The Dollars and Cents of the NBA Draft, Pt. 2

M ConmyCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2008

Case Study: OJ Mayo 

There is no doubt that OJ Mayo is the best player on the USC basketball team.

Despite the fact that Mayo played about 36 minutes per game and took about 34.5 percent of the Trojans' shots, he still managed to effectively shoot 52 percent from the field, thanks in large part to his ability to consistently shoot the three. (source:

OJ also has an impressive skill set, marked by his ability to create space with a quick jab step, routinely split defenders, and beat his man in one-on-one situations. He is also NBA ready to play the one, with great height and build for that position.

The point of the preceding is not to sing his praises, but to make it clear that Mayo is ready for the NBA.

This article is not going to focus on how he could improve his game or potential by staying in college; this argument really doesn't hold any water. What we are going to focus on is the definite positives and negatives that will affect Mayo's draft stock in the future.

Here is the Comparison Matrix again for reference:


Pay Comparison Matrix In the NBA Lottery: Percentage Increase/Decrease over pay received in 1st Year at that position in the draft
Pick # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 0.0% 11.8% 24.5% 38.0% 52.4% 67.8% 83.9%
2 -10.5% 0.0% 11.4% 23.5% 36.4% 50.2% 64.5%
3 -19.7% -10.2% 0.0% 10.9% 22.5% 34.8% 47.7%
4 -27.6% -19.0% -9.8% 0.0% 10.4% 21.6% 33.2%
5 -34.4% -26.7% -18.4% -9.4% 0.0% 10.1% 20.6%
6 -40.4% -33.4% -25.8% -17.7% -9.2% 0.0% 9.5%
7 -45.6% -39.2% -32.3% -24.9% -17.1% -8.7% 0.0%
8 -50.2% -44.3% -38.0% -31.2% -24.0% -16.4% -8.4%
9 -54.2% -48.8% -43.0% -36.8% -30.2% -23.1% -15.8%
10 -56.5% -51.4% -45.8% -39.9% -33.7% -27.0% -20.0%
11 -58.7% -53.8% -48.6% -43.0% -37.0% -30.6% -24.0%
12 -60.7% -56.1% -51.1% -45.8% -40.1% -34.1% -27.8%
13 -62.7% -58.3% -53.6% -48.5% -43.1% -37.4% -31.4%
14 -64.6% -60.4% -55.9% -51.1% -46.0% -40.5% -34.8%
  8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1 100.7% 118.3% 129.8% 142.0% 154.7% 168.1% 182.2%
2 79.6% 95.3% 105.6% 116.5% 127.8% 139.8% 152.5%
3 61.2% 75.4% 84.6% 94.4% 104.6% 115.4% 126.7%
4 45.4% 58.2% 66.5% 75.3% 84.5% 94.2% 104.4%
5 31.6% 43.2% 50.8% 58.7% 67.0% 75.8% 85.1%
6 19.6% 30.1% 36.9% 44.2% 51.7% 59.7% 68.1%
7 9.2% 18.7% 25.0% 31.6% 38.5% 45.8% 53.5%
8 0.0% 8.8% 14.5% 20.6% 26.9% 33.6% 40.6%
9 -8.1% 0.0% 5.3% 10.8% 16.6% 22.8% 29.2%
10 -12.7% -5.0% 0.0% 5.3% 10.8% 16.6% 22.8%
11 -17.1% -9.8% -5.0% 0.0% 5.2% 10.8% 16.6%
12 -21.2% -14.3% -9.8% -5.0% 0.0% 5.3% 10.8%
13 -25.1% -18.6% -14.3% -9.7% -5.0% 0.0% 5.3%
14 -28.9% -22.6% -18.6% -14.2% -9.7% -5.0% 0.0%

Let's look at a table of draft projections for Mayo:


Mayo Draft Projections (As of March 30, 2008)*
Website/Pundit Projection 4.0 5.0 4.0 8.0 5.0 5.0 8.0 5.0
 DEVIATION +/- 1.6


*Must have been updated in the past two weeks

This sample was generated simply by putting NBA Mock Draft into Google and combing through the results.

Obviously there are faults with this method, as it may let in unreliable sources, but this is about as unbiased a sample as one can get. It's very consistent as well; notice that every value falls well within two standard deviations from the mean.  Assuming OJ can expect to go fifth or sixth in the draft, how much higher could he go if he stays one more year?

The single biggest motivator for Mayo to stay is the simple fact that next year's draft class will simply not be as good as this one. An exit this year will likely mean Mayo must go against other talented guards including Rose, Gordon, Bayless, Westbrook, and import Danilo Gallinari. Additionally, if teams are in need of big men, Mayo will also be indirectly competing against Beasley, (Brook) Lopez, and Griffin.

What about next year?

In terms of guards there are not many who look to have the same level of talent and athleticism as Mayo.

Demar Derozan has the athleticism, but not the skill set. Brandon Jennings may develop to rival Mayo as well, but the only guard coming out next year with comparable talent, athleticism, and the all-important upside is ASU's James Harden.

Next year's lottery also looks to feature a dirge of talented big men including B.J. Mullens, Joe Alexander, Al-Farouq Aminu, Kosta Koufos, and Jordan Hill. For teams in immediate need of a guard, Mayo will look extremely attractive in a crowded field of big men.

By simply staying one more year and generating comparable numbers, Mayo will at least improve one pick (and possibly two).

Mayo should also benefit from better overall talent at USC next year. Logically, Mayo should become a scoring point next season with Derozan and Hackett taking over the SG/SF positions.

Additionally, Mayo will likely not be depended upon for so many minutes as USC should finally be able to overcome the large number of injuries they endured this past season. Likely, this means better efficiency for Mayo along with fewer turnovers, which again means a higher spot in the draft.

On the flip side, the biggest issue Mayo faces is potential worsening. If his statistics either a.) stay similar without increased efficiency or b.) get worse, then it's likely that he will face significant backlash from the scouts thanks to all of the hype that has surrounded him since junior high.

This is no trivial concern, as Tim Floyd is first and foremost a defensive minded coach, and Mayo's offensive numbers would be considered impressive on more or less every team in the country.

However, in lieu of a great deal of regression year over year Mayo would only face a potential, and I stress potential, drop of one or two picks.

OJ must also look carefully at being outclassed by a player on his own team, namely projected future lottery pick Demar Derozan. Being a talented player on a talented team rarely hurts ones draft stock, but the potential exists for Derozan to play the 2 better than Mayo did this year on a similar team. This could cost Mayo a pick as well.

The tally so far?

A definite +1 based on talent level of the next draft class, with +1 on potential increased efficiency. This goes with -2 for potential stagnation along with a possible -1 for being outclassed on his own teammate.

In other words, Mayo could go as high as second overall, but is more likely to go third or fourth, while facing a potential downside of seventh or eighth overall.

Using the pay comparison matrix, this translates to a range of increases of +10.4 percent to +50.2 percent based on whether he would go fifth or sixth this year up to fourth to second next year. On the other hand, Mayo could see a loss, again depending on whether he would go fifth or sixth this year down to seventh or eighth, of -8.7 percent to -24.0 percent.

Even with this fairly concrete analysis (which is by no means comprehensive) we still get a great deal of uncertainty in our results (+10.4 percent to +50.2 percent against -8.7 percent to -24.0 percent).

Regardless, assuming the analysis is correct then Mayo should stay for one more year.

Now adjust for reality, take into account the shortcomings mentioned in the first article.

Also, Mayo may not be risk neutral.

He may want to take the sure thing now over future uncertainty. We also cannot say how much factors such as the desire to win a championship or family financial situations may effect his final decision. Regardless, from a purely economic perspective, Mayo should bide his time.

As an aside, anyone can easily perform this kind of analysis. Look at the assumptions and facts I worked with starting in the opening paragraphs and then collect a little data on expectations of draft position. Obviously players like Mayo, Rose, or Beasley are easier to analyze than others, but this type of analysis should work for any player.

Finally thanks to OJ for the fun season at USC, and I wish the best of luck to him and all players considering entering the NBA draft this year.

questions/comments: ??conmy??@??  (delete the question marks)


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