Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fresh Out of the Oven

Last week, I wrote the beginnings of my league wide draft analysis for the past ten years.

As promised, this weeks continuation of draft analysis and rankings by team will discuss the top five in our cookie rankings. These are the freshest of fresh, warm, right out of the oven cookies that everyone loves. The Kings, Spurs, Bucks, Suns, and Sonics (I simply refuse to acknowledge them under any other name), are all in the top 5 of our rankings. How did they get there? Better yet, after a more in depth analysis, will they remain?

First up: The Kings.
From Anthony Johnson, to Spencer Hawes, and everyone in between, what has Sac Town done to deserve our highest honor? First of all, in this span, they have only 15 selections overall. A smaller group is more easily impacted by one or two good draft choices. Their three "best" selections overall? Would you believe that Kevin Martin, and Gerald Wallace, both taken late in the first round (26, and 25 in their respective drafts) come in as only the second and third best selections in this ten year span? Number one? Jerome James.

The Jerome James? That can't be right, the guy was a career back up, and wasn't even a good back up. Okay, upon further review, his PER rating was artificially inflated due to a whopping 45 per from his 5 minutes of playing time last season. Drop him back down to reality, and now the Kings are slipping. How fitting that our first bit of controversy in the cookie rankings are due to a guy nicknamed "Big Snacks"!

Fear not Kings fans, even James wasn't bad enough to drop the Kings from the top five. This small adjustment ends up moving them back behind the Spurs and the Bucks. Still in fine company, and a solid lead over the mostly average competition.

Bonus for drafting Hedo and AJ.

Second Place (The New #1): The Spurs
Manu Ginobli and Luis Scola, both better than Tony Parker? When you consider that both Manu and Scola were taken near the end of their drafts (57 and 55 over all), they tend to stand out as great picks over the next two highest ranking picks from the Spurs (Parker and Barbosa who were taken with the 28 and 27 pick in their respective drafts). 20 picks over all, and two of the top six picks over the past ten years pushes the Spurs into the top spot.

In case you are wondering, Manu is, hands down, the best pick in the draft over the past ten years when you consider his talent level and position drafted. Not every pick the Spurs make is an amazing find however, for every Manu or Parker, there is a Chris Carrawell or Bryan Bracey, guys who never played in the NBA, ever. In the end, the good outweighs the bad, and the Spurs are holding firmly onto the top spot of our cookie rankings.

Third (now Second) Overall: The Bucks
How do the Bucks make it so high in rankings? I have three names for you. Michael Redd, Ramon Sessions, and Rafer Alston. All late second round draft picks (Alston was 39 overall, but Redd was 43 and Sessions 56).

Bonus for drafting Pat Garrity.

Fourth Place: The Suns
The Suns are interesting. Unlike most teams, every single pick from the Suns over the past 10 years has made an NBA roster. Of course, they sell off, or trade, most of their picks, so they also have the fewest picks overall for our data set as well (for all teams except the Bobcats, who haven't even been around for the full time frame). Way to go Phoenix! Your single stellar pick,

Stephen Jackson with the 42 pick in the '97 draft earn you fresh out of the oven status. What happens when you actually have to start using the draft to find talent?

Finishing Out the Top Five: Sonics
The Sonics have made the most selections out of our top group, 29 picks in the past ten years. One pick stands out above the rest, but they have several solid selections overall. Rashard Lewis, selected with the 32 pick in '98 is their standout. Solid picks like Earl Watson, Mark Blount, Carl Landry, and Willie Green (also all second round picks) show the Sonics to be a fairly craft team in the NBA draft.

Bonus for drafting Rashard Lewis.

Five teams, all having struck gold late in the second round. We should all be so lucky. Seriously. There is more to creating and sustaining a competitive team than just drafting, but the ability to find talent late in the draft certainly helps. Though keeping and cultivating that talent certainly goes a long way as well. Its one of the big differences between a team like the Spurs, and rest of the top five.

That wraps things up for this week. Thanks for tuning in (shouldn't you be working?), and don't forget to let me know what you think! Next week, Cooled Off, but Still Fresh and Delicious: Golden State, Pacers, Celtics, LeBrons, Pistons, and Wizards.


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Credit "Sebi" from the Orlando Magic Message board for the title graphic.

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