I’ve been doing a lot of research recently on the RSPM formula, and if it could be used to adequately project which college and international players would do well in the NBA. There’s little skill involved in “predicting the past,” but what I found is that if I take a player’s RSPM, and adjust it based on his age, it serves as a pretty good indicator of how likely a player is to succeed.
My approach is to use the same RSPM formula I use with the NBA, with one adjustment: I’m capping the benefit players can get from blocked shots. If I didn’t do that, then players like Hassan Whiteside, who had 7.4 blocks per 36 minutes in college, would have ratings far higher than they deserve. (It’s worth noting that Whiteside had a whopping 27.7 PER in 423 minutes played in the D-League this year.)
I’m then taking the resulting ratings and subtracting a point for every year older than 18 each player is. There is an additional two point penalty for players 22 and older – players this old on draft day have a historically dismal record.
I have calculated the ratings for just about every player likely to be selected in the draft, but for now, I’m going to limit my rankings to only the top 30 prospects as listed at Draft Express. I’m doing this because I greatly respect the input of scouts, and most of the time, if a scout thinks a player isn’t worthy of a first-round selection, there’s a very good reason for that.
With that said, here are my rankings for the players currently projected to go in the first round:
HIGH PROBABILITY OF NBA SUCCESS
1. Nerlens Noel C (+6.09)
2. Otto Porter SF (+4.14)
3. Cody Zeller C (+3.17)
4. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG (+2.42)
5. Anthony Bennett PF (+2.38)
6. Alex Len C (+2.35)
7. Steven Adams C (+2.02)
8. Victor Oladipo SG/SF (+1.85)
9. C.J. McCollum PG/SG (+1.61)
10. Trey Burke PG (+1.53)
11. Lucas Nogueira C (+1.45)
12. Rudy Gobert PF/C (+1.31)
13. Jamaal Franklin SG (+1.11)
LOWER PROBABILITY OF NBA SUCCESS
14. Tony Mitchell PF (+0.80)
15. Giannis Adetokunbo SF (+0.58)
16. Michael Carter-Williams PG (+0.43)
17. Ben McLemore SG (+0.03)
18. Shane Larkin PG (-0.11)
19. Sergey Karasev SF (-0.80)
PROBABLE NBA BUSTS
20. Kelly Olynyk C (-1.11)
21. Gorgui Dieng C (-1.14)
22. Archie Goodwin SG (-1.25)
23. Jeff Withey C (-1.59)
24. Allen Crabbe SG (-1.72)
25. Reggie Bullock SF (-2.50)
26. Shabazz Muhammad SF (-2.57)
27. Mason Plumlee C (-2.61)
28. Dario Saric SF (-2.91)
29. Dennis Schroeder PG (-3.23)
30. Glen Rice SF (-4.49)
Based on my research, my guess is that about nine or ten players in the “high probability of success” group will have good, productive careers in the NBA, as opposed to two or three players in the “lower probability of success” group, and one or two players in the “probable NBA busts” group.
Forecasting how college players will perform in the NBA is an inexact science, and a few of these players are bound to make these ratings look really stupid in hindsight. The idea isn’t to get a perfect list, it’s to get a rough idea of each player’s chances of success.
POTENTIAL SECOND-ROUND “HIDDEN GEMS”
Mike Muscala (+4.78)
Mouhammadou Jaiteh (+4.46)
Nate Wolters (+2.26)
Brandon Davies (+1.26)
Ray McCallum (+1.18)
If I’m a team with a late first-round pick, and Steven Adams and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are both off the board, I’d absolutely pick a player like Mike Muscala or Mouhammadou Jaiteh over some of the guys expected to go in the first round.
I’ll be breaking down some of these players in greater detail in the future, explaining why my numbers like or dislike them. For now, this is my list and I’m sticking to it.