The 2017 NBA Draft is over. And we’re still trying to piece everything together. When the dust settled there were - as usual - 60 draft picks selected. But there were a ton of trades, a number of guys who fell, a few reaches, some panic moves, and a collection of undrafted players immediately signing contracts with NBA teams. The Utah Jazz finished with the players selected at #13, #28, and #55. Seeing how the team started the night off with the #24, #30, #42, and #55 we have to call this an overall upgrade. So are we optimistic about what just happened? Or do we fear the worst?
Well, we can just look at draft history to find out who the best and worst players were from those spots!
This data comes from Basketball-Reference.com (full list here); and it’s kind of flunky. It’s a lottery spot, but a late lotto spot. Sure things are not easy to come by, and you really are trying to find a rotation player. There have been a couple, like Markieff Morris, Brandon Rush, Devin Booker, and Kelly Olynyk. There are some future stars here like Devin Booker and Zach LaVine; but there are more players here with a career Win Shares of lower than 20.0 than not (44 vs 20).
The best players are none other than Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant. They are followed by Hal Greer, Dale Davis, Richard Jefferson, Corey Maggette, Sleepy Floyd, Danny Schayes, Jalen Rose, Jim McMillian, Jay Humphries, Derek Anderson, Loy Vaught, Corliss Williamson, Thabo Sefolosha, Ed Davis, Bryant Stith, Jim Cleamons, Mitch Kupchak, and Tyler Hansbrough.
Who were the worst? Out of those who played in at least 50 NBA games you have Jack Kiley, Tate Armstrong, Marcus Haislip, Bob Bigelow, and Bud Ogden. Lucky #13 is a little snake-bit because you also have Kendall Marshall, Keon Clark, and Pearl Washington. Those three had rough lives/careers.
Will Donovan Mitchell fall into the great category, or somewhere else? Time will tell, but you have to hope that as a lotto pick he is a rotation player at the very least.
From what we can get from BBall Ref (full list here) we see nearly 20 guys drafted here did not even play in one NBA game. Furthermore, only 17 players managed a career Win Score above 5.0. Ouch. So who were the best?
Tony Parker is first, but a huge margin of both individual and team success. It falls off very quickly behind him: Dan Roundfield, Leandro Barbosa, Greg Ostertag, Sherman Douglas, Beno Udrih, Gene Banks, Lucious Harris, Andrew Lang, Tiago Splitter, Ian Mahinmi, Larry Krystkowiak, Scott Padgett, Aaron James, Greivis Vasquez, Wayne Ellington, Dan Dickau, Norris Cole, Fred Foster, and rounding out at #20 is Marlon Maxey.
If these are the best, who are the worst who played in at least 50 NBA Games? Maurice Ager, Corey Benjamin, Cory Blackwell, Priest Lauderdale, and Mike Ratliff are the bottom five.
So Ostertag is the fourth best guy taken at #28 ever. He ended up starting for a championship level team that went to the NBA Finals. Is this the expectation for Tony Bradley then? Probably not. The last few guys who went #28 didn’t really wow many people: Ellington, Vasquez, Cole, Perry Jones, Livio Jean-Charles, C.J. Wilcox, R.J. Hunter, and Skal Labissiere. We hope for the best for Bradley.
From the BBALL Ref data (full list here) we see that only 18 of the 57 players in the database even stepped on an NBA court. So this is the list of the best and worst all together. The best is Patrick Mills. Following him is Kenny Gattison, Ryan Bowen, Jeremy Evans, Marc Iavaroni, E’Twaun Moore, Alfred McGuire, Joffrey Lauvergne, Jerry Eaves, Lawrence Roberts, Chris Porter, Semaj Christon, Luis Flores, Michael McDonald, Sid Catlett, Mickey Dillard, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Mike Taylor. The Win Shares of this group goes from 20.0 (Patty Mills) to Taylor (-0.4). A lot of these guys played for the Jazz or Spurs during some part of their career; similar to pick #28.
Frankly, these are the last picks in the draft. And from what we can see most of them are NBA longshots. It’s better to be a specialist (Mills playmaking, Gattison rebounding, Bowen hustle, Evans athleticism, Iavaroni hustle, etc) than a generalist. And I guess that’s what we’re finding out about Williams-Goss. He may be a specialist, but is he good enough with that specialty to make a 15 man roster?
Also of note with #55, we see Herbert Hill (the guy Utah drafted and traded for Kyrylo Fesenko), and of course, our very own Marcus Paige. Utah has been picking a number of 2nd round point guards in the Lindsey era, and that’s something to investigate for another time.
So, was there a point?
The point is that the #13 pick is either a great player or not worth mentioning. If you are feeling lucky you have someone to be proud of. If you are not you can at least break even with a rotation player. The #28 and #55 are fringe at best.
It’s funny that the best #13, the fourth best #28, and fourth best #55 are all Jazzmen. If this is a trend then we may feel very, very good about this draft years from now.