Cleveland Cavaliers GM Chris Grant's Odds of Finding the Next LeBron James

Dave MarinoContributor IMarch 2, 2011

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 06:  Guard Baron Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers and Forward LeBron James of  the Miami Heat chat at American Airlines Arena on February 6, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Clippers 97-79. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant and Owner Dan Gilbert are taking a new approach to rebuilding their NBA team.

Grant took on what many feel is an "untradeable" contract by acquiring Baron Davis from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Cavs also received a 2011 top 10 draft pick from the Clippers for taking on Davis and his massive deal.

This type of trade is the first of its kind, mainly because there aren't many owners like Gilbert. Most GM's would have a hard time convincing their boss to spend $13 million on a potential high draft pick. With Gilbert's deep pockets and a strong determination to win, Grant has the rare luxury of making moves without being concerned with the financial repercussions.

Most NBA fans understand the importance of acquiring talent through the draft and through trades. What a lot of casual fans might not know is just how important it is to have a top 10 draft pick.

With the recent Baron Davis deal, Grant already seems to understand just how important it is. He also had a deal in place with the Pistons for Rip Hamilton. Rumor has it that Cleveland would have sent the LeBron James trade exception to Detroit for Hamilton and an unprotected 2011 first round pick. That pick would have most likely been in the top 10 also.

I recently did a little research to find out the difference between having a top 10 pick, a mid first round pick and a late first round pick. I took 10 NBA drafts from 1997 to 2006 and placed the first 30 players drafted into four groups:

  1. Franchise Players: LeBron James, Tim Duncan, etc.
  2. All-Stars: Joe Johnson, LaMarcus Aldridge, etc.
  3. Solid Rotation Players: Luol Deng, Jamal Crawford, etc.
  4. Busts: Robert Traylor, Rafael Araujo, etc.

I kept the top 10, mid round and late round picks in separate categories to determine the chance a team has of selecting a player from each group. By using 10 drafts it was easy to find the percentage, because there are exactly 100 players in each category.

There are two reasons why I used the 10 drafts from 1997 to 2006. Firstly, I don't believe the last few drafts can be accurately measured yet. Secondly, the draft years that were chosen have similar characteristics (talent, scouting, etc.) to the upcoming draft, compared to a draft, say, from the 1980's. The results below show the chance a team has of selecting a player from one of the four groups.


Picks 1-10:

  1. Franchise Player - 16 percent
  2. All-Star - 22 percent
  3. Solid Rotation Player - 24 percent
  4. Bust - 38 percent


Picks 11-20:

  1. Franchise Player - 0 percent
  2. All-Star - 6 percent
  3. Solid Rotation Player - 20 percent
  4. Bust - 74 percent


Picks 21-30:

  1. Franchise Player - 0 percent
  2. All-Star - 7 percent
  3. Solid Rotation Player - 25 percent
  4. Bust - 68 percent

What stood out to me was that there was not one franchise player found after the 10th pick and the chances of finding an all-star decreased by 15-16 percent.

I was so shocked that I went back and took a second look at some other 90's and 00's drafts. I could only find two franchise players (Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash from the 1996 Draft) that were drafted after the top 10.

It also showed that there isn't much of a difference between selecting in the middle or at the end of the first round.

Gilbert has proven that he is willing to spend money on free agents and players acquired through trades. With Cleveland not being a top free agent destination, I hope Gilbert continues to let Grant give millions away for high draft picks as that seems to be the only way to find the next franchise player or better yet... players.