2007 NBA Draft Preview – One Year Later

Today’s guest post is by Erich Doerr.  Erich first contacted me prior to the 2006 NBA Draft with a statistical preview in hand.  Each subsequent year has seen improvement in the depth and breadth of his analysis, and this article kicks off the WoW Journal’s 2008 NBA Draft coverage. Outside of his basketball writing, Erich does consulting work for major software products by day and has started a fledgling sports-themed Open Source software initiative by night. 

It’s May.  Where is your favorite basketball team today?

Most likely, they’ve Gone Fishin’ and fans like yourself are left with a lottery ticket and a long off-season.  With the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery looming, which of the incoming players should your team target for the franchise’s future?

A Win Score analysis of NBA prospects appears to be an interesting and insightful approach to forecasting NBA success.  In the coming week, an analysis of the 2008 NBA draft class will be posted, but first, let’s reflect on a similar assessment of the 2007 draft class.

Scoring on Win Scores

In reviewing last year’s assessments, I will consider the draft slot of the player selected and their ’07/’08 Win Score, grading on a binary pass/fail basis. 

Table One: Review of the 2007 NBA Draft

Win Scores highlighted favorites focused on players not likely to be taken in the first round.  The three players identified were Nick Fazekas, Stephane Lasme, and Rashad Jones-Jennings.  Fazekas and Lasme were chosen with the 34th and 46th picks respectively while Jones-Jennings went un-drafted. 

On the other side, Win Scores seemed rather confident in expecting sub-par play from highly touted lottery picks Corey Brewer, Spencer Hawes, and Acie Law.  The following table shows each NCAA to NBA prediction along with a grade.

After reading David Berri’s recent review of the All-Rookie teams, readers may wonder why players like Carl Landry and Rodney Stuckey aren’t listed here.  The reason is that coming into the 2007 draft, their performance did not indicate differences from professional scouting rankings, so no prediction was made. 

Where predictions were made, Win Scores shot around 70% on NCAA players, which seems to be a lot better than what we see from most GMs.

On the international side, results clearly weren’t as successful.  After a heavy dose of assumptions on unavailable statistics, Yi Jainlain, Rudy Fernandez and Jonas Maciulis seemed good enough to endorse while Tiago Splitter warranted pessimism.  Yi was the only one to get NBA minutes, though his results were a disappointing .132 WS/M.  For the time being, judgment will have to be reserved on the other three.

Quick Thoughts on the Future

How can these results be improved?  First, a dose of humility may help in international player assessment.  It appears league strength makes international league comparisons difficult for the time being.  Second, we’ll be paying much more attention to strength of schedule and collegiate pace in projecting prospects, given some much appreciated reader feedback.  Expect these improvements and more in the forthcoming article on 2008 NBA Draft Prospects.

- Erich Doerr

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