As far as ESPN's draft analytics model is concerned, there was plenty of value to be found in the second round last night. In addition to these, the Mavericks picked up two talented players very late in Ray Spalding (Analytics Rank: 24) and Kostas Antetokounmpo (30).
Every draft model will yield at least slightly different results from another, but hard not to notice that the team that -- according to Ben Alamar's poll of executives -- best uses draft analytics (Rockets), took the player (De'Anthony Melton) that was ranked 13th by our model (and best available) with the 46th selection. Per the model, Melton has seventh-best chance to become an all-star caliber player in this class...the six players in front of him all were drafted in the top 10.
Analytics will have a greater impact on some teams choices tonight more than others. ESPN's Ben Alamar surveyed executives to find out who in the NBA uses draft analytics the best.
Compared to Jonathan Givony's top 100 -- which we use as a proxy for the NBA's consensus opinion -- ESPN's draft analytics model is down on these prospects heading into tonight's draft.
Despite all the talk about the value of wings in the modern NBA, there is some evidence to suggest that small forwards are actually undervalued in the draft. Below is a plot of small forwards' average box plus-minus (blue) over their first five seasons by draft slot alongside all other positions (red), using the 2001-2016 draft classes. The small forwards have outperformed the others. We've found the same phenomenon exists across rankings by media scouts leading into drafts, which is why we actually adjust those scout rankings in our projections model (giving a slight bump to small forwards). That is one of several reasons why we like Mikal Bridges, for example, more than most. Research by ESPN Analytics' Paul Sabin.
Using Jonathan Givony's top 100 as a proxy for the NBA's consensus opinion, here are five players that the ESPN Draft Analytics Model considers underrated heading into Thursday's draft.
Our NBA draft model ranks players based on mean projection, but in some situations upside chance is more important.
Some context on Luka Doncic's MVP-winning campaign and where it stacks up with other notable NBA draftees and the rest of the EuroLeague over the past eight seasons using box plus-minus (via Neil Johnson of Stats & Info).
When accounting for the ability of the shooter, the Cavaliers had better shot quality than the Celtics in Game 1, per @SecondSpectrum. Cleveland's eFG rate was 13 points below expectation (given shot quality) in the game, suggesting that shooting luck (or lack thereof) was a substantial factor in its poor offensive performance.
The three teams that switched at the highest rate against on-ball picks in the regular season are all in the conference finals. And though the Celtics switched against on-ball picks 17% of the time in the regular season (close to the league average of 16%), Boston has switched 26% of the time in the playoffs thus far, per @SecondSpectrum.
The Celtics drew Joel Embiid -- one of the best defenders near the rim in the NBA -- out of the paint even more in Game 2 than in Game 1 (when he was in the paint 9% of the time on defense).