Metrics 101: Ranking NBA Draft Track Records for Each Team's Commander in Chief

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJune 20, 2017

Metrics 101: Ranking NBA Draft Track Records for Each Team's Commander in Chief

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    The NBA draft is hard. Whether teams are picking first overall or trying to unearth second-round gems, it's difficult to find high-quality players while avoiding busts.

    Each team has one point person (general manager, president of basketball operations, etc.) who ultimately makes the call at each draft slot, and some of those executives are better at navigating the pitfalls than others. 

    To determine which of the 30 current front-office commanders in chief are best at this process, we're turning to the numbers. 

    The NBA's current top decision-makers have drafted 370 total players in their careers. That's just a portion of the 1,182 total selections since 1997. But all 1,182 are important to give us a true sense of expected value at each of the 60 annual slots.

    Using NBA Math's total points added (TPA) model, we've broken down the careers of every draftee since '97 to determine average TPA per season by pick. The No. 1 selection should produce 33.42 TPA per season, while the final pick of the draft sits at minus-13.55 TPA, as you can see from the regression here

    The expected TPA per season was then compared to each player's actual score. Career longevity was factored in by giving proportional weight to players who exceeded or fell short of expectations for longer periods of time. Players were attributed to the teams that drafted them, or the teams that otherwise acquired them that same summer. 

    You won't find Travis Schlenk (Atlanta Hawks), Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers), Jon Horst (Milwaukee Bucks), Jeff Weltman (Orlando Magic) or David Griffin's replacement in Cleveland in these rankings, because 2017 will be their first NBA draft on record as top decision-makers.

25. Sean Marks, Brooklyn Nets

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Score: -94.11

    Since taking over as the Brooklyn Nets general manager in February 2016, Sean Marks hasn't been granted too many opportunities to prove himself during draft season. The previous brain trust prevented him from using any lofty selections to capitalize on the misfortunes of his franchise, leaving him with just the Nos. 20 and 42 picks in the 2016 NBA draft. 

    That's the (kind of) good news. Marks can easily turn around his premature score, due both to the size of the sample with which we're working and the youth of the players linked to his name. 

    But giving him the benefit of the doubt is also tougher when both Caris LeVert (No. 20 in 2016) and Isaiah Whitehead (No. 42 in 2016) struggled during their rookie seasons.

    Though the former showed offensive potential as a score-first option once he made his injury-delayed debut in December, consistency eluded him while playing on a bottom-feeding squad that didn't have many players capable of distracting the defense. He still failed to match the expectations of a No. 20 pick (minus-0.94 TPA per season, which checks in only slightly below the league average) by finishing with minus-28.71 TPA. 

    Marks now has two first-round selections (Nos. 22 and 27) at his disposal, and he'll have to hit on one or hope for a LeVert breakthrough in order to creep out of last place. 

24. Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

    Score: -72.75

    Tom Thibodeau enjoys a sterling reputation as a coach, and it's well deserved. He established himself as a defensive genius throughout his years with the Chicago Bulls, even if the Minnesota Timberwolves struggled to prevent points at a league-average level during his first season running the show. 

    But when he agreed to the Minnesota transition, he also took over as president of basketball operations for the first time in his career. That's an entirely different role, one that forces him to step beyond his comfort zone of coaching up a defense and working on player development. 

    Much like Marks, we don't yet have a great sense for what Thibodeau can do in the draft. He's made only a single pick which leaves him without an established track record and places even more importance on Minnesota's lone choice in 2017 (No. 7). That 2016 pick didn't work out well during his rookie season, as Kris Dunn went from being an exciting prospect at No. 4 who could possible force Ricky Rubio onto the trade block to likely missing out on any All-Rookie accolades. 

    This is how's Zach Lowe finished his article about the All-Rookie (and All-Defense) selections: "Additional apologies to: Alex Abrines, Tyler Ulis (too late!), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (finishing well!), Kris Dunn (not really), Jakob Poeltl, and Juancho Hernangomez."

    It's not exactly a good sign when that was literally the first mention of the point guard. 

    Dunn did display impressive defensive skills during his inaugural season, and there's plenty of time for the 23-year-old to turn around his professional career. But his one go-round is all we have for Thibodeau's draft history, which isn't good news for the man in charge of the 'Wolves. 

23. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix Suns

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Score: -66.12

    Dating back to 2013, Ryan McDonough has been responsible for acquiring 11 players through the draft. Not a single one has met the expectations established over the last two decades, unless you include Alex Oriakhi (No. 57 in 2013), Bogdan Bogdanovic (No. 27 in 2014) and Alec Brown (No. 50 in 2014). All three have yet to play in the NBA, which technically makes them more valuable than the below-average contributors who typically come from their respective draft slots. 

    Of the eight to suit up at the sport's highest level, Marquese Chriss (No. 8 in 2016) has come closest to producing positive results. Especially during the tail end of the 2016-17 campaign, he displayed impressive two-way skills that offered hints at potential stardom. But he was still lost for much of his rookie season and failed to live up to the top-10 billing while he learned the game by being thrown into the fire—a description that also applies to Dragan Bender, who was picked four slots earlier in the 2016 NBA draft. 

    But what about Devin Booker (No. 13 in 2015)? 

    Yes, the shooting guard has a 70-point game under his belt. He's an offensive force playing with extreme confidence as he continues adjusting to the NBA, and there's a legitimate chance he could blossom into one of the game's better 2s. But the inefficiency that plagued him early in his career and his consistently woeful defense have still made him an overall negative, even if he submitted a positive score in TPA's offensive component this past campaign. 

    He gives McDonough the best chance at a legitimate gem from the 11 selections, and there's still a solid chance he won't be the only one. Tyler Ulis (No. 34 in 2016), T.J. Warren (No. 14 in 2014), Alex Len (No. 5 in 2013) and the other bigs could all blossom as they move deeper into their careers. 

    But thus far, the results just aren't there, in spite of the enduring potential. 

22. Phil Jackson, New York Knicks

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Score: -26.82

    Not much of what Phil Jackson has done with the New York Knicks has worked out. He's handed out an albatross contract to Joakim Noah, failed to find impact free agents capable of pulling the organization out of the dumps and bickered with Carmelo Anthony to a harmful level. The Knicks are still mired in futility, and their reputation is suffering as a result. 

    More important for our purposes: He's also failed to make the most of the organization's draft picks. Let's rewind to 2014, when he had his first chance to add young talent. 

    That year, the Knicks wound up making three selections. Cleanthony Early (No. 34) spent two seasons missing too many shots for New York and was then waived, while Thanasis Antetokounmpo (No. 51) only made two appearances as a rookie before he was also cut. Louis Labeyrie (No. 57) has yet to appear in the NBA. 

    But hitting on second-round selections is notoriously difficult. Maybe Jackson could use two top-20 picks one year later to change his reputation. 

    Well, Jerian Grant (No. 19) was shipped to the Chicago Bulls in the unsuccessful Derrick Rose deal after a disappointing rookie season, and Kristaps Porzingis (No. 4) hasn't yet lived up to the billing, through no fault of his own. The Latvian 7-footer still displays enormous potential on both ends, but the Knicks have squandered him by forcing him into roles that aren't the best uses of his franchise-altering talent. 

    Porzingis should one day make Jackson's draft-day efforts look much more impressive. The production just hasn't been there yet, as he's accumulated 12.65 TPA in his two-year career—a positive score, but substantially shy of the 17.52 TPA per season the last 20 years have taught us to expect from No. 4 selections. 

21. Rich Cho, Charlotte Hornets

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    Kent Smith/Getty Images

    Score: -26.13

    Rich Cho is a perfect example of the extent to which a single quality player can save a draft track record. 

    Overall, the Charlotte Hornets general manager has misfired far too often.

    Bismack Biyombo (No. 7 in 2011) and Noah Vonleh (No. 9 in 2014) have turned into massive busts who were hyped up too much as a result of their athleticism-driven upside. P.J. Hairston (No. 26 in 2014) is another first-round failure, while Frank Kaminsky (No. 9 in 2015) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (No. 2 in 2012) both have significant flaws pushing them down the same track.

    And second-rounders Jeff Taylor (No. 31 in 2012), Jeremy Tyler (No. 39 in 2011) and Semaj Christon (No. 55 in 2014) haven't exactly worked out in the Association. 

    Cho's first saving grace is Cody Zeller (No. 4 in 2013), who has provided almost exactly what you should expect from a No. 4 pick through his first four seasons. The big man is also constantly improving, to the point that he's now one of the league's most underrated centers and should start to become a distinct overachiever for his draft slot in 2017-18. 

    But this is still all about Kemba Walker (No. 9 in 2011). 

    A typical No. 9 pick is expected to produce 8.22 TPA per season, and Walker is currently sitting at 111.2 after making the first All-Star squad of his career. He's a bona fide gem, and it's not like he'll be falling out of the elite ranks anytime soon. 

    Even with Walker, the Charlotte general manager has a negative score in our analysis. Remove him from the equation, though, and Cho's mark of minus-53.8 would push him two spots closer to the bottom of these rankings. 

20. Vlade Divac, Sacramento Kings

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Score: -21.72

    All of Vlade Divac's draft picks during his brief tenure in charge of the Sacramento Kings could still work out. 

    Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 6 in 2015) provided mixed results during his sophomore season. He backslid on the offensive end as his role changed in the wake of DeMarcus Cousins' departure but continued to thrive on defense. As soon as the Kings pin him down in the right role, he should be able to morph into a two-way asset, even if his only offensive contributions come from him doing a Tristan Thompson imitation. 

    The futures of Skal Labissiere (No. 28 in 2016) and Georgios Papagiannis (No. 13 in 2016) are more up in the air, but both showed off their upside during the tail end of 2016-17. The latter even averaged 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 62.1 percent from the field during his final 10 appearances. Maintaining their skills over larger samples, however, is still going to be a tough task. 

    Divac's history is so threadbare that those three players are his only to appear in NBA games. Isaiah Cousins (No. 59 in 2016) could change that eventually, but he was waived after the preseason before latching on with the D-League's Reno Bighorns and was never called up during what could've been his rookie season. 

    With Nos. 5 and 10 in the 2017 NBA draft, Divac will have a chance to drastically alter the early reputation. But the Kings could go so many different directions with those picks that maintaining any type of confidence in the direction is a tough proposition. 

19. Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

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    Score: -17.62

    If this were a ranking of general managers' overall skills, Daryl Morey would sit near the top.

    The analytical genius has proved a master of trades and free-agency signings that boost his team's success. Acquiring James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder and landing Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza to provide defense around the bearded guard are proof enough. He's had a vision—maximizing threes and eschewing mid-range jumpers—and done everything in his power to implement it successfully. 

    But the draft picks haven't all worked out. 

    Clint Capela (No. 25 in 2014) is becoming the biggest exception, and he should take that role over from Patrick Patterson (No. 14 in 2010) as his career continues to progress. Montrezl Harrell (No. 32 in 2015) and Chinanu Onuaku (No. 37 in 2016) have also found enough success in smaller roles to outpace the expectations associated with their second-round slots. 

    And that's where the positives end. 

    Morey hasn't had enough lofty selections to land any true busts—he's picked no higher than No. 12 during his decade in charge. But players such as Aaron Brooks (No. 26 in 2007), Jeremy Lamb (No. 12 in 2012) and Donatas Motiejunas (No. 20 in 2011) haven't done much to elevate his standing on draft night. 

18. Ernie Grunfeld, Washington Wizards

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Score: -15.46

    Few current general managers have been plying their trade as long as Ernie Grunfeld, whose first draft-day selection came back in 1991, when he landed Greg Anthony out of UNLV with the No. 12 pick. Anthony never blossomed into anything special. He averaged double-figure points just once in his 11-year career and finished as a thoroughly average contributor by posting 0.3 TPA per season. 

    And that set the stage for a career filled with everything from massive steals to gargantuan busts, though Grunfeld has leveled out in positive fashion lately. 

    The first few decades brought success stories—most notably, Charlie Ward (No. 26 in 1994) and Michael Redd (No. 43 in 2000). But they had even more memorable failures, like Hubert Davis (No. 20 in 1992), Ronald "Flip" Murray (No. 42 in 2002) and Nick Young (No. 16 in 2007). It's only recently that the narrative has flipped. 

    John Wall (No. 1 in 2010) has already surpassed Ward and Redd as the best pick of Grunfeld's career, and the gap should only grow as the athletic floor general continues to rack up All-Star appearances. Bradley Beal (No. 3 in 2012) and Otto Porter Jr. (No. 3 in 2013) also serve as examples of early picks turning into high-quality contributors, and both youngsters are only continuing to improve for the Washington Wizards. 

    But unless Grunfeld keeps hitting, both in 2017 and beyond, he won't be able to overcome the up-and-down nature of his early years. 

17. Pat Riley, Miami Heat

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    Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images

    Score: -12.19

    Pat Riley has worked as an executive for the Miami Heat for quite some time now, but we're only including his draft history after general manager Randy Pfund's tenure with the team ended in 2008. That gives Riley nine years to work with, and the results tend to fall into four different categories. 

    First, the failures. 

    Norris Cole has been disappointing throughout his NBA career. He is Riley's biggest bust despite coming off the board behind 27 other players in 2011. Shabazz Napier (No. 24 in 2014) also falls into this category, though there's a slight chance he could turn his career around. 

    Then we have the legitimate successes. 

    Riley was responsible for drafting Patrick Beverley (No. 42 in 2009, via a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers), even if the pesky defender played internationally for a few seasons before signing with the Houston Rockets and beginning his NBA career in earnest. Josh Richardson (No. 40 in 2015) is the other acquisition who qualifies here, in spite of his poor shooting as he recovered from injury in 2016-17. 

    A handful of players fall in between the two groups by failing to establish themselves as busts or gems after coming off the board in the second round: James Ennis (No. 50 in 2013), Justin Hamilton (No. 45 in 2012), Jarvis Varnado (No. 41 in 2010) and Dexter Pittman (No. 32 in 2010). 

    Then there's Justise Winslow (No. 10 in 2015), who needs a category of his own. Shoulder problems prevented the defensive ace from developing on offense during his sophomore season, and he still grades out in slightly underwhelming fashion. But it's far too early to call him a bust, and establishing any sort of rhythm from the perimeter would push him—and Riley's drafting history in general—into the green. 

16. Chris Wallace, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Score: -10.35

    Between his tenures with the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies, Chris Wallace has been responsible for 22 selections. Only five have been positive, but Jarnell Stokes (No. 35 in 2014) and Jordan Adams (No. 22 in 2014) don't really count as overwhelming successes. 

    DeMarre Carroll is the least positive of the three gems, but he's still turned into a three-and-D asset after slipping to the No. 27 pick of the 2009 NBA draft. Though it wasn't until he left the Grizzlies that he broke out, that still counts for our purposes. 

    Joe Johnson (No. 10 in 2001) falls into the same category. He was the first pick of Wallace's time with the C's, but he was traded to the Phoenix Suns after just 48 appearances in a green uniform, and it wasn't until he joined the Atlanta Hawks that he became an All-Star.

    However, Mike Conley breaks the pattern. 

    The No. 4 selection in 2007, Conley has become the feather in Wallace's cap, and he's only continuing to improve now that he's signed the largest deal in NBA history. Though the point guard isn't an All-NBA player, he's a legitimate All-Star contender who can thrive on both ends of the floor by blowing away any and all expectations associated with men selected outside of the top three. 

    Still, those three—or five—aren't enough to cancel out all the misfires. 

    O.J. Mayo (No. 3 in 2008) and Xavier Henry (No. 12 in 2010) have become massive busts, and the list of underwhelming selections made in Memphis has grown rather lengthy. 

15. Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz

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    Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

    Score: -7.54

    If Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey isn't sending a thank-you note to Rudy Gobert (No. 27 in 2013) every day of the week, he needs to start doing so. Of the 10 selections he's made dating back to 2013, only five have avoided negative scores, and the French 7-footer is the clear outlier in that group. 

    Olivier Hanlan (No. 42 in 2015), Marcus Paige (No. 55 in 2016) and Tyrone Wallace (No. 60 in 2016) have stayed out of the red because they've combined to log zero minutes in the Association. Joel Bolomboy (No. 52 in 2016) has only been a slight negative in sparse minutes, which is more than you can typically expect from one of the bottom 10 picks in any draft. 

    And that leaves Gobert.

    Not only is he a leading Defensive Player of the Year candidate who's developed into one of the premier rim protectors in recent NBA history, but he's also becoming a positive on offense. Improving touch around the basket, self awareness and incredible length have made him an efficient scorer, even if he doesn't have any sort of range that extends beyond the paint. That's far more than most teams ever get from a player who just barely snuck into the first round. 

    Remove Gobert from the equation, and the busts carry even more weight. That includes Trey Burke (No. 9 in 2013), Trey Lyles (No. 12 in 2015) and Dante Exum (No. 5 in 2014), although the latter two still have plenty of time to reverse course on their careers. 

    Lindsey would sit at No. 23 if Gobert didn't exist. 

14. Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Score: -6.04

    Since taking charge of the Los Angeles Clippers as both the man leading the front office and the head coach, Doc Rivers hasn't had too many opportunities to make draft-day splashes. He's used only six picks, and none of them have come earlier than No. 25. 

    The good news here is that it's hard to disappoint when you're selecting outside the lottery every time; the expectations are already so low that even underachieving second-round picks can only do so much damage to your resume. Plus, even one success story can pay major dividends. 

    But there's still bad news for Rivers: He hasn't truly hit on a single pick. 

    Technically, Branden Dawson (No. 56 in 2015) and Brice Johnson (No. 25 in 2016) have exceeded their draft-slot expectations by meager amounts. But they haven't cancelled out Reggie Bullock (No. 25 in 2013), C.J. Wilcox (No. 28 in 2014) and Diamond Stone (No. 40 in 2016), all of whom have been distinct negatives during their nondescript NBA careers. 

    There just isn't much to say about Rivers' drafting, if only because we don't know what he'd do with a top pick. And we won't find out for a while longer, since the Clippers have no selections in the 2017 NBA draft. 

13. Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Score: -5.37

    Now that he's traded the top selection of the upcoming draft to the Philadelphia 76ers, the pressure is on Ainge to overcome his relative lack of success in the draft. He'll still have the No. 3 pick this year, and he could potentially have each of the top two choices in 2018 after continuing to stockpile future assets. 

    Unfortunately, his history doesn't inspire too much confidence. 

    Ainge does have a handful of positive picks throughout his time with the Boston Celtics, but even those can't earn him too much trust. While Rajon Rondo (No. 21 in 2006), Tony Allen (No. 25 in 2004), Delonte West (No. 24 in 2004) and Al Jefferson (No. 15 in 2004) all emerged as great finds, they came more than a decade ago. Lately, the only overachievers he's found are Kelly Olynyk (No. 13 in 2013), Jared Sullinger (No. 21 in 2012), Marcus Smart (No. 6 in 2014), Demetrius Jackson (No. 45 in 2016) and Ben Bentil (No. 51 in 2016), all of whom fail to move the needle by a significant amount. 

    Sure, Jaylen Brown (No. 3 in 2016) and Terry Rozier (No. 16 in 2015) could join the club, but the numbers just aren't there yet. In fact, they both join the lengthy list of players who haven't met the expectations associated with their draft slots—many of whom are athletic wings and bigs who just never panned out (James Young and Fab Melo, for example). 

    Ainge has made 38 picks for Boston, including the players he didn't technically select but for whom he quickly traded. While 11 have produced positive results, a whopping 23 fall into the opposite category. 

12. Donnie Nelson, Dallas Mavericks

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    Danny Bollinger/Getty Images

    Score: -4.6

    Though Donnie Nelson has worked with the Dallas Mavericks since the late 1990s, we're only including his work from 2005 to the present day. That's when his father left his role as head coach and general manager to join the Golden State Warriors, thereby leaving the younger Nelson with even more responsibility. 

    What he's done throughout his tenure matters, but his work without his father's counsel is significantly more important. And thus far, it's been a whole lot of players producing expected value, with one deviation on each end. 

    The negative outlier is Shane Larkin, who flopped (not literally) and fell out of the league after three seasons of futility after Dallas used the No. 18 pick of the 2013 NBA draft on him. On the flip side, Jae Crowder (No. 34 in 2012) emerged as a second-round steal and parlayed his early success with the Mavericks into a long-term deal with the Boston Celtics. 

    Perhaps the overall lack of draft success can be blamed on the franchise's ability to stay relevant. Dallas keeps winning games while Dirk Nowitzki leads the charge, and it hasn't given Nelson a top-20 pick other than Larkin in the last decade. In fact, Justin Anderson (No. 21 in 2015), Jared Cunningham (No. 24 in 2012), Rodrigue Beaubois (No. 25 in 2009) and Maurice Ager (No. 28 in 2006) are the only other first-round picks. 

    Fortunately, that will change soon. The Mavericks own the No. 9 selection in the 2017 NBA draft—their first top-10 choice since trading down for Nowitzki (No. 9 in 1998). 

11. Tim Connelly, Denver Nuggets

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    Score: -3.68

    Nikola Radicevic (No. 57 in 2016) and Petr Cornelie (No. 53 in 2016) have yet to hit the NBA. And these guys all grade out in the red so far: Malik Beasley (No. 19 in 2016), Juancho Hernangomez (No. 15 in 2016), Erick Green (No. 46 in 2013), Jusuf Nurkic (No. 16 in 2014), Joffrey Lauvergne (No. 55 in 2013), Jamal Murray (No. 7 in 2016) and Emmanuel Mudiay (No. 7 in 2015).

    And yet, Tim Connelly is still nearly an overall positive. 

    To be clear, we're still focusing on Connelly here, even though Arturas Karnisovas was recently promoted to general manager. That move was made largely to prevent the Milwaukee Bucks from stealing him away to fill their front-office vacancy, and Connelly was correspondingly promoted to president of basketball operations, which will still allow him to oversee the drafting process in the Mile High City.

    And that's how it should be, since Gary Harris (No. 19 in 2014) and Nikola Jokic (No. 41 in 2014) nearly push him into the top 10 of our countdown. In fact, Connelly should be a lock for the top 10 by this time next year, if only because Jokic will have another season of functioning like a bona fide superstar under his belt, which will push him even further beyond the realistic expectations for any second-round selection.  

    Plus, the overwhelming youth of Connelly's picks means further breakouts are possible. Does anyone want to count out substantial improvement from Murray or Hernangomez? What about Nurkic, now that he's in a more advantageous situation with the Portland Trail Blazers? Even Mudiay could develop into a legitimate asset, since he's still only 21 years old. 

    Context always matters, even in an objective analysis. And here, it only helps Connelly's standing. 

10. Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors

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    Score: -1.42

    Masai Ujiri functioned as one of the league's top up-and-coming general managers while he was with the Denver Nuggets. It wasn't just because he swindled other front offices with his trading proclivities; he also unearthed a few draft-day steals in the form of Kenneth Faried (No. 22 in 2011) and Evan Fournier (No. 20 in 2012). 

    But Ujiri's success in the draft has been more limited for the Toronto Raptors. In fact, only one of his six picks has exceeded expectations. 

    Bruno Caboclo (No. 20 in 2014) could eventually join the club, since the young man who was famously two years away from being two years away is now only zero years away from being one year away. DeAndre Daniels (No. 37 in 2014) still hasn't played in an NBA game, and he's instead been suiting up for the Perth Wildcats, the D-League's Raptors 905 and Dinamica Mantova.

    That leaves Delon Wright (No. 20 in 2015), Norman Powell (No. 46 in 2015), Jakob Poeltl (No. 9 in 2016) and Pascal Siakam (No. 27 in 2016), and it's probably good news that you have no idea which one is the positive. All of them have looked like quality finds at times, even if inconsistency has plagued each prospect. Ruling out strong futures from any member of that youthful quartet is a mistake, but Wright is the man in the green thus far. 

    Faried's success is still carrying Ujiri. That alone shouldn't remain true for long, making it all the more likely that he continues to climb up the ranks of drafting general managers. 

9. Kevin Pritchard, Indiana Pacers

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Score: 3.42

    And thus we come to the first of the nine general managers whose total score is positive. 

    Kevin Pritchard hasn't yet made a single pick for the Indiana Pacers. He joined the organization in 2011 as the director of player personnel and was promoted to general manager in 2012 to replace David Morway, but he still reported to Larry Bird. Now that the Hall of Famer has resigned, he's functioning both as the general manager and president of basketball operations, which leaves him as the clear-cut leader of the front office.

    Complicated, right?

    But Pritchard does have some history with the Portland Trail Blazers from which we can draw. And even though he was responsible for picking Greg Oden over Kevin Durant with the No. 1 pick in 2007, he has three steals that cancel out all of the negatives. 

    First comes Josh McRoberts, who he found with the No. 37 selection that same year. The big man blossomed into a skilled center capable of dazzling defenders with his passing chops and floor-spacing habits, and that's far more than most second-round picks typically provide. Patty Mills (No. 55 in 2009) qualifies as an even bigger gem, but Nicolas Batum (No. 25 in 2008, via a trade with the Houston Rockets) is the crown jewel. 

    There are still plenty of busts, as the list goes well beyond Oden to include Brandon Rush (No. 13 in 2008), Luke Babbitt (No. 16 in 2010), Omer Asik (No. 36 in 2008), Dante Cunningham (No. 33 in 2009) and Elliot Williams (No. 22 in 2010). But the successes are still just enough to make Pritchard's overall resume a positive one, and he'll now look to build upon that with the 18th and 47th selections in the 2017 NBA draft. 

8. Dell Demps, New Orleans Pelicans

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Score: 5.05

    Let's slowly travel back in time. 

    During the 2016 NBA draft, the New Orleans Pelicans landed Cheick Diallo (No. 33) and Buddy Hield (No. 6). Neither was particularly impressive throughout their rookie seasons, even if the latter started to break out on the offensive end once he was traded to the Sacramento Kings in a package that netted DeMarcus Cousins. 

    General manager Dell Demps didn't end up acquiring any rookies in 2015 or 2014, so we have to go to 2013 next. It was then that he selected Nerlens Noel and shipped him to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday, so he doesn't count for our purposes. Only Pierre Jackson (No. 42) does, and the diminutive point guard has provided almost exactly what was expected of him during his one NBA season, which didn't come until 2016-17 with the Dallas Mavericks and lasted for only eight games.

    As a result, we have to look at Demps' first season calling the draft-day shots to get a true idea of what he's done during the selection process.

    He added Darius Miller (No. 46 in 2012) and watched as he became a slightly underwhelming second-round prospect, but that came after drafting Austin Rivers at No. 10. The former Duke standout has been a significant bust, though he still can't cancel out the equity Demps earned from making Anthony Davis 2012's first overall pick.

    Davis has outshined most No. 1 selections, even though he's still moving toward his prime, and his continued success will just keep making Demps look even better. But remove him from the equation, and the other five picks made by the general manager in question would drag him all the way down to No. 23 in these rankings. 

7. Bryan Colangelo, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Score: 8.49

    Assessing Bryan Colangelo's draft history is a difficult task, if only because he's operated for so many different teams over such a long period of time.

    He's made just three selections thus far for the Philadelphia 76ers, and figuring out whether Ben Simmons (No. 1 in 2016), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (No. 24 in 2016) and Furkan Korkmaz (No. 26 in 2016) are positives or negatives is currently impossible, given that they've logged a combined 69 appearances. Fortunately, Markelle Fultz will soon make the trend more clear, as Colangelo moved to acquire the No. 1 pick from the Boston Celtics with the Washington floor general in mind. 

    Prior to moving Philadelphia out of the Sam Hinkie era, Colangelo was with the Toronto Raptors. There, his work was overwhelmingly negative. Even though Ed Davis (No. 13 in 2010) and P.J. Tucker (No. 35 in 2006) were quality finds, they couldn't come close to canceling out the magnitude of busts such as Andrea Bargnani (No. 1 in 2006), Jonas Valanciunas (No. 5 in 2011) and Terrence Ross (No. 8 in 2012). Valanciunas might not seem like a bust, but his extreme lack of offensive versatility has limited his value ever since he entered the league.

    DeMar DeRozan (No. 9 in 2009) also grades out as a negative thanks to his shoddy defense, but that's changing as he continues to refine his scoring skills. 

    It's actually Colangelo's distant past with the Phoenix Suns that pulls him closer to the top of these rankings. 

    Sure, he still managed to find a number of busts: Pat Garrity (No. 19 in 1998), Jake Tsakalidis (No. 25 in 2000), Chris Carr (No. 56 in 1995) and Casey Jacobsen (No. 22 in 2002) lead the pack. But the gems he unearthed are far more special. Shawn Marion (No. 9 in 1999) and Steve Nash (No. 15 in 1996) will go down as some of the greatest picks in recent history, while it's hard to besmirch Michael Finley (No. 21 in 1995), Wesley Person (No. 23 in 1994), Amar'e Stoudemire (No. 9 in 2002) or Stephen Jackson (No. 42 in 1997). 

    And yet, despite all the history, it's still what's yet to come with the Sixers that will determine whether his resume is ultimately positive or negative. 

6. Gar Forman, Chicago Bulls

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Score: 10.16

    Recent picks haven't worked out too well for Gar Forman. 

    The Chicago Bulls general manager has misfired on Doug McDermott (No. 11 in 2014), watched as Tony Snell (No. 20 in 2013) needed a change in scenery to start breaking out and failed to capitalize on the upside of Bobby Portis (No. 22 in 2015). And that's saying nothing of Marquis Teague (No. 29 in 2012), who would look like an even bigger bust if he'd stuck around in the NBA for more than two seasons of sub-standard play. 

    But Forman can still point to his massive successes from early on in his Windy City career. 

    James Johnson (No. 16 in 2009) was a strong pick outside the lottery, even if the Wake Forest product never broke out with the Bulls. It wasn't until his time with the Toronto Raptors (the first stint) that he became a bona fide rotational piece, and he's now tracking toward the impact of a legitimate star with the Miami Heat.

    Nikola Mirotic (No. 23 in 2011) is another success, but no one can top Jimmy Butler (No. 30 in 2011).

    The final selection of the first round, based on the last 20 years of data, is expected to produce minus-5.6 TPA per season—settling in as a league-average player who skews slightly toward the negative. Butler sat at minus-8.66 during his rookie season, but he's improved almost every year, to the point that he logged 384.82 TPA in 2016-17, giving him the league's No. 6 mark, per NBA Math

    He alone drastically improves Forman's resume, and he'll only continue to do so as he keeps playing at a superstar level. 

5. Neil Olshey, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

    Score: 16.99

    Considering he's made a combined 16 selections for the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers, it's rather impressive that Neil Olshey doesn't have a single earth-shattering bust on his record. The worst it gets is Meyers Leonard (No. 11 in 2012), who displayed enough potential while earning minutes early in his Rip City career that he signed a gaudy extension for four years and $41 million. 

    After that comes Al-Farouq Aminu (No. 8 in 2010), Will Barton (No. 40 in 2012) and Allen Crabbe (No. 31 in 2013), all of whom have become solid role players capable of thriving in at least one facet of the game. 

    The busts just don't exist. But the quality finds certainly do. 

    They don't yet include C.J. McCollum (No. 10 in 2013), whose work for the Blazers in recent years hasn't yet cancelled out the shooting inefficiency and defensive porosity from his early go-rounds. But they do feature Eric Bledsoe (No. 18 in 2010) and Damian Lillard (No. 6 in 2012), both of whom have developed into some of the NBA's finest floor generals. Lillard, in particular, has shattered the expectations, and he should keep doing so as he moves toward his prime. 

    Olshey will have more chances to add to the coffers with three selections in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft, but he could trade those picks for established contributors and still keep trending upward. Even his misfires have become late-blooming players who are still contributing at the sport's highest level. All he's lacking is that second-round stud on whom everyone regrets passing. 

4. R.C. Buford, San Antonio Spurs

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    Score: 30.28

    There are three standout elements of R.C. Buford's draft history, and it's not clear which is most impressive. 

    Option No. 1: Of the 24 picks he's made since replacing Gregg Popovich as the San Antonio Spurs general manager in 2002, a staggering 10 are still stashed outside the NBA and have yet to appear in a single game. The full list is comprised of Sergei Karaulov (No. 57 in 2004), Viktor Sanikidze (No. 42 in 2004), Ryan Richards (No. 49 in 2010), Adam Hanga (No. 59 in 2011), Marcus Denmon (No. 59 in 2012), Livio Jean-Charles (No. 28 in 2013), Deshaun Thomas (No. 58 in 2013), Nemanja Dangubic (No. 54 in 2014), Nikola Milutinov (No. 26 in 2015) and Cady Lalanne (No. 55 in 2015). 

    Option No. 2: Only three selections in well over a decade have turned into legitimate busts. Beno Udrih (No. 28 in 2004) never developed into anything more than a career backup while sticking around for 13 seasons, while Marcus Williams (No. 33 in 2007) and James Anderson (No. 20 in 2010) failed to become meaningful NBA players. 

    Option No. 3: Buford found four legitimate steals in Kawhi Leonard (No. 15 in 2011), George Hill (No. 26 in 2008), Tiago Splitter (No. 28 in 2007) and DeJuan Blair (No. 37 in 2009). Soon, Kyle Anderson (No. 30 in 2014) and Davis Bertans (No. 42 in 2011) could be added into that category. 

    Let's be real: The third is probably the best of the bunch. 

    But this is the Spurs we're talking about. There's no reason to limit their organizational impressiveness to just one area. 

3. Jeff Bower, Detroit Pistons

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    Chris Schwegler/Getty Images

    Score: 46.89

    It's been a tale of two tenures for Jeff Bower. 

    He hasn't yet landed on a gem with the Detroit Pistons, even if Michael Gbinije (No. 49 in 2016) slightly exceeded the minimal expectations of his rookie season. Henry Ellenson (No. 18 in 2016) hasn't done anything of note yet, and the same is true of Spencer Dinwiddie (No. 38 in 2014) and Darrun Hilliard (No. 38 in 2015). 

    Thus far, Stanley Johnson (No. 8 in 2015) is the shiniest prospect. But while the young forward has shown impressive defensive tendencies, the lack of a consistent jumper has curtailed his overall value and prevented him from becoming anything more than a high-upside backup in the Motor City. He's started just seven games during his first two seasons, and that doesn't figure to change if he can't shoot better than 29.2 percent from beyond the arc. 

    Bower's time with the New Orleans Hornets wasn't much better. He was responsible for drafting 10 players, and nine of them failed to live up to the expectations associated with their slots.

    So, how can he rank behind only two other general managers? 

    Draft samples are almost always small, since the men in charge aren't typically making more than a few selections during any given year. One player can have a monumental impact, and that one player for Bower is his first pick: Chris Paul (No. 4 in 2005), whose immense production throughout his career will make him one of the most successful investments in NBA history. 

    Without Paul, Bower's score would be minus-20.02, which would leaves him sitting just ahead of Vlade Divac at No. 19. With Paul, the story is obviously just a bit different. 

2. Bob Myers, Golden State Warriors

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Score: 51.28

    Bob Myers has made some fantastic moves since his 2012 promotion to general manager from his apprenticeship under Larry Riley. He elected not to trade Klay Thompson for Kevin Love, back when doing so wasn't an obvious decision. He landed Kevin Durant in free agency. He acquired Andre Iguodala and a number of other key role players who helped the organization win two titles in three years. 

    And, most relevant to our purposes, he drafted Draymond Green (No. 35 in 2012). 

    "Draymond, look at his resume," Myers said after the draft, per's Graham Couch. "He went to one of the top colleges in the country and all he did was produce and win. Sitting next to me here are three guys that win. That's what we need to do. Winning, in my opinion and in our group's opinion, is a skill. These players all have that skill."

    He was right. Green has developed into one of the league's 10 best players, as well as (arguably) its most ferocious and versatile defender. He's blown away the expectations associated with the No. 35 pick, thereby canceling out—and then some—the slight negatives that came with drafting Harrison Barnes (No. 7 in 2012), Festus Ezeli (No. 30 in 2012) and Ognjen Kuzmic (No. 52 in 2012). 

    None of those three are distinct busts; they're just not huge positives, either. In fact, everyone else Myers has added through the draft has had a nondescript impact on his overall score, leaving Green's contributions carrying even more weight and pushing him near the pinnacle of the drafter rankings. 

1. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    Score: 87.84

    That picture really isn't photoshopped. It may be hard to remember now, but Serge Ibaka, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant once suited up together for the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

    And general manager Sam Presti drafted them all. 

    Durant was the first pick of his OKC tenure, directly after the Portland Trail Blazers used the 2007 top selection on Greg Oden. He added Westbrook (No. 4 in 2008) and Ibaka (No. 24) one year later, then picked Harden (No. 3) out of Arizona State in 2009. Those four alone have given him a rather lengthy leash, but they're not even his only successes. 

    We can't forget about Steven Adams (No. 12 in 2013), Andre Roberson (No. 26 in 2013) or Reggie Jackson (No. 24 in 2011), even if the last of those three has fallen prey to a downward-spiraling reputation as he fights back from injuries with the Detroit Pistons. So while Presti hasn't completely avoided busts—Jeff Green (No. 5 in 2007) and Byron Mullens (No. 24 in 2009) chief among them—he's found so many high-quality players that those missteps are easily mitigated. 

    Quite frankly, no one comes close to producing a resume this stellar. Drafting NBA players isn't exactly a science; it's more of a crapshoot, which makes maintaining a positive score for an entire decade all the more impressive. 

    Plus, three of his former selections are still factoring into MVP races. If Durant, Westbrook and Harden continue to play at their current levels—not even their 2016-17 levels, but their career-average levels through 2016-17—for just three more years, he has a legitimate chance to double the score of every other general manager throughout the Association. 

    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from Basketball or NBA Math.


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