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Ranking the Best and Worst Franchises in Evaluating Draft Talent

As the 2018 draft approaches, there are a couple more posts in our review of a 14-year history of the NBA draft and how each team has performed. Part one consisted of redrafting all 14 drafts and evaluating which draft positions produce the best players. Part two is an evaluation of the franchises and general managers. Today, I will rank the top franchises for acquiring talent though the NBA draft. Tomorrow, I will rank the general managers who primarily had the final say.

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Which organizations are consistently the best and worst talent evaluators and get the most out of their draft position from 2004 to 2017? To determine this, I compiled every draft pick that each organization made from 2004 to 2017 and computed the difference between the original pick position and the redraft position.

For example, Kawhi Leonard was drafted with the 15th pick in 2011, but went 1st in our redraft. That's a difference of +15. Another example is found in 2010, when the Spurs drafted James Anderson with the 20th pick, but he drops to 26th in our redraft, a difference of -6.

Also, to avoid over-rewarding and over-penalizing teams, I treated all original and redraft 2nd round picks as pick #31. For example, in 2011, the Celtics chose E'Twaun Moore at pick 55 and he moved up to 20th in our redraft, that's a difference of +11 (31 - 20 = 11). Similarly, the Celtics chose Fab Melo with the 22nd pick in 2012 and he drops out of the first round in our redraft, a difference of -9 (22 - 31 = -9).

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Ranking the franchises

I ran calculations a number of different ways, including looking at each team's best pick each year, worst pick each year, sum of the total value of their picks each year, and the average contribution each year.

Top 5 organizations when only looking at their best pick each year. These organizations are able to maximize at least one pick.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. New York Knicks
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Milwaukee Bucks

Top 5 organizations when only looking at their worst pick each year. Even when these organizations draft the wrong player, the player doesn't drop very far in our redraft.

  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. New York Knicks
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Miami Heat

Worst 5 organizations when only looking at their worst pick each year. When these organizations draft the wrong player, the player tends to be a major bust and often drops double digits in our redraft.

  1. Charlotte Hornets
  2. Sacramento Kings
  3. Minnesota Timberwolves
  4. Portland Trailblazers
  5. Memphis Grizzlies

Top 5 organizations when looking at the sum of the total value of the picks. These organizations had the highest positive differential when looking at all of their picks as a whole.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers
  2. Boston Celtics
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Houston Rockets
  5. New York Knicks

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Ranking all 30 NBA franchises

In order to rank all 30 organizations, I decided to use the average change per draft pick plus the number of stars drafted. Being able to maximize your draft position is very important, but landing a star is vital. First, the sum of the difference scores were divided by the number of picks. Second, the first calculation was added to the number of stars drafted.

[Sum of the Difference Scores / Number of Draft Picks] + Stars Drafted

Average Change per Draft Pick (AC/DP) + Stars Drafted

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Tier IV: The Incompetent Franchises

30. Charlotte: -6.9 AC/DP and 0 stars drafted

29. Dallas: -3.1 AC/DP and 0 stars drafted

28. Phoenix: -2.8 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

27. Sacramento: -2.7 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

26. Minnesota: -2.9 AC/DP and 2 stars drafted

25. Cleveland: -1.9 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

24. Washington: -2.5 AC/DP and 2 stars drafted

23. Memphis: -1.3 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

22. Brooklyn: -0.2 AC/DP and 0 stars drafted

21. Atlanta: -1.0 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

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Tier III: Franchises with Mixed Results

20. Toronto: -0.8 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

19. L.A. Clippers: -0.7 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

18. Oklahoma City: -2.3 AC/DP and 3 stars drafted

17. Orlando: -0.5 AC/DP and 2 stars drafted

16. Philadelphia: -0.2 AC/DP and 1 star drafted, 1 potential star drafted in Simmons

15. Milwaukee: +0.9 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

14. Indiana: +1.1 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

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Tier II: Successful Franchises

13. Detroit: +3.1 AC/DP and 0 stars drafted

12. Portland: +0.1 AC/DP and 3 stars drafted

11. Miami: +3.5 AC/DP and 0 stars drafted

10. Golden State: +0.5 AC/DP and 3 stars drafted

9. Denver: +2.0 AC/DP and 1 star drafted, 1 potential star drafted in Murray

8. New Orleans: +2.2 AC/DP and 2 stars drafted

7. Chicago: +2.3 AC/DP and 2 stars drafted

6. Utah: -0.6 AC/DP and 4 stars drafted and 1 potential star in Mitchell

5. Houston: +4.5 AC/DP and 0 stars drafted

4. New York: +3.7 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

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Tier I: The Best of the Best

3. Boston: +3.4 AC/DP and 1 star drafted, 2 potential stars drafted in Tatum & Brown

2. San Antonio: +6.0 AC/DP and 1 star drafted

1. L.A. Lakers: +6.3 AC/DP and 1 star drafted, 1 potential star drafted in Ingram

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This post is about evaluating talent in the draft only and does not take into account other important aspects of running a team, including creating great organizational culture, managing free agency and the salary cap, or success and failure in trading players.

Tomorrow, I will rank the general managers who primarily had the final say, including Bryan Colangelo, Sam Hinkie, David Griffin, Phil Jackson and over 30 more. But for now, let me know what you think of the franchise rankings. Are there any teams that are great or horrible at the draft just as you expected them to be? Are there any surprises?