Monday, June 29, 2009

Putting the 2009 NBA Draft, and John Hollinger, in Perspective

Much has been said about the 2009 NBA Draft being one of the worst ever, but is there really any validity to that claim?

While I direct enormous amounts of animosity toward ESPN's John Hollinger in emails concerning his lack of respect for the Washington Wizards (we finished 5th that year, John, not 13th), he does have a pretty interesting formula for projecting NBA success based on college efficiency. Let's test its accuracy, shall we?

We used his pre-draft Projected Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) to rank the last eight NBA Drafts, dating back to 2002. Unfortunately, Hollinger's formula only applies to college players. Our sincerest apologies, 2003 and 2004 drafts.

Here is a spreadsheet containing those pre-draft Projected PER Rankings for Hollinger's top 12 college prospects from 2002-2009. We simply added the total PER numbers in each year, and ranked each draft year 1-8. For example, according to Hollinger's system, the strongest NBA Draft in this span was projected to be the 2007 draft (sum PER: 171.81). The second strongest draft was supposed to be this 2009 draft (sum PER: 168.23). The third strongest draft was supposed to be the 2005 draft (sum PER: 164.02), etc.

We then compared these Projected Rookie PER Rankings against their actual rookie season PER rankings to analyze the accuracy of Hollinger's projection system. Here is what we found:

This tells us a few things.

1) John Hollinger can suck it. The drafts with the two worst top-12 Projected PERs (2004 an 2008) turned out to have the best rookie seasons, while the draft with the most promise (2007) actually had the worst top-12. Hollinger, you're one arrogant bastard.

2) The 2003 and 2004 rookie classes actually ranked as two of the best, even without the statistical presence of Lebron James (2003) and Dwight Howard (2004). That's impressive.

3) Based on Hollinger's unintentionally-discovered-by-me-semi-inverse-formula, the 2009 Draft class, while ranking 2nd out of the last eight drafts in Hollinger's projections, may actually be, as people have been saying, one of the worst. Just follow the opposite of Hollinger's predictions and you too can be your own internet Nostradamus!

But who knows? Only time, and a championship for the Washington Wizards, minus any picks from this potentially awful draft, will tell.

Bite me, Hollinger.

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