On the cusp of the 2017 NBA Draft, I’m running out of time to predict the Top 10 overall picks. Earlier this week, the 76ers traded their #3 pick (along with a future 1st rounder) to secure the Celtics’ #1 spot. According to most NBA insiders, Philly will take Washington PG Markelle Fultz. With the 2nd overall pick, the Lakers presumably will select Lonzo Ball. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. As usual, I’ll provide my assessment of potential Top 10 Busts from this draft prior to the start of the upcoming season. For now, here’s my 2017 NBA Mock Draft.
For the first time, I’ll use my analytical skills to predict the first 10 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Now, others can judge me just like I’ve judged them. Will I be right? Of course not. However, I fully appreciate that there’s more value in the prediction than in the evaluation. In that regard, I’ll offer my version of a 2017 Mock NFL Draft.
With only a couple days to go before the start of the NFL season, I feel compelled to put a stake in the ground regarding potential 2016 NFL Draft Busts. Unlike last year, I waited until the end of the preseason this year. It seems like I had more time to write when I didn’t have a J-O-B. Oh well, at least it’s a good excuse. Prior to the start of training camp this summer, I thought the most likely (although still improbable) busts included #1 pick Jared Goff, #9 pick Leonard Floyd, and #10 pick Eli Apple. However, based on his extended holdout, #3 pick Joey Bosa has become my overwhelming favorite as a potential Top 10 Bust. Jameis Winston received that same designation last year so Bosa shouldn’t be too worried. Or should he?
When originally preparing my countdown of Top 10 Busts, I reviewed all NBA players drafted since 1970. Of note, I relied on basketball-reference.com in order to compile and analyze the career statistics of these players. By doing so, I was able to create thresholds above or below which they could be grouped. For example, I identified all-time greats, stars, average players, busts, and Top 10 Busts. In this post, I offer the representative NBA draft picks who help define the categories.
Before I provide my assessment of this year’s draft, it’s only fair that I revisit my evaluation of potential 2015 NFL Draft busts. At this point, there don’t appear to be any likely Top 10 Busts from last year’s draft. However, two players seem to be on their way to becoming stars. As the only two rookies selected to the 2016 Pro Bowl, #1 pick Jameis Winston and #10 pick Todd Gurley have started their careers very solidly. I’ll take credit for calling Gurley a worthy top ten pick. Then again, I have to admit that I thought Winston would be a bust. Overall, I give myself a B- for my predictions. Just like most of the top picks in the 2015 Draft, I had moments to remember and moments to forget.
As detailed in my last post, I was intrigued by Mel Kiper’s pre-draft comment that running backs such as Todd Gurley and Mel Gordon should be avoided in the first round even though they were top prospects. In response, I reviewed previous drafts from 1977-2007 to evaluate top ten draft picks by position. In this post, I evaluate draft picks on the defensive side of the ball to determine which positions are the most worthwhile. As a quick summary:
Defensive Linemen: 5% are complete busts / 45% make at least one Pro Bowl / 20% are truly game changers;
Defensive Backs: 10% are complete busts / 60% make at least one Pro Bowl / 15% are truly game changers; and
Linebackers: 5% are complete busts / 50% make at least one Pro Bowl / 15% are truly game changers.
Based on these numbers, it appears that defensive linemen offer the best risk/return profile with the lowest percentage of busts and highest percentage of game changers. With respect to defensive backs vs. linebackers, the decision is less clear with DBs having more upside and more downside.
The most interesting debate from the first night of the 2015 NFL Draft involved the exchange between Chris Berman and Mel Kiper regarding the sensibility of taking a running back in the first round. As Berman pushed for teams to select highly rated running backs Todd Gurley and Mel Gordon, Kiper argued that teams shouldn’t waste a first round pick on either player. Specifically, the long-time NFL draft expert claimed productive running backs could be found in later rounds. In response, I researched early first round picks to determine which positions provide the most value.
Quarterbacks: 25% were complete busts / 50% became Pro Bowl players / 20% won at least one Super Bowl;
Running Backs: 20% were complete busts / 55% became Pro Bowl players / 25% are Hall-of-Fame caliber;
Receivers: 10% were complete busts / 50% became Pro Bowl players / 30% could be considered game changers; and
Offensive Linemen: 5% were complete busts / 60% became Pro Bowl players /25% made at least five Pro Bowls.
So, which position offers the best risk/return profile? You’ll just have to read on.
This post summarizes the Top 10 Busts from the NFL Draft, as well as a group of Honorable Mentions who just missed the cut. You can refer to individual posts in which each bust is thoroughly evaluated and discussed, but here’s a ranking to whet your appetite.
#10. Brian Bosworth
#9. David Klingler
#8. Heath Shuler
#7. Jack Thompson
#6. Lawrence Phillips
#5. Akili Smith
#4. Charles Rogers
#3. JaMarcus Russell
#2. Art Schlichter
#1. Ryan Leaf
If you’re simply looking for a list of well-known NBA underachievers, this post is the one you’ll want to read. Specifically, I have ranked the ten worst draft picks in NBA history as follows:
#10. Greg Oden (Center) – 105 games / 8.0 ppg / 6.2 rpg / 7.3 win shares
#9. LaRue Martin (Center) – 271 games / 5.3 ppg / 4.6 rpg / 1.9 win shares
#8. Dennis Hopson (Shooting Guard) – 334 games / 10.9 ppg / 2.8 rpg / 7.1 win shares
#7. Hasheem Thabeet (Center) – 224 games / 2.4 ppg / 2.7 rpg / 4.8 win shares
#6. Kwame Brown (Center) – 607 games / 6.6 ppg / 5.5 rpg / 20.0 win shares
#5. Todd Fuller (Center) – 225 games / 3.7 ppg / 3.0 rpg / 2.2 win shares
#4. Jon Koncak (Center) – 784 games / 4.5 ppg / 4.9 rpg / 29.2 win shares
Joe Kleine (Center) – 965 games / 4.8 ppg / 4.1 rpg / 19.1 win shares
#3. Michael Olowokandi (Center) – 500 games / 8.3 ppg / 6.8 rpg / 2.5 win shares
#2. Darko Milicic (Center) – 468 games / 6.0 ppg / 4.2 rpg / 7.1 win shares
#1. Sam Bowie (Center) – 511 games / 10.9 ppg / 7.5 rpg / 26.9 win shares
In subsequent posts, I’ll analyze each of these picks and describe why most of them aren’t all-time busts despite their disappointing careers. Hint: the media might have something to do with it.
When conducting my research, I noticed that many busts could be characterized by recurring themes. I have summarized these themes by presenting them as 7 Lessons from Highly Ineffective NFL Draft Picks.
1. There’s no such thing as a sure thing
2. When in doubt, draft offensive linemen and avoid receivers
3. Don’t reach with the pick
4. Character matters
5. Avoid players who have peaked already
6. Avoid QBs who were interception leaders in college
7. Get to camp on time
Hypothetically, these NFL draft lessons can be applied going forward to help teams avoid making similar mistakes. Regardless, you can apply them when evaluating the draft decisions made by your favorite team.