top 5 pick in the 2009 draft, but he was omitted from the analysis because he played overseas for 2 years after being drafted, so he is effectively a rookie this season (2011-2012).
[2] For example, Mike Miller played in the 2011 NBA Finals with the Heat, but only averaged 11.9 minutes per game, so he does not receive credit for that playoff run.  Kwame Brown played for the Wizards during the 2004-2005 season during which the Wizards did go to the playoffs, but he only appeared in 42 regular season games and only played in 3 of the team’s 10 playoff games, so he doesn’t get credit for making the playoffs.

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