ESPN’s Kevin Pelton published an Insider piece ranking draft prospects based on their projected wins above replacement player for the first five years in the NBA. Pelton translates a player’s college statistics to NBA projections, adjusts for age, and uses this data to project a players’ WARP.
Here are a couple interesting conclusions from Pelton’s study:
Nerlens Noel was far and away the best prospect. Several reports have indicated that the Cleveland Cavaliers are not confident in Noel. While the origins and motives of these reports are not always trustworthy, it is possible that the Cavs are strongly considering other prospects. However, Noel’s knee was medically cleared by both his personal doctors and the Cavaliers training staff, and he statistically the best prospect by a wide margin.
Peltons’ metric study also reflected poorly on top prospects Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, and Shabazz Muhammad. Oladipo struggled his Freshman and Sophomore years before emerging as a Junior, limiting his statistical profile. However, McLemore and Muhammad have both dropped in recent mock drafts, and Peltons’ WARP projection supports this.
Several factors go in to player projection, and statistical projection is a vital component of assessing a players’ college production and extrapolating it to the NBA level.