A first look at the Top 25 NBA Draft prospects

nerlens noel

Kentucky centre Nerlens Noel

 

Now that the NBA Draft Lottery is over, we know where each team will pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. I thought I’d take this opportunity (before Arturo does) to get in a quick post about the top ranked NCAA basketball players.

Earlier this year we unveiled Wins Produced numbers for college basketball players. This model works for college just like it does for the NBA. Now, keep in mind that college performance does not predict NBA performance perfectly; this exercise simply shows how productive these players were in college last year. But players who are productive in college have a much better chance of being productive in the NBA.

When analyzing the table below, please also note the following:

  • The numbers I’ve used below do not include games played in this year’s NCAA tournament. We will update this analysis in the future.
  • Pay attention to our position assignment. This may not be the position the player will play in the NBA. And as these positions were assigned by an automated process (developed by Arturo Galletti), it also may not have been the position played in college. Position averages for ADJP40 are provided if you wish to calculate WP40 at different positions.

With that in mind, CBS Sports posted a mock draft on May 21st [Editor's note: CBS Sports has since updated their mock draft]. I decided to take the top 25 NCAA players from that mock draft and rank them by Wins Produced per 40 minutes (WP40). That means that this list does not necessarily include the top NCAA players in terms of wins or WP40; I’m simply re-ranking CBS Sports’ top 25 players by WP40.

Table 1: CBS Sports’ Top 25 NCAA Prospects (Ranked by Wins Produced per 40 minutes):

Player Minutes ADJ P40 Position Wins WP40 CBS Rank
Nerlens Noel 765 0.609 4.0 6.3 0.328 1
Victor Oladipo 927 0.563 2.8 7.4 0.318 7
Kelly Olynyk 771 0.611 4.5 6.1 0.318 11
Gorgui Dieng 855 0.572 5.0 5.7 0.268 15
Jeff Withey 1039 0.565 5.0 6.8 0.261 24
Trey Burke 1163 0.453 1.1 7.2 0.246 4
Mason Plumlee 1114 0.534 4.6 6.7 0.239 12
Ben McLemore 1096 0.468 2.2 6.5 0.237 2
Anthony Bennett 913 0.529 4.6 5.3 0.234 3
Cody Zeller 970 0.537 5.0 5.7 0.233 9
Otto Porter 1059 0.517 4.3 6.0 0.228 8
Shane Larkin 1203 0.433 1.0 6.8 0.227 13
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 1086 0.462 2.6 6.0 0.222 20
C.J. McCollum 372 0.461 2.7 2.0 0.220 14
Steven Adams 722 0.520 5.0 3.9 0.216 17
Alex Len 908 0.503 5.0 4.5 0.199 5
Michael Carter-Williams 1231 0.413 2.0 5.7 0.186 6
Tony Mitchell 1037 0.467 4.6 4.5 0.172 25
Jamaal Franklin 985 0.417 3.0 4.2 0.170 23
Allen Crabbe 1123 0.392 3.0 4.0 0.143 18
Lorenzo Brown 1090 0.367 2.0 3.9 0.142 19
Deshaun Thomas 1164 0.402 3.7 3.8 0.130 21
Shabazz Muhammad 948 0.350 3.8 1.7 0.074 10
C.J. Leslie 1099 0.366 5.0 1.7 0.063 22
Archie Goodwin 1014 0.299 2.7 1.5 0.057 16

As you can see, these lists don’t agree perfectly. For example, Jeff Withey is ranked 5th among these players in terms of WP40, but only ranks 24th in CBS Sports’ mock draft. And Shabazz Muhammad is ranked 23rd in WP40, but 10th in the mock draft. But the player ranked #1 by CBS did post the best WP40 of these 25 players.

As promised, if you want to re-calculate a player’s WP40 for a different position, here are the ADJP40 averages by position:

  • PG: 0.309
  • SG: 0.329
  • SF: 0.351
  • PF: 0.384
  • C: 0.406

- DJ and Devin

UPDATE: Just a quick note (from DJ)… I would emphasize that I do not regard the WP40 ranking as a ranking of who will be the best NBA players.  This is simply an analysis of what each player did last year in college.  Again, there is a correlation between college and the NBA. But as anyone who has looked at the numbers understands, it is not perfect.

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