An Early Look at the 2008 NBA Draft

Posted on January 28, 2008 by


The following is a guest post from WoW Journal reader Erich Doerr. Erich used the Win Score metric to investigate the top prospects for the 2007 NBA Draft. And now he is back with a first look at some of the prospects for the 2008 draft.

Although the Win Score metric was designed to analyze the NBA, the same approach can be applied to other basketball leagues.  In particular, I used Win Score to look at the college performances of NBA prospects prior to the 2007 draft.  And today I have been invited to provide a glimpse at the possible NBA draft entrants in 2008.  So let’s start at the top.

Based on’s current mock draft, Michael Beasley is the top NBA prospect.  His emergence at Kansas State lives up to all the the hype and so does his Win Score (adjusted for position played).  So far, his marks exceed those posted last year by Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.

Other projected high picks, though, are posting less than stellar Win Scores.  Looking at only the players listed in the  mock first round draft, the following table reports NCAA players and their current Position Adjusted Win Score per 48 minutes [PAWS48].

Table One: College Productivity of a Selection of NBA Prospects

It’s important to note that the non-conference schedule – or the weakest part of the schedule for many teams – dominates the data at this point in the season.  Still, our early glimpse can still provide some insights. 

From Table One we see that most of the projected lottery picks are nowhere near as productive as Beasley.  Despite the similar level of hype, O.J. Mayo has been Telfair-rific (not a good thing in the world of Win Scores). 

Mayo is not the only player who looks overrated at the moment.  For example, it looks like pundits are too quick to credit Memphis’s success to Derrick Rose.  While not currently projected as first round material, Joey Dorsey – Rose’s teammate in Memphis — is the kind of player that posts excellent Win Scores (6.97 College PAWS48) but seems underrated by PER (Player Efficiency Rating).  A similar story unfolds in Indiana, as Win Scores suggest Eric Gordon may be the second banana to D.J. White (3.75 College PAWS48).  And of course, this was the same story told about Texas basketball (D.J. Augustin and Damion James) a few days ago in this forum.  

In contrast to Mayo, Rose, Gordon, and Augustin – who again seem overrated at the moment — there are several Win Score powerhouses that are seemingly overlooked.  Win Score superstar Kevin Love seems to be projected as a late to mid first rounder.  Other first round gems may include Richard Hendrix and Tyler Hansbrough.  Each of these players are not thought of as lottery picks.  The numbers suggest, though, that people might want to take a second look. 

All that said, it’s still clear Michael Beasley is a top prospect and clearly deserves top pick consideration.  However, and this was quite surprising to discover, he isn’t the biggest man on the NCAA campus this season.

The Win Score crown currently belongs to Kenny George.  “Who’s that?” you may ask, as I know I did.  So I looked him up on ESPN.  He’s a 7 foot 7, 360 lbs American junior who’s just starting to garner attention now that he’s past some previous knee injuries (See articles here and here, video here).  George plays for UNC-Asheville and is averaging 20 minutes per game this season, up from 10 min/g from last season.  In these limited minutes he has posted a 12.29 College PAWS48 .

Now, of course there are caveats here.  First of all, George might have health issues that make a long-term career in the NBA uncertain.  Furthermore, George has also posted his numbers against weaker competition.  This is clearly an issue when looking at Win Scores in the NCAA.  Win Score was derived from NBA performance, where the talent is more equally distributed.  College basketball has many more teams, and players from lesser conferences often post high Win Scores.  Those scores should cause people to think a bit.  Although it should be said, productive players from small schools can become the best value draft picks (ala Paul Millsap). 

Even though George is at a small school, it’s seems likely the hype machine will eventually get into full gear for a 7’7 giant.  Though I haven’t seen any 2008 or 2009 mock drafts with his name in it, I fully expect Kenny George to be selected in the draft.  His Win Scores are as phenomenal as his size.

Thousands of more words can be spent on NBA draft prospects, but it’s only January and the toughest competition is yet to come.  Keep your eyes on the WoW Journal for a full Win Score assessment as the NBA draft approaches.

– Erich Doerr