Commentary

Methodology for our NBA Draft do-over

Updated: June 27, 2005, 8:10 AM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com

1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | Overall team grades

Regrets. Everybody's got 'em, especially when it comes to the draft.

Take the Golden State Warriors, for instance. In 1995 and 1996 they had consecutive lottery picks and used them on Joe Smith and Todd Fuller. Knowing what they do now, you might suppose they would have gone in a different direction -- selecting, say, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant instead.

They're not the only team that would love to have a do-over on some draft choices: Virtually every team in the league has had at least one doozy lottery pick over the past decade.

Looking over some recent selections got me wondering: If they could do it all over again, who would these teams take today?

As you might expect, I developed a formula to help guide this exercise. I started with each player's career PER (Player Efficiency Rating), and also factored in his career minutes played. The idea is that the players who played the best and played the most were probably the most valuable.

However, we also used some subjective criteria as well (I use "we" here because I consulted with a few other folks whose opinions I respect in order to make this list). Two of the most important criteria considered were defense and attitude.

For instance, PER doesn't account for the defensive impact of players like Tayshaun Prince or Ben Wallace, so we have to upgrade them for that. It also doesn't account for the cancerous impact of a player like Bonzi Wells or Ruben Patterson (or any number of other players from the past decade), so conversely we have to subtract points from those players.

Also, in the more recent drafts I had to account for age and potential. I dealt with age by giving a bonus for every year the player was younger than 26. However, for the past two drafts that still didn't do a few players justice, and some judgment calls had to be made about a player's long-term potential.

Finally, we had to adjust for a few instances where the players were impacted by circumstances beyond their control. Jermaine O'Neal is a good example -- he was stuck on the bench in Portland for several years even though he pretty clearly would have been a solid player.

The result is our best guess at how the teams would draft if they could do it all over again. Starting with 1995, we've "re-drafted" each of the past 10 draft lotteries based on what we know today. So without further ado:

1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | Overall team grades

John Hollinger, author of "Pro Basketball Forecast 2004-05," is a regular contributor to ESPN Insider. Click here to contact John.