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Hoop Pointers: Valuing the Draft

March 6, 1998

How important is a good opening draft? (I'm talking Hoops, not happy hour!)

For each of the current top fifty worldwide teams, I looked back to see what the roster looked like on opening day. What would those teams' performances have been if no trades had been done since then?

Using current (March 5th) prices, the average value of those fifty rosters works out to be about $58.5 million, a net gain of 17%. The range of roster values runs from a low of $47.5 million to a high of $71 million. At the two extremes, only two of the fifty draft rosters would have lost value, and only two would have appreciated above $70 million. The pattern of these values looks pretty random; that is, the teams at the top of today's leaderboard don't appear to have drafted better than the teams at the bottom of the top fifty list, although the current frontrunner is one of the two teams whose draft roster exceeds $70 million.

There's another way to measure the value of a draft roster, and that's to figure out how many Smallworld points it would have produced if left untouched from day one. For the draft rosters of these fifty teams, the average SWP total is 16,771 through games of March 4. The range looks pretty wide, though, with the lowest roster totalling just 11,479 while the best producing roster generating 20,581. (Incidentally, a current point total of 20,581 would be good enough to rank around 2000th worldwide - not bad for a no-trade performance. The average of 16,771 would rank around 8500th.) Interestingly, the correlation between draft roster values and draft point production is not all that strong. (Bobby Jackson probably accounts for some of that, since he has produced a fair share of SWPs but his current value is at rock bottom, courtesy of his broken hand.) And again, there is hardly any correlation between the points which would have been produced by a team's draft roster vs. that team's actual points.

What does all of this mean? There is no strong evidence to indicate that a team's draft is all that critical, at least among these top teams. Since these teams have used an average of 48.7 trades, their rosters could have completely turned over 4 times during the season so far, so I guess the inability to see the influence of the draft roster is not that surprising. But then, I'm not looking at a very diverse sample. Maybe the relationship would look stronger if I included a sample of teams ranked across the full spectrum. That would be very tedious to do, and I'm not going to do it. But you might want to compare the draft stats of these leading teams with the comparable stats for your team, just to see how you stack up. It's not that hard to do, since you only have twelve players to consider, and it's easy to look up their current prices and point totals.

Actually, I started this exercise with the intent to research the value of a trade, but I got sidetracked with the analysis of the draft rosters. I'll leave the trade analysis until next week.

And in case you're wondering, my team's draft was very average for this group, with a current draft value of $59.7 million and a draft point total of 16,338.

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Hoop Pointers is written by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is not an employee Smallworld, and any opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.