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High School Recruiting Ranking vs. NBA Success

Posted by Neil Paine on August 3, 2011

High school recruiting rankings, particularly the historical variety, have long fascinated me. There's something really interesting about looking back at them with the benefit of hindsight, and comparing a player's actual career trajectory to that which was predicted when he was just 18 years old.

With that idea in mind, I put together this post to see how often players of a certain ranking end up with a certain type of NBA career. For every player, I classified them in one of six categories:

  • Superstar - Either made 1st-team All-NBA or was Top-5 in MVP voting at least once in his career
  • All-Star - Made an All-Star roster at least once in his career
  • Starter - Finished top-5 on a team in games started at least once in his career
  • Regular - Not a starter, but played at least half of a team's games in a season at least once in his career
  • Scrub - Not a regular, but played at least 1 NBA game in his career
  • Did Not Play - Never played an NBA game

I then looked at the recruiting rankings on this site, gathering the data from 1998-2003 ('03 being the final HS class for which you can reasonably say every player has been given a full chance to reach his NBA potential -- if a guy hasn't made it by now, it's probably never going to happen). Based on their national prospect rankings coming out of high school, how many players ended up in each category in the NBA?

Rank Did Not Play Scrub Regular Starter All-Star Superstar
1-5 16% 10% 16% 35% 16% 6%
6-10 38% 10% 10% 31% 7% 3%
11-25 46% 16% 16% 19% 2% 0%
26-50 70% 9% 7% 12% 2% 0%
51-100 82% 5% 7% 5% 1% 0%
Rank Did Not Play Scrub Regular Starter All-Star Superstar
Top5 16% 10% 16% 35% 16% 6%
Top10 27% 10% 13% 33% 12% 5%
Top25 38% 14% 15% 25% 6% 2%
Top50 54% 12% 11% 18% 4% 1%
Top100 68% 9% 9% 12% 2% 1%

This is a sobering reminder of how elite the NBA's talent level really is.

Even if you're one of the 100 best high school players in all of America, there's almost a 70% chance you never play in the NBA, and almost an 80% chance that, at best, you'll be a journeyman scrub who doesn't play regularly. And while top-5 talents have a decent probability of being an NBA starter or better (58%), after that the drop-off is steep: 41% for players ranked 6-10, 21% for #11-25, 14% for #26-50, and only 6% for players ranked outside the top 50 (including just a 1% chance of being an All-Star).

Not to harsh the mellow of any budding BMOCs out there, but the typical top prospect's NBA career is, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, nasty, brutish, and short.

For the full list of recruits used in the study (and the categories they fell into), click here.

Posted in Analysis, NCAA, Prospects | 30 Comments »

Layups: “The New Coach”

Posted by Neil Paine on July 27, 2011

Ever feel bad for the Washington Generals? If so, then this video -- by loyal BBR reader Sean and his comedy group Rat Pageant -- is for you:

The New Coach - watch more funny videos

Be sure to vote "funny" and help out Sean's video at Funny or Die!

Posted in Just For Fun, Layups | 4 Comments »

Basketball on Paper WAR and the Best Peak Regular-Season Players Since 1978

Posted by Neil Paine on July 27, 2011

If you've been following the blog recently, I've developed a way to convert a player's Basketball on Paper stats to a Statistical Plus/Minus estimate. I'll spare you the gory details (which you can read about at the bottom of this page), and simply say that this version of SPM is less biased toward any one position and captures defense better than the original edition, making it the superior SPM in my opinion (although, as always, I'm certainly open to critiques).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, History, Insane ideas, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 83 Comments »

Who Ruled the Top Defenses in 2011?

Posted by Neil Paine on July 25, 2011

Which players excel against the best defenses, and which ones get their numbers by feasting on the weakest Ds?

To answer those questions, here's the latest installment of a series I started in 2009 and continued in 2010... The concept is simple: I rate each team defensively using the BBR Rankings formula (including regular-season and playoff games), then track how well each player performed offensively against opponents of varying defensive quality.

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Posted in Analysis, BBR Rankings, SRS, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 44 Comments »

Mini-Mini-Mailbag: Percentage of League Games That Were Back-to-Backs

Posted by Neil Paine on July 22, 2011

Quick mailbag for Nick, who asked how many games in each season (since 1999) featured at least 1 team playing its second game in two nights:

1999: 392 of  725 (54.1%)
2000: 494 of 1189 (41.5%)
2001: 481 of 1189 (40.5%)
2002: 504 of 1189 (42.4%)
2003: 487 of 1189 (41.0%)
2004: 475 of 1189 (39.9%)
2005: 500 of 1230 (40.7%)
2006: 474 of 1230 (38.5%)
2007: 486 of 1230 (39.5%)
2008: 483 of 1230 (39.3%)
2009: 471 of 1230 (38.3%)
2010: 490 of 1230 (39.8%)
2011: 497 of 1230 (40.4%)

Hopefully the 2011-12 lockout will resolve quickly, so we don't have to have back-to-backs in 54% of games like in 1999 (and the 102.2 league offensive rating that came with it).

Posted in BBR Mailbag, History, Trivia | 10 Comments »

Layups: “Basketball Diplomacy from Mao to Yao”

Posted by Neil Paine on July 22, 2011

It's unfortunate that this is coming out after his retirement, but here's a National Geographic special about Yao Ming's impact as a basketball ambassador:

Watch more free documentaries

Also, for a statistical take on Yao's dominance, check out this Carl Bialik piece at the Wall Street Journal.

Posted in International Basketball, Layups | 2 Comments »

Layups: NBA 2K12 keeps giving us what we want

Posted by Neil Paine on July 22, 2011

(That's right, I'm linking my second Zach Harper TrueHoop post in as many days...)

NBA 2K12 keeps giving us what we want - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN

It was announced yesterday that NBA 2K12 will feature Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as cover athletes, in addition to a return from the GOAT himself. In retrospect, last year's game was hands down the best sports title of the year (with far more replay value than MLB: The Show), so expectations are justifiably high for 2K12. Zach speculates about how 2K will integrate Bird and Magic into game modes similar to last year's Jordan Challenge, and dreams up challenge lists for the two legends.

One parting thought from Harper: With the added emphasis on Magic, Larry, and Michael, will we see a Dream Team mode in NBA 2K12? If so, this game could be just what hoops fans need to survive the lockout in one piece.

Posted in Layups, Video Games | 3 Comments »

Layups: A chance to educate

Posted by Neil Paine on July 21, 2011

Here's a great post at TrueHoop by Zach Harper, about NBATV's lockout programming schedule.

Oddly enough, one of the few silver linings of the labor dispute has been the fact that NBATV can't show any current players. Why? Because in the scramble to fill airtime, we've been treated to a number of classic games with great historical players.

A few weeks ago, it was Michael Jordan & Karl Malone. Last week, Bill Walton and Charles Barkley. And just last night, we got to watch Larry Bird's 50 greatest moments, a Celtics-Bulls game from 1981 (Artis Gilmore!), and Game 4 of the 1984 Finals. It was because of the lockout... and it was great. Since I don't have ESPN Classic, I've probably watched more old NBA games in the past 3 weeks than I had in the previous 3 years.

I'm sure that if NBATV had its choice, it would show nothing but the usual offseason talking-head commentary about free agency and the like, but for now I'm actually enjoying the absence of that. Who needs Dirk & LeBron when you have Magic & Larry?

Posted in Rants & Ramblings | 9 Comments »

2012 APBRmetric Player Rankings: By Position

Posted by Neil Paine on July 11, 2011

As a follow-up to this afternoon's list of the Top 593 Players of 2012, here's a positional breakdown for the 452 players who played at least 1 game in 2011:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Insane ideas, Just For Fun, Projections, Statgeekery, Statistical +/-, Win Shares | 66 Comments »

The (APBRmetric) Top 593 Players of 2012

Posted by Neil Paine on July 11, 2011

(Note: File this squarely under "Insane Ideas".)

Watching one of the NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2011" shows this weekend, I was inspired to create a similar list for the NBA using APBRmetric stats. But why stop at 100? Instead, I ranked all 593 players who played at least 1 NBA game since 2008-09.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Insane ideas, Just For Fun, Projections, Statgeekery, Statistical +/-, Win Shares | 35 Comments »