Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Value Add Group 5: NBA Prospects Who Are Done with College

The fifth group of players we evaluate are the players who are done with college and hoping to make the NBA. Value Add is assigned to the first four groups to project how many points each will improve his team, but for this group we measure other factors to determine their likelihood of being a star or even making the NBA. (to see the analytic rankings of the players, scroll to the bottom of this post)

Harry Giles Value Add was 1.53, meaning he was worth only one to two points per game to Duke over a replacement player. Of the 4,142 players whose best Value Add season was between 1 and 1.99, he will be only the 20th to make the NBA (0.5%). The vast majority of players worth more than 8.00 points a game to their team make the NBA, while about half worth 7.00 to 8.00 points per game get to the NBA, and a very low percentage of players with a Value Add below 7.00 ever make it.

Best Value Add     Players   Made NBA% made it
0 to 0.9910,640100.1%
1 to 1.994142200.5%
2 to 2.992010311.5%
3 to 3.991353483.5%
4 to 4.9998210010.2%
5 to 5.9966412919.4%
6 to 6.9942812429.0%
7 to 7.9926812446.3%
8 to 8.9915711673.9%
9 or higher12310787.0%
All Players20,7678093.9%

Giles 27 inch vertical ranks only a 2.3 on a scale of 0 to 10, the result of two ACL injuries. Together with the low Value Add, the stats do not back up his potential selection in the top half of the first round.

However, he is above average in the other four biggest statistical indicators of future NBA success; 1) his wing span is more than 7'3", 2) he steals the ball 1.7 percent of opponents trips down the court (above average and great for a power forward-center), 3) he grabs 21.5% of opponents' missed shots, and he takes 17.9 percent of Duke's shots when on the court (players who do not hog the ball do better in the NBA).

Looking at the table below under freshman, of the 11492 freshman in the database from the 2001-02 season to present, a total of 622 (5.4%) eventually make the NBA, but only 130 (1.1%) are "one-and-dones" who make the NBA after that season. A total of 1.1% of sophomores and juniors go to the NBA after that season, and 3.1% of the season. When you throw all the seasons together in the final column to the right including some where we are not sure of the class, 3.9% of the players on the court in a given season will eventually end up in the NBA.

% who will make NBAFreshmenSophomoresJuniorsSeniorsTotal Seasons
How many will make NBA622/130 of 11,492570/132 of 11,498530/159 of 13,991388 of 12,4662,124 of 54,912
Make NBA next season (Ave.)5.43 (1.1%)6.59 (1.1%)6.38 (1.1%)6.45 (3.1%)6.29 (1.5%)
Will Make NBA (Ave.)3.40 (5.4%)4.84 (5.0%)5.49 (3.8%)6.45 (3.1%)4.87 (3.9%)
Stay 1 school 4 years (Ave.)0.981.662.092.481.80
Will not make NBA (Ave.)0.761.201.421.781.28

Looking at the rest of the columns, the one-and-done freshmen have an average Value Add of 5.43 their one season in college, while freshman who eventually end up in the NBA have a 3.40 Value Add. Compare that from a 0.98 Value Add average for freshman who go on to play all four years at the same school, and 0.76 for all freshmen who will never make the NBA.

For purposes of this study, we presumed players projected to go in the first 40 picks of the next two drafts will get on an NBA court.

In the Notes search at type "nba" to limit the  54,912 total player seasons from 2001-02 to present down to the 2,124 played by a player who would one day see an NBA floor.

Players' careers end when they drop out of a program because they are not good enough or face other issues, or they run out of eligibility after their senior season, or they leave to attempt to make the NBA.

Factors in Rankings of Future NBA Potential of Draftees (see table below)

The following factors are reflected in the table below - and a sum of each ranking adds up to the "Predict" column below used to rank all prospects.

1. Value Add Adjusted by Class Year

While the odds are against a player making the NBA until they put up a Value Add season of about 7.60 or higher, a freshman who is worth over six runs has a strong chance. To break it down by class:

Class Chance at NBA1 Fr  2 So  3 Jr  4 Sr
less than 3.001%  0%  0%  0%
3 to 4.9921%  9%  11%  4%
5 to 7.9957%  34%  32%  18%
8 or higher63%  66%  59%  61%

Because a senior needs to be worth about three more points than a freshman to make the NBA, we subtract 3 from a seniors' Value Add, or 2 from a sophomore or junior, to give the equivalent of a freshmen's Value Add. Therefore Sindarius Thornwell's 12.37 Value Add as a senior is reduced to 9.37, barely higher than Lonzo Ball's 9.33 as a freshman. The column "VA/Class" gives this adjusted figure for each prospect in the table below.

2. KenPom NBA Indicators (DReb, Stl% and Shot%)

Many great college players lack the combination of skills needed to jump to the NBA level. The top ranking based on the three most important stats at belongs to Caleb Swanigan due to him grabbing an incredible 32.7% of all rebounds on opponents' missed shots (13% is average). Swanigan's 0.8 percent of steals for opponents' trips is half the national average (1.6%) and he took 25.6% of Purdue's shots (players who stay below the average 20% do better in the NBA), but the rebounding is so incredible it points to NBA success.

Donovan Mitchell of Louisville (3.7% steals) nudged out a pair of players who led South Carolina to a stunning Final Four with steals on 3.6% of opponents' trips down the court each (Thornwell and PJ Dozier).

My selection of Jimmy Butler as the future star years ago was based on how few shots he took to put up good numbers, and three prospects stand out this year for taking less than one-sixth of their team's shots (Kentucky's Edrice Adebayo, UCLA's ke Anigbogu and Oregon's Jordan Bell). Players who can shoot themselves out of slumps in college find they do not have that luxury in the NBA, where they must take the court hot.

Note for nerds only. These three factors are weighted (for fellow math nerds, the steals are multiplied by 6 based on giving them the most weight with a 0.9% standard deviation from the 1.6 average, the defensive rebounds are not adjusted based on already having a standard deviation of 5.2, and the lower shots are the lesser of the three factors and multiplied by 0.4 due to a 6.2 standard deviation).

3. Vertical Jump from Combine

I like to use a number of the athletic measurements from the combine, and wish they still included the bench press where Jae Crowder drew attention with 20 reps out of college. I do assume a count of bench presses based purely on position to adjust the vertical into a specific neutral position. I'd love to see if Jason Tatum moved into the top couple based on what I guess is a strong bench press.

However, for simplicity sake I only included the best single stat, the vertical leap, in the table below.

This factor takes the number of inches in the standing vertical jump, and then adds the number I associate with the traditional positions. A pure center is a 5.0, and a power forward a 4.0, so if I have someone who plays both then I make them a 4.3 position if they are mainly power forward, or a 4.7 if primarily a center. By adding the vertical leap and the position, and then subtracting 29, we get roughly a 0 to 10 scale. However, I do add 4 additional points to pure point guards to get the final "vertical" number below.

4. Wingspan Adjusted by Position

Likewise, twice the position factor from the previous paragraph is subtracted from the total number of inches in a player's wing span. Once again the same factor is then subtracted from all players to yield a result from roughly 0 to 10.

When I used a more complex system for prep for NBA teams I factored size of hands,etc., but we are keeping it simple here to lay out the basic process using the most important factors.

5. Mock Drafts

Given that this is a basic variation of the system, I do start with the average of mock drafts as a baseline. Just as I tell anyone whenever I am called "Mr. Moneyball" during anything from a Fox News story to a radio interview, I stress that observation is always key. Analytics just provide one other variable beyond all the shooting matrix listed at and the many things observed by scouts.

There I start with 60 points for the first pick in the average mock draft, 59 for second etc. The rest of these calculations move people up or down from those subjective rankings - which NBA team officials tell me seem to be fairly accurate but lag behind the latest info.

With all that outlined, here are the calculations of the predictors for how well each player will likely perform at the NBA-level. The goal here is not to pinpoint but frame how different types of information can be balanced into more effective evaluations.
RankPlayerTeamPredictVA/ClassStat factorVerticalWingspanClassPosAdj
1Lonzo BallUCLA95.89.335.54.08.7Fr1.0
2Markelle Fultz (6 gm inj)Washington90.
3Josh JacksonKansas89.27.786.74.05.0Fr2.3
4Jonathan IsaacFlorida St.88.76.398.64.08.3Fr3.3
5Lauri MarkkanenArizona87.78.896.04.09.0Fr4.0
6Frank NtilikinaFrance87.67.0010.04.07.6Int1.0
7Jayson TatumDuke85.75.887.14.06.8Fr3.0
8De'Aaron FoxKentucky84.
9Jarrett AllenTexas82.
10Dennis SmithNC State80.56.624.94.04.4Fr1.0
11Malik MonkKentucky79.37.793.24.03.5Fr2.0
12John CollinsWake Forest79.
13Zach CollinsGonzaga77.66.387.84.03.0Fr5.0
14TJ LeafUCLA74.97.626.74.03.0Fr4.0
15Justin PattonCreighton74.96.626.72.05.0Fr5.0
16Edrice AdebayoKentucky74.57.315.88.86.2Fr4.3
17Donovan MitchellLouisville74.36.655.59.56.0So2.0
18Luke KennardDuke68.
19Ike AnigboguUCLA66.
20Justin JacksonUNC66.75.974.23.55.0Jr3.0
21Harry GilesDuke66.41.537.32.36.7Fr4.3
22Jordan BellOregon65.76.547.76.83.2Jr4.3
23Caleb SwaniganPurdue65.77.3610.64.06.4So4.3
24Terrance FergusonUSA64.
25PJ DozierSouth Carolina63.62.846.26.38.4So1.3
26Kyle KuzmaUtah63.
27Wesley IwunduKansas St.63.04.387.04.88.4Sr2.3
28Rodions KurucsLatvia60.
29DJ WilsonMichigan58.
30Tyler LydonSyracuse56.
31Dwayne BaconFlorida St.55.42.974.83.35.4So2.3
32Ivan RabbCalifornia54.
33Sindarius ThornwellSouth Carolina54.29.376.40.06.0Sr2.0
34Semi OjeleyeSMU52.77.485.39.33.2Jr3.3
35Johnathan MotleyBaylor51.96.637.74.08.0Jr4.0
36Edmond Sumner (17g inj)Xavier51.64.495.24.06.4So1.3
37Frank JacksonDuke51.
38Josh HartVillanova48.
39Jaron BlossomgameClemson48.
40Tony BradleyUNC47.73.886.40.57.0Fr5.0
41Jawun EvansOklahoma St.47.16.644.93.53.5So1.0
42Anzejs PasecniksLatvia47.
43OG Anunoby (18g inj)Indiana46.82.456.24.07.7So3.3
44Jonathan JeanneFrance43.
45Cameron OliverNevada41.83.718.13.05.3So4.0
46Derrick WhiteColorado41.46.404.43.34.9Sr1.3
47Mathias LessortFrance40.
48Frank MasonKansas39.58.514.210.01.3Sr1.0
49Damyean DotsonHouston38.
50Nigel Williams-GossGonzaga36.
51Monte MorrisIowa St.33.57.474.64.02.0Sr1.0
52Alec PetersValparaiso32.84.537.94.02.8Sr4.0
53Devin RobinsonFlorida32.84.966.69.56.8Jr3.0
54Tyler DorseyOregon31.
55Sterling BrownSMU31.34.986.44.05.0Sr2.3
56Dillon BrooksOregon31.23.934.45.00.0Jr3.0
57Aleksandar VezenkovBulgaria29.
58Jonah BoldenAustralia27.
59Egemen GuvenTurkey26.
60Justin JacksonMaryland24.94.605.90.59.3Fr3.0
61Kennedy MeeksUNC24.74.538.64.03.0Sr5.0
62Rawle AlkinsArizona24.
63Nigel HayesWisconsin24.23.525.84.07.3Sr4.0
64Eric MikaBYU24.05.607.14.31.4So4.3
65Kobi SimmonsArizona23.72.372.72.83.4Fr1.3
66Davon ReedMiami FL23.34.525.11.87.4Sr2.3
67Thomas WelshUCLA22.53.438.34.03.4Jr4.3
68Derrick WaltonMichigan22.36.995.92.00.5Sr1.0
69Chris BoucherOregon22.21.766.74.08.0Sr4.0
70Thomas BryantIndiana22.
71Isaiah HicksUNC21.72.495.76.54.5Sr4.0
72Isaiah BriscoeKentucky21.22.645.04.07.0So1.0
73Kadeem AllenArizona20.31.815.46.05.3Sr2.0
74Andrew JonesTexas18.95.505.40.02.5Fr2.0
75Moritz WagnerMichigan17.83.745.90.54.0So4.0
76Peter JokIowa16.63.655.90.03.4Sr2.3
77Chance ComancheArizona16.30.585.14.06.0So5.0
78VJ BeachemNotre Dame15.
79Jamel ArtisPittsburgh14.92.604.30.05.4Sr2.3
80Melo TrimbleMaryland12.93.874.60.50.0Jr1.0
81Omer YurtsevenNC State11.60.525.62.03.0Fr5.0


  1. Im confused about the wing span rating of Ball versus Fultz. Ball's is higher despite them playing the same position and Fultz being shorter but with an almost 6'10 wingspan according to all the measurements I have seen versus 6'7 for Ball.

  2. Thanks for the question, I will go back and check. You are looking at it right, I'm just on the road and can't pull up the original data right now. The late news is that Giles knee did not check out so even my original no. 21 might be optimistic.