Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The ACC in the NBA Draft

I was looking at to try and figure out if the trade the Wizards made was a stroke of genius or a horrible mistake and I found some interesting draft analysis. According to the admittedly simple formula that they used, taking into account only average points, rebounds and assists then comparing it to the average stats of players taken at the same pick in the draft, for players picked from 1989 to 2008 Maryland ranks just about in the middle of the pack.

During that period Maryland produced an impressive 16 players drafted in the NBA. Only fellow ACC programs Duke (28), North Carolina (22) and Georgia Tech (19) produced more NBA draftees. 82games also broke down the players into categories based on the sum of the average rebounds, points and assists the player produced over their career. A player over 20 points was considered a "star", over 15 "solid", over 10 a "role player", over 5 a "deep bench" and below 5 a "bust." Out of those 16 picks Maryland produced one "star" who by the numbers would have to be Steve Francis (29.7) since 82games doesn't indicate the individual players in each category.

Solid professionals:
Walt Williams
Joe Smith (career numbers just short of "star" status)
Chris Wilcox

Role players:
Tony Massenburg
Juan Dixon
Steve Blake

Deep Bench players:
Jerrod Mustaf
Keith Booth
Obinna Ekezie
Laron Profit
Terence Morris
Lonny Baxter

Evers Burns
D.J. Strawberry

James Gist has yet to play in the NBA.

Burns is just under "deep bench" status and Strawberry has not been playing long enough for this to be a fair conclusion. Of the "deep bench" players Mustaf played the most minutes in the NBA followed by Morris but Profit actually had the longest career.

Tony Massenburg is the personification of an NBA journeyman having played in over six hundred games from 1991-2005 with over a dozen teams. Dixon has settled into a decent career as a role player but his statistics have declined over the last few years so it is unclear how much longer he can continue. Steve Blake didn't play much in his first few seasons but has really come on as a true point guard. He could work himself into the "solid" catagory with a few more decent seasons.

Smith, Williams and Wilcox were all high draft pics with Smith being the best professional of the three. To some degree all of them have been professional disappointments given expectations but only Wilcox has been a true flop. Smith and Williams have very respectable professional careers even if they didn't meet expectations.

According to this ranking Duke deserves its reputation for putting out substandard professional players. Out of the 28 players drafted since 1989 (most in the ACC) Duke has four who never played in the NBA (again most in the ACC) and four players labeled as "busts"(most in the ACC). Only Arizona (9) has more players who fit into the category of busts or guys who never played in the NBA. To be fair Duke does have more "stars" than even North Carolina during that period but 16 out of their 28 draftees were buried on the bench or never even made it to the NBA. For all the elite players that North Carolina has produced the Tarheels produced just as many mediocre pros and guys who never get out of their warmups.

Wake Forest gets the nod for the best program in the ACC at producing players who succeed based on where they are drafted but then again they only had seven players drafted during that time and the majority of their success is based off of Tim Duncan and Chris Paul. Programs like Iowa State and Utah have produced just as many or more professionals during that time.

Overall the ACC is clearly the best college basketball conference at producing NBA players. If you want to get to the NBA playing in the ACC at one of the better programs is a good way to get there but it won't do you much good to play at Virginia, Clemson, Florida State or one of the former Big East programs since almost 2/3 of players drafted out of the ACC have come from either Duke, UNC, Georgia Tech or Maryland.

A little food for thought for high school players.


kgoon1590 said...

Maryland has produced an excellent array of NBA players when you consider their in-division competition and that we're also talking about the high school-to-pro era. Walt Williams average double digits consistently throughout his career. Joe Smith, although not worthy of No. 1, has had a solid career. Steve Blake obviously has still made an impact in this league. I wouldn't call D.J. a bust, just someone who never had a great shot - he was a one-time player of the month in the D-League, averaging over 30 ppg. On the Suns, it didn't translate.

Plus, if you go back in the day, the Terps are even more impressive: You have a former NBA coach and All-Star in Gene Shue. You have Tom Mcmillen who was good, and Len Elmore who was good. Buck Williams is still among the NBA's all-time leader in rebounds, just slightly out of reach of a Hall of Fame designation.

The Terps have a rich history of pros in the league. Not necessarily amazing ones, but consistent players, and a lot of them.

Esquire said...

It is even more interesting when you compare the ratings that uses (flawed but worth using) for the average player taken at each pick in the draft and then compare Maryland's players with North Carolina's. Since 1998 Terrapin players in the NBA have played 12.1 points better overall than you would have expected based on where they were drafted. In that same time frame North Carolina's players are only 7.3 points better than the average player picked at their point in the draft. It isn't stacked on my part because that includes the Jamison and Carter draft which helps UNC's numbers tremendously. Take those two out and Tarheel players have underperformed badly based on where they were picked the last decade.

Anonymous said...

uhm, I guess Steve Francis doesn't count?