2011 NBA Draft: Don't Expect Miracles, But A Rotation Player Can Be Had

The NBA draft is about a month away. Over the next 4 weeks, you will hear more than a dozen viable options for the Suns at 13th overall. Every one of the potential picks will have their warts, of course, or they'd be projected much higher in this very weak draft.

This draft IS weak. Let's assume for the purposes of this article that the Suns' #13 pick is the equivalent of a #19 pick in any other year. Six of the top college players have decided to return to school rather than face the uncertainty of a year without basketball: Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones, Tyler Zeller and Nikola Mirotic would all have most likely been lottery picks (top 14). 

So, the Suns are picking the equivalent of latter-third talent in round 1. Can the Suns still get a good player? Of course. Every year there are a few solid starters drafted outside the top 15 picks, though rarely all-stars. Let's just review the past few years, look at some trends amongst the most successful later picks and then see where to go from there.

 2007 Draft

Solid starters for any franchise, drafted after #15: Wilson Chandler, Aaron Afflalo, Marc Gasol

Quality rotation players, drafted 16 to 30: 10 of 15, or 67% (the good: Jared Dudley; the bad: Alando Tucker)

Second-round successes (rotation players): 6 of 30, or 20%

 

2008 Draft

Solid starters for any franchise, drafted after #15 (Robin Lopez): Roy Hibbert, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, George Hill

Quality rotation players, drafted 16 to 30: 11 of 15, or 73%

Second-round successes (rotation players): 8 of 30, or 27% (including Goran Dragic)

 

2009 Draft

Solid starters for any franchise, drafted after #15: Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison

Quality rotation players, drafted 16 to 30: 11 of 15, or 73%

Second-round successes (rotation players): 9 of 30, or 30%

 

2010 Draft

Solid starters for any franchise, drafted after #15: NONE (except maybe Landry Fields?)

Quality rotation players, drafted 16 to 30: 3 of 15, or 3%

Second-round successes (rotation players): 9 of 30, or 30%

*of course, this draft was only last year and there's time for some of these guys to turn it around, but still: ugh.

Summary

What does this tell us about any picks outside the top 7 or 8 of a good year?

  • Don't expect miracles. The Suns are likely to find themselves a quality rotation player from this draft position (#13 overall), but not likely a starter on a winning team.
  • If you do want an eventual starter, draft a player who passes the eye test. Of the later picks who panned out as quality starters, every one of them has the right measurables for their position and plays hard at both ends of the court.
  • And, make it a wing player or point guard. A vast majority of "steals" were under 6'9". The likelihood of hitting on a tall player this late in a weak draft is very slim.
  • A late-first or second round pick will mean even less this year than most years. Good thing the Suns don't have any of those.

I'm a big fan of the draft process because my brain loves to spend time projecting this player and that player into our team's rotation. However, I've learned to temper my expectations because the Suns are always too good to draft in the top 10.

Hope for a rotational player. Pray to hit it big. But don't be disappointed when the pick doesn't make an all-star game.

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