Each year, new players are drafted to NBA teams in the hopes of becoming rising stars. Many have succeeded in that goal, but what do teams’ drafts throughout recent history say about their performance? Lines.com analyzed drafts from each team from 2005 to the present to see which teams performed best and which players have had the most impact.
The data was collected, according to the study, by adding “the level of a given players’ availability, offense, and defense based on our own scoring system” and then “[using] a scaling multiplier to adjust each player’s value based on when they were drafted.” The availability score includes minutes played and games played, while the offense score includes points, assists, and rebounds, and the defense score includes steals and blocks. The maximum value for the availability score is 10, for the offense score is 12, and for the defense, the score is 8.
Best Drafting Teams
When ranked by value, the best drafting NBA team since 2005 was the Minnesota Timberwolves, with an average draft pick score of 12.16. Karl-Anthony Towns, the first overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, was the team’s best player drafted. The Miami Heat wasn’t far behind the Timberwolves, with an average draft pick score of 11.93 and Josh Richardson as the best player drafted.
Coming in third was the Chicago Bulls, who had an average draft pick score of 11.58 and whose best-drafted player was Derrick Rose. The Memphis Grizzlies followed with an 11.47 score and Marc Gasol claiming the spot as best player drafted, followed by the Philadelphia 76ers with a score of 11.43 and Jrue Holiday as the best player drafted, then the Los Angeles Lakers with an average draft pick score of 11.25 and Jordan Clarkson as best player drafted, then the Atlanta Hawkes with a score of 11.16 and Trae Young as best player drafted. The New York Knicks came in eighth with an average draft pick score of 11.06 and Wilson Chandler as the best player drafted.
Coming in last in the 30-team roundup was the Dallas Mavericks, with an average draft pick score of 7.66, and Luka Doncic as the best player drafted.
Top Draft Picks
When it comes to the top draft picks overall since 2005, Chris Paul came out on top. The player, who was drafted in 2005 by the New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans) and currently plays for the Phoenix Suns. Paul, a number four pick, got a score of 24.98.
Isaiah Thomas, a number 60 pick, came in second with a score of 24.35, while Rajon Rondo ranked third with a score of 22.30, and John Wall came in fourth with a score of 22.02. Anthony Davis, a number one pick for the New Orleans Pelicans, came in at last place with a score of 19.80.
Among players who were second-round drafts, many ultimately had high ranking scores in the study—namely Isaiah Thomas, who was a number 60 pick overall. The Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol was a number 48 pick overall and came in behind Isaiah as a second chance “gem.”
There have been many, many busts throughout NBA history, and there are unfortunately some teams that haven’t had a great track record with their drafts. Out of the 30 franchises, The Dallas Mavericks seem to have drafted the most busts since 2005—getting a score of 71.4% busts in the Lines.com study.
The Los Angeles Clippers came in second with 70%, the Boston Celtics behind them with 61.9%, the Utah Jazz with 57.6%, and the Brooklyn Nets with 57.1%. The Chicago Bulls seemed to have fared well in the bust ranking, scoring last with a ranking of 28%.
Ultimately, the study showed that great drafts don’t always translate to championships, and also that sometimes second-round draft picks might not get as much attention as first drafts but there have historically been second-round players that have truly become NBA legends.