Drafting for Need vs. Best Player Available, Continued

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Luke Cyphers is doing some interesting work on NBA draft history and what constitutes reasonable expectations for your team through the D.R.A.F.T. Initiative on Insider. The findings produced a bunch of interesting conclusions. For instance, is it time to consider scrapping the second round?

But the most sweeping conclusion from Cyphers' exercise is this:

The NBA draft isn't that big a deal. That's because, in any given year, there isn't enough talent to give many teams any hope of landing a star, let alone a reliable backup.[emphasis mine]

This statement informs much of Cyphers' examination of the draft, and also leads him to take a side in the timeless Talent vs. Need debate:

In other words, since the draft as a whole isn't the talent show it's made out to be, it's even more important for teams to match up their roster needs with the players who are available -- and to realize when those needs simply can't be met. Or, they need to recalibrate their expectations. Instead of hoping the supposed "best player available" will max out all his skills, when a team is drafting at a point likely to generate a role player, it would be wise to target a prospect with one clear, NBA-ready ability.

One of the things that gets lost in the Talent vs. Need debate is the fact that "team needs" are much more easily identifiable than "best player on the board." In other words, just because a GM has chosen talent over need doesn't guarantee that he's done so correctly.

Cyphers and the D.R.A.F.T. Initiative will be rolling out some interesting stuff between now and the draft. There's a "pick-based analysis" that will help you establish expectations for your club.