With the NBA Champion determined and the 2015 Draft quickly approaching, league-wide attention has turned to the Association’s incoming rookie class. As the scrutiny of top prospects heightens, so does the degree to which they are analyzed.
ESPN Stats & Info recently released a ranking of the top-50 players in the draft based on each player’s projected Statistical Plus/Minus (SPM) rating for years 2-5 of the player’s career.
In doing so, this analysis aims to predict the career worth of each player by eliminating the first two seasons to account for respective growth and adaptation rates. The analysis weighs college numbers, size (height and weight), and his top 100 rating to estimate the player’s SPM in the NBA.
Based on that estimated RPM, the model then assesses the probability that this RPM will land the player in one of four categories: Superstar, Starter, Role Player or Bust.
The assessment of scouts largely determines this secondary classification, as it is based on how well the player’s game is presumed to be effective in the NBA.
D’Angelo Russell: best chance of draft class of becoming superstar. SPM also says he has 41% chance of being a bust pic.twitter.com/iASXFWkAbO
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 22, 2015
The top five player’s based on RPM were Karl Anthony-Towns (+1.03), Justice Winslow (+0.88), Stanley Johnson (+0.68), Jahlil Okafor (+0.52), and D’Angelo Russell (+0.51). This means that, for example, Towns is expected to be 1.03 points better per 100 possessions than a league-average replacement.
However, when it came to ranking players based on their predicted status as a superstar, starter, role player, or bust, the results were fascinating, particularly those of D’Angelo Russell.
The Ohio State product was given the highest probability of any player to become a superstar, at %15.2, but was simultaneously awarded the most likely to flop as a bust at %40.9. Comparing these numbers to Towns’ (%13.5 superstar, %27.5 bust), we see that Towns’ talent is widely predicted to have at least some effectiveness when he reaches the professional level, whereas Russell’s are viewed as hit-or-miss.
Therefore, scouts either believe that his game will translate to the NBA stage extremely well, or that he will be an enormous disappointment. This disparity renders Russell the most statistically disputed player on the board, and makes his destination on Thursday evening all the more interesting.