Pistons Sitting Prettier in 2015 NBA Draft Than It Might Look


As they have for much of the last half decade, the Detroit Pistons are have a mid-lottery pick in the NBA Draft. Close enough to the top to get a good player, but not close enough to have a shot at the prospects regarded as truly elite.

According to a new FiveThirtyEight post, the Pistons might actually be sitting prettier in this draft than it initially looks.

NBA Mock Draft: Pistons Go International

Looking back at drafts from 2001-2010, ESPN’s Stats & Information Group created a model to evaluate college players currently ranked in Chad Ford’s top 100. International players were excluded due to a lack of information necessary for the model, which relied on the following factors determined to be predictive based on the history taken into account:

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"Aside from a player’s scouting ranking, the most significant predictive factors are either demographic or based on the program from which he came: his age, weight and the schedule-adjusted offensive and defensive ratings of his school. As for individual college statistics, the most important are 2-point shot attempts per minute, assist percentage and offensive rebounding percentage, followed by usage rate, shooting efficiency from the floor (as measured by effective field goal percentage) and steal percentage."

The ultimate output of the analysis is the probability of each player becoming a superstar, starter, role player or bust when years 2-5 of their NBA career are taken into account. The probabilities are then aggregated to rank players on a statistical plus/minus (SPM).

It’s no surprise that former Kentucky Wildcat and presumed number one overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns comes out at number one, but its the two players who follow that may come as not only a surprise, but potentially good news for the Pistons.

Checking in at number two is former Duke small forward Justise Winslow, a player that may very well be off the board but would have to be strongly considered, if not the automatic pick, if he is still on the board when the Pistons are up with the eighth pick. But while Winslow might represent a best case for the Pistons, they aren’t totally out of luck, according to this analysis, if Winslow goes in the top seven.

Third on the SPM list is Stanley Johnson, a small forward from Arizona. He has popped up on some mock drafts as the Pistons’ pick, but rarely, if ever, has he shown up in mock drafts ahead of the Pistons.

Just looking at prospect rankings, it might feel like the Pistons had to settle for Johnson if he is the pick on draft day. According to this analysis, that wouldn’t be the case. Ranking right behind Johnson are Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell, two sure-fire top five picks.

This doesn’t mean that Johnson, or Winslow for that matter, are some secret superstars just waiting to be uncovered. The NBA Draft is always a crapshoot and nearly every player has a bust probability ranging from 20-50% according to the ESPN analysis. But for where they are sitting in the lottery, the Pistons have a chance to come out looking better than their original draft position.

For the full top 50 and how each player breaksdown into each of the four categories, head to FiveThirtyEight.

Next: Chad Ford mocks Sam Dekker to Pistons

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