Rating every team's draft selections
Updated: June 28, 2013, 12:05 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider
Nerlens Noel didn't go No. 1 in the draft, but he helped the Sixers earn the No. 1 spot on these rankings.
To complement the traditional draft grades done by our Chad Ford, I'm offering a slightly different spin on the day-after evaluation. Using my WARP projections for this year's draft and the typical outcome of past drafts, it's possible to rate every selection -- with the exception of the handful of player without projections -- against the expected value of the pick. I've totaled that up for every team (except for the Raptors, who didn't have a pick), factoring in expected trades, and ranked them. Let's take a look.
1. Philadelphia 76ers, +3.7 (Expected: 4.0, actual 7.7)
What a debut for GM Sam Hinkie. Not only did I rate the 76ers' trade with New Orleans an A+, all three picks Philadelphia made -- highlighted by Nerlens Noel (3.6 projected WARP) -- rated well above the expected value for those spots. In total, the 76ers added players projected to average 7.7 wins above replacement (WARP) over their first five seasons, when typical selections at the same picks would combine for 4.0 WARP. Michael Carter-Williams (2.0) was a good value for Philadelphia at the 11th pick, and Hinkie picked up sleeper Arsalan Kazemi (2.1) late in the second round.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder, +3.4 (Expected: 4.0, actual 7.4)
The Thunder surprised everyone but the WARP projections by taking Colorado forward Andre Roberson (2.6) in the first round. Because WARP rated Roberson third overall in the draft, his selection scored as the single best value. Oklahoma City got another sleeper by buying the No. 40 pick from Portland to take Arizona forward Grant Jerrett (1.5), and No. 12 overall pick Steven Adams (1.9) also grades out well.
3. Portland Trail Blazers, +2.4 (Expected: 3.8, actual 6.2)
For a few picks there, the Blazers seemed to be drafting straight off my board. With the second-round picks they kept, they landed three excellent values in Allen Crabbe (1.1), Jeff Withey (0.7) and international stash Marko Todorovic (1.5). Add in the highly rated C.J. McCollum (2.5) in the lottery and Portland GM Neil Olshey appears to have upgraded a bench that was a huge weakness last season.
4. Atlanta Hawks, +2.0 (Expected: 1.9, actual 4.0)
The Hawks also successfully went overseas. While guard Dennis Schroeder does not have a projection, center Lucas Nogueira (2.4) has terrific potential for the 16th pick based on his performance in the ACB. Second-round pick Mike Muscala (1.5) also rated well.
5. Milwaukee Bucks, +1.5 (Expected: 0.7, actual 2.2)
First-round pick Giannis Antetokounmpo is another player without a rating, so this spot is strictly based on the Bucks dealing for Nate Wolters in the second round. The South Dakota State product projects as a useful backup point guard; the question of who he might back up remains unanswered.
6. New Orleans Pelicans, +1.5 (Expected: 0.6, actual 2.1)
While I wasn't a fan of the Pelicans' trade for Jrue Holiday, they were wise to get back the No. 42 pick as part of the deal. With it, New Orleans picked up another solid point guard prospect in Pierre Jackson (2.1). Now the Pelicans have to figure out how he fits with Holiday and Greivis Vasquez.
7. Detroit Pistons, +1.0 (Expected: 3.0, actual 4.0)
The Pistons surprised everyone by taking Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2.6), rated fourth overall by WARP. Detroit also snagged Tony Mitchell (1.5) when he dropped to the second round, getting excellent value.
8. Washington Wizards, +1.0 (Expected: 3.2, actual 4.2)
Even with Noel dropping, Otto Porter (+2.7) might have been the draft's easiest pick in terms of value and need. The Wizards added another solid wing prospect in the second round, trading for Glen Rice Jr. (+1.6).
9. L.A. Lakers, +0.5 (Expected: 0.6, actual 1.1)
The Lakers didn't pick until 48th overall, getting Duke forward Ryan Kelly (1.1), a well-rounded stretch 4.
10. Utah Jazz, +0.4 (Expected: 2.3, actual 2.7)
Since Rudy Gobert doesn't have a projection, the Jazz's rating is nearly all about trading up for Trey Burke (+2.2), a value pick when he slipped to ninth overall.
11. Dallas Mavericks, +0.3 (Expected: 1.2, actual 1.6)
Had the Mavericks taken Shane Larkin (1.6) with their original pick, he would have rated almost exactly at the expected value for the pick (1.5). But by trading down, Dallas added a pair of second-round picks and got better value.
12. Charlotte Bobcats, +0.3 (Expected: 2.3, actual 2.5)
As surprising as Cody Zeller may have been at No. 4 -- especially with Noel still on the board -- by this measure he scores as a positive pick thanks to the fifth-best WARP projection in the draft.
13. San Antonio Spurs, +0.2 (Expected: 0.4, actual 0.6)
Again, no projection for San Antonio's first-round pick (French forward Livio Jean-Charles). By the time we get to the Spurs' second-rounder, No. 58, expectations are understandably low. DeShaun Thomas (0.6) slightly exceeded them.
14. Memphis Grizzlies, +0.1 (Expected: 0.7, actual 0.7)
While the WARP projections weren't particularly high on Jamaal Franklin (0.7), by the time he slipped into the middle of the second round he was fine value for Memphis. The Grizzlies will also stash Mr. Irrelevant, Latvian forward Janis Timma, who does not have a projection.
15. Los Angeles Clippers, +0.0 (Expected: 1.0, actual 1.0)
The Clippers had one pick, North Carolina wing Reggie Bullock (1.0), who rates as precisely typical of a No. 25 selection.
16. Denver Nuggets, +0.0 (Expected: 1.0, actual 1.0)
No. 55 pick Joffrey Lauvergne (0.6) rates slightly better than typical, No. 45 pick Erick Green (0.4) slightly worse. Add them together and the Nuggets were dead even.
17. Houston Rockets, +0.0 (Expected: 0.8, actual 0.
Naturally, teams that heavily value analytics tend to score well by this rating. The Rockets are the exception; their one pick, Isaiah Canaan at No. 34 (0.
was completely average for that spot.
18. Miami Heat, -0.1 (Expected: 0.5, actual 0.4)
The Heat, who began the night without a pick, traded into the second round to get Long Beach State forward James Ennis (0.4), a fairly average No. 50 pick.
19. New York Knicks, -0.4 (Expected: 1.0, actual 0.6)
The Knicks went for Tim Hardaway Jr. (0.6) over a handful of wings that rated better, including Bullock, Crabbe and Rice.
20. Sacramento Kings, -0.4 (Expected: 2.6, actual 2.2)
Though they were taken a round apart, both Kings picks -- Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum have identical 1.1 ratings.
21. Indiana Pacers, -1.1 (Expected: 1.1, actual 0.0)
The Pacers pulled the surprise of the evening by taking Arizona forward Solomon Hill (0.0) with the 23rd overall pick. The comparisons to Draymond Green from last year's draft don't bear out statistically, since Green was rated one of the top prospects available in 2012.
22. Golden State Warriors, -1.2 (Expected: 0.9, actual -0.3)
The scouting report on the Warriors' No. 30 pick, Nemanja Nedovic, is promising. He doesn't rate as well statistically because he was a low-percentage finisher and had an assist-to-turnover ratio worse than 1.0 in Euroleague play last season.
23. Brooklyn Nets, -1.4 (Expected: 1.1, actual -0.4)
23-year-old Mason Plumlee (-0.4) will have to contribute next season to justify a first-round selection. I'm skeptical based on his translated statistics.
24. Chicago Bulls, -1.8 (Expected: 1.7, actual -0.1)
With his long arms and 39 percent NCAA 3-point shooting, Tony Snell (-0.2) looks the part of a 3-and-D role player. However, his defensive intensity was inconsistent at New Mexico and poor rebound and steal rates caused his WARP projection to drop below replacement. Second-round pick Erik Murphy (0.0) may be able to stretch the floor right away, but at 22 and limited athletically he's got little upside.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers, -2.3 (Expected: 5.2, actual 2.9)
Given the lack of star talent in this draft, assessing the Cavaliers based on the typical No. 1 overall pick seems a bit unfair. However, Noel would have scored as a positive pick by this method. Anthony Bennett (2.1) is much worse than the average No. 1 choice. Cleveland's rating is also hurt by second-round pick Carrick Felix (-1.2), a late bloomer in college who wasn't on the NBA's radar until this year. Those choices overwhelm an excellent value pick at No. 19 in Sergey Karasev (2.0).
26. Boston Celtics, -2.7 (Expected: 1.9, actual -0.7)
The Celtics sink so far almost entirely because they bought the No. 53 pick and drafted Colorado State center Colton Iverson (-1.
. Iverson scores poorly because of his age (he'll be 24 on Saturday) and middling career at Minnesota before transferring. But if Iverson plays down to his rating, Boston will simply cut him and move on, so this rating is overly harsh. First-rounder Kelly Olynyk (1.1) rates as a slight reach at No. 13, but he might not have been available to the Celtics at their original 16th pick.
27. Orlando Magic, -2.7 (Expected: 3.2, actual -0.5)
The Magic, too, are weighed down by their second-round pick. Oklahoma forward Romero Osby (-1.2) is another 23 year old with an unimpressive track record. WARP projections also favored Noel over Victor Oladipo (1.7).
28. Minnesota Timberwolves, -3.0 (Expected: 3.4, actual 0.4)
Not a great start for Flip Saunders, statistically speaking. Trading back from No. 9 made sense after the Pistons took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but the WARP projections favored numerous wings over UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad (-0.7), who rates as the single weakest pick of the draft by this method. Gorgui Dieng (0.2) also scored as a reach, though it's much easier to see how Dieng could be valuable to the Timberwolves as a backup center. The best of the Minnesota picks in terms of WARP projection was actually the last one, stash forward Bojan Dubljevic (1.2) at No. 59.
29. Phoenix Suns, -4.6 (Expected: 3.4, actual -1.2)
The Suns drafted three players, and two of them have negative WARP projections. No. 29 pick Archie Goodwin (-0.2) is young enough to have upside, but will have to develop massively after one disappointing year at Kentucky. No. 57 pick Alex Oriakhi (-1.1) is yet another college veteran whose translated performance doesn't suggest immediate contributions. In the lottery, Phoenix went with Alex Len (0.3) over Noel when both centers were available. Statistically, Noel is the much more impressive prospect.