PROTRADE: Analyzing Future NBA Success Through College Stats

PROTRADE: Analyzing Future NBA Success Through College Stats
Mar 02, 2007, 04:55 pm
Two years ago, PROTRADE sought to create a way to project success in the NBA based on college statistics. Armed with data from the last 20 years, PROTRADE ran analysis on many different statistical categories like assists per minute, steals per minute, blocks per minute, assist-to-turnover ratio, and body-type information like age, height and weight, to determine what best predicted stardom in the NBA.
We took our results to a few NBA teams and eventually were hired by the Portland Trail Blazers to assist in their draft. For the last two seasons, PROTRADE has played a role in the Blazers' decisions of whom to select.
In order to achieve this, PROTRADE analysts broke down the pool of players into four different position categories pure guards, swingmen, pure forwards and centers. Each position grouping demonstrated different metrics predicting NBA success. Interestingly enough the one significant statistic for each position was a non-traditional metric: John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating.

PROTRADE is still working with teams in the coming season, so we don't want to give away our complete methodology, but we thought it would be interesting to to look back on the players our numbers recommended.

Keeping in mind that PROTRADE's numbers are trying to predict long-term outcomes, and half a season is the definition of a "small sample size," here's how our top 10 from last year's draft has fared so far this season:

Kyle Lowry (Grizzlies, PG) - 1st Round - 26th pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: PROTRADE Probability of Success (PPS): 58.7%

Lowry's high steals per minute and great assist-to-turnover ratio in college made him our highest rated player.

Lowry's NBA career looked to be off to a promising start before breaking his left wrist in just his 10th game. In those first 10 games he averaged 5.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals in only 17.4 minutes per game to accumulate $12.72 in PROTRADE earnings. Unfortunately he has not played since and is not on the PROTRADE market because he no longer projects to earn the $30 necessary for IPO. Damon Stoudemire and/or Chucky Atkins could be on the way out in Memphis, so Lowry could find himself with a larger role in 2007-2008.

Tyrus Thomas (Bulls, F) - 1st Round - 4th pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 56.4% PPS

Thomas had a very high PER in college and his high blocks/minute indicated the kind of athleticism it takes to succeed in the lague.
Watching Thomas on the floor you can see that he is blessed with unbelievable talent, potential and athleticism. Due to the recent injury to Andres Nocioni, Thomas has seen more time on the court and it has become very apparent that he has a long way to go to contribute on the offensive end. However, he has the skills to be a talented rebounder and shot blocker right now with averages of 2.8 rpg and one block in only 10.7 minutes per game. Thomas has earned $43.31 on the PROTRADE market and could improve his per game earnings if Nocioni's absence continues.

Rajon Rondo (Celtics, PG) - 1st Round - 21st pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 41.6% PPS

Rondo's high assist-to-turnover ratio was a leading driver to our high rating.

After a disappointing sophomore season at Kentucky, Rondo seems well on his way to proving the doubters wrong in his first year in the NBA. Rondo has played well and is now the primary backup to starting point guard Delonte West. He has yet to develop a jumper, and at times plays out of control leading to turnovers. Fortunately for Rondo, his freakish athleticism makes him a plus defender and an above average rebounder from the point guard position. His 5.1 points, 3.2 assists, three rebounds and 1.4 steals in only 18.9 minutes per game has netted him $45.04 in PROTRADE earnings. He is a definite buy on the Sports Stock Market.

Mardy Collins (Knicks, G) - 1st Round - 29th pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 37.2% PPS

Collins had good assist-to-minute and assist-to-turnover ratios. His willingness to shoot the three also raised his pre-draft stock.
Unfortunately for Collins, his most memorable play of the season was his intentional foul that incited the Knicks-Nuggets fracas. He has struggled to carve out a spot in a crowded New York backcourt that includes Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson. With questions surrounding Steve Francis' knee and the possibility that Jamal Crawford will require season ending surgery due to an ankle injury, Collins should see an increase in minutes for the remainder of the season but should not be counted upon for consistent production. Due to his current low earnings, he is not tradeable on the PROTRADE market.

Brandon Roy (Blazers, SG) - 1st Round - 6th pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 36.3% PPS

Roy was very efficient in college and had a great assist-to-turnover ratio. He rated higher as a swingman than he would as a pure guard.

The sixth overall pick in the draft is the frontrunner to win the Rookie of the Year Award and headlines an impressive draft class for the Portland Trail Blazers. Roy was touted as the player most NBA-ready in the draft and has not disappointed. Despite missing 20 games with a heel injury, in 38 games he has averaged 15.6 points, four rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.2 steals earning $64.85 in PROTRADE dollars. Due to the missed games, he is currently a sell/short, but if he can stay healthy look for a strong push for Roy on the market in 2007-2008.

Paul Millsap (Jazz, PF) - 2nd Round - 47th pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 34.1% PPS

Millsap was a highly-efficient scorer and a solid shot-blocker, leading to his shockingly high rating.

Millsap has played exceptionally well as a rookie, leading many to conclude that he was the steal of the draft. Labeled as undersized, many scouts ignored the fact that he is the only player in NCAA basketball history to lead the nation in rebounding in three straight seasons. Due to recent injuries to Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur there have been extra minutes on Millsap's plate. He is averaging 7.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and close to one block in 18 minutes per game. Millsap has $63.12 in PROTRADE earnings with a current market price of $85.25. He is projected to earn $92.47 for the season making him a strong buy.

Shelden Williams (Hawks, PF) - 1st Round - 5th pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 33.0% PPS

Similar to Millsap, Williams showed efficiency at the offensive end and a great ability to block shots.

Williams has struggled to get on the floor consistently and his minutes have decreased significantly from the start of the season. With Marvin Williams entrenched as the starting power forward, it will be difficult for The Landlord to carve out a spot in the rotation. In 12 February games he is averaging only 8.3 minutes. His scoring and rebounding numbers have dipped in every month this season. His averages of 5.1 points and 5.1 rebounds are on the decline. Currently, his PROTRADE earnings are $48.93 and he seems a long-shot to reach his market price making him a sell candidate.

Cedric Simmons (Hornets, F/C) - 1st Round - 15th pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 32.1% PPS

Simmons had good assists/minute and blocks/minute rating him highly as a forward. Our numbers show that he would have a much lower chance of success as a center.

With David West and Tyson Chandler entrenched as the starters at power forward and center for the next couple of years, Simmons and fellow rookie Hilton Armstrong will continue to find it difficult to get consistent minutes. Currently, the two rookies find themselves third on the depth chart in their respective position. Simmons, who is behind Brandon Bass, has played sporadically and collected his fair share of DNP-CD. In 37 games, he is averaging 3.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game for a PROTRADE earnings total of $13.64. He is a good candidate to short sell on the market.

Daniel Gibson (Cavaliers, PG) - 2nd Round - 42nd pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 31.6% PPS

Gibson's assist/turnover ratio was very high for someone of his age and his skill at the long ball made him an attractive pro prospect.

D-Gibs is another second round draft pick that has played well this season, earning 14 starts at the point guard position for the Cavs. He is more of a shooter than a distributor and has benefited from having LeBron James and Larry Hughes' ability to control the ball. Gibson is a solid threat against zone defenses and has hit some big shots down the stretch. He has passed both veteran Eric Snow and more heralded rookie Shannon Brown on the depth chart and has hit the ground running. Also, the Cavaliers failed attempt to acquire Mike Bibby ensures that Gibson will continue to log consistent minutes barring injury. In 43 games, Gibson is averaging five points while shooting 45.1% from beyond the arc netting him $28.16 in PROTRADE earnings. With the increased minutes it is not out of the question that he reaches his current market price of $51.70 by the end of the season.

Shawne Williams (Pacers, SF) - 1st Round - 17th pick overall

Pre-Draft Analysis: 28.1% PPS

Williams' passing ability at the college level was the leading reason he rated highly on our board.
The MVP of the 2005-2006 Conference USA Tournament made the jump to the NBA following a productive freshman campaign. Williams is a gifted athlete capable of playing the shooting guard position, although is most effective as a small forward. Unfortunately, he finds himself stuck behind Danny Granger and Rawle Marshall on the depth chart. With the recent injury to Marquis Daniels, Williams could log some time in the backcourt alongside Jamaal Tinsley. In 23 games a Pacer, Williams is averaging two points and 1.1 rebounds in seven minutes per game. He is not currently tradeable on the market and has only earned $5.59 this season.

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