This morning Bobby Marks, who was the assistant General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets and a 20 year NBA front office vet, tweeted out some team information. He looked at each of the 30 rosters and figured out where each player came from: the NBA Draft; through trades; or from NBA Free Agency. It was very cool of him to do so, and I am certain that other intrepid people (like me) will pour over it's info. I do not know how accurate these are, and understand that you could argue for the inclusion of certain players to be in different categories ( , for example, could be called a traded asset for the Los Angeles Lakers -- and not a draft pick). I do not care. For the purpose of this exercise we can take a look at his data and try to collate it. Do small market teams really build through the NBA Draft? So first I'll just embed his tweets here and then go on with my analysis.
PART 1: HOW TEAMS ARE BUILT pic.twitter.com/G7pShJxFJV— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 26, 2015
PART 2: HOW TEAMS ARE BUILT (REVISED) pic.twitter.com/BJPXD5niSF— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 26, 2015
PART 3: HOW TEAMS ARE BUILT pic.twitter.com/QOsOc8WlzO— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 26, 2015
PART 4: HOW TEAMS ARE BUILT (REVISED) pic.twitter.com/QTFmCzm5TL— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 26, 2015
PART 5: HOW TEAMS ARE BUILT pic.twitter.com/4xxjcNcrtG— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 26, 2015
So, you see that these include all the players current on a roster -- and that many of these rosters are above 15 players. That's because you do get guys like Jack Cooley et al listed, while we don't know if they'll actually make it through training camp. Anyway, when you add it all up you get 453 players! If you just look at the 10 smallest media markets (Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and the mighty Utah Jazz) you get only 149 players.
How many of them came from the NBA Draft, though?
Somehow a fewer proportion of Small market players are from the draft than the entire NBA, it seems (33.6% < 35.3%). So I guess that disproves the idea that teams almost exclusively have to go to the draft to field a small market team.
Of course, this is heavily skewed by the Spurs and the Kings here. The Kings, in a Westerosi style massive upheaval, are not the picture of stability. The Spurs are, but are still adding in a lot of outside talent to bolster their roster. If you remove those two teams the Small Market roster NBA Draft group goes up to 35.9%, which is above average, but still not significant.
Perhaps it's not about the quantity of players from the draft that matters -- but the quality. If you are going to build through the draft then the foundations of your team should come from there, right? I think that's where the adage still holds through.
Indiana: Myles Turner, two guys you don't care about,
Memphis: Mike Conley, , three guys you don't care about
Milwaukee: Jabari Parker, , Jon Hensen, three guys you don't care about
Oklahoma City:, , , , , three guys you don't care about
Sacramento: Willie Cauley-Stein,,
San Antonio: Kyle Anderson, , , Kwahi Leonard,
The Utah Jazz really did build through the draft (including rookie they traded for), so maybe we Jazz fans are ready to believe that this is what small market teams (that strike out in free agency) must do. And while the raw numbers do not support the "draft more than free agency" mentality, the quality of the players is what matters.
If you can't restock through free agency you do have to build through the draft. And the teams that need to build through the draft the most are these small market teams. And if you look at the drafted players on their roster right now -- they are usually the best players.
And for the record, the Jazz only have 6 "free agency guys" because Joe Ingles, Bryce Cotton, , , and Jack Cooley count as free agents as they were undrafted rookies. Our team really is built through the draft. And that's a sign of stability and confident scouting. As a rule of thumb see what is doing with the New York Knicks -- then do the opposite.