Mock drafts fascinate me. I think they provoke a certain amount of interest from every NBA fan. None of us expect mock drafts to give us a perfect look into the future, but I think they are a source of interest because on some level they claim, either implicitly or explicitly, to have at least a piece of the information we all want. Who do NBA GMs like? In what range are players expected to be drafted? Who is getting hyped? Who is getting snubbed? We all have our hunches and theories about which players will succeed and fail at the NBA level, and a mock draft provides a comfortable and practical framework for draft discussion by linking the players with actual teams. With that in mind, I decided it would be fun to take it a step further and study how well the guys who do mock drafts can predict the actual results.
The draft is over (it has only been a week, but in internet time, it already feels like an eternity), and every team in the NBA, including the Bucks, is preparing to sell their fans on the idea they have improved their roster and are primed for a successful season...that is, of course, if we have a season. Before all conversation is dominated by the CBA and everyone gets depressed, let's take some time to have one last laugh. Hit the jump to see how well different mock drafters performed in predicting the 2011 NBA Draft lottery picks.
Before I get to the breakdown, there are a few things to mention: (1) some mock drafters made last second changes to reflect the three-team trade between the Bucks, Kings, and Bobcats, while others did not. As far as I am concerned they all had an equal opportunity to make changes right up until the draft, so final mocks will be treated equally, (2) I understand that getting one or two picks wrong could create a string of incorrect picks, but this is why I limited results to the draft lottery in the first place. I presume they pick a certain player at a certain spot with the idea of being correct, so it should be fair game to hold their predictions up to the light.
*Note: To view the data off screen (beyond the scrolling bar's reach) in the Google doc table, just select an area inside the chart and slide the mouse to the right edge of the chart. To reorient the screen, just reverse the process to the left of the chart.
(1) Most Accurate Final Mock Draft - DRAFT EXPRESS: Jonathon Givony earns his reputation with the best performance in precise picks (8/14), the expanded within +/- 1 slot picks (11/14) and the least number of +/- more than two slot Failure picks. This one is a no doubter. Keep Draft Express high on your list heading into the next draft, because they are the goods.
(2) Least Accurate Final Mock Draft - NBA.com: David Aldridge apparently didn't put much effort into the mock draft process, with only two attempts prior to his updated draft day final mock, and thus he fittingly takes home the title of worst mock drafter. Despite his long-standing reputation for being well connected in the NBA world, Aldridge hit on only 4/14 precise picks, 6/14 picks +/- 1 slot, and tied for the most failed picks with the team at NBA Draft Insider (6 Failures). What seals the deal is the fact that he missed badly only multiple picks, as he was off by 5 or more slots on Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Singleton, Tristan Thompson, and Jonas Valanciunas. His performance is reflective of the fact that covering the NBA and covering the draft don't always go hand in hand.
(3) Four Lottery Picks Most Final Mocks Got Right - #1, #2, #3, and #6 (or #11). In other words, they got the easy ones and sprinkled in a pick with moderate difficulty. Irving at #1 was a given from lottery night, and Williams at #2 and Kanter at #3 became obvious even before the combine. Those don't really impress me. However, I was impressed that 7 of the 9 mock drafters nailed Jan Vesely at #6 to the Wizards and Klay Thompson at #11 to the Warriors. Neither pick was a need for either team, and you could argue each team added a duplicative talent that may require a later trade to build a well-rounded roster and make room for the young talent to flourish, so the fact a majority of mock drafters hit these picks makes me feel that team sources must have sent strong signals regarding these selections.
(4) Four Lottery Picks Most Final Mocks Got Wrong - #4, #5, #7, #8. So much for nailing the top-10 picks in this draft. The moment the Cavs took Tristan Thompson, SI's Sam Amick must have been sitting somewhere smiling while everyone else was wondering what the hell just happened. He was the only mock drafter to get this pick precisely correct, and every other mock drafter had Thompson so far off they all had it classified as a Failure pick. Amazingly nobody picked Jonas Valanciunas at #5, Bismack Biyombo at #7, or Brandon Knight at #8. Not a single drafter got any of these picks precisely correct! Everyone except ESPN's Chad Ford and Draft Express' Jonathon Givony had a Failure on the Brandon Knight pick, yet no drafter had the seemingly enigmatic Biyombo pick (with all the poor workout and buyout issue rumors swirling) classified as a Failure.
(5) Four Worst Projections - (1) Our man Tom Ziller of SB Nation failed to include Tristan Thompson in the lottery, earning him the single worst pick of the study, because he missed by 11 slots (he actually missed by 11 slots, because he had Tristan at 15 in his final mock). (2) David Aldridge of NBA.com projecting Chris Singleton at pick #8. Singleton fell outside the lottery to pick #18, so he missed by 10 slots. (3) Tom Ziller missed Singleton by 9 slots (projecting him a #9), and (4) Tom Ziller also missed Kawhi Leonard by 9 slots, projecting him a #6 while he was actually selected outside the lottery at #15. Sad to see SB Nation in here so much, but as they say: "them's the breaks." [Frank adds: Ziller has promised me he's spending the summer back-packing through Eastern Europe, scouting the musty gyms of Lithuania and Slovenia to bone up on the best prospects of 2014.]
(6) Four Best Projections - (1) Sam Amick of SI with Tristan Thompson at #4 to the Cavs is undoubtedly the boldest and most brilliant pick in this study, hands down. (2) Chad Ford of ESPN and David Aldridge of NBA.com both bravely included Nikola Vucevic in the lottery, and the gamble paid off when the 76ers scooped up Vucevic with the 16th pick. (3) Givony of Draft Express, Amick of SI, and The Hoops Report all pegged Markieff Morris at #13 AND being selected before his seemingly more talented (and definitely crazier) twin brother, Marcus. Sorting through all of the talk about Marcus and somehow finding info on Markieff quietly getting all the way into the lottery is something only those three mock drafters can hang their hats on. (4) Ford of ESPN was the only drafter with Alec Burks projected at #12. By the time the final mocks rolled around, the majority of mocks had Burks falling out of the lottery, but Ford stood his ground as the mock with Burks projected in the highest slot on draft day, and it paid off in the end as he got this one exactly right.