Draft Teams

By Alex Boeder

Thunder 15.4 60
Celtics 15.4 41
Nuggets 16.4 57
Mavericks 16.6 41
Lakers 18.3 45
Warriors 18.7 47
Bulls 18.8 45
Heat 19.0 66
Clippers 19.2 56
Jazz 19.6 43
Bobcats 20.1 21
Hornets 21.0 27
Grizzlies 21.9 56
Pacers 22.5 49
Blazers 23.1 33
Knicks 23.3 54
Pistons 23.7 29
Sixers 23.8 34
BUCKS 24.2 38
Wizards 24.7 29
Kings 26.1 28
Cavaliers 27.0 24
Suns 27.5 25
Magic 28.7 20
Raptors 30.2 34
Nets 31.9 49
Rockets 34.1 45
Hawks 34.5 44
Spurs 35.1 58
Wolves 36.7 31


One player on the Spurs was drafted higher than #15. That is all. So for anyone feeling down about the Bucks and their spot in the upcoming draft (#15), keep that in mind.


Which teams relied most on second round players this season? What team featured the most undrafted players? Did Jodie Meeks really play the fourth most minutes of anyone on the Lakers? Was there a team with more than a single #1 draft pick in their rotation? How do the Bucks fit into all of this?

These are some of the questions that now have answers.


The idea: Find out the draft positions of the players (the 10 that played the most minutes) on every team. Then take the average, to provide a general sense of which teams relied on particularly high draft picks and low draft picks. And then compare that information with how many games each team won in the regular season. (That is what is going on at the top of this story.)

The point is not to uncover whether it is "better" to have a team full of #2 picks or #44 picks. That would be silly. Rather, this project attempts to find any interesting patterns, outliers, and so on. The main lesson is more of a reaffirmation, really: that every team is different, and that there are no simple "models" to follow to success.

15 Observations

  • First of all, here is the spreadsheet with all of the team data. Welcome to my world.

  • Eight of the top 10 teams with the highest average draft positions made the playoffs. That is pretty striking. Would you not think that young, struggling teams would be higher on this list? The Kings (#21) and Wizards (#20) and Hornets (#13) perhaps? Seems logical that teams with a recent history of losing would have a lot of recent lottery picks, and thus, a lot of high draft picks. Guess not. Then again, it also follows that winning teams would have high draft picks, because high draft picks tend to be good players, and good players make good teams. So here we are.

  • The Thunder and Nuggets are the only two teams in the league with all first round picks. The lowest draft pick on the Thunder was Kendrick Perkins, at #27, while the lowest on the Nuggets was a tie between Kosta Koufos and Wilson Chandler, both drafted at #23.

  • Fun fact: Not a single team can claim more than one #1 overall draft pick among its regulars. The Knicks have two #2s (Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd). The Thunder do too/two (Kevin Durant and Hasheem Thabeet).

  • The Bucks. The Bucks! The Bucks featured three second round picks among their top six players in terms of minutes: Monta Ellis (#40), Ersan Ilyasova (#36), and Luc Mbah a Moute (#37). Of course, they drafted Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute and traded for Ellis. The only top ten picks were Mike Dunleavy (#3) and Ekpe Udoh (#6). Marquis Daniels was the only undrafted player. Brandon Jennings (#10), J.J. Redick (#11), and John Henson look like good value as lottery picks. And Larry Sanders (#15) was drafted in the same spot that the Bucks hold in the upcoming draft.

  • So the Bulls have three #7 draft picks (Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton), all of whom tie for the honor as highest pick on the team. Meanwhile, Carlos Boozer (#34) is the lowest of the bunch, and the only second round pick of all.

  • Just crazy. The Spurs have lit the NBA since approximately 1989. They have won 50+ games every single season since 1993-94 except once – and that once was only because of the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, in which they… won the Finals. Yet they have just one lottery draft pick among their current regulars. Tim Duncan (#1) of course. After that, it is Kawhi Leonard (#15) and then Boris Diaw (#21). The truth is, they reached dynasty and all-time status thanks to two of the (other) greatest draft choices in NBA history: Tony Parker (#28) and Manu Ginobili (#47).

  • To reiterate: Jodie Meeks played the fourth most minutes on the Lakers this season. There is an exclamation point around here.

  • What team had the most undrafted players? The Wolves take the distinction, with three: Alexey Shved, Jose Barea, and Greg Stiemsma (I weighted all undrafted players with a #70, for your reference). Then again, Kevin Love (#5) was not included in the group, because he ranked 12th in minutes on the team due to (yet) another unfortunate injury. Not coincidentally, the Wolves also rank as the team with the overall highest average draft picks.

  • The Thunder and Celtics essentially tied for having the highest average draft picks. Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green both were picked at #5, and Brandon Bass (#33) was the only second round pick for the Celtics, and a high one at that. Meanwhile, Kevin Martin (#26) rates as the lowest draft pick on the Thunder. All first round picks for them.

  • Gerald Green (#9) is the highest drafted player on the Pacers. They really made a Finals contender out of Paul George (#10), David West (#18), and Roy Hibbert (#17). Along with George Hill (#26) and Lance Stephenson (#40).

  • Sort of weird: The Magic are (this wants me to type "is" here but I am typing "are") the only team with exactly zero top 10 draft picks. In fact, J.J. Redick at #11 counts as the highest pick, and he didn't even make it through the year with the team. After Redick was dealt, Nikola Vucevic (#16) became the highest draft pick on the team. They own the #2 pick in the upcoming draft, so this will change soon.

  • The Suns had two picks in the top 12. And they were Michael Beasley (#2) and Wesley Johnson (#4). Sort of explains things.

  • Six top six draft picks for the Heat – the most of any team, rather easily. LeBron James (#1), Chris Bosh (#4), Dwyane Wade (#5), Ray Allen (#5), Mike Miller (#5), and Shane Battier (#6). After that, they dipped down to Norris Cole (#28).

  • Alonzo Gee played the second most minutes on the Cavaliers this season, making him the undrafted player with the most minutes to his name. A nice feat, but playing more than Kyrie Irving did not help the team win games. Although, it did help them win the #1 pick in the upcoming draft.

Alex Boeder

My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at adboeder@gmail.com.


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