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What If Each NBA Team Could Re-Do One Draft Pick from Past Decade?

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 24, 2012

What If Each NBA Team Could Re-Do One Draft Pick from Past Decade?

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    The NBA draft is always a crapshoot at best, as teams attempt to guess which players will go on to be stars, and then hope they'll get lucky enough to find a diamond in the rough. 

    As a result, tons of poor picks are made every year. So what if each team could re-do a first-round pick and select someone else? 

    Im not worried about who the team would select instead, just which picks they would want back. 

    To avoid subjectivity, I'm using a formula that I developed in the past to evaluate draft picks. You can find the full explanation here. 

    First of all, what exactly can teams count on when they make a draft pick? Well, unless a team releases or trades a player, they are under the team's control after the draft for up to four years, the maximum length of a rookie contract. So really, when looking at draft steals, we should focus almost exclusively on the first four years of a player's career. 

    As a result, I looked at the first four years of Win Shares data for a player, as provided by basketball-reference.com. Win Shares are an advanced basketball metric calculated so that one Win Share is exactly equal to one win provided by that player to his team's cause. It's the combination of Offensive Win Shares and Defensive Win Shares, a full breakdown of which can be found on this page, called "Calculating Win Shares."

    Starting with the year 1990, when the NBA Draft first introduced the current lottery system, I looked at each and every single player drafted into The Association, tracking their draft position and the amount of Win Shares they produced in their first four seasons in the league. It is important to note that I only evaluated data through the 2007 draft because the players taken in 2008-2011 have not yet played out their first four seasons in the league.

    After I had data for all 1,028 players drafted from 1990-2007, I took the average number of Four-Year Win Shares for each draft position and plotted them on a scatterplot (which you can see in the embedded picture with draft position along the x-axis and Four-Year Win Shares along the y-axis).

    Using a best-fit logistical regression, I found the following formula: Four-Year Win Shares = -5.836* ln (draft position) +24.537.

    For the statistically inclined out there, that equation has a coefficient of determination (r^2) of 0.91024. For the non-statistically inclined, the equation fits extremely well. 

    Using this formula, we can plug in a number for draft position and have the formula show how many Four-Year Win Shares a player drafted there should be expected to produce. For example, the first overall pick of a draft should produce 24.537 Win Shares while the 30th overall pick should produce 4.688. 

    With that data firmly established, we can tell exactly how much players have exceeded or failed to live up to the expectations associated with the slot in which they were drafted. That can be done by subtracting the expected win shares based on the draft position from the actual number of Four-Year Win Shares that players produced. If the difference is positive, the player exceeded expectations by that much and was a bit of a steal. If the difference is negative, the player failed to live up to the expectations and was a bit of a bust. 

    Now let's go back to the Monta Ellis example. 

    Ellis was drafted 40th overall, so he should have been expected to produce 3.08 Four-Year Win Shares. The shooting guard actually produced 13.7 over the first four years of his career, meaning that the Golden State Warriors "stole" 10.69 Four-Year Win Shares when they drafted him. This was still a great pick, there's no denying that. It's just not quite as great as quite a few players drafted ahead of him.

    It's important to realize exactly what we're looking at. As some of you may have realized, even No. 1 picks may be considered steals.

    The formula has changed slightly because I now have data from 1982-2008, but the methodology still remains valid. 

    It is also important to note that only players drafted between 2003-2008 were considered eligible here as those drafted between 2009-2012 have not played out the first four seasons of their careers. 

    The player with the biggest negative difference between expectations and actual production will be selected for each of the 30 teams. 

    Read on to find out who they were. 

Atlanta Hawks: Acie Law IV

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    Year: 2007

    Draft Position: No. 11

    4-Year Win Shares: 1.6

    Expected Win Shares: 9.7

    Difference: -8.1

     

    The sharpshooter from Texas A&M didn't exactly pan out for the Atlanta Hawks, spending just two seasons with the team that drafted him before departing and beginning his career as an NBA journeyman. 

    Law never carved out a role in the NBA, starting just nine games through the first four years of his career and spending the past season in Serbia and Greece. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Thaddeus Young, Rodney Stuckey, Nick Young, Jared Dudley, Wilson Chandler, Arron Afflalo

Boston Celtics: Gerald Green

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    Year: 2005

    Draft Position: No. 18

    4-Year Win Shares: 1.7

    Expected Win Shares: 7.7

    Difference: -6.0

     

    Gerald Green experienced a career resurgence last season with the New Jersey Nets, coming from the D-League and becoming an overnight sensation with his ridiculous jumping skills and offensive contributions. 

    Plagued by a lack of motivation and a bad attitude, Green's career with the Boston Celtics—spanning the first two years he spent in the NBA—didn't get off to the best start he could have hoped for. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Nate Robinson, Jarrett Jack, David Lee, Monta Ellis 

Brooklyn Nets: Marcus Williams

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 22

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.0

    Expected Win Shares: 6.9

    Difference: -6.9

     

    Marcus Williams averaged 6.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a rookie with the New Jersey Nets, but that was the best season of his NBA career. 

    After shooting under 40 percent from the field during each and every one of his first four campaigns in The Association, Williams moved on to playing overseas. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Kyle Lowry, Shannon Brown, Daniel Gibson, Paul Millsap

Charlotte Bobcats: Adam Morrison

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 3

    4-Year Win Shares: -1.4

    Expected Win Shares: 14.8

    Difference: -16.2

     

    Commonly referred to as one of the biggest draft busts of all time, Adam Morrison didn't just fail to live up to the expectations he set up for himself with his play at Gonzaga. "Fail" isn't nearly a strong enough word. 

    Morrison is attempting to make a comeback to the NBA now, but only because he completely flamed out with the Charlotte Bobcats.

    Between his rookie-season benching and knee injuries, Morrison just wasn't ever able to get it going. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry

Chicago Bulls: Tyrus Thomas

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 4

    4-Year Win Shares: 11.8

    Expected Win Shares: 13.7

    Difference: -1.9

     

    A ridiculous athlete, Tyrus Thomas wasn't ever able to turn his hops and shot-blocking ability into consistent success in the NBA. 

    Even though his per game numbers rose during his first three seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Thomas never exhibited the motivation and drive to get better that would have allowed him to maximize his talent. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry

Cleveland Cavaliers: Luke Jackson

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    Year: 2004

    Draft Position: No. 10

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.2

    Expected Win Shares: 10.0

    Difference: -9.8

     

    Injuries limited Luke Jackson to just 46 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the start of his NBA career. After those two lackluster first seasons, Jackson was shipped over to Boston Celtics and quickly waived. 

    He played in just 27 more games, finishing his NBA career with averages of 3.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per contest. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin

Dallas Mavericks: Pavel Podkolzin

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    Year: 2004

    Draft Position: No. 21

    4-Year Win Shares: -0.1

    Expected Win Shares: 7.1

    Difference: -7.2

     

    The 7'5" center was drafted in the first round just one year after withdrawing from the 2003 NBA draft with a pituitary disorder. 

    Pavel Podklozin played in just six games before he was done with the NBA, finishing with a PER of -2.8. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Tony Allen, Kevin Martin, Anderson Varejao

Denver Nuggets: Julius Hodge

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    Year: 2005

    Draft Position: No. 20

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.0

    Expected Win Shares: 7.3

    Difference: -7.3

     

    Julius Hodge only spent 18 games with the Denver Nuggets before the franchise decided to trade him to the Milwaukee Bucks. After just five games with his new team, Hodge was done in the NBA.

    He finished with averages of 1.2 points, 0.7 assists and 0.8 rebounds per game.

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Nate Robinson, Jarrett Jack, David Lee, Monta Ellis

Detroit Pistons: Darko Milicic

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    Year: 2003

    Draft Position: No. 2

    4-Year Win Shares: 4.1

    Expected Win Shares: 16.4

    Difference: -12.3

     

    Does anything really need to be said here? 

    The top five players taken in the 2003 NBA draft, in order, were LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade

     

    Notable Players Taken After: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Chris Kaman

Golden State Warriors: Patrick O'Bryant

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 9

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.5

    Expected Win Shares: 10.5

    Difference: -10.0

     

    After a right foot injury kept him out for the majority of the 2006-2007 season, Patrick O'Bryant never got any better. He continued to be nothing more than a roster filler, even when he spent time in the D-League. 

    In four seasons in the NBA, the seven-footer started as many games as teams he played for: three. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Thabo Sefolosha, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry

Houston Rockets: None

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    Every first-rounder that the Houston Rockets have drafted during the eligible time period has exceed expectations, according to the formula. 

Indiana Pacers: Shawne Williams

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 17

    4-Year Win Shares: 4.5

    Expected Win Shares: 7.9

    Difference: -3.4

     

    Shawne Williams scored 13 points in his NBA debut and then took another 11 games to score 13 points total. 

    He only started six games for the Indiana Pacers during his first two seasons before the team traded him away to the Dallas Mavericks for Eddie Jones. Williams didn't find much success in Dallas, or with the New York Knicks. Or with the New Jersey Nets for that matter. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap

Los Angeles Clippers: Shaun Livingston

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    Year: 2004

    Draft Position: No. 4

    4-Year Win Shares: 4.2

    Expected Win Shares: 13.7

    Difference: -9.5

     

    This is an unfortunate inclusion because Shaun Livingston was on pace to become a solid NBA player before a rural knee injury wrecked his career. 

    Livingston still wasn't going to live up to his expected win shares total, even if he had stayed healthy, but it would have been close enough that Yaroslav Korolev would have been featured here. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Devin Harris, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala 

Los Angeles Lakers: Javaris Crittenton

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    Year: 2007

    Draft Position: No. 19

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.1

    Expected Win Shares: 7.5

    Difference: -7.4

     

    Long before Javaris Crittenton's legal troubles, he was a terrible NBA player. 

    The shooting guard played for three different teams during his first two seasons in the NBA before he exited the league. Crittenton never averaged more than 7.4 points per game for any team. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Daequan Cook, Jared Dudley, Wilson Chandler, Arron Afflalo

Memphis Grizzlies: Troy Bell

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    Year: 2003

    Draft Position: No. 16

    4-Year Win Shares: -0.2

    Expected Win Shares: 8.2

    Difference: -8.4

     

    Troy Bell spent just six games with the Memphis Grizzlies (who traded for his draft rights after the Boston Celtics technically selected him) and never again made it past the D-League level. 

    Bell's NBA career finished with averages of just 1.8 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: David West, Boris Diaw, Kendrick Perkins

Miami Heat: Michael Beasley

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    Year: 2008

    Draft Position: No. 2

    4-Year Win Shares: 10.2

    Expected Win Shares: 16.4

    Difference: -6.2

     

    After his sensational—albeit short—career at Kansas State, Michael Beasley was supposed to be a sensational scorer and rebounder at the next level. 

    However, the forward lacked the desire to be great and off-court troubles plagued him just as much as his cold shooting. 

    After just two seasons in South Beach, Beasley was traded away to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he's struggled to earn consistent playing time. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Danilo Gallinari, Eric Gordon

Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Bogut

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    Year: 2005

    Draft Position: No. 1

    4-Year Win Shares: 16.9

    Expected Win Shares: 19.2

    Difference: -2.3

     

    Andrew Bogut was drafted as a first-overall pick, which means that he has a lot more expectations associated with his draft slot. Even though he earned significantly more four-year win shares than any other player featured in this article, he's still a "bust." 

    Injuries kept Bogut off the court for much of his fourth season and he wasn't exactly able to stay healthy during the other three eligible campaigns. If that had been different, we'd be looking at this Australian big man in an entirely different light. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum

Minnesota Timberwolves: Corey Brewer

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    Year: 2007

    Draft Position: No. 7

    4-Year Win Shares: 2.4

    Expected Win Shares: 11.5

    Difference: -9.1

     

    Corey Brewer's all-around game just wasn't able to transition from Florida to the NBA. 

    The swingman struggled with his shot at the beginning of his career and a solid third season wasn't enough to make up for the rest of the bad start and the missed time he suffered when an ACL injury halted his sophomore campaign. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Joakim Noah, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young

New Orleans Hornets: Cedric Simmons

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 15

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.1

    Expected Win Shares: 8.4

    Difference: -8.3

     

    Cedric Simmons played 45 games during his NBA career, suiting up for four different teams throughout the first three seasons of his post-N.C. State career. 

    The power forward scored 10 points just twice during his time in The Association and averaged just 2.2 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap

New York Knicks: Mardy Collins

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 29

    4-Year Win Shares: -1.6

    Expected Win Shares: 5.8

    Difference: -7.4

     

    Mardy Collins is one of the rare NBA players who actually managed to "earn" negative win shares during three of his first four seasons in the league. 

    Unfortunately for this former Temple guard, he also put up zero win shares in his first season and only played for four seasons total. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Steve Novak, Daniel Gibson, Paul Millsap

Oklahoma City Thunder: Mouhamed Sene

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 10

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.3

    Expected Win Shares: 10.0

    Difference: -9.7

     

    During his 47 games in the NBA, Mouhamed Sene managed to capitalize on his 6'11" frame to the tune of 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. 

    Amazingly enough, he only recorded a single assist during the entirety of his NBA career. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Thabo Sefolosha, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry

Orlando Magic: Fran Vasquez

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    Year: 2005

    Draft Position: No. 11

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.0

    Expected Win Shares: 9.7

    Difference: -9.7

     

    It's pretty easy to call someone a draft bust when they spend a grand total of zero games playing in the league. 

    Fran Vasquez decided to stay in the Spanish ACB League when he was drafted in 2005 and has spent his entire professional career playing overseas. Therefore, he's earned no win shares and fallen well short of the expectations. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Nate Robinson, Jarrett Jack, David Lee, Monta Ellis

Philadelphia 76ers: Jason Smith

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    Year: 2007

    Draft Position: No. 20

    4-Year Win Shares: 3.8

    Expected Win Shares: 7.3

    Difference: -3.5

     

    Jason Smith is getting his career back on track with the New Orleans Hornets after posting a 16.6 PER in his fourth season, but he's got a ways to go after a lackluster first three years. 

    The power forward only averaged 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game during those first three seasons, two of which were spent with the Philadelphia 76ers

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Daequan Cook, Jared Dudley, Wilson Chandler

Phoenix Suns: Zarko Cabarkapa

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    Year: 2003

    Draft Position: No. 17 

    4-Year Win Shares: 1.1

    Expected Win Shares: 7.9

    Difference: -6.8

     

    It only took 52 games for the Phoenix Suns to realize that they'd made a mistake by drafting Zarko Cabarkapa in the 2003 NBA draft. He was then traded to the Golden State Warriors for two second-round draft picks. 

    Back injuries hindered him throughout his career and eventually ended his NBA experience in 2005. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: David West, Boris Diaw, Kendrick Perkins

Portland Trail Blazers: Greg Oden

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    Year: 2007

    Draft Position: No. 1 

    4-Year Win Shares: 6.8

    Expected Win Shares: 19.2

    Difference: -12.4

     

    This might be an entirely different story if Greg Oden had been able to stay healthy, but his ancient knees couldn't hold up his massive frame for more than five minutes. 

    After his run at Ohio State, Oden has played in just 82 games since he's been drafted. 

    When on the court, Oden has performed admirably, but he's spent way too much time in suits and on crutches. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Joakim Noah

Sacramento Kings: Quincy Douby

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 19 

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.0

    Expected Win Shares: 7.5

    Difference: -7.5

     

    Quincy Douby spent three seasons in the NBA before going abroad, but he never managed to start a single game. 

    The 6'3" guard out of Rutgers finished his time in The Association with averages of 4.1 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap

San Antonio Spurs: None

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    Every first-rounder that the San Antonio Spurs have drafted during the eligible time period has exceed expectations, according to the formula. 

Toronto Raptors: Rafael Araujo

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    Year: 2004

    Draft Position: No. 8 

    4-Year Win Shares: -0.4

    Expected Win Shares: 10.9

    Difference: -11.3

     

    Even though Rafael Araujo posted positive win shares totals during his first and third (also his last) seasons in the NBA, his second campaign was brutally poor. 

    Appearing in 52 games while starting 34 of them, the center shot 36.6 percent from the field and averaged 2.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game with a PER of 4.5. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Andre Iguodala, Kris Humphries, Al Jefferson

Utah Jazz: Morris Almond

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    Year: 2007

    Draft Position: No. 25 

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.0

    Expected Win Shares: 6.4

    Difference: -6.4

     

    It should say a lot that the best picture I could find of Morris Almond was of the guard playing in the D-League. He only spent 38 games in The Association, averaging 3.1 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. 

    Almond is the prototypical NBA example of a Quad-A player.

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Aaron Brooks, Arron Afflalo, Carl Landry 

Washington Wizards: Oleksiy Pecherov

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    Year: 2006

    Draft Position: No. 18 

    4-Year Win Shares: 0.5

    Expected Win Shares: 7.7

    Difference: 7.2

     

    A seven-footer who was almost drafted in the lottery portion of the 2006 NBA draft, Oleksiy Pecherov lasted two seasons and 67 games with the Washington Wizards before he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

    During his only three seasons in the NBA, the big man averaged 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. 

     

    Notable Players Drafted After: Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap

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