A First Glance at the 2006 Rookie Class

Posted on December 5, 2006 by


After Sunday’s games the NBA had completed about 20% of its regular season schedule. With this sample of games on the books, we now have some evidence that many NBA teams might not be too happy with their choices during the 2006 NBA draft.

So far Adam Morrison is the only rookie scoring at least 15 points per game. Although he can score, his overall productivity is very low. Through Sunday’s games his Win Score per-minute was only 0.017. Such a performance from a small forward will result in level of wins that is actually below zero. Of the rookies who have played at least 200 minutes, only Andres Bargnani – the player first player chosen in the 2006 draft – has produced less per-minute than Morrison.

Beyond Bargnani and Morrison, who is producing? Thus far 16 rookies have logged at least 200 minutes on the court. As this table illustrates, only five rookies have posted a Win Produced per 48 minutes (Note: this is not Win Score but Wins Produced) above the NBA average mark of 0.100. This list is led by three rookies much of the NBA discounted on draft night.

At the head of the 2006 draft class thus far is Paul Millsap, a second round draft choice of the Utah Jazz. He is followed by Renaldo Balkman, the much-maligned first round draft choice of the New York Knicks. Third on the list is another second round draft choice, Craig Smith of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The only lottery pick to post an above average mark is LeMarcus Aldridge. Four other lottery picks – Bargnani, Morrison, Randy Foye, and Rudy Gay – have offered a production of wins below zero.

It is important to note that it is still very early in the season. Last week Dan Shanoff asked me to look at all rookies. My analysis at that time suggested Craig Smith was the top rookie. Well, a couple of really good games from Millsap vaulted him to the top of the class. A similar story can be told for Balkman. With a small sample of games that can happen.

So although it looks like the NBA should request a do-over for the 2006 NBA draft, it is still too early to reach definitive conclusions about these players. There is a learning curve for anyone playing in the top league of a sport. Just ask Jay Cutler of the Denver Broncos, who discovered on Sunday night that the pre-season in the NFL is not quite the same as a regular season game in prime time.

– DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

Wins Produced and Win Score are Discussed in the Following Posts

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say